Home > CPU > CPU Buyer's Guide

Best CPU for RX 6950 XT – Our top picks

This is why we think the i5-13600K deserves some serious consideration.
Last Updated on May 8, 2024
Best CPU for RX 6950 XT
You can trust PC Guide: Our team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate - which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Selecting a CPU to go with a GPU and vice versa can be a challenging ordeal because there are so many options in different price ranges, and there are third-party variants to consider as well. So, whether it’s an RX 6950 XT or the Nvidia flagship GPU, the process remains the same, but cutting through the clutter can be draining. 

That said, we took the liberty of doing the research and testing for you to present you with options that work the best with the RX 6950 XT. So, let’s get right into it, shall we?

How we picked

There are various aspects you need to consider while pairing any CPU with a GPU. As for the RTX 3070, it requires a CPU that complements its prowess as a mid-range card. We take the brand, architecture, cores, threads, base and boost frequencies, motherboard compatibility, and other important factors into account. 

However, other than specifications that 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 check out our Testing Lab guide, which takes you through the process in detail.

Best CPU for RX 6950 XT

Best CPU for RX 6950 XT overall
01
  • Close-up of a computer's motherboard featuring a mounted Intel Core i5-13600K processor with visible socket and screws on a detailed circuit background.
  • Close-up of an Intel Core i5-13600K processor in focus, with a blurred blue computer case in the background.
  • An Intel Core i5-13600K processor displayed in front of a blurred computer case.
  • Intel Core i5-13600K CPU against a plain white background.
Best in ClassExcellent
Specifications
  • Cores: 14 (6P-8E)
  • Threads: 20
  • Boost speed : P-Core 5.1GHz / E-Core 3.5GHz
  • Base speed: P-Core 3.5GHz / E-Core 2.6GHz
  • L3 Cache: 24MB
  • TDP: 181W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent performance for a reasonable price
  • Great for various levels of gaming
  • Snappy processing speed for multi-threaded workloads
Reasons to Avoid
  • Runs hot and most likely needs a good CPU cooler
  • Has a high max TDP of 181W
  • No CPU cooler included

The most powerful GPU of AMD’s 6000 series GPU lineup deserves a CPU that is capable of complementing its performance and delivering the best results. That said, we chose the i5-13600K to pair with the RX 6950XT because, during our in-house testing of this processor, it performed stellarly in real-world and synthetic tests. 

This processor sits comfortably on an LGA 1700 socket with 14 cores, divided between six performance (P-cores) and eight efficient (E-cores). On top of that, it features a maximum turbo frequency of 5.1GHz and a base frequency of 2.6GHz. However, since this CPU comes unlocked from the manufacturer, you have the option to overclock it and make it even faster. 

These specifications aren’t just for show, as during our testing, it managed to score 1,992 in single-core and 24,024 in multi-core. This shows its prowess in handling resource-intensive applications and gaming alike. In Cyberpunk 2077, it managed 179 FPS on average, and this title is demanding, to say the least. 

It also supports up to 192GB of RAM and is compatible with PCIe 4.0 and 5.0. This means that you can use it with PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 components without running into compatibility issues. And the stackable memory should also give you enough headroom to enhance your system’s performance according to your requirements. 

The i5-13600K is evolutionary instead of revolutionary 

PC Guide

It also uses the Intel Speed Shift Technology, which helps the CPU adjust its frequency and voltage to deliver the optimal balance between performance and power efficiency. This should keep low-effort tasks such as documenting or web browsing running smoothly without experiencing any lag. 

The only downside to this CPU is that the AMD Ryzen 5 7600X offers similar performance but at a lower price. However, going for that also means you’ll have to shift to the AM5 platform. 

What users say 

When it comes to the features that Amazon users found great about the i5-13600K, its performance, value, and quality for the price point were making a lot of waves. These features earned it titles like a “true powerhouse.” One reviewer stated, “The Intel Core i5-13600K is the ultimate processor that won’t disappoint.” and I guess that justifies its rating of 4.8 out of 5.0 

Best gaming CPU for RX 6950 XT
02
  • 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
  • Massive 96MB L3 cache
  • Great performance without upgrading to the AM5 platform
  • Top-notch in-game results
Reasons to Avoid
  • A high-performance cooler is recommended to keep the temperature under control.
  • It can’t be overlocked
  • Lack integrated graphics

For the best gaming performance, we recommend you pair the RX 6950 XT with the Ryzen 7 5800X3D. 

The “X3D” processors are widely referred to as the best gaming CPUs. This CPU isn’t an exception, especially when we look at what it’s packing under the hood. It features eight cores, 16 threads, a massive 96MB L3 cache, and the 3D V-cache technology. The 3D V-cache boosts performance by allowing more data to be stored, resulting in reduced calls to fetch data. This reduces access times and increases efficiency and performance.

In terms of gaming, this means better FPS, faster loading, and lower system latency—everything you need to win. 

A great aspect of this CPU is that it offers all this performance on the AM4 socket. This means you don’t have to make the expensive shift to the AM5 socket. On top of that, pairing it with a good CPU cooler should keep its temperature under control even during action-packed gaming sessions. If you’re interested in exploring some options, we recommend you check out our best CPU or the best CPU cooler for 5800X3D guides for the top picks. 

It has a maximum clock speed of 4.4GHz and is compatible with 3200MHz DDR4 RAM. Add these to the other specifications, and you’ve got a gaming beast that should make quick work of any title you put in front of it. You can always upgrade your SSD or RAM for better performance, and to that end, we’ve got you covered with our best DDR4 RAM and the best SSD for gaming guides. 

Overall, this CPU should pair well with the RX 6950 XT and deliver top-notch gaming results across a number of games, whether story-based or competitive. 

What users say 

When we take a look at 5800X3D’s Amazon reviews, it’s clear that the users are more than happy with their purchase. From smooth performance and ease of installation to great in-game utilization, the reviews are filled with praise for its gaming prowess. One review perfectly sums it up: “The AMD Ryzen™ 7 5800X3D with 3D V-Cache™ Technology is a stellar performer that delivers on its promises.”

Best performance CPU for RX 6950 XT
03
  • An Intel Core i9-13900K processor installed in a motherboard socket, surrounded by circuits and components.
Highly Recommended
4 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
Reasons to Buy
  • Excellent performance across the board
  • It still uses the LGA 1700 socket
  • Makes use of Intel technologies, such as Thermal Monitoring
Reasons to Avoid
  • Not the more power-efficient option
  • It can run hot and will need a hefty CPU cooler
  • It comes with a premium price tag

For our performance pick, we went with the i9-13900K, the flagship CPU of Intel’s 13th generation, and it is still a viable option in 2024. In our i9-13900K review, we weren’t surprised to see it blow through the competition and deliver stellar results in gaming and synthetic tests. 

You might be wondering why not go for the i9-14900K, but when we conducted in-house tests on the i9-14900K, we found that the performance difference was minimal, but the price increase was substantial. You can learn about it in detail in our i9-14900K review.

The i9-13900K boasts impressive hardware. It features 24 cores, 32 threads, a maximum turbo frequency of 5.8GHz, and a 36MB L3 cache. To put these specifications into perspective, let’s see how it performed during our tests. In games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil: Village, this CPU managed 342 and 351 FPS, respectively, on 1080p low settings. 

The Intel Core i9-13900K is still more than competitive when it comes to powering today’s games.

PC Guide

In Geekbench single- and multi-core tests, it churned out impressive 2,251 and 25,176 points, respectively. This shows that this CPU should be able to handle multi-threaded workloads without a hitch. 

However, all this power does have a downside. Its maximum TDP is 253W, meaning that it will need a robust air or water cooler to keep it cool under heavy workloads. If you’re interested in exploring options, check out the best CPU cooler for i9-13900K guide for the top picks available. 

This CPU comes with Intel UHD Graphics 770, which should be in the same league as the R9 280X or the GT 770. While it won’t get you 60 FPS at 1440p, it should handle basic graphical tasks and power your desktop should your GPU face an issue or if you’re waiting for a replacement. 

A nifty feature of this chip is that it uses Intel’s Thermal Monitoring Technologies, which monitors the temperature via a sensor on the die and adjusts the power draw to keep it under control. That said, during our stress testing, it reached its maximum of 100°C even with a 360mm AIO installed. So, you’ll also need to invest in a good thermal paste and consider the ambient temperature. If you’re wondering which thermal paste to get, we recommend you give our best thermal paste guide a shot. 

Overall, the combination of this CPU with the RX 6950 XT should leave little to the imagination, and you should experience serene visuals at whichever resolution you want to play without experiencing any lag or stuttering. 

What users say

This CPU has a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0, and the reviews praise it for its exceptional performance, hybrid design, and how it handles gaming and professional tasks without breaking a sweat. It does run hot, as stated in many reviews, so a water look or a heavy-duty AIO cooler is recommended. According to one review, this CPU is a “beast of a CPU that caters to power users, gamers, and professionals who require top-tier performance,” which, we believe, perfectly sums up what this CPU is about.

Best budget CPU for RX 6950 XT
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
4.5 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
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
  • Very affordable with above-average performance
  • It can be overclocked for better results
  • Comes with a Wraith Stealth cooler
Reasons to Avoid
  • It doesn’t have any integrated graphics.

The last CPU pick for the RX 6950 XT is the Ryzen 5 5600X, as it offers great performance without breaking the bank. Regarding specifications, there isn’t much difference between the 5600X and 5600, and the gap can be reduced by overclocking the base model. However, the 5600X is $10 cheaper, so going for an option with even slightly better hardware makes sense. 

Featuring six cores, 12 threads, a max boost clock of 4.6 GHz, and a 32MB L3 cache, this CPU has enough power to push more than decent frames at 1080p and 1440p with a high preset. 4K gaming might be possible with this setup as ultra-resolution is more GPU-dependent, but even then, you might not get the best framerates. 

Regarding its power draw, it has a decent TDP of 65W, which should keep temperatures under control, and with a good CPU cooler, you should be able to comfortably overclock it without running into throttling issues. 

The 5600X comes bundled with a Wraith Stealth cooler, which should be more than enough to tame it. However, if it starts to reach its cap of 95°C, we recommend using the best AIO cooler paired with the best thermal paste so you have as great thermal management as possible. 

Overall, this is one of the best budget CPUs to pair with the RX 6950 XT. Its snappy performance should handle low-resolution gaming, and higher-resolution gaming shouldn’t push the GPU’s limits. 

What users say

We aren’t the only ones who are happy with the Ryzen 5 5600X’s performance; its Amazon reviews have nothing but great things to say about it. One reviewer said: “This CPU has exceeded my expectations in delivering exceptional performance across various applications.” Another stated, “With its snappy processing speed and six cores, my PC now handles everything I throw at it with ease.” This shows the capabilities of this CPU and the value it provides for an affordable pick.

How to pick the best CPU for RX 6950 XT

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.

Performance 

First, consider the performance output you want from your rig. This is important as it should help you filter your options depending on whether you want to game casually, in which a mid-range or budget CPU should work, or prefer 4K gaming while handling professional tasks as well. In the latter case, a high-end CPU should work better as it would have more processing power and should be able to multitask effortlessly.

Budget

The second thing you need to consider is your budget and how much you can spend on a CPU. Pairing a high-end CPU with your GPU should most likely get you better in-game performance at low resolutions, but realistically speaking, nowadays, 1440p is the minimum resolution that most people play games on.

That said, filter your options based on your budget and select an option that can handle gaming at various resolutions and other tasks while keeping the graphical load on the GPU rather than the CPU. 

Thermal output 

This is an important aspect to consider because powerful CPUs have a high power draw, meaning they’ll run hot and need a high-end air or water cooler to keep the temperature under control. 

However, the CPU temperature also depends on the ambient temperature. For example, if you’re living in a hot region, the base temperature for all your components will be higher than that of a cold region. On top of that, when you start gaming, that temperature will go even higher. 

So, consider the ambient temperature, power draw, and CPU’s overclocking potential and then decide. Also, remember that you will most likely have to invest in a good CPU cooler. 

Platform

Another important factor to consider is the platform you currently have and whether you want to make the jump to the next generation. If you’re on the AM4 platform and are considering getting a Ryzen 7000 series processor, you’ll have to purchase a new AM5 motherboard as well as DDR5 memory. 

The same goes for Intel. 12th-generation onward, Intel started using LGA1700 sockets for their CPUs, and if you’re moving up from the 10th or 11th gen, you’ll have to get your hands on a new motherboard. 

So, consider whether you want to completely shift to a new platform, which will be quite expensive, or stick to the current platform and upgrade or purchase a new CPU.

Is the RX 6950 XT good for ray-tracing?

The RX 6950 XT has good ray tracing benchmarks, which help to boost gaming performance. However, the general consensus is that its capabilities are lacking compared to other cards like the RTX 4070.

Are AMD GPUs good in 2024?

AMD GPUs are some of the best in the business, boasting system performance that delivers clear and smooth graphics without putting too much pressure on the fans and cooling systems of your PC.

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