The RTX 3070 brings 2080Ti-like performance for more than half the price. The card sits just under the flagship 3080 model. In other words, with its reduced memory buffer (8GB) compared to the RTX 2080Ti (11GB) and RTX 3080 (10GB), the RTX 3070 is a perfect card for high refresh rate 1440p gaming. This kind of performance demands a capable CPU but the reality is that you don’t have to get a flagship gaming CPU to get the most out of the RTX 3070.
When it comes to the best CPU to go with the RTX 3070, the favorites are pretty clear. The new Ryzen 5000 series CPUs excel both at gaming and productivity, making them the obvious choice for the RTX 3070. Then we have older Ryzen and Intel CPUs, which still pack a lot of gaming (Intel) and productivity (Ryzen) punch. The gist is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a CPU for the RTX 3070 to get amazing gaming performance. For the best productivity performance, you’ll have to pay a bit extra. Now, let’s check the best CPUs for the RTX 3070.
Best CPUs For RTX 3070 Builds – Our Picks
|Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3070||Intel Core i5-10600KF|
|Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070||AMD Ryzen 9 5900X|
|Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070||Intel Core i7-10700KF|
|Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070||Intel Core i5-10400F|
Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3070
Intel Core i5-10600KF
|Base Frequency||4.1 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||4.8 GHz|
The time when Ryzen 3000 CPUs were considered a great bang for the buck gaming CPUs is gone. Nowadays the Ryzen 5 3600 isn’t fast enough in games to justify its price. The Core i5-10600KF, on the other hand, is cheaper than the 3600 while having much better gaming performance. And if you overclock the CPU and use fast memory with tight timings, you can come very close to the 5600X gaming performance while paying one-third less for the 10600KF.
Besides, playing at 1440p (which we reckon is the resolution most RTX 3070 owners are gaming on) will make the performance differences between the two melt away. Just look at the relative performance between the two CPUs at 1440p using the RTX 2080 Ti, which has virtually the same performance as the RTX 3070. For individual results, just look at the 8700K scores, which is more or less the same CPU as the 10600KF.
Another plus is that you can pair the 10600KF with an affordable Z490 board and slap a mid-range cooler onto it and be off to the races with great thermals while still paying much less than for the 5600X+B550 combo. If you use your PC for stuff other than games, the 10600KF won’t be competing with the 5600X, but it will be fast enough for occasional video edits or such. Of course, the biggest downside, if you decide to buy the 10600KF, is the lack of PCIe 4.0 support. But, considering that we’re still far, far away from games requiring fast NVMe SSDs you should have zero issues in the considerable future.
When it comes to the alternatives to the 10600KF, there’s the regular 10600K that’s about ten percent pricier. You could also go for the Core i5-10400F and, once prices settle down, you could also snag the Core i5-11400F that has PCIe 4.0 support and that can be paired with a budget B560 board, which do support memory overclocking. 11th gen K-series Intel CPUs are too expensive for what they offer and, as we already said, the 3600 is also too expensive considering its gaming performance.
Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
|Base Frequency||3.7 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||4.8 GHz|
The Ryzen 9 5900X is the best CPU you can get right now for the RTX 3070, considering both performance and total price needed for the upgrade (motherboard plus cooling). The 5900X is one of the fastest gaming CPUs you can get right now. Its 12 Zen 3 cores often come on top of gaming benchmarks, and often beat the 10-core 10900K. A massive gaming performance increase over the 3900X.
Next, the productivity performance is miles ahead of every Intel CPU in the vast majority of applications, with the 5900X being quite close to the last-gen flagship CPU, the 3950X. Another good thing about the 5900X is that it doesn’t demand state of the art motherboard and cooling system to show its power. You can OC it, but while that will give you performance boost in productivity apps, gaming performance will suffer due to the fact that all-core boost runs lower than the single core boost, which is responsible for the blazing-fast gaming performance.
You can get the 5950X instead of the 5900X but the price difference isn’t worth the boost in performance unless you’re doing lots of CPU-heavy work on your PC, such as rendering, where time saved can justify the investment. Also, the 3900X is still an excellent mixed-use CPU and if you’re doing lots of CPU-intensive work and don’t care about top of the line gaming performance it might be wise to look for a used 3900X and save a lot of cash.
Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070
Intel Core i7-10700KF
|Base Frequency||3.8 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||5.1 GHz|
RTX 3070 owners who use their PCs both for gaming and serious work and want to get a great processor for not that much cash, should consider getting the Core i7-10700KF. This 10th gen Intel CPU received massive price cuts since it came out and today, it presents an excellent bang for the buck CPU. Eight cores, solid overclocking potential, and the price that’s 50 percent lower than of its direct rival, the Ryzen 7 5800X, are 10700KF’s biggest advantages.
Gaming performance is below the 5800X in most titles at 1080p. On the other hand, when gaming at 1440p you will struggle to notice any difference. There are some outliers, like Civilization 6, but most games perform extremely similarly on the two CPUs. Productivity performance is behind the 5800X, but not that much behind to justify spending 50 percent more cash on the Ryzen processor. The difference between the 10700KF and the 5600X in games is minimal, but the 8-core Intel CPU has better multithreaded performance, which puts the Intel CPU in front of the AMD for users who need that multithreaded performance.
When compared to the 3700X, the 10700K is much faster in games. Their productivity performance is quite close though. If you really want PCIe 4.0 support, or if you want a CPU with a clear upgrade path, then we recommend getting the 3700X over the 10700KF. Another interesting alternative is the Core i7-10700F, which is less than 10 percent slower. If you find it for cheap, get it. Just don’t pair it with a B460 board since the slower memory support will considerably slash gaming performance.
Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3070
Intel Core i5-10400F
|Base Frequency||2.9 GHz|
|Max Turbo Frequency||4.3 GHz|
We decided to put the Core i5-10400F as the best budget CPU for the RTX 3070 because the 11th gen Core i5-11400F saw a massive price gouging, probably the result of its stupendous value after it came out and sold at or near its MSRP. So, once the 11400F comes down in price and stabilizes at or around its MSRP, get it over the 10400F without thinking. But, until that happens, the 10400F is the budget gaming king.
The 10400F still has very competitive gaming performance compared to the more expensive SKUs, like the Ryzen 5 3600 or the 10600K/10600KF, especially at higher resolutions and/or max visual settings. Just make sure to pair the CPU with a Z490 or a B560 motherboard, since the B560 chipset allows memory overclocking. And you can lose a ton of performance by running slower memory. If you decide to buy a B560 motherboard, get one that can run the CPU at its maximum power/frequency.
What about older CPUs?
If you don’t plan on getting a new CPU don’t worry. The RTX 3070 should work great on a wide range of CPU. Anything from the Core i7-8700K onwards will be more than enough. When it comes to Ryzen CPUs, the Ryzen 5 2600 could bottleneck this card but the Ryzen 7 2700 and more powerful CPUs should work excellent when coupled with the RTX 3070.
How much faster is the RTX 3070 compared to the RTX 2070?
The RTX 3070 is right in line with the RTX 2080Ti’s performance in games, making it about 30-35 percent faster than the RTX 2070 on average. Do note that while you get faster performance in games, the memory buffer stays the same, making the RTX 3070 a less than ideal choice for 4K gaming.
Does the RTX 3070 support PCIe 4.0 and will it work on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard?
Yes, the RTX 3070 supports PCIe 4.0 technology. No worries though because the card will run fine on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard. When it comes to performance differences, there is virtually no difference in gaming performance between PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 when it comes to the RTX 3080. And since the RTX 3080 is more powerful than the 3070, you shouldn’t expect any performance impact if you plan to hook up the card to a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.
Does the RTX 3070 support HDMI 2.1 and will it work on older HDMI standards?
Yes, the RTX 3070 offers full HDMI 2.1 support. The thing is, no gaming PC monitors are supporting the HDMI 2.1 standard at the moment. The first model with HDMI 2.1 support should come in early 2021. Some TVs support HDMI 2.1 and on these models, you can game at 4K and 120Hz.
The RTX 3070 will work fine on older HDMI standards. But, depending on the standard, your max framerate and resolution may vary. You should see which HDMI port you have on your monitor and then consult this handy guide explaining each version of the HDMI standard and specs it offers.
Which resolutions RTX 3070 is best for?
The RTX 3070 targets 1440p resolution. You will be able to play any game at max settings and about 70-100fps at 1440p. Lowering some visual settings in select AAA titles a bit and you should reach 144Hz at 1440p in almost every current title. When it comes to esports titles this card should run them great at 1440p and 240Hz.
That said, the RTX 3070 is a less than ideal choice for 4K gaming. Its 8GB memory buffer is perfect for 1440p but at 4K 8GB of memory might prove inadequate in future titles. On top of that, the most demanding AAA titles at this moment won’t run at 4K and 60fps with all (or most) settings maxed out. If you game at 4K think about the RTX 3080 or the upcoming AMD RX 6000 GPUs.