ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi Motherboard Review

UEFI and Overclocking …

Get fast to the right UEFI settings …

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend BIOS and Overclocking
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend UEFI BIOS Update
Backup BitLocker key before BIOS update
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend overclocking
ASRock BFB – Base Frequency Boost
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend memory settings
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend voltage settings
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend overclock even easier
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend BIOS undervolting
ASRock Z790 Steel Legend Fan control

BIOS and Overclocking …

Now we come to the BIOS or UEFI setup options and the UEFI overclocking. After switching on the PC, the UEFI setup can be accessed via the Del or F2 key.

The ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi UEFI BIOS has a graphical interface that allows intuitive operation with a mouse or can still be operated conventionally with a keyboard.

There is, as usual with the current ASRock Intel motherboards, the ASRock EZ Mode – so Easy Mode – which offers a clear entry page with a lot of important information and yet does not look overloaded. Basic information like time, date, CPU temperature, motherboard temperature, CPU voltage, first details about the hardware, fan speeds, hard disk configuration, RAID mode and fan settings are just a click away. In addition, the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi has an integrated CPU temperature display as a diagram on the ASRock EZ Mode input page in the UEFI.

The original Tools page was merged into the lower right area.

Of course, the EZ menu also lets you set the time and date by clicking on the time.

Many other functions can optionally be operated via function keys, which can be called up with F1. For example, if you want to publish a screenshot in our PC forum, you can save it to a USB stick with F12 and then upload it to the forum.

Pressing the F6 key or the upper right button takes you to the usual ASRock Advanced Mode, which you can also set as the default.

The System Browser view is no longer found on the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi motherboard, but you will again find the Full HD UEFI selection and the Active Page on Entry selection, which allows you to decide which UEFI page you want to start on in the UEFI setup. On the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi, you can find the Active Page on Entry option and the Full HD UEFI selection under Advanced.

UEFI BIOS Update …

Before we start with the UEFI overclocking, we first update the UEFI BIOS to the latest version. Since ASRock regularly integrates new features, better memory support and new processors, the BIOS update is recommended in most cases. ASRock offers a few options for flashing the UEFI update, e.g. the very simple Instant Flash or even the ASRock Internet Flash with a direct connection to the Internet. Via the so-called ASRock Instant Flash option in the tool screen or via the F6 key at PC startup, you can access the ASRock Instant Flash utility. You can simply install a previously downloaded ASRock BIOS without a boot CD or similar by starting the ASRock Instant Flash Utility. Then select the BIOS Flash ROM from the desired drive, e.g. from a USB stick, which you have to unpack after the download.

Backup BitLocker key before BIOS update …

The BitLocker note should be observed, otherwise you can no longer access the content of the SSD after a BIOS update. So be sure to save the BitLocker key before the BIOS update, this can be done for example via Control Panel -> System and Security -> BitLocker Drive Encryption -> Save Recovery Key -> Save to File. Or first disable BitLocker, then perform the BIOS update and then re-enable BitLocker. Here again under Tips and Tricks is the Bitlocker Recovery Key Guide.

At the time of testing, the UEFI BIOS version P2.07 was available as the latest download, which we of course immediately installed over the pre-installed P1.10 version.

After a reboot, the new BIOS version is then available.

Here you can see the new P2.07 EZ BIOS entry page with the Intel Core i7-12700K CPU.

And here you can see the new P2.07 Advanced BIOS entry page with the Intel Core i7-12700K CPU.

The My Favorite function is very helpful, since you can store frequently used menu items here to see them comfortably on one page and call them up faster. You start with an empty page – by the way, it is unfortunately also emptied after a BIOS update.

The My Favorite page is now filled with own menu items by simply going to the respective menu item, then pressing F5 and the desired functions are already included in the My Favorite overview page. Here you can see a selection of possible favorites.

Those who need technical UEFI support can even select the errors via the UEFI setup and even contact the ASRock Tech Service via network connection.

On the tool side, by the way, this ASRock Z790 Steel Legend motherboard once again features the ASRock Polychrome RGB LED entry, which is almost identical to the ASRock Polychrome RGB software that we mentioned on the previous page.

The Polychrome RGB LED menu has numerous setting options. So you can select the color in a RGB color selector :argb:

You can select whether you want to control the RGB headers separately or all together.

And you can set in the Polychrome RGB LED menu whether the LEDs should shine continuously, should “breathe”, should be controlled randomly or even to music. So the user gets numerous possibilities how and how fast the LED strips should light up. And if you don’t need the lighting, you can of course deactivate it completely.

ASRock again offers an Auto Driver Installer option for the Z790 motherboard.

The handy SSD Secure Erase BIOS tool, which we first discovered since the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 motherboard, has also been integrated back into the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi.

Simply select the desired SSD and it will be quickly and safely erased – for example, for secure deletion before the SSD sale or in case of serious problems with the partitioning. Great thing, but definitely use with caution! How to safely erase an SSD without such an option, we explain e.g. here in the SSD secure erase post.

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend overclocking …

Now we come to the Intel LGA 1700 overclocking with the Z790 chipset on the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi motherboard. ASRock divides the OC Tweaker menu of the ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi into CPU Configuration, DRAM Configuration, Voltage Configuration and FIVR Configuration. In addition, there is now the CPU Vcore Compensation option, the CPU Cooler Type selection and the Base Frequency Boost entry.

With the CPU Vcore Compensation, you can raise the Vcore in five different levels to make the system a bit more stable with increased CPU voltage.

At the same time, you can also select the type of CPU cooling.

A look into the CPU Configuration menu is also very pleasing, because you can overclock really extensively with the Z790 compared to the B760 or H770! If you use an Intel “K” CPU with an open multiplier like the Intel Core i7-12700K or Intel Core i9-13900K CPU, you get all important settings for the P-Core and E-Core multiplier and the BCLK.

And even a CPU with a locked multiplier, such as an Intel Core i5-12600 or Intel Core i7-12700 CPU, can be overclocked a bit using BCLK.

There is also the Boot Performance Mode setting for the speed during the boot process and the Power Limit settings, which are also very important for overclocking.

The CPU power limit can be unlocked with an option in the UEFI in order to get more out of the CPU with appropriate CPU cooling (see CPU Cooler Test Comparison).

Thus, an Intel Core i9-13900K CPU could be overclocked wonderfully with this Intel Z790 motherboard. But even an Intel Core i7-13700 Intel Core i5-13500 CPU with locked multi could be overclocked somewhat. If we discover ways to unlock the multi in the future, we will post them as usual in the Intel OC Forum or directly with an OC guide in the PC Workshop. Until then, we’ll have to be content with BCLK overclocking for locked CPUs, but of course it will overclock all other components as well.

With one core, the Intel Core i7-12700K CPU even clocks up to 5388.12 MHz instead of 4900 MHz! :ocinside:

ASRock BFB – Base Frequency Boost …

On the OC Tweaker input page, there is also the so-called Base Frequency Boost option, which allows you to overclock even a CPU with a locked multiplier. You don’t get overclocking via multiplier, but you can influence the power limit with it. Normally, the Core i7-12700K CPU, for example, is given a power limit of 125 watts by Intel. That means, if the Turbo clock frequency requires more than 125W power limit over a certain time, Intel prevents this with the power limit throttling. We have already explained Intel Turbo Boost Short Power Max, Turbo Boost Power Max, Turbo Boost Power Time Window, Primary Plane Current Limit, Short Duration Power Limit, Long Duration Power Limit and similar power limits several times in our OC guides, because higher power limits play an important role in overclocking. Especially when it comes to maintaining higher clock rates over a longer period of time. ASRock now allows to raise this limit with the Base Frequency Boost option in the OC Tweaker UEFI to keep the Turbo clock frequency beyond the 125W power limit over a longer period of time, more precisely up to 280W. Of course, it is very helpful that ASRock has improved the VRMs even more in this Z790 Steel Legend WiFi.

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi memory settings …

All important memory settings can be found in the DRAM Configuration Menu.

Thanks to Load XMP Setting support, XMP memories are already set correctly with a mouse click in the UEFI BIOS and the desired values are read from the XMP 3.0 profile.

Alternatively, you can select the values yourself. For the DDR5 memory clock, for example, you can select values from DDR5-800 …

… up to maximum DDR5-12800.

If you read the values from the XMP 3.0 profile, you can even specify which timing mode you want to select, Apply All Timing, Apply Primary Timing or Run MRC Timing.

All DDR5 timings can optionally be adjusted manually.

The ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi offers an overview with all SPD and XMP memory values under Memory Information, but they are no longer available for direct selection like in the DRAM Configuration Menu.

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend voltage settings …

Now we come to the different voltage values that can be set in the BIOS. The ASRock Z790 Steel Legend WiFi motherboard provides extensive voltage settings under Voltage Configuration.

And in OC mode, there are even higher voltages. The CPU Core/Cache Voltage can again be set to Offset and Fixed Mode. In the Intel Core i7-12700K test CPU, the Fixed Mode could be selected from 0.800 volts to 2.200 volts and the Vcore Offset from -0.100V to +0.300V.

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend even easier overclocking …

If you prefer to overclock in Windows, you can also use the ASRock A-Tuning Tool to make the voltage settings listed above.

Of course, the CPU can be overclocked with this either. Here you can see the settings of the ASRock A-Tuning Tool.

Once the desired settings have been found, you can save up to ten different BIOS settings with names in the UEFI under OC Tweaker.

For example, you could save undervolting values, balanced BIOS settings, office or gaming settings as undervolting, balance and gaming user profiles to be able to quickly reload these values at any time.

Another interesting feature is Save User UEFI Setup Profile to Disk. Simply click on it and save your own UEFI settings on the hard disk or on a USB stick.

BIOS Undervolting …

Underclocking was also tested again in this review. The Intel Core i7-12700K CPU could be underclocked to about 800 MHz via the multi. One can then lower the voltage and thus further reduce the power consumption. Underclocking with a low CPU voltage is of course outside of the specification, just like overclocking, so a bit of luck is always required here. However, ASRock at least provides the basis for an easy undervolting.

There are many more UEFI settings to choose from, including CPU Configuration, Chipset Configuration, Storage Configuration, Intel Thunderbolt, ACPI Configuration, USB Configuration and Trusted Computing.

If you want to save power when using an Intel LGA1700 PC, or if you want to use Intel Virtualization Technology to support multiple, simultaneous operating systems, or if you want to adjust the CPU state support, you should also definitely check the CPU Configuration menu under Advanced.

But also the settings in Advanced Chipset Configuration with the selection of the first graphics card and the individual connections of the PCIe slots, etc. are very interesting.

Manual deactivation of the USB ports is also possible in the UEFI again.

Fan control …

The UEFI setup of the passively cooled Z790 Steel Legend WiFi motherboard also has an extensive, temperature-controlled fan control. The integrated fan control can be found in the H/W monitor directly under the display of the temperature and voltage values.

Here you have the choice of CPU fans, chassis fans or W_Pump Switch.

The fan controller offers a choice between Customize, Silent, Standard, Performance and Full Speed.

In Customize Mode, several temperature steps are available, which can then be assigned the desired fan speed. By the way, the fan settings are changed immediately and are thus audible right away.

ASRock has also integrated the graphical user interface for controlling the fans in the UEFI setup. The FAN-Tastic tuning menu item can also be found in the H/W monitor and can be used to make all settings very clearly. Simply select the respective fan connection on the left side and then select the mode on the right side: Silent, Standard, Performance or Full Speed.

In Customize Mode, you can even select and save the individual values directly in the diagram.

For the chassis fans you can even select which temperature sensor should be used for the temperature measurement – the CPU sensor or the mainboard sensor. Then simply click Apply to save the values.

And even the control of the 3-pin fans was thought of with the DC/PWM mode switching.

If you prefer to set the values in Windows, you can even use the ASRock A-Tuning Tool for this.

Since the fans are even controlled depending on the CPU or motherboard temperature with this fan controller, you can confidently do without an additional fan controller.

If everything is set in the UEFI, simply store the settings as usual with the F10 key and confirm with Z or on an English keyboard with Y. A new feature of ASRock is that all changes made are shown again before saving – very useful!

ASRock Z790 Steel Legend energy consumption …