Trials and Tribulations of a new overclocker, what's up with my RAM?

I recently purchased a new system to play some modern games, but am having problems with overclocking and/or getting my ram to show it's full potential. I'm interested in getting into/learning more about overclocking but it looks like I'm missing some basic factor. I've been perusing these forums for a month or two (for purchase decisions and to learn), but don't know the answers yet to the questions below.

System specs:
MB: ASUS Crosshair III
CPU: Phenom II X3 720 (board allowed unlocked 4th core)
RAM: Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

After getting the system setup the first time, I attempted to unlock the 4th core. Success! yay.
I have in my head that this is nice, but might not be ideal. There is the chance that even though the 4th core is unlocked, it might truly be due to the fact that it didn't perform well (vs meeting marketing demands for the X3 slot).

So, after unlocking, I played with a few settings. This motherboard can take the 2.8GHz CPU up to 3.0, 3.2, and 3.4 with a simple BIOS change and other items being set to 'Auto'. Kind of a nice feature. I found out that my system will be fine at 3.2, but fails to boot sometimes at 3.4

Question #1: If I locked down the 4th core, and reverted to 3 cores, there might be a great chance to stay stable at 3.4, correct? (and fix the other problems below?)

I then noticed that when I change my BIOS CPU frequency from 2.8 to the other settings, the RAM frequency options would change, which I guess, would be expected (told you, I'm new at this). So then, I tried setting my RAM to tons of various frequencies between 1000 and 1600 (pending the CPU speed). However, I could never get my RAM to show an active value over 800MHz. I have been using AMD Overdrive, and CPU-Z to analyze. Both are showing the same thing (no values over 800, even though target values are show as what I set them in the BIOS, such as 1417, etc)

I think I'm familiar with some RAM basics. I've tried the Auto settings and manually setting values accordingly to the RAM specs. The RAM specs from Partiot are listed as 7-7-7-20 at 1.9V. So the MB, out of the box set to 'Auto' for RAM functions, set the RAM at something like 9-9-9-20 or 9-9-9-24, and ran it at 1.6V or so, or something similar. So, I manually changed it to 7-7-7-20 and 1.9V as spec'd by Patriot. I still can't see anything above 800MHz. Another note from my ASUS mother board is that it shows support for 1333 RAM w/o an asterick, and 1600 RAM with an asterick (meaning I have to set 1600 in the BIOS, at least that's the impression I'm under). ASUS also shows support for this specific model of RAM from their website. Memtest is also showing no errors on the RAM, after running for many hours.

Question Set #2: What would cause my RAM to only show 800MHz, no matter what target setting I set in the BIOS? I assume I have to fool around with RAM timings or I'm missing something major, or I've got bad RAM. The RAM is sold and spec'd at 1600MHz / 7-7-7-20 at 1.9V. Do I have top play with stuff like 1T/2T or something else to get it to run at 7-7-7-20 vs 9-9-9-X?

Question Set #3: Would 'ASUS Cool and Quiet' affect RAM too? I've noticed my CPU toggle between 2.8 and 900MHz or so, assuming that this was due to non system demand with C&Q was engaged. So, I'm under the impression it does affect my CPU (which is what it's supposed to do). However, I haven't seen my RAM ever toggle of show a number above 800MHz yet. Is there a chance I just haven't seen it because I'm always viewing RAM specs with minimal system load? So, is the chance that 'ASUS C&Q' would affect all system speeds independently, pending system load?

I'd love to have the time to do all this playing around on my own, but my time is limited, so, I thought I'd post here vs uninstalling C&Q and locked my 4th core again. I'd love to play around with 300 permutations of settings, but thought maybe some knowledge from the community would save a bit of time, and get me over a learning curve hump, or help me with some basic principle or fact that I'm missing?

Answers or insight to any or all of these questions would be highly appreciated!
If you have the answer to only one or some of the questions, just quote and respond to one of them.
A new PC component purchaser :)
5 answers Last reply
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  1. When overclocking, you need to remove all auto settings, and lock them in. Auto allows the motherboard to change settings on the fly as it feels it needs to. This is MOST important when it comes to your memory timings and ratios, as well as your CPU voltage.

    If your memory timings and ratios are not taken off auto, they will fluctuate, and this variance can easily throw your stability off (could be a reason why 3.4 is somethings stable, sometimes not). The first step in any efficient and stable OC is to make sure your memory settings are reliable.

    Auto CPU voltage, almost always, is higher than what is actually needed for stability. This creates extra heat and ages your CPU faster than it might if locked in at a lower rate.

    Test all changes in settings for stabiliy before advancing your Overclock, and keep your steps forward small. The most reliable OC will be the one you build brick by brick.
  2. more insight to my issue... I have run the RAM with manual settings of 7-7-7-20 with 1.9V, with memtest, and they show up as stable for the handful of hours I have run memtest. My BIOS allows settings for about 10-12 RAM settings. How would I know what the heck to set all 12 settings to? I'm only familiar with the basic 4 and voltage. I've also read on many post that my 800MHz is what I would expect to see. (it's half of 1600MHz, so there's some type of doubling or halfing concept going on with DDR2 and DDR3 ram, but I'm not sure if this is nonsense or true)
    Thanks for more feeback.
  3. Is this as simple as 800MHz with DDR (Double Data Rate) Ram is 1600MHz? If so, should CPU-Z show 800MHz or 1600MHz? I'm guessing 800MHz.
  4. You could supply some cpu-z screenshots, of your cpu, mem , tabs.
    You could take a photo of your bios page , that you have questions on.
    Setting mem voltage does just that.
    Setting mem timings, the latencies , cas X,X,X, XX is its own idependent setting.
    Then there is ram speed, 800, 1333, 1600 -
    Do you have AMD's windows o/c, monitoring, tweaking program ? Overdrive
    They have a guide that will explain a lot of what you ask, and related settings. UNLEASH THE DRAGON
    There is also videos at that link.
  5. sparkles said:
    Is this as simple as 800MHz with DDR (Double Data Rate) Ram is 1600MHz? If so, should CPU-Z show 800MHz or 1600MHz? I'm guessing 800MHz.

    Ya from my read on the subject, it's as easy as that. CPU-Z will show 800MHz for 1600MHz. sticks.
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