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Best CPU for RX 7900 XTX in 2024 – our top picks

Our lineup of ideal processors for AMDs current flagship GPU offering
Last Updated on May 13, 2024
Five different CPU models from Intel and AMD, best suited for the RX 7900 XTX, displayed in a row on a blurry blue-lit background.
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As Team Red’s flagship graphics card, the RX 7900 XTX is a beast amongst GPUs with its top-notch performance and aggressive pricing. Of course, we can say this with certainty as we’ve had plenty of hands-on experience with the RX 7900 XTX and found that it deserves to be paired with a powerful CPU, whether that’s from AMD or over from Team Blue at Intel.

Equipped with a whopping 24GB GDDR6 VRAM and 6,144 Stream Processors, RDNA 3 has quite frankly never looked so good. That said, while your GPU choice might seem obvious, choosing a single CPU to pair with it still isn’t an easy decision or one you can take lightly: opting for the wrong processor could bring your build’s entire performance down. As AMD’s most powerful consumer-grade CPU to date, there’s naturally a fair bit of expectation for impressive native 4K gaming, but without a doubt, you’ll need a decent processor to get you smooth sailing at those resolutions without hiccups or bottlenecks.

To that end, we’ve put together this in-depth guide that lists different processors, their details, and pros and cons to help you cut through the clutter and make an informed decision. So, without wasting another moment, let’s jump right into it.

Products at a glance

How we picked

Choosing the best CPU for any GPU can be a tedious process, but no matter the topic of our recommendations, we make sure we’re following a thorough research and evaluation procedure. Naturally, that begins with looking at our 7900 XTX review, using our hands-on experience and in-house benchmarks as a solid starting point for deducing which processors we think will pair up well with its overall performance capabilities.

Basically, we go all in on research mode from there: we did our reading up on reviews, benchmarks, and user experiences to see how each CPU performed in real-world situations, but we also made sure to pull on our in-house stats where possible. We wanted to make sure our picks would truly deliver the goods and not just look impressive on paper, and back up our claims with real experience. If you’re interested, you can also read in further detail about exactly how we test in the PC Guide testing lab.

We looked at a variety of factors, such as processor power, cost, compatibility, and more, in order to narrow down our selections. After all, you’ve forked out to invest in the flagship GPU from AMD, so it would be good if you could enter a generation of CPU and components that will set you up with a long-lasting and up-to-date rig. We’re not sure when we’ll be getting the Ryzen 9000 series, but luckily, unlike the RTX 40-series the RDNA 3 graphics cards should be fully compatible with older CPUs so you can settle for something more affordable in the meantime. So, to cover all bases we’ve cherry-picked a selection of processors that don’t compromise on quality and price throughout each generation, whilst also offering high-end performance options for your gaming PC at various price points.

Our top picks

Best CPU for the 7900 XTX
01
Specifications
  • Cores: 16
  • Threads: 32
  • Boost speed : up to 5.7 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.5 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 64 MB
  • TDP: 170W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
Reasons to Buy
  • Exceptional multi and single-core performance
  • Unlocked for overclocking, and you get 1 MB L1 cache too
  • Smart Access Memory for faster communication and processing between CPU and GPU
Reasons to Avoid
  • 170W TDP can result in high temperature, so you’ll need a sufficient cooler
  • Only PCIe 5.0 support, which can be a bit limiting
  • Premium performance comes with a premium price tag

First off, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best AMD CPU goes well with the best AMD GPU. That said, there is a reason this is the best AMD CPU and its specifications and performance should attest to that claim.

Jumping straight in, this processor has a total of 16 cores and 32 threads. What this means is that it should be able to effortlessly handle multitasking of any nature as well as exceptionally perform single-core tasks such as gaming. On top of that, it has a base clock speed of 4.5 GHz, which can be taken to 5.7 GHz. These clock speeds are really fast, so you shouldn’t feel your system or processes lagging or experience any in-game disruptions due to bottleneck issues. However, it does come unlocked for overclocking, and you should be able to take it beyond the maximum frequency for even better performance. That said, it isn’t recommended to push any chipset beyond its recommended limit as, realistically speaking, there isn’t any real-world scenario where you’d need 6.0 GHz clock speed, and any damage that occurs during the overclocking process is not covered by the warranty.

As far as its power draw is concerned, you know what they say: with great power comes a high TDP, and this CPU has a default TDP of 170WPa. While this doesn’t mean that it’ll always be drawing in 170W, it could go above that, depending on how much load it’s under. Another factor in this equation is its temperature. The more power it draws, the more heat it will generate, and it will need a better cooling solution. It is also recommended by AMD that you use a liquid cooler with this CPU, and to that end, we’ve got you covered with our best AIO water cooler guide, which has the top picks.

Overall, this CPU is a powerhouse that should deliver exceptional performance without any bottleneck issues while future-proofing your build.

PC Guide

The Ryzen 9 7950X sits on top of the latest AM5 socket, which works with the PCIe 5.0 express configuration. What this means is that it requires a motherboard with an AM5 socket and other components that are built for the next generation such as DDR5 memory. It is compatible with a maximum of 5200 MHz RAM, so check whether your motherboard can support those speeds before making a purchase. That said, to help you cut through the clutter, we’ve put together the best AM5 motherboard guide, which has the top picks available.

Lastly, it has a 64 MB L3 and 1 MB L1 cache. Previously, we’ve seen a maximum of 512 KB of L1 cache, which is a massive jump. How cache’s work is that the closer they are to the CPU, the faster they are and have a lower number. So, L1 is the fastest, and L3 is the slowest, but it can hold the most data. That is important because caches also act as repositories for all cores to access the data. So this means that more data can be accessed and processed quickly with this CPU, which should lead to better general and in-game performance.

Overall, this CPU is a powerhouse that should deliver exceptional performance without any bottleneck issues while future-proofing your build. You should easily be able to game in 4K with this pairing, but it comes at a premium and is definitely an enthusiast pick.

What users say

Just as you’d expect of the best from AMD, the Ryzen 9 7950X has been highly rated on Amazon for its performance, quality, and stability across various workloads. One happy buyer even went as far to say that “this processor performs phenomenally”, whereas another raves that it’s the “best CPU I’d spend my own money on”. However, the reception was a bit more mixed when it comes to temperatures, and while it’s not uncommon for high-performance CPUs to run hot, it’s something to keep in mind when deciding on a cooling setup.

Best Intel CPU for the 7900 XTX
02
  • An Intel Core i9-13900K processor installed in a motherboard socket, surrounded by circuits and components.
Highly Recommended
Specifications
  • Cores: 24 (8P-16E)
  • Threads: 32
  • Boost speed : P-Core 5.7GHz / E-Core 4.3GHz
  • Base speed: P-Core 3.0GHz / E-Core 2.2GHz
  • L3 Cache: 36 MB
  • TDP: 253W
  • Platform: Intel (LGA 1700)
Reasons to Buy
  • 5.8 GHz max frequency
  • Strong gaming and general performance
  • DDR5 and DDR4 support
  • Comes unlocked for overclocking from the manufacturer
Reasons to Avoid
  • High power consumption, and is another CPU that’s known to run hot
  • It’s still been replaced by the 14900K, so no longer the best of best
  • High pricing worth keeping in mind

If you’re looking for the best Intel CPU to pair with your RX 7900 XTX, we recommend the i9-13900K.

Before we begin, let’s address the elephant in the room. The Intel 14th-generation CPUs are making headway, so why should you settle for this CPU? Well, according to our hands-on review of the i9-14900K, we found the difference to be minimal but you can check it out for yourself and make a decision that best suits your budget and requirements.

For starters, the i9-13900K boasts a total of 24 cores and 32 threads, meaning that its multi-core performance should be able to handle parallel processing without a hitch. However, that doesn’t mean its single-core performance is lacking, as it should be able to handle any level of gaming you throw at it.

Regarding its cores, those are divided into eight performance cores and 16 efficient cores. How this division works is that the performance cores do the heavy lifting and process resource-intensive tasks while the efficient cores handle minor and background tasks that don’t require a lot of muscle. What this does is provide a balance between performance and efficiency and also help keep the power draw and temperatures under control.

While the Intel Core i9-13900K is no longer the flagship it was at release, generous discounts and high performance still make it an ideal processor to consider in 2024.

PC Guide

For example, if the performance cores are running at all times, they consume more power, ramping up the chip’s temperature. So, when demanding tasks aren’t in the queue, the efficient cores take over and keep the power draw to a minimum.

This processor’s maximum clock speed of 5.80 GHz should be more than enough to handle any real-world tasks. However, if you’re a PC enthusiast who likes to push your setup to the limit, this CPU comes unlocked for easy overclocking. This means you can squeeze out even more performance from this CPU.

So, as far as in-game performance is concerned, this CPU shouldn’t leave anything on the table, as the performance cores should kick in and work with this powerful GPU to deliver the best frame rates and reduced lag so you can have the best experience possible.

What users say

With 88% of users rating the i9-13900K 5 stars, it’s clear to see that Intel’s previous flagship had a good reception overall. Of course, people have mentioned its speed and performance as being particularly good, but they also seem to like how easy it was to install – always a bonus if you’re fairly new to building and tinkering. Its “exceptional performance” was commended across the board, and “its 24 cores offer a level of processing power that’s perfect for gamers, content creators, and professionals”, so you’re all set for high speeds basically. As is the case with a lot of these high-end CPUs though, the 13900K is also mentioned to run hot under load.

Best premium CPU for the 7900 XTX
03
Highly Recommended
Specifications
  • Cores: 12
  • Threads: 24
  • Boost clock speed: 5.6 GHz
  • Base clock speed: 4.4 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 128MB
  • TDP: 120W
  • Platform: Socket AM5
Reasons to Buy
  • 128 MB L3 cache for high data transfer and retrival
  • AMD Smart Access Memory support – always a bonus
  • Compatible with AMD EXPO Memory Overclocking technology too
Reasons to Avoid
  • Has a premium price tag
  • 7950X provides better multi-core performance for not much more money
  • Worth noting that it doesn’t come with a stock cooler

If you’re looking for the best premium processor to go with your RX 7900 XTX, then the Ryzen 9 7900X3D might be the option for you. Of course, we liked it so much that in our RX 7900X3D review we awarded it a solid 4.5 stars, but here’s a bit more detail about why is pairs so well with the flagship GPU in particular.

Let’s kick things off with some specifications. This CPU is powered by 12 cores, 24 threads, and features a base clock speed of 4.4 GHz, which can be increased by up to 5.6 GHz. What this translates to is that by pairing this CPU with the RX 7900 XTX, you should get amazing in-game, video editing, rendering, and general performance. The 24 threads should be able to handle vast amounts of multitasking, while the powerful cores should deliver a top-notch gaming experience whether you’re gaming at 1080p, 1440p, or even 4K.

On top of that, its maximum clock speed should be fast enough to deliver swift processing and access times. However, this CPU doesn’t come unlocked from the manufacturer, but you could overclock it by other means, but that isn’t recommended as there are chances of the chip getting damaged and that isn’t covered in the warranty. Furthermore, this CPU has a massive 128 MB L3 cache, which should also help speed things up in gaming and general tasks. This is because caches act as libraries that hold data, and the cores can access that data instead of taking the long way around. So, the more data there is, the less time the cores spend looking for it, resulting in reduced access time and faster processing.

This CPU can work hard, and play hard too. It is just as comfortable gaming as it is in workstation and productivity scenarios, a real jack of all trades, if you will.

PC Guide

This CPU, like our top pick, also rests on the latest AM5 socket and requires components that are compatible with the PCI 5.0 express configuration. That said, the latest generation of components offer faster speeds and processing, so opting for those isn’t a bad idea, as you might not want your build to be held back by a slower RAM or SSD. To that end, we’ve got your back in that domain as well with our best DDR5 RAM guide that has the best picks.

However, that’s not all. The Ryzen 9 7900X3D also has the AMD EXPO Memory Overclocking technology, which enables you to easily overclock your RAM to higher frequencies, leading to better overall performance. So, while the maximum support RAM for this CPU is 5200 MHz, you could possibly take it above that, but be sure not to overdo it.

Lastly, the great part of having an all-AMD build is that the Smart Access Memory comes into play. What this does is basically remove the middleman from the CPU and the GPU and let them communicate and share data directly, which leads to faster data transfers and better performance.

All in all, this is one of the best CPUs for the RX 7900 XTX. While it may have a premium price tag, its features and functionalities more than justify it, and it should future-proof your build for years to come.

What users say

Buyers of the Ryzen 9 7900X3D on Amazon have commended this top-of-the-line processor for its impressive gaming performance, which isn’t all too surprising given its ‘X3D’ nametag. Across reviews, users picked up on its “incredible gaming performance”, and that it’s “really amazing in gaming”. However, if you’re not that familiar with setting up CPUs, you might find it a bit finicky to get properly integrated into your system.

Best mid-range CPU for the RX 7900 XTX
04
  • Blue and white box of an Intel Core i7-13700KF 13th gen unlocked CPU, labeled "discrete graphics required.
  • An Intel Core i7-13700K processor box on a desk with a blurred background.
  • An Intel Core i7-13700K processor in its packaging, displayed in front of a blurred background with blue hues.
  • Intel Core i7-13700K CPU on a white background.
Highly Recommended
4 /5
Editor’s Rating
How We Review
Reasons to Buy
  • Supports up to 192 GB of RAM
  • Supports a max resolution of 5120 x 3200 @ 120Hz
  • Support for PCIe 4.0 and 5.0
Reasons to Avoid
  • Fewer efficient cores than our number two pick
  • Better value than the 14700K, but at the cost of inferior performance

If you’re looking for a processor that doesn’t cost as much but still won’t hold back the RX 7900 XTX, the i7 – 13700K might be right up your alley.

First, this processor has the “K” moniker, which means it can be overclocked to go above its maximum frequency of 5.40 GHz. This should result in faster processing for various tasks such as editing, gaming, and everyday tasks.

On top of that, it features 16 cores and 24 threads. The cores are divided into eight performance and efficient cores. This design should be able to handle multiple applications running in parallel, while the cores should deliver good performance in single-core tasks such as gaming. The division of performance and efficient cores should make sure that you’re getting exactly the amount of processing you need for any particular task. For example, if the task you’re running requires more juice, the performance cores will step up, and the efficient cores will take the back seat. After handling that, the performance cores will tune down and let efficient cores handle minor tasks. This results in a good balance between performance and value and should also keep your costs under control.

So, when it comes to gaming, you shouldn’t experience lag or reduced CPU consumption as these pairings complement each other well and should be able to handle 1440p and even 4K gaming.

One good feature of this CPU is that it is compatible with PCI 4.0 and 5.0 express configurations. This means you can put this processor on a previous-generation motherboard with its components, and it’ll work perfectly fine without any compatibility issues. This should help you keep costs down, as you won’t have to purchase a new motherboard, RAM, and other components, which can be quite pricey.

Overall, this is one of the best processors for pairing with your RX 7900 XTX, and its price and backward compatibility make this deal even sweeter.

What users say

With 90% of users on Amazon rating it 5 stars, it’s fair to say that the i7-13700K has proved itself to be an efficient and versatile processor for both gaming as well as multitasking. What’s more, one user in particular mentions that they “bought this to replace my 10850k after I realized how much it was holding back my 4090”, saying that the 13700K “I do gaming and code compiling and it is a dream for both of those workloads”. This speaks really highly of how this CPU would perform with the 7900 XTX, as the alternative flagship from AMD.

Best CPU for the 7900 XTX for the money
05
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X CPU in front of its packaging, featuring the "7000 series processor" label.
  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X processor with visible pins on a white background.
Excellent
Specifications
  • Cores: 6
  • Threads : 12
  • Boost speed : 5.3 GHz
  • Base speed: 4.7 GHz
  • L3 Cache: 32 MB
  • TDP: 105W
  • Platform: AMD (AM5)
Reasons to Buy
  • Offers higher performance for a low power cost, and is more affordable than a lot of alternative CPUs
  • Has a low TDP so cooling shouldn’t be an issue
  • Still has boost speeds over 5.3 GHz, and is overclockable
Reasons to Avoid
  • Max speeds and overclocking might cause high temps
  • Prices may fall even further if you wait for the 2nd gen of AM5
  • Not as strong for heavy workstation tasks as it has fewer cores

Last up, we’ve got an option that we think offers a really strong performance for the 7900 XTX for its price tag, and that’s the 7600X. Our Ryzen 5 7600X review saw us award the processor with an impressive 4.5-star rating, and there’s no denying that it offers a unique price-to-performance offering that won’t see you encountering any bottlenecks when paired with the 7900 XTX.

Unpacking the specs, this entry-level but truly capable CPU has 6 unlocked cores and 12 threads capable of boosting to speeds of 5.3 GHz, positioning it as able to game at the high end of the performance spectrum despite costing less than $200 most of the time. On top of this, you’re also benefitting from the smaller 5nm process packing more transistors into each core, as well as a 25% bandwidth increase from DDR5 memory and double the L3 cache per core above the previous generation. It is worth noting though, if you’re in dire need of more cores or a slightly higher thread count, you could eye up the Intel Core i5 12600K as a possible alternative.

The CPU is more than capable of gaming at the high end, with enough oomph to keep up with the latest GPUs. But it can also supply the necessary computing power for moderate workstation tasks when needed. 

PC Guide

Benchmark-wise, synthetic and gaming performance from the 7600X was commendable, and it goes to prove the standing of entry-level CPUs as creeping up the performance podium. For example, CPU-Z benchmarks indicate that the 7600X brings fantastic single-core performance of 766 points. For comparison, the 7900X only scores 778 in the single-core testing, and that has a core speed 0.3GHz higher than the 7600X. However, multi-thread performance wasn’t quite as astounding, with competitors such as the 14700K understandably scoring a lot higher. On the gaming side, difficult to run games such as Cyberpunk 2077 reached a 295 FPS average at 1080p, which is really impressive considering that it’s a benchmark standard.

All in all, while it might not be the absolute powerhouse of a processor to pair up with an AMD flagship graphics card, the value proposition offered by the 7600X still positions it as a really strong option for those in need of a CPU upgrade without a huge budget to blow. It’s one of the most affordable ways to get onto the AM5 platform, and it should still cater to the needs of gamers seeking high-speed, multitasking capabilities.

What users say

There’s been high praise for the Ryzen 5 7600X on Amazon, and it’s no surprise that buyers like its value and performance in particular. Moreover, one user went as far as to say that “there is simply no CPU with as much performance, versatility, and general range of use in terms of its cost”. Unfortunately though, we seem to have another case of a processor that runs hot under load, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got an efficient CPU cooler in your system too.

Features and considerations

The RX 7900 XTX is a powerhouse with impressive features and specifications. To ensure all of these features work as best as possible, you need to pair it with a strong CPU, and for that, you need to keep a couple of things in mind so you can make an informed decision. We’ve listed some of these factors below.

Compatibility

The first thing you need to consider is compatibility, specifically whether the CPU you’re leaning towards will work well with the GPU. Since the RX 7900 XTX is the top AMD card, choosing a less powerful CPU will hinder its ability to perform at its best. Another thing to look out for is what express configuration the CPU supports. If it works with 4.0, you can use it on an older build and call a day. However, if it works with the latest 5.0 version, you might have to purchase a new motherboard and RAM as well if you don’t have them already. A workaround for this is to go for the 13th-generation Intel processors, as they’re compatible with PCIe 4.0 and 5.0.

Clock speed and cores

This is another important aspect to keep in mind, as a higher clock speed generally means that the CPU can process instructions faster, which can improve your computer’s overall performance. Additionally, you’ll need to look at the cache and cores. If you’re mainly using the rig for gaming, core count shouldn’t be a priority. On the other hand, if you are using it for productivity, then you want a good number of cores ready to take the workload.

Cache

The cache goes down the same line. This is a small amount of very fast memory that is built into the CPU and is used to store frequently accessed data. A larger cache can improve the performance of the CPU, as it allows it to access data more quickly. This means that you should be able to get better load times, reduced access time, and better in-game performance.

Temperature and cooling solutions

The temperature of the processor can have an impact on its performance. If it gets too hot, it’ll start to thermal throttle, leading to decreased performance. As this is a powerful GPU, you’re most likely looking at a powerful CPU for that. However, the more decked out they are, the more power they consume, which will generate more heat. So, consider your ambient temperature, check out reviews for the CPU, and see whether an air cooler could keep the temperature under control or if you will need an AIO or a custom water loop cooling solution.

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