Best CPU for NVIDIA RTX 3060 Windows Central 2022

The best CPUs to pair up with the NVIDIA RTX 3060 are modern options from AMD and Intel that won't hold back the GPU. The RTX 3060 is ideal for gaming at 1080p and 1440p without overspending, and there is a wide range of CPUs that will pair up nicely depending on your budget and desired performance. We've rounded them up right here.

Intel Core i9-12900K

All-out Intel power: Intel Core i9-12900K

Editor's choice

Intel's Core i9-12900K is a major competitor for the Ryzen 9, with a lower price and comparable performance. It uses Intel's new big.LITTLE hybrid core design, it runs at a 125W TDP, it's overclockable, and it brings DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support. A new LGA 1700 socket is required, meaning you will need to also invest in a new motherboard no matter your old build. This is likely overkill for most people, but if you have the budget you won't be disappointed.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE

All-out AMD power: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Staff pick

Want to go all-out with AMD performance? The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X might be overkill for most people, but if you have the budget it's going to absolutely crush anything you throw its way. It has 16 cores, 32 threads, and a 105W TDP with ceiling available for overclocking. It works with the AM4 socket, and it has DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0 support. This is also overkill for most people, but for those with the capital it will make a great choice.

Intel Core I7 12700k

Best value Intel: Intel Core i7-12700K

The Core i7-12700K easily beats the Ryzen 7 5800X in most benchmarks, but it does cost a bit more. The DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support set it up nicely for the future, but it does require a new motherboard to accommodate the LGA 1700 socket. It uses Intel's big.LITTLE hybrid design, with 12 total cores and 20 threads. It runs at a 125W TDP.

Ryzen 7 5800X

Best value AMD: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

The Ryzen 7 5800X isn't quite as powerful as the i7-12700K, but it's less expensive and will still easily keep up with the RTX 3070. It has 8 cores, 16 threads, and a 105W TDP. It's overclockable and supports DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0. Thanks to the AM4 socket, you can use it with older AMD motherboards to help keep the cost down.

Intel Core I5 12600k

Best affordable Intel: Intel Core i5-12600K

The Intel Core i5-12600K is an incredible mid-range CPU that beats out the Ryzen 5 in most benchmarks. It costs about the same amount, but you will have to factor in a new motherboard with LGA 1700 socket. DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support set you up well for the future, and it benefits from the same big.LITTLE hybrid design as the other 12th Gen Intel CPUs. If you're on a tighter budget, this will make an awesome pairing with the RTX 3060.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X SE

Best affordable AMD: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

The Ryzen 5 is about the same price as the Core i5-12600K, but it doesn't bring quite as much power with its 6 cores and 12 threads. Still, the lower 65W TDP, PCIe 4.0 support, and overclocking ceiling will appeal to many. Especially with the AM4 socket that doesn't absolutely require a new motherboard if you're upgrading from an older AMD build. This is an ideal pairing for the RTX 3060 for anyone working with a smaller budget.

Your NVIDIA RTX 3060 PC build

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 excels at 1080p, but it can also handle 1440p gaming with relative ease. Basing a PC build around one of these GPUs is a favorite for many people who don't want to spend obscene amounts of money; at least during times when the best graphics cards aren't sold out everywhere or are being scalped for obscene prices. In any case, if you do have an RTX 3060, you want to be sure that your CPU can keep up.

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X or Intel Core i5-12600K will make the most sensical pairing for anyone who's looking to keep things within an affordable price range. Though they don't bring as much power as their pricier counterparts, they can still provide an awesome gaming experience. A lot of people say you don't need more than this level of performance for gaming unless you're an enthusiast or have other tasks in mind for the CPU.

If you're searching for something with a bit more oomph, the Ryzen 7 5800X or Core i7-12700K should be great choices. They're going to handle other tasks — especially those that require heavier multitasking performance — better, and they will crush gaming needs. They're still relatively affordable, at least compared to the Ryzen 9 and Core i9 options.

The Ryzen 9 5950X and Core i9-12900K are expensive CPUs that will appeal mostly to enthusiasts with more of an overhead available in their budget. For most people these chips aren't necessary, but they will deliver the best performance.

For those who opt for Intel's 12th Gen "Alder Lake" CPUs, be sure you have a motherboard that can handle the new LGA 1700 socket. These new motherboards also bring support for PCIe 5.0 and either DDR4 or DDR5 RAM.

Our collections of the best motherboards for Core i5-12600K, best motherboards for Core i7-12700K, and best motherboards for Core i9-12900K can help you choose the right base for your build.

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