ASRock B660 Steel Legend Review

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs with a mid-range Z690 board costing over $300. In this market, even the $500 boards we’ve seen don’t count as high-end. This price hike means the B660 boards have been upgraded to fill the gap between entry-level boards and cheaper Z-series boards.

Some of the cheaper B660 boards are just that: cheap. But others have strong VRM play and are perfectly happy running the Core i9 12900K at stock speeds. Now that B-series boards include memory overclocking support, there’s less reason to spend a lot more money on a Z-series board than ever.

This brings us to Steel Legend ASRock B660. This is a DDR4 board and there is no DDR5 option. This specification alone puts it in a more affordable category and will have a big impact on the overall cost of the system as well as the price of the latest memory technologies.

At the time of writing, the B660 Steel Legend was not yet available in many markets, but its price was UK scan £160 and the micro ATX version costs $150 at Newegg we can estimate that it will end up being around $160 or maybe AU$280.

This puts it in the middle price range of the B660, and at this price, it’s important not to expect too much. Although, on second thought, you can throw in an i5 and 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory with your GPU of choice and it could easily be the heart of an extremely affordable gaming setup. But the big question is: will you have to give up many important features compared to more expensive motherboards?

Characteristics of steel legend B660

Connector: Intel LGA 1700
Shape factor: ATX
Memory support: 128 GB | Up to DDR4-4800
Storage: 3x M.2; 6xSATA
USB: Up to 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 4x USB 2.0
Video output: 1x HDMI 2.1; 1x DP 1.4
Net: Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5G LAN
Audio: Realtek ALC897 7.1ch HD Audio
Price: $160 | £160

The B660 Steel Legend has a military-style PCB with white and gray heatsinks and, unsurprisingly, looks very similar to the B560 Steel Legend. It comes with big splashes of RGB lighting around the right side and a chipset heatsink. It also seems very bright, almost too bright.

One of the highlights is the inclusion of a PCIe 5.0 slot, which is missing from many B660 boards, to allow for the feature set differentiation over more expensive options. There are three M.2 slots, although only the main slot has a heatsink. The middle one also only runs at PCIe 3.0 x2 speeds. There are two PCIe 1x slots, which immediately puts it ahead of many boards in its price range for the ability to add multiple expansion cards.

It’s easy to forget we’re talking about a cheaper board, but Wi-Fi is hard to come by these days, though the Steel Legend does have an M.2 dongle slot for a Wi-Fi card if you want to add wireless capabilities in the future. You’ll also have to settle for the basic Realtek ALC897 audio. Note that the board features a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 header on the front, which is nice to see in this price range.

It’s worth saying that the VRM B660 Steel Legend is on the base side, but we have to remember that we’re not dealing with a $500+ motherboard here. DrMOS VRM with nine 50A phases can power i9 12900K. We usually like to report VRM temperatures during a stress test, however, the beta version of HWinfo we used was reporting temperatures incorrectly with our i5 chip. It certainly wasn’t the 6°C reported.

So we attached the thermocouple to the heatsink. We recorded a temperature of 42°C. Even if the actual temperature is more than 10°C higher, this is not a bad result, given the relatively narrow heatsinks. Loading the 12900K will be higher, so if you’re one of the few planning to pair the 12900K with the B660 Steel Legend, you’ll need decent airflow.

The rear I/O comes with a typical array of ports in this price range, although Wi-Fi is an obvious omission. There is one Type-C USB 3.2 10Gb/s port, four 3.2 5Gb/s ports, and two USB 2.0 ports. The problem with only seven USB ports is that once you add a keyboard and mouse, printer, headset, external hard drive, and phone cable, you’re left with one. Okay, you’ve got the case connectors and you can always add a hub, but not everyone wants cables dangling from the front of the case.

You get DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 ports for use with Intel Xe graphics, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, and a BIOS recovery button. There is one 2.5G Ethernet port controlled by the Realtek RTL8125BG chip. Finally, there is sound. S/PDIF is welcome for connecting to an external amplifier or DAC, but the audio codec is a very generic ALC897. You get Nahimic software support and the implementation isn’t bad, but if you’re looking for a high-quality audio solution, you’ll have to look further in that range.

Gaming PerformanceHowever, the direct performance of the board was generally good. More often than not, it outperformed the highly acclaimed MSI B660 Tomahawk, although as we always say, differences between similar systems and motherboards tend to be small, if not within the margin of error. The Steel Legend has no issues with the Core i5 12600K, and with the unlikely pairing of an RTX 3080 Ti, the board performs on par with a Z690 board with DDR4. The ASRock B660 Steel Legend is a fairly unremarkable board, but at this price point, you don’t need anything else. “Wonderful” at this level usually refers to something less than positive, so a board that doesn’t cause scenes is what you want.

If you want an overclockable VRM or Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, you’ll pay double or more. This is a board for users on a budget, although it does offer PCIe 5.0 support. Throw in an i5 and your old set of DDR4 memory and you have the core of a no-fuss budget system.

The B660 Steel Legend may be unremarkable – perhaps even average – but if you’re struggling to afford a GPU, saving a couple hundred on a board like the B660 Steel Legend and redirecting it to the GPU will add tangible performance to your game system.

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