5 Best CPUs For RTX 3080 Builds

Best CPU for RTX 3080

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The latest and (almost) greatest next-gen GPU from Nvidia (the throne is reserved for the RTX 3090), the RTX 3080, is one of the most popular cards around that’s perfect for 4K gaming. And since this one’s a gaming beast, it asks for a powerful CPU fast enough to not bottleneck it. Also, the RTX 3080 demands a powerful PSU so think about upgrading your current one if you think it’s not up to the task. Today, we’ve created a list featuring the best CPUs to pair with the RTX 3080. It includes flagship models but also a few relatively budget choices. Let’s check which CPUs are included.

Best CPUs For RTX 3080 Builds – Our Picks

Best CPUs For RTX 3080 Builds – Our Picks
Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3080AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Amd Ryzen 9
Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Amd Ryzen 9
Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3080AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Amd Ryzen 5
Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080Ryzen 7 3700X Amd Ryzen 7 3700X 2
Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080Ryzen 5 3600 Amd Ryzen 5 3600

Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3080

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Base Frequency3.7 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.8 GHz
TDP105 W

The 10900K was the best overall gaming CPU until AMD launched its Ryzen 5000 CPUs. Now, that award goes to the 5950X but for those who plan on building a strictly gaming CPU the 5900X is the better choice. In games the 5900X is just behind the 5950X, with the difference being just a couple of percent at 1080p, not worth the price difference between the two.

The 5900X does require a solid motherboard and a capable cooler so you’ll have to pay a bit extra to get the most out of this CPU but not that much. The 10900K still has great gaming performance but considering the difference in price if you plan on going with Intel something like the 10850K or the 10700K is a better choice. When it comes to Ryzen alternatives the 5600X has almost the same performance as the 5900X while costing almost two times less.

Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Base Frequency3.4 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.9 GHz
TDP105 W

If you game and work on your PC the Ryzen 9 5950X is the best choice to pair with the RTX 3080. This CPU is a productivity beast with its 16 cores and 32 threads but this time performance upgrades over Zen 2 are high enough to name the 5950X the best gaming CPU. At 1440p and 4K (resolutions used by practically every owner of the 3080) the differences between the 5950X and other top tier gaming CPUs (10900K or the 5900X) are mostly academic.

That said, in productivity workloads (especially multicore ones) the 5950X squashed every CPU that isn’t a Threadripper. If you’re using your PC for heavy work the Ryzen CPU is clearly the best choice. In other words, the 5950X is the fastest non-HEDT CPU for mixed usage you can get right now.

That’s not to say that something like the 5900X is a bad choice. If you don’t want to spend premium on the flagship Ryzen CPU the 5900X still has amazing gaming and productivity performance and is a better bang for the buck. Older Ryzen CPUs such as the 3900X and the 3950X are also great buys if you need a capable CPU for CPU-intensive work and playing games at 1440p and 4K resolutions.

Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3080

AMD Ryzen 5 5600
Base Frequency3.7 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.6 GHz

If you plan on getting the best possible GPU while saving money on a CPU, the 5600X is the best bang for the buck gaming CPU you can buy right now. It closely follows its (much) pricier brethren while trading blows with the Core i9 10900K, which held the throne of the faster gaming CPU for more than a year.

Six core design might worry users wanting to get an upgrade that will work with proper next-gen games but we don’t think you should be worried. First of all, the 5600X is a beast of a CPU that’s as fast as a 10-core 20-thread CPU, the 10900K, and miles ahead of the 8-core Ryzen 7 3700X. The sheer number of cores shouldn’t be the deciding factor when buying a gaming CPU. Some games do scale beyond six cores and 12 threads but these are few and far between and the 5600X has a great performance in these scalable titles.

Also, while both PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles come with eight core CPUs, these are based on the Zen 2 architecture, and a six core Zen 3 CPU is clearly faster than an eight core Zen 2 CPU, at least in games. Finally, another reason for labeling the 5600X as the best bang for the buck gaming CPU for the RTX 3080 is the fact that it can work on basically any B550 and X570 board (and it’ll work on basically any B450 and X470 board, once they receive their Ryzen 5000 BIOS updates) and that it doesn’t demand a high-end cooling system. Even the box cooler should be fine, as long as you don’t mind its high noise output.

Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080

Ryzen 7 3700X
Base Frequency3.6 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.4 GHz

Users who game and work on their PC but don’t have (or don’t want) the money to spend on something like the 5900, 5950X, 3900X or the 3950X should pair the RTX 3080 with the Ryzen 7 3700X. This is an 8 core and 16 thread CPU that’s great as a mixed usage CPU. It has amazing productivity performance for the price, slightly beating the Ryzen 5 5600X. When it comes to gaming, it’s not the fastest kid on the block but it closely follows the best Intel CPUs, especially at 1440p and 4K resolutions while being not too far off the latest Ryzen 5000 CPUs. It’s also very efficient and doesn’t require a top-notch cooling system.

Now, the 3700X could end up bottlenecking the RTX 3080, especially at 1080p and 144Hz 1440p gaming. 60Hz 1440p gaming shouldn’t suffer but those wanting to get 144Hz in games at 1440p might see the 3700X failing to provide enough oomph for the RTX 3080. If you need a CPU only for gaming and you’re thinking about getting the 3700X just get the 5600X instead, that’s a beast of a gaming CPU that sells for the same price as the 3700X.

On the other hand, if you need a CPU for productivity first, the 3700X is still a great choice. It packs lots of punch when it comes to work-related loads and it should be just fine for playing AAA games at 1440p and 60fps and esports titles at 1440 and 120/144fps. Another solid options for combining gaming and CPU-intensive workloads is the Core i7-10700K

Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080

Ryzen 5 3600
Base Frequency3.6 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.2 GHz

The only budget CPU that we can recommend to pair with the RTX 3080 is the Ryzen 5 3600, and that’s a stretch. The 3600 will most likely bottleneck the RTX 3080 to some extent, even at 1440p. If you want to build a pure gaming CPU based around the RTX 3080 we would strongly advise everyone to get the Ryzen 5 5600X if they don’t want to spend too much on a CPU. The 3600 is great for the price but combined with a powerhouse that the RTX 3080 is, it won’t be enough no matter the resolution and performance expected.

For those looking for a budget CPU for work-related tasks with gaming taking the backseat, the 3600 is a solid choice. It has enough power to provide satisfying performance is productivity tasks and occasional gaming session that doesn’t include high refresh rate gaming. But then again, the 3600 is much better suited for the RTX 3070 and not for the flagship Ampere card. Another mixed usage pick could be the 3700X, and excellent 8-coure CPU that doesn’t have the muscle for gaming but still is surprisingly competitive in productivity workloads and sells for about the same price as the 5600X.

What about older CPUs?

You can run the RTX 3080 on the 8700K and better CPUs as well as on the Ryzen 7 2700X or better and you should see only a slight CPU bottleneck. Older Intel and AMD CPUs show surprisingly good results at 1440p and 4K but do note that older CPUs induce heavy bottleneck in a number of newer games. That trend will continue so while 4 core CPUs and older 6-core CPUs are doing fine right now, they will induce heavy CPU bottlenecks in most future AAA games. Also, while older CPUs work fine at 4K models such as the i3 10100 or the Ryzen 3 3300X, or any 4-core i7 will most likely induce stuttering.

How much faster is the RTX 3080 compared to the RTX 2080?

According to Nvidia’s promo materials, the RTX 3080 is twice as fast as the RTX 2080. Real numbers tell a different tale. The RTX 3080 is about 50 percent faster than the RTX 2080 at 1440p and about 70 percent faster than the RTX 2080 at 4K. The card is twice as fast as the RTX 2080, but only in certain productivity benchmarks.

Does the RTX 3080 support PCIe 4.0 and will it work on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard?

Yes, the RTX 3080 supports PCIe 4.0 standard. And yes, it will work just fine on a PCIe 3.0 board. Results show that the difference in games is negligible so don’t worry.

Does the RTX 3080 support HDMI 2.1 and will it work on older HDMI standards?

Yes, the RTX 3080 comes with an HDMI 2.1 port but it will work on older HDMI standards. Check out which HDMI standard your monitor supports to find out which is the max resolution and framerate you can get over the HDMI port. Do note that you can only utilize HDMI 2.1 standard on certain TVs. There are no PC monitors supporting HDMI 2.1 at the moment. There’s just one model open for pre-order but don’t expect it to ship until early 2021.

Which RTX 3080 Should I Buy?

If you don’t want to pay a price premium, we have some good news. There are multiple AIB models out there that show excellent performance and that sell at MSRP. Further, it seems that the Ampere architecture isn’t great for overclocking so even if you buy a premium RTX 3080 card you might only get a couple of extra frames with OC.

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Goran Damnjanovic

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran is Levvvel's senior hardware writer. He studied psychology but found that video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. Over the years he's developed expertise in everything gaming tech related.


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