Best CPU for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The best processor (CPU) for any GPU, including the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, is one that won't bottleneck the graphics card. Even though the RTX 3060 Ti isn't the most capable 30-series GPU from NVIDIA, it's still worth buying a very powerful CPU if you can ensure that there's no bottleneck outside the best graphics card you can afford.
Best overall AMD
The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is a great entry point into AMD's range-topping series of processors. It's not quite as powerful (nor expensive) as the 5950X, but you still get a CPU with 12 cores, 24 threads, as well as a boost speed up to 4.8GHz with a thermal rating of just 105W. If you're pairing it with an RTX 3060 Ti, you should be able to handle QHD gaming without the PC breaking a sweat. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5900X.
Best overall Intel
The Intel Core i7-10700K is a great pick for QHD gaming that costs less. It has eight cores and 16 threads with a boost speed of up to 5.0GHz with all cores. Once again, we're sticking with the 10th Gen version over the 11th Gen version due to similar performance and a much better price. You'll be able to use either a Z490 or Z590 motherboard with this CPU. We rounded up the best Intel Core i7-10700K motherboards to help you get started.
The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is one of the best processors you can buy right now for a standard desktop PC. You likely won't need such performance if you're using only an RTX 3060 Ti, but this will allow plenty of room for upgrading the GPU at a later date. It comes packing 16 cores, 32 threads, and a boost speed up to 4.9GHz with a thermal rating of 105W. You're going to be able to crush QHD and UHD gaming with this chip. We've also got the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5950X.
The Intel Core i9-10900K is actually from the previous generation of Intel 10th Gen processors, replaced by the 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K, but costs less and offers similar performance. It houses 10 cores and 20 threads and is unlocked for overclocking. You can get a boost speed up to 4.8GHz with all cores engaged, and it runs at a 125W TDP. It won't outright beat the Ryzen 9, but it's still a solid CPU for gaming and intensive work.
Best value AMD
The AMD Ryzen 7 5800X is an incredibly powerful CPU available at a reasonable price. It has eight cores, 16 threads, and a boost frequency of up to 4.7GHz with a 105W TDP. This is going to easily handle QHD gaming when paired with the RTX 3060 Ti. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 7 5800X for the right hardware match.
Best budget Intel
We'd usually recommend 10th Gen Intel processors over 11th Gen successors unless you really need PCIe 4.0 support. Where we would recommend an 11th Gen Intel chip for gaming is with the Intel Core i5-11600K. It has six cores, 12 threads, and an all-core boost up to 4.6GHz for strong performance. If you're looking to push quality QHD gaming, this chip is a great way to do it without emptying your wallet.
Best budget AMD
AMD also has more affordable processors available if you want to save some money. The Ryzen 5 5600X is a brilliant chip for the price, rocking six cores, 12 threads, 4.6GHz boost clock, and a low 65W TDP. It costs a bit more than the Intel Core i5-11600K, but if you're on Team Red it will be well worth the money. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 5 5600X to get the right pairing.
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We always recommend purchasing the best graphics cards you can afford. If this is the RTX 3060 Ti, then the processors we recommended here will pair up with the graphics card well. Luckily, the CPU market hasn't been decimated like the GPU market through the current worldwide tech shortage and pandemic. If you are looking for a GPU, we've got a guide on where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series graphics cards.
Any of the above CPUs will do a great job depending on the level of performance you're looking for, but the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X or Intel Core i9-10900K are where the serious performance lies. If you want to push 4K resolutions in modern AAA games, the Ryzen 9 5950X is the ultimate pick. It is, however, quite a bit more expensive than the Core i9.
If you have an Intel build and still want to push performance next to your RTX 3060 Ti, the Core i9-10900K is a great pick with 10 cores and 20 threads. As mentioned, the Core i9-11900K is available, though it doesn't offer enough of a performance boost to warrant the price difference. Stick with the 10th Gen chip for a much better buy.
For more buying options, be sure to check out our picks for the best processor for your custom PC.
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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.