How Much CPU Does the GeForce RTX 3080 Need?

We’ve just posted the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition review, which now reigns — until next week’s launch on the GeForce RTX 3090 — as the best graphics card for gaming and sits at the top of the GPU hierarchy. While your graphics card is usually the biggest considering when it comes to gaming performance, however, we also wanted to look at some of the best CPUs for gaming to see just how much performance you lose — or gain! — by running it with something other than the Core i9-9900K we use in our current GPU testbed.

For this article, we’ve pulled out several of the latest AMD and Intel processors: Core i9-10900K, Core i9-9900K, Core i3-10100, Ryzen 5 3600, and Ryzen 9 3900X. Then just for good measure, we’ve gone old school and dug up an ‘ancient’ Core i7-4770K Haswell chip. This is the oldest CPU I’ve currently got hanging around, and it should help answer the question of just how much CPU you need to make good use of the RTX 3080.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

We’ll be testing at 1080p, 1440 and 4K at both medium and ultra presets. We said in the RTX 3080 review that it’s a card primarily designed for 4K gaming, and that it starts to hit CPU bottlenecks at 1440p. That applies even more at 1080p with medium settings. Generally speaking, you don’t buy a top-shelf GPU to play games at 1080p, though there are esports pros that do just that while using a 240Hz or even 360Hz monitor. Most games will struggle to hit 240 fps; however, some even have fps caps of around 200 fps. But we’re doing this for science!

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