It is a somewhat unhappy state of affairs when a mid-range Z690 board prices upwards of $300. On this market, even the $500 boards we have seen do not actually matter as excessive finish. That type of value creep signifies that B660 boards have been elevated to fill a spot that is opened up between entry degree boards and cheaper Z collection boards.
Some cheaper B660 boards are precisely that: low-cost. However others have a robust VRM sport and are completely glad to run a Core i9 12900K at inventory speeds. Now that B collection boards embody reminiscence OC assist, there are fewer causes than ever to spend so much extra money on a Z collection board.
That brings us to ASRock’s B660 Steel Legend. It is a DDR4 board and there isn’t a DDR5 choice. That spec alone places it within the extra inexpensive class, and can have a big impression on complete system value, too with the value of the newest reminiscence tech.
On the time of writing the B660 Metal Legend is not but obtainable in lots of markets, however with a value at Scan in the UK £160, and the micro ATX model costing $150 at Newegg, we will estimate that it’ll find yourself round $160 US or maybe $280 AUD.
That places it within the mid-range of B660 pricing and, at that type of value, it is essential to not count on an excessive amount of. Although if you consider it, you possibly can add an i5 and 32GB of DDR4-3200, together with your alternative of GPU, and it ought to simply be capable to sit on the coronary heart of an eminently inexpensive gaming system. However the massive query is: Do you need to hand over numerous essential options in comparison with dearer motherboards?
B660 Metal Legend specs
Socket: Intel LGA 1700
Type issue: ATX
Reminiscence assist: 128GB | As much as DDR4-4800
Storage: 3x M.2; 6x SATA
USB: As much as 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 4x USB 2.0
Video out: 1x HDMI 2.1; 1x DP 1.4
Networking: Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5G LAN
Audio: Realtek ALC897 7.1 Channel HD Audio
Value: $160 | £160
The B660 Metal Legend incorporates a army themed PCB with white and gray heatsinks, and unsurprisingly seems similar to the B560 Metal Legend. It comes with some giant splashes of RGB lighting round the correct aspect and chipset heatsink. It additionally seems very vivid, virtually too vivid.
One of many highlights is the inclusion of a PCIe 5.0 slot, which is omitted on many B660 boards to offer characteristic set differentiation with dearer choices. There are three M.2 slots, although solely the first slot has a heatsink. The center one additionally solely runs at PCIe 3.0 x2 pace. There are two PCIe 1x slots which instantly places it forward of many boards in its value vary for the flexibility so as to add a number of growth playing cards.
Its simple to overlook that we’re speaking a few cheaper board, however today it is arduous to get previous the omission of Wi-Fi, although the Metal Legend does have an M.2 e-key slot for a Wi-Fi card if you wish to add wi-fi capabilities down the road. You do additionally should accept fundamental Realtek ALC897 audio, too. Be aware that the board incorporates a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 entrance panel header, nevertheless, which is good to see on this value vary.
It does bear saying that the VRM of the B660 Metal Legend is on the fundamental aspect, however we’ve got to recollect we aren’t coping with a $500+ motherboard right here. A DrMOS VRM with 9 50A phases is ready to energy an i9 12900K. Often we prefer to report the VRM temperature throughout a stress take a look at, nevertheless the beta model of HWinfo we have been utilizing did not report the temperature accurately with our i5 chip. It certain as heck wasn’t the 6°C it was reporting.
So, we hooked up a thermocouple to the heatsink. We recorded a temperature of 42°C. Even when the true temperature is over 10°C larger, that is not a nasty consequence given the comparatively skinny heatsinks. The load of a 12900K might be larger, so should you’re one of many few that plan to pair a 12900K with a B660 Metal Legend, you’ll want respectable airflow.
The rear I/O comes with a typical set of ports on this value vary, although Wi-Fi is the plain omission. There’s one Sort-C USB 3.2 10Gb/s port, 4 3.2 5Gb/s ports and two USB 2.0 ports. The issue with having solely seven USB ports is that after you add a keyboard and mouse, a printer, headset, an exterior arduous drive, and a cellphone cable and also you’re down to at least one. Okay, you could have headers for a case and might all the time add a hub however not everybody needs cables hanging off of the entrance of their chassis.
You get DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1 ports to be used with Intel’s Xe graphics, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, and a BIOS flashback button. There’s a single 2.5G ethernet port, which is managed by a Realtek RTL8125BG chip. Lastly, there’s the audio. S/PDIF is a welcome for connection to an exterior amp or DAC, however the audio codec is the very generic ALC897. You do get Nahimic software program assist and the implementation is not dangerous, however should you’re on the lookout for a high-quality audio resolution, you’ll should look additional up within the vary.
The straight efficiency of the board, nevertheless, was typically good. It beat out the extremely regarded MSI B660 Tomahawk as a rule, although, as we all the time say, the variations between like-for-like methods and motherboards is mostly small, if not inside a margin of error. The Metal Legend would not have any downside with a Core i5 12600K, and with an unlikely pairing of an RTX 3080 Ti, the board performs on par with a DDR4-serviced Z690 board.
The ASRock B660 Metal Legend is a reasonably unremarkable board, however at this value, you do not actually need anything. ‘Outstanding’ at this degree typically references one thing lower than constructive, so a board that does not trigger a scene is admittedly what you are after.
If you’d like an overclocking-capable VRM, or Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, you need to pay twice the value or much more. It is a board for customers on a funds, although does provide PCIe 5.0 assist. Chuck in an i5 and your outdated set of DDR4 reminiscence and also you’ve obtained the core of a no fuss funds system.
The B660 Metal Legend could also be unremarkable—even perhaps common—however should you’re struggling to afford a GPU, saving a few hundred on a board just like the B660 Metal Legend and diverting it to a GPU will add tangible efficiency to your gaming system.