ASRock Z690 Steel Legend (DDR4) review

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ASRock Z690 Steel Legend review
Performance with DDR4 about as fast as DDR5

ASRock delivers a Z690 that offers a bit more value, located just over 250 USD this motherboard however is loaded with premium features. Next to that, to save you some money on that total cost of build, you can use DDR4 memory on this motherboard.  This Z690 Alder Lake-ready motherboard features three M2 slots, and Dragon a 2.5 GigE connector, among other features. While the motherboard is a little more dimmed done in features, based on just three M2 slots and a handful of USDB connectors, really the performance is rock solid, even with DDR4 3600 in use. 

Alder Lake and Z690

Z690 is the enthusiast chipset from Intel, and this motherboard is powered by it. It also marks the dawn of a new era; Intel's Alder lake processors are a wholly new and faster architecture. We have written a lot about it. The new processors will have energy and performance cores to balance power consumption in idle and load conditions. With the Alder lake platform, new features are brought to the table. DDR5 and PCIe Express 5.0 are among the first-ever for intel products.

BIG versus little 

As an alternative to Intel's previous releases, which focused solely on single-core and gaming performance, Alder Lake puts the company fully back in the multi-core ring, led by its squad of sixteen-core goliaths built on Intel's transistor-dense 10-nanometer manufacturing process. But this time, Intel delivers its own interpretation of the term BIG.little. We'll talk a little more about it on the following pages.



ASRock Z690 Steel Legend

The ASRock Z690 Steel Legend reveals itself in a black and white camo design paired with white and silver heatsinks, but it also includes an I/O shield that has already been affixed to the motherboard. With one PCIe 5.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot running at x4, two open-ended PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, and an M.2 Key E slot for a CNVi or PCIe WiFi/Bluetooth card, the features remain effective. A Realtek Dragon 2.5 Gbps network chip is used on this board, rather than the Killer Ethernet chip seen on other boards. The board has been fitted with two monitor outputs, a DP 1.4 output in addition to an HDMI 2.1 connection. Two of the three M.2 slots have heatsinks, albeit only two of them are PCIe 4.0, with the third being PCIe 3.0. One M.2 slot does not have a heatsink. In addition, there are eight SATA ports on the board, however, ASRock chose to divide them into two groups: four are right-angled and located in front of the chipset heatsink, and four are clustered together at the bottom-front corner of the board. ASRock positioned the 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20 Gbps) port to the internal header and the 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) port at the rear of the board. The BIOS flashback feature. Except for a few small irregularities, it's difficult to find something at fault with this board at its $250 price point. A model with WiFi 6E is also available for $270, which appears to be a reasonable price considering the WiFi module and antenna are included.

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