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DRAM Frequency: Everything You Need to Know

Wondering what exactly DRAM frequency is, how it affects your PC, or how to change it? You’re in the right place!

Put simply, DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) frequency is the percentage of data being transferred per-second on a data line. The actual measurement is about half of your RAM speed and can be adjusted up or down, depending on your PC’s needs. It’s important to note that DRAM adjustment can be risky.

RAM is one of the most important parts of your PC and it dictates so many things, from the amount of slowdown you face during gaming sessions to the number of programs your system can handle at one time.

This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about DRAM frequency, why it matters, if it’s worth it to alter it, and how to optimally set it for your PC.

Note: Be careful not to confuse DRAM with VRAM (we have a guide to VRAM too). They are very different things.

Intro

So, you have these great pieces of equipment and you fire up the hot new game that’s out and despite the amazing graphics card and monitor, it’s not running all that well at all. So, what’s happening here?

The answer is your RAM is not up to snuff. While you may be familiar with the different kinds of RAM available in the 4X8 sticks and whatnot, you may not realize the thing that powers them: DRAM.

What is DRAM Frequency?

DRAM frequency refers to the amount of percentage bits that are being transferred per second on a particular data line. DRAM frequency ends up being about half the amount of speed of your actual RAM speed. This amount makes sure the data information is getting transferred at twice the speed.

You might be wondering why DRAM frequency is only half as much as your RAM frequency then. The reason for this is DDR or dual data rate.

In many digital electronics, the data transfers are synchronized to this clock. For example, if a CPU has 5 GHz, the clock is then 5 GHz as well. With DDR, you get the data transferred twice per cycle instead of once. Because of this, you get double the frequency.

DRAM is also not the same as your RAM’s SPD Speed or Tested Speed.

How to Change DRAM Frequency

PC BIOS

Generally, when you purchase a motherboard, you will find a manual how to manipulate certain points within it. One of these parts that can be changed around is DRAM frequency.

Since motherboards are all different and require different processes for adjusting DRAM, we’ll avoid that route in favor of a more consistent one.

In lieu of using potential fickle motherboard’s settings, we are going to change the settings within the BIOS.

How to Change DRAM Frequency in Your PC’s BIOS

  1. Restart your system and while it is booting up, hit the Delete Key repeatedly. This will bring up the BIOS menu.
  2. From here, click the OC button.
  3. After you do this, scroll down to Extreme Memory Profile settings. It’s here you can see the different profiles available. You can change the settings here and save them to one profile, or you can use whichever available profile that looks to be the frequency you desire.
  4. Once you have your preferred settings, save and exit the BIOS menu. After you start your computer up again, you can use various programs to figure out if your changes have taken effect or not.

How to Check DRAM Frequency

There are a variety of different programs available that will tell you all kinds of information about your PC. The most trustworthy and easiest to use though is CPU-z.

How to Check DRAM Frequency with CPU-z

  1. Download CPU-z. (Here’s a link to the download)
  2. Start it up and you will see the main menu with tabs reading CPU, Caches, Mainboard, Memory, SPD, Graphics, Bench, and About.
  3. From here, go to the Memory tab and you will see a table called Timings. At the top of the Timings box is DRAM Frequency.

Note: If you have happened to check this using the Task Manager as is possible, you will now see half whatever that number was as the DRAM frequency. This makes this tool essential when altering things in the BIOS as you can use it check the new effects of your BIOS changes of any kind. It also allows you to benchmark your system to see if it can handle the changes you’ve made to the DRAM frequency.

What DRAM Frequency Be Set To?

Once you’ve run your benchmarks a few times, you will likely know if your system can handle this change or not. If all is well after the benchmark, then carry on with your new and faster setup.

If there are issues though, changes need to be made, but what number should you set DRAM to then? How can you know where to go back to?

If problems occur, you should change the DRAM back to 1333 MHz and make sure the default voltage is at 1.5V. Some people across the internet will say that running your DRAM at 1600 MHz is the right move, but there are certainly very little benefits compared to the possible risks.

If you follow the above guidelines, you should solve 99% of potential problems here.

Is Changing DRAM Frequency Worth It?

As a rule of thumb, DRAM frequency should almost always be left alone. The factory settings are usually enough for whatever performance level you require. If you do decide to change things up, you may get a marginal performance increase, but the damage risk is real.

There is always a chance something can go wrong and, when that happens, you’re out of luck as you’ll likely have voided any warrant you might have had.

How to Overclock RAM

RGB RAM Inside Gaming PC Case

Every PC has wandered into the world of overclocking at one point or another, but few go there realizing the impact it can have on your RAM and DRAM frequency. RAM overclocking works a little bit different than GPU or CPU overclocking.

By raising the frequency of you RAM, you will execute data transfers faster and that generally leads to faster processes. That’s not the case with RAM though, as lower numbers are better. This is because that frequency measurement refers to the time between operations. The less time between processes, the faster it will work.

With RAM, you have to consider both the frequency and timings. You ideally want a high frequency with low timing. These come together to determine what the performance of your computer will ultimately be.

If you raise a frequency too high, the stability will be uncertain. The same goes if you lower your timing as well, as a very small timing number will require a lot of power to maintain processes efficiently.

So, how do we make sure we don’t over do things and do any damage?

How to Safely Overclock RAM

  1. First off, benchmark to check your system’s current capabilities. It’s here you can see how much more performance you might desire in number form.
  2. Once you have the baseline for where you performance is, then you can start altering things.
  3. Back in BIOS menu, you will find the Overclock menu.
  4. Increase your RAM incrementally. This will change depending on what you have installed in your system.
  5. Once the frequency is raised, you can slowly lower the timing as well. When you’ve got your desired changes, save the profile and exit the BIOS.
  6. Once you see the slight performance increase in the benchmark, then you can go back in to tweak things some more.

These minor changes are meant for very gradual benchmarking, so don’t expect much from each small adjustment. It will likely take a few cycles of the above steps before anything noticeable happens.

Important: It isn’t advisable that you change the voltage at any time, though it can give you more performance boosts while also providing your more power for a more stable experience.

Final Recommendations

There seems to be an endless amount of PC processes that run unsung in the background.

For power users and gamers, RAM is definitely a best friend and it’s always worth checking to see how much your system has and what the DRAM frequency is.

If things seem to be running slower than usual on your system, a number of things could be wrong and DRAM being set too low might very well be one of them. It is rare that this is the case, but sometimes an increase in DRAM can greatly change the performance of your PC.

As with all altering of computer devices though, you need to take caution because changing things too much can result in systems failing. You must be careful when changing DRAM and you need to benchmark constantly to make sure your PC isn’t being overworked.

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