RAM Overclocking Guide – How To Safely Overclock RAM In 2021

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how to overclock ram

When the topic of overclocking arises between any conversation, whether online or face to face, two things come to mind GPU and CPU and sometimes monitor. There is another component of a PC that can be overclocked, and that is RAM.

While every RAM module has its certain speed, usually in megahertz (MHz) set by its manufacturer. It is possible to cross those limits set by the manufacturers to churn out the extra performance out of them for better performance.

Compared to overclocking of GPUs and CPUs, RAM overclocking might sound silly, but in reality, it has a decent impact on performance especially, in video games. Every program installed on your system works with RAM. More speed means more performance.

Lower RAM speeds will make the CPU wait for the information from RAM. Overclocking will increase the clock frequency of the RAM, which will provide the data to the CPU much faster, and the system performance will see a slight boost.

It is safe and easy to do than CPU or GPU overclocking, which, if not done correctly, can even damage the components permanently. If your memory stick is in warranty, overclocking might void its warranty or even cause stability, performance issues.


Understanding The Basics


How to overclock RAM is the first thing that comes to mind after hearing about RAM overclock for the first. But before performing any action with a PC, it is essential to know and understand the basics.

PC hardware is expensive, and a person should take extra care before performing any action or directly go into the overclocking procedure. Dangerous overclocking can damage the components of the PC permanently.

Overclocking is a delicate and sensitive practice that has a lot of factors involved. It is safer than GPU and CPU overclocking but can get tricky if a person has little to no knowledge of overclocking RAMs. If you have never overclocked RAMs before, this guide is for you.

Overclocking might not bring more FPS into the game (depending on the RAM module your motherboard has), but it will make other memory-related tasks. RAM has many little and technical things that can easily make a person’s head spin. Here are things that you need to know for RAM before overclocking:

Frequency and Timings

RAM frequency is the speed of the RAM, which is measured in megahertz (megahertz). Higher frequency means more cycles per second. The higher the frequency of a RAM is, the faster it will be able to process data. With higher clock frequency, the RAM often becomes unstable.

The other factor that decides the RAM operation is timings. The timings of RAM are measured in clock cycles or ticks. The timings of RAM determine how many cycles the stick requires to operate. In an ideal case scenario, we want the timings to be as low as possible.

RAM timings are of three types:

• Primary

• Secondary

• Tertiary

Talking about timings, the exception to the lower timings and better performance is the tREFI (aka refresh interval). It is the time between RAM refreshes. As it refreshes, the RAM cannot do anything else. To prevent RAM from refreshing quite often, the refresh interval, tREFI, to be as high as possible.

In a real case scenario, companies understand they cannot manufacture high frequency with low timings. It is impossible to get the ideal performance out of a memory stick with high frequency and low timings.

Simply put, to get the RAM stable at higher frequencies, the timings are often increased for stability. Low timings sound the way to go, but it depends on the frequency at which the RAM is operating.

The latency between different RAM modules can be the same despite having different frequencies and CL (CAS latency). For example, the latency of a 3200 MHz RAM with CL16 will be the same as the 3000MHz RAM with CL15, despite the latter operating with lower frequency.

What is CL, tRCD, tRP & tRAS In Gaming Rams

Below are some of the terms which understanding will play a great role in overclocking RAM:

CL: CAS Latency –

CAS Latency, aka CL, is the latency. It is the total time taken (measured in clock cycles) by the RAM from accessing data stored in one of the columns to make the data available on its output pins. In ideal cases, the CL should be as low as possible, which is hard to achieve.

RAMs with high frequencies and low CL tend to be expensive. The ideal memory stick for a consumer on a budget is the medium frequency and lower CL timings.

tRCD: RAS to CAS Delay –

Memory is designed in such a way that it organizes and performs actions on the data stored inside, in the form of a matrix (rows and columns). It is the time taken in clock cycles to open a row and accessing a column inside the matrix of a memory module.

Like with CL, RAS to CAS Delay works with memory real clock speeds. The real clock speeds are half or lower than the mentioned clock speeds of the memory module. To get the ideal results, i.e., better performance, this parameter should be as low as possible.

The reason is that the RAM will start to read and write data quite early, which will consume less time. Less time means faster outputs from the memory module.

tRP: RAS Precharge –

In RAMs, Precharge is a command which deactivates the currently active row and allows a new row to be activated. tRP is the amount of time taken in clock speeds between issuing the Precharge command to close a row or activate a column.

It is similar to tRCD as it works with the real clock speed of the memory (base clock speed), and the lower this parameter will be, the faster the RAM will perform.

The reason is, the lower this parameter will be, the next Active command can be issued more quickly.

tRAS: Active to Precharge Delay –

tRAS or Active to Precharge Delay is the amount of time taken required in clock cycles between the row-active command and issuing the Precharge command. The time taken in between each memory access instance is defined as tRAS.

There are many ways and equations to calculate tRAS. From Cl + tRCD + tRP to tRCD + CL and tRCD + 2xCL and more. There are these many equations due to the complexity of memory operations.

Related Reading:


Useful Tools


After having a rough idea about the basics, we will be going to discuss the useful tools that are going to make your life very easy. These tools will make the overclocking method a little bit easier to do and understand.

The popular overclocking tools used by consumers worldwide are available on the internet for download. We will be using them for overclocking. We will be talking about the most popular ones used by the PC community. Without any further delay, let us get to the tools which are used for overclocking.

CPU-Z

CPU-Z is a freeware released by CPUID for monitoring multiple PC components. It detects the hardware of a computer and displays all details of the rig in detail. You might be wondering, how is a tool which can only display information is going to help in overclocking?

The answer to this question lies in the question itself, CPU-Z lists all of the details of CPU, motherboard, and RAM. It shows all of the technical details of the RAM, i.e., from frequency to type and size. The next part is what we are going to use, which is the “Timings” section.

Showing the Information of memory in windows 10 using CPUZ

Under the Timings section, the software lists the CL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS details. These details can be noted down to check which profile will be the most stable one and is the safest for overclocking. One of the advantages of CPU-Z is, it updates the value in real-time.

It means you will not have to reopen the software every time you make a change. Note down your DRAM frequency and timings before overclocking. If anything goes wrong with overclocking, set back to the values as per CPU-Z to reset the RAMs again.

Memtest86+

Memtes86+ is a memory testing software used by consumers worldwide for testing the RAMs installed on the x86 architecture. The testing is done to detect possible errors in the RAM, which could be fatal as they might corrupt data in the future.

Image of Memtest86+

The software tests the RAMs by writing arbitrary data, reading the data, and comparing the errors. The method this software uses can be extremely useful for testing the RAM for errors after setting new profiles and frequencies. If the software detects any error, revert to the original value to avoid data corruption or other severe issues.

XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles)

These are predefined memory profiles with optimal settings that are already determined by Intel. These profiles can be used for overclocking the RAMs. They are useful for beginners that are new to overclocking. Many motherboards can detect these predefined settings and apply them on the go.

Image of Asus Mobo Bios Options

The consumers will not have to modify the frequencies, voltages, and timings manually. All of the work is already done and tested by Intel. In simple words, it is like a preset, which is already made by experts that you can use with a click of a button (although it takes more than one button for RAM overclocking).

You can find the XMP settings in the BIOS settings of your motherboard. You can easily find these profiles if the motherboard supports these profiles.


What Are The Benefits Of Overclocking RAM?


We are living in an era where everything needs to be quick and fast. Computers are no exception. People make their computers fast with the help of overclocking. Overclocking makes the components run at higher clock speeds and frequency.

Overclocking RAM and other components can make the PC go fast, but with rewards come many risks. There are many advantages of overclocking RAM, but there are disadvantages as well. Which are not trivial and should not be treated lightly

Image of Corsair vengeance Pro RGB Ram

Let us save the disadvantages for later and talk about the advantages first. The gains are particularly noticeable in desktop performance. The desktop runs a little faster than usual with overclocked RAMs, and it makes accessing files and programs very quick.

In gaming, there is not much to gain when played with overclocked RAMs. The difference is of a few FPS. However, when the overclocked RAM is used with other overclocked components like GPU and CPU, the results will be significantly different than the default settings.

The other advantage of overclocking is for enthusiasts who have spent a fortune for getting the best hardware possible. By overclocking the RAM, the enthusiasts can squeeze more performance than the default profile and provides a sense of control over the system.


Check Your Current RAM Speed


Before trying to perform the RAM overclocking, make sure you know the default values of your memory module. This is important to note because overclocking RAM is very tricky and can become cumbersome if you are going to do it from the start.

RAM overclocking is trickier than GPU or CPU overclocking, so extra steps need to be performed. Checking and noting down your current RAM speeds is one of the crucial steps that you need to perform.

RAM frequency or speed is measured in megahertz (MHz), which is like million cycles in a second. RAM is more than just frequency and speeds, which you might not think about after looking at those glorious RGB, jeweled RAMs available in the market.

The other factor is the RAM timings. Timings and frequency together determine how good is the particular RAM is. Usually, companies have to compromise in building new RAMs as the modules with higher frequency need to have lower timings, which makes everything hard for the manufacturers.

With that aside, there are many ways with which you can check the speeds of your current RAM.

Check RAM Speed with CPU-Z

The first method through which you can check your RAM speed is with CPU-Z. Here is how you can do that:

  • Head over to CPU-Z website and download the setup from the link below:
       o “https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html”
    Cpu id
  • Run the setup, follow the on-screen instructions and install the software.
  • Run the program from your desktop, find and click the “Memory” tab on the top right.
  • The program will show you all of your memory speeds, including CL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS and more.
    all of your memory speeds, including CL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS and

Check RAM speed via Windows 10 PowerShell utility

If you do not want to download external software to view your memory information, Windows have the solution for you. You can check your RAM speed via the Windows 10 PowerShell utility.

To do that:

  • Right-click the Windows Start button and select “Windows PowerShell (Admin)”.
  • Press “Yes” for the Windows prompt, and a new window will pop out.
    Yes” for the Windows prompt
  • Type in the following code, without quotation, after the new window appears:
    “Get-CimInstance -ClassName Win32_PhysicalMemory | Format-Table Capacity, Manufacturer, MemoryType, FormFactor, Name, Configuredclockspeed, Speed, Devicelocator, Serialnumber –AutoSize”
  • The PowerShell will list all of the memory details, including frequency.
    Yes” for the Windows prompt xcv
  • For more details of the memory, you can head over to the following website:
    “https://powershell.one/wmi/root/cimv2/win32_physicalmemory”

Getting A Baseline


Like other basic steps that need to be performed before overclocking, getting a baseline is as important in RAM overclocking. A baseline is the score of your PC hardware in benchmarks. You will need the score as a reference when you perform tweaks in your BIOS for RAM overclocking.

It is a very crucial step and should not be skipped. For noting down the base values, you can use CPU-Z. Here is how you can do that:

  • Head over to CPU-Z website and download the setup from the link below:
       o “https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html”
    Cpu id
  • Run the setup, follow the on-screen instructions and install the software.
  • Run the program from your desktop, find and click the “Memory” tab on top right.
  • The program will show you all of your memory speeds, including CL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS and more.
    all of your memory speeds, including CL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS and

After noting down all of the necessary details, perform benchmarks to get a rough idea and establishing a baseline. There are many software available on the internet that you can use, like memtest86+, Aida64, MaxxMEM2.

If you are interested in gaming performance, there are many gaming benchmarks software that you can use, like 3DMARK or Cinebench.

After getting the results from running the benchmarks, you can write down the results for future comparisons. The next step is to perform overclocking. Tweak the settings of your system a little bit, and run the benchmarks again.

Compare the new score with the older one to check if the new tweaks are better or worse for increased performance.


How To Overclock Your RAM


To make the guide as simple and easy as possible, we will discuss two ways to overclock the RAM. The first method is with the XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles) by Intel. The XMP is predefined, tested memory profiles with everything already tested and set.

These profiles can be loaded from the PC’s motherboard if the motherboard supports such profiles. The XMP overclocking is a kind of automatic overclocking, where the user does not have to set the voltages, frequencies, and timings manually. Everything is already there.

The other two options from overclocking are Auto and Manual. After selecting Auto, the PC will detect the decent clock speeds and timings and will apply it on the go. While in Manual, everything from voltage, frequency, and timing has to be performed manually.

Manual overclocking is the most tiring, complex, and time-taking but it also wields the best possible results.

Overclocking via Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profiles) Technology

It is the most reliable, and the most commonly overclocking method used by beginners is the Intel XMP technology. The procedure itself is simple and straightforward. To use XMP profiles on your system, you will have to:

Note: Before performing any action, make sure to note down the default values of your RAM via any software, notably CPU-Z. Also, make sure to perform a stress test and create a baseline.

  • Open the BIOS setting of your motherboard. (You can search the internet for your motherboard model and Intel’s XMP profile location in the BIOS)
  • From the settings, find the memory tweaker and select any XMP profile, from the drop-down menu, as per your needs.
    memory tweaker and select any XMP profilememory tweaker and select any XMP profile
  • After selecting the values, check if they are according to the labeled speeds (3000 MHz, 3200MHz etc.).
  • Save and reboot and open any benchmark utility.
  • From the benchmark tool, perform a stress test and note down the scores.
  • Compare it with baseline scores to see if you are getting any gains.
  • If not, repeat from step-1 and select other profiles.
  • If yes, then you have successfully overclocked your RAM.

Manual Overclocking

It is the best way to overclock the RAM that can yield the best results, but it is the most time-consuming and difficult if the user has little knowledge about the technical terms. In manual overclocking, we will be setting everything manually, from the frequencies to timings and voltage.

Before performing the manual overclocking, make sure to note down the values from XMP profiles to get a rough idea of the values that need to be set. The fundamental procedure for manually overclocking the RAM is the same as overclocking CPU and GPU.

The user can tweak different settings in the BIOS to get the best speeds possible, then running a benchmark. If the system gets unstable, restart the system and tweak the values again and repeat the procedure until the system gets stable.

Here is how you can perform manual overclocking:

  • Open the BIOS setting of your motherboard. (You can search the internet for your motherboard model and Intel’s XMP profile location in the BIOS)
  • From the settings, find the memory-tweaker and select “Manual”.
  • Now you can change the setting as per your needs. For reference, start with DRAM voltage. From the most relative XMP profiles, set the voltage to your needs and increment the voltage from 0.010-0.015v.
  • Increase the CPU VCCIO Voltage and CPU System Agent Voltage in increments of 0.010-0.015v (1.15v to 1.20v).
    NOTE: Do not increase the values to such levels it might break or damage your components.
  • For timings, set the timings (DRAM Timing Control) as you have noted from CPU-Z.
  • Set the DRAM Frequency to the labeled frequency of your memory stick.
    DRAM Frequency to the labeled frequency
  • Save the changes and reboot.
  • Do a stress test; if the system is unstable, restart the PC and from the BIOS tweak the settings to lower values and repeat the process.

Benchmark Your RAM: (Getting the Most from Your RAM)


Now after, tweaking the settings from the BIOS, you might wonder how to check the difference? There might not be any noticeable difference compared to the default values. The difference can be observed with the help of benchmarks.

You can perform benchmarks with the help of many programs that are available on the internet for free. Popular software used for benchmarking includes memtest86+, Aida64, MaxxMEM2. These programs are used to test the memory modules.

If you are more interested in gaming performance, you can use software like 3DMARK, Cinebench, etc. These programs will perform a couple of stress tests to check the hardware capabilities of your system.

How to overclock RAM with the help of benchmarks? Well, before overclocking, perform a benchmark, and note down the scores. After tweaking the settings in the BIOS, save the settings and reboot. Then run the benchmarking tool again and note down the new scores.

Now compare the new and old scores. If the scores are high, it means the RAM is overclocked successfully. Now head over to the BIOS again and make tweaks with higher values. Save changes and reboot.

Perform the benchmarks again, now compare the scores again. Keep repeating this procedure until you will reach the maximum score. However, make sure not to increase the values (voltage or frequencies) to dangerous levels. Setting the values to dangerous levels will not only reduce the lifespan of the hardware but can also cause file corruption.

Keep benchmarking until you reach the speeds ideal for your setup.


Is Overclocking RAM Worth It?


Overclocking RAM is beneficial and depending on the work type. It can either be worth it, or it can be worthless. Overclocking RAM increases the speed of the PC. As it increases the frequency of the RAM, that can access the files more quickly.

It is a high-risk, high-reward procedure that best works with other overclocked components like CPU and GPU. Overclocking the RAM can boost FPS in gaming, which is decent for competitive titles.

Memory life span reduction is one of the risks that come with overclocking the RAM. RAM comes with high frequencies, but at a very high frequency, it tends to become unstable.

The other components become unable to catch up with the memory speeds and cause file corruption and instability. File corruption is one of the disadvantages that come with overclocking. To avoid file corruption, users often set the frequencies within acceptable boundaries.

If you an enthusiast who wants to get everything out of your hardware, overclocking RAM is the way to go. Performing overclocking on RAM modules is tricky, but it worth it. Games that are CPU-dependent, like CS: GO, benefit the most out of memory overclocking.



Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – How do I manually overclock my RAM?

The manual overclocking is performed by settings the Overclocking preset in the BIOS to manual from the drop-down menu. After selecting Manual from the drop-down menu, the BIOS will allow you to tweak multiple settings of your RAM including frequencies, and timings.

Set the settings as per your needs, save and reboot. Perform a stress test and compare it to the score with default benchmarks. If the score is higher than the default score, it means you have successfully overclocked your RAM module.

#2- Is it safe to overclock RAM to 3200?

Yes, you can overclock your memory stick to 3200MHz, and it is safe. Overclocking RAM does not produce much heat so, it is relatively safe than CPU and CPU overclocking. If your RAM is rated to 3200 MHz, you can overclock; otherwise, it might not reach such speeds. Setting the values to over 3200MHz, on the contrary, and above might not be safer.

#3- Does overclocking RAM reduces lifespan?

The general lifespan of a RAM module is about 25 to 30 years. Overclocking reduces the life span to 10-15 years if the clock speeds are set to very high frequencies. Their lifespan is the highest out of any other PC component. So, you can overclock your RAM sticks with peace of mind.

#4- Does RAM speed affect FPS?

RAM speeds have an impact on performance in videogames. Higher frequencies show a small FPS gain. For games highly dependent on the CPU like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the higher the RAM speed is, the better the game will perform. It is the game that needs the most FPS and should have as little latency as possible.

#5- Can I overclock 1600MHz RAM?

Yes, you can overclock your 1600MHz RAM. It is the minimum speed of the fastest RAMs required for gaming. Although it will not have a significant effect on a computer’s performance, the performance difference is observed with RAMs with higher clock speeds than 1600MHz.

For example, 2400MHz RAM will have a decent impact on a computer’s performance than overclocked 1600MHz memory module.

#6- Is higher MHz RAM better?

It is better than modules with lower frequencies, but it also depends on other factors like timings. RAM frequencies work together with timings to deliver the best performance. Ideally, a higher frequency RAM with lower timings will have the best possible performance but are costly.

#7- Can I use 2400MHz RAM with 3200MHz RAM?

You can certainly pair a 2400MHz RAM with a 3200MHz RAM, but pairing odd speed memories is not recommended. If you still wish to pair them make sure to run both of the RAMs at the same speed as the slowest RAM in the PC (2400MHz). Also, make sure that the CL (CAS Latency) of both RAMs should match with each other to make them work together.

#8- Is 3200MHz RAM good for gaming?

3200MHz RAMs are very good for gaming. They are faster in terms of clock times; they are faster than 3000MHz memory sticks. However, talking about overall RAM structure, other factors determine how fast and quick a RAM is, like CL and more. Generally, 3200MHz RAMs are decent for medium to high-end gaming systems.

#9- Does XMP damage RAM?

XMP profiles are very reliable and safe. Because these are the presets which are tested and set by professionals via vigorous hit and trial testing. However, in extreme cases, XMP profiles with very high voltage, exceeding the label on the packing, can void and damage the memory modules.


Final Verdict:

Sometimes overclocking can be cumbersome when you realize, after everything, the results and gains are not that noticeable. RAM overclocking is just that. Overclocking RAM sounds so impressive on the paper as the frequencies and timings are improved, and the performance should see huge gains.

However, the reality is different. Increasing the RAM clocks and timings barely sees any improvements in video games but accessing the desktop becomes quicker. If OC RAM is coupled with other OC’d peripherals, the performance might see decent performance gains.

Compared to CPU and GPU overclocking, there is not much to lose. It is safe as RAM does not get heat up so, performing overclock does not hurt, and it is advantageous to use, and the extra bit of performance does not hurt.

If you have a high-end and expensive setup and you want to get every possible one, you should overclock your memory modules but make sure you are within the safe limits. If you cross such limits, you will put your sticks to risk as well as the data.

High-frequency memory sticks tend to become unstable. The more unstable a memory becomes, the chance to corrupt the data increases, not to mention the lifespan.

Overall, professionals recommend doing RAM overclocking, as it can provide a slight performance boost, with little to no risks if done within safe limits and not increasing the speeds to dangerous values.

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