So you want to build a powerhouse of a computer that runs Mac OS X but don’t want to spend $6k+ for the new Mac Pro’s? You’ve come to the right place! With all the resources that are out right now, it’s easier than ever to build a powerful, fast, ridiculously clean Hackintosh computer (did I mention reliable?)!!
You can watch the video below for a walkthrough of how you can do this easily, plus all build lists! Let me just say, you can build a very capable Hackintosh for under $1,000. How does that sound?! Atleast $2,000 cheaper than buying a base line Mac Pro.
Here is a list of the components I used. Below the list will be an explanation of each and why I chose them. This exact system costs $2336.57 on Amazon: (prices may have changed since this posting)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-970 6 Core Processor $899.99
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5 Rev 2.0 $306.99
- Graphics: Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 1 GB DDR5 $269.99
- Ram: Mushkin Blackline 12GB kit 1600MHz PC3-12800 (DDR3) $150
- Case: NZXT Phantom $139.82
- Optical Drive: LG BluRay Burner WH10LS30K $94.80
- Power Supply: Cooler Master 1000W Silent Pro Gold Series $199.99
- Boot Hard Drive: OCZ Vertex 2 Solid State Drive 120gb $229.99
- Secondary Hard Drive: Western Digital 1TB Caviar HD $73 (still haven’t bought this, might go for the WD VelociRaptor)
- Firewire card: Generic IEEE 1394b PCI Express card for Firewire $45
Just to get it out of the way: this system is FAST, runs flawlessly and is just a DREAM!
Are you saying to yourself: “But, I REALLY want to save money!!!” Okay, throw out the SSD, get a cheaper video card, a cheaper case, and a less expensive Power Supply and you can get a VERY nice system (WITH the 6 core processor) for just under $1,800.
Now if that’s still too much, throw out the expensive processor and get a Quad Core i7 (or better yet an i3 or i5) and the price will drop to under a grand!!!
Whew! Now onto the nitty gritty. So you want to build a machine like this for yourself?
There are a few simple steps to follow in order to do this right.
PICK THE RIGHT HARDWARE
I can’t stress this enough, this is the single most important part in building your Hackintosh.
The easiest way to build a Hackintosh is with a Gigabyte mobo running an Intel Processor. The best version is X58. I can’t speak for the other types they offer since I don’t know anything about them (P55, H55, etc) If you have questions about other boards, you can find a multitude of information on the web (and in my resources section at the end!)
I went with the Gigabyte X58A-UD5 because it had the most success out of any board I have seen in the Hackintosh community, plus it’s a great board!
i3/i5/i7 will work. Plus there have been instances where CoreDuo and Core2Duo have worked. Be advised: AMD processors will NOT work.
I went with the i7-970 processor because it’s a POWERHOUSE! All the i7′s are generally Quad Core, but I needed something more, so I opted for the 6 core. Definitely stoked I did. Make sure the processor you get has the same socket as your motherboard.
Man, now this is a topic of “Mac or PC”, “Chicken or the egg”, “Ford or Chevy”. It doesn’t end. In this case it’s “ATI or Nvidia”. I can’t vouch for Nvidia because I went with ATI. I didn’t even research Nvidia, but I’ve heard that you can build a great system with a few Nvidia cards out there. I chose ATI because it is what comes in the new 2010 Mac Pro’s. You can find hardware lists (in my resources) to see which versions work with Hackintosh, but I can tell you that 5870 and 5770 definitely work.
I recommend a very reputable, well known company for your ram. As you know you will want to pack this thing in with ram to get the system up to par. I went with Mushkin’s Blackline 1600MHz PC3-12800 3 x 4gb pack for a total of 12gb. When you are searching for your ram, make sure that it is compatible with your processor, they are the speed you want, and ultimately will fit in your motherboard. I recommend DDR3 ram and 1600MHz. The amount you go varies on what you want to accomplish. 4gb is just fine for photographers, 12gb is good enough for me. Just remember, your motherboard has a certain amount of space for Ram and my philosophy is always have more headroom then you need. I went with 3 x 4gb sticks that way I can add more (up to 24gb in my motherboard) with another 3 x 4gb kit from Mushkin.
Also, ALWAYS match your ram. What I mean is, don’t go and buy Mushkin ram, then 5 months later buy another 2 sticks of Crucial ram. Always match the ram to the same company, speed, rating, etc…
Everything else: Choose any other hardware you want.
This doesn’t make a difference as long as it is powerful enough to run your computer (I went big with the 1000 watt). I chose the Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1000 watt PSU because it received many certifications and awards. Plus it is 80 PLUS Gold certified. I spent the extra dime on this PSU versus lesser ones but it was worth it. It’s quiet, modular (meaning you only plug in the cables you need which makes case organization a breeze), and sexy!
If you are in the video field, audio field, or photography then you know you want to go with a hard drive that offers atleast 7200 rpm’s. If you want to go all out, go with Solid State (as I did). They are a lot cheaper these days and are QUICK! (watch my video below to see a comparison).
I went with a 120gb OCZ Vertex 2 drive because it got fantastic reviews and I can see why. This thing is tiny, light, and quite honestly, very sleek. After reading through a couple hundred reviews on various SSD’s I decided on the Vertex 2.
Just keep in mind that if you want to dual boot say…Windows 7 and Mac OS X, you will have to use 2 separate hard drives OR partition a single hard drive for each OS.
I also read that your boot drive should only be 1TB AT MOST. Your secondary drives can be any size (though just to be safe I am going with 1TB drives).
This is purely aesthetic and your own opinion. Things to keep in mind: airflow, fans, possible watercooling, space for motherboard (ATX, mATX, etc), space for HDD, etc.
I went with NZXT’s Phantom. Why? Just look at the thing! It’s sexy as hell, doesn’t look like anything else on the market, and has insane versatility. Just look at the specs!
Okay, let’s get a move on!
What you’ll need:
- iBoot + Multibeast – courtesy of TonyMacX86
- The DSDT for your motherboard found on TonyMacX86 as well: DSDT downloads (you don’t need this but it makes it easier)
- Latest update for OS X (found on Apple’s site)
- Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disk – a whopping $29 at the Apple Store
- A flavorful cocktail to get you through this
Burn iBoot.iso onto a cd and put Multibeast, your DSDT, and any other hackintosh related files (kexts, install packages, etc) on your trusty thumbdrive and put both aside.
Build your system. If you’ve never built a system, please PLEASE PLEASE read up on how to build a PC. It will make a huge difference in a clean fast build and a terror.
And just to be clear: RTFM!!!!!!! (Read the …. Manual!!!!)
- Connect only 1 hard drive (your main boot drive)
- Only have a MAXIMUM of 4gb ram for the install (you can add the rest later)
- Only have 1 video card installed to the topmost PCI-e slot
- Only have 1 monitor connected
- Don’t have any other expansion cards installed yet (they may not be compatible)
- Do not connect any USB devices EXCEPT for mouse and keyboard (I strongly recommend a wired keyboard and mouse for the install but not necessary)
- Double Triple Quadruple check all your connections…
Now the moment of truth…plug in your power supply, cross your fingers and bring your beast to life…
Did it turn on? WOOHOO!
Now if everything went well you just need to follow these 8 steps to have a successful Mac OS X install!
Edit your BIOS. Once you turn on your computer edit your BIOS. Make sure all SATA drives are set to AHCI, Boot priority to CD-Rom, Hard Drive secondary (MOST IMPORTANT!), Sleep Mode to S3 Only, HPET to 64 bit, and set to Optimized Defaults (if your motherboard gives you this option). Save changes and exit BIOS
Boot into iBoot – Put iBoot into your cd-rom drive and restart the computer. If you set boot priority to CD-ROM then it will boot straight into iBoot, which will give you a “login” type of screen that says “iBoot”.
Eject iBoot and insert your fresh new copy of Mac OS X (Snow Leopard). Hit F5 to refresh the screen. You will see it take the place of “iBoot” on the screen. Hit ENTER.
Format your hard drive: Utilities -> Disk Utility
If you want to Dual Boot Windows: create 2 partitions: Windows partition – Format MSDOS (FAT), Mac OS X partition – Mac OS Extended Journaled. Go to Advanced Options and choose “GUID Partition Table” – THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!
If you want to boot Mac OS X only: format your hard drive to Mac OS Extended Journaled. Go to advanced options and choose “GUID Partition Table” and skip to Step 5.
Click Apply (which will Format and Partition your hard drive) and close.
Insert your Windows 7 disk and install as you normally would. Choose Custom install. When it asks for which partition to install on, choose your Windows partition (duh!) and format the drive (under Drive options). Installer will reboot the system a few times and you will have successfully installed Windows!
(Disclaimer: Some of the instructions in step 4 might be different depending on OS, I didn’t dual boot so this is just a broad example of how to do it)
Insert the iBoot disk again and follow the instructions to boot in to Mac OS X (insert Snow Leopard disk once it gets to the iBoot screen and hit F5 to refresh and Enter to boot from it).
Now install Mac OS X on the partition you created for Mac OS X as you normally would.
PLEASE NOTE: I have heard and seen instances where once OS X is done installing, it gives you an “Installation FAILED!” notice. Don’t fret, just restart your computer as in Step 6. For me, it didn’t give me this error.
Put iBoot back in your CD-Rom drive and restart. Select your new Mac OS X install from the bootloader screen and launch it.
Insert your thumbdrive and copy the Multibeast folder to your desktop and move your DSDT file to your desktop (if applicable). Now open Multibeast but DON’T TOUCH IT!!! Just open it.
Now, update your Snow Leopard install with the update on your thumbdrive.
IMPORTANT, DO NOT RESTART ONCE THE UPDATE HAS FINISHED!!!!
Just leave it on the “restart” screen and open up Multibeast in the background. If Multibeast quit, go ahead and reopen it.
Install Multibeast as your system calls for. For my system I chose:
(and this might sound like complete jargon until you actually do this…You can skip this next little part if this goes over your head until install time of course!)
- UserDSDT Install
- System Utilities
- Audio ->ALC8xxHDA and AppleHDA Rollback
- Disk -> IOAHCIBlockStorageInjector and JMicron36x (AKA GSATA) I chose all (After research I found that you should only select one of the options. Read the description for each and choose the best one that supports your situation!)
- Misc -> USB 3.0 – NEC/Renesas
- Bootloaders -> Chameleon 2.0 RC5 – ATI Experimental (so 5870 will work fully accelerated)
- Customization -> Boot options -> 32-bit Apple Boot Screen (to start with until system is running stable, then switch to 64 bit Apple Boot Screen)
That’s it! Hit continue and install. Once Multibeast is finished, Restart your computer!
Step 7 (sometimes not necessary):
Before restarting – Install extra kexts (which are basically little “things” that make your hardware compatible with Mac OS X) for your hardware.
I installed: RealtekRTLnetwork.pkg which is for your network (new Multibeast release has this built in), PXHCD.kext which is for USB 3.0 (if the MultiBeast one didn’t work).
Step 8:PRAY your system restarts!!!
Don’t fret – if your system hangs up (which mine did because I chose 64 bit first and the wrong video driver – OOPS!). Just throw your iBoot disk in and restart. Boot into your Mac OS X install. Find your “~home/Extras” folder and delete it. Open MultiBeast and try again!
It’s seriously that easy.
Now I want to admit one thing. My build actually cost much less then the above. My full build cost me $2,134. The reason it is much lower is because I found deals. Get out there, find deals, and make it worth it! My price of $2,134 also included 2 Dell Ultrasharp 2408 24″ monitors. I found deals on Craigslist, eBay, etc…
Okay, I like what I’m reading, now LET ME SEE HOW IT PERFORMS!
Check out the difference between SSD and your typical HD
Ever seen 40 applications open at once???
Photoshop CS5 Opening demonstration between SSD and Macbook Pro:
The Real Numbers – Benchmarks:
This isn’t too fair of a battle for benchmarking SINCE I am comparing with a Macbook Pro (which is my only basis for comparison). But I will show you what typical Mac Pro’s got in comparison. These numbers are using GeekBench.
Mac Pro (Mid 2010 2.66GHz 12 core) – 20002
Mac Pro (Early 2009 2.67GHz 8 core) – 14232
Mac Pro (Early 2009 3.33GHz Quad core) – 10304
My Macbook Pro 2.6GHz 4gb ram 17″ – 3915
My i7-970 Hackintosh – 14332
Now keep in mind the 2010 Mac Pro 8 core (1. see below) would cost $5,399 and my Hackintosh cost me $2,134! The Mac Pro also didn’t come with two 24″ monitors and a Blu-Ray burner. But it does come with quad core processors so it might be a tiny bit faster…but is that worth the extra $3,265?
EDIT: 3/3/11 – Had a few kernel panics this morning, but I want to just respond to this post and say that I changed one of my DVI connected monitors to an HDMI cable and I haven’t had a problem yet! I have 1 monitor connected via DVI and the other through HDMI. I said in my comments that one of my problems was a flickering monitor on start up – that problem is now gone! I also haven’t had any kernel panics since I changed this. I’ll post back in a few days if something does happen. Running smoothly again!
1. 2010 Mac Pro 8 core with two 2.4GHz quad core processors, Solid State hard drive, 5870 graphics and 12gb ram.