Only X99/Z170 chipset based motherboards officially support DDR4 DRAM / CPU overclocking
As we know, only X99 and Z170 chipset based motherboards can support DDR4 DRAM overclocking. Using a normal Z170 Bios as an example, users would see lots of DDR4 DRAM overclocking options.
To make sure that nothing goes wrong while overclocking the DDR4 memory, loading XMP setting is always the best way so that users won’t be bothered by those complicated memory configuration options in the BIOS.
Intel H170 Series and bellow do not support any overclocking, but some do
Asrock Hyper Series motherboards which can be found in Intel H-series/B-series chipset based motherboards which theoretically can NOT support any overclocking. However, with Asrock Engineers took a old trick, using a external PLL chip to go around this limitation.
Personally loved those days where you had to hard mod a ppl to get extra clocks
How a old PLL chip would work
Lets take a system at that time and it was a KT133 mainboard (ENMIC 8TAX+), a Duron and 128 MB PC-133. I couldn´t get above 110 MHz FSB with this setup.
This self made version of Turbo PLL allowed to run my system at speeds as high as 131 MHz FSB. While I didn´t use it long at these speeds, that was only because my harddisk didn´t like 44 MHz PCI speed.
This is how it could look after:
This obviously was a bit hard core and obviously not many would attempt it, aslo you would lose the warranty obviously.
However, for Skylake CPUs, Asrock used a BCLK (PLL) and PCIe have a dedicated reference clock which always stays at 100 MHz – Even if you change the BCLK at very high clocks which basically means that you can push the BCLK without worrying about other components.
With this little trick , Asrock Hyper Series motherboards can support DDR4 DRAM overclocking without any issues. Taking a careful look at this special feature, DDR4 DRAM overclocking can be achieved in 2 ways. Here below are 2 examples showing that how we can overclock the DDR4 DRAM with Asrock Hyper Series motherboards.
D4-2133 CL10-11-11-31 2T 1.35V 2 x 8GB Dual Channel Mode
In DDR3 generation, D3-2133 CL10-11-11-31 used to be a very popular spec with its great price/performance ratio. However, 1.65V is always necessary to keep the memory stable under the speed and the timings. It would sound like a dream if we could make D3-2133 CL10-11-11-31 2 x 8GB dual channel mode happen with merely 1.35V while this is 100% possible nowadays. Taking Asrock Fatal1ty H170 Performance/Hyper as an example, the following steps show the way to set up the memory.
Get into the BIOS and select the page of “OC Tweaker”.
Get into the page of “OC Tweaker” and set the option of “DDR4 Non-Z OC” as “SPORT+”. This is a very important step which keeps the system stable when the memory is highly overclocked.
Get into the page of “DRAM Configuration” to set up detailed configurations of the memory.
As the following screen shot shows, we set the DRAM frequency as D4-2133 and set the DRAM primary timings as 10, 11, 31, 2 thus the memory will work at D4-2133 CL10-11-11-31 2T.
As for the “Secondary Timing”, we leave these settings as “Auto”.
Very important last step, DRAM Voltage set as 1.35V.
After previous steps of configuration are done, just save changes and exit the BIOS. Let’s see if it works well and if there is any performance improvement.
For the stability test, Hyper PI 32M with the configuration of processors set as 16 is an easy way to find out if the system can still work well when the memory is highly overclocked from D4-2133 CL15 up to D4-2133 CL10. For performance we ran Sandra memory Bandwidth and MaxMem benchmarks.
Long in short, this is the easiest way for users to get memory performance increase
D4-3000 CL15-15-15-35 2T 1.35V 2 x 8GB Dual Channel Mode
For most overclockers, or even gamers or general users who wants something better than standard JEDEC memory products, though D4-2133 CL10-11-11-31 2T 1.35V 2 x 8GB dual channel mode is pretty impressive, they won’t be satisfied until the memory speed reaches D4-3000 which sounds much better than D4-2133. Taking Asrock Fatal1ty H170 Hyper as an example once again, the following steps show the way to set up the memory.
Get into the page of “DRAM Configuration” so we can set up detailed configurations of the memory.
Set the “BCLK Frequency” as 140.6 first.
Check the DRAM Frequency, the option of DDR4-2998 will appear once the BCLK Frequency is set to be 140.6. Now, set the DRAM Frequency as DDR4-2998.
After setting the DRAM Frequency as DDR4-2998, we go and set the Primary Timing and the Secondary Timing as “15, 15, 35, 2” and “24, 540, 7, 5, 11, 4, 10, 33, 12”. It is extremely important that the motherboard may not be able to boot up if any of these settings is left as Auto.
DO NOT forget the last step, please set the DRAM Voltage as 1.35V and the CPU’s voltage should be increased as well. However, every CPU has different overclocking capability thus there isn’t any existed standard telling us what exactly the CPU’s voltage should be. The only rule is, please keep the CPU’s voltage under 1.4V in case of any possible damages occurred.
Again, let’s do some benchmark and check if the system is stable enough and if there is any performance improvement after the memory is highly overclocked from D4-2133 CL15 up to D4-3000 CL15. As the following table shows, the performance increase is awesome! The percentage of the performance improvement we’re talking about here isn’t single digit like 3% or 5%, we’re talking is more than 30% to 50% performance increase!
No too bad for free performance boost Also for those who wonder about gaming performance which is a bit more dependent on the GPU, we still see almost 10% increase on 3Dmark11 using a PowerColor RX480 Red Devil.
In conclusion, what’s needed to overclock a nonK CPU?
First of all, since we are overclocking entirely using the bus, a good set of memory sticks are highly important, I went with GeIL EVO FORZA D4-3200 *CL16-16-16-36 1.35V* 2 x 8GB and it worked amazing, just got limited by my I5 32W. Even for users (in case my friend who’s not so interested in high overclocks) it’s still a good pick as it provides the flexibility for future upgrades. Comparing to the spec of D4-2400 which will soon become the standard spec since 2017 according to resources from the internet, the spec of D4-3200 won’t be out of date at least until 2018.
You will need a motherboard that has the BCLK, which all Hyper series is known to have it. Even some other like Fatal1ty have it or at least had and now they don’t officially advertise it, but if you see the Hyper branding on a Asrock model you know for sure they have.
I hope everyone enjoyed and any questions, drop a reply under