Two weeks ago I assembled my first hackintosh. I had hoped to buy a new Mac Pro. Unfortunately Apple has not updated it in over 2 years, and the price hurts for hardware that’s 2 years behind. No Thunderbolt, lame video card options without sufficient power supply output to run a modern 3D card, etc. It’s a great machine, but the price is fairly obscene for the age of the components and the power supply weaknesses.
I also considered a 27″ iMac, which is a very nice machine for an all-in-one, but the reality is that I need expandability that doesn’t exist on the iMac. I don’t want external drive enclosures. I also want USB 3.0. And I have a pair of 24″ 1920×1200 monitors I wanted to continue using, if just for the sake of saving money.
So in the end, my best option was a hackintosh. I considered a dual Xeon setup, but the price is high and power management is essentially non-functional on the dual Xeon hackintosh machines. My main goals here were maximum compatibility, reasonable speed, low noise (no screaming CPU fan), and simple maintenance. So I built a fairly simple (and relatively inexpensive) hackintosh based on a Gigabyte Z68 board and Intel I7-2700K CPU with an EVGA GTX570 video card. I am using a USB Bluetooth adapter and an Apple Magic Trackpad since I’ve become addicted to all of the gestures over the last few years. I considered a watercooled video card, but in the end decided I didn’t want the maintenance I’ve had to deal with on my watercooled machines. The Corsair H100 is dandy for my CPU, and since I don’t play 3D games on my computer, my video card isn’t really subject to high heat conditions.
The gory details can be found on my hackintosh1 page. As of today, I have most everything working, including (finally!) sleep and wake. There are some nits with USB connections with my iPhone, but it works if I use particular ports. I have a few items left on the wish list like the SSD, 16G more memory and a new keyboard, plus software. But I’ve been using the machine as my primary desktop for the last 2 weeks and I’m a happy camper. My libDwm library compiles in 7 seconds with no overclocking, which is much faster than was possible with my old dual 32-bit Xeon FreeBSD workstation. I’m also not memory-constrained as I was on that machine. At this point, I can settle in and just use the machine and add my planned upgrades at my leisure.
Kudos to the web sites that support those of us with hardware needs that aren’t met by Apple: tonymacx86.com, insanelymac.com, osx86.net and others. While I’m a strong supporter of Apple and own (and love) some of their hardware (and have spent many thousands of dollars on it over the years), right now they don’t have desktop hardware that meets my needs at a price point I can tolerate. Hopefully that will change in 2013, but I’ve become very wary of waiting for Apple desktops that meet my needs. The hackintosh fits my needs for now and at the moment is working nearly flawlessly running OS X Lion (10.7.4).