The best processor (CPU) for NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3090 is one that can keep up with the ridiculous amount of performance coming from the GPU. If you're on Team Red, AMD's Ryzen 5000 series CPUs are a great match, but you can also go with 10th and 11th Gen Intel hardware if you're leaning toward Team Blue. Either way, we've rounded up the best CPUs for your NVIDIA RTX 3090.
Best overall AMD
The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X delivers 16 cores with 32 threads, as well as a 105W TDP and 4.9GHz boost clock. If you want to get the most from your RTX 3090 in terms of gaming or design work, this should make a fantastic pairing. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5950X to get the right hardware match.
Best overall Intel
The Intel Core i9-10900X brings 10 cores and 20 threads and is unlocked with plenty of room for overclocking. You can get a boost speed up to 4.7GHz with all cores engaged, and it runs at a 165W TDP. Compared to the 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K you get two extra cores, higher maximum memory support (256GB), more memory channels, and more PCIe lanes. Pair it with an Intel x299 motherboard.
The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is a great alternative to the 5950X if you're not looking to spend nearly as much money. It will still handle a heavy workload or a high-resolution 4K gaming experience thanks to 12 cores, 24 threads, boost speed up to 4.8GHz, and a 105W TDP. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5900X for the right pairing.
Intel's Core i9-10900K has 10 cores and 20 threads, all-core boost speed up to 4.8GHz, and a 125W TDP. If you're not looking to get into Intel's X-series chips, this is the way to go for great gaming or intensive workload. Why no 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K? You can get similar performance and a significantly lower price from the 10th Gen option.
Best value Intel
If you're not looking to push 4K gaming and want to instead go with high framerated at QHD, the Intel Core i7-10700K should be a great choice. It has eight cores, 16 threads, and a Turbo clock speed up to 5.0GHz with all cores engaged. Similar to the Core i9, we're sticking with 10th Gen hardware due to similar performance and a better price compared to the 11th Gen Core i7.
Best value AMD
AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X is a super chip that's maybe not as expensive as you might think. You get eight cores, 16 threads, boost frequency at 4.7GHz, and a relatively modest 105W TDP. You're going to be able to crush QHD gaming with this chip, but make sure you get the best motherboard for AMD Ryzen 7 5800X to maximize performance.
Best budget Intel
The RTX 3090 is best paired up with the more powerful CPUs, but that doesn't mean Intel's 11th Gen Core i5-11600K isn't a great pick if you're on a tighter budget after splurging on the GPU. It was six cores, 12 threads, and a Turbo boost up to 4.6GHz with all cores engaged. If you want to tackle QHD gaming in modern AAA titles, this is still a great CPU that won't break the bank.
Best budget AMD
Like the Core i5-11600K, the Ryzen 5 5600X is a low-cost option if you're a bit thin after buying the RTX 3090. It delivers six cores, 12 threads, a 4.6GHz boost frequency, and a 65W TDP. It is a bit more expensive than the i5-11600K, but it's the right choice for those on Team Red. Pair it up with one of the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 5 5600X for best results.
If we're making some suggestions
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.
It's not a good time to be shopping for a GPU, especially the RTX 3090 with its elevated price tag. If you did happen to get your hands on one of the best graphics cards available today, you might be looking to upgrade the rest of your PC to match. If you're still in the process of hunting down a GPU, have a look at our guide on where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series graphics cards for a few tips.
The CPUs listed above will all pair well with the RTX 3090, and depending on your budget and preferred level of performance, you're going to find something you need. If you're shooting for the best performance possible, stick with AMD's Ryzen 9 5950X or Intel's Core i9-10900X. Want to save a bit of money and still get a ton of power? The Ryzen 9 5900X or Core i9-10900K are great alternatives.
For more buying options, be sure to check out our picks for the best processor for your custom PC.
Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.