Hogwarts Legacy is one of the most hotly anticipated games releasing in February 2023. As an expansive open-world action RPG set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, it promises to bring the legendary Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and surrounding areas to life in stunning detail. With incredibly detailed 4K environments powered by Unreal Engine 5, advanced real-time ray tracing effects, complex physics and destruction, and advanced AI systems controlling hundreds of characters, Hogwarts Legacy will require some serious hardware to run smoothly at high fidelity settings.
In particular, many PC gamers planning to experience Hogwarts Legacy with Nvidia’s flagship GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card are wondering what CPU they will need to avoid bottlenecking that extremely powerful GPU. While the RTX 4090 delivers unmatched performance, you’ll want an equally capable processor to match in order to fully unlock its potential when exploring Hogwarts castle and beyond.
Why CPU Power Matters for Hogwarts Legacy
The CPU (central processing unit) plays a critical role in game performance as it prepares graphics frames and dispatches instructions to the GPU. If the CPU can’t keep up with the GPU and provide enough data throughput, it will cause a bottleneck that severely limits overall frames per second. This phenomenon is referred to as a CPU bottleneck.
Hogwarts Legacy is expected to be quite demanding on the CPU, especially in densely populated areas like the Great Hall with over 100 characters simultaneously on screen. Complex physics like destructible environments and visually stunning spells will also pile on heavy load. Ray tracing effects including shadows, reflections, global illumination and ambient occlusion will further stress the CPU.
To achieve high framerates beyond 60 fps at 4K resolution with max settings, a high performance CPU is absolutely necessary. Without enough processing power, even the mighty RTX 4090 will be held back from reaching its full potential in Hogwarts Legacy’s magical world.
Hogwarts Legacy Official System Requirements
Hogwarts Legacy’s official PC system requirements give us insight into the CPU performance needed:
- Intel Core i5-6600 (3.3GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 1400 (3.2GHz)
- 16GB RAM
- NVIDIA GTX 960 4GB or AMD RX 470 4GB
- 720p at 30fps
- Intel Core i7-8700 (3.2GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (3.6GHz)
- 16GB RAM
- NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti or AMD RX 5700 XT
- 1080p at 60fps
This gives us a baseline to work from. The i5-6600 or Ryzen 5 1400 are entry-level CPUs able to deliver 30fps gameplay at low settings.
Stepping up to the recommended i7-8700 or Ryzen 5 3600 provides much smoother 60fps performance at 1080p with improved graphics.
Recommended CPUs for 60 FPS Gameplay
For a smooth 60+ fps experience at 1440p or 4K with high-ultra settings and ray tracing, an even more powerful CPU will be required.
An Intel Core i7-12700K or AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D or better is recommended for 60+ fps. These 8 core, 16 thread processors have the multi-threaded muscle to handle Hogwarts Legacy’s diverse workloads.
Mid-range chips like the 6 core Ryzen 5 5600X and Core i5-12600K may work reasonably well, but the 8 core 12700K or 5800X3D provide more headroom and smoother performance overall.
Targeting 100+ FPS Gameplay
For even higher frame-rates like 100-120+ fps at 1440p or 4K, an Intel Core i9-13900K or AMD Ryzen 9 7950X is highly recommended. The additional cores, threads and cache on these flagship CPUs will prevent bottlenecks, allowing you to experience Hogwarts Legacy beyond 60 fps for incredibly smooth high speed gameplay.
Consider overclocking the 13900K or 7950X as well to push frame rates even higher. A high-end cooler like the Noctua NH-D15 air cooler or Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360mm AIO will enable thermal headroom for overclocking.
Here are the recommended CPUs for different target framerates when gaming with the 4090:
- 60fps at 4K – Core i7-12700K or Ryzen 7 5800X3D
- 100+fps at 4K – Core i9-13900K or Ryzen 9 7950X
- 120-144fps at 4K – Core i9-13900KS or Ryzen 9 7950X3D
- 240Hz+ at 1080p – Core i9-13900KS or Ryzen 9 7950X3D
Significance of High Core and Thread Counts
When selecting a CPU for Hogwarts Legacy with the 4090, prioritizing models with higher core and thread counts is crucial. Hogwarts Legacy can efficiently utilize multi-core CPUs thanks to its Avalanche engine and Unreal Engine 5 backend.
You’ll want a processor with at least 8 cores and 16 threads. This enables enough parallel processing power to feed the demanding RTX 4090 without bottlenecking.
Even higher core/thread counts like 16-24 on 13th Gen Intel Core i9s or Ryzen 9s will provide overhead for 100+ fps gameplay. The 29-core Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5975WX is overkill but ultimate for uncapped frame-rates.
Conversely, lower core count CPUs like the quad core i5-12600K or 6 core 5600X are more prone to bottlenecking at higher resolutions and settings. An 8 core chip is the realistic sweet spot.
High CPU Clock Speed Significance
In addition to higher core counts, fast per core CPU clock speeds are tremendously beneficial for Hogwarts Legacy, especially if aiming beyond 60 fps. Higher maximum boost clocks in the 4.5-5.5GHz range like those found on Zen 4 and Raptor Lake allow the CPU to rapidly process instructions to keep pace with the RTX 4090.
Modern CPUs also include architectural IPC (instructions per clock) improvements that enable more work per cycle. For example, AMD’s Zen 4 microarchitecture offers a sizable IPC increase over Zen 3 to deliver better performance at the same clock speed. Intel’s 13th Gen Core chips also increased IPC significantly over 12th Gen.
The combination of high frequency clocks and IPC gains provides major performance uplifts in games relying on strong single threaded and lightly threaded throughput. This helps minimize bottlenecks at high framerates.
For the ideal Hogwarts Legacy experience, look for a CPU with boost clocks reaching at least 4.5GHz and preferably 5GHz+, along with excellent IPC. Both are critical for high fps.
CPU Overclocking Potential
Overclocking your CPU is an excellent way to boost performance by running it above stock speeds. This allows you to eliminate bottlenecks and potentially push average frame-rates 10%+ higher in CPU intensive games like Hogwarts Legacy.
Unlocked K-SKU CPUs from Intel and X-SKU chips from AMD offer extra thermal and voltage headroom for overclocking. For example, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D with its 3D V-Cache runs hot but an AIO cooler can enable 4.7-5.0GHz OC potential. Meanwhile, the 13900KS can sustain 5.6GHz+ clocks with proper cooling.
Quality air coolers like Noctua’s massive NH-D15 or beefy 360mm AIO liquid coolers are recommended to unlock overclocking headroom on hot chips like the 7950X3D and 13900K/KS. This can make a noticeable difference in framerates.
Optimal CPU, Motherboard and RAM Combo
Choosing the right supporting hardware like motherboard and RAM is vital when building a Hogwarts Legacy rig around the 4090 GPU.
A premium Z790 or X670/X670E motherboard with a robust 16+ power phase design enables stable overclocking. PCIe Gen 5 support also ensures maximum bandwidth for the latest GPUs and SSDs.
Rounding out your system with fast DDR5 memory at 6000+ MHz speeds completes the package for high performance. Aim for 32GB to handle Hogwarts Legacy’s system memory requirements.
Game Ready vs Creation Focused CPUs
When selecting your CPU, consider choosing a model optimized specifically for high framerate gaming instead of creative workloads.
Chips like the 13900KS, 7950X3D and 12700K with their excellent thermals, clock speeds, overclocking potential and gaming-centric cache configurations are designed to eliminate game bottlenecks, making them fantastic options for the 4090.
Comparatively, CPUs like the standard 7950X and 12900K are more optimized for heavily multi-threaded productivity workloads. While still great for gaming, these chips can sometimes bottleneck in CPU intensive games when paired with an ultra-fast GPU like the 4090.
1080p Gaming Considerations
While the 4090 is overkill for 1080p, some gamers do choose to utilize it for ultra high framerate 1080p gaming with a 360Hz or 480Hz monitor. In this scenario, the CPU requirements are even more demanding to prevent bottlenecks above 200 fps.
Realistically, an overclocked top-tier CPU like the 7950X3D or 13900KS is recommended to properly feed the 4090 for 240Hz+ gaming at 1080p. Even the 12900KS can encounter occasional bottlenecks here depending on the game engine. DDR4 based systems are also disadvantaged.
In summary, to fully unleash the performance potential of Nvidia’s ultra-powerful GeForce RTX 4090 GPU in Hogwarts Legacy, an equally capable CPU is required.
Top-tier options like Intel’s Core i9-13900K/KS or AMD’s Ryzen 9 7950X3D with their high core counts, thermal headroom, and blazing Turbo clock speeds are strongly recommended. Supporting components like a premium Z790/X670 motherboard and fast low latency DDR5 RAM completes the package.
With the right CPU and system tuned for high frame-rate 4K gaming, you’ll be able to explore the halls of Hogwarts castle and surrounding magical areas with stunning visuals and buttery smooth performance when Hogwarts Legacy releases next month. Your RTX 4090 will flex its full muscle for a truly magical gameplay experience.