[Overview] An Attractive Mid-Range Contender: The ASRock Z490 Steel Legend
Along with the arrival of Intel's 10th Gen processors comes the new Z490 chipset with the LGA1200 socket - and as we've mentioned previously, if you want to upgrade to the latest Intel processor, you'll need a new motherboard to 'chap' your chip into.
ASRock has kindly sent us their Z490 Steel Legend motherboard to have a quick look-see, and what we found was an appealing mid-range board that will last you quite a while, thanks to its durable components and upgrade potential.
Like its brethren, the Z490 Steel Legend looks as good as ever with its iconic steel accents and monochrome camo print. In case you ever forget what motherboard you're using, the Z490 Steel Legend has its named emblazoned no less than 4 times all over it.
Most notably, the "Steel Legend'' wording on the bottom left is placed low enough so that it won't be obscured by this generation's phat-ter GPUs.
If you're someone who enjoys future-proofing your stuff, you'll be glad to know that this motherboard is PCIe 4.0 ready, although the current gen of Intel CPUs doesn't support it yet. So if you're planning to wait for the Rocket Lake CPUs to debut before swapping out your musty old processor, you have nothing to worry about with this board.
Instantly noticeable are the two 'm.2 armor' pieces covering two out of three M.2 SSD slots, which will keep your precious information cool and intact.
The 2 full-length PCIe slots support AMD CrossFireX, which means you can double up your graphics processing power if desired.
It supports speedy Dragon 2.5 Gigabit LAN, but if you want to install a WiFi card, you can do so via the M.2 Key-E slot.
On the front, you'll find one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port which delivers up to a 5 Gbps transfer rate, while on the back you'll find Dual USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C) ports which support up to 10 Gbps data transfer speed and 3.0A charging - both of which are double the capacity of Gen 1.
Apart from the aforementioned ports, the back also contains two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a 2.5G Ethernet port, five 3.5 mm audio jacks and an S/PDIF optical output. To hook up your monitors, there's one HDMI port and one DisplayPort 1.4.
One interesting thing we noted was that the 3 right-hand side standoff screws were absent.
Apart from steel-infused aesthetics, the Steel Legend is also built to be tough - it boasts Steel Slot durability on the top PCIe slot where you'd usually mount a sole GPU. According to ASRock's website, this provides extra anchor points and a stronger latch to support heavier graphics cards, which is thoughtful seeing how thicc the latest gen of NVIDIA cards are.
Apart from the Steel Slot, it also features the 'ASRock Super Alloy' kit consisting of the following:
XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
Premium 60A Power Choke
Nichicon 12K Black Caps (100% Japan-made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
Shaped PCB Design
Matte Black PCB High Density Glass Fabric PCB
2oz Copper PCB 2.5G LAN
Naturally, the comprehensive specs list is extremely long, so to prevent endless scrolling and frustration on this page, you can view it here on ASRock's official website instead.