Tightening Your Memory (RAM) Timings

So, you've found your maximum memory frequency, but is your ram performing at its best?

If you haven't tightened your memory timings yet, they are probably higher (looser) than they need to be. These timings play a big part in how well your ram performs, so it's definitely worth fine tuning them as well.

Quick Refresher on Memory Timings

The four main ram timings are usually listed as something like:

However, if you list the timings by their nicknames instead of numbers, it would look like:

If you're unfamiliar with what these timings mean, you should read our memory timings article before continuing: Memory (RAM) Timings & Latency: CAS, RAS, tCL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS.

Optimizing tCL, tRCD, and tRP

With the G.SKILL ECO Series F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO memory that we're running, we found that the second timing (tRCD) had the biggest impact on our maximum RAM frequency. So, if you had to increase tRCD to get your memory to run at a higher speed, you probably won't be able to optimize it much (at this point). It's still worth trying, but just keep in mind that you'll probably have better luck with the other timings.

Start off by lowering the first (tCL) and third (tRP) timing by 1. If this passes one round of Memtest86+, try lowering the second timing (tRCD) by 1 and running the test again.

Note: If you haven't reached your maximum RAM voltage, increasing it will usually allow you to tighten your timings even further. Intel's absolute maximum memory voltage is 1.8 V, but they recommend that you keep it under 1.65 V. Also, make sure you don't go higher than 0.5 V over your VTT voltage, or you may start having stability problems.

Keep doing the previous procedure until you've gotten the second timing (tRCD) as low as possible. Once you've done that, start decreasing only the first (tCL) and third (tRP) timing by 1, until they're also as low as possible.

You can also try changing the numbers one at a time, but the previous method usually worked well for us.

Optimizing tRAS

Once you've optimized the first three timings, you can start lowering the fourth one (tRAS). Remember that it (usually) needs to be around the sum of the previous three timings, so just keep that in mind.

For example, if you got the first three timings down to 6-9-6, a good starting point for tRAS would be 6 + 9 + 6 = 21.

Make Sure You Fully Stress Test Your System

Finally, once you've found what you think are your tightest memory timings, run at least 2 to 3 full passes of Memtest86+ (to make sure the ram is fully stable).

At this point, you should also stress test your system as a whole with Prime95 to make sure all of your system is stable at the new speeds. Take a look at our stress testing guide if you need a refresher on how to do this.

What Next?

This article is part of our ultimate ram overclocking guide: Memory (RAM) Overclocking Guide - DDR3.

If you're following along in the guide, the next section is .