Building the Metalfish Y2 Aquarium PC! ...and things go wrong

Building the Metalfish Y2 Aquarium PC! ...and things go wrong

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Oh yeah, I've been looking forward to diving into this thing. So *water* we waitin' for? [fish-flavored jazz tunes] [computer buzzes, beeps] Greetings and welcome to another fishy video topic here on LGR. I... hope it won't *tank* the channel. Yeah, what we've got inside this nondescript box, I mean other than what I wrote on there, is the Metalfish Y2 Fish Tank PC case. As seen on the internet, at least if you're on the internet I am, I don't know. I mean, it is one of those things that just went a little bit viral.

It was a morning of August 3rd, 2022 where I woke up and found myself tagged on every social media platform. Always a bit unnerving, but it was for a good reason here. Thank balls. Yeah, we had another baffling aquarium case show up for sale, something that I have been fond of exploring in the past. Of course, all kinds of folks were being like, "Dude, look at this crap." It's more involved than the Lian Li PC case side panel thing that I've talked about before.

Instead of just being a little decorative, thin thing that goes on the side of a regular PC tower, this is a purpose-made fish tank computer with a whole area up top for actual fish. Supposedly, a lot of asterisks beside that and we'll get to that. But yeah, this right here was talked about all over the place, outlets like Gizmodo, and PC World, Tom's Hardware, PC Magazine, and more. Just a slow news day, I guess, I don't know. These websites were just covering it, and so it got my attention.

So yeah, I had to order one of these things, right? And so yeah, we're gonna unbox it, put this together. And this particular one that I got, it's available in multiple bundles with or without various power supplies, with a barebones version costing about $75. But I bought this 500-watt PSU bundle for 769 Chinese yuan from It was the place that seemed to be available most readily. Which converts to about 110 US dollars at the time of purchase in August 2022. And around another $100-ish to get this imported, shipped over through a proxy service.

And so yeah, around $210 total for this. I mean, I don't exactly buy fish tanks very often, but I do buy computer cases, and that is not the cheapest for something of this form factor. But it's the gimmick, it's the silliness. I don't really care.

I just want to do something dumb here for this video. So let's get this unboxed, see what it's like, and assemble a fishy computer. All right, so one of these is the aquarium.

One of these is the case itself. I have actually had this opened up before when I first received it, just to make sure everything was inside and intact. But yeah, let's get it open again.

Pretty sure this top one is the aquarium, if I put it back in correctly. Oh yeah. [fishy chuckle] And that's that. It's just a glass box, effectively. There's some sort of coating on here. I guess it's supposed to be...

It's just sort of soft, but also thermally insulated, supposedly? Just a basic enclosure that's supposed to act as our aquarium for fish. I have my doubts though that this is actually something you'd wanna put real creatures in, at least fish, I don't know. It's a 3 1/2 gallon aquarium or 13.5 liter, although you only get, I don't know, about three gallons, maybe 2.9 of water in there. So there would be a very limited...

number of fish, type of fish that you'd even want to put in there, responsibly, ethically, whatever. And I know that there are some out there for that, but I would feel more comfortable putting snails, or shrimp, or some kind of a crustacean, or something in there instead, if I were gonna put any living creature in there, which I don't even know if I wanna do. At least right now, we'll see, I guess, just how it performs.

Cuz yeah I mean, there's concerns about not only the size and the limited amount of water, but... just the heating up, putting it above a computer. How much sense does that make? Do you want to subject any critters to that? I don't know that I do. All right, so there's our case itself.

Yeah. Of course everything is in Chinese, so we are not gonna be able to read that or at least I'm not gonna be able to without an app or something. But yeah, they sent me a second bit of plexi here that goes on top of the PC because when it arrived at the the proxy service warehouse, you can see that it was damaged there.

And yeah, they were quick to let me know about that, and they got in touch with Metalfish and was like, "Hey, can you send us another one?" And they did. It took a couple weeks longer to get it, but whatever. I mean this is months after I've gotten it anyway, so really doesn't matter. Here is the packing list of things. And for the case itself, I mean, I rather like the way it looks.

It is pretty small, meant for Mini-ITX or certain MicroATX style motherboards up to a certain size. Aluminum. And yeah, the design is kind of a Mac-like aesthetic, but whatever is going on in here seems to jostled loose a bit or come out of alignment, but that should be okay to put back in there, I don't know. I haven't actually opened it up fully to see. There is our power supply. So it takes a 1U or FlexATX, and it has a 500-watt one in here.

Although 220 volt, 50 hertz, this might not be switchable to the 110/60 that I'm looking for. Well, that's a thing. I do have another FlexATX power supply we can use if we need to. There's where the graphics card will go or whatever PCI Express kinda thing you wanna plug in there, and you have room for your standard I/O plate and your motherboard, as well as room in there for a 2 1/2 inch drive, two 90-millimeter fans and 90-millimeter tall CPU cooler, and GPUs, it can take up to 220 millimeters in length. So, let's just open it up a little further here.

They have packed this thing full, haven't they? We need to get rid of that anyway. Right. Ultra-Thin Grass Frame Light. "Grass frame" is a good thing to have in a fish tank. I think all this stuff is just supposed to be USB-powered or not.

I guess this one does plug into a wall. [laugh of slight concern] Again, don't know about the voltage requirements. I believe the pump is at least USB-powered, right? Yeah. So that just is gonna plug in to our computer.

Bunch of cables, modular power supply stuff. That ain't American. Uh-huh, and our RGB nonsense, which we can do whatever with. Oh dear. What happened to this? Whatever that is, it's all bent up.

I guess, oh yeah, it's just sort of like a rail mounting bit for the GPU or whatever. Our fans are already installed, I believe those are RGB, USB headers, power switch. Pretty standard flimsy feeling everything at this point. The whole thing just feels not great, except for this part.

That seems okay. Not exactly boding well for what you'd want to fill up with water. Hopefully they didn't skimp on the seals of the glass panels. I'm still wondering about that power supply if it's exactly what we need. It kinda looks like it might say that it supports more than that sticker implies.

Well, I looked at it- [computer case snaps] Whoops. I was barely putting any pressure on that. I think that just... Oh yeah, that snapped. [laughs] Anyway, I don't know what I was gonna say, but I do have another power supply. I have the right form factor, and this one definitely works here in the US.

But anyway, let's move to some footage I've already recorded. I'm getting the hardware itself ready to put inside here, and then we'll get it all installed and get some water going too, and see what the heck we've got ourselves into here. So here's the thing. This video's core idea is to test out the Metalfish case with its goofy aquarium.

The actual PC components themselves are sort of an afterthought, and I'm absolutely not going for a performance powerhouse. In fact, I wanted to get out here as cheaply as possible, since I honestly don't know if it'll spring a leak or what. So I took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to grab these lower cost parts. Starting with the Mini-ITX motherboard, an ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax, nyeh, which I got as a cost reduced open box deal. It's AMD AM4 compatible. It has a couple of DDR4 slots, your usual headers, and ports, and integrated wi-fi, sound, and graphics.

As well as six built-in RGB LEDs underneath the board. So that's a thing. For the CPU, I grabbed this on sale, an AMD Ryzen 5 4500. It's a six-core AM4 processor that launched earlier in the year, I think it's the lowest-end offering in the Ryzen 5 line. It doesn't support the latest PCI Express generation or have that much onboard cache, but it came with a code for the "Uncharted" collection on Steam. So that's fun.

And while AMD provides their own cooler, I also grabbed this Noctua NH-L9x65 since it was on sale. It's a nice quiet 65-millimeter fan and heatsink that that measures less than the 90-mil max height allowed by the case. For memory, I grabbed this discounted 16 gigabyte dual channel kit from G.Skill, one of their Ripjaws series, DDR4 PC3200 things, with two eight-gig modules, and silly pointed heat sinks. For storage, I grabbed this MSI Spatium M470, an M.2 module providing a terabyte of space.

It won't perform as fast as it can with this setup, but it should be more than enough for a fish tank. And finally, even with integrated graphics, I saw this on heavy discount and figured, why not? It's a six gigabyte ASRock Challenger ITX card based on the Intel Arc A380. Not an airbus, it is the low-end model in Intel's new Arc range of GPUs, something I've been kind of curious to try out since they launched last March. Especially since seeing reports of driver improvements lately, but really it's because I like collecting graphics cards, especially first generation ones.

So I was waiting to find one of them a discount anyway. It also came with keys for "Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed" and "Gotham Knights." I'm not sure if that counts as a bonus or a curse, but whatever, free games. Right so, gonna go ahead and drop our underpowered Ryzen 5 processor in place and get the default AM4 mounting thingies removed from the motherboard since our Noctua setup has its own mounting plates. And with those screwed in, I'll go ahead and apply just the right amount of NT-H1 thermal paste to the CPU and drop the cooler assembly on top of that, which screws in neatly to the new mounts on the motherboard and plugs into a nearby fan header.

As I was working, I noticed these little things on the table, which I thought were crummy leftovers from lunch or something, but nope. Apparently, those tiny LEDs on the underside of this motherboard are really easy to rip off if you're not careful. Which I wasn't being enough of, apparently. So they're ridiculously tiny and I don't care enough to try and reattach them, but there are still some on there.

So moving right along to the RAM, popping that in place nicely with a satisfying click. [click of satisfaction] Our little NVMe SSD goes beneath this heatsink on the motherboard, sliding in place and screwing back to remain hidden away, and that's that. Onto the operating system, which, hey, since I'm in the mood for new things we're going with Windows 11, which I've never installed on a fresh build before. I've updated a number of Windows 10 PCs to 11 over the last year or so, but this is my first time doing a fresh install of it.

And welp, it's about what you'd expect from modern Windows, a straightforwardly boring experience. Much better than unexpectedly aggravating at least, so no arguments from me. It snatched all the drivers it needed online and went off without a hitch. Though of course I took the opportunity to make sure everything was updated after the fact anyway, particularly the Intel Arc graphics drivers and software, as well as ensuring that "Above 4 Gigabyte Decoding" and "Resizable BAR" were enabled in the board's BIOS, which they weren't, but now they are. So yay. And finally, it's time to plop this crap into the Metalfish Y2 and set up the stupid fish tank with water, and pumps, and lights, and general aquarium nonsense.

Yeah, I don't know where things are gonna go from here, but this has been sitting around my house for months now, so I'm finally ready. Let's do this. [jazz tunes fade] [jazz tunes kick back in] [screwdriver making noises] All right, power, we got all these modular cables it came with.

And they plug in kinda awkwardly underneath this rail, but, luckily, I broke it earlier so we can just move it right out of the way. We got that one for graphics card once we get that going. So I just noticed there is no reset switch or anything. We do have power and LED. There's also no front audio header. So I have just these right here, and that's it.

Simple enough. This USB cable is too long. And then power.

Oh no. Oh no! Oh, the motherboard power connector is right there. Really? Maybe I can get an extra little... [fruitless grunting] Nah man, that's not gonna connect at all. [laugh of defeat] Dang it.

Oh well, I mean I was already iffy about this thing maybe not having the right power, but it does. So whatever, we could've used it. It just doesn't reach to this motherboard's power header. That's really a dumb... why would they not just give you another half an inch? I mean, I do have that other power supply, but...

Oh no. Wait a second. No-ho-ho-ho! Oh, this is not what I thought it was. This is a full-on like, SFX. Yeah, that's... You know what, things really were just going too well, weren't they? Well...

I could still plug in another power supply, like this one or whatever, just separate, but everything I just plugged in doesn't matter. [laughs] While I'm figuring this out. at least test out the fish tank portion itself, and see if it's good with water at the very least, right? Yeah, let's do that. So I'm not gonna be like treating the water or doing anything for putting living creatures in there. We're not putting anything in there right now.

I just wanna test it, see if it retains water well, b-... What the crap? Uh. What? Are you kidding me? [laughs] Are you serious? Do I not have water? What the... There's no water in the house! What in the heck? [cracks up] Of all the days.

- [Phone] Due to loss of pressure from waterline breaks in the southern portion of the water system. Once pressure is restored, discolored water or air could be present in the lines. If you experience either of these, customers are advised to wait two to three hours, then flush only the cold water. - Oh my word. [laughs] [general mind-losing vocalizations] [laughing continues] Well, guess I'm gonna come back another day and do this crap.

Oh, this is ridiculous. Well, here I am again. It's been a fascinating, uh... 15 to 16 hours.

I don't know how long it's been. Still don't have water. It's been out since yesterday at the end of the day and here it is the morning of the next day. Yeah, and of course all the bottled water has sold out in the area because nobody in the area has water. The silliness of this is I could've done this anytime in the past several months that I've had this, but I chose to do it now anyway, whatever.

I was able to go to the next town over and grab some water and jugs, really stocked up. So I just wanna see if the dang thing leaks, that's all. Just put some in here.

Make sure it's sealed up. All right, there's whatever that is. Half a gallon almost. Yeah, I'll just leave this here, see if it leaks at all.

I mean, I'm assuming it'll be fine, but you just never know. So back to the assembly of the internal hardware. This has gone off the rails... Hey, more suitable power supply, hopefully.

Yeah, that looks more like it. All right, now we got a Medusa mess here, but look at that. It's an appropriate length.

Amazing. All right, PCI Express. That just sort of hangs out over here.

Looks like it'll screw in there. I mean, look, as long as we can get it to the back of the thing there, we'll be okay, you know? And yeah, that is completely broken off. There was just plastic welded to the bottom of the case, I guess. It just snapped. There's no screws or anything that go in there, so.

There we go. I mean, you know, [laughs] I'll get it screwed in over there, and it won't be so wonky, I guess. Silly LED fans. And that's it. We'll just pretend this isn't here. [whistles]

All right! Not 100%, but the ports are where they should be. You can get a cord in there. Got a little wi-fi dealios here, terrible antennas. Thank goodness this whole thing slides out like this.

This would really, really suck otherwise. All right, so that's that. And the last bit, at least for the case, is this. So I've got an acrylic sheet here, and then there's a insulation mat on the underside of the actual glass aquarium. Supposed to provide a little bit of protection, insulation, maybe a little minimizing of heat transference.

And that is that. And it's honestly pretty cool even just as it is. You don't need an aquarium on top. Power it on real quick, see if it's doing anything. Nice.

Not bad. All right, let's go check on the aquarium with some water and see if it's leaked. Ooh, hey, getting a call from city water. Let's see. - [Phone] Our southern water production facility has been down since December 24th. Due to the complexity of this situation, we do not have a current time as to when water will be restored.

[laughs, baffled but unsurprised] - [Clint] Who knows when it'll be back? Anyway, this has been sitting here for a couple hours now, and it doesn't look like there has been any leakage. Yeah, that's perfectly dry, so yay. Yeah, this is really gonna add a lot of weight to that computer, isn't it? Oh man.

Let's go ahead and get the actual aquarium portion going. And yeah, it is another day later. I keep hoping that the water's gonna come back, but now this is over two days, Two and a half days, whatever, without water now.

And it seems the latest is that it might be going again in the next day. Who knows? It's just sort of rolling out slowly, almost 40,000 people without water. So that sucks.

So let's see here. Just goes right there, snugly. And I have a number of aquarium thingies that I've purchased.

I don't know if I'm gonna use all of it, but why not start with some nice blue gravel? I know you're supposed to rinse, wash this off first, but kinda lacking the ability to do that right now. All right, before I decorate, let's just get this pump going. So that's gonna go in here like... and this little guy looks like it's just gonna blow bubbles. Plugs into USB. [chuckles] Oh! Oh, that's already going.

Unplugging that for now. Huh, that's kind of a thing. Even if your computer's turned off, that pump is just gonna keep going no matter what. I got one of these aquarium thermometers as well, so we can see what our water gets to. I'm kinda wondering about the whole temperature situation. Decorative thingies. Here's a thingy.

Let's just put that right there. Here's a, whatever this is. I got a bunch more, but I was thinking... Okay, so "Duke Nukem Forever," the Balls of Steel Edition came with this bust.

I've always thought that Duke's head kinda looks like coral, and his hair? "I got a reef head!" And you know, it just sorta looks like an aquarium decoration anyway. And I got a little purple thingy here. I don't know. And now for the most counterintuitive part: the water. It's gonna be three gallons.

That's like 25 pounds more weight added to this of water weight. Oh, this feels weird. It's a computer, you're not supposed to do this. Okay, that is one gallon down. And I know there are all kinds of other things you can put in here that would not conduct. It's supposed to be a fish aquarium, right? So we're going with water.

Whoop. [Duke head bonks] Augh! Ooh, I thought this guy was kinda solid. He might be hollow. [laughs] I want to say, with enough rocks, I could get him going. Yeah, so this is just two gallons. We're already getting pretty close to the top here, so I wouldn't wanna put much more than that in there, like especially with fish.

Oh man. There's no top for this or anything. It is just open no matter what.

So let's just get it up above the top parts of the pump there, and that's it. And then the last piece is this LED light deal that just goes over top of it and kinda clips on there, sort of just rests on there, I think. Yeah, that's not clipping on anything. That's just whatever.

Oh. Would you look at that? That is not bad as far as computer cases go. It's precarious. I mean, just barely, look at that, barely moving around on the floor, and it's... Imagine if you were in an earthquake zone, or had pets, or kids, or have movement that happens when you move.

If I were on a concrete floor, that'd be different, but I am on a hardwood floor, and it moves just a tad, so yeah, just even stepping around. You do not want to slosh this. There's no protection here, all these, the fan openings and everything, all the way around. This seems like such a bad idea! [laughs] We're gonna be careful though, and try this out.

Get the USB pump plugged back in. That's a thing. I mean you know... it's not a whole lot of activity, but I guess you don't want too much going on with this anyway, this little tank with water so close to the top.

It adds some vibrant activity. All right. Well, it's been a journey getting here, but it's going, so let's turn it on. Oh yeah.

[gentle Windows 11 startup sound] There's Windows 11. [keyboard clacking] And here we go. [chuckle of contentment] Our aquarium PC is going, Metalfish Y2. Honestly, pretty cool-looking.

I rather enjoy this, [laughs] despite everything about it just, telling my brain "be so careful." Yeah, those fans are not the quietest, although I didn't presume them to be, but you know. Honestly, the bubbles and everything else are just about as loud as the fans.

They just straight up plugged into power and they're just on, but anyway. Are you happy, Duke? "I feel pretty good." And now to use it for a bit, see what in the world kinda temperatures we get up to or anything. That's our Metalfish Y2.

I'm gonna get to using it and report back. All right, so I've had this going for a couple of days now, testing all kinds of games and software, and I'm happy to report it's going swimmingly. No leaks, no spills, no unwelcome surprises. It's just a computer with a dadgum fish tank on top, and it plays "Duke 3D," so I'm good.

Of course, I was curious about how this particular lower-end hardware performs, especially that Intel Arc GPU, since I've heard how bad it can be with older DirectX 9 games and newer games for that matter. I have no assumptions of excellence here. I've seen the benchmarks.

But it's fun to do your own experiments, beginning with "Unreal Tournament" and other late '90s, early 2000s stuff. The games of that era are more than fine, so long as they're Windows 11 compatible. No shock there. It'd be truly pathetic if games like that and "Half-Life 2" here couldn't run at multiple hundred frames per second at 1080p maxed out. This isn't really much of a test. It's mostly just me having fun, so let's move on to "CS: GO," another I was glad to see performed well enough, something I was curious to try since it was singled out by Intel as significantly improved with the DX9-focused driver update.

Though I did notice the weird occasional stutter here and there, like whenever new side effects played or the actions suddenly kicked up a notch, just, I don't know, seemed kinda random, nothing major, unlike in "Crysis," which featured significant amounts of stutter, despite performing quite well otherwise. And this is the 64 bit GOG version running at DirectX 10. On the bright side, yep, the fish tank runs Crysis, but this stuttering is just awful, and I don't actually know if this is the fault of the Arc or something else.

"Crysis Remastered," on the other hand, performs worse in frames per second, but without all those awful stutters getting in the way, resulting in a less performance, but more playable experience. It's built around DirectX 11 and has an overall better optimized engine for multi-core CPUs from what I gather. So it's not that surprising. Still wonder what's up with the original though.

I also had to get "Uncharted 4" a try since our Ryzen CPU included a key for it, and I've only ever played it on PS4. And yeah, it plays rather well on the games' recommended settings. For the most part, it's between 40 and 60 fps, though it certainly dips a lot lower on occasion. It also has a real problem with intermittent hitching and some stutters, not as bad as Crysis, but it's distracting for sure. And still I found myself mighty amused to see it running on an aquarium with Duke Nukem's head inside. pushes things pretty hard. Just about the most demanding thing I tried on here, really, especially when barreling through more detailed city streets or dense forest areas. A more capable CPU would go a long way here, but so would a better everything.

Again, this is not a beefy gaming PC. This is a fish tank with low cost parts inside, so it's easy to bring it to its knees with physics heavy stuff and also with things like "Quake II RTX" or really anything with ray tracing, although, hey, at least it could do ray tracing. Honestly, I find it notable that the little intel Arc can play this kinda stuff at all, even half decently. I'm under no impression that this is good performance, don't get me wrong. I just think it's cute how hard the Arc is trying here, and I'm admittedly rooting for it because more competition is a good thing. Lastly, I had to try out "Microsoft Flight Simulator," and this is another one that runs better than I expected.

Mostly low settings of course, but still it's entirely playable. Flying around the world, cruising around the 25 FPS range near big cities and going up into the 30s in less populated areas. "Flight Sim" is also what I utilized to push the machine for a while to see how it affected water temperatures. It turns out it wasn't anything drastic, only rising a few degrees over the course of a few hours, settling in around 23 degrees Celsius, roughly the same as the room temperature itself. So perhaps the acrylic sheet and insulation mat sandwich between the computer and the fish tank do a decent job keeping things isolated or it's just not generating that much heat, period.

After all, this isn't some crazy high powered system. You're not gonna be boiling any fish here as so many folks online have theorized. Really, it's just too narrow and cramped inside the case to fit hardware that'd be truly high powered enough to cause that much heat in the first place. That being said, I'd still think twice about dropping in live fish for any notable length of time.

not only for the potential temperature variation, but the small tank capacity and overall iffiness of the design with its totally open top and spillage concerns if someone were to accidentally bump into something. Yeah, the Y2 is quite possibly the least practical, most absurd PC case I've owned to date, and that's why I kinda love it. As a stupid showpiece machine that doesn't make much sense, this thing is pretty stellar. It'll be a hassle to maintain and I'll promptly be moving you downstairs where there's a concrete floor, since having water jostle around with every footstep in my office frazzles my nerves. But it's just darn pleasant to look at, and is unquestionably serene to have around if you don't think about it too much. And I guess there's an argument to be made for a practical reason to have it, or two, like maybe you could use the fish tank portion as water cooling reservoir or something.

I don't know if that would work, but what about if you have a tiny house or a little studio apartment and you simply can't spare the room for both a desktop PC and an aquarium? I don't know. I mean, it seems like you'd be better off with a dedicated fish tank and a laptop, but whatever. I don't really need reasons to keep this.

I just think it's dumb and I like it. I mean, the fact that the Metalfish Y2 exists at all amuses me, and I can't help but smile every time I walk into the room and see it existing. And I hope you enjoyed taking a look with me.

[gentle music] And if you enjoyed this LGR episode, then do check out some of my other videos on LGR things, including other fish tank, aquarium-related computer stuff, oddly enough. But anyway, that's it for this one. And as always, thanks for watching.

2023-01-02 14:21

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