Technology Explained

RAM Speed Not Running as Advertised? Try Turning on XMP But Watch out!

Kannon Yamada 26-05-2014

Your RAM may not run at the advertised speed. According to Reddit user Marck527, many motherboards don’t recognize the right CAS latency or frequency of RAM. This issue exists on Intel motherboards and can easily be resolved by enabling XMP in your motherboard’s UEFI (or BIOS) settings.


Unfortunately, the fix causes additional issues – whenever you enable XMP, it may sometimes set your Turbo Boost frequencies to the maximum frequency, which causes the silicon on your CPU to age faster. For those with Haswell and Ivy Bridge CPUs, this further exacerbates the issue with the thermal paste used between the CPU’s integrated heat spreader and the die of the CPU.

But first, let’s explain what Turbo Boost and XMP profiles are.

Tip: The term “XMP profile” is redundant, as the “P” in XMP stands for profile.

What’s Turbo Boost and What’s an XMP Profile?

I’ll quickly explain Turbo Boost and XMP Profiles before explaining the RAM timing issue.

What’s Turbo Boost?

Turbo Boost is Intel’s method of providing a little extra performance out of their CPUs. Given a high workload, Intel CPUs, ranging from Nehalem to Haswell, dynamically increase frequency to efficiently handle workloads. This provides snappier performance, without creating excess amounts of heat. On the downside, some motherboard manufacturers design their wares to increase CPU frequency to its maximum Turbo Boost frequency when XMP profiles are enabled.


turbo boost

What’s an XMP Profile?

As stated above, XMP Profile is a redundant term, as XMP stands for eXtreme Memory Profile, an Intel specification for DDR3 RAM timings. CAS RAM timings on DDR3 RAM range from around 9 to 12 – the lower, the better. Higher quality RAM typically pairs very low CAS ratings with high frequencies. So if your RAM runs at 1600MHz, but with a CAS of 11, you may not be getting the desired performance that you seek. In fact, many users may own high quality RAM that runs at lower than advertised speeds because they did not enable XMP.

Resolving Your RAM’s Timing and Frequency Issue

First, use CPU-Z Learn Everything About Your Computer Specifications With Free, Portable CPU-Z Even if you’re not overly geeky, you probably have a rough idea of how much memory and what sort of processor your computer has. But what about its other statistics? For example, do you know... Read More to find out your RAM’s actual speed and timings. Second, enable XMP in your BIOS/UEFI. However, this may cause your CPU to run at full throttle. Third, you may need to disable Turbo Boost in your UEFI.



Finding Out if Your RAM’s Speed

You should already know your advertised RAM speed. A quick way to determine whether or not it’s actually running at its advertised speed, try downloading and installing the acclaimed CPU-Z. After installing it (or simply downloading the CPU-Z standalone executable), run the software. You’ll see several tabs. Choose “Memory”.

RAM timings CPU Z

You’ll see several numbers. The most important is “DRAM Frequency” and “CAS# Latency (CL)”. Make sure that these numbers check out with those advertised by the manufacturer. However keep in mind that DRAM Frequency is dual channel, so if you use more than a single stick, you can double this number. For example, if the speed is advertised as 1600MHz, then it should report as 800MHz in “DRAM Frequency”. If your RAM isn’t running in dual channel mode, CPU-Z will also report that under “Channel #”.

Enabling XMP in UEFI/BIOS

Enabling XMP in UEFI/BIOS doesn’t take much effort. The process varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there exist a few general rules to finding those settings. Simply tap the correct F-key on boot up to enter your UEFI’s configuration menu How to Enter the BIOS on Windows 10 (And Older Versions) To get into the BIOS, you usually press a specific key at the right time. Here's how to enter the BIOS on Windows 10. Read More . From within the UEFI, find your RAM’s settings. You may notice that XMP doesn’t appear – in this case, your RAM may not have an associated XMP profile. In this case your timings might require using either a manual or default setting.


2014-05-05 21.52.19

Dealing with Turbo Boost

If enabled, Turbo Boost temporarily overclocks your CPU to its maximum rated frequency, if enough thermal leeway exists. Intel’s design allows for snappier performance, when required. Unfortunately, some motherboard manufacturers try to squeeze every bit of juice out of their designs and frequently set CPUs to run at their top, overclocked speed, all the time if users enable XMP profiles. This proved to be the case when I attempted to enable both Turbo Boost and XMP profiles on my MSI Z87I mITX motherboard. All cores immediately jumped to their maximum frequency and stayed there, regardless of the workload size. This resulted in a much higher CPU temperature.

2014-05-05 21.51.56

According to Chris at Tom’s Hardware, Intel didn’t intend for this. Motherboard manufacturers, such as MSI, rigged their boards to to run all CPU cores at their maximum Turbo frequency at all times. I experienced this issue when attempting to build a passively cooled, eco-friendly PC How I Failed At Building An Eco-Friendly Next Generation Computer Many said it was impossible. Even so, I finished building a highly efficient computer that didn't use fans. The PC's design emphasizes low-wattage, power efficiency, fanless construction, compact size and excellent processing power per watt.... Read More – which caused a great deal of overheating problems.


Why Does Turbo Boost Cause a Problem?

You don’t want your desktop CPU to run at its maximum frequency at all times. This forces your fan to work harder, increases dust clots and shortens the life of your CPU. The performance gains won’t be particularly noticeable, either, since your CPU would reach those frequencies, given a heavy workload anyway. Running all cores at their maximum overclocked setting all the time isn’t wise. There might be a setting in the UEFI that turns top speed off, but I couldn’t locate it on my MSI board. Conversely, the ASRock replacement board allowed for both XMP and Turbo Boost, without perma-overclocking the CPU.

The Solution: Turn Off Turbo Boost

I contacted MSI regarding this issue, after first experiencing it. The MSI technician advised me that the problem lies within the CPU and not the motherboard. Fortunately, this wasn’t true and I eventually replaced the motherboard with an ASRock model that didn’t automatically run the CPU at the highest frequency. The problem lay with MSI’s design. Unfortunately, the only way to resolve this issue is through either turning off XMP profiles and using sub-optimal settings, doing manual timings (which can take a lot of work) or turning off Turbo Boost.

2014-05-05 21.51.14


If your RAM isn’t running at the advertised speed, try enabling XMP profiles. However, enabling XMP may require that you turn Turbo Boost off or it will cause irregular amounts of stress on your system. A higher ambient temperature will prematurely age your silicon, resulting in a higher rate of failure. Intel’s decision to use thermal paste Two Ways to Cool Down Your Defective Overheating Intel CPU Looking to purchase a Haswell or Ivy Bridge Intel CPU? A secret may change your mind. According to bloggers, Intel recently got caught using thermal paste on its CPUs and lying about it – the... Read More , which itself ages prematurely at higher temperatures, likely compounds this issue.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory.

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  1. Helen HH
    March 30, 2018 at 12:46 am

    *PLEASE* never link directly to a version number.
    After just a couple of weeks... all those links are useless.

  2. Amazed
    May 30, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Wow I have just downloaded the whole computer. Thanks

  3. Adel
    February 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you

  4. BN
    May 27, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I just downloaded a couple of 780ti in SLI for free......they have RAM too ?

  5. Matthew
    May 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I'm going on Usenet to download mine.

  6. Ashwin D
    May 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    We might as well try to download a 6 GB DDR3 from The Pirate Bay :):)

    • Abhi
      May 30, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Why to stop on RAM bro, we should download Alienware or may be Luvaglio :) :p

  7. Chinmay S
    May 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

    @Justin - Go to this site and select how much amount of RAM you need and hit Download now. And the best part it's completely free.

    @James - Downloaded RAM is great, it increases computer's efficieny and makes it run smoothly. After i downloaded RAM from the above site, my RAM got up from 2 GB to 6 GB.
    By the way, can you suggest some good sites to download internet speed. My current download speed is 30 kbps, I want 240 kbps.

    • David JR
      November 28, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Thank you for sharing useful articles

  8. Kannon Y
    May 27, 2014 at 3:07 am

    You guys are so getting trolled this Wednesday. By the way, thank you for moving to a more convenient time slot.

    I'm sure anyone who made it to the comment section knows that you're joking. Dear god, I hope they know you are joking.

    • gary
      December 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Hey thanks for the advice. I have a I7 4790K, 16GB (x2 8GB) at 2400 and a GTX 1080 and was wondering why I was getting low FPS in GTA V. I enabled XMP and now getting 60+ (vsync on with 1080 display) and even maxed all my settings (except for grass which kills on ultra!).

      My motherboard is a Gigabyte G1 Sniper M5 in a small prodigy case. When I disabled XMP I was getting high CPU temp of 78-80 when in GTA V. It dropped when in idle but I'm not sure about my CPU getting to 80c. I have a Corsair water cooler so I image stock would go through the roof! I followed your advice and disabled turbo boost, although I think it still goes to 4.4 anyway when needed. I think when it was enabled it was overclocking and going past 4.4. I would have to try again and see.

      Thanks again!

      • Gary
        December 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

        Sorry forgot to mention when I disabled turbo my temps in GTA V went down to 60-68 and still getting 60+ FPS :o)

        • Gary
          December 20, 2017 at 1:14 pm

          Hi again, sorry got some figures wrong after I re-tested this morning. My temps in GTA V never go above 60c with xmp enabled, turbo disabled and still get 60+ fps including in the country where grass can be demanding. I have grass on very high and not ultra. Also my base clock stays at 4.0, which makes sense.

          When I enable turbo my clock goes to 4.4 but down clocks in idle. This is also reflected in temps where they go up to 78-80 in GTA V and then drop to around 50 when back in windows desktop.

          I might enable the turbo in future if needed, I guess going to 80c is not too bad for an intel cpu, but for now I don't need it.

        • Kannon Y
          December 20, 2017 at 2:46 pm

          Hi Gary, thanks for the comment. Have you determined if the CPU frequency scales properly with Turbo enabled?

          80c is a little near the overheating mark of 90c although it's still pretty far away from the thermal shutdown limit. I think you're in good shape even with it hovering around 80c (this also depends on your mobo manufacturer, because not all temps are the same).

        • Gary
          December 20, 2017 at 8:26 pm

          Hi Kannon, no worries and thanks for replying to my post. Not to sure about the CPU frequency, it's a bit out of my depth but I can do some research into this so thanks for the tip :o)

          I've heard GTA V online has some demanding snow graphics over xmas so will be checking this out!

          Have a great Christmas!