Usually, the CPU and GPU are the two devices that are discussed when overclocking is mentioned. The RAM can also be overclocked, and in certain circumstances, doing so can improve performance more than any other changes you make.
Overclocking your RAM might seem frightening if you’ve never done it, but don’t worry – it’s really pretty simple. It certainly helps, but you don’t have to have one of the greatest RAM kits! We’re here to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of overclocking your computer’s memory if you’re debating whether to do so. Below, we’ll walk you through the entire procedure.
What are the benefits of overclocking RAM?
Overclocking RAM improves the data transfer rate, which refers to how quickly the RAM delivers data to the CPU to complete a process. If your RAM is too slow, it can create a bottleneck that doesn’t fully utilize the potential of your CPU. If you’re running a budget system, this might not matter much, but if your computer houses you don’t want to slow it down with a memory kit that’s underperforming.
Buying newer, quicker RAM is the simplest way to fix this. As long as you don’t go over the required voltage, you can actually increase your RAM’s speed manually, and in certain circumstances, you’ll only get the most out of your quicker memory kits by making some of your own system modifications.
While overclocking your RAM can result in some speed increases for everyday tasks, gaming is where it really shines. The significance of RAM will be made clear when playing games that make greater use of the processor than the graphics card. Higher frames per second could occur from using quicker memory because it accelerates data delivery to the CPU (fps).
Overclocking your RAM can have a number of advantages, and if done properly, it’s safe whether you’re an enthusiast, a gamer, someone who wants to get the most out of their technology, or just a curious user.
RAM overclocking explained
Before diving into the specifics of overclocking your RAM, we’ll quickly go over what it does and how the entire process operates.
Your computer can store data in RAM, commonly referred to as random access memory, but only temporarily. In other words, it simply manages the data that is currently in use before passing it forward to the CPU. Your system’s performance may be improved by streamlining this process.
Every software you use, whether it comes from a hard drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD), a persistent sort of memory that can keep files for a long time, loads directly into the RAM from your storage. By increasing RAM’s speed, you may help your processor accept information and transmit it to other devices more quickly.
RAM speed is typically expressed in megahertz; for instance, your memory kit might be a DDR4 RAM that operates at 3200MHz. This is speaking of clock speed. Simply put, the memory speed informs you of how frequently the RAM stick can access its memory per second.
Numerous RAM kits provide an XMP pre-overclocking option (Extreme Memory Profile). This can be a little complicated because, after installation, your new RAM frequently operates at the box speed rather than the overclocked speed. You can overclock that kit to the factory setting provided by the manufacturer if you have a saved XMP profile.
You’ll be changing RAM’s speed and timings to overclock it. Finding your machine’s sweet spot and achieving RAM stability at that point are also necessary steps in this process. Let’s look at how that might be accomplished.
Prepare to overclock
The most crucial step when beginning to overclock RAM (or any component) is to create a baseline. It is not too difficult to accomplish this. For overclocking preparation, follow the instructions.
Step 1: Using a programmed like CPU-Z, note the default speed and timings of your memory. You’ll subsequently compare the speed and timings to your new standings, so make a note of them now.
A tool like HW Info should be running in the background with CPU-Z to monitor memory temperatures and for finer frequency tracking.
You can also download a programmed called DRAM Calculator for Ryzen if you plan to manually overclock an AMD Ryzen processor. This will assist you in selecting the ideal frequency for your specific gear.
Step 2: With both of your tools set up, it’s time to put your current RAM settings through a bit of a stress test. This is where benchmarking tools come in.
You can use Pass Mark and AIDA64 as excellent synthetic benchmarks to get some raw bandwidth data and determine the impact of your overclocking. The CPU-intensive programmed Cine bench can demonstrate how much your RAM’s overclock has enhanced CPU performance. Last but not least, utilize Mem test during the process because it’s useful for monitoring your RAM.
To compare the results, run these applications once prior to overclocking and once more once you’re finished.
CPU-intensive titles like Civilization VI, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and GTA V can offer you a decent sense of what game performance gains you have managed to make for more practical testing.
Overclock using XMP memory profiles
The majority of current AMD and Intel CPUs default to operating RAM at rates between 2666MHz and 3600MHz out of the box, so your motherboard and processor will do the same. But if you bought a kit, it would have come with an XMP, or extreme memory profile, which is rated to go faster. These offer a quick and simple solution to increase performance by “overclocking” the RAM by setting it to its rated speed and timings.
In the steps that follow, we’ll walk you through the XMP overclocking procedure.
Step 1: By pressing the corresponding key on your motherboard’s startup, enter your UEFI/BIOS to access XMP. Usually, it’s Delete or one of the F1 to F10 keys.
Step 2: Now that the BIOS is active, it’s time to explore. Despite the fact that every motherboard is unique, you should look for overclocking settings. It can be found in the Extreme Tweaker menu in our ASUS example. Find your memory’s XMP settings in the memory tuning area, and then select that setting to use.
You should be able to view your updated memory settings after you restart and save the settings.
However, many of these kits are capable of more than the XMP profiles do. You’ll have to enter the more time-consuming and challenging world of manual overclocking to accomplish this.
Manual RAM overclocking
The most time-consuming alternative is manual overclocking, but if you know what you’re doing, it can also yield the highest rewards. Additionally, it’s the best approach to achieve RAM speeds that are higher than those recorded in XMP profiles. Even while it might seem a little frightening, you can rest assured that overclocking your RAM should be fairly safe as long as you take precautions and avoid doing everything at once.
Warning: Avoid increasing the voltage of your DDR4 memory above 1.5 volts because doing so could cause long-term damage to your RAM. Additionally, to assist prevent crashes and instability, you should always keep the temperature of your memory below 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).
It’s crucial to take into account the Infinity Fabric clock and how it interacts with your RAM if you’re using an AMD CPU. Continue reading in the section below.
Step 1: Find the memory-tweaking menu in your UEFI/BIOS as you did for the XMP settings, but this time use Manual settings as opposed to the predetermined XMP parameters.
Increase the frequency gradually and step by step. Usually, the lower the better. In contrast to rushing into things, you should take it slowly and steadily.
Step 2: Restart your machine and start Windows after making the necessary memory frequency adjustments. It’s time to use the aforementioned apps to conduct some benchmarks. Test fully using your favorites CPU-demanding games as well as apps.
Step 3: Increase the frequency once more after finishing all the benchmarks without any crashes or issues. If you experience crashes, you can reduce your overclock and call the project finished, or you can increase the voltage to see if it enhances stability.
Keep in mind to proceed cautiously and conduct thorough testing. You won’t know which frequencies are unstable and which aren’t if you raise the frequency too high all at once; as a result, you’ll have to go even further back to reach a point of stability.
Watch the performance metrics you use for benchmarking as well. Your RAM’s timings may occasionally automatically loosen as the frequency is increased, which may have an impact on your RAM’s latency and performance. Sometimes having a lower frequency and tighter timings is preferable.
Step 4: Once you’ve settled on a frequency, carry out more extensive benchmarking and stability testing to ensure that, even under heavy demand, your RAM won’t result in any system crashes. If so, carry out another round of rigorous stability testing while adjusting the frequency or voltage as necessary.
How to tighten the timings
Along with adjusting your RAM’s frequency, you may always tighten the timings if you want to go farther.
Normally, you can do this in the same part of the UEFI/BIOS as where you change the frequency. You must disable XMP profiles and use manual overclocking instead.
When you tighten the timings, you will adjust the various numbers, save your modified settings, and then restart the computer to check the system’s performance. This task requires some trial-and-error and is best left to more experienced users who are confident in their ability to do it.
Keep in mind that not all frequency and timing combinations will function well together, and avoid making too many changes at once. The benchmarks should produce reliable results for at least 30 minutes of testing while you experiment with the settings.
Things to remember in regard to AMD and Infinity Fabric
While overclocking RAM on an AMD Ryzen processor is fairly similar to overclocking RAM on an Intel CPU, you also need to take the Infinity Fabric into account. AMD CPUs have a proprietary system interconnect design, and it synchronizes the clock speed of your memory. Up until a certain point, the Infinity Fabric’s rises along with it. After 3,600MHz, the 1:1 ratio changes, which can result in better overall performance, but the latency loss isn’t always worth it.
For those who wish to experiment with frequencies after de-syncing it from the memory, infinity fabric overclocking is another option, but it is more complex and demands its own time and effort.
Just keep in mind that to obtain the optimum performance from an AMD Ryzen system, you’ll also need to change the Infinity Fabric if you wish to increase the memory frequency above 3,600MHz.