I was given the task to build a system that would be on par with the MacPro for an upcoming event.
What is a Hackintosh?
Building ‘Hackintosh’ computers has become a lot easier and more popular in the recent years. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, a Hackintosh is essentially a machine running OS X on a non-Apple approved and manufactured hardware. This used to require extremely restricted hardware choices. Now you have a wide variety of options and the installation process is very simple. There are many reasons to build a Hackintosh instead of buying a Mac directly from Apple. One of the biggest reasons that drive users to building their own “Mac Pro” is the price and it’s no secret that Apple charges premium cost for its products. A few examples of advantages of a “Hackintosh” are that it’s easy to upgrade, different configurations, runs quieter and also a great learning experience. The Hackintosth community has grown exponentially over the years and I figured I’d give it a shot. I am building a set of system, one capable of performing on par with current high-end MacPro and capable of powering a 4k monitor. I want to be able to choose my own case and I want to keep everything absolutely silent, from the hard drives to fans, and everything else. Most of all, I want to do it on a budget of about $2,000, not including a 4k display. And the other build will lean towards for to a “value” system, if you’re in a tight budget.
Here’s a list of the parts I used for this build.
Parts list at Newegg / Amazon; just a little over the 2k mark
First thing you need to ask yourself is, how do you know what is and isn’t compatible? Well, the answer is simple….Google it!
Before you even start ordering your parts, I can’t stress enough to do your research first and get the correct parts; this will save you a lot of time in the long term. Once you have your hardware, you’re going to need to assemble it into a working computer. This is actually my favorite part, you get to choose from a wide selection of computer cases that you want your “MacPro” to be in. I chose our very own Antec P280 White Window. From the outside, the case is very elegant in terms of design, which is exactly what I wanted. And the very important feature for me is that it’s a silent case with excellent advanced cooling. After I chose the chassis, I decided to go with the HCP-850 Platinum, having this high end PSU might have put me over the budget I was hoping for or some might say this to be overkill, but the advantage of this is you can upgrade later without worrying about not having enough power. For a processor, I chose the quad-core Intel Core i7-4770K chip, clocked at 3.5GHz. This processor is one of the most highly supported and praised processors for a Hackintosh. Plus later on, with my Kuhler 1250 cooling my CPU, I can overclock it up to 4.2GHz or higher. For RAM, I went with 32GB Viper DDR3 by Patriot. And storage, I decided to go with ADATA SX900 256GB SSD. The SSD will be used for the operating system and apps, for a quick boot and quick performance. But later on I’ll add a standard hard drive for storage. With that kind of flexibility, upgrading with ease is one of the perks that come with building your own system. For a motherboard, I chose the Gigabyte Z87X-UD7TH Rev 2.0 (make sure your CPU matches the motherboard socket). Finally, for a GPU, I went with the Gigabyte GeForce GTX770 Windforce. This card received a lot of excellent reviews and is known to be compatible with Hackintoshes. I thought about going for something with more power, like the GTX Titan or the Radeon R9 290 but I didn’t want to go over my budget.
Once I got all of the parts, it was time to put them together, a process that’s very familiar to me. I’ve built a fair share of systems and I must say that other than being fun, it’s also rewarding. I’m not going to go into full detail on putting the rig together, but I will say this: If this is your first time taking on this kind of challenge, Google and Youtube are your best friends, read up and watch some tutorial videos, it will help ALOT. Putting the components together is actually the only challenging thing about the entire process. It still wasn’t hard; it’ll just take a few quick reads and hands on work. After you double check everything, time to power up this baby and install OS X.
I won’t bore you guys with the step-by-step details, there are tons of guides online regarding this and it’s surprisingly easy.
Here’s a quick link to a really helpful guide I found on Youtube
To summarize, I have no problem with Apple products. In fact, if you have the money, by all means go for it and get yourself a MacPro. BUT I highly recommend the alternative purchase of a hackintosh. Not only will it save you a decent amount of money, but it’s also a good investment and a great learning experience. Here are the systems I built for Macworld / iWorld 2014.