The latest and (almost) greatest next-gen GPU from Nvidia (the throne is reserved for the RTX 3090), the RTX 3080, is just days away from its market launch so many of you probably think about getting one. 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 – Our Picks
|Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3080||Intel Core i9-10900K|
|Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080||Ryzen 9 3950X|
|Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3080||Intel Core i5-10600K|
|Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080||Ryzen 7 3700X|
|Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080||Ryzen 5 3600|
Running the RTX 3080 on 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.
Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3080
The best overall CPU for gaming is clearly the Core i9 10900K from Intel. This 10 core/20 thread monster is the fastest gaming CPU at the moment, bar none. High base clocks, even higher boost clocks, lots of cores and threads, and clear max frequency advantage over any Ryzen processor make it the best overall choice for users who want to play games and do nothing else.
If you already have the 10900K or plan to build a gaming PC as soon as the RTX 3080 launches, go with it. Just pair it with a powerful cooling solution. But, if you can wait for a month and a half/two months, skip the 10900K and get the flagship Ryzen 4000 CPU. AMD will reveal Ryzen 4000 CPU series on October 8 with processors themselves probably launching before the end of October 2020. If you can wait, we would recommend getting the 3900X counterpart (4900X?) since it will pack about 10-15 increase in performance for about the same price the 3900X debuted at.
This means performance that should match (or maybe even surpass if the gains are higher than expected) the 10900K for about the same price. But with the Ryzen CPU, you will get much higher productivity performance along with (probably) better power optimization and lower thermals. Finally, both the B550 and X570 chipsets support PCIe 4.0 standard for GPUs, which could net you a few percent better performance out of the RTX 3080. If you can wait, something like the 4900X should be the best buy this fall.
The second issue with the 10900K is that it sells for extremely high prices at the moment. Stock is low and demand is high so at the moment you have to pay more than 40 percent over the recommended price for the 10900K. In other words, the 10900K is, at the moment, more expensive than the Ryzen 8 3950X, which sounds like a cruel joke but that’s the truth. On the other hand, the 10700K, basically the 9900K with increased clocks, sells for much more reasonable price. Look, eight cores should be enough for next-gen games so if you don’t want to pay the ludicrous price for the 10900K and cannot wait for Ryzen 4000 CPUs, get yourself the Core i7-10700K.
Best Overall Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080
If you game and work on your PC the Ryzen 3950X is the best choice to pair with the RTX 3080. This CPU is a productivity beast with its 16 cores and 32 threads but it’s also pretty good for gaming. At 1440p and 4K (resolutions used by practically every owner of the 10900K or the 3950X) the difference between the 10900K and the 3950X is academic in most titles. And with the B550 and X570 chipsets offering PCIe 4.0 support the 3950X could end up tied or having a slight advantage over the 10900K when running the RTX 3080 graphics card.
When it comes to the productivity performance the 3950X is miles ahead of any Intel CPU. If you’re using your PC for heavy work the Ryzen CPU is clearly a better choice. Again, if you can wait a couple of months to build your next gaming and work rig, you could get something like the 4900X. But, when it comes to productivity, even the future flagship model could be slower than the 3950X because it packs fewer cores than the current king of Ryzen CPUs. AMD could launch the 3950X successor at the same time as it launches other Ryzen 4000 series CPUs. But if the company applies the same strategy it did with the Ryzen 3000 series we won’t get the 3950X successor until 2021 so it’s maybe better to get the 3950X now and be done with it.
Of course, 3950X owners who use their PC for serious work could gain more with the RTX 3090 and its monstrous 24GB memory buffer but the RTX 3080 should also be a solid choice for CUDA-related workloads. Finally, let’s not forget the Ryzen 9 3900X. This is still an amazing processor for both gaming and productivity use. If you don’t have the money for the 3950X the 3900X is a great substitute.
Best Bang For The Buck Gaming CPU For RTX 3080
The Core i5-10600K is a great CPU for gaming. It packs 6 cores and 12 threads and is very easy to overclock. Pair it with a quality Z490 board and a powerful cooling system and you can get 10900K-like gaming performance for much less. This is why we think that the 10600K is the best bang for the buck CPU to pair with the RTX 3080 if gaming is your main concern.
The 10600K should also work great with future games thanks to its 12 threads and high boost frequencies. This CPU shouldn’t bottleneck the RTX 3080 at 1440p and 4K but it could bottleneck it at 1080p resolution. On the other hand, the RTX 3080 is not a card for 1080p gaming. The least we would use it for is high refresh rate 1440p gaming. And at that resolution and refresh rate, the 10600K should do just fine.
Best Bang For The Buck Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080
Users who game and work on their PC but don’t have (or don’t want) the money to spend on something like the 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. 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. 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 either get the 10600K or wait for the upcoming Ryzen 4000 CPUs. Something like a Ryzen 7 4700X should arrive with enough performance improvements to match the RTX 3080 at 1440p and 144Hz.
On the other hand, if you need a CPU for productivity first, the 3700X is 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.
Best Budget Gaming And Mixed Use CPU For RTX 3080
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 wait for the Ryzen 4000 CPUs. The 3600 is great for the price but combined with a powerhouse that the RTX 3080 most likely 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.
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.