- The RTX 3060 is a lower-tier Ampere GPU best suited for 1080p and 1440p gaming, with improved ray tracing performance and DLSS support.
- The top pick for the RTX 3060 is the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, offering great overall performance and PCI-E 4.0 support.
- The Intel Core i9-10900K is a budget-friendly option with great single-core performance and affordability.
- For a budget option, the Intel Core i5-11600K provides good performance with PCI-E 4.0 support and affordable prices.
- The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is a mid-range processor with overclocking capabilities and power efficiency.
What are the best CPUs for the RTX 3060? NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 is still a highly competitive GPU in 2023. You could very easily build a great gaming PC that will stand up for years to come with the Ampere GPU as the centerpiece. However, a GPU isn’t much good without a comparable processor to go alongside it.
So, there are four stellar options to choose from when piecing together your build. These CPUs will prevent bottlenecks while giving you access to some of the best performance you can get when placed next to NVIDIA’s mid-range GPU. We’ve looked at dozens of options, and here are our top picks:
- Best Overall: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
- Best Runner-Up: Intel Core i9-10900K
- Best Budget Option: Intel Core i5-11600K
- Best AMD Budget Pick: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
What Is the RTX 3060?
The RTX 3060 is one of the lower-tier Ampere GPUs. It’s best suited for the likes of 1080p and 1440p gaming, with some adjustments to quality settings, of course. Some models allow you to have up to 12GB of VRAM, which is a great option for high-resolution textures.
The Ampere line of GPUs brings improved performance to ray tracing, thanks to architectural improvements. You’ll also get some great framerates with all the eye candy turned on thanks to NVIDIA’s own DLSS. If you’re looking for one of the best GPUs for 1080p, the RTX 3060 is hard to beat.
|NVIDIA RTX 3060|
|Base Clock||1.32 GHz|
|Boost Clock||1.78 GHz|
|VRAM Amount||8 to 12GB|
|Memory Bus||128-bit for 8GB model, 192-bit for 12GB model|
|Maximum Resolution||7680 x 4320|
|Total Displays Supported||4|
#1 Best Overall: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
- 12 cores and 24 processing threads
- 100 + FPS performance
- Max temperature: 90°C
- 4.8GHz Max Boost
- Unlocked for overclocking
- 70MB of cache, DDR-3200 support
The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X is one of the best processors available for the AM4 socket. Yes, it lacks some of the newer standards available, like DDR5 RAM and PCI-E 5.0 lane support, but it is still a monster regarding overall performance. You’ve got access to 12 cores and 24 threads, meaning any multi-core application is going to be trivial to run.
This is one of the absolute best CPUs for the RTX 3060, and the PCI-E 4.0 support should take full advantage of the older Ampere GPU. AM4 motherboards are also plentiful and cheap, making this a great option if you want to save in some spots.
|Great performance for its price range.||It doesn’t have support for the latest PCI-E standard.|
|The 5900X is overclockable.||The lack of DDR5 RAM support makes it less future-proof than newer options.|
Check out the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X on Amazon.
Best Runner-Up: Intel Core i9-10900K
- 10 cores/ 20 threads
- Socket type LGA 1200
- Up to 5.3 GHz unlocked
- Compatible with Intel 400 series chipset-based motherboards
- Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3. 0 support
If you’re looking for fantastic single-core performance, the Intel Core i9-10900K is hard to top. The 10900K is still on the PCI-E 3.0 standard, but it should be more than enough for the RTX 3060 to show its true performance. You’ve got access to 10 cores and 20 threads, with a maximum boost clock frequency of 5.3 GHz.
It might not be the latest and greatest from Intel, but it can be found for a good bit cheaper than its newer counterparts. The 10900K isn’t going to allow for any bottlenecks between itself or the RTX 3060, so it makes a great fit for gaming use.
|It has great single-core performance for gaming.||It lacks PCI-E 4.0 support.|
|The 10900K can be found for affordable prices.||You’ll need a powerful PSU and adequate cooling for the 10900K.|
Check out the Intel Core i9-10900K on Amazon.
Best Budget Option: Intel Core i5-11600K
One of the best CPUs for the RTX 3060 is the affordable Intel Core i5-11600K. This particular CPU comes before the introduction of Intel’s hybrid architecture but isn’t lacking in overall performance. You’ve got access to 6 cores and 12 threads, with a maximum clock frequency of 4.9 GHz.
It does support the newer PCI-E 4.0 standard, meaning you’ll see great throughput and connection stability for the RTX 3060. The 11600K also comes with support for the top tier of DDR4 RAM, which is still highly available and great in terms of overall performance. The price is just an added bonus, and the 11600K can be found for better prices than the current 13600K.
|It can be found at affordable prices at most retailers.||The 11600K is rather power-hungry.|
|The 11600K has great performance in single-core applications.||Intel’s performance for this generation isn’t on par with the contemporary Zen 3 architecture.|
Check out the Intel Core i5-11600K on Amazon.
Best AMD Budget Pick: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
- 6 cores and 12 processing threads, which provide impressive multitasking capabilities
- Reaches 100+ FPS
- The AMD Wraith Stealth cooler is included
- Supports DDR4 memory, with a max boost of 4.6 GHz and 35 MB of cache
- Compatible with PCIe 4.0 on X570 and B550 motherboards
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X rounds out the best CPUs for the RTX 3060. This mid-range processor from the Zen 3 line has a lot to love about it. You’ve got the ability to overclock, as well as PCI-E 4.0 lane support. You’ve got access to DDR4 RAM, which is still great for general gaming and work use.
The 5600X comes with 6 cores and 12 threads, which is plenty for most modern games on the market today. The single-core performance isn’t quite on par with the i5-10600K, but it’s still plenty for any modern game when paired with the RTX 3060. This also uses the older AM4 socket, which is still widely supported with quite a few motherboards on offer.
|The 5600X saw astonishing upgrades in performance compared to the previous Zen 2 CPUs.||There isn’t an integrated graphics chip.|
|AMD’s 5600X is extremely power efficient.||Overclocking doesn’t translate to massive performance gains.|
Check out the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X on Amazon.
Picking the Best CPUs for the RTX 3060: What to Know
When picking components for your next gaming build, it’s important to keep in mind that a gaming rig isn’t just devoted to two parts. That said, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when you shop for parts for your next build.
Cores and Threads
Core and thread counts are an important factor when picking a CPU. However, it isn’t the sole criteria you should be using when deciding on a processor. The clock frequencies play a huge role, along with elements like the L1, L2, and L3 caches. Intel processors tend to skew more in favor of single-core performance, which can be great for gaming.
AMD processors tend to be better for multi-thread applications, which is well-suited for a variety of work applications like video and audio editing. As such, it’ll come down to what you need your PC to do. If you’re after just a high-speed gaming rig, Intel might be the way to go. However, if you’re looking to do a little work along with your gaming, an AMD processor is a great choice.
Power Consumption and Cooling
All CPUs and GPUs have different power requirements, and you’ll need a suitably powerful PSU to keep up with all the components. Now, the wattage of your power supply does dictate what components you can use. You can generally take a parts list to a PSU calculator and determine the minimum wattage you’ll need for everything to run without a hitch.
The more important factor to keep in mind is the efficiency rating. On paper, ratings like the 85 Plus Gold seem to just inflate the price of a PSU. However, you really do get what you pay for when purchasing a power supply. You could be aiming for an 85 Plus Bronze at the minimum, as that will get you access to more stable voltage rails and better quality components that are less prone to failure.
Each processor on the market has a set of components that complement it. Your choice of CPU is going to dictate the motherboard you use, the RAM you can use, as well as what to expect in terms of overall performance from your GPU.
Now, all of the CPUs listed should have access to the cheaper DDR4 RAM, as well as allowing the likes of SATA and NVMe SSDs for booting and storage purposes. The biggest difference comes down to the PCI-Express lanes, which widely vary in terms of overall performance.
The newest processors on the market allow for the use of PCI-E 5.0 lanes, which is a substantial improvement. However, PCI-E 3.0 is the absolute minimum you should be aiming for, any lower and you’ll see substantial performance losses.
Using the Best CPUs for the RTX 3060: What It’s Like
Building a gaming rig around the RTX 3060 should give you a powerful and fast PC capable of gaming and work. You likely won’t be able to do any sort of 4K gaming, but at 1080p and 1440p, you’re golden. The RTX 3060 is certainly capable of playing any newer release, with the likes of Street Fighter 6, Starfield, and Modern Warfare 2 being a breeze to run.
Working on a gaming PC built around the RTX 3060 should, likewise, be an easy task. While it might not have access to blindingly fast video render times, you should have enough power to handle editing and publishing with ease.
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