Most people think about CPUs and GPUs when they hear the term overclocking.
Honestly, it does not come as a surprise. Overclocking your CPU or GPU is, in most cases, the best way to boost performance. However, it does not mean you have to ignore something like RAM overclocking.
If you ask us, overclocking RAM is an effective way to speed up your computer – at a level comparable to CPU/GPU overclocking. But it is not as popular as the other two options.
Truth be told, though, you should not forget RAM overclocking if you want to build one of the fastest gaming/editing/content creation PCs out there. And the best part? You do not have to be a geek to do this.
On the contrary to popular opinion, you can overclock RAM in just a few steps. It is just that you should know the impact of overclocked RAM modules on your system, its performance, and its longevity.
In this comprehensive guide to RAM overclocking, we have talked about everything you need to know. First, we will understand what overclocking means and then explore how to do it and its impact on your PC health and other aspects. Shall we start?
What Is Overclocking?
Overclocking refers to the process of pushing a device to its highest possible speed. We will consider a CPU with a base clock speed of 3.5GHz, for example.
Even though it may be clocked at the 3.5GHz speed at the time of manufacture – considering power consumption, battery usage, etc. – the CPU may have the highest possible speed of 5GHz. In this case, the overclocking process means running the CPU at a 5GHz speed.
Like this, GPUs and other electronic components can be pushed to their maximum capacity.
While most makers disable the option for overclocking their processors, you can get product variants made for overclocking. For instance, a series of CPUs from both Intel and AMD is known for their overclocking ability.
As a result, you can run these processors at a superior speed if you want to. And an overclocked processor may come in handy when you want to enjoy high-FPS gameplay or stutter-free rendering. In the same way that you can overclock a GPU or a CPU, overclocking the RAM module(s) is also possible.
As you know, RAM modules also have different speeds. However, their clock speeds are measured in MHz, not GHz. So, depending on the type of RAM, you can find RAM modules with clock speeds as low as 1333MHz or 3600MHz. It all depends on how much you can spend on the RAM module and the technologies supported by the motherboard.
Here is the thing, though. Sometimes, even though a RAM module can run at a higher speed, manufacturers will set it up to run at a slower speed.
It is done for the sake of power consumption control and the potential longevity of the product. However, it does not look so impressive from a performance standpoint.
And it is when RAM overclocking becomes very effective. Overclocking the RAM module will allow you to run it at the highest possible speed.
Even though there are a few variables, a higher RAM speed refers to better PC performance. So, if you want to get the best possible speed from your system, overclocking the RAM and CPU/GPU will amplify the impact.
What Does Overclocking Do?
Overclocking does not do anything extraordinary, to be honest.
Simply put, the process of overclocking makes sure that a piece of hardware is performing at best possible speeds. In GPUs, CPUs, and RAM modules, this speed is measured in terms of the clock speed.
So, when you overclock one of these devices, they will run at the maximum speed, not the speed recommended by the manufacturer.
As we said, not all makers support overclocking their products, at least not when it comes to all products. So instead, you can find CPUs, GPUs, and RAM modules that are designed for overclocking.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the spectrum, some manufacturers disable/discourage overclocking.
As a result, you may not get the warranty benefits if you overclock these CPU/GPU/RAM products. However, you can avoid this issue by choosing one of the memory kits for overclocking and performance-focused speed.
In short, overclocking pushes every piece of tech into the edge. There could be many consequences to overclocking the components, but you always have a way out to avoid these issues.
We will recommend a few ways to overclock your RAM without any problems in the next part of the article. Now, we will look at the steps you need to follow to overclock RAM on your computer.
How to Overclock RAM?
Unfortunately, there is not a universal solution that works on all RAM modules. It happens because the step-by-step process would depend on the other components you use in the PC.
For instance, the most reliable way to overclock RAM is via the BIOS settings. And the BIOS interface would look different based on who makes the motherboard. You may also have to update the BIOS software to a new version if the current version does not support RAM overclocking.
Even when we keep these aside, you have to ensure a few things before you overclock RAM:
First, you need to understand the maximum speed of the RAM module. If you know the serial number or product identifier, you can check the details through the official website. If you are not sure, you can use a utility called CPU-Z. This system-information utility will provide sufficient information about your RAM, CPU, motherboard, graphics, etc. You can find all the information in the Memory tab. So, you have to make sure that the RAM module supports the speed you want to overclock it to.
Second, you should see if the manufacturer of the RAM module supports overclocking. Sometimes, overclocking is banned by the maker to keep the product working. It means the product might not survive overclocked performance. If you are willing to take this risk, everything is fine. On the other hand, if you do not want to ruin your warranty benefits, you should confirm whether overclocking is allowed by the maker.
Once you have confirmed that your RAM module supports overclocking and do not mind the warranty-related problems (if any), you can proceed with the steps.
If you use an ASUS motherboard for your PC, you can follow these steps to overclock RAM.
Reboot your computer and load the BIOS interface
Given that you have an updated motherboard, you will see an option for Tweaking
Select that option and choose Overclocking from the submenu if applicable
Slow down until you see an option called DRAM frequency
You can select the highest possible speed from the drop-down menu
Once you have finished, you can save the settings and reboot the system
Now, you can use a system-information tool to ensure that your RAM module is running at the increased clock speed. Please keep in mind that not all ASUS motherboards may have RAM overclocking feature. If the motherboard does not have an option, it simply means you cannot overclock RAM.
On the other hand, you have to follow these different steps if you have an MSI motherboard.
Like we did earlier, you have to load the bios INTERFACE
You have to find the Overclocking menu from the available options.
The motherboard may already have enabled XMP, which is an automatic overclocking system
Disable the XMP system so that you can control everything manually
Now, look for an option called ‘Adjust DRAM Frequency.’
You can save the settings and reboot the PC.
If you check back with the information tools, you can see that the RAM is running at higher speeds.
So, these are the most effective ways to overclock RAM on a PC with ASUS/MSI motherboard. If you have a motherboard from another manufacturer, you should check the official sources to understand the steps for RAM overclocking.
In most cases, you can find a Customization tab on the BIOS settings. However, in some rare cases, your system drivers may allow you to change the RAM frequency without entering the BIOS menu.
But, it is an exception, not a rule. Therefore, if you want to get the best out of your PC’s RAM, you must be ready to reach as far as BIOS.
Does Overclocking Damage RAM?
Damage is not the right word to use in this context. Overclocking your PC’s RAM would not destroy the RAM module out of the box.
Therefore, you still will be able to use the product for a considerable amount of time. However, running a RAM module at a medium speed is different from running it at the highest possible speed.
So, if your RAM stick was supposed to run for 5+ years under normal circumstances, the number may drop to 3 or 4 years when you overclock the product.
So, ultimately, it becomes a choice between the performance and longevity of the product. On the same note, you will not want to stick to five years on a RAM module if you require top-notch performance.
Long story short, overclocking RAM may reduce its life. However, it should not be a reason not to prioritize performance over longevity. On the contrary, it becomes imperative when you have an overclocked CPU and GPU on the system. In that case, running the RAM at a slower speed can deteriorate the performance of the entire PC.
We believe you do not want that after spending a considerable amount of money on expensive CPUs and GPUs.
Therefore, damage to the hardware module should be the least of your worries when you decide to overclock the RAM. However, here are a few things you should care about instead.
You have to make sure that you are pushing the clock speed of the RAM module for good. For every piece of hardware, you can find a saturation point. Moving the frequencies beyond this point is not going to impact the real-world performance. Therefore, you should always check if the real-world speed improves after incremental updates to the RAM’s clock speed.
Like every other PC component, RAM modules will also generate a considerable amount of heat when working on the edge. So, you have to make sure that the existing cooling system inside the PC can take care of this excess heat. If that is not the case, you will have to set up an extra PC fan or cooling water block.
You should also ensure that you are using a RAM module with a lower Clock Latency. You may find a lot of RAM modules with higher clock speeds of 3600MHz or beyond. However, if the CL and timings cannot match this speed, you cannot see any noteworthy performance improvement. More so, it will also be a great idea to get the RAM module from one of the reliable brands.
Even when you follow these steps, you should be ready for some consequences.
For instance, running the RAM module at a higher clock speed will increase the power consumption. It may not be noticeable when getting started, but you will find things hard if you keep running the system for many hours per day.
How Faster Can a Computer Get with RAM Overclocking?
As you can guess, the answer to this question is a little complex.
We must understand that RAM overclocking is a sure-shot way to double the speed of your PC. But, instead, it works along with other components of your PC, especially the CPU and GPU. Let us consider an example to get a better understanding.
Suppose you have a PC running one of the performance-focused CPUs from AMD Ryzen. You have also used a super-fast SSD and gaming-grade GPU from NVIDIA.
However, you are using the DDR4-3600MHz RAM at a basic speed of only 1333Hz. In this case, overclocking the RAM module to its highest speed of 3600MHz will considerably change the speed.
On the other hand, if you have a not-so-powerful GPU and CPU, you may not find noticeable changes in the overall speed.
As you can see, there are a few things to know about overclocking RAM on any device.
But it is no Rocket Science. For one, you can rely on this guide to understand how you can get started with overclocking the RAM module on your PC.
Martha Davis is a computer hardware specialist who works extensively in designing and manufacturing hardware devices, researching advanced computer technology. She built GadgetGangster.com as a platform to share her insight on computers and PC assembly with the web. Currently, she is carrying out her research on Robotics and Computer Vision and working privately to deliver services. Martha makes sure that readers of GadgetGangster.com master the basics of setting up computer components like motherboard, CPUs, and GPUs through the informative articles that she writes.