AMD Ryzen 5 3500 Review: Budget 6-Core CPU Perfect for 1080p Gaming

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AMD Ryzen 5 3500

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 is a 6-core, 6-thread desktop processor that delivers excellent performance and value for budget PC builds. Announced in July 2019, this CPU is part of AMD’s 3rd generation Ryzen lineup built on the advanced 7nm Zen 2 architecture.

In this guide, we’ll provide a detailed overview of the Ryzen 5 3500 including:

  • Key specifications and features
  • Performance benchmarks and capabilities
  • Comparison to other Ryzen processors
  • Motherboard compatibility and recommendations
  • Value proposition for the price
  • Ideal use cases for this CPU

Although the Ryzen 5 3500 is not sold as a standalone retail processor, it is available in select pre-built desktops from OEMs. With its competitive specs and pricing, this chip is a compelling option for mainstream gaming, productivity, and content creation PCs.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 6-core, 6-thread desktop CPU delivers better performance than previous generation 4-core processors while keeping costs down compared to higher core count models. Built with AMD’s Zen 2 architecture and 7nm manufacturing process, it offers significant IPC gains and efficiency.

Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Ryzen 5 3500 brings to the table for consumers looking for the best bang for their buck. We’ll examine how it stacks up against both Intel and other Ryzen processors to help you determine if it’s the right choice for your next PC build or upgrade.

AMD Ryzen 5 3500 Specifications

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 is a 6-core, 6-thread desktop processor with a base clock of 3.6GHz and a max boost clock up to 4.1GHz. Key details and specifications include:

Cores/Threads: 6 cores, 6 threads

Base/Boost Clock Speed: 3.6GHz Base, 4.1GHz Max Boost

Cache: Total 36MB (6MB L2 + 32MB L3)

Manufacturing Process: 7nm by TSMC

Architecture: Zen 2

Socket: AM4

TDP: 65 watts

PCIe Lanes: 24 lanes PCIe 4.0

Memory Support: Dual Channel DDR4-3200MHz

Unlocked: Yes, multiplier is unlocked for overclocking

Having 6 full cores and 12 threads allows the Ryzen 5 3500 to handle moderately threaded workloads like gaming, streaming, and content creation much better than prior generation 4-core Ryzen processors.

The base clock of 3.6GHz and max boost up to 4.1GHz give it solid single and lightly threaded performance for daily tasks and applications. AMD’s Precision Boost algorithms will automatically increase clock speeds in increments based on workload demand and thermal headroom.

With 36MB of total cache (6MB L2 + 32MB L3), the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 has lower latency access to data. This further enhances gaming performance and frame rate consistency.

Built on TSMC’s advanced 7nm manufacturing process, the Ryzen 5 3500 packs more transistors into a smaller space allowing for better efficiency and power savings compared to 12nm and 14nm processors.

The Zen 2 core architecture brings major IPC (instructions per cycle) gains through optimization and expanding execution capabilities. This results in a processor that can do more work per clock cycle.

Performance and Benchmarks

With its 6-core/12-thread configuration and Zen 2 architectural improvements, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 delivers a significant performance uplift over previous generation 4-core Ryzen models. It provides great value for gaming and content creation at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Based on CPU benchmark tests, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 earns an overall score of 19,000 points. This puts it ahead of competitors like the Intel Core i5-9400F while costing significantly less.

Here’s a breakdown of how the Ryzen 5 3500 compares in benchmarks against other processors:

  • Single-Thread Rating: 2,490 points – 9% faster than Ryzen 5 2600; 2% slower than Core i5-9400F
  • Multi-Thread Rating: 11,860 points – 90% faster than Ryzen 5 2600; 3% slower than Ryzen 7 2700X

For workstation and productivity workloads, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 completes CPU rendering and encoding tasks faster than prior gen hex-core parts:

  • Cinebench R20 Multi: 2,828 points – 30% faster than Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Handbrake x265 Encoding: 38 fps – 21% faster than Ryzen 5 2600X

Gaming frame rates see a nice increase thanks to the IPC gains and extra cores:

  • Civilization VI Graphics Test: 91 fps – 37% faster than Ryzen 5 2600X
  • Far Cry 5 Average FPS (1080p Ultra): 96 fps – 25% faster than Ryzen 5 2600X

Overclocking headroom on the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 can push performance higher depending on your cooling solution. Users report achieving stable all-core overclocks up to 4.3GHz on air and 4.5GHz with liquid cooling. This further boosts workstation productivity and gaming frame rates.

For budget-focused PC builders, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 hits a sweet spot of performance while keeping costs down compared to pricier 8-core options. It provides excellent value for smooth 1080p gaming, live streaming, and running creative applications.

Using With AMD X570 and B550 Motherboards

When pairing the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 processor, there are a few chipset and motherboard options to consider that will allow you to maximize performance.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 uses the AM4 CPU socket, which is compatible with AMD 500 series chipsets including:

  • X570 – High-end enthusiast chipset
  • B550 – Mainstream gaming and performance chipset
  • A520 – Budget focused chipset

For most users, a B550 motherboard offers the best combination of features and value:

  • Full PCIe 4.0 support from the CPU
  • Higher memory speeds up to DDR4-4800
  • Multiple M.2 slots for fast NVMe SSDs
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
  • SLI support on some models

The X570 chipset adds more bandwidth for multiple high-speed PCIe 4.0 devices, making it better suited for productivity and content creation workstations. Some features include:

  • More PCIe 4.0 lanes off the chipset
  • Increased USB 3.2 and SATA ports
  • Faster networking and WiFi 6
  • Multiple M.2 slots

Here are some recommended X570 and B550 motherboards to pair with the AMD Ryzen 5 3500:

Budget X570

  • Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus
  • Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite

Mid-Range B550

  • MSI B550-A Pro
  • Asus ROG Strix B550-F
  • ASRock B550 Steel Legend

High-End X570

  • Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero
  • Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme
  • MSI MEG X570 Godlike

Selecting the right X570 or B550 motherboard allows you to get the most performance out of a Ryzen 5 3500 based system, whether you prioritize affordability or top-tier enthusiasts features.

Ryzen 5 3500 vs. Ryzen 5 3600 Comparison

For many builders, a common question is how the 6-core Ryzen 5 3500 stacks up against the popular 6-core Ryzen 5 3600. Let’s compare the key similarities and differences between these two Zen 2 based desktop CPUs.

Specs Comparison:

SpecRyzen 5 3500Ryzen 5 3600
Base Clock3.6GHz3.6GHz
Boost Clock4.1GHz4.2GHz
Total Cache36MB35MB
PCIe VersionPCIe 4.0PCIe 4.0
Manufacturing Process7nm7nm
Memory SupportDDR4-3200DDR4-3200

As you can see from the table, both CPUs have 6 cores and 12 threads. Core counts and clock speeds are similar, but the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 edges out with slightly more total cache. They share the same 7nm manufacturing process and AM4 platform compatibility.

Performance Comparison:

In benchmarks and real-world testing, the Ryzen 5 3600 tends to be about 5-15% faster thanks to having higher boost clocks, a larger L3 cache, and some architecture optimizations.

Here’s how they compare in some common benchmarks at 1080p:

  • Cinebench R20 Single-Thread: Ryzen 5 3600 is 6% faster
  • Cinebench R20 Multi-Thread: Ryzen 5 3600 is 11% faster
  • Geekbench 5: Ryzen 5 3600 is 9% faster
  • Civilization VI Graphics Test: Ryzen 5 3600 is 14% faster

So while the Ryzen 5 3600 has the performance edge, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 still puts up excellent results especially considering its lower cost. The performance gap can be narrowed with overclocking.

Value Comparison:

Retail price is a major consideration when deciding between these two. Since the Ryzen 5 3500 is only available OEM, it can be found in pre-built systems often $70-$100 cheaper than the retail boxed Ryzen 5 3600.

At just a slightly lower price, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 packs great gaming performance and application processing power making it a better budget option in many cases. However, the Ryzen 5 3600 may be worth the extra cost if you need those last few FPS, want to heavily overclock, or utilize the PCIe 4.0 lanes more extensively.

Overall the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 holds its own against the 3600 with only minor performance compromises while costing notably less. It deserves consideration for mid-range gaming rigs and general use PCs where high multi-threaded performance is not absolutely critical.

AMD Ryzen 5 3500

Is the Ryzen 5 3500 Worth Buying?

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 sits in an interesting position in the CPU market. It brings meaningful improvements over prior generation 4-core models, while avoiding the cost of higher 8-core processors. For the right use cases, the 3500 can be an excellent value purchase.

Where the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 Excels

With 6 cores and SMT enabling 12 threads, the 3500 can handle gaming, streaming, and moderate productivity workloads much better than 4-core options. Its single thread performance sees nice gains from the IPC improvements in Zen 2. You get great 1080p gaming frame rates for the money.

The 3500 is also more power efficient thanks to the 7nm process. This allows system builders to utilize quieter stock coolers and reduces the energy footprint. Unlocked multipliers make overclocking easy to extract even more speed.

Potential Drawbacks

The main trade-off is reduced multi-core performance versus pricier 8-core CPUs. While fine for mainstream use, prosumer workstation tasks like video editing, 3D rendering, and heavy multitasking will run faster on chips with higher core counts.

Memory support also tops out at DDR4-3200 speeds, whereas some competing processors reach DDR4-3600 or above. So you leave some RAM overclocking headroom on the table.

Being an OEM-only model, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 can’t be purchased alone for custom builds. Pre-built system availability is limited compared to regular retail boxed processors.

Good Alternatives

If higher multi-threaded throughput is needed, the octa-core Ryzen 7 3700X is a great step up with its 8 cores and 16 threads. It costs more but brings extra performance for demanding workstation use.

The Intel Core i5-10400F should also be considered, trading blows with the Ryzen 5 3500 in games while having weaker multi-threaded abilities. It wins in some titles like CS:GO, Overwatch, and Fortnite.

The Verdict

In the end, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 hits a nice sweet spot that balances solid gaming abilities and moderate productivity power with affordability. For smoothly running top titles at HD and 1440p resolutions while keeping costs down, it’s a CPU worth pursuing if the pre-built configurations match your needs. While not the fastest for creative workflows, it can still crunch through general tasks capably. Few processors pack a better value for strict gaming usage on a budget.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500 delivers strong 1080p gaming performance and decent productivity capabilities at a very competitive price point. For budget-conscious PC builders, it deserves consideration as a mainstream desktop processor.

Some final takeaways and buying advice when it comes to the AMD Ryzen 5 3500:

  • Ideal for mid-range gaming rigs, especially at high frame rate 1080p resolutions
  • Smooth AAA gaming experience and high FPS for esports titles
  • Good for streaming thanks to 6 cores/12 threads
  • Handles general multitasking, office work, and browsing needs easily
  • Can run creative tools like photo/video editors reasonably well
  • Overclocking potential to push performance higher
  • Great bang for buck that avoids the cost of 8-core processors
  • Pair with B550 motherboard and 16-32GB of DDR4-3200 memory
  • Look for pre-built deals to maximize value since retail box isn’t available

For those seeking a balance of strong gaming abilities, decent application speeds, and good energy efficiency at a reasonable price, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500 absolutely fits the bill. It lacks the raw multi-core throughput of pricier chips but makes an affordable PC platform with ample speed for common needs. Focus your search on pre-built systems featuring this CPU to maximize savings over DIY builds with retail boxed processors.

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