Best CPU for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Windows Central 2021

The best processor (CPU) for NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3080 is one that won't bottleneck the absolutely monstrous power coming from the card. In this case, AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs are a great match, but Intel isn't far behind with its 10th Gen "Comet Lake" and 11th Gen "Rocket Lake" Core chips. We've rounded up the best CPUs right here if you have an RTX 3080 that needs a partner.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE Crop

Best overall AMD: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Editor's choice

The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is a killer CPU that will have no issues keeping up with the RTX 3080. You get a whopping 16 cores, 32 threads, and a boost speed up to 4.9GHz with 105W TDP. You're going to be able to crush QHD and UHD gaming with this chip, but expect to pay dearly for all that power. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5950X for the right pairing.

Intel Core i9 10900K

Best overall Intel: Intel Core i9-10900K

Staff pick

The Intel Core i9-10900K brings 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's not going to beat the Ryzen 9, but it's still an awesome CPU for gaming and intensive work. This is a better option than the 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900K due to similar performance and a significantly lower price.

Amd Ryzen 9 5900x

Runner-up AMD: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

If you'd still like to get in on a Ryzen 9 but don't want to pay top dollar, the 5900X is a great alternative that will still handle quality modern gaming and heavy workloads. It has 12 cores, 24 threads, and a boost speed up to 4.8GHz with a 105W TDP. If you're pairing it with an RTX 3080, you should be able to handle QHD and UHD gaming with ease. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 9 5900X.

Core I7 10700k

Runner-up Intel: Intel Core i7-10700K

If you'd rather not spend Core i9 money and aren't looking to push high-end 4K gaming, the Intel Core i7-10700K is a great pick for QHD gaming that costs less. It has eight cores and 16 threads with a Turbo up to 5.0GHz with all cores. We're sticking with the 10th Gen version over the 11th Gen version due to similar performance and a much better price.

Ryzen 7 5800x

Best value AMD: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

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 up to 4.7GHz with a 105W TDP. This is going to easily handle QHD gaming when paired with the RTX 3080. Check out the best motherboards for AMD Ryzen 7 5800X for the right hardware match.

Intel Core I5 11600k

Best budget Intel: Intel Core i5-11600K

While the 11th Gen Core i7 and Core i9 chips might not necessarily be a better buy than 10th Gen alternatives, the Core i5-11600K is a killer CPU for anyone who doesn't want to spend big. 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.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X SE Crop

Best budget AMD: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

AMD isn't without its own budget chip that can put up strong numbers if you're gaming at a QHD resolution. You're getting 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.

If we're making some suggestions

The GPU market is far more cutthroat than the CPU market, but if you managed to get your hands on one of the best graphics cards you are probably looking for a great CPU to pair it with. And if you haven't yet grabbed a new GPU, check out our guide on where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series graphics cards for some pointers.

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 at the top. 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 3080, 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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