I know a lot of guys are getting a bit confused when it comes to understanding what DRAM frequency is and what it does. So, I decided to create this article and try to explain to you in simple terms what it is, if it is that important, and how to adjust it. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.
What is DRAM frequency?
DRAM, aka Dynamic Random Access Memory frequency, is your RAM’s data transfer rate on a single cycle (per second) measured in Megahertz (MHz). And while things look straightforward till now, the thing is that the DRAM frequency is not the same as the frequency of your RAM. It is actually about half of that.
To understand why this is the case, we first need to talk about DDR RAM technology.
DDR stands for Double Data Rate and is used in most computer systems today. This means that a DDR memory module can send/receive two data chunks every single cycle, hence doubling the DRAM frequency. But to achieve that, you need to use two RAM modules.
To make it even easier for you to understand, let me use an example. Let’s say you bought the G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB DDR4 RAM at 3200Mhz (2x8GB RAM modules). Someone that is not familiar with DDR technology might think that the DRAM frequency is 3200Mhz. However, it is actually 1600 MHz.
This happens because, with the DDR technology, both RAM modules can send/receive two data chunks per cycle, thus allowing the system to run at double the RAM speed, and although the DRAM frequency doesn’t change, the RAM frequency does. That is why it is called Double Data Rate technology.
So now that you understand what DRAM frequency is and how DDR RAM works, let’s see the DRAM frequencies of each RAM generation and then talk a bit about how the DRAM frequency affects you on a day-to-day basis.
DRAM Frequency For Different RAM Generations:
DDR1 – 200-400Mhz
DDR2 – 400-1066Mhz
DDR3 – 800 -2133Mhz
DDR4 – 1600 -5333Mhz
DDR5 – 3200 -6400Mhz
Related Article: How Long Does RAM Last? [Solved]
How do I know my system’s DRAM frequency?
While there are many ways you can check DRAM frequency, the easiest one is by using a free program called CPU-Z. CPU-Z is a free system information tool that allows you to check everything from the model of your CPU, GPU, RAM, and more (you can download it here).
Once you download and install it on your PC, simply launch it and go to the “Memory” tab. There you will see all the information about your memory modules, such as their DRAM frequency.
Related Article: Which RAM Slots To Use?[Solved]
Is DRAM Frequency important?
To be honest, everyday users (even when multitasking) won’t feel a difference by changing their DRAM frequency because the RAM storage (the GBs of your RAM) is far more important than the frequency.
However, depending on the use case, people who work with heavy applications such as video editing, 3D rendering, or heavy gaming and streaming can benefit from increased DRAM frequency.
With that being said, let’s examine some use cases and see how the DRAM frequency affects them.
Does DRAM Affect gaming performance?
I am pretty confident that the reason most of you are reading this article is that you want to know how DRAM frequency affects gaming.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer for that, as it really depends on the game you are playing because different gaming engines require different resources.
That said, if you are not playing top-notch games, then you will not feel a difference (something like a 1% increase in FPS) with just a DRAM upgrade.
But if you are playing a modern game at high settings, then you will feel a more significant improvement (up to 10%+ more FPS), and this difference can get even bigger when we are talking about different generations of RAM.
Just keep in mind that there are many other factors for gaming performance and not just DRAM frequency. Things like your GPU, CPU, RAM storage, etc., all play a role in gaming performance. To learn more about RAM and FPS, click here to read our complete guide.
How to change DRAM frequency?
Before talking about how to change the DRAM frequency of your system, I would like to advise you against it because it is risky, and you will need a lot of trial and error (meaning crashes and instability) till you find the sweet spot.
That being said, if you still want to change your DRAM frequency, then you need to go into the BIOS of your system and look for settings related to RAM.
For example, in most motherboards these days, all the memory-related settings are under a section called “Memory”. There you will find settings related to DRAM frequency and other stuff like timings.
Keep in mind that if you don’t know what you are doing, you are advised not to mess with these settings and leave them as they are. Also, make sure to read your motherboard’s manual before trying to change any of the memory-related settings.
Related Article: What Ram Is Compatible With My Motherboard?
Enable XMP setting
Depending on the type of RAM you have and the motherboard you use, you might have access to Intel’s XMP technology. In a nutshell, XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) is a technology that allows motherboards to detect and enable factory pre-programmed memory overclocking settings automatically.
This is way safest than changing the DRAM frequency yourself, as the RAM has been tested and certified for these settings by the manufacturer.
To enable XMP, all you have to do is go into your BIOS settings and look for the XMP profile settings. Usually, there are two profiles, one with stock settings and another profile with overclocking settings.
Just select the XMP profile that you want to use and save your changes, then reboot your system. Now your RAM should be running at the factory pre-programmed frequency.
But again, before even doing that, make sure that the rest of your system is compatible with the new settings and that you are not voiding any warranties.
What DRAM Frequency Should Be Set To?
Unless you are a hardcore system builder that knows all the ins and outs of PC hardware, it is always advised to leave your RAM settings at their default values.
The performance results of overclocking RAM are not that great, and when compared to the risks of instability, it is just not worth the effort.
If you are still convinced that overclocking RAM will give you an advantage, then your best option is to use Intel’s XMP technology, as mentioned before. That way, you can be sure that the RAM is running at its factory pre-programmed frequency and that it is not too far away from what the manufacturer intends.
What is the DRAM frequency for DDR4?
DDR4 frequency ranges between 800MHz and 1600 MHz, so depending on your RAM model, your DRAM frequency could be anywhere in that range.
Is it safe to increase DRAM frequency?
No increasing DRAM frequency is risky and should only be done by experienced system builders. If you are determined, then your best bet is to use Intel’s XMP technology, as it ensures that the RAM is running at its factory pre-programmed frequency.
Does DRAM frequency affect FPS?
Yes, DRAM frequency does affect FPS, but it is only one of the many factors that play a role in your gaming performance. Other components, like your GPU and CPU, can affect your FPS much more significantly.
By now, you have learned everything about DRAM, from what it is, to how it affects your system performance, depending on how you use it.
At the end of the day, it is always best to leave your RAM settings at their default values. Overclocking RAM can result in instability and crushes, so unless you really know what you are doing, it is better to stay away from overclocking your RAM.
Nick Ryley is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love for playing games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings, and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building