Great, you got yourself the new Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 or 2060 Super and want to experience the new ray-tracing technology while playing the newest games. But you still have an old CPU which will probably bottleneck the performance of your high-performance graphics card. In order to enjoy the full graphics power of the RTX 2060 series you should get a suitable CPU for it which can keep up with the graphics card.
If you want to learn more about the great performance of the Geforce RTX 2060, check out our short test conclusion further down in the article.
You might be worried now to spend even more Dollars on top of the money you already spend for a high-performance graphics card. But no need to worry, when chosing a CPU for your graphics card it is important to pick the right CPU based on your budget. You should pick your CPU based on your performance goals, not based on your GPU selection. If you want to use a 60Hz display on low to medium graphics settings, any moder CPU in the 180$ to 250$ price range will achieve that without any problems. But using a 144hz+ display on medium to ultra graphics settings and using your PC for intensive video editing or rendering, you’ll probably want a higher end and more powerful CPU in your system in order to not bottleneck a graphics card like the RTX 2060 or 2060 Super.
Therefore, we present you the right CPU in combination with the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 or 2060 Super for different use cases and performance levels. All CPU options we present here are viable for use with the RTX 2060, some of them though, enable your PC to perform closer to the optimum, while the lower end spectrum will still give you great performance. We present you CPU processors from both, Intel and AMD, in the same price categories, so you have the choice for whichever you prefer.
In the last section of this article you find our Ultimate CPU Guide, where we explain everything you need to know about CPUs and what you have to watch out for when you are buying a new processor.
We tested CPUs from Intel and AMD in three categories in detail: Luxury model, Affordable optimum, and Golden middle.
|Performance class||Processor recommendation||Price||Great for…|
|The luxury model||Intel Core i9-9900KS |
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
|High performance gaming (144Hz & Ultra-settings) & intense video-editing|
|The affordable optimum||Intel Core i7-9700K|
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
|High performance gaming & powerful workstation|
Luxury models: Ryzen 9 3900X & i9-9900KS
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X for amazing gaming performance and Editing/Rendering
- PCIe 4.0 support
- Compatible with X470 chipset motherboards
- Great performance
- 12-Cores, 24-Threads in a desktop configuration
- Amazing price-performance ratio
- Higher idle power consumption
- Gaming performance still behind Intel
The Ryzen 9 3900X is the new top dog among AMD processors away from the enthusiastic CPUs and brings top performance in games and applications. At first glance, the price of the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X seems high compared to other AMD CPUs, but: In the Application Index, which summarizes the performance of six applications, AMD’s new twelve-core CPU achieves 95.9 percent of the performance of an Intel Core i9-9980XE – but the Intel CPU costs almost four times as much. With twelve cores and 24 threads, the Ryzen 9 3900X is also a good investment for the future. Especially when it comes to games on the PC, the processor can definitely be seen with a brilliant performance of 93 percent. The new 3000 generation is not only compatible with the new X570 chipset, but also with X470, B450, X370, B350 and A320 motherboards. With the older mainboards you should pay attention that the BIOS gets an update before. All in all the Ryzen 9 3900X is a great CPU for the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 and 2060 Super. There will be no bottlenecking with this combo.
if you want to play games with high to ultra graphics settings or edit high quality videos, the Ryzen 9 3900X CPU is made for you.
Intel Core i9-9900KS: Performance winner
- Two more cores than previous top Coffee Lake CPU
- Fastest processor to complement 1080p gaming on the market.
- Incredible performance with up to 5GHz one-core clock
- 8-Cores, 16-Threads in a desktop configuration
- Good for multitasking
- Pricey for the core count
- Lacks stock cooler
The Intel Core i9-9900KS delivers the best possible performance in PC games thanks to its enormous boost. The Intel Core i9-9900KS is clearly the CPU for those who want only the best when playing games on the PC. In our tests, the CPU achieves 100 percentage points in terms of gaming. In the performance index for applications, the i9-9900KS achieves 71.7 percent – a good performance. The fact that the i9-9900KS overtakes the brand new competitor AMD Ryzen 9 3900X in terms of performance for games is due to the massive boost clock of 5 GHz. Accordingly, power consumption and heat development are higher, so you should pay attention to good cooling. With 8 cores/16 threads, the Intel CPU is still prepared for newer games in the long run, but the number of cores could slow down a bit in the long run for computationally intensive applications. With this CPU you can get the most performance improvement for your Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 or 2060 Super graphics card.
The Affordable Optimum: Ryzen 7 3700X & i7-9700K
Ryzen 7 3700X: Best price-performance ratio
- Cooler included
- Great price-performance ratio compared to Intel
- Very big L3
- A lot of architectural improvements
- Limited overclocking possible
- Gaming performance not on par with Intel
The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X is the recommendation of the golden mean. The best new processor in the middle is the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X. This CPU is extremely efficient with eight cores and 16 threads at just 65 watts, offering very high performance but also consuming very little power. For around 300$, it is almost on par with the Intel Core i9-9900K in applications, which currently costs 240 Dollar more. However, it’s usually not worthwhile to reach for the Ryzen 7 3800X, which is somewhat faster on paper.
Combining the Ryzen 7 3700X CPU with the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 or 2060 Super will yield a great overall result in performance and speed. Of course performance will not be on par with the top CPUs on the market, but for 90% of all use cases there will definitely not be any bottlenecks caused by the CPU.
Intel i7-9700K: Solid gaming performance
- Superb gaming performance
- Soldered IHS
- 8 cores and 16-threads
- No cooler included
- High price
Alternatives are the Intel Core i7-9700K or also the 65 watt models Core i7-9700 and 9700F. Eight cores (without Hyper-Threading) together with the Skylake architecture in the test currently also provide very high performance in modern Triple-A games at very high clock rates. For just under 360 Dollar or only 340 Dollar as a Core i7-9700F variant, these models are the actual recommendation for users who have games in focus and don’t expect titles to benefit from more than eight threads in the near future.
Those who also focus on applications or assume that more threads will be useful in the future will choose the Ryzen 7 3700X with eight cores and sixteen threads, which currently costs 300 Dollar. Either way, the intel Core i7 9700K CPU is a great processor for the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 or 2060 Super with a lot of performance benefits in this combination, especially in gaming.
Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060: Test Results
In the Geforce RTX 2060 test, it quickly becomes clear that it overshoots its usual (and expected) goal: the mainstream segment due to the only slightly trimmed TU106 graphics chip. Instead, it rather mixes in the upper class in terms of performance – the gap to the RTX 2070 is only 14 percent on average in our benchmarks.
This has both positive and negative effects: On the one hand the price of 369 Dollar for the bid is quite ok – even if we would have wished for a lower starting price. However, according to our contacts from the industry, the prices should definitely still drop for custom models of the RTX 2060. Currently, Nvidia still misses the chance with the RTX 2060 to make the Turing architecture and thus also raytracing (which at least runs in Full HD and playable in Battlefield 5) interesting for the mass market, because the majority of gamers buy in the range up to 250 or a maximum of 300 Dollar.
Regardless of the current starting price, raytracing and DLSS, the RTX 2060 is a solid graphics card all around. It is as fast as a GTX 1080, thus fast enough for WQHD gaming, acts quietly and stays relatively cool – but the only controversial point on which the criticism is currently focused is the only 6.0 GB video memory.
In our experience, 6.0 GByte VRAM rarely poses a real problem, especially not in Full HD and WQHD resolution. But this will certainly change in the future. The question is, however, when – and whether the RTX 2060 will then still be relevant at all.
By then, it could already be out of date, so it would be acceptable to have to reduce a few details for smooth fps in current games. When this point will have come, that 6.0 GByte VRAM on a broad front is too little for high details, is currently difficult to predict.
The fact that video memory tends to be more and more heavily used is shown, among other things, by the comparison of the now almost four year old The Witcher 3 including open world with the Wolfenstein 2, released at the end of 2017, and significantly smaller environments: The former does not occupy 4.0 GBytes in maximum details even in 4K, the latter fills the RTX 2060’s 6.0 GB VRAM almost completely in Full HD.
However, you have to keep in mind that a VRAM reserved to a large extent is not necessarily to be equated with performance problems and/or (too) late loading textures and that games can also be disproportionately overdone here.
Nevertheless this economic calculation is the largest sticking point at the RTX 2060, because who wants to weigh in larger memory security, must reach for the RTX 2070 with 8.0 GByte VRAM and accept a rather high surcharge of 120 Dollar for 14 per cent more achievement.
The Ultimate CPU Guide for RTX 2060 and other graphics cards
CPU – what is that?
CPU is the short form of Central Processing Unit, the main processor or short processor. The CPU is so to speak the heart of the PC and sits on the mainboard. It calculates and controls all important processes in the computer. When you open a program, the processor calculates how it is run and when what appears on the screen.
While the user is running a game, for example, parameters such as mouse and keyboard input are constantly queried, data is fetched from the memory, processed, sent to the graphics card or written back, and many other tasks are performed.
The instructions issued by the CPU are switched exclusively via 0 and 1 (binary system, quasi a separate technical language, which is translated by the operating system in each case – into instructions for the CPU on the one hand, and into visible program execution on the other). Every 0 or 1 is a switching operation, how many of these occur per second can be read from the clock frequency.
Intel processors or AMD processors?
Intel and AMD share the processor market with their CPUs Intel Core and AMD Ryzen respectively (the older AMD Athlon still appear from time to time). For the buyer, the question naturally arises as to which semiconductor manufacturer’s products are more suited to his needs. In principle, both CPU architectures can deliver sufficient performance for almost all applications including games. The decision, whether Intel CPU or AMD CPU, actually depends largely on the budget and personal preferences as well as the platform requirements.
AMD Ryzen CPUs, for example, can all be overclocked with the appropriate motherboard, something that is only sensibly possible with Intel processors on K models. On the other hand, Intel CPUs are usually a bit faster for games, while Ryzen CPUs score more points for applications. How good which processors are in comparison can be seen in our processor ranking list. Detailed benchmarks and a performance index for direct comparison of current processors can be found in PC Games Hardware’s Benchmark Best List.
Which sockets are available?
The socket is the place on the mainboard on which the processor is mounted and thus connects to all other components of the PC. There are currently five current sockets that are suitable for different CPUs:
- Socket 1151 (Intel, standard socket)
- Socket AM4 (AMD, standard socket)
- Socket 2066 (Intel, Enthusiast Socket)
- Socket TR4 (AMD, enthusiast socket)
- Socket TRX4 (AMD, enthusiast socket)
So if you buy a new CPU, you should first find out which socket your mainboard has. If you buy a new CPU and mainboard, you can buy the matching mainboard for your favorite CPU. The information for which socket the processor is suitable can usually be found directly in brackets after the product name (for online purchases), but in any case under the most important information next to clock speed and number of cores. The best mainboards can be found in our mainboard guide.
CPU purchase: Important tips
In general, you should not buy a desktop CPU with less than four cores. What our tests have been showing for a long time, now more and more games are making a fix by denying the game start. The same is true for processors with a very high number of cores, such as Intel’s Xeons or AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper processors, whose support Microsoft Windows 10 is slowly learning to support. Everyday programs usually get confused when using a high core count, and even the normal “user Windows” does not cope quite as well with this. But AMD offers with the Ryzen Master Tool a quite simple way to adjust the number of cores and much more to your needs. There is no similar tool at Intel, many things have to be adjusted manually.
In general we also advise against buying older core models (everything up to the 7000 series) and AMD’s FX processors. These CPUs may still have enough power, but the used architectures are mostly outdated and the corresponding hardware (mainboards, DDR3 bars etc.) is hard to get.
How does the CPU affect games and applications?
The basic calculations, which supply the graphics card with data, run on the processor. Among other things, the processor loads the level data in a game. So if it’s too slow, the graphics card can be as fast as it wants, a slow CPU will slow it down and you will continue to play with too low Fps numbers (Frames per Second: The number of frames per second sent to the screen. If it’s too low, the picture will be jerky, for example, on a fast shooter the minimum Fps number should be 90) – simply because the CPU tells the graphics card the next picture is being built up at a snail’s pace. This braking effect, also known as CPU limit, becomes all the more visible the greater the performance difference between processor and graphics card.
So if you want to play new and possibly fast-paced and graphically demanding games, you should make sure that your PC’s processor is up to the task. It is also important to note that the main issue here is the level of clock speed – most games, no matter how many cores your processor has, work best with eight cores.
Programs & Applications
For those who use their PC mainly for computationally intensive applications such as image processing programs, the criteria look different. For applications, the performance of the graphics card is of little or no relevance, so the braking effect described above cannot occur here. Modern programs, however, benefit from a higher core count because they are designed to take advantage of this performance.
In contrast to games, where a too low Fps number leads to unplayability in the worst case, a better or worse processor is mainly a question of the user’s patience in applications: The slower the processor lags behind with the calculation of individual work steps, the higher the waiting time for the person working with the program. In the business world, however, longer or shorter waiting times for the execution of programs can have a direct financial impact – a point that should not be ignored. It goes without saying that an excessively insufficient CPU will also eventually lead to applications – if they are brand new and require a lot of computing power – no longer being able to run smoothly and thus not achieving their intended purpose.
Processor trends: What will the future bring?
Processor development is an exciting field: Every time manufacturers reach a certain limit and “supposedly” no further progress is made, this limit is nevertheless overcome. For example, clock rates of 5 GHz a few years ago were only something for practiced overclockers and a CPU with 32 cores was absolutely unimaginable. Most of these limits can be overcome with a newer manufacturing process (e.g. from 14 nm to 10 nm). The smaller transistors result in lower temperatures and the turbo/boost can be increased and kept longer. Even the power consumption is reduced while maintaining the same performance.
Two trends can currently be seen in the CPU world: high and above all long-lasting Turbo/Boost and more cores with more threads. In gaming CPUs there are twelve cores and among enthusiasts there are now even 32 cores with 64 threads. There is no limit in the race. In the near future, twelve or more cores will be quite normal in the gaming sector and content creators will flirt with 64 cores. The question is whether this trend will continue to reach utopian heights or whether there will soon be a new technology (like SMT etc. at that time) that will set a new direction in development.