Best CPUs For RTX 3070 (2022)

Purchasing the right CPU is a tricky task considering all the factors you need to consider, but the main goal is to build a well-balanced PC. The 3070 is a relatively powerful GPU, so you will need an equally powerful CPU to pair with it, this is so you don’t bottleneck the 3070. There are two aspects of the CPU you must focus on, the single-core and multi-core sides.

The RTX 3070 is perfect for a mid-top tier gaming build, it has enough performance to play certain games at max settings at 4K. But, the best resolution for the RTX 3070 would probably be 1440P. Besides the performance, the RTX 3000 series graphics cards compete directly with AMD’s RX 6000 graphics cards.

We can see gamers heavily benefiting from the RTX 3070 as it has amazing reflection capabilities (raytracing), and performance similar to the RTX 2080 TI. However, some streamers that utilize hardware encoders can benefit heavily from the RTX 3070. Video editors that use software such as DaVinci Resolve will benefit from the RTX 3070 for encoding and decoding.

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Ryzen 9 5950xRyzen 7 5800xIntel I9 12900KIntel I7 12700K
Cores & Threads16 Cores/32 Threads8 Cores/16 Threads16 Cores/24 Threads12 Cores/20 Threads
Max Clock Speed4.9 GHz4.7 GHz5.2 GHz5.0 GHz
OverclockableYesYesYesYes
TDP105W105W125W Base/241W Turbo125W Base/190W Turbo

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of the best processors on this list.

Budget-Pick
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Professional Pick
Intel Core i7-12700K Desktop Processor 12 (8P+4E) Cores up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Enthusiasts Pick
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Overkill Pick
Intel Core i9-12900K Desktop Processor 16 (8P+8E) Cores up to 5.2 GHz Unlocked LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Intel Core i7-12700K Desktop Processor 12 (8P+4E) Cores up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Intel Core i9-12900K Desktop Processor 16 (8P+8E) Cores up to 5.2 GHz Unlocked LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Best Budget Gaming Chip
Best All Purpose CPU
Best Processor For Enthusiasts
Best Processor For Professional Use
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Budget-Pick
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Best Budget Gaming Chip
-
Professional Pick
Intel Core i7-12700K Desktop Processor 12 (8P+4E) Cores up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Intel Core i7-12700K Desktop Processor 12 (8P+4E) Cores up to 5.0 GHz Unlocked  LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Best All Purpose CPU
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Enthusiasts Pick
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core, 32-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor
Best Processor For Enthusiasts
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Overkill Pick
Intel Core i9-12900K Desktop Processor 16 (8P+8E) Cores up to 5.2 GHz Unlocked LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Intel Core i9-12900K Desktop Processor 16 (8P+8E) Cores up to 5.2 GHz Unlocked LGA1700 600 Series Chipset 125W
Best Processor For Professional Use
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Intel I9 12900K

i9 12900k is a great workstation processor that can go great with the rtx 3070

TECH SPECS:

  • Core Clock Speed: 3.2 GHz(base) 5.2 GHz(boost)
  • Core Count: 16(performance + efficiency cores) 24(performance + efficiency threads)
  • Microarchitecture: Golden Cove
  • Socket: LGA1700
  • Max Memory Support 128GB
  • Integrated Graphics: Yes
  • TDP: 125W(base) 241W(turbo)

BENCHMARK RESULTS:

  • Cinebench Single-core Score: 2018
  • Cinebench Multi-core Score: 27858

WHAT WE LIKE & DON’T ABOUT IT: 

When using the I9 you essentially have the ability to do whatever you want with your PC whether it’s gaming or video editing. This is because the raw performance far exceeds that of a processor geared to one specific task. On this list, we think the I9 12900K is the most versatile processor that’ll handle the RTX 3070 with ease.

Secondly, future-proofing is important if you want to maintain the viability of your PC for many years, the I9 12900K is easily the most future-proof CPU on this list featuring the highest single-core and multi-core performance scores. You will not have to worry about upgrading the I9 12900K even after upgrading the RTX 3070.

However, the I9 12900K doesn’t come with all this performance without a cost, the I9 CPU gets fairly hot when it comes to CPU-intensive applications. If you don’t have sufficient cooling, you will be at risk of thermal throttling this happens when your CPU gets too hot. With Intel CPUs, you can expect them to thermal throttle at around 80C.

WHAT BUYERS HAVE SAID:

Users of this processor have reported that the I9 12900K is best for multipurpose use. This means if you’re performing many different tasks besides just gaming, the I9 12900K is the best CPU for you. Users have also said that the I9 12900K isn’t the best choice if you’re going for a strict gaming build, this is true because there are alternatives that provide similar single-core performance.

FEATURES:

The key feature to focus on with the I9 12900K is that it’s unlocked, you can tell because it’s denoted with a ‘K’ at the end, hence the name 12900K. While overclocking may not be necessary, you can push the CPU past 5.3GHz with relative ease. The 12900K is already a hot-running CPU, so you should have sufficient cooling in place before OCing.

With the addition of the 12 series, there have been many motherboards supporting DDR5 RAM which is an upgrade from DDR4 RAM. You’ll experience faster performance across the board, and higher frame rates in games, but some motherboards will support DDR4 if you’re not willing to upgrade just yet.

ALTERNATIVES:

I9 processors are competitors to AMD’s high-performing Ryzen 9 CPUs, the common thing with these processors is that they feature very high clock speeds and core counts. In terms of benchmarking, the closest CPU to the 12900K is the Ryzen 9 5950x, but the 12900K pulls ahead in multicore and single-core tests.

Keep in mind, many users have stated that the I9 12900K is quite overkill and should not be used for a single use system. So a plausible alternative to the I9 12900K would be the I5 12600K, they have relatively similar clock speeds, so for gaming, the I5 12600K would be the better choice.

Pros
  • Best gaming performance on the market due to the highest single-core performance.
  • Best multicore performance on the market
  • Ideal for multithreaded applications such as video editing
Cons
  • Can get quite hot, you will need a decent AIO or AIR cooler

Intel I7 12700K

the i7 12700k is the perfect balanced processor that can handle gaming situations pretty well.

TECH SPECS:

  • Core Clock Speed: 3.6 GHz(base) 5.0 GHz(boost)
  • Core Count: 12(performance + efficiency cores) 20(performance + efficiency threads)
  • Microarchitecture: Golden Cove
  • Socket: LGA1700
  • Max Memory Support 128GB
  • Integrated Graphics: Yes
  • TDP: 125W(base) 190W(turbo)

BENCHMARK RESULTS:

  • Cinebench Single-core Score: 1959
  • Cinebench Multi-core Score: 23003

WHAT WE LIKE & DON’T ABOUT IT: 

Our favorite aspect about the I7 12700K is that it’s very similar to the I9 12900K being very good at multiple things. But the I7 12700K is more reserved with slightly lower clock speeds and fewer cores. This means you can get decent single-core and multi-core performance for a cheaper price than the I9 12900K.

This is why we say that the I7 12700K is a great processor for professionals on a budget, it’ll handle 3D modeling, video editing, and streaming loads with ease. Also, the fact it has integrated graphics means that video editors can leverage the inbuilt encoders and decoders.

One thing we dislike about the I7 12700K is that it has a fairly high TDP when turbo boosting, this means you will likely need a beefy air or AIO cooler to keep this CPU tame. This all needs to be done before you even consider overclocking, as OCing will undoubtedly produce more heat.

WHAT BUYERS HAVE SAID:

Some buyers have said that going with a DDR4 motherboard makes more sense despite the fact the I7 12700K can support DDR5 RAM. This is true because DDR5 RAM is still pretty new, so you could save a lot of money going with DDR4 and get very similar performance.

FEATURES:

The key feature with most 12 generation processors is that they use hybrid architecture which increases the performance for a cheaper cost. This makes the processors more efficient, the asymmetrical design features two different sets of cores. There are performance and efficiency cores that both have different purposes.

An underrated feature with Intel processors is that they come with integrated graphics cards, they often serve two purposes. Since we’re going with a dedicated GPU(RTX 3070), the integrated GPU can be used for troubleshooting purposes. Also, they’re pretty good for video editing.

ALTERNATIVES:

I7 processors have been competing heavily with Ryzen 7 CPUs, they both target the same audience. But the I7 processor’s closest competitor at the moment is the Ryzen 9 5900x, it produces higher single-core and multi-core results in Cinebench.

The I7 sits in the middle of two different versions of the 12th generation processors, the better version of the I7 12700K would have to be the I9 12900K. And the slightly weaker, but still viable version of the 12700K is the I5 12600K. For more performance with professional applications, we’d go with the 12900K, but if you’re just gaming, then the I5 12600K is the better option due to it being more affordable.

Pros
  • Top-tier single-core performance for gaming
  • Decent multi-core performance
  • Brand new architecture for desktops (hybrid)
  • Overclockable
Cons
  • Can get pretty hot, 190W turbo TDP

Ryzen 9 5950x

the Ryzen 9 5950x is a great competitor to the 12900K as they feature similar multicore performance, and is cheaper

TECH SPECS:

  • Core Clock Speed: 3.4 GHz(base) 4.9 GHz(boost)
  • Core Count: 16(cores), 32(threads)
  • Microarchitecture: Zen 3
  • Socket: AM4
  • Max Memory Support 128GB
  • Integrated Graphics: No
  • TDP: 105W

BENCHMARK RESULTS:

  • Cinebench Single-core Score: 1632
  • Cinebench Multi-core Score: 26349

WHAT WE LIKE & DON’T LIKE ABOUT IT: 

Our favorite aspect about the Ryzen 9 5950x is that it’s a multicore beast, it’s nearly able to beat the I9 12900K in Cinebench multicore tests. The Ryzen 9 5950x would make for the perfect processor if you’re building a workstation that handles professional workloads. And the best part is that it’s cheaper than the 12900K.

Finally, the efficiency of the Ryzen 9 5950x is pretty amazing, the fact that it has 16 cores and only has a TDP of 105W means you can cool this beast pretty easily. You really shouldn’t experience thermal problems unless you have a really bad cooler. The 5950x can easily handle the RTX 3070 in gaming situations as the single-core performance is pretty similar to the 11900K.

However, in single-core tests, the I9 12900K is still significantly faster, so you could make the argument that the 12900K is the better processor for professional workloads and gaming. But the 5950x is still decent when it comes to gaming, the single-core performance is superior to that of the I9 11900K.

WHAT BUYERS HAVE SAID:

Many buyers have stated that you should pair the Ryzen 9 5950x with a decent cooler so you can get the most performance out of it. A 360MM AIO cooler seems to be the best choice if you’re looking to push this thing to the max. Also, the 360MM AIO cooler should be enough to allow you to overclock.

FEATURES:

A really cool feature that you won’t immediately notice is that the Ryzen 5000 series processors have a huge IPC increase compared to the Intel 10th generation processors. This means the Ryzen 9 5950x can produce higher frame rates compared to Intel 10th gen CPUs with lower clock speeds.

Ryzen processors are more sensitive when it comes to your RAM selection, so this means you should focus on picking up fast RAM. The general rule of thumb is to match your infinity fabric clock speed to get the most performance out of your CPU.

ALTERNATIVES:

Ryzen 9 processors compete directly with Intel I9 processors, they’re both flagship processors which often feature the entire performance of the die. In terms of performance, the Ryzen 9 5950x has a similar performance to the I9 12900K in terms of multi-core speed. Single-core-wise, the I9 12900K still wins which makes it the better choice for gaming.

We don’t recommend the Ryzen 9 5900x at all, this is because of the price to performance ratio. You will be able to get a faster processor for a cheaper price if you’d just go with the I7 12700K, so the 5900x isn’t worth it. The 5950x is the only processor that has any purpose buying as it is cheaper than the 12900K, but has similar performance.

Pros
  • Strong single-core performane, competes with the I9 11900K
  • Cheaper than the 12900K
  • Top-tier multicore performance, perfect for professional workloads
Cons
  • Can run pretty hot, may require a 360MM AIO

Ryzen 7 5800x

ryzen processor that is able to game and stream well

TECH SPECS:

  • Core Clock Speed: 3.8 GHz(base) 4.7 GHz(boost)
  • Core Count: 8(cores), 16(threads)
  • Microarchitecture: Zen 3
  • Socket: AM4
  • Max Memory Support 128GB
  • Integrated Graphics: No
  • TDP: 105W

BENCHMARK RESULTS:

  • Cinebench Single-core Score: 1617
  • Cinebench Multi-core Score: 15425

WHAT WE LIKE & DON’T LIKE ABOUT IT: 

The Ryzen 7 5800x is a pretty cool processor being that it’s nearly good at everything. What we mean is that the Ryzen 7 5800x is able to stream, game, and video edit pretty well, this is evident by looking at the single-core and multi-core performance metrics. Going with this CPU would make for an affordable multipurpose CPU.

We can imagine that this processor could go extremely well in the hands of a streamer that plays a lot of video games. It’ll be able to stream and game well at the same time without any issues, we recommend at least 6 cores if you’re going to stream. And for video editing, the Ryzen 7 5800x should suffice when it comes to 4K video editing. Pairing the Ryzen 7 5800x with the 3070 shouldn’t bottleneck it as long as you’re in a decent resolution.

One aspect we don’t quite like is that the TDP is higher compared to the Ryzen 5 5600x, this means you will need a beefier cooler to run this thing. Also, it will draw more power which means you will need a stronger power supply. However, a decent aftermarket cooler such as the NH D15 should be more than enough to keep this thing cool.

WHAT BUYERS HAVE SAID:

Reports have stated that you will need a beefy cooler to keep the 5800x cool and to take full advantage of the chip. This makes sense since the hotter the CPU runs, the less performance you will get out of it. Also, a feature many buyers forget to activate is the precision boost overdrive feature in the BIOS, this is a form of automatic overclocking.

FEATURES:

The Ryzen 7 5800x is an unlocked processor, let’s not forget the fact that it’s worth overclocking as you can get more performance out of your money. Overclocking the Ryzen 7 5800x can result in huge performance gains especially if you’re able to push it to 5GHz. Many overclockers have managed this and said it’s pretty amazing in gaming situations.

The Ryzen 7 5800x processor has a feature where they heavily benefit from faster RAM speeds, so picking up fast overclockable RAM can result in huge performance gains. Also, many users have stated matching your infinity fabric clock speed to the speed of your RAM will result in decent performance gains.

ALTERNATIVES:

Ryzen 7 processors are mid-tier processors which are made to compete with Intel I7 processors. But the Ryzen 7 5800x competes directly with the I7 10700K which is plenty viable today. The Ryzen 7 5800x is able to produce higher frame rates in most games compared to the I7 10700K due to huge IPC increases.

Although the Ryzen 7 5800x is pretty powerful, there are better options such as the I5 12600K which is able to produce higher frame rates in most games. We recommend going with the I5 12600K if you’re a strict gamer that really doesn’t need multicore performance.

Pros
  • Great single-core peformance for gaming
  • Top tier streaming & video editing processor
  • Beats Intel 10th generation processors (IPC Wise)
  • Multipurpose processor – good at most things
Cons
  • Slight price increase from 3000 series
  • TDP increase & doesn’t come with stock cooler

Quick CPU Buyer’s Guide

Before we get into the list, we would like to share some of the most important aspects when you’re purchasing a CPU. This will help you make the right choice whether you’re going to be gaming, streaming, or video editing. We understand that picking the right processor can be hard with all the technical jargon, so we’re here to make it easier.

The key aspects we’re going to go over in this mini buyer’s guide will focus more on single-core, multi-core, and overclockabilitiy. This is because these factors are deciding factors, for gamers you will want to focus on single-core and overclocking performance. Multithreaded applications (streaming, video editing, 3D Modelling) benefit the most from multi-core performance.

Most processors you purchase from AMD should be unlocked, this means they’re open for overclocking. However, only Intel processors with a “K” at the end are unlocked, so you must be careful when selecting a CPU. Overclocking is very beneficial as it allows you to push your CPU past its limits safely.

Single-Core Performance

Single-core performance refers to how fast a single-core can process instructions sent by the RAM, the way you can determine the single-core performance of a CPU is to look at the clock speed. The clock speed defines how fast each core runs, not how fast all the cores run together. So if you have a 5GHz CPU, each core itself will run at 5GHz.

GHz defines how many cycles per second your CPU will run, GHz actually means billion, so if you have a 5GHz CPU, it will cycle 5 billion times per second. But, looking at the clock speed isn’t a good way to understand single-core performance, this is an easy way to fool yourself. For gamers the clock speed is important, this is because games as a majority can only really use one core. You may wonder why games can’t use multiple cores, this is because it’s extremely hard to parallelize video games.

So, single-core performance is a combination of two metrics, not just the clock speed. The other metric is IPC which stands for instructions per cycle or clock, and it refers to how much work a core can do per clock cycle. Newer processors will often have higher IPC gains compared to previous older CPUs, this is why newer CPUs will often outperform older CPUs despite them having lower clock speeds.

Multi-Core Performance

Clock speed is just one aspect of a processor’s performance, there is also multi-core performance and we typically look at how many cores the CPU has to get an idea of it. Having more cores means your CPU will run faster when it comes to multithreaded applications, but for single-core applications, the other cores are practically redundant. This is why FPS doesn’t scale well with having more cores.

There are really two aspects that mainly go into measuring the multicore performance of a processor, and this is core count and the number of threads. Processors will usually have double the number of threads than cores depending if they have SMT or Hypertherading capabilities. When you purchase a processor and it says 6/12 or 6c12t, they’re referring to the number of cores and threads.

Now that we understand multi-core performance, understanding what types of applications benefit from it is important. Multithreaded workloads benefit most from having more cores, such workloads are video editing, streaming(software encoding), and 3D modeling. Nowadays, you don’t need to worry about whether an application is multithreaded as most of them are parallelized, but games are the exception.

Overclocking Capabilities

If your processor supports overclocking, it would be unwise to not utilize this feature, this is because overclocking is the best way to maximize the performance of your CPU. Overclocking is safe nowadays, and it involves pushing your CPU past its rated limits, and there are massive benefits that come with doing it. Most Ryzen processors come unlocked(overclockable) by default, but Intel processors have to be a ‘K’ variant to allow overclocking.

Overclocking usually involves going through the BIOS to manually increase the clock speed modifier, it’s recommended to overclock through the BIOS as you will have more control over the voltages. The goal is to increase the clock speed modifier whilst maintaining stability without increasing the voltages, this is how you maintain your CPUs lifespan.

Overclocking can be extremely safe if you have sufficient cooling, and you don’t increase the voltages. It’s when you start tampering with the voltages for more core stability at higher clocks that your processor can be in harm’s way. But besides that, overclocking can result in higher FPS in games, better streaming performance, and faster video editing rendering times.

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