NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is a high-end graphics card based on the Ampere architecture and follows the higher-end models like RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3090, and RTX 3090 Ti. The performance of this graphics card makes it great for 4K gaming or at least 1440P high-refresh-rate, which is why this GPU is highly renowned among enthusiasts. Now, you will need a powerful processor to match this processor’s potential, which is why we will review the best CPU for RTX 3080 in this article.
Intel Alder Lake processors seemed to have turned the tables with their new architecture. The 12th-generation processors come with two kinds of cores, i.e., performance and efficiency. As in our test builds, most RTX 3080 graphics cards perform well with these processors. The performance cores have Hyper-Threading enabled too, which is why the number of threads in the processors is not double the number of cores.
On the other hand, AMD has released some inspiring processors such as Ryzen 7 5800X3D, which are based on the same architecture as other latest generation processors by AMD, namely Zen3, but with improvements such as AMD 3D V-Cache. So far, Ryzen 7 5800X3D is the only processor with this technology, which makes its L3 cache three times larger than Ryzen 7 5800X.
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Intel plans to launch Raptor Lake processors in late 2022, and the same goes for AMD, which is looking to release the Zen4 processors. Don’t forget to check out our latest generation motherboards guide so you can get the maximum out of your processor and graphics card. Right now, the game seems even, although gamers are opting for Intel processors more due to better features in the motherboards such as DDR5 memory and PCI-E 5.0.
Even though a computer case doesn’t affect the performance of the graphics card for the processor much but still to make things easy, we’ve made a detailed guide on the best RTX 3080 cases. You might already know that this graphics card’s size is much larger than the previous generation’s cards.
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The 6 Best CPU for RTX 3080 Reviews
Intel Core i9-12900K
Intel has been losing a lot of market share and ground ever since AMD launched its 3000 series in 2017. The 5000 series by AMD was even a worse blow, and Intel had to do something to get back in the competition. They started to gain some ground with the 11th gen of processors after refining their 14 nm transistor size to the extreme. But it wasn’t enough, so they came up with a newer refining process which made their transistor size smaller down to 10 nm, also known as 10ESF.
The 12th gen of Intel processors, based on the 10ESF (Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin), packed some serious performance and were Intel’s answer to the severe beating they took from AMD over recent years. The Intel Core i9-12900K is the flagship processor of the 12th gen, dubbed the Alder Lake.
Intel had become complacent in the past, and the Core i9 12900K is the right innovation that was much needed to stay afloat in this highly competitive market. The processor has 16 cores and 24 threads and contains 8 performance cores and 8 efficient cores. The base clocks of the P and E cores have been rated at 3.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz, with boost clocks reaching 5.1 GHz on P cores and 3.9 GHz on the E cores, and it has a rated TDP of 125W. The chip can reach a Turbo Boost max of 5.2 GHz and, with this kind of performance, goes head-to-head with AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X which is also a flagship processor.
The processor currently boasts the title of the fastest single core performance in benchmarks and can easily handle a high-end GPU like the RTX 3080 without breaking a sweat. It also has an integrated GPU, but you won’t need it since you’ll be running the discrete GPU. It also supports DDR5, which allows for even faster RAM speeds.
Before you buy this processor, a word of caution is that it tends to run hot. Being the K variant, it has ample OC headroom, so make sure you invest in an efficient cooling solution to fully take advantage of the performance it brings to the table.
We put this processor on top of our best CPU for RTX 3080 list because of its pricing and performance; however, as you know, it’s a flagship processor, so you need to spend enough cash on the motherboard and other components too.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
In 2020 when AMD launched its Ryzen 5000 series based on the newer Zen 3 7 nm architecture, they shocked the world and further knocked out Intel off the playground. They showcased the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X to flaunt their newer architecture and performance and claimed the best gaming processor in the world at that point.
The 5600X is an excellent processor choice that lets you save your budget to be allocated elsewhere in the build while not compromising gaming performance. It’s a pure gaming processor designed to dish out those extra frames you would need while gaming online or offline AAA titles.
The processor comes with 6 cores and 12 threads and has one of the best single core benchmarks scores due to its newer design and faster IPC, making it a very obvious choice if gaming is your main use case for your PC. It boasts a base clock of 3.7 GHz, a boost clock of 4.6 GHz, and a TDP of 65W, which is more than enough to handle even the most demanding games at the highest resolution when you pair it up with a GPU like the RTX 3080.
To take advantage of the performance that the Ryzen 5 5600X has to offer, make sure you pair it up with a B550 chipset motherboard at least. If you already have a Ryzen build, you won’t need to spend extra on buying another motherboard, unlike Intel, which requires you to get a newer motherboard when you upgrade from the previous generation. Since it’s the X variant, the processor can be OCed too but make sure you have adequate cooling, as these new chips tend to run at higher temps.
This processor won’t let you down in that department, even if you don’t play games and want a PC for content creation. The Ryzen 5 5600X is a powerful processor, packs a lot of performance, and it’s the best CPU for RTX 3080 without having any bottlenecking issues. On the downside, it doesn’t support newer technologies like the DDR5 and PCIe 5.0, but it more than makes it up in performance and value.
Intel Core i7-12700K
If you’re looking to get a price-to-performance product and don’t want to go for the top-end Core i9 12900K processor, then I advise you to go for the next product in the lineup, the Core i7 12700K. Coming in with a huge performance gain over its previous generation counterpart, the Core i7 11700K, the processor sits right between the gap of Core i9 12900K and Ryzen 9 5900X.
The Alder Lake processor comes with 12 cores and 20 threads and, like its colleagues, is based on the 10ESF ((Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin); it comes with 8 performance cores and 4 efficient cores. The base clocks on the P and E cores are set at 3.6 GHz and 2.7 GHz. The boost clocks are set at 4.9 GHz for the P cores and 3.8 GHz for the E cores. The max Turbo frequency can achieve an all-core boost of 5.0 GHz, making it a performance powerhouse.
The TDP is rated at 125W, and the 12 MB L2 cache processor can handle all modern games and applications, no matter how resource intensive, without breaking a sweat. You can run all games at high frame rates at the 4K resolution and this is why we recommend it as the best CPU for RTX 3080 and other high-end graphics cards.
To draw out the full potential, make sure you pair it up with a Z690 chipset motherboard and also make sure that you have ample cooling as this chip runs hotter than most modern processors and even draws a lot of power when you’re running it on OC.
So make sure you have yourself a PSU to cover your power needs and a cooler which can dissipate the heat generated by the processor at a fast rate so you can avoid issues regarding thermal throttling. Overall, it’s a great processor that delivers high performance and will last a while.
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Team RED has long been coming up with innovations in the computer processors field. While they usually tracked behind Intel, with the Ryzen 3000 series processors, they finally turned the tables on Intel. The 5900X directly succeeds the 3900X, but it’s based on the newer Zen 3 7nm architecture AMD launched in 2020.
In the modern world, gaming and content creation have become resource intensive and require a lot of performance. But fret not; the 5900X is a beast regarding raw performance and can run whatever you throw. Featuring a base clock of 3.7 GHz and a boost clock of 4.8 GHz, the 12-core and the 24-thread processor can run the most demanding games at 100+ FPS which makes it the best CPU for RTX 3080 but only if you have enough cash to spend on other components.
The TDP is set to 105W, goes head-to-head with top-end processors from the competition, and holds its own. AMD has refined the architecture so that the cores are closer to each other, making them faster as they can retrieve information faster, thus boasting an increased rate of IPC over the previous generation.
At this point, it is one of the best gaming processors that AMD offers. No matter if you’re playing AAA titles or competitive online games, this processor has the performance to deliver the frames you need for a smooth and high-fidelity experience.
To run the processor at its full potential, make sure you hook it in with a motherboard that has either an X570 chipset or the B550 chipset, as they come with abundant PCIe lanes that help speed the data transfer rate and reduce latency; you can check out the motherboard for 5900X over here.
Since it’s an unlocked processor, there is ample room for overclocking, so make sure you pair it up with a cooler that can keep the temps low while drawing out every bit of juice from the processor.
Intel Core i5-12600K
Intel’s Alder Lake processors scream performance whether they belong to the i3 series or the i9; they come packed under the hood. This is a very nice thing for the consumers, as they have multiple options they can choose from, and both Intel and AMD compete for market share, thus setting the price very aggressively.
The Core i5 12600K is quite an affordable option that thrives in its mid-range spot and gives a tough time to its competition. Based on the hybrid core design with performance and efficiency cores, the processor packs a lot of juice and is a great choice when building a PC that offers you a great price to performance value.
Even though this processor is in the mid-range, it comes with 10 cores based on the 10ESF design. The divide of the cores is 6 performance cores and 4 efficient cores. The base frequency of the P cores is set at 3.7 GHz and 2.8 for the E cores. At the same time, the boost frequency of the P cores is set to 4.9 GHz and 3.6 GHz for the E cores. With a TDP of 125W and this much performance, the processor can easily handle whatever you throw at it. It even comes with an Integrated GPU, but that won’t be necessary as you already have a top-end GPU.
The Core i5 12600K is a processor that can easily handle a high-end GPU, so we’ve put it on the list of best CPU for RTX 3080. It will easily deliver the gaming performance you can expect from flagship processors from the previous generations despite being a mid-range processor. It offers excellent value and even supports the newer DDR5 RAM technology and PCIe 5.0, making it an obvious choice if you want a future-proof PC that takes your experience to the next level.
We’ve made a dedicated guide on motherboards for i5 12600K, allowing you to get the maximum out of this processor. Remember to check out our guide to complete your build.
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Team Red took the world by storm at the time of the Ryzen 5000 series launch day. They were fairing already pretty great with the 3000 series as Intel had no answer to the Multicore performance that came with the Zen 3 7nm architecture processors; AMD just rubbed it in their faces with the Ryzen 5000 series.
AMD released the 5950X as the top-of-the-line processor, and it was based on the RDNA2 architecture, which was vastly superior to its predecessor Zen 3 architecture. Featuring 16 cores and 32 threads, this powerhouse can handle all the tasks you can throw at it. It succeeds the 3950X, and with its base clock of 3.5 GHz and a boost clock of 4.9 GHz, the performance is on another level. Moreover, the TDP is rated at just 105W, which speaks volumes about AMD’s R&D and ability to fit so much in such a small chip.
It comes with an L2 cache of 8MB, an L3 cache of 64 MB, and an improved IPC count of up to 20% more, making it an ideal processor for gaming, content creation, and other tasks. It is no doubt th best CPU for RTX 3080, and once you pair the 5950X with a suitable motherboard containing the X570 or B550 chipsets, you will easily be able to draw out its full potential and enjoy all it has to offer. You can find the motherboard for Ryzen 5950X over here.
It’s the X variant, meaning that it has ample OC headroom. Once you connect it with a capable cooling system, you can OC it and draw out its full potential. The only downsides are that it doesn’t come with an integrated processor and tends to run on the hotter side of things. With sufficient cooling and a GPU like the RTX 3080, you can build a PC capable of gaming at 4K at the ultra preset and not face any lag. The processor is also expensive, so make sure you dig deep into your pockets because this powerhouse will cost you quite a bit.