Is Overclocking RAM Worth It?

Overclocking can seem daunting especially if you’re a beginner to PC building, but overclocking doesn’t have to be scary, and it’s actually pretty safe. Nowadays, overclocking has been streamlined, so what used to be a pretty tedious task is now easy with software such as MSI Afterburner and certain motherboard BIOS.

The RAM clock speed refers to how many clock cycles the RAM modules can complete per second, so if the RAM clock speed is 3200MHz, it will cycle 3.2 billion times a second. Just like the CPU, the RAM clock speed can be modified to a much faster speed, you can either do it automatically via XMP or manually.

Answer: RAM overclocking can be worth it if you’ve purchased XMP RAM, this is because it increases the voltages and clock speeds to safe limits verified by the manufacturer. On top of that, this can all happen with a press of one button depending on the motherboard. Manually overclocking without XMP may degrade the lifespan of RAM which is bad.

Overclocking RAM Can Be Pretty Safe

Overclocking doesn’t have to be dangerous, especially if you know what you’re doing with the voltage values and the clock speeds. When overclocking RAM, if you’ve purchased XMP RAM, then the memory modules will automatically overclock to the XMP profile saved on the memory chip. This happens automatically and it applies voltage values which are pretty safe, while default DDR4 runs at 1.2v, XMP will run at 1.35v.

If you’re manually overclocking, this process will not happen automatically, so you will have to manually find the stable clock speed and supplement enough voltage to keep the system stable. When overclocking manually, it can degrade the lifespan of the memory modules if you apply too much voltage. We recommend not going above 1.4v as this can potentially damage your RAM modules at a fast pace.

Keep in mind, non-XMP memory modules are overclockable, but you will be applying voltages that are not rated for those memory modules, therefore this can be detrimental. Also, XMP memory modules often have heatsinks to dissipate heat, this can help with the overclocks. If you’re overclocking memory, just ensure that it has enough airflow to help cool the memory modules.

RAM Overclocking Can Result In More FPS

Overclocking the RAM will increase performance across the board, but in games, it can result in higher frame rates which are sought after by gamers. If this FPS increase can be applied as easily as pressing one button, you most definitely should do it, this is why many gamers go with high-speed XMP memory modules. Faster memory eases the bottleneck it has on the CPU allowing your graphics card to work harder.

When purchasing RAM, the capacity is the most important specification you should focus on, and a close second is the memory clock speed, this is because faster RAM will have wider bandwidth compared to slower memory. So, if you’re stuck between a 3000MHz CL14 RAM kit and a 3200MHz CL16 RAM kit, the faster RAM module will produce better results.

In games, depending on the clock speed increase, you can expect a 5-10 difference in average FPS. The reason why RAM influences the FPS is because the CPU relies on the RAM and the GPU relies on the CPU. So if the RAM is limiting the CPU due to RAM speeds, an overclock can result in higher frame rates, this is also game dependent.

RAM Overclocking Can Be Really Easy

Activating XMP profiles can be pretty easy, it is usually a press of one button and it’s activated, this means you do not need to worry about modifying voltages. If you’re not fond of manually overclocking and potentially putting your components at risk, buying RAM modules rated for a specific speed such as 3200MHz would be a good idea.

Motherboard manufacturers have made activating XMP pretty easy through the BIOS, you can find that with MSI motherboards, the process is quite simple. This is thanks to the easy-to-understand BIOS interface, anyone new to the interface will quickly grasp where and how to use certain settings within the BIOS. Through the motherboard, you should be able to modify the memory timings to optimize the latency, this can be easy through the presets they offer.

Even manually overclocking with certain motherboards can be pretty easy, some motherboards will have presets you can use to assign to the RAM modules. This is similar to how XMP overclocking works, but the motherboard will provide presets with certain clock speed and voltage values. Still, you must be wary of these settings if they’re not rated for your memory modules.

Overclocking RAM Is Worth It For AMD CPUs

Ryzen processors will actually react better to higher RAM speeds compared to Intel processors, this means you will get more performance out of your high-speed RAM with an Intel CPU. So, if you’re Ryzen based, overclocking your RAM can result in huge performance gains compared to if you were to overclock with an Intel-based CPU.

So, overclocking RAM is definitely worth it, and more so with a Ryzen based system, you may experience huge FPS gains if you’re on a Ryzen system. The reason why Ryzen based CPUs are more sensitive to RAM clock speeds is because of something called Infinity Fabric. Infinity Fabric is a communication system that allows inter-chip connection, and the RAM speed is tied to Infinity fabric.

Your infinity fabric clock speed (FCLK) by default will be the same as your memory clock speed, so the ratio with FCLK and MCLK(Memory Clock) should be 1:1. In some scenarios, you will actually want your FCLK to be higher than your MCLK when at low frequencies, this can result in up to a 5% increase in performance. Past a certain clock speed, you will actually want your MCLK and FCLK to match, this usually depends on how far your processor can push its FCLK. Check the video below for more information.

Conclusion

The verdict is overclocking your RAM is a pretty easy way to get more performance out of your processor if it has an XMP profile. Overclocking your RAM can result in higher frame rates in many games which many gamers would appreciate. If you’re going to be manually overclocking your memory, just ensure you don’t go past 1.4v as that can be detrimental to the memory modules.

If you’re with Ryzen, you may notice that your CPU is more sensitive to how fast your memory is, this has to do with Infinity fabric which is a bus that allows the cores to communicate with each other. Most of the time, you will want the infinity fabric clock speed to be higher than the memory clock speed, but this changes at a certain level, and you will want them to match in terms of clock speeds.