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DDR DRAM FAQs And Troubleshooting Guide

How Do I Overclock DRAM?

Overclocking DRAM is no different from doing so on a CPU or GPU. This is the approach I’ve found to be easiest for most people:

  1. Ensure you have the latest BIOS.
  2. Go to BIOS, and raise the data rate one level. If DRAM is at 1600 MT/s, bump it up to 1866. If it’s 1866, try 2133, etc.
  3. Raise the timings by 1-1-1-3. If the DRAM is 8-8-8-24, try 9-9-9-27. If the DRAM is 9-9-9-24, try 10-10-10-27.
  4. Raise the DRAM voltage and MC voltage +50mV (0.050V) each.
  5. Reboot, and if the boot succeeds, test for stability. Windows has a built-in memory stability tester, and many of our own overclockers use the mixed-mode “torture test” of Prime95.

If you have problems with the steps listed above, try increasing the MC voltage by another + 50mV (0.050V). Note: AMD CPUs might need even more MC voltage (normally the CPU/NB). Still not having success? Try overclocking the CPU slightly, if it can be overclocked. If not, try a slight increase in CPU voltage—about the same you tried with the DRAM and MC voltages (+0.050V).

(Editor's Note: The 1.65V DRAM limit for Intel CPUs isn't completely without merit. Many experienced overclockers have found that reducing the difference between the CPU MC and DRAM signal voltage can prolong the life of their overclocked processors, and have approached this theoretical limit from the other direction by increasing the memory controller voltage and DRAM voltage simultaneously. Recent testing of DDR4 memory controllers has also revealed several CPU samples that become less stable with memory pushed beyond 1.37V, where DDR4 starts off at 1.20V rather than 1.50V. The two points can that can be gleaned from this experience are that adding 50mV to 1.65V DDR3 or 1.35V DDR4 will likely not improve stability, and that doing so may shorten the life of the CPU. Because there are so many variables to play with, we recommend beginning overclockers consult several forum experts before exceeding 1.65V DDR3 or 1.35V DDR4 on Intel's current and previous two processor generations. Jim's advice remains valuable for these processors when applied to 1.50V DDR3 and 1.20V DDR4.)

These are rather simple approaches; if they don’t work, you can try contacting the manufacturer. However, you may not get the results you're looking for, as many manufacturers don't like it when you overclock their DRAM. Therefore, I also would suggest looking for help in the forums.

MORE: Best Memory
MORE: Memory in the Forums

Jim Reece is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Memory.

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