How to Overclock RAM: A Definitive Guide

how to overclock ram
Overclocking is a method used for many PC components because it helps to give the said component a boost, allowing it to perform better than it does at its default factory settings. While the term overclocking simply means increasing clock speed, there are certain other factors that need attention for it to work practically.

You might want to look into how much RAM you actually need before you make any changes. However, this guide deals with overclocking RAM. Read on to learn how to overclock RAM for prime performance.

Why Should You Overclock RAM?

There are certain benefits to overclocking RAM, which is why it is usually recommended.

  • The biggest pro is obviously better performance. In some scenarios, there might be only a marginal change, but this can still be worthwhile.
  • As a result, you might be able to get more performance out of a cheaper product, which means you can save some bucks.
  • Response times within applications will be reduced, meaning your system runs smoother in general.
  • If you use your PC for multitasking and memory intensive tasks such as video work, overclocking is definitely something you should consider.
  • Remember that RAM overclocking improves desktop use and file operations a lot more than it does gaming. If you are a gamer, you should look into overclocking your CPU or GPU.

The Basics: RAM Speed

As mentioned earlier, RAM efficiency depends on more than just clock speed. Other factors to bear in mind are base clock speed, memory timings, and latency.

How to Overclock RAM

As you probably already know, there are a few different RAMs popular right now. Regardless of whether you want to learn how to overclock DDR3 RAM or DDR4 RAM, or if you’re using AMD’s Ryzen or an Intel Core processor, the general process remains more or less the same. So let’s look at that before diving into specifics.

Checking For Stability

The most important step happens before you actually begin overclocking. You need to make sure that your memory is stable before you actually do anything. Use software such as Memtest86+ and run a test for about five minutes. Such software is also useful for monitoring stability after you’re done overclocking as well.

Using the BIOS

In the BIOS, you have a few options for overclocking RAM. You may use all of them together in whatever ratio works best for you.

Tweaking DRAM Frequency

The BIOS is where you’ll find the DRAM frequency that your memory is currently set on. For instance, DDR3 RAM generally runs at 1,333 MHz. The BIOS will have either a volting or overclocking options screen, from where you should be able to ramp up the DRAM frequency. Do this at certain intervals; rebooting the PC and checking for stability before increasing it further.

In addition to using Memtest86+, you can also run a memory bandwidth test to see just how much of a difference you’ve made. Remember that you can only increase DRAM frequency up to a certain limit and in chunks. Normally you won’t be able to go higher than 2,133 MHz.

Tweaking BCLK

BCLK means Base Clock Speed. When you tweak your BCLK, you are overclocking not only your RAM but your CPU as well, so keep that in mind. This option allows you to make much smaller increments (even as small as 0.5) than the previous.

You can increase BCLK in the same BIOS menu you’ve been using for the last few options. For RAM, you can either overclock up to the current BCLK you’re using to overclock your CPU, or you can overclock to your system’s maximum BCLK.

The latter option is recommended if your RAM is currently running at a speed lower than the maximum BCLK, if you’re using a fixed processor multiplier (meaning that turbo boost is disabled), or if you haven’t tried lowering your CPU multiplier to achieve an overclock at the highest possible BCLK.

Reducing Latency

The last thing you can do in the BIOS settings is to reduce CAS Latency. CAS Latency is the time lapse between the CPU requesting information and the RAM providing it. By reducing CAS Latency in the BIOS DRAM Timings screen, you get a lower response time and hence a more efficient memory.

Using Software to Overclock RAM

While the BIOS tends to get the job done for most users, you can still use some additional software if that is what suits you better. Just like how Memtest86+ is used for stress testing, you can use external software for overclocking RAM. The most popular ones are:

CPU-Z

This is a free overclocking tool that has a memory tab to let you adjust DRAM frequency and timings, and an SPD tab to look at the timing tables and XMP settings that your BIOS uses.

XMP

XMP or Extreme Memory Profiles are Intel’s preset overclocking settings. These can be enabled using a utility or the motherboard’s firmware. Once enabled, XMP can automatically set the best possible DRAM voltage and latency.

Conclusion

It is true that there will be some minute changes present in how different RAMs perform after overclocking or how much you need to overclock in the first place. For example, Ryzen processors can be more sensitive to changed memory clock speeds than Intel ones. But using the above techniques should get the job done in general, regardless of whether you want to learn how to overclock DDR4 RAM for Ryzen processors or the Intel ones.

You may have heard people say that overclocking will destroy your system memory or corrupt your hard drive. But this is a mere myth. Overclocking your RAM will have far more pros than cons. If you do it properly and make sure to stress test before and after every change, everything will be fine.

Remember to always prioritize speed with stability. High clock speeds are worthless if your memory can’t function properly. All in all, you should definitely at least try overclocking before you decide to simply buy a new RAM.

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