AMD got back into the high-end GPU game with the RX 6000-series, and the battle rages on! Two of its top cards dropped before the end of 2022, hoping to match NVIDIA’s greatest generational leap since the early 2000s. The less expensive RX 7900 XT entices gamers with triple-digit pricing and RTX 3090 Ti-like 4K prowess. Want the best CPU for RX 7900 XT for a complete system? Then keep on reading!
It’s an intriguing time to be buying a processor. On the one hand, several generations of chips from both manufacturers are still relevant, especially if 4K gaming is all you care for. On the other, these chips vary wildly in price, not to mention how you also have to factor in platform and memory support. We took all of that into account and more. The result is the list you see here, subject to change as newer CPUs become available.
Intel Core i5-13600K
Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores & threads: 6+8 / 20 | L3 Cache size: 24MB | Base Clock Speed: 3.5 / 2.6GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.1 / 3.9GHz | Base Power: 125W | Turbo Power: 181W | iGPU: Yes
- World-class gaming performance
- Exceptional value for the money
- Lower platform costs than the competition
- Still too hot
Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs set a new standard across the board, which isn’t news for the first in its two-generation tick-tock cycle. We’re more impressed by the fact that Raptor Lake brings much more than a few tweaks and refinements. The 13600K is its best representative since it’s excellent for gaming and better than the 12600K in all performance aspects while retaining an appealing price tag.
Since this is the second generation in Intel’s current release cadence, foundations like the die, manufacturing process, and motherboard compatibility are already set. However, there was still more room for improvement than on the mostly misfiring 11th generation.
Specifically, the 13600K has twice as many efficiency or E-cores as its predecessor. They’re the same Gracemont cores we highlighted when discussing Alder Lake CPUs, albeit with access to twice as much cache and a clock increase made possible through increased voltage efficiency. Each might only boost 300MHz more, but it adds up.
Meanwhile, the performance or P-cores responsible for the most resource-intensive processes received a full-on upgrade. They’re second-generation Raptor Cove cores now, with a slew of improvements to every aspect of operation. Intel is vague on its total IPC, but there’s talk of a 15% single-threaded performance uplift.
Intel’s Exemplary Gaming Chip
We chose the 13600K as the best companion to your 7900 XT due to its outstanding gaming performance at all resolutions. The 13900K might hold the high scores, but its siblings come so close that its victory is symbolic most of the time. Even the most generous estimates give it a 5 % lead over the 13600K at 1080p, a resolution you won’t be using the 7900 XT at unless you own a lightning-fast monitor.
As the resolution increases, so does the 13600K’s relative performance. The 7900 XT is good enough to drive any maxed-out title past 60fps or more at 4K, and the 13600K won’t bottleneck it in any meaningful way.
Hobbyists who occasionally deal with compression, 3D rendering, and other CPU-heavy tasks will welcome the 13600K’s additional E-cores. It understandably trails behind other Intel and Ryzen productivity chips, but that’s still a fantastic result for a mid-tier i5 chip.
Power consumption and thermals cement the 13600K’s desirability further. All the new processors are considerably hotter than before. An air cooler can still keep the 13600K in check, though. Its TDP is 181W and exceeded only marginally at full load. Power consumption numbers look more reasonable while gaming.
AMD Ryzen 7 7700X
Socket: AM5 | Cores & threads: 8 / 16 | L3 Cache size: 32MB | Base Clock Speed: 4.5GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.4GHz | TDP: 105W | iGPU: Yes
- Good mix of performance and price
- Better PCIe 5.0 support than Raptor Lake competitors
- Excellent power efficiency
- High platform costs
Next up is the 7700X, the best CPU for Rx 7900 XT if you’re building an AMD-exclusive system. Like Zen4’s other chips, it was created to eclipse Alder Lake while ushering in a slew of new technologies made available through the AM5 platform. It’s slightly worse than the 13600K for gaming if you only look at the raw numbers, but there are plenty of reasons to embrace Team Red regardless.
Ryzen processors have been using a multi-chip configuration for generations, whereas Intel has yet to move away from its monolithic design with Meteor Lake’s arrival later in the year. It seems that AMD integrated parts of Intel’s design philosophy this time, as impressive frequency gains accompany their customary improvements to all parts of the CPU this time.
To take the 7700X as an example, it’s still an 8-core, 16-thread chip. However, AMD claims a 13% IPC improvement with a boost twice as large for single-threaded tasks. Since many games continue to rely on fewer cores, AMD “brute-forced” their efficiency by upping the base & boost frequencies by 1GHz and 800MHz.
That’s just the headline news, though. Less bombastic additions like more L2 and L3 cache contribute to Zen4’s exceptional gains too. There’s also more refined DDR5 support than Alder Lake’s, not to mention 12 more PCIe 5.0 lanes than LGA 1700 for non-invasive high-speed SSD use.
The Best Introduction to AM5 for Gamers
The 7700X’s release date was unfortunate. AMD tuned it to compete against the 12700K, which it does. Intel’s balanced last-gen chip is more or less equal for gaming and can’t keep up with the 7700X’s multi-threaded gains. Raptor Lake arrived only two weeks later. While the newest Zen chips are by no means dead on arrival, the competition has become stiffer.
How much does it matter? The 13600K takes a single-percentage lead at 1080p, meaning it’s less of a limiting factor for competitive gamers who care more about absurd framerates than visual fidelity. Much worse CPUs than these two could support the 7900 XT at 4K equally well.
The 7700X would have been harder to recommend before the end of 2022 since it was more expensive than the 13600K, even more so if you account for platform costs. AMD has since dropped the 7700X’s price by $50, making it more competitive.
Users who care about long-term power bills and heat emissions also have reason to go for the 7700X. It requires considerably less power than the 13600K, whether idling or furiously crunching numbers. The temperature difference isn’t as pronounced, but several degrees less than the 13600K during standard operation does matter.
Intel Core i9-13900K
Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores & threads: 8+16 / 32 | L3 Cache size: 36MB | Base Clock Speed: 3.0 / 2.2GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.8 / 4.3GHz | Base Power: 125W | Turbo Power: 253W | iGPU: Yes
- Outstanding overall performance
- Substantial multi-threaded gains
- Works on existing LGA 1700 motherboards
- Runs hot
- Needs lots of power
On to the 13900K, the biggest & baddest CPU you can find in a desktop PC! We had no doubt it would overshadow anything AMD could come up with for hardcore gaming on any resolution. However, Intel’s flagship also consistently beats or ties the Ryzen 9 7950X in productivity and multitasking. It’s objectively the best CPU for RX 7900 XT, but should you invest in one?
Intel pulled out all the stops with the 13900K, unlocking every square nanometer of its die to slingshot its performance to new heights. The E-core doubling inherent to all three initial Raptor Lake CPUs is most pronounced here. It nets you a total of 24 cores and Threadripper-like 32 threads to tear through workloads with abandon.
The Thread Director, a component responsible for delegating different task types to appropriate cores, received a welcome restructuring. It works only on Windows 11 and could be iffy on Alder Lake chips.
Now that both the hardware and software had time to mature, the 13900K’s increased core count can handle anything from CPU-intensive games like the Witcher 3 remaster to rendering or video transcoding without avoidable bottlenecks.
Peak Performance, Whatever the Task
This CPU generation is full of role reversals. AMD first closed the gap by massively upping Zen4’s frequencies, and now the 13900K’s prolific E-cores help it match the even more expensive 7950X.
We’ll get to why buying it exclusively for gaming might not be wise in a second. However, if you’re a streamer or want to have multiple virtual machines running simultaneously while juggling several Chrome tabs, Discord, and a video converter, this is the CPU to get.
Why only third place if the 13900K is as powerful as we claim it is? Because you gain virtually nothing by using it instead of the 13600K. Games might start utilizing all those threads better in a couple of years. Right now, in early 2023, there’s no practical performance difference.
Take a look at Guru3D’s 13900K review to see what we mean. They test a cross-section of games with the RTX 3090, which is weaker than the 7900 XT but will serve to prove our point. At 1080p, the 13900K either ties with the 13600K or takes a single-digit framerate lead at 150+ fps. That lead dwindles to a frame or two at 4K.
If you do go for the 13900K, make some room in your budget for a capable AIO and higher power bills. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to spike beyond 95°C when stress tested, even if cooling by water. The good news is that you aren’t as likely to encounter such temperatures when gaming, and putting power limits in place can noticeably cut down heat generation while lowering overall performance only slightly.
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D
Socket: AM4 | Cores & threads: 8 / 16 | L3 Cache size: 96MB | Base Clock Speed: 3.4GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 4.5GHz | TDP: 105W | iGPU: No
- Outstanding gaming improvements over base model
- Works on all AM4 systems
- Cheap platform costs
- No multi-threading improvements over 5800X
AM4 has been one of the most successful and long-lived CPU platforms in PC history. While AMD is setting its sights on the future, it left AM4 users with a final, meaningful upgrade. The 5800X3D might be stuck on a “dead” socket, but it measures up favorably against our other entries. It’s the best CPU for RX 7900 XT if you’re already rocking a solid Ryzen build and want that extra oomph to tide you over until AM5 matures.
Alder Lake’s top chips were partially a response to the original 5800X’s excellent gaming specs, so it served as the ideal starting point for improvement. The core count was ideal, and a winning architecture was already in place. AMD could increase the TDP and up the core clocks or think outside the box.
It turns out that making the chip more box-like was the answer. The 5800X’s established architecture left no room for alterations, so an additional layer was the only way to go. It consists of 64 more MB of L3 cache that interfaces with the existing ringbus so your system registers the resulting 96MB as a single unit.
Cache Me if You Can
Games respond positively to increases in 3D cache, so this single addition was enough to introduce significant gains with minimal tampering. There are some caveats, of course. The 5800X3D has a thinner base and more silicone on the sides of the 3D cache, which help with the thermals. Conversely, its frequencies are several hundred MHz lower than the 5800X’s, and overclocking is no longer possible.
A look at any comparison chart should put any fears to rest. Restricting its frequency range does make the 5800X3D slightly weaker in multi-threaded applications. This is more than offset by its tangible gaming boost, though!
The 5800X3D has come down in price since release and is around $30 more expensive than the 13600K at the time of writing. It sits just below Intel’s masterpiece in the linked test, often matching it or coming within a couple of frames. Other reviews show a more pronounced difference in the 13600K’s favor at 1080p, but everyone agrees that 1440p and 4K results vary little.
That’s fantastic news for users who’ve been Ryzen fans for a while. AMD caved and enabled 5000-series support on the oldest motherboards, so you could drop that 5800X3D into a 5yo X370 motherboard and only slightly hinder your 7900 XT with its PCIe 3.0 x16 slot. Add some DDR4 RAM, and you suddenly have a modern PC again.
Not only does the 5800X3D have reasonable upgrade requirements, but it’s also incredibly power-efficient. It consumes 50% less power than the 13600K when stressed, albeit with a similar thermal footprint.
Intel Core i7-13700K
Socket: LGA 1700 | Cores & threads: 8+8 / 24 | L3 Cache size: 30MB | Base Clock Speed: 3.4 / 2.5GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.4 / 4.2GHz | Base Power: 125W | Turbo Power: 253W | iGPU: Yes
- Excellent for gaming and productivity alike
- Beats the 12900K regardless of metric
- Matches the 13900K in gaming at 1080p
- Runs hot
The 700 chip in a given Intel Core generation is usually hailed as the best investment for gamers. It’s a bit trickier this time, again due to the excellent 13600K shaking up the status quo. Even so, the 13700K might be the best CPU for RX 7900 XT if the flagship seems too expensive but you want most of its all-around performance.
The generational E-core increase seemingly puts the 13700K on a level playing field with the 12900K. Don’t forget that Raptor Lake has improved P-cores and benefits from a global frequency increase, making the chips’ similarities only superficial. The 13700K does better in games and tasks that don’t rely as much on improved latencies.
That’s one of the main reasons none of our recent CPU recommendation articles mention Alder Lake models as viable candidates. Even if the pricing is competitive, each raptor is a better deal than the Alder Lake chip that’s one tier up.
Speaking of pricing, the 13700K occupies a favorable spot. It’s closer to the 13600K’s price, yet its 16 cores and 24 threads skew overall performance more noticeably towards the 13900K. You can shave a few more dollars off if you choose the 13700KF instead. Its integrated GPU is adequate for office work, but anyone with an RX 7900 XT under the hood is losing nothing.
A thought-out motherboard and RAM combination lets you save even more. Raptor Lake was released in tandem with Z790 series boards. Support for higher memory frequencies and a richer USB complement may not be persuasive enough for some users, so sticking with Z690 is a good idea. DDR5 RAM has yet to prove its worth, so high-frequency DDR4 memory remains cheaper and viable.
Breathing Down the 13900K’s Neck
The extra cores mean a lot, as the 13700K competes and regularly wins against AMD’s Ryzen 9 7900X. That places it in the top three desktop CPUs for productivity, right behind the two much more expensive flagships.
The gaming charts are more crowded, but the chip does well there too. You’ve guessed by now that there’s not much to say about 4K, so let’s dial it back. The 13700K’s 1080p results closely represent the average you’d get from the two other Raptor Lake chips. Not that this is a stand-out feature since they’re already uncomfortably close for the price gap.
Uncomfortably close is an apt description for the 13700K’s thermals and power draw if you’re comparing it to the 13900K. Eight P-cores are the main culprits since double the E-cores on the 13900K barely contribute. This is another CPU that’s challenging to cool, so manual power tweaking or a top-shelf AIO are in order.
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X
Socket: AM5 | Cores & threads: 6 / 12 | L3 Cache size: 32MB | Base Clock Speed: 4.7GHz | Boost Clock Speed: 5.3GHz | Base Power / TDP: 105W | iGPU: Yes
- Considerably better than the 5600X
- Good value for the money when on sale
- Has integrated graphics
- Weaker than the 13600K in all respects
The 7600X is AMD’s budget-friendly gateway towards experiencing AM5 and the newest technology the platform supports. Contrary to popular belief, it proves that six cores are still good enough for even the most demanding games in 2023. Now that its price has come down to reflect the 13600K’s superiority, it’s also the best CPU for RX 7900 XT for gamers looking to get the most attractive next-gen deal.
Six cores and twelve threads seemed like a revolutionary mid-range jump when the first Ryzens upended the market. Now, the 7600X looks slim compared to the swarms of cores at Raptor Lake’s disposal. Fortunately for the buyer, they’re all at the P-core level and got the royal treatment when it comes to frequency boosts.
The 7600X has the same multi-chip die as its larger siblings, except ten cores are disabled. Core uniformity means AMD doesn’t need a Thread Director equivalent, which makes Zen4 immediately more attractive for folks who are hesitant about switching to Windows 11.
Older mainline Ryzen processors lacked integrated graphics, which made them less appealing to a subset of users hoping to leverage Zen’s strong productivity chops. Graphics now comes standard, and while it’s as puny as Xe compared to your primary GPU, the addition makes the 7600X more relevant.
Same Core Count, More Muscle
Gamers are the 7600X’s target audience, and bottlenecks are what concerns them the most. Luckily, AMD’s runt isn’t a disappointment. It’s up against one of the finest gaming chips in recent times, so a slightly weaker trend overall doesn’t surprise. The 7600X chases down the 13600K in several games at 1080p; you can already guess what the 1440p and 4K situations are.
Viewed strictly as the 5600X’s successor, the 7600X is a noteworthy achievement. Also noteworthy is the increased power draw that helps achieve this. The 65W TDP that made the 5600X so appealing is no more. The 7600X uses 100-105W when all cores are strained. While a considerable generational increase, this is still more power-efficient than all the other processors on our list.
AMD doesn’t ship their chips with coolers anymore, not even the 7600X. Finding one that can meet the chip’s needs should be straightforward since its thermal output is also the lowest among our recommendations.