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Best CPU for RX 7900XT – Should I upgrade my CPU for the 7900XT?

What's the best CPU for the new AMD GPUs?

Updated: Jan 11, 2023 9:33 am
Best CPu for the 7900XT

AMD has been on a roll this last couple of years, releasing CPUs that offer the best multi-core performance and GPUs that offer the most for the money. And it seems we have reached that time again, with the 7000 series in the rear-view mirror, we’re rapidly approaching the launch of the 7900XT. But what’s the best CPU for the RX 7900XT?

Although this guide contains some CPUs released last year, we assure you that all of the CPUs on the list is still relevant. We will update the list accordingly if anything changes.

Top CPUs available now:

The 7900 XT is now available for purchase! you can find one here: Where to buy 7900 XT.

Now read: Where to buy the RX 7900XT

The 7900XT is the second-best of the two GPUs launching this December, but that doesn’t mean it’s any slouch! The 7900XT brings a plethora of improvements to the table over the 6000 series GPUs.


Best CPU for RX 7900XT: Top picks


RX 7900XT improvements

before we jump into the best CPU for the RX 7900XT, we should first skim over why the GPU itself is so good, and what improvements it offers.

The 7900XT should perform about 1.4 – 1.6X better than the 6950XT. Featuring 10752 FP32 cores and built upon the 5nm RDNA3 architecture. The 7900 XT is clocked at a base clock of 1.5GHz and 2.4GHz boost. This is all while offering 20GB of GDDR6 memory, to help cut costs. This Navi 31 XT GPU is going to raise the roof when it comes to AMD GPU performance. This is especially true with software aid from the likes of FSR and SAM.


What is SAM? and how does it affect what CPU I get for the RX 7900XT?

SAM is an AMD technology named “Smart Access Memory”. It was first launched with the 6000 series GPUs from AMD, allowing AMD CPUs and GPUs to work more efficiently together.

This efficiency increased by allowing the AMD CPU access to all of the GPU VRAM all at once, as opposed to a limited section. This allows the AMD CPU to pull from anywhere in the GPU-stored memory, meaning access speeds are faster. This equates to a slightly faster GPU performance.

Despite SAM being introduced in 2020, it’s not a new technology, SAM is just AMD’s implementation of Resizable BAR.

Currently, SAM only works with Ryzen 3000 CPUs and later, with RDNA2 GPUs and later.


What’s the best CPU for the RX 7900XT?

Here we will break down the best CPUs to pair with the AMD RX 7900XT.

Ryzen 9 7900X

01
AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
Best Ryzen CPU for the RX 7900XT

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X

ryzen 9 7900X

Cores

8

Threads

16

Base speed

4.7GHz

Boost speed

5.6GHz

Cache

L3 64MB

Socket

AM5

4.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Incredible performance
  • High performance pew Watt
  • Interesting IHS
  • Cooler than other 7000 series CPUs on average
Cons
  • A little pricey
  • Hard to keep cool

The 7900X is part of the brand-new Zen 4 architecture, AMD has truly brought the performance to another level on the new AM5 platform. The 7900X is the future of technology, supporting PCIe Gen 5 on compatible motherboards.

The 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7900X is capable of massive multi-core performance as well as single-core performance. This is thanks to its massive 5.6 GHz boost clock speed and massive improvements to performance this time.

Cache has also been doubled this time around, now with 1MB per core as opposed to 512KB, this means more instruction buffering and less likely the CPU will be caught in a backlog of instructions. Resulting in slowdowns

The 7900X’s TDP is 170 W at the base core speed and 230 W at the boost speed. This also unfortunately makes the CPU run much hotter than anyone wants, the IHS, unfortunately, struggles to dissipate such a high TDP. A good cooler is required for the 7900X

The 7900X is a gaming giant, and as well as packing enough cores and threads to handle the multithreaded workloads of content creation and streaming, the 7900X is the perfect high-end AMD CPU for the RX 7900XT.

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

02
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
Runner up Ryzen CPU for the RX 7900XT

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X

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Cores

16

Threads

32

Base Speed

4.5GHz

Boost Speed

5.7GHz

Cache

64MB

Socket

AM5

4.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Very high performance
  • Masisvely high clock speeds
  • The best AMD CPU on the market
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Runs hot
  • Out-performed by cheaper intel CPUs

The Ryzen 9 7950X is the fastest CPU that AMD has released to date, however, it’s also the most expensive, for good reason. This CPU is the pinnacle of AMD’s ability to create cutting-edge technology.

The sheer number of cores that this CPU possesses is almost enough to give testament to its performance. Accompanying the 16 cores, we have 32 threads. all clocked at a blistering base speed of 4.5GHz and an almost incomprehensible boost speed of 5.7GHz.

The cache has also been doubled, giving the 7950X 1MB of L2 cache, as opposed to just 512KB. Cache helps massively with core performance, the more the merrier.

The TDP is also quite high on the 7950X. The base TDP comes in at around 170W, whilst the boost TDP clocks in at 230W. Again, you’re going to need a pretty beefy CPU cooler to keep this CPU cool.

The 7950X is the best that AMD has to offer right now. On paper, it’s pretty impressive and it definitely holds up to the hype in benchmarks too. We’d have this as the best CPU for the RX 7900XT if it wasn’t for the price. the 7900X pips the 7950X to the post because of its higher cost-effectiveness.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

03
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
Wildcard: Ace in the hole for gaming with the RX 7900XT

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D

5800x3d

Cores

8

Threads

16

Max boost speed

4.5GHz

L3 Cache

96MB (64MB 3D V-cache)

TDP

105W

4.5
/5
Editor’s Rating
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Incredible performance
  • 3D V-cache
Cons
  • No cooler
  • No native overclocking support

The 5800X3D has technically claimed the top ‘best gaming CPU’ title of the last generation from Intel and their core i9 12900K. However, there are a couple of reasons the 5800X3D is not top of our Best CPUs for the RX 7900XT list.

The 5800X3D is an excellent choice for gaming, equipped with 8 multithreaded CPU cores and a whopping 96MB of 3D V-cache, It gains quite an edge in some games.

3D V-Cache is where the 5800X3D differed from literally every CPU in the world right now (until the 7000 X3D CPUs are released). The 3D cache is not stacked laterally like a normal 2D cache but vertically – hence the term 3D cache.

This cache-stacking approach drastically increases the number of chiplets you can cram into any given footprint, thus resulting in larger cache capacities without sacrificing access speeds.

The 5800X3D has lower core speeds of 3.4GHz base and 4.5GHz max, these speeds are even lower than its brother’s, the 5800X, the reason for this is the 3D V-cache is unstable at higher core speeds. It’s for this reason that the 5800X3D is not very good at single-core or workstation tasks. If ever there was a fully-fledged gaming CPU it would be the 5800X3D.

This new caching technology gives the CPU major advantages in some gaming workloads, but not all of them. The lower core speeds and lack of overclocking support mean the 5800X3D is regularly outperformed lesser CPUs in scenarios where the cache is not utilized. Unfortunately, that is often.

You can read the full product review on the Ryzen 7 5800X3D right here. If you want to know more.


Do I need an AMD CPU to take advantage of the RX 7900XT?

No, but as we explained earlier it does have its benefits. SAM and Smart Access Video are CPU dependent and whilst we don’t have all the details on Smart Access Video, we can assume that an AMD CPU will be required.

It’s for this reason that we primarily recommended CPUs produced by AMD. However, an Intel CPU will work just fine. You just may not have access to some of the features AMD has baked into its hardware to support an all-AMD ecosystem.


Final word

All of the PCUs on this list will serve you well when paired with the RX 7900XT. For this reason, we recommended them. Whether you’re going for the big 7000 series or hanging back with a 5000 series chip, both options have their advantages. However, one thing we know for sure is that the RX 7900XT is going to be a big GPU.

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