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Why You Should Overclock Your Memory (Quite Easy!)

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Every program on your PC works in RAM. Your RAM operates at a certain speed set by the manufacturer, but a few minutes in the BIOS can raise it well beyond its rated specification.

Yes, RAM Speed ​​Is Important

Any program you run is loaded into RAM by your SSD or hard drive, which is comparatively slower. Once loaded, it usually stays there for a while and is called by the CPU when needed.

Faster RAM execution can directly improve CPU performance in certain situations, when the CPU just can not get more memory fast enough. For everyday tasks, it may not matter if memory is a few nanoseconds faster, but if you really crack numbers, a slight improvement in performance can be helpful.

In games, the memory speed can actually have noticeable effects. Each frame may only have a few milliseconds to process a lot of data. So, if the game you're playing is CPU-bound (like CSGO), faster memory can improve frame rates. Take a look at this benchmark from Linus Tech Tips:

 Graphics Showing Frame Rate Scaling at Memory Speed ​​

The average frame rate is usually increased by a few percentage points with faster RAM when the CPU is running does the most work. Where RAM speed really shines is in minimum frame rates; For example, if you load a new space or objects into a game and everything must be in one frame, that frame may take longer than usual to wait for the memory to load. This is referred to as microstuttering and may cause games to become restless even at high average frame rates.

Overclocking RAM is Not Scary

Overclocking RAM is not nearly as scary or unsafe as overclocking a CPU or GPU. If you're overclocking a CPU, you'll need to worry about whether your cooling can handle the faster beats or not. An overclocked CPU or GPU can be much louder than one that runs with default settings.

With memory, they do not produce much heat at all, so this is pretty safe. Even with unstable overclocks, testing the stability will display an error message and throw you back onto the drawing board. However, if you are attempting to do this on a laptop, make sure that you can clear the CMOS (to reset the BIOS to the default settings) if an error occurs.

Speed, Timing, and CAS Latency

RAM speed is generally measured in megahertz, usually abbreviated as "Mhz." This is a measure of the clock rate (how many times per second the RAM can access its memory) and corresponds to the measurement of CPU speed. The default speed for DDR4 (the latest memory type) is usually 2133 Mhz or 2400 Mhz. Although this is actually a marketing lie; DDR stands for "Double Data Rate", ie the RAM reads and writes twice per clock cycle. The speed is thus 1200 Mhz or 2400 mega ticks per second.

However, the majority of DDR4 memory is typically 3000 Mhz, 3200 Mhz or higher. This is due to XMP (Extreme Memory Profile). XMP is essentially the memory that tells the system, "Hey, I know, DDR4 will only support speeds up to 2666 MHz, but why do not you overclock me on the speed of the box? "It's overclocking ex works, pre-set, tested and ready for use. This is achieved at the hardware level by a chip in RAM itself, referred to as a serial presence detection chip. So there is only one XMP profile per stick:

 Serial Presence Detection Chip

Each in-memory kit actually integrates multiple speeds. The material speeds use the same presence detection system and are referred to as JEDEC. Anything higher than the standard JEDEC speed is overclocking, which means that XMP is simply a JEDEC profile overclocked by the factory.

 JEDEC Timings for RAM

RAM timings and CAS latency are different measure of speed. They are a measure of the latency (how fast your RAM responds). The CAS latency indicates how many clock cycles are between the READ command sent to the Memory Stick and the response of the CPU. It is usually referred to as "CL" after the RAM speed, for example "3200 MHz CL16".

This is usually tied to RAM speed – higher speed, higher CAS latency. However, CAS latency is just one of many different times and clocks that RAM uses. The rest are generally referred to as "RAM timings". The lower and tighter the timings, the faster your RAM. If you want to know more about what each timing really means, you can read this guide from Gamers Nexus.

XMP will not do anything for you.

You can buy your RAM at G. Skill, Crucial, or Corsair, but these companies do not make the actual DDR4 memory chips that make your RAM tick. They buy from semiconductor manufacturers, which means that all of the memory on the market comes from only a few major sites: Samsung, Micron, and Hynix latencies are the same as "slow" storage, which costs half the price of . They both use Samsung B-die DDR4 memory chips, except one has a gold-colored heat spreader, RGB lights, and a bejeweled shell (yes, that's a real thing you can buy).

When the chips come from the factory, they are tested in a process called Binning. Not every memory offers the best performance. Part of the memory is working well with 4000MHz and low CAS latency, and part of the memory can not overclock over 3000MHz. Called a Silicon Lottery, it makes high-speed kits expensive.

However, the speed on the box does not always match the actual RAM potential. The XMP speed is just a rating that guarantees that the Stick of Memory operates at rated speed 100% of the time. It's more about marketing and product segmentation than the limitations of memory. nothing prevents your RAM from working outside the manufacturer's specification, except that enabling XMP is easier than overclocking itself.

XMP is also limited to a few specific timings. According to a Kingston representative, "they only tune the primary time settings (CL, RCD, RP, RAS)," and since the SPD system for storing XMP profiles contains only a limited number of entries, the rest is up to the motherboard decide what does not always make the right choice. In my case, the "auto" settings on my ASUS motherboard have set very strange values ​​for some of the timings. My RAM kit could not be run immediately with the XMP profile until I set the time settings myself.

In addition, the factory-installed binning process has a specified voltage range in which they would like to operate 1.35 volt RAM kits, do not perform extended tests if they fail, and throw them into the " 3200 MHz Mid-Tier Bin ", where most of the memory bits fall. But what if you run the memory at 1.375 volts? What about 1.390 volts? Both are far from having low voltages for DDR4, and even a bit of extra voltage can help make the memory clock much higher and timings you should use, as the BIOS has 30 separate settings that you can customize. Fortunately, only four of them are considered "primary" timings, and you can calculate them with a tool called "Ryzen DRAM Calculator". It's tailored for AMD systems, but works for Intel users because it's mostly about memory timing. not the CPU.

Download the tool and specify your RAM speed and RAM type (if you do not know, a quick Google search for the part number of your RAM should yield some results). Press the purple button "R – XMP" to load the nominal specifications of your kit, then press "Calculate SAFE" or "Calculate FAST" to display your new timings.

 DRAM calculator

You can compare these timings with the nominal specifications by using the "Compare Timings" button, and you will notice that in SAFE Settings everything gets a little tighter and the primary CAS latency in the FAST settings is reduced. Whether the FAST settings work well for you depends on whether the kit comes from the factory with a loose container, but you can probably get it up and running in a safe voltage range.

You will want to send a screenshot of this to another device, as you need to enter these timings in the BIOS. Then you have to check with the integrated memory tester of the computer, if the overclocking is stable. This is a lengthy process. For more information, see our overclocking guide.

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