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ASRock B550 Steel Legend Motherboard Review

Steel Legend represents ASRock's entry-level AMD B550 platform for Ryzen AM4 processors. Join us as we take a close look at it.

@TylerBernath
Published Wed, Dec 9 2020 9:09 AM CST
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: ASRock (B550 STEEL LEGEND)

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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AMD's B550 is a more affordable AM4 chipset base for consumers that wish to build on a budget with AMD Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series processors. The Steel Legend combines the reliability we have come to know with ASRock motherboards with a more simple "steel" design covering the chipset and the m. two slots.

The B550 Steel Legend offers several high-level features not commonly found on entry-level platforms. For those, we will look below at the motherboard specifications and then dive into layout right after!

Specifications and Marketing

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For starters, the B550SL enjoys support for both AMD Zen 2+ and Zen 3 processors. Power is supplied over a 14 phase VRM with memory support from a four-slot DDR4 setup that supports 4733MHz in OC mode.

Expansion for graphics starts with the top slot supporting PCIe 4.0 at full x16 bandwidth. A second full x16 slot is wired at x4 from the B550 chipset and a pair of x1 slots. Storage expansion gives us 6x SATA ports and 2x M.2 slots, the former being Gen4 ready.

The Realtek RTL8125 powers networking while audio finds us with the ALC1220 and front panel amplifier.

Pricing

The ASRock B550 Steel Legend carries an MSRP of $159.99

Buy at Amazon

ASRock B550 Steel Legend

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$166.23$163.75$201.40
* Prices last scanned on 1/26/2021 at 10:47 am CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Packaging, Accessories, and Overview

Packaging and Accessories

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Packaging keeps the steel theme going with a brushed appearance. Chipset is listed along the bottom with CPU support on the left.

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We have several features listed to the right; these include the Dr. MOS Phase Design, Nahimic Audio, and Dragon LAN from Realtek.

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Included in the box, we found two setup guides, SATA cables, and screws for the m. two slots.

ASRock B550 Steel Legend Overview

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The aesthetic of the B550SL keeps a simple design, aluminum heat sinks across the chipset, and m. two slots. The VRM uses a two-piece design as well, with no heat pipe.

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Getting closer to the board, we have the single PCIe 4.0 x16 slot shielded at the top, flowed by the Wi-Fi m. two slots if you want to throw an AX200 card in this motherboard. Further down, we have the chipset PCIe slots that operate with Gen 3.0. We find the front panel audio connection along the board's bottom along with ARGB and RGB connections. Two fan connections push us closer to the right, rounding out with USB Headers and front panel connections. Up the right side, we have all six SATA connections.

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We have another fan connection around the board and USB 3.2 front panel connections, and 24-pin power. Far right, you will find yet another fan connection and RGB and ARGB headers.

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Across the top, you will find two fan connectors with the VRM heat sink splitting the distance to the 8-pin and 4-pin CPU power.

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The rear I/O includes HDMI, DP, and USB 3.2 Gen 1 connections in dark blue. We have 4x USB 2.0 ports in black and Gen 2 ports in light blue.

PCB and Circuit Analysis

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The VRM of the B550SL is a 12+2 design using Vishay SiC654A 50A power stages backed with ISL6617A doublers. The PWM controller is a Renesas 229004.

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Next to the SATA ports, we find the B550 chipset from AMD.

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The heat sink array has quite a few pieces. These include two large modules for the VRM and an interconnected chipset and m.2 design.

UEFI, Software and Test System

UEFI

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The EFI does get a new darker aesthetic for the Steel Legend. The main menu gives an overview of the CPU, memory, and BIOS version. OC Tweaker being the overclocking menu for RAM, CPU, etc. The Advanced menu will offer storage and onboard device management. You will find RGB and RAID controls in the tool menu, along with sanitization for NVMe and SATA drives.

The Monitor tab allows you to set up your fans automatically or manually. Simultaneously, the tool menu gives you options for updating BIOs, erasing your storage devices, and setting up profiles.

Software

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Software support includes A-Tuning motherboard utility from ASRock. This software allows for nearly full overclocking controls within windows. This starts with three profiles, as seen above.

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OC Tweaker gives you access to full voltage and clock controls.

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System info offers the ability to monitor voltages and fan speeds.

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Next up, we have DragonLAN. This is software from Realtek that allows you to shape traffic based on four profile options along the left side.

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Last, we have Polychrome Sync, RGB software from ASRock that allows you to control the RGB and ARGB ports, and built-in RGB in the heat sinks.

Test System

WPrime, Cinebench and AIDA64

WPrime, CPUz, Cinebench, and AIDA64

WPrime

WPrime is a leading multi-threaded benchmark. In our setup, we will manually set the number of cores for the CPU under test. The ROG Crosshair VIII Hero is our baseline motherboard for all charts.

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The Steel Legend sticks right with our previously tested X570 platforms in WPrime, producing a time of 2.40 in 32M and 63.1 in 1024M.

CPUz Bench

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CPUz bench has been added to our reviews as a simple bench to tune your system. With the B550SL, we see a peak of 659 single-threaded and 6724 in multithread.

Cinebench

Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test which uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU

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In R23, we see a slightly lower performance single thread from our 5800X. 1T at 1585 and nT reaching 15642.

RealBench

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Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use the Heavy Multitasking workload in this setup, and the B550 reaches a score of 33.6 seconds.

AIDA64 Memory

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AIDA64 has stayed as our means of testing memory bandwidth. This is perhaps the only bench where the B550SL lags behind, read at 46K, write at 25K, and copy touching 46.9K

Unigine and UL Benchmarks

PCMark 10

PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.

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Looking at our workload scores, the B550SL handles its own with a peak of 13691 in digital content and 11287 in essentials.

Unigine Superposition

Superposition from Unigine is a DX12 based benchmark. We test with the 720p LOW preset as this removes all but the most basic GPU loading, with all of the FPS coming from the CPU.

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Starting our gaming workloads, the B550SL offers 334 FPS in Superposition.

3DMark Timespy

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Timespy has the B550 about 100 points lower than our slowest X570 overall. CPU performance taking the largest hit, 200 lower than the slowest X570.

3DMark Firestrike

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Firestrike showed even performance with the B550; a combined score of 16191 puts this platform about 400 points lower.

Horizon Zero Dawn and Gears Tactics

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Running through some real gaming, we benched the B550SL at 180 FPS in Horizon and 167 FPS in Gears Tactics, both about equal the to more expensive X570 platform.

System I/O Benchmarks and Power Consumption

System I/O Benchmarks

Storage with CrystalDiskMark

Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket NVMe 4.0 SSD and WD_Black P50.

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Starting testing, the USB-C port on the back of the Steel Legend hits a nice 1091 MB/s read and 1090 MB/s write.

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Testing the top m.2 slot, we reach 4990 MB/s read and 2507 MB/s write.

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4KQ1 reaches 62.9 MB/s read, and 279 MB/s write.

Networking with NetPerf

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Running the RTL8125 through network testing, we find 2372Mbps of throughput, on par with our expectations.

Power Consumption

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System Power consumption idled at 140 watts for the B550SL. CPU load peaked at 367 watts, and gaming showed 628 watts.

Overclocking, Thermals and Final Thoughts

Overclocking

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I've changed my methodology for overclocking over the last few reviews. After testing our Ryzen 7 5800X on a host of motherboards, I concluded that it simply wouldn't go past 4.7GHz without sub-ambient cooling and much more voltage. Above is our verification of the 4.7GHz overclock.

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The B550 Steel Legend overclocked our 5800X quite easily to 4.7GHz. Looking at the chart, our BIOS input voltage was 1.25v with load droop at 1.2v.

Thermals

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Testing with our 5800X in-stock conditions, idle temps were in line with past X570 platforms at 28c. Peak load temp hit 76c measured by CoreTemp.

Our thermal image of the VRM shows the VRM area quite cool running in the mid-30s.

Final Thoughts

The B550 Steel Legend is a great entry-level board for consumers wanting to start a budget ATX build. As for features, it offers PCIe 4.0 for graphics and a single NVMe solution, but that's all most gamers will need to get started.

Adding to this, even with this solution being designed for the entry-level, ASRock includes a rather good VRM design and 2.5Gbe support complete with DragonLAN software support from Realtek and motherboard tuning A-Tuning software.

What We Like

Silent: With no chipset cooling fan, this board is perfect for users going for silence.

Price: The B550 Steel Legend offers an attractive set of features for its $159 MSRP.

Overclocking: The B550 Steel Legend can sustain overclocks equal to any of the X570 platforms I have tested.

What Could Be Better

Internal USB Headers: This is a big item for me and anyone building their system wanting a clean look; angle the internal headers.

Buy at Amazon

Performance

85%

Quality

85%

Features

85%

Value

95%

Overall

88%

The Bottom Line

ASRock's B550 Steel Legend is an excellent value motherboard for those wanting to build an AMD Zen 3 system on a budget!

TweakTown award
88%

ASRock B550 Steel Legend

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$166.23$163.75$201.40
* Prices last scanned on 1/26/2021 at 10:47 am CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

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