Checking Your Memory Speed

Introduction

Many people who build their own desktop PCs make a common configuration mistake. First, they buy a high speed DDR4 memory kit (which often costs more money). As they build their system, they install their memory modules in the the correct memory slots. So far, so good. Unfortunately, they also leave their UEFI BIOS settings for memory at the default values.

As a result, their memory modules end up running at the default JEDEC speed and latency values. Depending on what processor you are using, this can have a significant effect on performance. One way to see if you have this issue is by checking your memory speed. This is easy to do!

Different Ways To Check Your Memory Speed

There are three easy ways to check your current memory speed. I am going to show you all three of them. The first one is very easy, since it is built into modern versions of Windows.

Windows Task Manager

If you have Windows 10, you can see your current memory speed in Windows Task Manager. Go to the Performance tab, and then click on the Memory page. You should see something like this:

Memory Speed 2133 MHz (Bad)

I happen to know that I have DDR4-3600 memory installed in this system. The first picture shows my memory running at only 2133 MHz. This is NOT what I want to see.

The picture below shows shows my memory running at 3600 MHz, which is what I hope to see. This is much better!

Memory Speed 3600 MHz (Good)

Checking Your Memory Speed With CPU-Z

You can also use the free CPU-Z tool to check your memory speed. This is another valuable use for CPU-Z, which is a great utility. There are two tabs that you should look at in CPU-Z. The first one is the Memory tab.

Memory Tab Showing DRAM Frequency of 1066.4 MHz (Bad)
Memory Tab Showing DRAM Frequency of 1066.4 MHz (Bad)

Look at the DRAM Frequency in the Timings box. This will show you the actual memory speed. It will be half of the value that you see in Windows Task Manager. This is because DDR4 is double data rate memory.

With the default BIOS setting for memory, my DRAM Frequency is 1066.4 MHz. If you double that, you get 2133 MHz. That is not what we want to see with DDR4-3600 memory.

With XMP enabled, you see the DRAM Frequency at 1799.6 MHz. If you double that, you get 3600 MHz. That is what we want to see here.

Memory Tab Showing DRAM Frequency of 1799.6 MHz (Good)

The second tab that is useful in this context is the SPD tab. SPD stands for Serial Presence Detect, and it is used to let your computer know about your installed memory. This lets your computer know what memory is present, and what timings to use to access the memory.

SPD Tab Showing Memory Module Information
SPD Tab Showing Memory Module Information

The SPD tab gives you very useful information about the memory module in each memory slot. In this case, we have a 16GB G.Skill module with a Part Number of F4-3600C16-16GVKC. If you Google the part number you will probably find a product page that has detailed specifications.

The Timing Table shows the standard JEDEC timings and the XMP timings. This shows you what the memory module is capable of. Ideally, we want our memory to be running at XMP specifications.

Checking Your Memory Speed With HWiNFO64

You can also use the free HWiNFO64 utility to check your memory speed. In the System Summary screen, there is a section called Memory, at the bottom right. The Clock field is the current DRAM frequency.

In this first example, the value is 1066.7 MHz, which the stock default JEDEC setting. That is not what you want to see with DDR4-3600 memory.

HWiNFO64 Showing Memory Clock at 1066.7 MHz (Bad)
HWiNFO64 Showing Memory Clock at 1066.7 MHz (Bad)

In this second example, the Clock value is 1800.0 MHz. That is what we would expect to see if XMP is enabled, which is good.

HWiNFO64 Showing Memory Clock at 1800.0 MHz (Good)
HWiNFO64 Showing Memory Clock at 1800.0 MHz (Good)

Final Words

I have shown you three easy ways to check the memory speed in your system. This is something you should do, regardless of what type of system you have. It is useful to know this information. You may not be able to modify your memory settings with some systems though.

For example, most servers and prebuilt client systems don’t give you too much control over this. Most servers don’t have XMP support, and they don’t let you manually adjust memory settings very much.

On most servers, you have some control over memory speed based on the exact type of memory that is installed and how many DIMMs are installed. Depending on the model server, there are usually some memory setting that you should investigate. For good reason, servers don’t expose as many settings as a DIY client motherboard. I talked about how to enable XMP here.

If you have any questions about memory speed, please ask me. I am pretty active on Twitter asĀ GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!

Categories AMD, Intel, PC HardwareTags

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