The Z390 Steel Legend focuses on cooling and usability and has a unique cut out area around four of the SATA ports to provide easier access. The board includes a large aluminum alloy heatsink, dual full-coverage M.2 SSD heat sinks, and 60-amp power chokes that are usually found on boards a bit higher up the product stack. ASRock’s says its Steel Legend design philosophy is centered around durability and its own unique design aesthetic that appeals to the mainstream enthusiast market.
The board design itself is unique because there is a cutout around four (of six) SATA ports which should allow for easier access when in a case. Often, but depending on the chassis, it can be difficult to access the cables and route them, but this design allows the cables to drop right into the grommets and get out of sight. Outside of that, the PCB is black with white and grey camouflage styling accents on most of the board. The heat sinks are silver and create a nice contrast to the mostly-black aesthetic.
RGB LEDs are found on that same side of the board running nearly the full length, while the RGB also illuminates the Steel Legend nomenclature LED strip. The large chipset heatsink also has RGB lighting. The board also includes both a 3-pin addressable RGB header and a traditional 4-pin RGB LED header. You can control all onboard and connected RGB LEDs with ASRock’s Polychrome RGB Sync software.
Hardware-wise, the board’s unique feature is USB 3.2 support, however, it still runs at 10 Gbps speeds. The USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port also delivers 3 amps of power to the port (versus 1.5A for 3.2 Gen1). The true USB 3.2 Gen2 20 Gbps devices will be USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 convention. So, it says 3.2, but is still 10 Gbps max. Confused? You are not alone!
The Z390 Steel Legend includes the full complement of features we expect from a mid-range Z390 board. A total of six SATA3 6 Gbps ports, dual M.2 slots each with heatsinks (both support SATA and PCIe drives), 128 GB DRAM capacity with speeds up to 4266+ MHz, and two full-length PCIe slots (supports Crossfire) with one slot using steel armor. The eight-phase Digi Power design uses 60A chokes and Nichicon 12K black caps that should handle the i9-9900K without worry.
On the audio side of things, the board uses a Realtek ALC1200 codec with Nichicon Fine Gold Series audio caps and has PCB isolation from the rest of the board as well as individual PCB layers for left and right channels. Lastly, the Intel I219-V Gigabit controller handles LAN duties. Wi-Fi is not included. However, there is an M.2 Key E slot for a Wi-Fi module. You can find the complete specifications at the ASRock website.
Overall the board has a lot of features and should make for a good option in the mainstream enthusiast segment, depending on the price point. That said, ASRock didn't list pricing, and we could not find it online at the time of publication.
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Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.