With AMD now several months post release of their current AM5 platform, I figured that the sun was setting on AMD’s previous-generation AM4 platform. But, it would seem, AM4 is going to get one last hurrah, as AMD is preparing to release a new chip for the platform: a V-cache equipped, hex-core Ryzen 5 5600X. And while the chip itself is notable in a couple of ways, what’s likely going to end up better remembered is the unusual launch of the chip, with it being released as a limited edition Micro Center exclusive on July 7th.
First things first, let’s start with the chip itself. The Ryzen 5 5600X3D is a 6 core Zen 3 processor with AMD’s 64MB V-cache die stacked on top, giving the Zen 3-era chip a total of 96MB of L3 cache. Architecturally, it’s a lower-bin SKU of the same silicon AMD uses to make their existing 5800X3D, just running at marginally lower clockspeeds and with two CPU cores fused off. In practice, this is a salvage part to make use of Zen 3 CCDs with minor defects, just like the regular Ryzen 5 5600X.
|AMD Ryzen 7000/5000 X3D Chips|
|Ryzen 9 7950X3D||16C / 32T||4.2 GHz||5.7 GHz||DDR5-5200||128 MB||120W||162W||$628|
|Ryzen 9 7900X3D||12C / 24T||4.4 GHz||5.6 GHz||DDR5-5200||128 MB||120W||162W||$520|
|Ryzen 7 7800X3D||8C / 16T||4.2 GHz||5.0 GHz||DDR5-5200||96 MB||120W||162W||$420|
|Ryzen 7 5800X3D||8C / 16T||3.4 GHz||4.5 GHz||DDR4-3200||96 MB||105W||142W||$280|
|Ryzen 5 5600X3D||6C /12T||3.3 GHz||4.4 GHz||DDR4-3200||96 MB||105W||142W||$230|
|Ryzen 5 5600X||6C /12T||3.7 GHz||4.6 GHz||DDR4-3200||32 MB||65W||88W||$148|
With regards to the processor’s specifications, it looks pretty much exactly like what you’d expect for a Ryzen 5 X3D part. The base clockspeed of 3.3GHz and boost clockspeed of 4.4GHz are a step below the full Ryzen 7 5800X3D, and along with the loss of 2 CPUs cores, the chip is taking a modest hit to CPU throughput. However, because disabling two CPU cores doesn’t disable any of the L3 cache within AMD’s Zen 3 CCD, the chip still has all of its 96MB of L3 cache available – making this the lowest-end AMD part to get a supersized L3 cache pool.
Otherwise, the rest of the official specs are the same as the 5800X3D that this lesser chip is cut from. That means power consumption is rated for a TDP of 105W (142W PPT), which is in-line with most of the rest of the Ryzen 5000X family, though it is a tier higher than the 65W TDP of the 5600X that it will be sitting next to within AMD’s product stack. And, lest anyone has forgotten following the Ryzen 7000 launch, as this is a Zen 3 desktop CPU only DDR4 memory is supported, and there isn’t an integrated GPU of any kind.
While there’s nothing particularly unusual about AMD releasing a salvage part to fill in a spot in their product lineup, AMD’s decision to release this so late into AM4’s lifecycle – after the Ryzen 5000X3D family’s successors are already released – does stand out. Although AMD is taking an unusually distant approach to this launch (more on that in a second), all signs point to AMD opting to offload the relatively small number of defective chips that they have amassed over the past year as part of 5800X3D production.
Because AMD does not have any current Ryzen 5000X3D chip SKUs with 6 CPU cores, and the 5800X3D requires a “perfect” Zen 3 + V-cache die, AMD hasn’t had an outlet for chips that fail to make the grade. On larger run products like the regular Ryzen 5000 family, this would be accounted for from the start with parts like the 5600X, but the V-cache Ryzen 5000X3D family is produced in relatively small numbers to begin with, so there aren’t a lot of defective-but-salvageable chips sitting around (most of the duds would be a bad connection between the CCD and v-cache die, we reckon). Still, if you produce something like the 5800X3D for long enough, those defective chips do start stacking up. So AMD’s options are to either dispose of them, or to make a profit out of them – and thus we get the Ryzen 5 5600X3D.
Hardware-wise, I’m a bit surprised to see that AMD has enough of these harvested chips to even bother with a salvage run. The intricate die stacking required to place a V-cache die on a CCD means that there’s no reason AMD should be placing the cache on anything less than a perfect, 8 core Zen 3 CCD. Still, it would seem that either the CCD validation process or the stacking process is imprecise enough that a few less-than-perfect parts still make it through the cracks. And hey, it makes for some good conversational hardware.
In any case, the low volume of the Ryzen 5 5600X3D means that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a competitive chip over the long haul of the market; it only needs to sell out once. And with a price tag of $229.99, it shouldn’t have too much trouble doing so. At this price it’s $50 below the 5800X3D and some $82 more expensive than the vanilla 5600X, which is similar to the premium for the 5800X3D over its regular counterpart.
As with the 5800X3D, what will make or break the chip are those workloads that can make use of the chip’s expansive 96MB of L3 cache. Which for the consumer market has primarily been games. For those games that benefit from the large L3 cache size – and have been the reason du jure to get the 5800X3D up until now – the 96MB of L3 cache in the even cheaper 5600X3D makes for an interesting and potentially performative alternative – at least so long as that workload won’t greatly miss the two disabled CPU cores.
Otherwise, the second most convincing use case for the short stocked chip will be as an upgrade for existing AM4 systems. It won’t be a halo upgrade part like the 5800X3D, but if your workloads benefit enough to justify getting an X3D chip over a cheaper vanilla processor, it’s another option to consider.
Ryzen 5 5600X3D: A Limited Volume, Micro Center Exclusive
But what’s perhaps most interesting about this launch is not what’s being launched, but whom it’s being launched with. As noted earlier, this is a low volume part – so low that a traditional global launch is seemingly out of the question. So rather than releasing the part worldwide with hundreds of partner retailers, AMD is partnering with just a single company to release it in a single region: Micro Center.
The beloved brick and motor PC parts retailer will be the only store receiving the Ryzen 5 5600X3D. And indeed, while this is an AMD chip, it’s very much Micro Center’s launch. AMD isn’t promoting the processor or even issuing any press releases; all of that is being handled by Micro Center. It’s about as exclusive as a processor launch can get, short of a retailer requisitioning their own chip SKU.
The exclusive launch with Micro Center means that, among other things, this is a de facto US-only part. Regional rarities are not unheard of (AMD and Intel have been known to launch China-only parts now and then), but it’s less common to get something that’s US-only. Meanwhile, even if you’re in the US, you’ll need access to a Micro Center store to get the chip. The company’s retail footprint is limited, with just 25 stores, primarily in the mid-west and east. So even in AMD’s own backyard of Austin, Texas, the 5600X3D technically isn’t available.
Above all else, the exclusivity of the launch underscores the limited number of chips that will be available. While neither Micro Center nor AMD are disclosing the total number of chips being made available, if a mid-sized retailer like Micro Center can move enough chips to use up whatever AMD is supplying, then we’re looking at a very small number compared to the typically massive global launch. Still, our colleagues over at Tom’s Hardware report that Micro Center has told them that they expect to have “several months of availability,” so it’s also not necessarily a product that will sell out forever on its first day.
In any case, Micro Center will be selling the chip alone, as well as part of a couple of different bundles. The solo chip will be $230, and like its 5800X3D counterpart, is sold chip-only, without a bundled cooler. Meanwhile, Micro Center will also be offering a $330 bundle that pairs the chip with ASUS’s B550-PLUS TUF Gaming Motherboard and 16GB of G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4 memory. Finally, the store will be offering a full-on prebuilt system as well, the PowerSpec G516, which will round out the collection with a Radeon RX 6650 XT and a 500GB SSD for $850. All three options will go on sale on July 7th.