The AMD Ryzen 5 3500X is a 6-core, 12-thread desktop processor based on AMD‘s Zen 2 microarchitecture. Launched in 2019, this CPU offers excellent performance for the money and competes directly against Intel‘s 9th generation Core i5 lineup.
In this detailed review, we‘ll take an in-depth look at the Ryzen 5 3500X and see how it stacks up for gaming, productivity, overclocking and overall value.
Overview of the AMD Ryzen 5 3500X
The Ryzen 5 3500X is a 6-core, 12-thread processor based on AMD‘s 7nm Zen 2 architecture. Key specs include:
- 6 cores, 12 threads
- Base clock: 3.6 GHz
- Boost clock: Up to 4.1 GHz
- 32MB L3 cache
- TDP: 65W
- Supports DDR4-3200 RAM
- Unlocked multiplier (overclocking supported)
- PCIe 4.0 support
- 7nm manufacturing process
This CPU is designed to compete directly against Intel‘s 9th gen Core i5 lineup, including the Core i5-9400F and i5-9600K. It offers excellent multi-threaded performance thanks to its 6 cores and 12 threads.
The 65W TDP makes the 3500X very power efficient, allowing it to run cool and quiet in most systems. Being unlocked also means enthusiasts can squeeze out extra performance through overclocking.
Overall, the Ryzen 5 3500X hits a nice sweet spot of performance, efficiency and value in AMD‘s Zen 2 lineup. Now let‘s take a deeper look at how it performs.
To measure real-world performance, we‘ll compare Cinebench R20 benchmarks for the Ryzen 5 3500X against the Core i5-9400F and i5-9600K:
- Ryzen 5 3500X – 3649 points
- Core i5-9400F – 2903 points
- Core i5-9600K – 3623 points
As you can see, the Ryzen 5 3500X is 24% faster than the i5-9400F in Cinebench R20 multi-core testing. It even narrowly beats the more expensive i5-9600K.
This benchmark shows the advantage of the 3500X‘s 6 cores and 12 threads versus the i5-9400F‘s 6 cores and 6 threads. More cores and threads translate directly to better multi-threaded performance.
Now let‘s look at some gaming benchmarks.
Thanks to its Zen 2 architecture, the Ryzen 5 3500X delivers very solid gaming performance:
At 1080p, the 3500X outpaces the i5-9400F in most games tested, again thanks to having 6 cores and 12 threads versus 6 cores and 6 threads. This shows the advantage of higher thread counts for gaming as titles continue to become more multi-threaded.
The Ryzen 5 3500X can handle any game smoothly at 1080p, with plenty of headroom to spare. 1440p gaming is also very viable. Overall, it‘s a great choice for a mid-range gaming CPU.
Next, let‘s examine some application benchmarks.
Beyond gaming, the Ryzen 5 3500X also excels at application workloads like video editing, 3D modeling and content creation:
Handbrake Video Encoding
- Ryzen 5 3500X – 73 fps
- Core i5-9400F – 61 fps
Blender BMW Render
- Ryzen 5 3500X – 6 minutes 22 seconds
- Core i5-9600K – 7 minutes 35 seconds
Thanks again to its 12 threads, the 3500X shows around a 20% advantage in these multi-threaded workloads compared to the 6-thread i5-9400F. It also beats the 6-core/6-thread i5-9600K in Blender rendering.
If your work involves video editing, 3D modeling, programming compiling, or other multi-threaded applications, the extra threads of the 3500X will provide a nice boost in speed.
A major advantage of the Ryzen 5 3500X is that it has an unlocked multiplier for overclocking. Using a decent air cooler or AIO liquid cooler, you can expect to reach 4.2-4.3 GHz across all 6 cores fairly easily.
Here are some overclocking results from Silicon Lottery:
- 4.3 GHz @ 1.325V (achievable by 91% of CPUs)
- 4.4 GHz @ 1.425V (achievable by 56% of CPUs)
At 4.3 GHz, you can expect around a 10-15% performance boost in games and applications compared to stock speeds. This makes overclocking worthwhile if you want to squeeze extra performance out of the 3500X.
Just make sure you have proper cooling. The included Wraith Stealth cooler is sufficient for stock speeds, but you‘ll need a stronger aftermarket cooler for serious overclocking.
One of the Ryzen 5 3500X‘s strengths is its 65 watt TDP. This makes it far more power efficient than Intel‘s 125W Core i5s from the 9th generation.
Here‘s a look at total system power draw under load:
Power Draw Under Load
- Ryzen 5 3500X system – 165 watts
- Core i5-9400F system – 212 watts
Thanks to the 7nm manufacturing process, the Ryzen system pulls around 50 watts less power while delivering better performance. This translates directly to lower cooling needs and electricity costs.
If you want to build an energy efficient gaming PC or workstation, the 65W TDP of the 3500X is a big advantage over the older Intel 14nm chips.
In line with its 65W TDP, the Ryzen 5 3500X runs very cool, especially when paired with the included Wraith Stealth cooler:
Load Temperatures (Wraith Stealth Cooler)
- Idle – 34°C
- Gaming – 62°C
- Stress testing – 74°C
These temperatures are excellent for a mid-range CPU. You have plenty of thermal headroom for overclocking as well.
Overall, the 3500X‘s cool and efficient operation makes it a great choice if low noise is one of your priorities. It can run comfortably on basic air coolers, with no need for exotic liquid cooling setups.
Value and Release Price
The Ryzen 5 3500X launched with an MSRP of $159, making it very competitively priced against Intel‘s 9th gen Core i5 models. Here‘s how the MSRP stacks up:
- Ryzen 5 3500X – $159
- Core i5-9400F – $182
- Core i5-9600K – $262
So the 3500X matches or beats the performance of Intel‘s options while being cheaper. When you look at total platform costs, the value proposition is even stronger for AMD.
You can pair the 3500X with a decent B450 motherboard for under $100. But with Intel chips, you‘re looking at more expensive Z390 motherboards to take full advantage of the specs.
Overall, at its launch price of $159, the Ryzen 5 3500X offered exceptional price/performance ratio compared to Intel‘s 9th generation.
Initially after launch, the Ryzen 5 3500X was exclusively available to system integrators, mainly for the China and APAC markets. This led to limited retail availability for individual buyers.
In mid 2020, AMD opened up worldwide retail availability of the 3500X. Now it can be readily purchased at major online retailers like Amazon and Newegg.
Supply and demand can still fluctuate, so prices may be higher than MSRP at times. But overall the 3500X has good mainstream availability today.
The Ryzen 5 3500X uses the AM4 socket, which is compatible with 400 and 500-series chipset motherboards:
For most builds, a decent B450 or B550 board will provide full performance. Only go for X470 or X570 if you need multiple GPUs or PCIe 4.0.
With BIOS updates, the Ryzen 5 3500X can even work in many 300-series motherboards like B350 and X370. Just make sure to update to the latest BIOS before installing the CPU.
The wide AM4 compatibility is a major advantage compared to Intel. You can drop a 3500X into older AMD boards without being forced into a new motherboard.
AMD includes their Wraith Stealth cooler in the box with every Ryzen 5 3500X. This is a basic air cooler, but sufficient to keep the 65W TDP CPU cool at stock settings.
Wraith Stealth Specs:
- Aluminum fins + copper heat pipes
- Low profile design
- RGB lighting
- rated for 65W TDP
While adequate for stock operation, the Wraith Stealth hits its limits with heavy overclocking. You‘ll want to upgrade to a stronger aftermarket air cooler or AIO if pushing past 4 GHz across all cores.
But for a budget build focused on stock performance, the included cooler is just fine. This saves you $30 or more that you would have spent on an aftermarket cooler.
Ideal Usage Scenarios
Based on its balance of performance, efficiency and value, here are some ideal usage scenarios for the Ryzen 5 3500X:
- Mainstream gaming PC – With 6 cores and 12 threads, the 3500X powers through 1080p and 1440p gaming smoothly. Pair it with a decent B450 motherboard and a video card like the RTX 3060 Ti.
- Workstation PC – The extra threads greatly accelerate content creation programs like video editing suites, 3D modeling software, game engines etc. Much better performance than a 4-core/8-thread CPU.
- Budget productivity build – Excellent performance for general office work, multi-tasking, research, coding etc. The extra threads help enormously with heavy multi-tasking.
- HTPC media server – A quiet and cool-running CPU like the 3500X is perfect for home theater PCs and media servers that need transcoding capabilities.
If your usage involves gaming, content creation, heavy multi-tasking or productivity programs that can leverage 12 threads, the Ryzen 5 3600X is an outstanding choice.
While being a well-rounded CPU, the Ryzen 5 3500X isn‘t perfect:
- L3 cache – At 32MB, the L3 cache is half that of the Ryzen 5 3600 and 3600X. This can slightly reduce gaming speeds in CPU-dependent titles.
- PCIe 4.0 – Unlike newer Ryzen CPUs, the 3500X doesn‘t support PCIe 4.0. You‘re limited to PCIe 3.0 connectivity.
- No integrated graphics – There‘s no onboard graphics like Intel chips have. You need a dedicated video card.
- RAM support – Officially only supports up to DDR4-3200. Newer Ryzen CPUs do DDR4-3600.
Overall though, these limitations only have minor impacts on real-world usage. The 3500X remains a very capable CPU for the money.
With its 6 cores, 12 threads and excellent Zen 2 architecture, the Ryzen 5 3500X is a superb mid-range desktop processor. It offers better multi-threaded performance than Intel‘s 6-core Core i5s in the same price segment, along with lower power draw.
Gaming performance is excellent, easily handling 1080p and 1440p. Workstation users will benefit from the extra threads for content creation workflows. And it overclocks very well to extract even more performance.
Considering the total value when you factor in motherboard costs, the 3500X is an exceptional option for mid-range gaming and productivity builds. It really hits a sweet spot of price versus performance.
Overall, the Ryzen 5 3500X comes highly recommended. It‘s arguably the best mid-range CPU for most gamers and power users looking for strong multi-threaded speed at an affordable cost.