in 2012 the cooling fan on my battle-tested Mac Power-PC took its final whirl. What was probably the best computer that I ever owned had grown old, obsolete, and finally broke down due to to continuous use (and probable drying out of thermal paste).
I was stuck. I needed a computer, I wanted a mac, but simply couldn’t afford the $2500+ pricetag of a new Mac Pro. I scouted laptops, but the value was poor (and still is). I visited Tekserv (may it R.I.P.) and I had no luck finding something used, suitable, and at a decent price.
I had to build my mac.
I had heard about the mysterious Hackintosh, a breed of macintosh that mac enthusiasts were able to piece together from parts, install the finicky mac OS and run… like a mac!
What would it take for me to get one of these beasts, tame it, and make use of its incredible power?
I have my Macbook Air. Why would I care?
It’s true. You have your Macbook Air, and you probably don’t care, but I need to talk a little about why laptops (in general) and Macbooks (in particular) suck.
You can get plenty of performance from a macbook- especially if you go for the pro option, so I’m going to look at 3 theoretical machines, a macbook air (base), and macbook pro () and a homemade tower.
Ill compare performance as best I can as well as price- you be the judge on what kind of value you’re getting…
processor dual core i5 @ 1.8 GHz
ram 8GB DDR3 (1600hmz)
graphics onboard intel HD graphics 6000
storage 128 gb
processor quad core i7 @ 2.9 GHz
ram 16GB DDR3 (2133mhz)
graphics onboard intel HD graphics 630
storage 512 gb
processor kaby lake i7 quad core @ 4.2 ghz – $350
ram 16 GB DDR4 (2400mhz) – $150
storage 1 TB SSD – $210
graphics – rx 570 – $330
graphics option 2 – rx 560 – $150
MoBo, power supply, case – $250-$400
What might not be immediately clear to the average consumer is that the numbers for the air are abysmal. Take the video processor, for example: even an $80 Nvidia gt 1030 (2300, on G3D rating, a video procesing benchmark test) vastly outperforms the intel 630 graphics (1260), and makes the intel 6000 graphics (830) look abysmally weak.
So what am I saying? for about $200 more than the cost of a macbook Air, you can build a desktop that substantially outperforms a top of the line macbook pro(for about 1/2 the price).
And if, for some reason, you decide to upgrade or replace parts in your MacBook? you’re screwed. I built my first Hackintosh years ago, and due to processor upgrades, RAM and videocard upgrades, my Hackintosh is still running. The modular nature of a personally built PC can really increase it’s longevity.
But yes, we want portability, and we want the Mac OS
if we are going to give up on lugging your computer back and forth from work everyday, and sit it down in one spot, then what about the mac pro? that could be an option?
So let’s say we are convinced… that you’re going to assemble a mac from parts you bought on newegg… How do we run the mac OS?
This is where your friendly hackintosh community comes in.
a site I love is Tonymacx86.com, there you’ll find golden builds, help, forums, and resources on how to get your mac up and running.
A golden build is a great place to start, because it tells you all you need to know about what hardware to purchase, and if that hardware works well with Mac OS.
Once you’ve picked out your hardware and assembled your machine, it’s time to get to the software part.
A Mac of my own
Obviously, if you want to run a mac, you need the MacOS, which you can download from apple! That was easy!
You’ll need a way to boot your machine for the first time, as MacOS only knows to look for actual mac components (which you don’t have). So you’ll a make a bootable USB stick, with a program called UniBeast… That creates a bootloader called Multibeast!
There are detailed instructions on how to get the OS to install… refer to these detailed instructions to see the process…
The process of actually installing and getting your mac to run is quite involved, and I don’t have time to cover it in a 5-minute presentation, but here are a few things to remember…
1- if you’re making a hackintosh, you’ve made the right decision. It may seem daunting but you can do it! You can easily partition whatever hard drive you have as your boot device and add windows, ubuntu or any other OS extremely easily!
2- research all your hardware carefully, mac OS is incredibly fickle and may not work with all hardware. Be particularly careful with motherboards. Check for Mobos that have been tested on Hackintosh community sites.
3- Make sure all your parts are compatible – check your RAM and CPU against your motherboard. Just because it has the same port doesn’t mean it will necessarily be compatible. Check your motherboard’s documentation (available on the manufacturers website for compatibility. only i8s here)
4- wear static protection. When building your mac, take all the necessary precautions. Work in a static-free and on a non-conductive workspace.
5- always change one kext at a time… if you can help it.
On that final note: kernel extensions (or kexts) are what makes macs tick. They are the way the hardware and software communicate, they are your drivers.
When you first get your hackintosh up and running, you’ll have to fiddle with the various kexts available in multibeast. You’ll load kexts for your video, audio, usb setup, drives, etc.