It’s been some time now since Intel’s 11th gen CPUs launched along with 500 Series chipset-based motherboards. Intel introduced quite a few new features or let’s say changes in the Rocket Lake or 11th gen CPUs and also 500 Series chipsets. It is common knowledge that one required a Z series chipset-based motherboard in order to enjoy the full overclocking potential of K series CPUs. Lower tier B series and H Series Chipsets locked out all OC features. This was the case until 10th gen and 400 Series chipsets.
For the first time, Intel has unlocked memory OC on a B-series chipset along with the fully unlocked Z series chipset. This is a welcome change where users can consider saving some cost by going for a B-series chipset instead of a Z-series if they do not intend to manually overclock the CPU. With this new exciting development, we were curious to check out how Memory OC was like on the latest Intel B560 chipset motherboards. MSI was kind enough to send across their MSI MAG B560M Mortar WIFI motherboard for us to check out.
Today we shall be focussing purely on the Memory OC aspect and other performance parameters shall be looked at in a different article.
So let’s get on with it.
BIOS – OC Section :
We selected a Water cooler since we will be using custom water cooling on the CPU.
The maximum selectable DRAM frequency is 8266MHz! Relax… this is practically impossible to achieve given the available Memory IC and capabilities of the Rocket Lake IMC.
MSI has a cool feature called Memory Try it which has a number of presets which you could try if they work with your memory and CPU. Once an option is selected, primary timings are changed and also voltages necessary for memory OC. Understandably the voltages may be on the higher side to ensure better success across different RAM and CPU and their respective silicon quality. If you are aware of what voltages your particular RAM and CPU are comfortable at, you can manually enter the values. What all voltages matter for Memory OC shall be discussed later.
The tweakable options available in the DRAM configuration are overwhelming and might be confusing for many. As we said earlier, the majority of the time you won’t need to touch any of these in order to fine-tune and get improved performance. But if you are experienced and adventurous enough, the options are there for you to try.
This is the main voltage section. If you are targeting purely memory OC then we would suggest leaving CPU Vcore on auto setting. CPU Vcore does not play any role in memory OC. The most important voltages for Memory OC are VCCSA or CPU SA Voltage and VCCIO or CPU IO Voltage. With Rocket Lake, there is another voltage known as CPU IO 2 Voltage or VCCIO Memory. This applies only to Rocket Lake. For Comet lake CPUs, VCCSA and VCCIO are all that matters.
Since we are testing Rocket Lake today, we shall focus only on VCCIO Mem or CPU IO 2 Voltage and VCCSA or CPU SA Voltage. These are important from CPU IMC perspective. Once these voltages are set, you need to set DRAM voltage based on your memory kit.
There is a small utility embedded in the BIOS itself called Memory Z which basically reads the Memory SPD table and gives valuable information regarding different SPD tables and XMP tables present on the particular module or modules.
Now that we have gone through the important OC sections related to memory, let’s see what our test setup was capable of achieving.
Test Results :
Everest Cache & Memory Test :
We used AIDA Everest Memory & Cache Benchmark to quickly analyze the performance impact with different settings we chose for the memory.
Rocket Lake aka Intel Core 11th gen CPUs and their new IMC offer exceptional memory tweaking potential.
For the first time ever B Series chipset offers Memory OC which makes it accessible to a wider user base.
MSI B560M Mortar WIFI is a strong board and handled the Intel Core i9 11900K Memory OC pretty well.
The combination of MSI B560M Mortar WIFI + Intel Core i9 11900K + Thermaltake Toughram XG RGB 4000MHz CL19 Kit worked beautifully delivering some very exciting results.
Even though the CPU is not under stress while Memory OC, it is a good idea to have sufficient cooling because, for a higher frequency, higher VCCSA and VCCIO Mem voltage is required, and also while running benchmarks, the CPU might be stressed. Therefore, safer to have good cooling.
Rocket Lake in general runs quite hot when power limits are relaxed. Higher temperatures will hamper the memory OC scalability. Usually, the cooler the CPU, the cooler is the IMC, and the more stable it is.
While using Memory Try it feature, keep a close watch on the auto-applied VCCSA and VCCIO Mem voltages. They can be quite high for ambient cooling. We have seen it push almost 1.5V VCCSA and 1.65V VCCIO Mem. These are very dangerous voltages on Air/Water Cooling. LN2 is a different scenario. Such high voltages can potentially kill the CPU. Our 11900K is known to scale decently around 1.45V on both VCCSA and VCCIO. So shoving so much voltage is not only unnecessary but also dangerous.
Although IMC scales with increased VCCSA and VCCIO voltages, the scaling isn’t exactly in direct proportion. It is up to you to figure out what your specific CPU IMC is capable of and how much voltage is required. Keep in mind that beyond a certain point, you will see absolutely no scaling irrespective of the voltage used. The memory kit used also makes a difference.
Overall memory OC potential is dependent on multiple factors, motherboard Memory topology, DRAM PCB Layout, DRAM IC Used, CPU IMC Quality, DRAM IC Quality, BIOS maturity, etc.
The most common DRAM PCB Layout is A2 for 8GB Modules which work very well for Frequency but aren’t known to like tight timings too much.
These days the most common Memory ICs seen are Hynix CJR, DJR, Micron M-Die, E-Die, Samsung B-Die, Spectek, Nanya, and so on. Usually, 3600MHz and above-rated kits are known to carry Hynix CJR or Micron E-Die and maybe very rarely Samsung B-Die. There are 2 known variants of Samsung B-Die so be careful. One is the legendary one which OCs like crazy but the other is quite a dud. It will do tighter CAS latency but won’t budge for tRCD and tRP which will hurt performance.
Micron E-Die is very popular and scales very well on frequency but is known not to like tight timings.
Hynix DJR is the new king of the hill kind of IC as far as Memory Frequency is concerned. The usual Hynix characteristics still apply though. They do not like tight timings.
Bottom-line is, Samsung B-Die is still the only choice if you are craving for very tight timings and higher frequencies.
Coming back to the board, although the MSI B560M Mortar WIFI is a 4 DIMM board, it achieved 5000MHz Memory Frequency which is commendable.
The Thermaltake Toughram XG RGB 4000 MHZ CL19 Kit we have has Hynix DJR IC and scaling from 4000MHz to 5000MHz in itself is a testament to its capability.
We have tested this particular memory kit on few Z590 motherboards and it does 5000MHz and above at a much lower DRAM Voltage but for some reason, on this board, the same voltages, timings, frequency combinations could not be replicated. We are looking into it though.
We have only tested 1 kit on this board but looking at the promising results, would be curious to try 16GB and 32GB modules also and see how they fare.
On a closing note, MSI is currently running a Memory OC contest specifically for B560 chipset-based motherboards, so if any of you have MSI B560 Motherboard and want to try your luck, head over to - https://in.msi.com/Landing/b560-memory-try-it-overclocking-competition/ for more details. Good Luck!