8 Best CPUs for RX 6900 XT in 2021

AMD has launched the next-gen Zen 3 processors and the RDNA 2 series graphics cards. These 6000 series graphics cards are a welcome sight in the Nvidia-dominated GPU market, especially because AMD was lagging behind in this category. Most specifically, the 6900 XT is the higher-end option of which many will be looking for a CPU to pair with. Therefore, we have created this review of the best CPUs for RX 6900 XT.

The RX 6900 XT is designed for the top of line gaming systems. Despite having 16GB of VRAM like the other two graphics cards in the series, this GPU reaches an impressive boost frequency of 2250MHz and it can even go beyond that with the right cooling system. Furthermore, if we match the RX 6900 XT with one of AMD’s Zen 3 processors, we’ll get an additional performance increase thanks to the Smart Access Memory feature. But Intel and Zen 2 processors are still usable and some of them won’t even come close to bottlenecking this GPU. So let’s explore our options and find the right CPU for your 6900 XT.

1AMD Ryzen 9 5900X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 12 / 24 | Base Frequency: 3.7GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.8GHz | TDP: 105W

Key Features

  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm architecture
  • 70MB total cache
  • AMD StoreMI technology
  • AMD Ryzen Master Utility

The Ryzen 9 5900X is the best match for the RX 6900 XT if you want a future-proof PC that can do almost anything. This high-end 12-core processor can be pushed up to 4.8GHz and thanks to its design we can also take advantage of that extra 7% performance boost. In combination with the RX 6900 XT, you’ll be able to enjoy 4K gaming without worrying about FPS. Additionally, your system will also become a capable rendering machine. So, if you’re into 3D modeling or performing other heavy computational tasks, the 5900X is one of the best choices.

As for the features, the 5900X offers PCIe 4.0 support, just like the 6900 XT, as long as you have an equally capable motherboard. AMD has also included an array of software upgrades, such as the StoreMI technology, to improve data transfer rates and significantly reduce loading times.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with the Ryzen 9 5900X. It’s a high-end CPU for enthusiasts who don’t mind spending a bit more for the best performance available.

2AMD Ryzen 9 5950X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 16 / 32 | Base Frequency: 3.4GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.9GHz | TDP: 105W

Key Features

  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm architecture
  • 72MB total cache
  • AMD StoreMI technology
  • AMD Ryzen Master Utility

The Ryzen 5950X is a Zen 3 behemoth with 16 cores and 32 threads, making it the top choice for gamers who aren’t restricted too much by their budget. This is one of the best processors you can get without investing in a Threadripper.

Designed for high-end systems, this CPU excels at multi-threaded processing. In other words, to get the most performance out of it you should be working with demanding software. While it will handle any game you throw at it, this processor will be under-used if gaming is all you do on a computer. Most games, including at 4K resolutions, don’t take advantage of so many cores and threads. In fact, many of them still prefer high single-core frequencies.

That being said, if you don’t plan to use your 6900 XT based PC on anything else other than gaming, getting the 5950X is a little bit overkill.

3Intel i9-10900K

Specifications

Architecture: Comet Lake-S | Socket: LGA 1200 | Cores/Threads: 10 / 20 | Base Frequency: 3.7GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 5.30GHz | TDP: 125W

Key Features

  • 10 cores in the affordable range
  • Thermal Velocity Boost technology for high overclocking
  • New overclocking controls
  • Hyper-Threading technology

While AMD offers some of the best choices for the RX 6900 XT, Intel is still a viable option. Intel excels at single-core clock speeds and the 10900K certainly is proof of that. This 10-core processor can achieve a 5.3GHz clock frequency with the right amount of cooling and by taking advantage of the Thermal Velocity Boost feature. Which makes it fantastic for gaming-based 6900 XT PC builds.

However, while the 10900K offers more than enough processing power for the RX 6900 XT, it’s somewhat lacking in a few features. Intel still doesn’t offer PCIe 4.0 support, but that is not a huge deal-breaker but it should keep that in mind when picking your CPU.

Simply put, the 10900K is one of the most powerful CPUs you can buy for a gaming-focused system based on the 6900 XT. Though if you plan to do other computational multitasking workloads, an AMD CPU may be the better option.

4AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 8 / 16 | Base Frequency: 3.8GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.7GHz | TDP: 105W

Key Features

  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm architecture
  • 36MB total cache
  • AMD StoreMI technology
  • AMD Ryzen Master Utility

The Ryzen 7 5800X is an excellent choice in combination with the RX 6900XT. Sure, it’s not as impressive as the 5950X and it certainly doesn’t have as many cores, but for a high-end gaming system, it’s all you really need.

Remember that the GPU is the true workhorse nowadays, as long as the CPU doesn’t limit it in any way. Therefore, this 8-core processor is enough for a 4K resolution gaming system as well as multitasking. As for features, it’s no different when comparing it to the Zen 3 flagship. It offers PCIe 4.0 support, StoreMI for faster data transfers and higher data integrity, and it unlocks the Smart Access Memory feature when used together with the RX 6900 XT.

In essence, the 5800X offers the most performance per dollar and most setups don’t need something stronger. If you’re looking to build a future-proof gaming system that will last you for a few years, the 5800X is an ideal candidate, especially when matched with the RX 6900 XT.

5AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: sTRX4 | Cores/Threads: 32 / 64 | Base Frequency: 3.7GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 4.5GHz | TDP: 280W

Key Features

  • 32 core-processor
  • A whopping count of 88 PCIe 4.0 lanes
  • 7nm technology
  • 144 MB GameCache memory
  • Quad-channel DDR4 support up to 3200 MHz

Do you need something more than a gaming system? Are you a developer, 3D modeler, or machine learner who wants a top-of-the-line workstation? Then the Threadripper 3970X is meant for you. This 32-core beast offers a lot of performance for gamers as well as professionals. It’s not designed for regular gaming systems because that’s complete overkill. No game will ever take advantage of 32 cores for years to come.

The 3970X is a true workhorse and its price tag certainly proves it. With a massive 144MB cache, PCIe 4.0 support, and a 4,5GHz boost clock, this processor is the ultimate match for the RX 6900 XT. Despite being built using the older Zen 2 architecture, this piece of hardware isn’t outdated at all. In fact, it offers pretty much the same features and software upgrades the Zen 3 series has to offer. But beware, it eats up a whopping 280W of power, so you’re going to need a serious PSU. This kind of hardware isn’t for those on a restricted budget. That being said, if you still plan on getting a 3970X, you’ll also need the TRX40 motherboard, which doesn’t come cheap either.

So if all you want is a high-end gaming build, look elsewhere. But if you’re working with software that demands heavy processing power, the 3970X combined with the RX 6900 XT is what you’re looking for.

6AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 12 / 24 | Base Frequency: 3.8GHz | Top Boost Frequency: 4.60GHz | TDP: 105W

Key Features

  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm technology
  • 70MB total cache size
  • Wraith Prism Cooler with Razer Chroma support included

While the Zen 3 line of processors offers the best choices for the RX 6900 XT, we can still build a powerful system using the previous generation. The Ryzen 9 3900X is still a powerful CPU worth considering. With 12 cores and a top frequency of 4.6GHz, it won’t bottleneck your GPU and it will handle any game you throw at it.

As for features, despite being old-gen, the 3900X offers PCIe 4.0 support and it’s built using the same 7nm technology as the Zen 3 line. This means the 3900X is also a future-proof choice together with the RX 6900 XT. Furthermore, this is the best time to get it because prices are dropping thanks to the launch of the new series of AMD processors.

7AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 2 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 16 / 32 | Base Frequency: 3.5 GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.70 GHz | TDP: 105W

Key Features

  • 16 cores at an affordable price
  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm technology
  • 72MB GameCache memory

If you need a CPU with a high core/thread count but you don’t want to spend a lot on the 5950X or on a Threadripper, then the Ryzen 9 3950X might be the best option. AMD’s former flagship processor offers a 4,7GHz boost frequency, 16 cores, and a large 72MB cache, so it’s more than enough for a high-end system built around the RX 6900 XT.

This processor isn’t even outdated since it is still built using the 7nm manufacturing process and it offers PCIe 4.0 support, just like its 5950X successor. So if you need a powerful processor with a high multi-thread performance, then the 3950X remains a solid option. It won’t bottleneck the RX 6900 XT and it can handle some of the most demanding software out there. Furthermore, with the launch of its Zen 3 counterpart, we can expect prices to continue dropping.

8AMD Ryzen 5 5600X

Specifications

Architecture: Zen 3 | Socket: AM4 | Cores/Threads: 6 / 12 | Base Frequency: 3.7GHz | Boost Frequency: 4.6GHz | TDP: 65W

Key Features

  • PCIe 4.0 support
  • 7nm architecture
  • 35MB total cache
  • Wraith Prism Cooler with Razer Chroma support included
  • AMD Ryzen Master Utility
  • AMD StoreMI technology

Just because the RX 6900 XT is a high-end GPU doesn’t mean you must get an equally high-end and expensive CPU. For gaming, all you really need is the 5600X. After all, it’s the GPU that does all the work when playing a game in 4K resolution. So as long as the processor doesn’t limit it in any way, you can get by with just 6 cores.

The 5600X is a budget-friendly alternative that won’t hold you back when playing games. With 6 cores and a boost frequency of 4.6GHz, this little CPU offers all the support you need. With PCI 4.0 support and a 7% boost to the performance of the RX 6900 XT, the 5600X can power your build for years. Just keep in mind that it’s not the best option for workstations and demanding software because then you need a high thread count.

Final Thoughts

The RX 6900 XT is the most powerful graphics card released by AMD so far and it unlocks a whole new world of possibilities. However, we need the right CPU to take advantage of everything it has to offer. So, if your processor is a couple of generations old, you probably need to replace it or you’ll bottleneck the GPU. There are plenty of choices out there for every budget. Both AMD and Intel have a lot to offer. All you need to do is decide what you want from your system and pick the processor accordingly. Alternatively, you can wait a little while longer until Intel releases their new line of processors and decide then what the best CPU is for your RX 6900 XT build.

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