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Asrock B660 Metal Legend – Evaluation 2022

Whereas players and energy customers could also be the obvious advertising phase for {hardware} producers, their complete quantity falls far beneath the mainstream enterprise and residential customers. The Metal Legend line is often geared toward workplace and productiveness customers, although Asrock outfits it far above a strictly “enterprise solely” trim. With its motherboards, fancy PCB design and RGB lighting is included, not issues that normally rank excessive on the workplace precedence checklist. However who says productiveness customers don’t respect beauty? The complete ATX model of the B60 Metal Legend has an MSRP of $149, which means stiff competitors from different sturdy and well-rounded boards. It is a competent sufficient possibility for Intel LGA1700 CPUs, however we would prefer it extra at a Jackson or so much less.

Board Design

As talked about above, the Metal Legend could also be meant for “boring” productiveness work, however the board itself is slightly eye-catching. The board makes use of what is likely to be best described as an arctic digital camouflage motif, gray and white silkscreening over the black PCB.

A top down shot of the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Contrasting brushed and bead-blasted floor finishes proceed the design on the aluminum heatsinks. For added model, RGB lighting is embedded within the entrance edge spelling out the Metal Legend identify and emblem. Included within the field are additionally a Metal Legend keychain, a Metal Legend emblem keycap for mechanical keyboards, and two hook-and-loop straps for cable administration.

Fast Recap: The Z690 vs. B660 Chipsets

These unfamiliar with the variations between Intel’s 600-series chipsets can learn our detailed breakdown right here. Whereas it’s honest to say most customers received’t discover any distinction between Z690 and H670 boards, aside from overclocking, the B660 chipset has drastically lowered storage choices that have to be thought of.

PCI Categorical (PCIe) and SATA lanes are minimize in half in comparison with Z690, leaving a most of six PCIe 4.0 lanes, eight PCIe 3.0 lanes, and 4 SATA 6Gbps ports. For the reason that CPU already has its personal PCIe 5.0 x16 and 4.0 x4 lanes for the first enlargement card and M.2 storage drive, B660 boards will probably use their 4.0 lanes for a for a second 4.0 x4 M.2 slot. Nevertheless, the eight 3.0 lanes will likely be very restricted to cowl extra PCIe storage, peripherals, and enlargement card slots. Anticipate most B660 boards to have restricted enlargement choices, restricted bandwidth for gadgets, a number of gadgets sharing connection lanes, or all of the above. RAID assist over PCIe has additionally been minimize, although SATA RAID remains to be supported.

On prime of that, the B660 has solely 4 DMI 4.0 lanes connecting it to the CPU, whereas each Z690 and H670 have eight. Because the DMI carries all storage and peripheral site visitors from the chipset to the CPU, this might be a big bottleneck. A single PCIe 4.0 x4 drive might saturate the DMI by itself. Add SATA drives, USB gadgets, and enlargement playing cards onto the bus, and you may see the potential drawback.

USB 3.x lanes are virtually similar to H670, so not a lot is misplaced there that can have an effect on mainstream and enterprise customers. The utmost depend of USB 2.0 ports is lowered from 14 to 12, and 5Gbps USB ports drop from eight to 6. Two 20Gbps and 4 10Gbps USB ports are nonetheless available for high-speed exterior gadgets.

Now, stress assessments on a bench don’t at all times replicate real-world use, so this isn’t all doom and gloom. B660 is usually a decrease mainstream and enterprise resolution. Utilizing a number of PCIe storage drives is unlikely in such a task. When solely utilizing a single PCIe drive, the DMI has loads of bandwidth for a number of SATA drives, Ethernet site visitors, and a high-speed USB drive. If all 4 SATA ports hosted high-performance SSDs, and a number of other USB 3.2 ports had been in use (significantly each 20Gbps ports), the DMI might be a bottleneck. However realistically, the B660 DMI received’t be a limitation as long as you solely use one NVMe drive by way of the CPU.

CPU and Reminiscence

With out CPU overclocking assist, the VRM makes use of an understandably modest nine-phase design and solely a single 4+4 EPS connector. The Metal Legend formally helps 125-watt and 150-watt Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs, even when it’s unlikely to be finished a lot within the wild. You’ll want to maintain correct airflow throughout the VRM heatsinks if you happen to set up one of many higher-end CPU SKUs on this board.

A top down shot at the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Asrock selected to stick with DDR4 on the Metal Legend, becoming for its meant use. The B660 chipset nonetheless helps RAM overclocking. One particular Kingston DDR4-5333 equipment is listed on the QVL, although most are DDR4-4600 or below.

Growth, Storage, and Rear I/O

Further connectivity takes some unusual turns because of the B660 chipset’s restricted connection lanes. Two full-length PCIe slots can be found, with the highest slot as regular connecting to the CPU at 5.0 x16 charges. The opposite is restricted to 4.0 x2. The remaining two PCIe slots are open-ended and assist 3.0 x1 connections.

The board has three M.2 slots. The highest one, above the primary PCIe slot, has a warmth protect with thermal pad and connects on to the CPU at 4.0 x4 bandwidth. The second slot is restricted to a 3.0 x2 connection, however it may well additionally function in SATA mode. The final is beneath the chipset and operates at 4.0 x4. All three slots will match 60mm and 80mm drives, whereas the third slot can maintain as much as 110mm drives.

Regardless of the B660 chipset being restricted to solely 4 SATA ports, the Metal Legend has six. Asrock added an ASM1061 controller for the additional two ports. Two are alongside the underside edge, perpendicular to the board, and the opposite 4 are alongside the entrance edge by the chipset heatsink, going through ahead. The second M.2 slot and first SATA port share lanes, so the 2 can’t be used concurrently in SATA mode.

The I/O on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

The rear I/O is pretty plain. On the highest is a keyboard and mouse stack, with one PS/2 port and two USB 2.0 ports for primary peripherals. The 4 blue USB ports are all USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gbps, and the lone Kind-C port is USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps. For onboard graphics, an HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 1.4 are there.

The Metal Legend does have BIOS Flashback functionality, and a management button for that by the USB ports. Onboard audio is offered by a RealTek ALC897 codec, with the same old 5 3.5mm jacks and one fiber optic connector. For networking, as an alternative of utilizing the built-in chipset community controller, a RealTek 2.5Gbps RTL8125BG is used. No Wi-Fi is offered onboard, however a devoted Wi-Fi M.2 slot is beneath the third PCIe slot, and the rear I/O protect does have cutouts for mounting antennas.

Inner Connectors and Format

Three four-pin fan headers and two addressable RGB headers are within the prime proper nook of the board. The RGB lettering down the entrance edge takes up a good quantity of house, pushing the 24-pin ATX energy connector and two USB 3.2 headers, one 2×2 20Gbps and one 10Gbps, again towards the RAM sockets. Under the highest 4 SATA ports is one other fan header.

A top down shot at the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

The headers alongside the underside edge are what you’d count on: HD Audio, and two extra RGB headers (one generic addressable, one Asrock Polychrome appropriate). Six fan headers can be found for cooling use, one simply above the CPU socket, one by the first M.2 slot, and the remaining scattered down the entrance fringe of the board. Taking place the entrance edge, you may discover two addressable RGB headers, a POST standing LED cluster, the 24-pin ATX energy connector, and an odd association of USB 3.2 headers. The Riptide has the anticipated USB 3.2 Gen 1 header, and even a 2×2 20Gbps connector, however the second Gen 1 header is shocking, much more that it is ahead going through.

a top down shot at the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

The remainder of the inner connectors alongside the underside edge are fairly normal fare: HD Audio, two extra RGB headers (one generic addressable, one for Asrock Polychrome Sync), TPM, two USB 2.0 headers, two fan headers, a transparent CMOS jumper, the front-panel-connection cluster, and the opposite two SATA ports.

The Construct Expertise

Because the B660 Metal Legend was meant primarily for productiveness use, assessing the format requires a special outlook. However actually, there aren’t any surprises right here. The VRM heatsinks go away loads of room for even massive CPU coolers, which doubtless received’t ever be used on this board. We at all times need extra fan headers in additional locations on a board to make it as handy as potential for fan placement in a case, however the seven fan headers it already has ought to be enough for any cooling this board will want. Additionally unlikely is utilizing any enlargement card within the backside slot, so no headers there will likely be blocked.

A top down shot at the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Maybe the one annoyance, given the Metal Legend’s value and meant market phase, is inserting the primary and second SATA ports on the underside fringe of the board. Utilizing these ports makes SATA cable administration not fairly as glossy as it may be if the forward-facing ports are used. There’s, after all, no hurt in utilizing the opposite ports, but it surely is likely to be a nagging drawback to extra fastidious customers preferring to connect drives in ascending order.

A Temporary Have a look at the UEFI BIOS

The Metal Legend’s UEFI makes use of a digital camouflage sample as a background to match the graphics on the board, however in any other case it’s the identical as different Asrock boards. As we’ve already lined it in-depth in different opinions, we received’t spend lots of time reiterating the small print right here.

By default, coming into the UEFI defaults to EZ mode the place you may handle almost all the things you would possibly must on this board since overclocking and tweaking choices are restricted. Making use of reminiscence XMP profiles, altering drive boot order, updating the firmware, and altering the system fan profiles are all obtainable.

A screenshot of the UEFI ez mode on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

The Superior Mode is offered if you wish to specifically tune your RAM settings, set configuration profiles, monitor storage drive specifics, change CPU energy settings, or use the safe erase utilities for flash drives. All this you are able to do at native FHD resolutions as an alternative of stretched 1,024-by-768 shows, because of Asrock’s assist for prolonged show resolutions.

A screenshot of the UEFI screen on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

To customise the RGB lighting of the board and related gadgets, Asrock features a pretty sturdy Polychrome utility straight throughout the UEFI. Whereas many boards restrict RGB customization throughout the UEFI to some presets, the Metal Legend permits full configuration for colours and patterns to particular person headers and gadgets or all collectively.

A screenshot of the UEFI settings screen on the ASRock B660 Steel LegendA screenshot of the UEFI RGB customization screen on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Further Utilities

The Metal Legend makes use of Asrock’s typical group of Home windows utilities to permit the person to tweak the motherboard with out coming into the UEFI. The App Store exhibits obtainable software program and utilities to your explicit motherboard and contains an Replace part for downloading drivers. Mixed with the built-in Ethernet driver within the UEFI, it permits new builds to get up to date rapidly and operating easily.

A screenshot of the UEFI updates screen on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

The A-Tuning utility continues to work because the efficiency and overclocking utility for the motherboard. Among the extra obscure energy and voltage settings are accessible solely from the UEFI, however almost all the things else is mirrored right here. The B660 can’t overclock a CPU, after all, however you may enhance the stepdown multipliers as much as the CPU’s most to maintain the cores operating as quick as potential when a number of cores are in use. Fan auto-tuning, five-point curve profiles, and system atmosphere monitoring are additionally right here.

A screenshot from the A-tuning utility for the ASRock B660 Steel LegendA screenshot of the ASRock Polychrome Sync screen on the ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Verdict: Hold B660 Primary

A lot of this evaluation has been looking for new methods of claiming “pretty typical,” “as anticipated,” and the like (generally in a great way, generally not). Typically, it’s a optimistic when merchandise don’t shock you, as a result of it means they meet expectations. Nevertheless, the B660 Metal Legend additionally has an atypically excessive MSRP. chunk of that value enhance undoubtedly comes from the added SATA and a couple of.5Gbps Ethernet controllers. However do these additions convey sufficient performance and worth to warrant their inclusion?

The ASRock B660 Steel Legend

Maybe having solely 4 SATA ports might look unhealthy in comparison with equally priced H670 boards with as many as eight. However what number of workplace desktops being constructed now want greater than 4 SATA drives? Equally, it’s fancy to say your motherboard helps 2.5Gbps Ethernet, however these ports require a 2.5Gbps-capable community to be of any use.

Most shoppers count on B660 motherboards to price lower than H670 boards. It’s comprehensible for a full-featured B660 to price greater than a stripped-down H670. However the issue the B660 Metal Legend faces is that it prices greater than some excellent H670 boards, not least of which is its personal stablemate, the H670 PG Riptide. In comparison with the Metal Legend, the Riptide has the identical CPU and RAM efficiency, two extra USB 3.2 ports on the again, and not one of the B660’s storage bottlenecks, all for a cheaper price. Exchanging that for a sooner Ethernet controller and two extra SATA ports doesn’t seem to be a sensible commerce for many patrons.

Had this board accepted and labored throughout the B660 chipset’s limitations, and actually embraced the thought of a productivity-first motherboard, issues might have been totally different. Begin with the B660 to shave somewhat off part price, settle for that 4 SATA ports are enough for the mission assertion, and cease at two M.2 slots. Work computer systems are wonderful with common audio jacks; no want for 7.1 rear audio connectors or TOSLINK. The digital camo design can keep, however take away the onboard RGB results. (The RGB headers can go, too, and no want for a keychain within the field.)

Convey that board to market and make it price-competitive, and you’ve got a winner on the LGA1700 low finish. As it’s, this Metal Legend appears to spends an excessive amount of time making an attempt to compensate for its chipset and forgets that generally, a funds chipset is funds for a purpose: to maintain the board primary.

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