The addition of XMP technology has made overclocking your RAM as simple as clicking a button, but not every motherboard supports this feature.
The simplest way to quickly see if your motherboard supports XMP is to check its product page on the manufacturer’s website. If it does, the details should say something along the lines of Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP).
Can You Use XMP Memory With a Non-XMP Motherboard?
Installing XMP memory sticks in a motherboard that doesn’t natively support XMP shouldn’t be a problem. You won’t be able to make use of the RAM’s XMP speeds, though. The PC won’t recognize the XMP format so would likely switch over to the regular JEDEC speeds it does recognize.
It’s hard to tell exactly what speed the computer will choose, so you’d have to test that out yourself. My guess is the PC will go with the next highest speed below the XMP equivalent. It could also just try to run at the RAM’s XMP speed anyway, but you might get hit with some (probably minor) latency problems.
How to Tell if XMP is Enabled on Your Computer?
If you’re setting your rig up for the first time, then XMP likely won’t be enabled. Don’t assume that it’s automatically enabled if someone else sets up the PC either—as many people forget to do it.
The easiest way to manually check whether XMP is enabled on your computer is by using a free tool called CPU-Z. After installing and opening the program, click on the SPD tab then look for “SPD Ext” in the list.
If XMP is enabled on your PC, you’ll see XMP 2.0 (or something like that depending on the DDR memory card you have) next to it.
While you’re here, you should also make sure XMP is actually on and working as it should. Check out the timings table in the SPD tab and make a note of your XMP MHz/GHz speed at the far right.
Then head to the Memory tab and take a look at what’s listed next to “DRAM Frequency.” If your XMP is enabled and running smoothly, this frequency should be close to the MHz/GHz speed you noted earlier.
When you’re putting your computer together, bear in mind that some motherboards only allow XMP when the RAM is placed in specific DIMM slots. Also, make sure to select the correct slots when checking CPU-Z otherwise it won’t show the correct information.
Check Whether Your RAM and Motherboard are Compatible
In addition to checking your motherboard, you should ideally also check whether your XMP RAM is compatible with your motherboard. This isn’t strictly necessary, andnot all RAM manufacturers put out lists of compatible motherboards.
While most RAM is compatible with most motherboards these days, there are edge cases where they don’t run well together. You might not want to take that chance if you’re going to make the financial plunge to buy high-end overclocking components.
Since XMP is an Intel product, it’s only compatible with Intel CPUs. Contrary to what many people think, even some locked non-k series CPUs support XMP, but not all of them do. So it’s still worthwhile to check before you buy anything. Intel does have a regularly updated list of XMP-supported processors on its website.
Don’t worry—you aren’t entirely out of luck if you have an AMD processor. AMD has a similar feature called AMD Memory Profile (AMP). You can enable this feature in your BIOS settings just like XMP.
Along with checking your motherboard, CPU, and RAM for compatibility, I’d also recommend that you make sure your power supply is up to the challenge. Its current wattage output might have been fine if you weren’t planning to overclock your PC. Overclocking normally adds around 100W of extra power consumption, however.
Will My PC Have the Correct XMP Profiles For My RAM?
Your RAM will come with the correct XMP profiles that they support, and these are loaded on the computer when you install your RAM.
So your PC should be ready to go after you’ve installed your RAM and checked that everything is compatible. Make sure you have the latest chipset drivers installed for both your motherboard and your CPU too.