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Does higher clock speed in RAM/CPU have better performance?

Walter Clements

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Walter Clements

For example, A comparison of RAM sticks:

G.Skill Trident Z 16GB 3200MHz

G.Skill Trident Z 16GB 3000MHz

Will the 3200MHz one have better performance?


And in CPUs, it's basically the same talk.

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It depends.


All else being equal, yes, but normally faster RAM has slacker RAM timings than slower stuff so the actual difference in performance is basically nothing.

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The difference between RAM clock speeds is more noticeable with older RAM sticks, especially if you combine them with memory hungry applications, or games. My old 1666 RAM sees framerate gains in Watch Dogs 2 (for example) if I overclock it to 1833 or even 2100. I found out it was RAM because both the CPU and GPU were being bottlenecked at random times in very busy areas, and overclocking the RAM basically fixed the issue and allowed the GPU to transfer data at maximum speed and reach its regular 90+% usage.


With modern RAM, the issue is much less exacerbated if not inexistent, for now.

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It depends on the conditions and the platform, you need to be more specific. AMD's Zen architecture especially sees advantages using faster RAM due to how it's designed. In general though the returns diminish over ~3000MHz and I'd say the difference between 3000MHz and 3200MHz would not be noticeable almost anywhere. CPU and GPU play a much bigger role in the overall performance of the system.


For a given CPU there is a direct correlation between clock speed and theoretical performance. A 10% overclock for example would in a best case scenario yield a 10% performance boost. In reality this might not always be the case. Again, it depends on the other components in the system. If the GPU for instance can't keep up with the CPU then increasing the clock speed of the CPU wouldn't give you any improvements as it's not the limiting factor.

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