RAM voltage

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RAM voltage

Postby [CS] vizwhiz on Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:08 am

Was reading where RAM voltage setting (too low) could cause slow performance issues. I recently upgraded from 512 to 2Gb RAM with the same spec as the original (DDR). Have seen some improvement of some things and memory checks out good at boot. But never checked voltage to see if it was set properly - don't recall ever seeing a place in BIOS to change it, come to think of it.
Anyone know what I should look for? I just want to be sure that I didn't put the new RAM in and overlook updating that setting...
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby Hooligan on Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:20 pm

To give you the short answer, unless you have special, high-performance memory like Corsair, OCZ, Crucial Ballistix, etc. AND your motherboard is slated to have manual overrides of the memory timings, by default you are plug and play. No need for anything extra.

Motherboards that have this capability are going to be your more expensive mobos and usually in the advanced settings in the BIOS you will see an option for timings and memory voltage. HOWEVER, you never want to modify these settings as they can cause more than simple slow-down but serious instability. Typically you want to stay within the recommended timings and voltage as listed on the sticker on the RAM stick or on the manufacturer website. If you are an overclocker, then you go to the manufacturer website and list your mobo and memory and some people will chime in with maximum timings and voltage while maintaining stability and not voiding warranties.
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby [CS] Joab on Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:41 pm

My understanding is that the only people tweaking their RAM voltages are the extreme overclockers. My BIOS does have a setting that tells me the voltage and allows me to change it, but I leave it at default settings. If you want to know your voltage I'm sure there are freeware programs that allow for it. I can't remember for certain but I believe SpeedFan will show voltages of RAM and CPU.
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby Hooligan on Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:56 pm

SpeedFan that I know of does not show you info on the memory. Not to mention that site is so littered with ads its ridiculous. One program that gives you somewhat useful information is CPU-Z. Technically the data listed on the memory tab in there is not real-time. There is really no real-time display of your current memory speeds except for maybe Everest but I tried to get it to show the real-time speeds but I have Win7 and I don't believe the current build supports it.

To quote someone else to save me the typing in regards to the info you see with CPU-Z:

"First, the SPD is just a little EEPROM (memory) in the DIMM into which the manufacturer programs one or more sets of timing info. These are timings that the DIMM will work at under standard conditions, they are NOT the maximum speed or necessarily even the rated speed that the DIMM will work at. Your MB reads this info when it boots up and uses it to "auto set" the bus speed and timings of the RAM, unless you have over-ridden the auto setting in the BIOS. For example, if the RAM is sold as DDR2-800 RAM, inside the SPD there might be a DDR2-800 set of timings, a DDR2-667 set of timings, and a DDR2-533 set of timings. The MB will usually choose the fastest bus speed it supports (e.g. DDR2-800).

Oftentimes, a DIMM is certified for (and sold as supporting) faster timings than those in the SPD for a given bus speed. Usually, this requires setting the RAM's voltage to a higher-than-standard level in the BIOS. Therefore, you need to find out from the manufacturer the full details of the certification, including the RAM voltage. Often, instead of standard DDR2 voltage of 1.8V, the voltage used for certification is in the 1.9-2.1V range. If you want to run your RAM at the certified speed, set the memory voltage to the specified level in the BIOS, then manually set the other timings via the BIOS.

Finally, it may turn out that the DIMM is physically capable of running fine at even faster bus speeds and/or shorter timings than what the manufacturer has certified. This is "overclocking" the RAM."
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby [CS] SSgt-SpeeD on Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:13 pm

Generally, I agree with the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy espoused by others here. However, there is one exception I can accept. If you buy DDR2 memory spec'd at 1066 MHz, it typically runs at 800 MHz (PC 6400 ) by default unless you tweak your voltage and adjust you BIOS. This memory is typically marked as PC2-8500 or PC 8500. To get it to 1066 you do, as others have pointed out, have to have a MOB that supports overclocking of this type. Allowing you to boost the voltage to manufactures spec'd level and sometimes setting the RAM speed itself to 1066. I use this type of RAM, but frankly I just leave the speed to the default 800 MHz. While I've tried it, it doesn't seem to boost performance for DDR2 (unlike DDR3 where it does make a difference) and it increases my RAM temp due to higher voltage (i.e. decreased lifetime).

So one more vote for leave it along unless you really need to do something like this.

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Re: RAM voltage

Postby Frostbite on Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:29 pm

Viz, I do not know what you are reading, but there is a disconnect in either the author or yourself. Memory performance is based on Speed (MHz), number of channels, and Latency. Just increasing the voltage to the memory will not make it faster.

When you "overclock" aka, run chips faster than default, you increase the voltage because the chip needs more power. My advice, stay away from those settings in your bios.
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby [CS] vizwhiz on Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:27 am

Frosty, it isn't so much that I am attempting to overclock or anything, just that when I upgraded, I expected a bit more of a boost in performance (on DOD specifically), and didn't consider whether there was a possibility of other issues. I was reading through some forums where they were talking about having upgraded memory - again, I upgraded memory, power supply, and graphics card - and didn't realize that they had a BIOS setting for RAM voltage that was different than the memory stick spec. I was just wondering if I should check further into this. I matched the new memory to the old memory and what the mobo specs showed (this is DDR guys, old stuff), but didn't realize that voltage was a variable in memory selection...I just assumed that if it met the other criteria, it matched.

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Re: RAM voltage

Postby [CS] Joab on Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:50 am

[CS] vizwhiz wrote:I upgraded memory, power supply, and graphics card

Gaming performance will be determined primarily by CPU and graphics card, from what I've been told. And I was also always of the belief that more memory helps your OS run faster/smoother, but not so much games (unless you had barely enough to run the OS and other programs before). The game and maps should load faster for you with the increase in RAM though.
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Re: RAM voltage

Postby [CS] vizwhiz on Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:47 pm

They do seem to...
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