Description

This Ryzen 5 3600 build replaces my aging Core i5-7600K/GTX 1050 TI workstation from a few years back. The intention was to cobble together a spec sheet that can handle the increasing amount of 4K video and color editing (from my Fujifilm X-T3 and X-H1 cameras) as well as provide reasonably quick storage for my primary work as a photographer. With that in mind, the build was oriented towards real-world usage in creative software, specifically Davinci Resolve, Lightroom CC, and Photoshop, and not gaming (though I do dabble), and that intended use case informed some of the decisions I made hardware-wise (so read on if there are some choices that baffle you, as there's probably a reason I made any "confusing" component selections - also, this also explains the lack of RGB). Likewise, I tried to make good use of what I already had, so some parts are best approximations of items that can no longer be readily found through PC Partpicker.

In any case, overall performance is very solid/stable (the latter being a must-have for my professional work), and the few optimizations I made in terms of things like enabling XMP. read/write caching with multiple drives/excess system memory, and 8GB of VRAM make a big difference for my specific use case. Below is a brief point-by-point breakdown of the parts I chose and why, just in case you're interested in building a similar editing-focused system.

Ryzen 5 3600 This is mainly about finding a good middle ground between price and available cores/threads. Lightroom and Photoshop are admittedly still pretty poorly optimized for spreading out their compute-heavy tasks over lots of cores (Adobe is honestly infuriating that way, and it's why I don't use Premiere), but Davinci Resolve utilizes the 12 threads pretty well, and it's worlds faster compared to my old 4-core/4-thread Core i5-7600K (even with the latter being overclocked a bit). It's possible that in the future I'll find need for additional cores/threads, but AMD certainly has me covered in that regard with Ryzen 7 and 9 options, and their continued support for the AM4 socket is greatly appreciated compared to Intel's yearly socket/chipset "upgrades" forcing me to consider new boards and processors for rather middling performance gains.

Gigabyte X570 Gaming X Seems a decent board, but the temptation was certainly high to go with a B450 series AM4 board to save a buck. What swayed me in the end was the support for faster PCIe 4.0 storage and expansion slots, the former of which is very useful for video editing (more on that below). That, and Microcenter here in the U.S. had a good bundle price on this board, the Ryzen 5 3600, and a copy of Windows for about $420 USD, so the difference didn't end up being that much between this and B450 board.

Memory I didn't actually go with the G.Skill Ripjaws V kit listed (though I used a lower speed 16GB kit of theirs in my previous system and it's fine), but instead went with a Timetec 32GB/3200MHz kit from Amazon for $120. It's in two 16GB sticks, that way I can easily upgrade to 64GB in the future if it seems useful. For around $120, the Timetec kit performs just as well, and the extra memory speed over a 3000MHz kit does make a difference with Ryzen, so overall worth it. Higher speed would have been nice, but at the time of purchase 3200MHz was the best balance of price to performance I could find (at least in a 2x16GB kit).

SATA 240GB SSD Again, not the exact drive in my rig, but I already had a slightly older 220GB Toshiba OCZ drive (see photos) from my old system to reuse. I like the particular OCZ drive I have because it's decently fast for SATA, but it does have a fairly low TBW endurance rating. However, since it's purpose is actually as a read/write L2 cache drive (split is 165GB/55GB for read vs. write portions) for the 8TB Seagate spinning drive listed below, which is setup using PrimoCache (great software, btw, and very affordable for a single PC license at $30), the low TBW rating isn't too important. In addition to 4GB of RAM allocated as L1 Cache, this speeds up offloads from memory cards to the full 200Mbps supported by my UHS-II media as well as improving reads of recent/frequently accessed data on current photo and video editing projects.

M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD I actually went with a 512GB ADATA XPG NVMe as my boot drive for the same price as the Sabrent Rocket listed, but PC Partpicker only has the older 480GB and 960GB versions available to select (and for way higher prices than the current 512GB and 1TB versions actually go for). Doesn't really matter as the rated speeds are nearly identical, and the 600 TBW was enough to give me peace of mind in terms of reliability/longevity. Suffice to say, it works well and software load times are snappy indeed.

Crucial P1 NVMe PCIe SSD This 1TB M.2 drive comes from my previous build, though it was a relatively recent addition to that machine prior to its cannibalization. Previously it was the boot drive, but now it's just a scratch/render cache disk primarily used in video editing and Photoshop compositing. This improves playback and scrubbing in the former immensely, which makes editing take less time and require fewer "touch ups" later, so it's well worth the extra expense (since my time is my actual money when it comes to editing and delivering work to clients).

Seagate Barracuda Compute 8TB 3.5" 5400RPM This is the main storage drive for my current photo and video projects. Older stuff gets off-loaded and archived as necessary via an external 3.5" HDD dock, usually once every year (though the pace is accelerating with more video work...). As mentioned above, this drive is read/write cached using both 4GB of system memory and a dedicated 220GB SATA SSD as L1 and L2 cache, respectively, which helps compensate for the fact that it's a slower drive spinning at 5400RPM. Overall, it's a good solution, though I wouldn't rule out purchasing more RAM and a larger SATA SSD in the future to decrease write time for incoming photos/footage and increase the amount of data that's read-cached.

XFX Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB THICC II Pro I suspect this is the part of the build that will have most people scratching their heads, as this card isn't notably faster than an RX 580 and is perhaps a bit slower than a GTX 1660. The thing is, the 5500 XT has 8GB of VRAM (same as the RX 580, but 2 more than the 1660) and it can theoretically load up that VRAM at PCIe 4.0 speeds. For video editing especially (and particularly in Davinci Resolve), that extra VRAM is more helpful than the raw power, however, the promise of PCIe 4.0 hasn't panned out yet as no video software developers have made us of it. Still, I suspect that will change in the future, and it will be nice to have a card that takes advantage of the faster standard. As such, at the $199 USD purchase price, it's a good compromise skewed toward my professional use rather than gaming frame rates. Doesn't mean I'll stick with it forever (the Radeon RX 5700 is only $100 more, after all...), but it's good for now.

Phanteks P300 ATX Mid Tower I considered a number of cases in the $50-70 range, and this seemed to strike the best balance of decent airflow, capable management, reasonable aesthetics, and price. If I were to do it again, I'd probably go with one of Corsair's R-series cases with the extra sound deadening for a little more money, as quieter trumps prettier for me. Still, this paired with the Arctic case fans below and a reasonable fan curve set in the BIOS is just fine, and it does look pretty slick even without RGB.

EVGA BQ 600W 80+ Bronze Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply Good price when I bought it ($55 USD after rebate), plenty of overhead wattage for upgrading CPU/GPU in the future, and semi-modular so I didn't need deal with any extra cables I wouldn't actually use. I honestly don't get the fully-modular thing when you're always going to need board and CPU power - unless you're an aesthetics freak and need custom colors on your sleeved cables. But then I got the white Phanteks P300 on Amazon because it was $4 cheaper than the black one, so pristine visual presentation clearly isn't my worry.

Windows 10 Home Gotta run something. Resolve actually works better/best on Linux, but Adobe won't develop anything for Linux (and neither will their competitors), so Windows it is. Home edition is fine for me as I'm one photographer/videographer/editor.

Artic PWM Case Fans No particular brand preference, but I've had good luck with Arctic when it comes to performance vs. cost, so why not. The black frame and white blade options I went with look good with the black/white case and motherboard PCB combo, so it's aesthetically pleasing enough. I also went with the PST (PWM-sharing technology) version of these fans so I could daisy chain multiple fans and more easily cable manage from the most conveniently-placed fan headers on the board.

Overall system cost given bundle discounts and slightly cheaper actually components used is probably more like $1250-$1300, but the listed PC Partpicker cost isn't too far from the mark. It's a competent rig for photo and 4K video editing, including niceties related to improving bulk storage speed, file offloads from memory cards, and ample amounts of fast scratch disk for better playback/scrubbing during video editing - but if that stuff doesn't make sense for you, obviously subtract those components from your build and save the money.

Part Reviews

CPU

Hard to fault the performance for the price. Got mine on an even further discount in a decent motherboard/CPU/Windows 10 bundle at Microcenter for $160 (and I've seen them on sale for as low as $150), and for that price it's insane - especially considering Intel doesn't come close at the price point.

Motherboard

Only knock to the board is the slightly annoying fan header placement, but that's honestly not worth taking off a whole star; I'd give it a 4.75 star review if I could, as everything else more than satisfactory - BIOS is solid, aesthetics are decent without being overdone, and price is good for a competent X570 board.

Storage

Speeds are as advertised, but for the price I'd like to think Crucial could have managed a higher TBW rating. Still, the warranty is solid and performance is good, so not too much to complain about.

Storage

Exactly what it says it is. Speeds are actually pretty good for a 5400RPM drive, but it definitely benefits from write caching with something like Optane or custom solutions using PrimoCache.

Case

Great case for just over $50. Cable management is solid, toolless drive bays/slots are nice, fan/radiator compatibility is terrific, and the aesthetics and build quality are solid for the price. Really nothing much to complain about.

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Comments

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 point

How well is playback in Davinci for you? What are some of the rendering times? What are the usage percentages of the cpu/gpu during playback/rendering?

  • 25 days ago
  • 1 point

Playback is generally good, but it obviously depends on what footage/codec I'm using. For H.264 shot in Log with a few color/exposure adjustments, playback is generally quite good (i.e. close to full 30 fps, with occasional dips down to 26/27 fps), though it's possible to bog it down a bit with enough adjustments, Fusion layers, LUTs, etc. If I'm working on a more complex project and not super pressed for time, I do like to make use of the second NVMe SSD and "generate optimized media" for all the footage in the project, but obviously there's some wait time associated with that choice. That said, when working with cached/optimized clips, playback/scrubbing is always like butter.

Render times are generally good, even when compressing 4K source down to 1080 for final delivery - something like 1.4x actual speed (so 10 min clip would take ~14 mins to render). I work mostly with live performance stuff, though, so the complexity of the edit is mostly limited to color work, stabilization, and multi-cam cuts (which is just to say your mileage may vary if you're doing something more intense).

One thing to note - I've since upped my GPU to an RX 5600 XT (been gaming more given the lockdown...), and obviously that makes some difference as well, but my notes above are largely indicative of performance with the 5500 XT. I also dabble in Hackintosh-ing (quite successfully with this hardware - very good Final Cut performance, just in case you're interested), hence the AMD loyalty since macOS only supports modern Radeon cards. However, if I didn't mess with macOS like that, I'd go with the GTX 1660 (probably a Super, or maybe even an RTX 2060 if I could swing it) since DaVinci now uses NVIDIA's hardware NVENC encoder, and given the rave reviews out there about it I'm guessing render times would be even better with NVIDIA. Still, performance with the Radeon cards is solid (I'm using a Sapphire Pulse 5600 XT, just for reference); given the comparison between the 6GB of VRAM on the 5600 and the 8GB on the 5500, I'd say it's a pretty negligible difference, at least for my use.

Hope that's helpful!

  • 25 days ago
  • 1 point

Definitely helpful thank you! I'm looking at making a build that will for now handle editing 1080p (1440p or 4k in the future) and slight gaming (warzone/apex). I mostly wanted it to be considered a good pc for 5 years or so. Here's the list I made https://pcpartpicker.com/list/Grmksk

A lot of youtubers/websites were saying Davinci is gpu heavy but I found them all recommending a expensive cpu AND gpu. I think a ryzen 5 3600 would be just fine but I honestly don't know. I was thinking of saving some money with a 5700 xt but the reviews are just horrible with all the problems with the drivers and they just don't seem to be guaranteed reliable. On the other hand gtx cards look a lot better to me and seem to actually be reliable plus better technology. I was thinking a 2060 would be just fine for Davinci but to make it a little more future proof I added a 2060 super to my list. Depending when the time comes I might make the sacrifice with another $100 towards a 2070 super.

  • 24 days ago
  • 2 points

Yeah, no qualms about the Ryzen 5 3600 - it’s been very solid for editing and handles even 4K just fine, including renders. Premiere doesn’t even really make full use of the 12 threads... but DaVinci is much better in that regard.

As for the Radeon drivers, yes, they were kind of a mess until sometime late February/early March, but they finally got it sorted and things have been very stable since, both in gaming and with Resolve, so I wouldn’t let the previous driver issues bother you. Still, performance measured by Puget Systems shows the RTX 2060 Super coming out ahead of the 5700XT (at least for the time being), so I’d lean that way as well if you’re saving for something in that price range anyway.