Author Topic: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs  (Read 232 times)

bensrichards

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« on: September 13, 2017, 06:43:51 AM »
Morning all,

Is it possible to run DDR4 RAM at 3200Mhz with a locked (non-K) Kaby Lake CPU? If it is, does it depend on the chipset? For instance does it have to be a Z series chipset?

I've been trying to learn a bit more about this topic on my own, and from what I gather, any RAM running at speeds greater than 2400Mhz is considered overclocked, because Kaby Lake support tops out at 2400. I also understand that only K series Intel CPUs can be overclocked, and that the other variants of the CPUs are considered "locked," which I think is referring to the base clock (which I only sort of understand what the base clock is/does). I read some forum posts that made it sound like RAM and the CPU share a common base clock, which led me to wonder whether having a locked CPU effectively forecloses overclocking the RAM that's used with that CPU. Hence my question above.

Thanks in advance for any insights and answers.

-Ben

Ari Altman

  • TBG Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2659
    • View Profile
Re: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 08:58:23 AM »
Morning all,

Is it possible to run DDR4 RAM at 3200Mhz with a locked (non-K) Kaby Lake CPU? If it is, does it depend on the chipset? For instance does it have to be a Z series chipset?

I've been trying to learn a bit more about this topic on my own, and from what I gather, any RAM running at speeds greater than 2400Mhz is considered overclocked, because Kaby Lake support tops out at 2400. I also understand that only K series Intel CPUs can be overclocked, and that the other variants of the CPUs are considered "locked," which I think is referring to the base clock (which I only sort of understand what the base clock is/does). I read some forum posts that made it sound like RAM and the CPU share a common base clock, which led me to wonder whether having a locked CPU effectively forecloses overclocking the RAM that's used with that CPU. Hence my question above.

Thanks in advance for any insights and answers.

-Ben

Hey again, Ben! Great questions!

What you're referring to are actually two different standards: the maximum official memory clock, and memory overclocking. The maximum official memory clock is determined almost entirely by the CPU. With many new generations of CPUs, Intel has increased the maximum official memory clock. So, for example, when DDR3 was the RAM in use, Intel slowly increased its official support from DDR3-1066, to DDR3-1333, to DDR3-1600. It does this in part based on product line, so more expensive CPUs get the faster memory speeds, even if all could technically run them.

When DDR4 was introduced, Intel CPUs officially only supported DDR4-2133 (this was the slowest DDR4 commercially available, so it wasn't much of a stretch!). With Kaby Lake processors, introduced in January 2017, Intel increased official memory support to DDR4-2400. Any Kaby Lake-based CPU can support this. But, here's where it gets complicated. Motherboards need to "reveal" this choice in the BIOS. So while older motherboards can support newer CPUs with a firmware update, manufacturers may or may not add the new memory standard to the firmware. It's not really a technical issue (given how incremental the boost from 2133 to 2400 is), it's more of an issue of putting in the time.

As for overclocking, all the above goes out the window. If you have a Z-series motherboard, then you have access to all memory speeds right from the start, regardless of your CPU. If the motherboard supports overclocking, it supports it period, and that means both CPU (if you have an unlocked CPU), and memory (if you have high-speed-capable memory). Thus you could plug a Pentium into a Z270 board and install overclockable memory, but this calls into question how you'd properly balance your budget. Buying a Z-series motherboard for a Pentium means you're spending at least an extra $30, plus a bit more on the memory, while running a sub-$100 CPU. It's probably not the wisest investment, but for people looking to upgrade over time, it may make sense. Get the Z270 board now, plus DDR4-3000, for example, and choose a Pentium until you have money for something like a Core i5-7600K.

One other brief note: Intel is releasing a brand-new chipset (yes, just 9 months after it released its last one), along with a brand-new processor line (Core i5-8600K, Core i7-8700K) next month. The new chips will NOT run in any older motherboards, which until proven otherwise, should be assumed to be an artificial limitation put in place by Intel. As you know, the newest Pentiums can run perfectly well in older H110-based motherboards with an update, and you didn't need, for example, a B250.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 11:18:42 AM by Ari Altman »

bensrichards

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2017, 11:03:05 AM »
Thanks for the detailed answer, Ari. I was having a bit of trouble finding such an on point answer already out there on the web.

So will the next set of Intel chipsets be called 300 series, i.e., Z370, B350, X399? Seems like an X399 might cause a lot of confusion with the AMD boards...

Ari Altman

  • TBG Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2659
    • View Profile
Re: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2017, 11:17:06 AM »
Thanks for the detailed answer, Ari. I was having a bit of trouble finding such an on point answer already out there on the web.

So will the next set of Intel chipsets be called 300 series, i.e., Z370, B350, X399? Seems like an X399 might cause a lot of confusion with the AMD boards...

Z370 for sure, B350 has not yet been announced and would be the same name AMD uses for its mid-range chipset. B370 would make much more sense at this point. There are no plans at all for an X399, as X299 just came out. Given that AMD will be using that name until at least the year 2020, I doubt Intel will want to bother with it.

AMD is playing a bit of a game with Intel, and is clearly winning. It basically stole a number of model numbers that it knew Intel would want to use, and since they didn't exist yet, Intel likely hadn't trademarked them. Being an underdog, AMD didn't exactly need to play fair, now did it? ;)

bensrichards

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • View Profile
Re: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2017, 07:42:36 AM »
Ha! The trademark attorney in me finds the naming fight pretty funny. I just think it's entertaining to see AMD snatch up a bunch of product numbers. Reminds of the issues with random people trying to register 21st Century Fox back in the late 90s.

Just for fun, I ran a search on the PTO website for registered marks owned by Intel: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4808:ejuln7.7.1

Looks like Intel doesn't generally hold TM registrations for any of its chipsets, or any product number type identifiers. Looks like they went down that road in the mid-90s though, with lots of registrations for various x86/x87 processors.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2017, 07:44:30 AM by bensrichards »

Ari Altman

  • TBG Founder
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2659
    • View Profile
Re: Question about RAM Speeds and Locked CPUs
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2017, 08:23:53 AM »
Ha! The trademark attorney in me finds the naming fight pretty funny. I just think it's entertaining to see AMD snatch up a bunch of product numbers. Reminds of the issues with random people trying to register 21st Century Fox back in the late 90s.

Just for fun, I ran a search on the PTO website for registered marks owned by Intel: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4808:ejuln7.7.1

Looks like Intel doesn't generally hold TM registrations for any of its chipsets, or any product number type identifiers. Looks like they went down that road in the mid-90s though, with lots of registrations for various x86/x87 processors.

Very interesting - thanks for doing that research. I actually thought about checking that myself, but didn't get around to it. There's just one problem for Intel in this situation - you can't trademark something if it hasn't been used in commerce yet.  I just ran the searches myself, and was surprised to find that AMD hasn't trademarked the X399 or B350 chipset names that it's currently using and that Intel is likely to want.

It's possible that the PTO rejected these applications as insufficiently unique. AMD's "Ryzen" has of course been trademarked, so AMD probably considered the chipsets as well.