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Asrock B660M Metal Legend Overview

Excessive-end PC elements get all the eye, however if you happen to cease and look intently at what some more-budget-friendly {hardware} can do, you could be in for a nice shock. Take Asrock’s B660M Metal Legend motherboard: At $149.99, it is meant for avid gamers on tight budgets, however this LGA1700 board for Intel twelfth Era “Alder Lake” CPUs has a characteristic set aggressive with some low-end Z690-based motherboards. This contains trendy lighting options, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2×2 connector on the entrance panel, and even some restricted overclocking help. What extra might a gamer need from a MicroATX platform? If you’ll find it in a delivery board, inform us; in the meantime, we’ll assign this one our Editors’ Selection award for Intel-based MicroATX boards.

The Design: The Winter Soldier Look

Asrock utilized a winter-camouflage aesthetic to the B660M Metal Legend. Personally, I discover it a bit flashy for my liking, nevertheless it’s one thing you may barely see after ending your construct, particularly in a good case as MicroATX will seemingly mandate. The heatsinks unfold across the board use a extra subdued white-and-gray coloration scheme that meshes properly with the camo backdrop and is extra interesting to my eye.

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Asrock B660M Steel Legend upright

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

So as to add some further aptitude to the board, Asrock put in RGB LEDs down the suitable edge. These might be managed through software program.

As a result of the Intel B660 chipset and the motherboard itself weren’t designed for severe overclocking, it is solely pure that the board’s energy {hardware} is not fairly on par with that of many Z690 motherboards. However I would not say the B660M Metal Legend is missing on this division, both.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend diagonal

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

The board has a complete of 9 energy phases that embody 50A Dr.MOS circuits. These are cooled by pretty giant heatsinks and needs to be completely sufficient to deal with your CPU’s energy necessities. The board formally helps what appears to be all “Alder Lake” processors launched to this point, together with the highly effective and really power-hungry Core i9-12900KS. If the Metal Legend can deal with that monster, it should have no drawback with one of many different twelfth Gen Intel CPUs.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend RAM

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

The Asrock B660M Metal Legend makes use of the extra acquainted and inexpensive DDR4 reminiscence as a substitute of the newer and pricier DDR5. You get 4 RAM slots in whole, with a most supported capability of 128GB and an add clock velocity restrict of 5,333MHz. We did not have any DDR4 readily available that hit these lofty numbers, however the motherboard dealt with our 4,133MHz Corsair DDR4 RAM simply tremendous.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend rear

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

Storage choices comprise two M.2 Key-M slots that every sport a PCI Specific 4.0 x4 connection, enabling as much as 64Gbps of bandwidth every. Solely considered one of these is roofed by a warmth spreader that’s pre-applied to the motherboard, so you could need to search for an M.2 SSD that comes with its personal warmth spreader for the second slot. The board additionally has six SATA 3.0 ports for connecting slower 2.5-inch solid-state and a pair of.5- and three.5-inch platter laborious drives.

A Have a look at the Audio, Networking, and I/O

For the audio subsystem, Asrock opted to make use of Realtek’s older ALC897 codec. Info on this chip is scarce, however some motherboard producers checklist it as being the identical as a Realtek ALC887. If correct, that will imply the chip helps as much as 24-bit audio playback with a 192kHz pattern price. The DACs are rated with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 97dB, which does not fairly stack up towards newer options like the favored Realtek ALC1220/1200 or the newer Realtek ALC4080/4082. These codecs have a rated SNR of 120dB, which allows them to provide clearer audio.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend audio

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

Although it is a important characteristic change, it does not actually matter a fantastic deal. The distinction in audio high quality might be seemingly noticeable by most individuals, however not earth-shattering. Many customers at this time go for audio handed over an HDMI or DisplayPort connection, and a few forms of audio tools reminiscent of USB or wi-fi headphones or S/PDIF speaker methods will bypass the ALC897 audio chip completely. What’s extra, true audiophiles are prone to choose a devoted sound card.

In brief, the Metal Legend’s lower-end audio controller is barely a minor demerit; many of us both will not use it or might be fairly glad with its short-of-symphonic efficiency. We would complain extra about it on a high-end motherboard, nevertheless it’s tremendous at this finances worth level.

Not like the audio, the networking {hardware} of the B660M Metal Legend is first-rate for this market phase. The board has a Realtek Dragon RTL8125BG LAN controller that may deal with information transfers at 2.5Gbps, placing it on par with many midrange and even some high-end Z690 motherboards. There isn’t any built-in Wi-Fi, however you may discover an M.2 Key-E slot for including an M.2 Wi-Fi card and cutouts within the rear I/O panel for including antennas.

Talking of the rear I/O panel, you get six USB ports, 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 and two classic USB 2.0. All of those are Kind-A ports, which is somewhat uncommon for contemporary motherboards.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend rear I/O

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

Alongside the USB connections, you may see an HDMI port, a DisplayPort output, an Ethernet jack, an S/PDIF connection, and 5 3.5mm audio jacks. There’s additionally a legacy PS/2 connection for both a keyboard or mouse and a button to flash the BIOS.

Getting your whole cables linked to the B660M Metal Legend is a roughly common chore; objects just like the CPU energy connection and CPU fan headers are considerably tough to entry, however no extra so than on many different motherboards. One of many CPU fan headers is a bit simpler to succeed in, because it’s on the suitable aspect of the RAM slots, which helps somewhat. The remainder of the headers are set alongside the suitable and backside edges of the board in what’s primarily a normal placement.

A Temporary Have a look at the BIOS

The B660M Metal Legend boots straight into the EZ Mode BIOS if you first activate the system and press the F2 or Delete key. More often than not, you will not have any must go additional into the BIOS than this. You possibly can examine to see what {hardware} is acknowledged, modify the boot order, allow a reminiscence profile, and flash the BIOS.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend EZ Mode BIOS

(Credit score: Asrock)

There are various extra choices accessible within the superior mode BIOS, however except you need to fine-tune settings to hurry your boot time, enhance IGP efficiency, or do one thing equally specialised, there’s little cause to make use of the superior mode—that’s, except you need to toy with overclocking.

Overclocking: Sure We Can!

Technically, Intel’s B660 chipset does not help overclocking, however that should not cease you if you happen to’re feeling adventurous. The Asrock B660M Metal Legend offers you two major strategies to crank up the processor and obtain higher efficiency.

Beginning with the twelfth Gen CPUs, Intel chips include two forms of CPU cores: Efficiency and Environment friendly cores (a.okay.a. P-Cores and E-Cores) that do exactly what their names counsel. The previous present higher total efficiency, and the latter are slower however extra energy-efficient. All “Alder Lake” processors have P-Cores however not all include E-Cores, which is a vital distinction.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend BIOS overclocking

(Credit score: Asrock)

In case your CPU has P-Cores and helps Intel’s Turbo Increase expertise, you may overclock it to run all of the CPU cores on the max turbo velocity. For example, let’s contemplate the Core i7-12700K. It has a max turbo velocity of 5.0GHz, however this drops to 4.9GHz when a number of cores are energetic. You possibly can, nevertheless, inform the CPU to run all of the cores at 5.0GHz no matter what number of are energetic. This labored with out subject in our check system, however whether or not you may obtain the identical will rely in your {hardware}.

Asrock B660M Steel Legend BIOS voltage

(Credit score: Asrock)

Granted, that is a reasonably small overclock, but when your CPU additionally has E-Cores, you may probably unlock much more efficiency. Not like the P-Cores, the clock multiplier for the E-Cores is completely unlocked and might be raised as excessive as you want. After all, you may need to elevate it slowly, adjusting energy and testing for stability alongside the best way, however this might enable you to pull further velocity out of your CPU in case your cooling answer can deal with it.

The Verdict: Price range Gaming at Its Most interesting

Altogether, the Asrock B660M Metal Legend is a superb motherboard for finances avid gamers. Its characteristic set might not fairly match that of Z690 alternate options, nevertheless it’s probably not missing in any main areas, whereas its restricted overclocking capabilities are a little bit of an added bonus and assist to set aside a board that prices simply $149.99. Its RGB lights are a pleasant contact, too. 

Asrock B660M Steel Legend overhead

(Credit score: Michael Justin Allen Sexton)

On this worth phase, all of it provides as much as a winner for finances patrons. The power to make use of the DDR4 that you just already personal provides to the worth equation on the aspect of consumers attempting to save cash.

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