Advanced Users: Manual Memory Overclocking

Advanced overclock might be looking for even more detailed control, beyond Intel® XMP and Advanced Memory Profiles. If so, making the changes manually might be the best path forward. Keep in mind that this can be time-consuming. It’s not uncommon for even experienced memory overclock to spend hours for what is ultimately a small increase in performance. That said, this method allows the most precise control over your overclock, which is ideal for some users.

Random Access Memory

The fundamental principle behind:

Manually overclocking RAM is fairly straightforward, and is similar to the process for overclocking a CPU. It involves carefully adjusting settings such as memory timings from the BIOS in order to find a combination that results in faster speeds, testing to see if the process was successful, and then trying again until you achieve the ideal balance of maximum stable frequency with the tightest timings.

When adjusting RAM frequencies, voltage, and timings in order to find the right balance for your hardware, you’ll want to keep the following things in mind:

  • To stabilize higher frequencies, you’ll want to increase (loosen) the timings. This may require increasing voltage as well.
  • In order to increase performance when the current frequency is stable, you should reduce (tighten) the timings.
  • If you are going for tighter timings, be sure to proceed methodically. With most motherboards, there are a wide array of timings that can be changed through the BIOS.
  • Many BIOS utilities display the default timings. For instance, if your memory uses 15-15-36, you might want to try changing it to 14-14-34 as a first step.
  • After experimenting with the memory timings, you might need to modify the memory input voltage. As with CPU overclocking, increasing the input voltage of a component will result in higher energy consumption and greater heat output.
  • Memory voltage is a key ingredient to achieving a stable overclock. In a standard memory overclocking use case, consider 1.5V as a maximum, but aim for lower whenever possible. Be conservative with voltage changes, and keep them as low as possible when testing.
  • Some motherboards do not support high-memory voltages, and consequently will not boot when you push the voltage too high. Try a lower voltage.
  • When overclocking RAM, there is often a ceiling at which point pushing things higher will not yield additional performance gains. Once a certain frequency is achieved, further increases may not yield better performance because the motherboard automatically adjusts timings to keep the system stable. If you’re finding that you aren’t gaining additional performance after continued adjustment, it’s possible that you’ve reached the limits of what’s capable with your hardware.
  • It might take a fair amount of experimentation until you find the right combination of frequencies, voltages, and timings for your hardware.
  • Make small, incremental changes to any settings, and test for stability between each attempt.

When you have modified the settings:

Combination you believe might be successful, reboot back into Windows, and test by using a benchmark utility to verify stability and performance gains. If you want to keep trying for better performance, head back to BIOS and continue the testing process. Save your settings each time you find a combination that results in a successful boot and overclock, even if you want to keep trying for better performance.

It’s possible that many of your attempts will not be successful, and any changes you make will be lost after a failed trial. Making sure you save as frequently as possible will save you time, and keep you from having to start over with every new attempt.

System Stability:

If your system doesn’t boot after applying new settings:

  1. Try slightly increasing the memory voltage, and the IMC voltage, to allow for higher frequencies. Be cautious when pushing voltages higher. Do so in small increments, and heed any warnings provided by your motherboard.
  2. Decrease the frequency to a lower level, and try again.
  3. Change your timings. Some combinations of frequency and timings won’t work. The only way to find out is to continue testing until you are successful.