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Best CPU for RTX 2060 in 2024 – our top Intel and AMD picks

Elevate your graphics potential with some of the best CPUs for the RTX 2060
Last Updated on May 10, 2024
Best CPU for RTX 2060
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Pairing a CPU with an older GPU is seemingly more challenging as there are so many new and old options that make sense. So, it goes without saying that selecting a processor for the RTX 2060 presents the same hurdles, and if you’re confused, which is understandable, we’ve got you back.

We took the liberty of doing the research for you to make your buying journey easier. We put together this guide that lists various options, their details, and pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.

How we picked 

There are various aspects you need to consider while pairing any CPU with a GPU. As for the RTX 2060, it’s a two-generation old GPU, and it would be best to pair it with a CPU that complements it. We take the brand, architecture, cores, threads, base and boost frequencies, motherboard compatibility, and other important factors into account. 

However, other than specifications anyone can read, we take a more hands-on approach by thoroughly testing the CPUs for synthetic and real-world performance. If you’re interested in learning more about that, we recommend you head to our PC Guide Testing Lab, which will show the process in detail. You can also check out all of our CPU reviews for an even better understanding.

Best CPU for RTX 2060

Best CPU for RTX 2060 overall
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  • A close-up photo of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor box on a blurred background.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X gaming CPU on a plain white background.
Best in ClassExcellent
Specifications
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads : 12
  • Boost speed : up to 4.6 GHz
  • Base speed: 3.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 65W
  • Platform: AMD (AM4)
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent multitasking and gaming performance
  • It comes bundled with a Wraith Stealth cooler
  • Great price-to-performance ratio
Reasons to Avoid
  • It doesn’t have any integrated graphics
  • Six cores aren’t great for workstation-level tasks

After taking multiple factors into account, we concluded that Team Red’s Ryzne 5 5600X is the best CPU to pair with an RTX 2060. In our Ryzen 5 5600X review, we tested it against multiple real-world and gaming benchmarks, and it outperformed the 5700X in some areas. On top of that, it delivered 282 and 117 FPS in demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Days Gone, respectively. 

While there are lower alternatives than the 5600X that could also work well with the RTX 2060, the AM4 support and the 5600X’s sheer ability to power even more heavy-duty setups put it in a league of its own. For example, our test setup used the RTX 4070 Ti Super, and the 5600X fared perfectly fine. 

In addition, at the time of writing, this CPU is going for $119, which makes it considerably light on the pocket. So, it doesn’t cost much and can withstand multiple upgrades—what more could you ask for? 

As far as its specifications are concerned, it has six cores, 12 threads, a boost clock of 4.6GHz, a base clock of 3.7GHz, and a 32MB L3 cache. The core and thread count might not seem impressive, but its performance speaks for itself. Even more surprising is that all this hardware utilizes just 65W, which should keep its temperature relatively low under heavy loads. 

The Ryzen 5 5600X is a fantastic budget CPU that can bring you a lot of power if you don’t need the cutting edge in your system.

PC Guide

However, if you live in an area with high ambient temperatures, you can always get the best CPU cooler for it and call it a day. That said, this processor does come bundled with the AMD Wraith Stealth cooler, which should also work fine. 

The 5600X is based on the Zen 3 architecture and has a 7nm processor technology. The smaller the transistors, the more they can fit into the CPU, resulting in faster and more efficient processing. 

Overall, the Ryzen 5 5600X is one of the best AM4 CPUs to pair with an RTX 2060, and it should power your system even if you upgrade to a more powerful GPU. 

What users say

According to Amazon reviews, the Ryzen 5 5600X is a “beast for the price.” Its performance, stability, and power efficiency are all praised, and the majority of the reviews are positive. The multitasking and gaming capabilities are also showcased, and one reviewer stated, “In terms of gaming, the Ryzen 5 5600X has significantly enhanced my overall experience.”

Best Intel CPU for RTX 2060
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Specifications
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads: 12
  • Boost Clock: 4.4 GHz
  • Base Clock: 2.5 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 18 MB
  • TDP: 65 W
Reasons to Buy
  • Great performance for the price point
  • High maximum memory bandwidth
  • Solid gaming and multitasking performance
Reasons to Avoid
  • It doesn’t have integrated graphics
  • It can’t be overclocked
  • Might need to invest in a CPU cooler to keep it cool

For our second pick, we went with the Intel Core i5-12400f. The “F” in its name denotes that this CPU lacks integrated graphics, just like our top pick. However, it has the same number of cores and threads as the 5600X.

Besides that, it has a base clock speed of 2.5GHz, a boost clock speed of 4.4GHz, and an 18MB L3 cache. This means that it should have enough juice to power various demanding games and professional applications without running in lag or performance degradation. 

The L3 cache is the Intel Smart Cache, meaning all cores have access to the lower cache level. This reduces access time and increases efficiency, as the CPU doesn’t have to utilize resources to make a call to fetch data; it’s already there. 

In addition, it has a maximum memory bandwidth of 76.8 GB/s, which is considerably faster than the 5600X’s 47.68 GB/s. This should allow for faster data transfer to and from the semiconductor memory (RAM/ROM), leading to better overall performance. 

This processor is also compatible with PCI Express 4.0 and 5.0. This is great because it can work with the new and previous generation of motherboards. So, if you were planning on upgrading to a PCIe 5.0 motherboard, you could install it without worrying about compatibility issues. With that, you should be able to experience the raw performance of Gen 5 SSDs and DDR5 RAM. 

The only aspect you need to look out for is whether the motherboard is LGA 1700 compatible or not. That said, we’ve got you covered with our best motherboard for Intel guide that has the latest and top picks for Core i9, i7, and i5. 

While the manufacturer doesn’t unlock this processor, some PC enthusiasts can manage to get past that, but we don’t recommend that. First, it would void any warranty, and second, it could damage the CPU if there are any hiccups during the process. If you want to overclock your processor, we recommend going for an Intel “K” processor like the Intel Core i5-12600K or maybe even giving the Ryzen processors a shot.  

What users say

At the time of writing, this CPU has a rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 on Amazon, and its reviews are massively positive. One reviewer said: “The intel core i5 12400F is a fairly good Processor for those looking for good performance on a budget” and stated that this CPU runs hot. So, we recommend you use a robust CPU cooler to keep the temperature under control. If you’re interested in exploring some options, check out our best AIO water cooler guide for the top picks. 

Best budget CPU for RTX 2060
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Reasons to Buy
  • It has a low TDP of 65W
  • It comes with a CPU cooler
  • Decent performance for a budget option
Reasons to Avoid
  • Requires an LGA 1200 motherboard
  • The iGPU doesn’t have great performance

If you’re a fan of Team Blue, rejoice as our budget CPU pick to pair with the RTX 2060 is the Intel Core i5-10400. 

The Intel 10th-generation lineup is almost four years old, and Nvidia’s 2000 series GPUs were released in 2019. Since both these components are from the same era, it isn’t surprising that they match well. 

This CPU features six cores, 12 threads, a base frequency of 2.9GHz, a turbo frequency of 4.3GHz, and a 12MB L3 cache. What this translates to is decent gaming and productive performance in various applications. However, it isn’t the best option for super-heavy multitasking due to its low core count. 

It has a 14nm process and a maximum memory bandwidth of 41.6 GB/s, which is considerably slower than the 12400f; however, keep in mind that this is a 4-generation old CPU. That said, its performance combined with the RTX 2060 should enable you to comfortably game at 1080p and even at 1440p.

The i5-10400 is only compatible with PCI Express 3.0 and supports DDR4 memory, but it has a maximum memory support of 128GB. This means that if your motherboard has four RAM slots, you can stack up the memory to boost your overall system’s performance. 

One thing this CPU has that the 12400f doesn’t is integrated graphics. It features the Intel UHD Graphics 630, which should be enough to boot your PC without a dedicated GPU and perform basic tasks. Gaming on the iGPU is a long shot, and the experience would be subpar. 

This processor uses the LGA 1200 socket, meaning you’ll need to purchase a compatible motherboard. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with our best Z490 motherboard guide, which lists the best LGA 1200 motherboards available. 

Overall, the Intel Core i5-10400 is a solid option to pair with an RTX 2060. However, the path to upgrades is limited as Intel changed the socket type from the 12th generation onward. So, in the future, you’ll have to replace your motherboard and RAM if you want to make any CPU upgrades. 

What users say

According to Amazon reviews, the i5-10400 has great professional performance, efficiency, and thermal design. However, there were reviews of users saying that it runs hot and the stock cooler can’t keep temperatures under control. That said, we recommend using a good thermal paste and an after-market CPU cooler in that case. If you’re interested in exploring some options, we recommend you check out our best thermal paste guide for the top picks.

Best performance CPU for RTX 2060
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  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D 8-core processor retail box.
Specifications
  • Cores: 8
  • Threads: 16
  • Boost speed : Up to 4.5 GHz
  • Base speed: 3.4 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 96 MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AMD (AM4)
Reasons to Buy
  • Exceptional gaming performance
  • 96MB of L3 cache
  • It still uses the AM4 socket
  • A good number of cores and threads
Reasons to Avoid
  • It can’t be overclocked
  • Stark price increase compared to the non-X3D variant

If you’re not surprised by this pick, we don’t blame you, as the Ryzen 7 5800X3D is one of the best processors for gaming and is still competing with the latest CPUs. 

This processor has eight cores, 16 threads, a base clock speed of 3.4GHz, and a boost clock speed of 4.5GHz. However, its best feature is its 96MB of L3 cache. All “X3D” chips have this feature, which stacks additional cache memory on top of the CPU. This allows more frequently accessed data to be stored, which the cores can free access.

This results in lowered access times and increased performance and efficiency as more game elements can be stored and don’t need to be called each time. 

That said, this processor does have a relatively high TDP of 105W, but considering the hardware it’s packing, it’s understandable. However, depending on the workload, the thermal paste and CPU cooler used, and the ambient temperature, it could run hot. So, to keep it from throttling, we recommend using the best CPU cooler for 5800X3D

The 5800X3D is compatible with DDR4 memory and requires an AM4-compatible motherboard. However, it also supports a maximum of 128GB of RAM, so if your motherboard has additional slots, you can take its performance to the next level. If you’re interested in exploring some options, we’ve also covered the best DDR4 RAM and the best X570 motherboards

So, this CPU is more than capable of handling modern games, and if there are any CPU-intensive titles, it should make quick work of them. The only downside to this is that its real-world performance isn’t as great as the AMD “X” processors.

What users say

The Ryzen 7 5800X3D’s Amazon reviews praise it for its gaming performance. One reviewer stated: “The 5800X3D is well worth the purchase,” and another said, “This CPU gets the most juice from the existing motherboard socket and the improvement in performance is dramatic.” We believe this sums up everything about this CPU.

How to pick the best CPU for RTX 2060

There are a handful of factors that you need to consider before choosing a CPU. We’ve listed some of those factors below so you can make an informed decision on your next CPU, regardless of application.

Budget

The first thing you need to consider is how much you’re willing to spend on a CPU to pair with the RTX 2060. This GPU isn’t the latest, and its value and performance will only decrease as newer products are introduced. Also, given its mid-range status, it won’t make sense to go for a high-end CPU unless you plan on upgrading your GPU shortly after that.

So, cut through the clutter based on your budget and opt for a CPU that complements its gaming prowess, like the Intel Core i5-10400. 

Upgradability 

Each year brings new processors and GPUs, and the performance landscape changes. So, if you plan on upgrading your system with new components, going for a more powerful CPU would make sense, as you can upgrade your GPU to match its performance.

However, you also need to consider the socket type, as the AM4 can only support up to 5950X, and the LGA 1700 socket from Intel is likely going to change after the 14th-generation processors. That said, the best option is what you can easily afford without putting a dent in your wallet.

Camilo is a contributor for PC Guide. He's been into tech since he was a teen, surfing through the web and local stores trying to find the cheapest way to play the latest Half-Life on his old Windows