Best CPU for AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT in 2020
Picking an Intel or AMD processor for a PC build with an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT will provide some awesome gaming results, but if you want the absolute best at launch, you'll want to go with an AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPU. The Radeon RX 6800 XT isn't AMD's best graphics card, but it does have some considerable firepower for even the most demanding PC games. We've rounded up some of the best CPUs to use with it.
Best Overall AMD
The Ryzen 9 5950X is a monster of a CPU and is AMD's range-topping option within the Ryzen 9 family of processors. It houses 16 cores and 32 threads, and performance is about as good as those numbers suggest. This CPU will be able to handle even the most demanding of games at 1440p and 4K. The Radeon RX 6800 XT won't be able to push this CPU to its limit, but at least you know that it'll gladly be paired with a more powerful GPU once you upgrade.
Best Overall Intel
The Intel Core i9-10900X is an X-series processor and requires a specific Intel x299 motherboard, but this requirement should be overlooked since it's well worth it. The 10 cores and 20 threads offer plenty of performance for single and multi-core applications, including games. It's easily a match for the Radeon RX 6800 XT.
While this may be a step-down from the Ryzen 9 5950X, we're still going for a Ryzen 9 5900X, which comes with 12 cores and 24 threads. It's a ridiculous number for a consumer-grade application, but this CPU is great for gaming. With a Radeon RX 6800 XT, you'll be able to enjoy butter-smooth gaming at 1440p.
We reviewed the slightly more powerful Core i9-10900K we reviewed favorably, but this Core i9-10850K isn't far behind. It still houses 10 cores and 20 threads, but the TDP rating and clock speeds are a little slower. This CPU is unlocked, however, allowing you to bump the clock speeds up and almost match the 10900K.
Best Value AMD
It was madness to call a processor with 8 cores and 16 threads anything but "God tier" for performance and price, but now the Ryzen 7 5800X is considered mid-tier, which is still strange to many. If you're looking for a good bang for your buck and can't cover a Ryzen 9 purchase, this processor is still very fast and great for gaming.
Best Value Intel
Much like the Ryzen 7 5800X, the Core i7-10700K from Intel houses 8 cores and 16 threads, making it one fine mid-tier processor from team blue. This CPU does have a slight advantage over AMD's offerings with the ever-so-slightly better single-core performance. There's also an integrated GPU if you need to use one before buying the GPU.
Best Budget AMD
The Ryzen 5 series of processors are yet more affordable than what we've covered already but still come with plenty of cores and threads for you to throw tasks at. It has 6 cores and 12 threads, making this one amazing value-centric CPU. Paired up with the Radeon RX 6800 XT, you'll have one capable gaming rig.
Best Budget Intel
Intel hasn't completely left the mid-range game and has the Core i5-10600K, which also has 6 cores and 12 threads (have you noticed a theme yet?). Should you already own an Intel motherboard or prefer team blue, this is the best value chip, but if you're starting fresh, we'd recommend the Ryzen 5 5600X.
Choosing the best CPU for AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
Why you can trust Windows Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Picking up the right CPU for your gaming PC build largely comes down to what you plan on playing. If it's simply Fortnite, you can get away with an AMD Ryzen 5 or Intel Core i5 and RX 6800 XT to call it a day. Should you want to try some more demanding games at higher resolutions, it may be worth investing in a better processor. If you want the very best, go with the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.
As aforementioned, you likely won't require all that performance, which is where the excellent AMD Ryzen 9 5900X comes into play. It's a little cheaper, has fewer cores, but is more reasonable for gaming (and your budget). For an Intel motherboard and PC build, you'll want to go with the exceptionally powerful Intel Core i9-10850K.
If you're all about value, the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is a great middle-ground that balances performance and price. The same goes for the Intel Core i7-10700K, which is almost as good as the i9-10900K sibling. There are other value options, too, if you feel comfortable going for a processor with fewer cores and threads.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.