6 Best CPUs For RTX 3090 Builds

Best CPU for RTX 3090

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The RTX 3090 is the ultimate consumer-grade graphics card you can get right now. 24 GB of GDDR6X memory, almost 10500 CUDA cores, working frequency of 1.7 GHz, PCIe 4.0 and HDMI 2.1 support crown the RTX 3090 as the ruler of the Ampere architecture. At least when it comes to gaming GPUs. Oh yeah, it also has a total power of 350W. Better get a quality 750W or stronger PSU if you want to feed this beast. As for the performance, while Nvidia has been promising 8K and 60fps experience the reality is far from it. Still, the 3090 is an extremely capable GPU that’s perfect for 4K gaming with max settings.

A card this powerful requires an equally fast CPU to follow it. The thing is, only a handful of current CPUs are capable of providing enough headroom without bottlenecking the RTX 3090. Further, with its 24GB memory buffer and more than 10K CUDA cores, this card can be a serious contender as the GPU of choice for many workstations. So, we ended up with a diverse group of CPUs. We have top gaming processors but also productivity beasts. You won’t find any budget CPU here but that’s okay because the RTX 3090 isn’t meant to be paired with budget processors. Anyway, let’s check the best CPUs for the RTX 3090.

Best CPUs For RTX 3090 Builds – Our Picks

Best CPUs For RTX 3090 Builds – Our Picks
AwardModel 
Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3090AMD Ryzen 9 5950X Amd Ryzen 9
Best Overall Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X Ryzen Threadripper
Best Alternative CPU To The Ryzen Threadripper 3960XAMD Ryzen 9 5950X Amd Ryzen 9
Best Bang For The Buck Gaming And Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Amd Ryzen 9
Best Budget Gaming And Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Amd Ryzen 5

Best Overall Gaming CPU For RTX 3090

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Cores16
Threads32
Base Frequency3.4 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.9 GHz
TDP105 W

The 5950X is the fastest gaming CPU at the moment, and that’s a fact. Yes, it’s very expensive but if you want the best of the best, the Ryzen 9 5950X is the way. Pair it with a capable B550 or a X570 board and the RTX 3090 and you’ve got yourself the best gaming machine you can own right now.

If you don’t want to pay the flagship premium, the 5900X is also an excellent choice for any RTX 3090 gaming rig. It’s as fast as the 5900X but it’s selling for a lot less. The 5900X is noticeably slower than the 5950X in productivity workloads but you shouldn’t worry about that if you need a gaming CPU.

This doesn’t mean you should ditch your 10900K. This is still an extremely capable gaming CPU and it works great with the RTX 3090. The same can be said about the 10600K and the 10700K.

Best Overall Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090

Ryzen Threadripper 3960X
Cores24
Threads48
Base Frequency3.8 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.5 GHz
TDP280 W

Those who want to use the RTX 3090 for more than just gaming and are planning on building a powerful workstation machine, get a 3rd gen Threadripper. These CPUs will destroy any other processor in productivity loads and are the perfect match for the RTX 3090 when it comes to rendering, machine learning, and other work-related stuff RTX GPUs excel at. You have 10K CUDA cores and 24GB of memory after all, which all sells at a relatively competitive price point compared to RTX Quadro GPUs.

Games will run fine, especially if you’re planning to run them at 4K. Threadrippers are capable gaming CPUs it’s just that they are too expensive to be found in gaming-exclusive machines. And the TRX40 chipset has full PCIe 4.0 support. Overall, pairing a Threadripper with the 3090 should make one hell of a productivity machine that can also run games better than most gaming PCs.

Best Alternative To The Ryzen Threadripper 3960X

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Cores16
Threads32
Base Frequency3.4 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.9 GHz
TDP105 W

For users who don’t have the cash for a Threadripper (or just don’t want to spend that much money on a CPU) the Ryzen 9 5950X is an excellent choice for a workload-centric or mixed-use machine. While it isn’t surprising that the 5950X blasts every CPU that isn’t a Threadripper out of the water in productivity benchmarks, this CPU is also the fastest gaming CPU at the moment. If you want a productivity beast that’s also the best gaming CPU you can get, the 5950X is the one for you.

The 5950X is a bit expensive but it packs 16 cores, 32 threads, excellent boost clocks, and solid OC potential (for a Ryzen CPU). It does require powerful cooling but overall, it’s an all-around powerhouse of a CPU. It cannot match Threadripper CPUs when it comes to productivity performance, but given its price, it doesn’t have to. Certainly, one of the best choices to pair with the RTX 3090.

Best Bang For The Buck Gaming And Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Cores12
Threads27
Base Frequency3.7 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.8 GHz
TDP105 W

Okay, calling the 12-core 5900X the best bang for the buck CPU for the RTX 3090 might seem strange but in fact, the 5900X price looks pretty affordable when we compare it to the recommended RTX 3090 pricing. And for the money, you get a beast of a CPU for almost any productivity task. You cannot find the same level of productivity performance in any Intel CPU.

Gaming-wise this is the second best gaming CPU at the moment, an excellent pairing with the RTX 3090 for gaming at 4K resolution. If you need a CPU mostly for work and less for gaming something like the Ryzen 3900X is still a great choice. At the moment the 3900X is noticeably cheaper than the 5900X while offering competitive productivity performance and gaming performance that’s great for 1440p and higher resolutions.  

Best Budget Gaming And Mixed-Use CPU For RTX 3090

AMD Ryzen 5 5600
Cores6
Threads12
Base Frequency3.7 GHz
Max Turbo Frequency4.6 GHz
TDP65 W

The Ryzen 5 5600X is a great budget gaming CPU for the RTX 3090. It offers gaming performance in line with the best CPUs out there that cost more than double while also being a solid productivity choice. A bit slower than the eight-core 3700X but massively faster in games. If you want a budget gaming CPU for your RTX 3090 the 5600X is by far the best choice.

What about older CPUs?

Since the RTX 3090 is the ultimate Ampere flagship card, we wouldn’t recommend running this card on anything less powerful than the Core i9-9900K or Ryzen 9 3900X, maybe Ryzen 7 3700X and Core i7-8700K. You will probably see some bottlenecking taking place when pairing the card with the 8700K or 3700X, even at 1440p. But the number of frames lost due to the CPU shouldn’t affect the overall gaming experience.

How much faster is the RTX 3090 compared to the RTX 2080 Ti?

The RTX 3090 is about 10 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and about 35 percent faster than the 2080 Ti at 4K in games. When it comes to productivity well, those 24 gigabytes of GDDR6X memory and 10K CUDA cores will destroy any CUDA-related productivity benchmark. If you’re interested in 3090 because you want to use it for more than gaming, you should expect high enough performance increase to justify the high price of the card. The only issue is that driver support doesn’t include all productivity optimizations found on the RTX Titan, meaning that some workloads (CAD programs, for instance) won’t have the expected performance boost. 

Does the RTX 3090 support PCIe 4.0 and will it work on a PCIe 3.0 motherboard?

Yes, the RTX 3090 supports PCIe 4.0. If you plan on getting the card and hooking it up with a PCIe 3.0 slot don’t worry. The 3080 shows almost zero difference between PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 and you shouldn’t lose more than a couple of frames in games when hooking the card to the PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.

Does the RTX 3090 support HDMI 2.1 and will it work on older HDMI standards?

The RTX 3090 comes with the full HDMI 2.1 support but the card will work fine on older HDMI standards. These older HDMI standards do pose some restrictions (the offer support only for 4K@60Hz, for instance). It would be best to check which HDMI standard your monitor support and then see which resolution and framerate it can deliver in this handy HDMI guide.

Also, only some TVs offer HDMI 2.1 support at the moment. When it comes to the PC monitors with HDMI 2.1, there aren’t any. Expect the first one to launch in early 2021.

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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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