Answering What DDR4 Clock Speed is Best For AMD AM4 Platforms

AMD Ryzen processors are here and the number of people buying AMD platforms has spiked as a result. Those that are running out to buy Ryzen 7 series processor will need to also purchase the new AMD AM4 platforms using the B350 or X370 chipset with possibly a dual-channel DDR4 memory kit. Picking out the right memory kit is pretty important, so we are going to look at memory performance on the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard with an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 8-core processor to see what happens. MSI X370 Motherboard When it comes to memory kits you are looking at around $110 to $130 for most 16GB DDR4 memory kits that range in clock frequency of 2133 MHz to 3200 MHz. We highly suggest a 16GB memory kit as the bare minimum for a system here in 2017 that will be used for PC gaming or content creation. Corsair Vengenance LPX 16GB DDR4 Memory Kits 2133MHz to 3200MHz:  G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4 Memory Kits 2133MHz to 3200MHz We've listed a number of kits above to give you an idea of what is available on the market right now.   [gallery ids="192318,192317,192316,192315,192314,192313,192312,192311,192310,192309"] In order to set your DDR4 memory kit clock frequency and memory timings you will need to enter the UEFI and manually adjust timings. In the gallery above we have some screen shots of the UEFI on the MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard that we used for testing. We used version 1.22 that came out on March 5th, 2017 for testing and this was the very first version that allows you to disable AMD Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) Technology as the three UEFI versions that we've used before this didn't allow you to do that. When it comes to DRAM configuration settings there isn't much you can do on this platform so far. MSI X370 Memory Straps When it comes to DRAM Frequency you eight memory straps (aka: memory dividers) that you can adjust ranging from DDR4-1333 to DDR4-3200. Since memory kits start out at 2133 MHz most people will only find the last five dividers useful as this board doesn't yet allow for the base clock frequency of the processor to be adjusted for bus speed overclocking. You need to adjust the processors bus speed clock to utilize those lower memory straps. Official Ryzen DDR4 Memory Support We noticed that no motherboards offer a memory strap beyond 3200MHz and asked AMD if this was a limitation of the processor architecture and we were told that it is just a limit in the base UEFI code and that it is not a limitation of the memory controller design or the overall Zen architecture. So, right now the memory strap limitation is on AMD's side and that the DDR4-3200 is the highest memory strap you can get today. AMD is discussing changing that, but right now it is just a talking point. Official Ryzen DDR4 memory support is listed above. The dual channel/dual tank/4 DIMM support of just 1866 MHz just goes to show how far AMD needs to come. Singe Rank Memory is memory with chips on only one side of the stick of memory, although we have seen some exceptions of the years. MSI X370 Memory Timing Adjustments There are just five main timing settings that you can adjust and the command rate is locked to 1T with no option for changing that. Very simple stuff and setting up a memory kit on an AMD AM4 platform is pretty simple. Most AMD X370 boards will have an option for A-XMP or AMP (AMD Memory Profile) Technology that allows you to load a modules pre-configured settings if the memory kit you are using has been pre-programmed.

DDR4 Memory Frequency Impact on AMD X370 and Ryzen 7

To see how DDR4 memory scales on the new AMD AM4 platform we'll be using an AMD X370 chipset based board and an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processors that we overclocked up to 4.0 GHz. We selected six benchmarks to run AIDA64, Sandra, 3DMark Fire Strike, X264, 7-Zip and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (DX12). We feel these benchmarks should give a fairly good look at how the memory subsystem on the AMD AM4 platform to help aide people in selecting the right memory kit for their new AM4 platform performs.

We tried our best to use the most popular clock speeds and timings for each clock rate. Here’s the full list of our memory configuration we used for benchmarking:

We overclocked our AMD Ryzen 7 1700 8-core processor to 4.0GHz (40 x 100MHz) on our test bed to see how the overall memory clock frequency impacts the performance of Ryzen 7 processors.

AMD Ryzen 7 Test System Settings

Rather than just running each benchmark or application once, we took the average from running each test scenario three times. This means that we ran 18 benchmarks for each memory clock speed we tested at and there were nine clock speeds tested. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We will use an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card for discrete gaming performance tests.

AMD Ryzen Test System The AMD X370  platform that we used to test the the Corsair Vengeance LPX memory kit was running the MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard with BIOS 1.22 that came out on 03/5/2017. Let's take a look at the benchmarks!

AIDA 64 and Sandra Memory Bandwidth Tests

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 5.80 Beta:

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 5.80 software (websiteis an excellent benchmarking tool for looking at memory performance on any desktop PC. This version of AIDA64 implements full support for the upcoming Intel Skylake processors, adds advanced support for Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 operating systems, and supports the latest graphics and GPGPU computing technologies by both AMD and nVIDIA. AIDA64 Extreme 5.80 software is free to try with limited features or $39.95 to buy with 1-year of free updates. 

Benchmark Results: Using the slowest DDR4-2133 dual channel memory kit on the market we were reaching just under 33,000 MB/s of read/write memory bandwidth and by the time we got up to DDR4-3200 we were running over 46,000 MB/s! The write memory bandwidth went from 32,263 MB/s to 46,250 MB/s, which is a 13,987 MB/s or 46.4% increase in the effective write bandwidth. The performance increase was found to be fairly consistent until the very end when we loosened the memory timings to better match that of most 3200MHz memory kits on the market today.

Benchmark Results: Using the AIDA64 v5.80 copy test we found similar results, but we did plateau at the very end when we raised the memory timings. We started out at 30,882 MB/s with a DDR4 clock frequency of 2133 MHz and ended up at 41,086 MB/s with the DDR4 3200 MHz memory kit.

Benchmark Results: The latency of the memory decreased as the DDR4 DRAM clock speed increased despite having to loosen the timings in the UEFI along the way. At DDR4-2133 we averaged 95.4 ns and then improved that as the clock speeds went faster until we reached 76.4 ns at DDR4-3200.

SiSoftware Sandra 2016 SP3:

Benchmark Results: Using Sandra 2016 SP3 we again checked the memory bandwidth performance and managed to go from 27.1 GB/s with our 2133 MHz DDR4 memory kit with CL12 timings all the way up yo 36 GB/s with the 3200 MHz DDR4 CL16 memory kit. Sandra 2016 SP3 showed a 33% improvement in memory bandwidth for the AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor overclocked to 4GHz on the MSI X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium motherboard.

3DMark Fire Strike and X264

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike

3DMark Fire Strike is the new showcase DirectX 11 benchmark for high-performance gaming PCs. Using a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine, Fire Strike includes two graphics tests, a physics test and a combined test designed to stress the CPU and GPU at the same time. 3DMark Advanced and Professional Editions include an additional Extreme preset for highend systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike is only available in the Windows editions of 3DMark initially. 3DMark Fire Strike Physics test benchmarks the hardware’s ability to run gameplay physics simulations on the CPU. The GPU load is kept as low as possible to ensure that only the CPU is stressed. The Bullet Open Source Physics Library is used as the physics library for the test. The test has 32 simulated worlds. One thread per available CPU core is used to run simulations. All physics are computed on CPU with soft body vertex data updated to GPU each frame.
Results: The Physics score went up 4.9% by going from the DDR4 2133MHz kit with CL12 timings to the DDR4 3200 MHz kits with the CL16 timings. This isn't a massive increase, but it does again show that running faster memory clock speeds will help performance rather than hurting it. The overall GPU score in 3DMark Fire Strike went from 17,750 to 18,164, an improvement of 2.3%. 

x264 HD Benchmark v5.0.1

LR Test system x264 screen shot HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for MacOS X, Linux and Windows. It is popular today as it allows you to transcode multiple input video formats to h.264 output format and is highly multithreaded.

Benchmark Results: The X264 v5.0.1 benchmarks showed that you get a small performance bump by moving from DDR4-2133 to DDR4-2400 on the first pass, but for the most part the performance is pretty flat. We found 3.4% performance gains on the first pass and 0.6% performance gains on the second pass by going up to a 3200MHz kit rather than your base 2133MHz DDR4 memory kit. 

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided & 7-Zip

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is an action role-playing stealth video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, Mankind Divided features the return of Adam Jensen from the previous game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with new technology and body augmentations. The game was released on August 23rd, 2016 for PC users.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Train Station

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided uses a heavily modified version of the Glacier 2 engine that has been tweaked so much that they are now calling it the Dawn game engine.
We took a look at GPU performance using the DX12 API setting paired with the ‘Medium’ image quality preset with MSAA and VSync turned off. We picked to run just ‘Medium’ image quality settings due to how tough this game title is to render and we feel that most gamers will use this setting. Benchmark Results: In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 discrete desktop graphics card installed in the system we saw a jump in performance between DDR4-2133 and DDR4-3200 by an impressive 16%. The AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor overclocked up to 4 GHz certainly likes the memory bandwidth for 1080P gaming. The bad news is that by the time you read 2560 x 1440 (1440P), the system is more GPU botttlenecked, so memory clock speed didn't impact performance at all. The same thing proved true for 4K gaming performance, so if you aren't GPU limited running the fastest memory clock speed possible will greatly help 1080P gaming performance.  We expected the performance increase to be pretty linear and have no answer for why the DDR4 2666MHz score wasn't a touch higher, but it was still an improvement over 2400 MHz!   

7-Zip 16.04 For Windows

7-Zip is a popular open source file archiver with a high compression ratio in 7z format with LZMA and LZMA2 compression. We use the built-in benchmark test with stock settings to see how memory clock frequencies impact compression performance. Benchmark Results: Using the latest build of 7-Zip showed that we saw a 3.3% performance gain by going from 2133 MHz to 3200 MHz on the DDR4 memory kit. Not massive performance gains by any means, but you do get a small performance boost with higher clock speeds when it comes to compression tasks. 

What Happens When All Slots Are Populated on X370

When you load up all four slots on the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard bad things happen. For starters using our Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4 4000MHz memory modules that are single-rank with Samsung Rev-B dies we were only able to get the system to boot and load Windows 10 at 2133 MHz. If you try higher than that the system would fail to successfully post let along start to load Windows. MSI X370 Gaming Titanium All Slots Full This is certainly disappointing after being able to run 3200MHz just fine with just two of these matched modules. Official Ryzen DDR4 Memory Support AMD wasn't lying when they said 4 DIMM performance with single-rank (single-sided) modules would be limited to 2133 MHz. Our AIDA64 performance at 2133 MHz with all 4 DIMMs populated was also lower than expected. Performance was down by 300-600 MB/s on the read and write tests versus 2 DIMM performance and the latency was just a touch higher at 96.1 ns versus 95.4 ns. Not a good sign for the AMD Ryzen platform that 4 DIMM performance is so poor. Hopefully they can improve it a bit with UEFI updates.  

Conclusion - What Is The DDR4 Sweet Spot For Ryzen

[caption id="attachment_192243" align="aligncenter" width="645"]AMD Ryzen 7 1700 With ATI Ruby AMD Ryzen 7 1700 With ATI Ruby[/caption] After using the AMD Ryzen 7 processors for almost two weeks no on the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium motherboard we've found that this processor loves all the memory bandwidth that it can get. The good news is that DDR4 memory pricing is actually pretty reasonable right now and there isn't much of a price difference between a 2133 MHz memory kit and a 3200 MHz memory kit as all the high-cost DDR4 memory kits are now over 4000 MHz. By going to 3200 MHz over 2133 MHz we were seeing near 50% performance improvement in simple memory bandwidth tests and a 16% performance jump in our 1080P gaming test. Hopefully AMD board markers will update their UEFI builds to allow for higher than 3200MHz memory kit use without needing to mess with the adjusting the bus speed of the processor (RefClck). Here is a quick look at the memory read performance on AIDA 64 versus the price you pay for a Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 16GB memory kit (first five listed below). As you can see the MB/s cost per dollar spent goes up nicely, so no you have a cost reason to go faster! Corsair Vengenance LPX 16GB DDR4 Memory Kits 2133MHz to 3200MHz:  G.SKILL Ripjaws V 16GB DDR4 Memory Kits 2133MHz to 3200MHz We hope that you have a better understanding about picking the right DDR4 memory kit for the new Ryzen processor platform. The AMD Ryzen 7 processor and AMD X370 based motherboards love tight timings and high memory clock speeds, but it is clear that AMD and the board makers need to tune for it. Right now we are very early in production and AMD did not give OEMs final processors until just the final two weeks before the platform launched. Performance has been all over the place as a result, but the latest uCode from AMD has improved things and we expect things to get better form this point on. If you love memory and want to know more we advise taking a look at this ASUS Crosshair VI motherboard overclocking guide that we ran across on as they have some nice nuggets in it. This is a guide aimed at extreme overvclockers and claims that the best DRAM configuration at the moment is 2x8GB Samsung B-die based DIMMs and that the worst configuration is dual-rank 2x16GB, especially Hynix-based DRAM (4xSR is best at the moment if you need 32GB and high speed). Other highlights can be found below. Update 03-14-2017: AMD said that they have internally observed good results from 2933, 3200, and 3500 MT/s rates with 16GB kits based on Samsung “B-die” memory chips. Potential kits include: