ASRock Z790 Steel Legend Review: Legendary for Budget Builds

An affordable, well-equipped and good-looking Z790 option around $230.

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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ASRock’s firmware for the Steel Legend is the same as its other Z790 boards. It sports the black, white, and light blue scheme we’re familiar with from other Steel Legend SKUs. Like the other boards, you start in Easy Mode, which is mostly informative but lets you change a few options (XMP, profiles, boot order, Fan-Tastic Tuning, etc.). Advanced mode displays headings across the top, with details below. Here you can tweak everything that can be tweaked, as ASRock includes every option you can think of. Overclocking is easy, with most options on the same page, although some power options are in a different section. It’s a logical layout. The movement is smooth, and it’s easy to read. No significant complaints from us about the ASRock firmware.


For software, ASRock provides several different options. It has the App Shop to install drivers and software, the Nahimic 3 audio control panel, and the A-Tune application that overclocks your system (if applicable), control fans, and more. There’s even a pop-up to install drivers when you first boot the system. ASRock’s software provides everything users need to manage and tweak their system.

Test System / Comparison Products

We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but updated the driver. We also updated to F1 22 for our games and kept Far Cry 6. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public. The hardware we used is as follows:

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Test System Components
CPUIntel Core i9-13900K
MemoryKingston Fury Beast DDR5-6000 CL36 (KF560C36BBEAK2-32)
 GSkill Trident Z DDR5-5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingCoolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (22H2)
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Driver 522.25
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

EVGA supplied our Supernova 850W P6 power supply (appropriately sized and more efficient than the 1.2KW monster we used previously) for our test systems, and G.Skill sent us a DDR5-5600 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK) memory kit for testing. 

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings 
ProcyonVersion 2.1.459 64
 Office Suite (Office 365), Video Editing (Premiere Pro, Photo Editing (Photoshop 23.5.1, Lightroom Classic 11.5)
3DMarkVersion 2.22.7359 64
 Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R23Version RBBENCHMARK330542
 Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 3.3.0
 Full benchmark (all 3 tests)
Application Tests and Settings 
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX) 
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
 Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
 Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and Settings 
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2022Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, Ultra High (default) Bahrain (Clear/Dry), FPS Counter ON

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • ocer9999
    Good looking motherboard, as long as the VRMs can keep up with the CPU, the performance will be just like most other.
  • Mason2501
    Admin said:
    The ASRock Z790 Steel Legend ($229.99) is an affordable option for Intel 12th and 13th-gen processors. The board includes five M.2 sockets (one PCIe 5.0), eight SATA ports, 2.5 GbE and Wi-Fi 6E, capable power delivery, and a budget audio codec. Gaming performance is great, but other tasks were average at best.

    ASRock Z790 Steel Legend Review: Legendary for Budget Builds : Read more
    Got this mb in October 2022 for my am5 7950x build. Note expo Memory only works in single or pair dd5 chips. So if use all slots you won’t be to use the expo oc settings. Without updating the mb bios those settings can harm x3d CPUs. ASRock does have beta bios that fixes the cpu/ram voltage issue. At some I’ll swap out my 4 16gb ram for two 32gb ram sticks. I just stayed with my 7950x cpu that and RTX 4090 it’s an epic gaming pc. Built in sound is hifi ok and can virtual 3D audio. Plenty of fans and rgb connections. Have three m.2 drives. Pick an li lan 216 rgb white case. ASRock Z790 Steel Legend looks great. Drivers are now stable for windows 11.
  • chrysalis
    I own the z690 version of this board and I find what they did on this version really interesting.

    The reason I picked the z690 steel legend is I felt the way they drifted away from the way the industry is going was nice for me, it has extra pcie connectivity which is important for me and kept 8 sata ports.

    Now this z790 version, has significantly nerfed the pcie connectivity. On the z690 board you have 2 1x pcie slots, and 3 16x slots, the 3 16x slots run in x16, x4, x4 respectively. I use the second 1x slot for my soundcard, and the 3rd pcie x16 slot (x4) for my pcie SSD which requires 4 lanes.

    On the z790 board this isnt possible, the x1 slot I use is removed, and the 3rd x16 slot is only x2 lanes, first time I ever seen a x16 slot on a board only give x2 lanes. Change likely forced by intel's changes which removed 8 gen 3 lanes from the chipset.

    The z790 version has a nice change where they added 3 extra type A usb ports, the z690 board is mediocre with only 5, however its another give and take, they removed bios flashback from the z790 board which is there and I used it already on the z690 board.

    Finally the z690 board has what I think is a design flaw with the placement of the m.2 wifi slot, any modern 2+ slot GPU will cover it up and cause issues with the fragile wifi antennae cables, I had to be really careful slotting in my gpu, they seem to have realised this on the z790 board as they changed the placement of the slot so the end of the card wont be under the GPU. How they didnt discover this before shipping the Z690 board I dont know.