GamingMemory and Storage

Does RAM Speed Impact Gaming Performance?

People often wonder if memory speed matters and if yes, then by how much? Is gaming performance affected by the RAM speed too? Furthermore, how fast does your memory need to be to offer the best performance with the Ryzen 3000 processors?

That’s what we’ll answer in this post, plus some tests on the impact of memory speed on gaming performance. The first thing you need to know is that the impact of memory is subtle but at the same time, it can have a serious effect on your overall experience: FPS drops, frame pacing issues and random dips in performance are some key indications of a memory bottleneck.

In Intel’s monolithic chips, the impact of memory speed is relatively less pronounced, but in the case of the Ryzen 3000 CPUs, it can have a fairly significant impact on gaming performance. This is because of the Infinity Fabric connecting the various chiplets. It runs at around 1800MHz, so if you use a memory kit slower than that, it’ll scale down to the same speed, inducing a latency between the various CCDs.

AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs: CCX, CCD, I/O Die…

The Infinity Fabric runs either at the same frequency as the RAM or at half the speed. The former is preferred. In all our tests, we’ll rum the Infinity Fabric at 1800MHz and set the memory configuration to 1:1, so that both the IF and the memory run at the same frequency.

Test Bed

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  • Memory: Trident Z Royal 8GB x 2 @ 3600MHz
  • PSU: Corsair HX1000i


The average frame rates in a game give a relative measure of overall performance. They don’t account for the lags or FPS drops (if any) and as such can be misleading at times. 90th and 99th percentile are used in tandem with the averages to make up for that shortcoming. The higher their values, the better the overall performance:

  • Average: This represents the average frame rate through the benchmark run.
  • 90th percentile: 10 frames out of 100 are slower than this frame rate. 90% of the frames will achieve at least this frame rate.
  • 99th percentile: 1 frame out of 100 is slower than this frame rate. 99% of the frames will achieve at least this frame rate.

Impact of Memory Speed on Gaming Performance: Ryzen 9 3900X

All the games were tested at the highest in-game preset at 1080p with the memory timings set to 16-16-16-36 and the Infinity Fabric at the same speed as the memory (1:1 ratio):

Other than Metro Exodus, all the games see a healthy boost going from 2400MHz to 3000MHz. However, the uplift to 3600MHz is relatively less attractive with even the memory-intensive Assassins’ Creed Origins gaining just 3 FPS on average. The lows, however, still see a sizeable improvement.

Our recommendation would be to get a 3200MHz dual-channel module and run it at 3400-3600MHz. That will give you the optimal performance without draining your bank account.

Dual-Channel vs Single-Channel RAM: Impact on Gaming Performance in Ryzen 3000 Processors

We also tested the performance improvement you get by increasing the memory and IF to 3733MHz but the gains were minimal (within the margin of error).

Furthermore, it’s always best to keep the fabric clock the same as the memory. The 1:2 mode where memory is twice as fast as the IF doesn’t produce positive results in realistic scenarios:

What About Latencies?

There’s a lot of confusion regarding latencies. Most people aren’t even sure what the memory timings or latency refer to. We won’t explain it here. If you want info on that, we did a detailed post on it a while back:

RAM Timings: What are they? What do you do with them?

Usually, 16-16-16-36 is the sweet spot and below that there’s very little you can gain. Furthermore, after this point, you should focus on increasing the memory frequency over reducing the timings.

14-14-14-32 is usually the tightest timing config you can get with high-end DDR4 modules, but not all kits will manage that. We were only able to go down to CL15 on our kit. Regardless, the gains after CL16 are hardly noticeable.

Areej Syed

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have been writing about computer hardware for over seven years with more than 5000 published articles. Started off during engineering college and haven't stopped since. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Divinity, Torment, Baldur's Gate and so much more... Contact:
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