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Best CPUs for the RTX 3060 in 2024 – our top picks

Up your gaming potential with some of the best CPUs for the RTX 3060
Last Updated on July 10, 2024
Best CPU for RTX 3060
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Are you looking for the best CPU to pair with your new RTX 3060? You’ve come to the right place. The great RTX 3060 is no slouch. With 12GB of GDDR6 memory, it packs a punch when it comes to gaming performance. However, to truly get the most out of your GPU, you’ll need an equally capable processor.

The RTX 3060 is a great GPU that’s been around for a long time, and it can deliver great performances, especially when you want to play at 1080p or even 1440p. Don’t expect too much for 4K gaming, though. Due to the power restriction of this GPU, we won’t recommend pairing it with a last-gen CPU. It just wouldn’t be a cost-effective decision.

With that being said, we have compiled a list and mini-reviews of some processors that we think are best suited for the RTX 3060. We have reviewed each of the options, and selected a best, a budget, and a mid-range processor for your RTX 3060 build.

Products at a glance

How we selected the best CPUs for the RTX 3060

When it comes to gaming, having a reliable, powerful CPU is essential for playing the latest and greatest games. If you’re looking for a new CPU to pair with an RTX 3060 graphics card, there are plenty of features and considerations before you make your purchase.

Our team of experts at PC Guide has researched and looked at several processors that are suitable for the RTX 3060. In addition to specs and features, we also went through user reviews to get an idea of what customers have to say about the processors. Plus, we went a step ahead and tested the CPUs to give you real-world and synthetic benchmarks.

BEST CPU FOR RTX 3060
01
Best in ClassHighly Recommended
Specifications
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • Boost clock : 4.8 GHz
  • Base clock: 3.7 GHz
  • L3 cache: 63MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AM4 socket
Reasons to Buy
  • 12 cores and 24 threads for multi-tasking
  • Decent performance for gaming
  • Low TDP of 105W
Reasons to Avoid
  • Not the latest PCIe support
  • Slower last-gen DDR4 RAM

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X was one of the best processors for gamers and content creators from its generation. 

Featuring 12 cores, 24 threads, and a total L3 cache of 64MB, this 3rd Gen Ryzen processor delivers high performance for all your tasks, whether it be simple gaming or video editing. With a base clock speed of 3.7GHz and a maximum boost clock of 4.8GHz, you can expect a smooth gaming experience.

Overall, we saw good multi-core and single-core performance, so you should be able to use it for gaming and content creation.

PC Guide

In our Ryzen 9 5900X review, we tested the CPU by playing some games on it – and it did not disappoint. We were able to get over 140FPS at 1080p low settings in demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077, Star Field, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. 

Of course, these numbers would vary depending on your build. But if you pair it up with powerful GPUs and components, you should be able to get good performance. Overall, we saw good multi-core and single-core performance, so you should be able to use it for gaming and content creation.

It’s a PCIe 4 interface, so you shouldn’t expect any performance metrics as seen on the latest components. However, this technology showed a very nice increase in data transfer speeds compared to PCIe3, making it a suitable CPU for the RTX 3060.

What users say

On Amazon, the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X has a rating of 4.8 stars, and it has been rated by more than 11,500 people. As per the customer reviews, most users mentioned that the CPU was powerful, good for gaming, and was worth the price. However, customers had mixed opinions on temperature management of the processor.

BEST budget CPU FOR RTX 3060
04
  • 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.
Excellent
Reasons to Buy
  • It’s overclockable
  • Great power-efficiency
  • PCIe Gen 4 support
Reasons to Avoid
  • No integrated graphics

The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X is one of the best budget processors for gamers looking to get the most out of their RTX 3060 graphics card.

The 6-core, 12-thread processor has enough power to handle most games and offers great value for its price. It’s not as powerful as high-end processors, such as the Ryzen 9 5900X or Intel Core i9 10900K, but it still offers plenty of performance for gaming and multitasking.

This processor offers an impressive boost in gaming performance with support for DirectX 12 Ultimate technology for next-generation visuals.

PC Guide

AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X has proven to be a highly efficient and powerful processor in the lineup of AMD processors. The Ryzen 5 5600X features impressive clock speeds up to 4.6GHz, allowing for exceptionally fast boot times and smooth multitasking capabilities.

Additionally, this processor offers an impressive boost in gaming performance with support for DirectX 12 Ultimate technology for next-generation visuals.

With the combination of its cutting-edge technology and price point, AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X is sure to make waves among gamers and content creators alike who are looking for an affordable yet powerful computing experience that can handle virtually any task thrown at it.

What users say

Users on Amazon were incredibly happy with the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, providing it with a 90% 5-star rating score. This is pretty incredible for any product on the site. Users heaped praise on the performance, value for money, and overall quality of the CPU. One reviewer noted, “if you are looking for a powerful and affordable CPU for your next PC build, you should consider the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X”.

Best mid-range CPU for RTX 3060
03
  • Intel Core i5-12600K processor in front of its packaging box with "core" and "unlocked" visible on a blurred blue background.
  • An Intel Core i5-12600K processor with its retail box displayed on a desk with a blurred background.
  • An Intel Core i5-12600K processor chip on a plain, light-colored background.
Excellent
Specifications
  • Cores: 10 (6P + 4E)
  • Threads: 16
  • Boost Clock Speed: 4.9 GHz P / 3.6 GHz E
  • Base Clock Speed: 3.7 GHz P / 2.8 GHz E
  • L3 Cache: 20 MB (shared)
  • TDP: 125W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
Reasons to Buy
  • Features the big.LITTLE architecture
  • Goes with DDR4 and DDR5
  • Strong single-core performance
Reasons to Avoid
  • Heats up a bit during intense workloads
  • The 13600K supersedes this one

If you are a little tight on budget but don’t want to compromise on performance, then we think that the Intel Core i5-12600K is an excellent mid-range option. This Intel processor is a rival to the Ryzen 5 models. If you compare the two, you will see that Team Blue beats Team Red on most benchmarks. 

Talking about the Intel Core i5-12600K specifically, the processor comes with 10 (6P + 4E) and 16 Threads. As the core count and combination suggest, the processor can switch between performance and efficiency – thanks to the big.LITTLE architecture that debuted with this CPU.

Further, the CPU can deliver a base clock speed of 3.7 GHz, which can get toned down to 2.8 GHz with the E cores. Similarly, the processor can do a boost clock speed of 4.9 GHz with the P cores, and up to 3.6 GHz with E cores. 

The Intel Core i5-12600K is quite efficient in terms of performance as well as power consumption.

PC Guide

In our review, we tested the CPU and found out that it excels in single-core performance and outdoes its competitors. And while it can handle multi-core workloads, it can falter sometimes under pressure.

We also played demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Days Gone, for which we got 301 FPS and 222 FPS, respectively. Note that the settings were low, and we played at 1080p. So, if you pair it with a 1080p GPU like the RTX 3060, it should run games quite well.

As mentioned earlier, the Intel Core i5-12600K is quite efficient in terms of performance as well as power consumption. The CPU has a TDP of 125W, which is quite low. However, this is twice of what the Ryzen 5 5600X consumes. But then the Intel processor also delivers twice the performance. 

What users say

On Amazon, the Intel Core i5-12600K has a 4.9-star rating, and the product has been rated by more than 2,200 users. According to the customer reviews, the processor runs fast, works well for gaming, and comes with a reasonable TDP. The users also appreciated the ease of installation of the processor.

Considerations for the best CPUs for RTX 3060

Here are a few key considerations to take on board when picking up a CPU for your RTX 3060 GPU –

GPU

While the Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU is a little on the old side now, it is still important to pick up the best version of this GPU. You won’t be able to change too much about the fundamentals of the card, but you can maximize your boost clock speed with overclocked versions, and you can also get different designs and RGB lighting. Check out our best GPUs for RTX 3060 article for more information on the best picks.

Gaming PC / Pre-Built System

Want to skip all the steps and go straight for a pre-built system? Well, you can with our best RTX 3060 gaming PCs article. It goes through all the necessary details you need to find the best system for your needs – including CPUs. Make sure to check it out.

Resolution and Refresh Rate

The resolution of your monitor, whether 1080p, 1440p, or 4K, and its refresh rate, either 60Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz, will impact the CPU you need. At 1080p, a less powerful CPU will be able to keep up with the RTX 3060, while at 1440p and 4K gaming, you may benefit from a stronger CPU to avoid bottlenecks.

Price

While we have divided our picks into ‘overall’ and ‘value’, budget is still a major consideration for all users. For some, it may even be the defining factor in their choice. Luckily, the RTX 3060 is relatively cheap for a GPU, which will open up your options for a CPU. To get the best price for a CPU, we recommend purchasing during seasonal sale periods and using price tracker applications like Camelcamelcamel – this will allow you to get the most out of your budget.

Is an RTX 3060 a good GPU?

When paired with the latest CPU, it can make for a formidable GPU that can run top games at high resolutions, including 4K. Despite them sharing the same name, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 Ti offers superior performance to the 3060. However, the RTX 3060 still stands out as one of the leading mid-range cards out there and is a great option if you’re looking to build a PC at a more affordable price point.

What CPU is needed for an RTX 3060?

From testing, we recommend a fifth-generation CPU from either AMD or Intel such as an Intel core i5 11600k. A processor with good single-core speeds would be best. This would reduce the chance of your CPU causing bottlenecking issues.

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