What You Need To Know About RAM Speeds – Is Faster RAM Worth It?

When buying a RAM card you can see long numbers followed by ‘MHz’ (Megahertz). You probably already know that this number represents its speed, at least in part, but what does this speed of RAM really do for your computer?

Is it beneficial for running video games? Is a RAM with a higher MHz better? And what is the best RAM speed?

Fast RAM speeds allow your processor to quickly access the information stored on it, giving your system an increase in processing power.

What is RAM?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is used as a temporary and very fast data storage for your processor (CPU). When you start a program, the hard drive sends the information about that program to RAM, where the processor can access it faster than from the hard drive.

How does RAM work?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is an integrated circuit chip made up of millions of transistors and capacitors. Each pair of transistors and capacitors make up a cell, and it is in these cells that the information is stored.

These cells retain and release electrical charges in order to write, rewrite and erase information, allowing the flow of data to change constantly much faster than your traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD), which uses discs and actuator arms, and even faster. than SSDs.

RAM memory is also volatile , which means that any information that is retained in its cells will be lost when there is a power interruption. This is the reason why we do not permanently record information on our RAM memory modules.

The Random Access part of Random Access Memory comes from the fact that information can be written in any cell and in any order, and it can be read from any cell as long as the physical location of the cell containing the cell is known. information.

What does the RAM speed do?

In reality, RAM speed is multifaceted. You can’t just take MHz as a measure of speed and use it as a means of determining your speed. To find the RAM speed you need to know the number of clock cycles and their latency.

Clock Cycles (RAM MHz)

RAM frequency is based on clock cycles (note: people call this RAM speed when it’s really just part of the speed equation). Each read and write is done in one cycle. RAM is measured by the number of cycles per second it can perform. For example, if a RAM is rated as 3200 MHz, it means that it can perform 3200 cycles per second.

The more of these cycles that occur per second, the more information can be stored and read, allowing for a smoother user experience.

CAS latency

The CAS (Column Access Strobe) latency, or CL, is the time it takes for RAM to receive a command and be able to issue it. The latency indicator numbers look something like this: 15-17-17-35. These numbers indicate how many clock cycles it takes for RAM to respond to a command.

Because of this, the indicator numbers determine how fast your RAM will respond to a command. Therefore, a RAM with high MHz and slow CAS may not be better than a RAM with slow MHz and a faster CAS.

Calculating your REAL RAM speed

To find the actual speed of your RAM, you should take the frequency of your RAM (let’s say it’s 3200 MHz), and divide it by the first number of your CAS latency, let’s say it’s 14.

This gives us 3200/14 = 228.58. The result tells us how many instructions per second can be carried out by our RAM.

Now let’s compare this result with slower MHz RAM and lower CAS latency.

Let’s use a 2133 MHz RAM with a CAS latency of 6.

2133/6 = 355.5. This means that a 2133 MHz RAM with a CAS latency of 6 will actually respond 55% faster!

Overclocking

By default, the maximum clock speed of a stock DDR4 RAM is 2133 MHz. When a RAM with a nominal speed higher than this is observed, it means that the module is qualified to be overclocked at that speed.

Sometimes mention is made of “being compatible with AMD or Intel”, usually referring to the factory-built XMP profiles. This indicates that it has profiles built into the module that allow the motherboard BIOS to automatically overclock the RAM to the parameters specified by the manufacturer.

Even if it is specified as AMD or Intel, the XMP profiles usually work with one of the latter two, but the technical specifications of the motherboard should be checked.

Can I mix RAM speeds?

This question is somewhat complicated. The short answer is yes, sometimes.

The RAM memory itself is compatible with other RAM memories of different frequencies and speeds, but the more they differ between if in these parameters, the more difficult it will be for the motherboard to run both memories at the same time.

For example, two RAM modules with the same speed (say 2133 MHz) and a slightly different CAS latency would probably not present a problem. The motherboard will recognize the slower memory and will run both at the same speed.

The more difference there is in speeds and latencies, the more difficult it is for the motherboard to try to run them at the same time, and may require manual control over speeds and latencies in the form of modules for overclocking and underclocking.

In other words, it is possible to do it, but it will definitely be a problem a much more difficult problem than it is worth.

Bandwidth & Capacity

RAM speed does not exist in isolation, factors such as bandwidth and capacity must also be considered when making a purchasing decision. Due to a number of factors, RAM bandwidth (and its overall efficiency) can be a somewhat intricate topic that deserves its own article (something we may be addressing in the near future).

As a concept it is relatively simple: bandwidth affects how much information can circulate in a given time. And of course, memory is the space to store that information.

Some prefer to explain RAM memory by likening it to a highway. The number of lanes, which allow more cars to circulate, represents the bandwidth. The speed limit represents the literal speed. And memory resembles a large parking garage that everyone walks in and out of (to help you play video games).

Note that if you do not have enough lanes or enough parking, or the speed limit is too low, traffic will become very slow. (And if we use civil engineering in my metaphor, everything falls apart completely.)

How important is RAM?

Well, so far we have understood what RAM speed is and how it works, and even how it affects your system. But how does it impact the world of video games? Is it worth buying a bit higher-end RAM to try and get those high FPS scores?

I have asked myself this question many times and decided to do some tests on my own.

This is the System that I will be using for my tests:

  • MSI Pro Carbon Gaming X370 Motherboard
  • AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.7 GHz
  • Gigabyte Aorus RX 580 XTR
  • 32GB G.Skill Flare X (CAS: 15) (technically two separate 16GB dual channel RAM cards)
  • 8GB G.Skill Ripjaw (CAS: 9)
  • Samsung Evo 960 M.2 SSD

Using this setup, I’ll be running six separate tests:

  1. Both 32GB dual channel G. Skill Flare X’s RAM in both 2933 MHz and 2400 MHz speeds
  2. A 16GB G. Skill Flare X memory card using speeds of 2933 MHz and 2400 MHz.
  3. An 8GB G.Skill Ripjaw card will also be tested at speeds of 3600Mhz and 2133MHz.

Testing a range of RAM capacities and speeds will help us obtain a large volume of information for both low-budget and next-generation builds alike.

For reference, I will use 3DMark’s Time Spy demo to test both the CPU and GPU and monitor the FPS. I will run the same test for each RAM configuration.

32GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Testing our first RAM setup, we observed a graphics score of 4475, with the first and second FPS tests (Graphics 1 and 2 tests) averaging 30/24 FPS respectively.

This test gives us an idea of ​​how the hardware will perform during a video game. The higher the score the better.

Looking at the CPU score, which will be what you are looking for in terms of CPU load time, it got 7058 and scoring an average of 23 FPS during the test.

Time Spy’s total score was 4734.

32GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
447530.224.83705823.714734

32GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

 When buying a RAM card you can see long numbers followed by ‘MHz’ (Megahertz). You probably already know that this number represents its speed, at least in part, but what does this speed of RAM really do for your computer?

Is it beneficial for running video games? Is a RAM with a higher MHz better? And what is the best RAM speed?

Fast RAM speeds allow your processor to quickly access the information stored on it, giving your system an increase in processing power.

What is RAM?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is used as a temporary and very fast data storage for your processor (CPU). When you start a program, the hard drive sends the information about that program to RAM, where the processor can access it faster than from the hard drive.

How does RAM work?

Random Access Memory (RAM) is an integrated circuit chip made up of millions of transistors and capacitors. Each pair of transistors and capacitors make up a cell, and it is in these cells that the information is stored.

These cells retain and release electrical charges in order to write, rewrite and erase information, allowing the flow of data to change constantly much faster than your traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD), which uses discs and actuator arms, and even faster. than SSDs.

RAM memory is also volatile , which means that any information that is retained in its cells will be lost when there is a power interruption. This is the reason why we do not permanently record information on our RAM memory modules.

The Random Access part of Random Access Memory comes from the fact that information can be written in any cell and in any order, and it can be read from any cell as long as the physical location of the cell containing the cell is known. information.

What does the RAM speed do?

In reality, RAM speed is multifaceted. You can’t just take MHz as a measure of speed and use it as a means of determining your speed. To find the RAM speed you need to know the number of clock cycles and their latency.

Clock Cycles (RAM MHz)

RAM frequency is based on clock cycles (note: people call this RAM speed when it’s really just part of the speed equation). Each read and write is done in one cycle. RAM is measured by the number of cycles per second it can perform. For example, if a RAM is rated as 3200 MHz, it means that it can perform 3200 cycles per second.

The more of these cycles that occur per second, the more information can be stored and read, allowing for a smoother user experience.

CAS latency

The CAS (Column Access Strobe) latency, or CL, is the time it takes for RAM to receive a command and be able to issue it. The latency indicator numbers look something like this: 15-17-17-35. These numbers indicate how many clock cycles it takes for RAM to respond to a command.

Because of this, the indicator numbers determine how fast your RAM will respond to a command. Therefore, a RAM with high MHz and slow CAS may not be better than a RAM with slow MHz and a faster CAS.

Calculating your REAL RAM speed

To find the actual speed of your RAM, you should take the frequency of your RAM (let’s say it’s 3200 MHz), and divide it by the first number of your CAS latency, let’s say it’s 14.

This gives us 3200/14 = 228.58. The result tells us how many instructions per second can be carried out by our RAM.

Now let’s compare this result with slower MHz RAM and lower CAS latency.

Let’s use a 2133 MHz RAM with a CAS latency of 6.

2133/6 = 355.5. This means that a 2133 MHz RAM with a CAS latency of 6 will actually respond 55% faster!

Overclocking

By default, the maximum clock speed of a stock DDR4 RAM is 2133 MHz. When a RAM with a nominal speed higher than this is observed, it means that the module is qualified to be overclocked at that speed.

Sometimes mention is made of “being compatible with AMD or Intel”, usually referring to the factory-built XMP profiles. This indicates that it has profiles built into the module that allow the motherboard BIOS to automatically overclock the RAM to the parameters specified by the manufacturer.

Even if it is specified as AMD or Intel, the XMP profiles usually work with one of the latter two, but the technical specifications of the motherboard should be checked.

Can I mix RAM speeds?

This question is somewhat complicated. The short answer is yes, sometimes.

The RAM memory itself is compatible with other RAM memories of different frequencies and speeds, but the more they differ between if in these parameters, the more difficult it will be for the motherboard to run both memories at the same time.

For example, two RAM modules with the same speed (say 2133 MHz) and a slightly different CAS latency would probably not present a problem. The motherboard will recognize the slower memory and will run both at the same speed.

The more difference there is in speeds and latencies, the more difficult it is for the motherboard to try to run them at the same time, and may require manual control over speeds and latencies in the form of modules for overclocking and underclocking.

In other words, it is possible to do it, but it will definitely be a problem a much more difficult problem than it is worth.

Bandwidth & Capacity

RAM speed does not exist in isolation, factors such as bandwidth and capacity must also be considered when making a purchasing decision. Due to a number of factors, RAM bandwidth (and its overall efficiency) can be a somewhat intricate topic that deserves its own article (something we may be addressing in the near future).

As a concept it is relatively simple: bandwidth affects how much information can circulate in a given time. And of course, memory is the space to store that information.

Some prefer to explain RAM memory by likening it to a highway. The number of lanes, which allow more cars to circulate, represents the bandwidth. The speed limit represents the literal speed. And memory resembles a large parking garage that everyone walks in and out of (to help you play video games).

Note that if you do not have enough lanes or enough parking, or the speed limit is too low, traffic will become very slow. (And if we use civil engineering in my metaphor, everything falls apart completely.)

How important is RAM?

Well, so far we have understood what RAM speed is and how it works, and even how it affects your system. But how does it impact the world of video games? Is it worth buying a bit higher-end RAM to try and get those high FPS scores?

I have asked myself this question many times and decided to do some tests on my own.

This is the System that I will be using for my tests:

MSI Pro Carbon Gaming X370 Motherboard

AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.7 GHz

Gigabyte Aorus RX 580 XTR

32GB G.Skill Flare X (CAS: 15) (technically two separate 16GB dual channel RAM cards)

8GB G.Skill Ripjaw (CAS: 9)

Samsung Evo 960 M.2 SSD

Using this setup, I’ll be running six separate tests:

Both 32GB dual channel G. Skill Flare X’s RAM in both 2933 MHz and 2400 MHz speeds

A 16GB G. Skill Flare X memory card using speeds of 2933 MHz and 2400 MHz.

An 8GB G.Skill Ripjaw card will also be tested at speeds of 3600Mhz and 2133MHz.

Testing a range of RAM capacities and speeds will help us obtain a large volume of information for both low-budget and next-generation builds alike.

For reference, I will use 3DMark’s Time Spy demo to test both the CPU and GPU and monitor the FPS. I will run the same test for each RAM configuration.

32GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Testing our first RAM setup, we observed a graphics score of 4475, with the first and second FPS tests (Graphics 1 and 2 tests) averaging 30/24 FPS respectively.

This test gives us an idea of ​​how the hardware will perform during a video game. The higher the score the better.

RAMLooking at the CPU score, which will be what you are looking for in terms of CPU load time, it got 7058 and scoring an average of 23 FPS during the test.

Time Spy’s total score was 4734.

32GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4475

30.2

24.83

7058

23.71

4734

32GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

 RAMRunning our RAM in our second configuration, our results were quite similar to the previous tests, noting a single difference in the CPU test.

32GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4458

30.04

24.84

6938

23.31

4710

16GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

RAMCutting the 32GB memory in half did not affect the GPU test too much, only a difference was observed in the CPU test.

16GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4475

30.25

24.88

6345

21.32

4681

16GB of RAM at 2400 MHz

RAMAgain, there was no difference in the graphics test, only in the CPU test. And it was only a miniscule difference.

16GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4459

30.2

24.74

6056

23.35

4642

8GB of RAM at 3600 MHz

RAMThere wasn’t much change in the graphics department, even down to 8GB of RAM. Overall, the CPU test score was slightly higher than the 16GB RAM run at a lower speed, but the average FPS in the test decreased.

8GB of RAM at 3600 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4465

30.25

24.77

6114

20.54

4653

8GB of RAM at 2133 MHz

RAMAnd here we have our final test. A single 8GB card at 2133MHz speed, how will it behave?

8GB of RAM at 2133 MHz

Graphics Score

Graphics Test 1 (FPS)

Graphics Test 2 (FPS)

CPU score

CPU Test (FPS)

Time Spy score

4470

30.22

24.85

5678

19.08

4617

How fast should RAM be?

Even with as little as 8GB of RAM running at standard clock speeds, there is no difference in performance by standards, at least when it comes to graphics. In fact, despite the difference between RAM speeds, there is no significant impact on graphics, only in CPU benchmarks.

This is because programs like video games (with a few exceptions here and there) are mostly graphically intense, requiring more work from the video card (and its onboard RAM) and processor than from RAM.

Where you can see that higher RAM speed is actually beneficial is when multitasking like running multiple programs, or streaming while playing games or creating content.

conclusion

We have learned how RAM works, what its speed tells us, and we even analyzed some parameters to understand exactly how it affects the system when it comes to graphics tasks versus processor tasks.

Currently I use 32GB of RAM at 2933MHz. I use my machine for high-performance video games, but also for content creation. What RAM speed and latency would you use?

Let us know if this article helped you in any way, or if you have any other RAM-related questions that you would like us to cover.

Read more:

How much RAM do you need for your laptop?

How much VRAM do I need to play?

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Best Gaming

Monitors

Best 4K Gaming MonitorRunning our RAM in our second configuration, our results were quite similar to the previous tests, noting a single difference in the CPU test.

32GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
445830.0424.84693823.314710
16GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Cutting the 32GB memory in half did not affect the GPU test too much, only a difference was observed in the CPU test.

16GB of RAM running at 2933 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
447530.2524.88634521.324681
16GB of RAM at 2400 MHz

Again, there was no difference in the graphics test, only in the CPU test. And it was only a miniscule difference.

16GB of RAM running at 2400 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
445930.224.74605623.354642
8GB of RAM at 3600 MHz

There wasn’t much change in the graphics department, even down to 8GB of RAM. Overall, the CPU test score was slightly higher than the 16GB RAM run at a lower speed, but the average FPS in the test decreased.

8GB of RAM at 3600 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
446530.2524.77611420.544653
8GB of RAM at 2133 MHz

And here we have our final test. A single 8GB card at 2133MHz speed, how will it behave?

8GB of RAM at 2133 MHz

Graphics ScoreGraphics Test 1 (FPS)Graphics Test 2 (FPS)
CPU score
CPU Test (FPS)Time Spy score
447030.2224.85567819.084617

How fast should RAM be?

Even with as little as 8GB of RAM running at standard clock speeds, there is no difference in performance by standards, at least when it comes to graphics. In fact, despite the difference between RAM speeds, there is no significant impact on graphics, only in CPU benchmarks.

This is because programs like video games (with a few exceptions here and there) are mostly graphically intense, requiring more work from the video card (and its onboard RAM) and processor than from RAM.

Where you can see that higher RAM speed is actually beneficial is when multitasking like running multiple programs, or streaming while playing games or creating content.

conclusion

We have learned how RAM works, what its speed tells us, and we even analyzed some parameters to understand exactly how it affects the system when it comes to graphics tasks versus processor tasks.

Currently I use 32GB of RAM at 2933MHz. I use my machine for high-performance video games, but also for content creation. What RAM speed and latency would you use?

Let us know if this article helped you in any way, or if you have any other RAM-related questions that you would like us to cover.

Read more:

How much RAM do you need for your laptop?

How much VRAM do I need to play?

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Best Gaming

Monitors

Best 4K Gaming Monitor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button