Wondering what DOCP is and how it affects your computer’s RAM performance? We’re here to help!
The short answer is that DOCP stands for Direct Overclock Profile and is a function designed to overclock and calibrate high-performance RAM. For the most part, DOCP functions identically to the more popular XMP setting, but DOCP is only available on AMD platforms.
That’s the very oversimplified, in-a-nutshell answer, so don’t worry if you’re confused.
We’ve created this quick guide to give you everything you need to know about DOCP, how it affects your PC’s performance, when to use it, how to enable it, and how it compares to XMP.
P.S. – While you’re looking into RAM performance, check out our guide to whether or not RAM brand matters.
RAM is a crucial part of every computer, smartphone, tablet, game console, and just about any other electronic device you can imagine. It functions as temporary storage for instructions, files, and programs so CPUs can access them in a hurry, and it’s the reason you can run multiple programs at once, jump between open applications, and keep those internet tabs open until you get around to them.
Too little RAM makes it hard for computers to maintain steady framerates, run big programs, and deal with large files and projects, and the same is true of RAM that’s too slow to keep up with the rest of a computer’s components.
Fixing RAM-related problems isn’t always as simple as adding a couple more sticks to the motherboard, however.
Not all RAM is created equal. It comes in a variety of sizes and speeds, and its capabilities differ greatly even among RAM of the same generation. It’s pretty tough for motherboard manufacturers to keep track of the capabilities of every type of RAM on the market, however, so they’ve opted for a two-pronged strategy for dealing with the huge variety in RAM capabilities.
The first prong is easy: When you first install a stick of RAM in a motherboard, the motherboard will just assume the RAM runs at your system’s standard speeds as determined by the CPU. That works for RAM that runs at standard speeds, but it doesn’t work so well for overclockable RAM that are capable of hitting much higher speeds.
This leads us to the second prong, and the reason we’re all here: Direct Overclock Profiles, or DOCP.
What is DOCP?
You may notice that DOCP’s full name, Direct Overclock Profile, bears some similarity to XMP’s full name: Extreme Memory Profile. That’s because (as stated above) they’re essentially the same thing.
AMD developed DOCP as an alternative to Intel’s XMP, which may be a clue as to why DOCP functions almost identically to XMP. Both XMP and DOCP use built-in profiles to overclock and calibrate high-performance RAM, both of them are accessible via your computer’s BIOS, and there’s some confusion around whether either and/or both of them void your warranties.
While XMP is compatible with all Intel and many AMD motherboards, DOCP has only ever worked for AMD systems. DOCP has been falling in popularity for some time, and more and more new AMD motherboards are dropping it entirely in favor of XMP. It’s hard to say why XMP has beaten AMD’s DOCP on its own platform, but it likely came down to convenience.
Maybe manufacturers were just more familiar with XMP than DOCP, or maybe licensing XMP was cheaper than keeping DOCP up to date, or maybe someone at AMD just lost a bet. It’s anyone’s guess.
What is XMP?
Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) technology is the reason AMD’s DOCP technology exists. It came about long before AMD’s DOCP—the first XMP came out in 2007—and the licensing fees Intel charged for using XMP were high enough that AMD (and GIGABYTE) created their own versions of the technology for their own platforms.
AMD and GIGABYTE were successful in creating their own versions of XMP (DOCP and EOCP, respectively), but neither caught on to quite the same degree, and more and more modern AMD motherboards are adopting XMP in favor of DOCP.
XMP is essentially a software and a set of profiles that make it easy to overclock your RAM and/or get it to run at the speeds advertised on the box. Manufacturers build XMP profiles into their RAM that tells the motherboard and CPU how fast the RAM should run as well as all of its timings and other important factors.
The system in question receives the XMP profiles and, when XMP is enabled, automatically calibrates the RAM and the motherboard to run at the speeds specified in the profiles.
RAM kits usually come with two XMP profiles out of the box. The first one, Profile 1, typically loads up the RAM’s default XMP timings while keeping its other settings optimized for the motherboard in question.
This usually results in a very stable setup, though that stability can come at the expense of the RAM’s clock speed. Profile 2, on the other hand, usually bumps up the RAM’s speeds and timings to near or at the advertised rates, but maximizing the RAM’s performance may cause instabilities and require settings that aren’t optimized for the motherboard.
Keep in mind, if you’re running early-stage DDR5, stability could be a bit weirder for you.
It’s possible to overclock and calibrate your RAM manually, but XMP and its derivative programs make it much easier to optimize your RAM’s performance. It, DOCP, and GIGABYTE’s Extended Overclock Profiles (EOCP) all serve the same function: to take the guesswork out of configuring your RAM.
Without all of those individual functions, you’d have to tinker around with voltage levels and clock speeds while making sure your RAM stayed in sync with your CPU’s memory controller, and most people would prefer to do almost anything else with their time.
And since DOCP, XMP, and EOCP all deliver better, more precise results than manual tuning, there’s almost no reason not to use them (more on that later).
When To Enable DOCP or XMP
It’s usually a good idea to enable XMP or DOCP when you install overclockable RAM, and specifically when the RAM is capable of hitting speeds well above the industry’s standard. This is doubly true with RAM in a gaming computer
When gaming, RAM needs to work at its maximum capacity if you want to lessen loading times and maintain a high minimum frame rate, and many (if not most) RAM kits intended for gaming are designed to be ideal candidates for overclocking.
If you want to know if you should enable DOCP or XMP, all you have to do is open your computer’s Task Manager after you’ve installed your new RAM.
Just press Ctrl + Shift + Delete at the same time to open the Task Manager, click over to the Performance tab, then click Memory.
You’ll see a graph of your computer’s memory usage. Look to the bottom right of the graph. You should see a field labeled Speed with a number next to it. If that number is close to the speeds advertised on the box your RAM came in, great! You don’t need to do anything.
If not, however, you should probably enable XMP or DOCP.
How to Enable DOCP or XMP
The process for turning DOCP or XMP on and off is technical enough to be impressive but easy enough for most users to do. Just follow these steps (for both XMP and DOCP).
First, accessing the BIOS.
Accessing BIOS Method 1:
- Turn off the computer
- Turn the computer back on
- Press DELETE during start-up to access BIOS
- Accessing BIOS Method 2:
- Open Start menu and select Settings
- Select Update and Security
- Click Recovery
- Click Restart Now
- Look under Advanced Startup for a Restart Now button that lets you configure PC
- When PC boots back up click Troubleshoot
- Click Advanced Options
- Click UEFI Firmware Settings
- Confirm Restart
- PC will restart to BIOS
Enabling DOCP or XMP:
- Access your computer’s BIOS
- Enter BIOS Advanced Mode (Press F7 if you’re in EZ Mode)
- Click AI Tweaker
- Click AI Overclock Tuner
- Set it to:
- DOCP: Set it to DOCP / XMP: Set it to XMP 1
- Press F10
- Click OK to restart system
Some users recommend putting your computer through a stress test or two after you enable XMP or DOCP. This usually entails downloading some kind of software to put your PC through its paces, but you can probably achieve the same results by running a resource-intensive game or particularly demanding software.
Benefits of DOCP & XMP
Enabling DOCP or XMP will make your RAM run faster, though the benefits of boosting your RAM’s performance may not be immediately obvious.
Faster RAM means faster data transfers, which means your computer will perform better while multitasking and have an easier time tackling rendering and compiling tasks, but you’ll see the most obvious improvements while you game.
While you won’t see much higher maximum framerates after boosting your RAM’s performance, you will find that your computer can maintain a higher, more stable minimum framerate.
If that doesn’t sound like much of a benefit, try to think of it like this: A higher minimum framerate means your framerate won’t dip to the point of being choppy or stutter while you game, which can really save your butt during firefights or close races.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
Direct Overclock Profile (DOCP) is AMD’s version of Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) technology. Both technologies take the guesswork and tinkering out of overclocking your RAM, and you really need to use one or the other if you want your high-performance RAM to perform as advertised.
There’s all sorts of misunderstood RAM metrics such as DRAM frequency (we recently covered that in a guide) or RAM SPD (and we covered that in yet another guide). XMP/DOCP/EOCP profiles are just another piece of the puzzle.
All things said, setting up DOCP is easy and safe, and there’s very little reason not to give it a shot.