In the previous three overclocking guide articles, we’ve gone through some points that need to be paid attention to, including the selection, installation and BIOS settings of the RAM memory. The last guide here is to show you the real-world operation, some potential overclocking failures, and corresponding solutions.

This article not only focuses on how to operate memory overclocking, but also shows how to measure the performance. In addition, we will share with you the difference between memory speed, related parameters and the real-world performance. We can further understand how to improve the overall performance by overclocking the memory and selecting the correct frequency. Of course, with a good motherboard, the potential in the memory could be provoked more easily. Thus it’s time to get one if you’re seeking outstanding performance.


RAM Overclocking Tutorial

Basically this is like the Guide III - "BIOS settings". Enter BIOS interface to fine-tune the memory-related parameters; users can simply follow the priority as, 1. The clock speed (frequency) 2. Voltage 3. CL value. The other items can be adjusted further if you are familiar with.

Generally speaking, when the memory is inserted for the first time, the motherboard will read and load the settings by itself if the memory supports XMP function and the function is enabled. If the motherboard/memory does not support XMP, don’t worry, it will basically operate at the marked default frequency. If it does not boot, it may be caused by compatibility issues. You can find reach out to memory/motherboard manufacturer and report the problem. It’s recommended that you check the memory before use, like, what default configurations are marked on the packaging, so you have the reference for further adjustment.

Then, when do you need to manually adjust the parameters? The answer is,
A) You want a higher frequency or finer CL parameter adjustment than the preset values.
B) XMP does not work properly, and you want to try adjusting the parameters manually to see if it can work.

The memory parameters are typically listed on the product packaging or on the official website. It is recommended to input the default parameters accordingly before overclocking, so as to make sure the officially-claimed performance can be achieved.

After ensuring the memory can work with the default values, we can enter the BIOS interface again for more challenges.
At the beginning, users can fine-tune the "clock" with the other parameters remain unchanged, but it is not recommended to adjust too much at once. It should be increased little by little, and repeat attempts until the motherboard fails to boot. The debug light on the motherboard will stop at DRAM, or an error message appears, indicating Memory Overclock Failure.

Almost all motherboards nowadays are equipped with debugging LED lights. If you find that the screen does not light up and the "DRAM" indicator on the motherboard keeps on, it means that the memory configurations are incorrect, and you need to reset the BIOS.

When the PC fail to boot with only the frequency raised, users can try to slightly adjust the voltage as well, slowly increasing by 0.5V each time. If the voltage reaches 1.35V and still cannot successfully reach the specified clock, you need to consider whether to keep increasing the voltage or instead adjust the CL value as well. If you choose to increase the voltage, it is recommended to stop when it reaches 1.5V to prevent the high voltage from burning the motherboard and memory.

Users don’t really need to worry. Most motherboards today have protection and warning mechanics. For MSI’s motherboards, when the voltage exceeds the recommended value determined by the BIOS, the value will show in red to warn, indicating the risk of damaging the hardware.

The increase of voltage of the memory should be adequate to prevent damage to the motherboard and memory.

On the other hand, if you are an veteran overclocker and an Intel Chipset is used, for the 10th generation processor you can try to adjust the two voltages of CPU SA and CPU IO; for the latest 11th generation processor you can try CPU SA and the newly added CPU IO 2 Voltage (RLK Memory) option which allows you to increase the clock speed by adjusting the CPU voltage of memory management.

After adjusting the highest frequency and voltage which the PC can still boot with, you can try to increase the CL value a bit and continue to increase the frequency to see how much clock speed can be added before it fails to boot. Generally, the higher the frequency, the larger timing is needed in order to boot successfully. However, a larger CL value will lengthen the latency and affect responsiveness. This overclocking competition is aimed at the highest clock speed, thus the actual performance can be disregarded. No need to care about latency value if it can boot up and take screenshots anyway.

In the adjustment of CL value, there are four major items: tCL, tRCD, tRP and tRAS, sequentially. “tCL” will be given priority and can be adjusted slightly (for example, the original tCL is 16, raise it +2 to 18). As for other values, because the current motherboard is quite advanced, you can choose to leave it as “Auto” for motherboard to adjust accordingly. If the “Auto” still fails, you can try to add some (such as +4). This part requires more patience and repeated testing.

The CL value setting is as above. Users can try to adjust tCL first. If it fails, adjust parameters other than tCL.

Finally, the overclocking performance will also be influenced by temperature, so remember to keep the it cool. Some memory modules have been equipped with heat sinks. User could also consider changing from passive cooling to active cooling, such as installing a fan on the top of the memory or using liquid-cooling kits.

Additionally, the potentials vary among different memory, so the luck is also a factor to some extent. If the overclocking fails after repeated attempts, it is recommended to try another set of memory.


The overclocking process requires frequent adjustment of various parameters, which means that the process will encounter countless failures. When the motherboard faces an abnormal memory value, there are usually two signs: 1. enter the Memory Overclock Fail black screen, Or 2. EZ Debug light stops in DRAM, and no screen output.

The overclocking failure screen is similar to the above picture (different depending on the motherboard model). The content is written in white on a black background to indicate that the overclocking has failed. It is required to enter the BIOS to reset or load the default values to recover.

It’s relatively easy to resolve if entering the Memory Overclock Fail screen. Just press "F1" on the keyboard to return to the BIOS to adjust the parameters; it’s more troublesome if it ends up showing no output. If that happens, you need to clear the CMOS to get the motherboard back to the initial state. 2 methods as below.

1. Press the “Clear CMOS” physical button or pin: after turning off the computer, press it for about 2 to 3 seconds, and then restart it to reset.

The pin name of "Clear CMOS" among motherboard brand is different, such as the MSI motherboard it is called JBAT1 (red arrow).

High-end motherboards usually is equipped with “Clear CMOS” button next to the power socket or on the back I/O panel.

2. Remove the mercury battery on the motherboard and reinsert it to reset the BIOS when the computer is turned off.

Removing the mercury battery on the motherboard can also clear CMOS.

Performance Test

Next, let’s test the performance difference before and after memory overclocking. On top of the increase in frequency, the test also features the impact of high CL values of the memory, so you get to know the impact of overclocking values and real-world performance.

First, overclock DDR4-2666 memories to DDR4-3200 and DDR4-3600. In terms of other parameters, when increased to DDR4-3600, the voltage will be pushed from 1.2 to 1.3V. And the CL value will be fixed at 16. The rest are relied on the auto adjustment by the motherboard.

According to the results displayed in the software MaxxMem, the overall performance of the memory is 27.21 Gb/s when the memory is DDR4-2666, and when it is DDR4-3600, the performance is increased to 29.73 Gb/s, which is a considerable improvement.

Memory configurations in DDR4-2666

Statistics in AIDA 64 Extreme and MaxxMem.

Memory configurations in DDR4-3200

According to the data of AIDA 64 Extreme and MaxxMem, the overall performance in MaxxMem has impressively improved to 29Gb/s.

The parameters of DDR4-3600. (The voltage has been increased to 1.3V here)

The Statistics of DDR4-3600. It has almost reached 30Gb/s.

Next, let’s take a look at the impact of CL value on actual performance. In the same case of DDR4-3600, we deliberately increased tCL from 16 to 32, and the overall performance dropped to 25.87 Gb/s, which was even worse than DDR4-2666. This is why the CL value is the last step to tune. Since the CL impacts on the overall performance, therefore, it’s the most subtle part how to balance the clock and CL value.

Without changing other settings, the CL value of DDR4-3600 was increased to 32-40-40 to see the impact of high CL on the actual performance.

The same DDR4-3600, but the total memory score is only 25.87 Gb/s when CL is higher.

Let’s compare the effects of different clocks and CL values in AIDA 64 Extreme on performance. You can see that the read and copy performance of DDR4-3600 in the case of tCL 32 is even worse than that of DDR4-3200 under tCL 16. .

The performance of MaxxMem is the sum of reading, copying, and writing. As a result, the overall performance of tCL 32's DDR4-3600 is even worse than DDR4-2666.

Failure is the mother of success, head towards and be the overclocking champion!

In the process of overclocking, users will face various failures and need to repeatedly operate between clearing CMOS and adjusting parameters, but in order to challenge the limits, or to bring better performance to the computer, this is all it is. We believe as long as users try more, they will be able to find the best settings.

Lastly, if you own an MSI B560 motherboard but not yet participate, it’s time for you to show! Try to overlock your DDR4 memory with any MSI B560 motherboard, take a screenshot and fill in the information, submit the entry by 31st August 2021 and get a chance to win exquisite prizes!

The above is all the content of the OC Guide (definitely there is much more if you’re eager to learn), we hope this helps. Once again, don’t forget to submit entry via the competition website. Stay safe & good luck!

This article was originally published on http://www.pcdiy.com.tw/detail/20231 (Mandarin)