Building a Ridiculous Pointy Pyramid PC

[plastic bag rustling] – Now what? [laid-back music] Greetings folks and welcome to an LGR pyramid thing I don’t really know what this project is or where it’s going, where it came from We’re here and I’ve got a big old glass and metal pyramid PC case from Azza, this is the 804 model Why exactly I have this takes a little bit of explaining so let me just set the scene for you Late one night, the other week or month, I don’t know time keeping is elusive these days I was just browsing the interwebs for various things that were out there And somehow I ended up stumbling across a whole list of weird PC cases and just was confused Like, what is this trend of these absurd looking computer cases going on right now? I don’t know what this design language is even called Reminds me of a Transformer having knocked up a Gundam by way of Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 It’s a really weird design choice and most of them happened to be coming from China, so I just started going down this rabbit hole of odd PC cases from China and ran across this one Azza Pyramid And [polyhedron-based chuckling] I was immediately drawn to it because a while back, I did this video on the weirdest PC cases of the 2000s And there was a pyramid PC there and there’s just something about a ridiculous pyramid for a PC case that is oddly kind of appealing, kind of not like a 100% appealing Anyway, I posted this on the LGR Twitter I’m like, this stuff is ridiculous, What in the world? And the response was pretty nuts So many of you were just like, “okay that pyramid is unironically awesome.” And really I was already halfway there to agreeing with that sentiment The more I thought about it more I’m like, “I gotta have the pyramid.” I bought the stupid pyramid and here it is, it showed up and it’s a lot, a lot larger than I thought it would be Apparently they do have a smaller version available but I got the 804V, which is rather huge and was packaged in some rather intriguing design in terms of a packaging design of intrigue Check it out, this thing, it is ridiculously heavy tempered glass and metal, but it’s just a lot bigger than I thought it would be in terms of the overall base It takes up so much room, just about as much as like a 17-inch CRT honestly But I gotta say the more I looked at it the more I really enjoyed the aesthetic It’s just so different than any other PC case I’ve ever owned, and you just don’t see too many pyramids I know some folks have built their own pyramid PC cases, I’ve seen some other pyramid PC cases but this one, it’s got a look to it that I’m rather appreciative of I also appreciate the fact that it’s a little easier to work on, or at least access the internals than I thought It’s got four screws that are holding it down on the bottom Then you pull those out, they’re spring loaded they stay in the bottom of the case, and you pull the entire top of the pyramid off of there I was thinking maybe you’d have to take the individual tempered glass panels off, slide some parts off and it’d keep it on there, nope The whole top just comes off and you’re left with the steel frame I’m assuming it’s steel, I don’t know, it’s pretty hefty which allows you pretty open access to everything in there You’ve got a horizontal mounting motherboard area in the middle with six slots for expansion cards and other I/O and down beneath in the middle there’s an area for the power supply, a mount for SSDs and three and a half inch hard disks And of course up top there is an RGB 120 millimeter fun installed ready to go And at this point I honestly didn’t know what I was gonna put in here I’m just like, I got this pyramid, so now what? I really just bought the pyramid ’cause it was calling to me What am I gonna put in here? I did a poll really quick, just be like do I put something new? Do I put something old? Do I just fill it with another pyramid? No surprised that the ‘other pyramid’ option won ’cause the joke options always win in polls It was kind of a mix between old and new in terms of the hardware I should put in there according to y’all suggestion I thought, “maybe I’ll just put something in between.” So here’s what I came up with and this is an intriguing option from ASUS This is a business motherboard, their Pro H410M-C motherboard for businesses and industrial situations and such And this really appealed to me because there is a type of motherboard that occasionally gets some interest among retro kind of PC folks Because it’s brand new hardware that accepts new processors and PCI express and such, but it also has a bunch of legacy support built in

MSI is a company in particular that does this I get emails every so often about these MSI motherboards for industrial and business situations But the thing is, it also has classic PCI, a bunch of slots for that as well as things like serial and VGA and sometimes even parallel built in And there were even some of them with ISA slots, a 16 bit ISA down there at the very bottom that really long slot Again, this is built for business industrial situations where they need backwards compatibility for legacy support of older hardware and software that’s still running in certain facilities But for me and other retro computer types we’re definitely interested in inserting older expansion cards, sound cards, video cards, that kind of thing And so I wasn’t able to track down one of those MSI boards, I saw this H410M with an LGA 1200 CPU socket I had never heard of that, I don’t really keep super up to date on the Intel things But that’s what this comes with, and apparently that only released in quarter two of 2020 So that right there intrigued me but I am very much attracted to the fact that it has PCI slots built in right in between the PCI Express x1 and x16 As well as a rather appealing I/O section around here You’ve got individual PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse it’s not this combination thing you might see on some boards, this is dedicated You also got USB 2.0, VGA, DVI, HTMI as well as RS-232 serial A bunch of things that you don’t really see integrated on many mainstream boards anymore as well as some fascinating headers on the motherboard I was hoping to find something with a floppy header This one doesn’t have that unfortunately but it does have headers for Cam 2 as well as LPT:One You got parallel built right into the motherboard that’s pretty neat So even though there is no parallel around the I/O section on the board itself, you can plug in this header here with one of these little breakout cables And then this’ll supply a parallel interface that you can put into one of the slots around the back of the pyramid, which just adds to the kind of mix of old and new that I was going for here We’ll get to some more stuff later in terms of what we can put into those PCI slots Another thing I was wanting to add was a traditional PC Cone speaker There’s a header for that on the motherboard as well so we’ll be able to plug that in It doesn’t have any built in PC speaker otherwise, so that’s nice And in keeping with the somewhat retro totally modern theme, I’m going with an Intel Pentium CPU This is the Pentium Gold, this a range I didn’t even know existed until making this video But the G-6,400, this is an LGA 1200 I keep on to say LGR 1200, but SRH3Y is the model number It’s a four gigahertz dual core CPU And it did come with its own cooling, but that looked boring And you know what? I was inspired by the pyramid What goes better with a pyramid than an RGB UFO? This is a Cooler Master, MasterAir G100M low profile CPU cooler The low profile doesn’t matter we got plenty of space in there, but this thing looked interesting I normally don’t go with RGB and all that kind of stuff, but there’s something about this glass pyramid that just makes me think, “let’s go all out.” Let’s just fill it with all sorts of colors and weird shapes and such A metal and RGB UFO with a side of like 1950s, 1960s oscillating fun aesthetic It just looks neat, I like it in terms of the Ram, I’m not going too crazy Just something that’ll look cool and not cost too much was the real idea It’s got some course air vengeance Pro DDR 416 gigs 2666 Megahertz, and that’s what that is I am mostly again, just kinda grabbed it ’cause I thought it might look neat inside of a glass pyramid Why not make it look flashy? And in terms of storage, it does have in that too, in VME on the motherboard itself So using this Samsung 950 PRO stick that I had from a previous build 256 gigs will be plenty of space for my purposes here And now for some of the more interesting selections potentially some older PCI cards starting with a sound card a creative labs, Sound Blaster Live With my thinking here being that I might be able to disable the onboard sound chip on the motherboard and then just use this instead with an older windows operating system I don’t know if it’s a dumb idea or not, I’ve never tried it and I’ve just been curious to see what some of these newer motherboards can do in terms of working with older PCI cards and a sound card Seem like a fun place to start And the same goes for a video card and no, I don’t have AGP on this motherboard so we’re stuck with PCI if we wanna use something old And this one’s about 20 years old this is an ATI Radeon based card, a Radeon 7000, a 32 megabyte PCI GPU

My first impulse was to put something like a 3dfx Voodoo card in here, like a three four or five, but of all of those that I’ve come across over the years, none of them have been PCI I had one back in the day, but all the ones I currently have are AGP So I decided to use something else and that ended up being this one that I had new in box, sold and branded by Diamond as the Stealth S60 this one being sold in stores in 2008 but the tech goes back to 2000, 2001 My thinking was with the Sound Blaster Live, PCI slots and this, maybe do a windows XP or late windows 98 build with some of these parts I don’t know if it’ll work, but let’s try it And lastly, we’ve got the power supply and this is rather boring and not much to talk about here, except that it is a 550 Watt EVGA and was one that is fully modular ’cause I don’t want a ton of cables hanging around inside my pyramid, nobody wants cables inside their pyramid You’re only supposed to have like flesh-eating beetles and mummies and magic and Illuminati or something I don’t know whatever pyramids do But you don’t want a bunch of cables That is the main assortment of parts taken care of so let’s just go ahead and start getting this pyramid assembled All righty, so the build itself should be pretty simple it’s all modern stuff, nothing too crazy I don’t think just gonna drop the CPU down into the LGA 1200 socket, new Pentium that is a site indeed And clip that down in place, I can go ahead and get the fun cooling thingy ready for the UFO And that involves a bracket that is actually a little bit different than I’ve used before Just in terms of it has a few extra plastic and metal parts that go in there to adjust to different socket sizes And then there’s two metal pieces that screw into the bottom of the fun UFO And then there are four of these metal thumb screwy bits that screw right into the bracket around the back of the motherboard, and it came with some thermal paste We’ll go ahead and get that stuck in place on the CPU, peel off the sandisfying sticker, look at that And then drop that in place and get everything screwed in and it actually pulls the fun assembly and brackets and such down into the motherboard and just pulls everything together Of course, now that it’s in there, I’m seeing that I probably should’ve done a little bit of measuring for the memory situation ‘Cause remember I had those gigantic RGB memory modules and there’s not much space here, but whatever moving on for now to the fun situation Just getting that plugged in, and it’s gotta couple of different connectors here, with one four pin going to the CPU fun header on the motherboard itself, and a bag of goodies with a little button controller, remote type thingy that plugs into the other four pin header where the little pass through header in the middle of those, and they connect up and connect to some other power through 4 Pin Molex And there’s a little remote for controlling the RGB and the fun Now it’s onto the ROM and as expected, [slight bang] that doesn’t fit at all, not even close I just ended up grabbing some other memory for chip I only went with eight gigs this time ’cause I don’t need anything more than four for what I’m thinking here But they’ll actually make ROM any smaller than this these days, not for this motherboard And of course no RGB which is really don’t have the physical space for it but I’ll stick some other lighting in here somewhere After all, I gotta light up the pyramid and do it justice And just going to go ahead and get the SSD installed in there, in their two slot screws right on down, that is that And I’m gonna go ahead and power it on here and just see if everything’s working Got the PC speaker and parallel plugged in and a little power connector for a button to turn it on, and they we go The UFO is lit up, and we’ve got a display bringing us right into the setup utility for an American Megatrends Bios That’s somewhat nostalgic, but everything seems to be okay All I’m gonna do here is enable some of the legacy booting options so we can try installing Windows 98, Second Edition I’m gonna try it on a modern computer setup knowing full well, all of the limitations and problems I’ll probably run into with compatibility Now you might remember a while back, I actually did attempt some kind of similar stuff with a Ryzen build and getting DOS to run on there, just natively on the system and it didn’t go well So after getting fdisk going and everything formatted and then trying to boot from the Windows 98 CD, I was not at all surprised to see it just doesn’t wanna work With the first problem being that it could not find any device drivers for the CD-ROM that I had plugged in which was an external USB DVD thing And I went through all the different drivers that I could find, I also tried some boot disks with CD support, I just got nothing Although formatting the SSD was successful

It took a long dang time, but when I was done, we had 236 ish gigabytes free Pretty crazy to see and DOS So in an attempt to get around the windows set up problem, I took the SSD back outta there and stuck it in one of these little USB in VME converter adapter things and copy files over directly to it And that got me somewhere, Windows 98 directory showed up immediately and the setup began to run But I ran into the conventional memory free era Not entirely unsurprising, this is what happens when you try to go above a certain amount of memory, I think is over 512 megabytes in this case But even when I disabled the option for the windows setup to look at Bram, it still would not get into the setup at all And not letting me go any further I messed around with this for hours, got nowhere so I moved on do Windows XP Once again, knowing that there are plenty of probable limitations and errors I’m gonna have along the way, but perhaps less of them, than with Windows 98 SE I don’t know, I just had to try it And it got to the point of bringing up the whole ACPI compliance error But even when I rebooted that, disabled ACPI checks and such, it still gave a blue screen of death error at some point in the setup every single time Messed around with all this for a full day, didn’t get anywhere So you know what? Let’s give a flavor of Linux a taste After all, when it comes to mixing old and new hardware and software and screwing around with all sorts of things you’re probably not supposed to there’s not much of a better choice out there than mess around with one of these distros And for this right here, I just decided to try one I’ve been meaning to try for a little while, and that is’s Ubuntu Game Pack Which I just wanted to give a shot because I like Ubuntu and desktop systems and the game pack in particular packs of whole lotta games and other assorted things into one handy distro that you can just install straight away and it’s got all sorts of things configured The installation seemed to be going off without a hitch And then I realized, I still need to build the rest of the computer and stick some WiFi in here so we can get some updates and all that Let’s go ahead and do that really quick with first step, of course being to insert the little I/O bracket thingy right here and get that into place and then drop our crazy looking motherboard assembly right down behind that and get that screwed into the case itself Which unfortunately I could only get four screws in there, even though I think there are six spots on the motherboard, and it seems that this particular case doesn’t have any standoffs And in fact, not even any drilled holes to put more standoffs where this particular motherboard would take the last two screws down here at the bottom so it just flaps around there a little bit Another slightly disappointing thing about this is I didn’t realize until I was going to plug it in, that the motherboard does not have a header for a RGB or addressable fan colors and such I can give the fan at the top of the case some power but it won’t actually turn on without a fan controller, or another motherboard entirely So I guess that’s not gonna light up either I’m just taking a look at the instructions here to make sure I wasn’t missing anything I found this rather amusing, where it’s talking about screwing in different parts and cable management The recommendation is managing the cables by hiding them That’s cable management, so sure we’ll do that Although there’s not a whole lot I’m gonna be able to do with some of these cables have gotta ribbon cable for parallel and such, but let’s go ahead and get the video card in place The Radeon 7000, all 32 megabytes worth, and the lovely Sound Blaster Live Which admittedly is not as big of a deal anymore so I was really wanting to use it with Windows 98 so I could get some compatibility going on with different games for Windows and DOS, but maybe it’ll be cool in Linux as well we’ll try it And with everything in place, that is a really pleasing selection of I/O just seeing parallel and VGA and serial and all these things all together, I’m a sucker for ports And then of course we gonna get the power supply in here and it goes underneath everything, and in order to do that, you’re gonna have to take apart some stuff And I was kicking myself thinking “was I not supposed to put the motherboard in yet?” But no, it’s not that stupid You actually just have to flip the pyramid on its side and then get to the bottom here and just undo this whole bracket metal cage base situation, and then get the power supply screwed into that Now this does mean more limited access to the power supplies cables once it’s all in there But once it’s in there it’s a pretty tidy looking solution on the outside And just don’t think about, setting things up because that part was a bit of a pain just getting all of that cables and wiring, just strung through these little openings and trying to fit things in there

Not really being able to access the rear of the power supply Just a little bit annoying but so it goes. The price you pay for a big old PC pyramid, I guess All right everything’s pretty much hooked up let’s see if we get a video and sound going in Hey, there we go and we’ll go ahead ahead and get the USB stick with the Linux installation stuff ready to go once again and let that install and connect to the internet, update itself and get drivers and software and whatever else it needs to make this hardware to do its thing And I just had to take a moment to admire the monstrosity of a computer [laughing] we’ve put to together up to this point It has got a WiFi dongle up top, a PC speaker hanging around, just wires and cables, the pyramid It’s so stupid and I am really amused by absolutely all of it That being said though, once it had finished installing and I had it logged in to some of my services, it was immediately apparent that things were running very slowly And checking out things in CPU-X, everything was configured It was seeing it all: processor, motherboard, memory, all of that, and of course the graphics it discovered the RV100 chipset on the Radeon 7000 And I made sure to disable things like animations and fractional scaling other stuff that might slow down the UI, but things were still just really slow I just decided to try out Half-Life see how that did at 640×480 with HD models and other update type of stuff turned off As you can see, it’s running like total garbage Granted, I know that this is the updated version of Half-Life that’s been tweaked a whole bunch over the years and it’s just whatever’s on Steam right now So it’s not an original one that you’d have gotten in 1998, but even still this is running a whole lot slower than I thought it would, for a 32 Megabyte PCI GPU a Radeon 7000 Frame rate is terrible and the input lag is off the charts Like it takes 10 seconds for things to react and it really freaked out the tram ride here and made Gordon hop out the back So that’s a thing [laughing] And of course YouTube was basically unwatchable It’s a 32 megabyte PCI GPU, but still. As capable as the rest of the system was, somehow I was hoping that it’d be a little better than this An even more extreme case was something like solitaire here and it’s just laughably bad I know it’s relying on some GPU acceleration and everything to move around these cards, but it’s still worse than I thought And again, to drive the point home, just look at DOSBox running something as simple to emulate as Jill of the Jungle it’ll play, but it’s gonna protest the fact that it’s having to do so And there’s a lotta slowdown and just choppiness all the way through at certain points [intermittently choppy AdLib music] So while I’m sure there’s a massive variety of tweaks and different drivers and software situations that I could go messing around with, I don’t wanna do that right now I just wanna see if maybe it was the operating system or the distro that I was using I’m gonna try Xubuntu which is a much more lightweight version of basically what I was just using It just doesn’t have all the game stuff pre-installed and that’s fine, I can install it myself if I want to I just want to see if this makes any difference at all And it absolutely did It’s a whole lot worse now! [laughing] it’s so bad I can’t even get Steam to do its thing properly There was all sorts of garbled textures and corruption, just white blocks all over the screen It took like five minutes to get Half-Life to even open And then when it did it wouldn’t run, it brought up a bunch of Eras and the game itself never actually started It just froze the system Honestly, I’m just not familiar enough with this particular video card, this version of Linux, its drivers, the motherboard itself. the way its PCI bus might be configured in the BIOS There’s a lot to troubleshoot in terms of performance here and in the end, we’re talking 366 Megahertz of memory speed and 183 Megahertz core clock speed on that Radeon 7000 I just don’t think it’s cut out for running a modern version of Linux, or any other modern OS It’d be one thing if I was using it on a Windows 98 machine to play 1998 era games, Half-Life in its original form would be perfectly fine on this card But I was trying to push it a bit far, just to show that I was curious in terms of maybe if I could benchmark the two together just to show how wide of a gulf we’re talking And I did find this PassMark benchmark they ran G3D on both the Intel and the Radeon 7000, which got a score of four by the way [laughing] Video cards have come a ways in 20 years It’s been a fascinating couple of days of experimentation but I’m gonna go ahead and remove the Radeon

and just stick with the Intel chipset for now I mean dang, we’re almost 25 minutes in and I haven’t even played any games yet I’m also taking out the Sound Blaster card while I’m at it, which worked perfectly fine by the way, both alongside the Radeon and without I tried both cards on their own to make sure one wasn’t slowing down the other or something, but there was no difference So again, for now, the motherboard will do the trick And even though I’m not taking advantage of the PCI slots at the moment, there’s still plenty of fun to be had until I can Who’s staying to finish up the build here it’s just a little bit left in a copious quantity of extraneous RGB lighting is what I’m thinking I grabbed one of those cheap pre-wired LED strips that’s powered by USB, then strung around the edges of the pyramid base right behind where the bottom metal parts go, and wind it through the middle of the cable mess inside and then around to the back, so it makes a loop around the whole thing I got to say, this is looking spectacularly over the top Perhaps it’s not your style I’m not even sure it’s my style, but it is eye catching with all those built in RGB, animations and rainbow patterns and what not. Any other PC case, ah probably not so much But this pointy pyramid, I dig it so let’s have some fun with it Starting with the serial port which lets you use plenty of old peripherals without needing any USB adapters or additional software So you wanna use this old Microsoft two button serial mouse on a modern system? We just gotta plug it and then enable serial input devices here since Ubuntu apparently disables that by default now and whatever a line in the terminal takes care of that And now we’re able to natively use compatible input devices going back to the early 1980s Plus there are the multitude of null modem cables and other connections and programs that allow direct communication with old computers and devices of all kinds A serial port is just nice to have for stuff like this Same with parallel, where we can plug in all kinds of things from Zip drives and tape backup systems to dot matrix printers and whatever other peripherals use parallel Printing to fan fold tractor feed paper on a dot matrix printer through a ridiculous pyramid PC is my idea of a good time Like sure, USB dot matrix printers are a thing but why bother with that newfangled nonsense when you’ve got the connection built in? And this is Linux, so we can do whatever the nuts we want in terms of emulation, source ports in general retro gaming As a result, I’ve been a fan of Wine for years — the program, drinking is whatever — but Wine is awesome in how versatile it is for getting older PC games to work that would otherwise be an absolute pain to get going on modern Windows Whether they’ve got original disks, downloads from GOG or shady cracked executables, it doesn’t really care There’s a chance that Wine or a GUI like PlayOnLinux can make it happen I also recently discovered that Lutris is a thing which makes the process of making PC games playable through Wine an absolute breeze It takes care of multi-step installers applies fan made patches, converts to CD audio to music files and reconfigures things as needed to make installing and playing certain games and other Windows programs a pretty painless process Steam is of course another option with thousands of native Linux games to choose from nowadays and valves own Proton tool for playing supported Windows games right out of the gate Again, you know this and Lutris, I had no idea this was a thing until making this video I got pretty excited, just start playing around for a couple of days, this stuff is awesome And then there’s the whole emulation Scene console and arcade games And if you’re comfortable with RetroPie there’s an x86 version available, that does just about all the same awesomeness you’d expect on a Raspberry Pi, just on an Intel CPU PlayStation games are my absolute weakness here and the pyramid runs them beautifully but this supports a crazy number of systems and custom UIs to make sorting through emulators and scraping game data that much more easy and enjoyable And being Linux, practically every source port under the sun will work on it in some form or another And for me that usually means EDuke32 before long because of course! If it’s a computer system I can run Duke of 3D on, well then it’s automatically an awesome machine in my book This has been fun. I still wish I was able to make better use of those PCI slots, since that’s half the reason I chose this motherboard, but at least the pyramid itself looks unique, all glowing with animated lighting and whatnot I think it would have been a different story if I’d been able to get Windows 98 or XP working on here or better knew what to do with open source operating systems so that it could take better advantage of those cards I was trying to install But it’s possible the PCI bus and this particular mainboard isn’t configured for that kind of usage And in that case, you win some, you lose some For me it’s really been a learning experience that’s highlighted some areas that I’m admittedly

a bit short on in regards to knowledge And I’ve kinda run out of time at the moment to keep experimenting, at least for this video, so If you got any idea on how to improve this, leave a comment with your thoughts, and just generally any thoughts on the Pointy Pentium Pyramid PC overall Like I said, I’ve grown rather fond of this monstrosity to the point where I’ve bestowed it with an LGR case badge and a Y2K Compliance sticker It’s just how you know that I care I know the whole thing looks like a Bass Pro Shop, or The Louvre Pyramid, or the Luxor hotel or whatever, insert Illuminati, alien power generator references here But that’s what made this case so unusually appealing that one late night however long ago It’s a pyramid, it’s a PC And now it’s running a penguin operating system and seriously, none of this was planned That’s just what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks. So even if the destination wasn’t the most meaningful in the end I hope that you enjoyed the journey getting here And if so, perhaps check out my other videos on various computery things I upload different stuff each week right here on LGR And as always, thank you very much for watching!