Building a Hackintosh

“In theory, the only way to get an OS X computer is to buy a Mac from Apple; however, in practice, it is possible to build a computer and hack OS X into running on it,” Harry Guinness reports for Tuts+.

“While it is true that Apple controls the hardware of the computers that run their operating system—unlike Microsoft—it is still, for the most part, the same stock, off the shelf components available to everyone,” Guinness reports. “Apple uses CPUs from Intel, hard drives from Samsung and video cards from NVIDIA. If you carefully select your parts then getting OS X to run on your computer is surprisingly achievable.”

Guinness reports, “In this tutorial I’ll explain why you might want to build a Hackintosh, take you through what parts go in a modern computer, how to choose them and what choices I made.”

Much more in the full article here.

22 Comments

  1. I tried it, Had a few hiccups but got it figured out.

    I’m glad I did it, it was an interesting exercise, but always had too many little gremlins that had to be tracked down for a main computer.

    It could be very stable for a fixed Mac activity though.

    1. Im an apple only kinda guy, I think if anything its worth giving it a go if you are on a windows computer. I had a friend who did it back in the day on his PC, got so used to Mac he went and bought one. So a win win in the end?

  2. Less than a month after the new Mac Pros started shipping I spent a while digging about the ‘net looking for parts to duplicate the full blown, top of the line 2013 Mac Pro.

    The common belief is that Apple makes it highest gross margins on its top of the line systems. Therefore, I could expect to easily beat Apple’s price with a Hacintosh, right?

    What I found at that time was rather surprising — at least to me.

    In order to build the actual, equivalent machine to the top of the line 2013 Mac Pro (not going with cheaper CPUs, slower RAM, SATA connected hard drive, single or slower GPUs, etc. — but rather duplicating everything with equivalent performance [or identical] parts) I had to spend about 10% MORE than I would have if I just bought the system from Apple. Apple was the price leader. I’d pay more for a Hacintosh (plus time and effort to put it together, plus only warranty on certain individual pieces and not the whole box).

    I probably should recreate this investigation in the next few months. Some parts have come down significantly. Maybe, just maybe, I can build the equivalent box for less today. But, I won’t bet that I can.

    1. There’s a vast middle ground between the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro which I imagine that Apple and many believe is filled by the iMac, but I don’t consider that to be exactly true. Mid-range processors, graphics cards, allowing for a few 3.5 Inch hard drives in a mid-sized box are not represented currently.

      The last Mac Mini with a dedicated GPU was the 2011.

      1. This.

        This is the one thing that would cause me to consider a Hackintosh. I’d love the CPU power and system power of the Mac Pro, but I don’t need the fancy GPUs (not a video guy).

        Would like something a little more power than a Mac Mini and a little more expandable, too (of course, more expandable than the Mac Pro, too).

        OTOH, not sure the benefits of building your own (positive and negative) justify the savings over a well-built (~$2,000) Mac Mini.

        Then again, if Apple doesn’t come out with a new mini soon, I may have to consider some other approach.

  3. This type of activity is equivalent to heavily customizing cars… For the people who do it, it’s for “fun.” A lot of them probably own a legitimate Mac.

    As long as businesses that do this (license violating) activity for profit do not emerge (such as Psystar), I don’t think Apple cares too much these days. Individuals who do this as a “hobby” are not reducing Mac sales in any significant way. It’s WAY to much trouble for typical customers who want their Mac to “just work” (and continue to do so). And it’s not like Macs are overly expensive (for what you get) these days.

    1. This.

      Id love a mac pro, that I can swap the CPU/ram/hd/gpu whenever I want.

      The price someone listed above to build your own Mac Pro would the same or more than buying apple… Not true. There’s been many articles on the savings.

      I wouldn’t build a hackintosh for my main mac.. But I may build one for fun to use elsewhere.

      1. I forgot, the same people that would build a hackintosh (for fun) would also take an android tablet and install full blown Linux on it.

        It wouldn’t replace my iPad.. But I still want to do it just because.

      2. I took an “in between” approach; I messed with Apple’s hardware… And it was “fun.”

        In the very early days of Mac OS X, I got a used original G3 iMac, so I could play with Mac OS X. I was still using Mac OS 9 on my day-to-day Mac. Unfortunately, that iMac’s video board (the part that creates the high voltage needed to power a CRT display) gave out not too long after I got it.

        I took it (completely) apart, and found that I could connect its power supply board to the “chassis” (with the computing parts), and connect that to a generic VGA display using a cheap adapter. So I had just those parts sitting bare on a shelf, connected to a large CRT display. It was a much “better” Mac BECAUSE OF the video failure.

        I connected TWO hard drives (as master/slave) to the IDE bus. The CDROM drive (which also failed) was replaced with a DVD drive from a later iMac. The video output could go has high as 1600×1200 (only 1024×768 on built-in display). And I found a 467-MHz G4 upgrade (from FastMac) on sale.

        That “Franken-Mac” became my primary Mac for a few years. I can understand the FUN of doing “unofficial” stuff with Mac hardware.

  4. Been running one as my main machine for about a month now, stable as a rock but not without the occasional hiccup.

    I’m just glad I have a machine that doesn’t cost a shocking amount of cash for a decent graphics card and one I can easily replace

  5. To of this for “fun” is OK but it won’t be easy. Don’t do it to “save” money, counting the time involved you won’t.

    The whole point of a Mac is to do stuff without worrying about what the computer is doing.

    PS: my i7 iMac is a screamer, unless you are doing high end video production on a daily bases, there is no need to “Hack” for performance reasons. Then go buy a MacPro

    Cost? Yes it was expensive about $2200 but at the time direct hardware replacement on a win 7 machine would have been $16-1700. The 27″ monitor would have been $900-1000 by itself. Now direct replacement would be about $1200. You’ll eat up $1000 in time making a hackentosh.

  6. Many of you are omitting a major feature of a Hackintosh: affordable repairability. If your video card dies in your iMac, you can’t go buy a new one at the local VideoCards-R-Us. With a Hackintosh, not only can I buy a replacement for the broken component, I can most likely buy a faster/larger capacity component for the same price I paid for the original. If a new standard like USB 3.0 is released, you can buy a plug in card instead of a whole new Mac.

  7. I think the best case for a Hacintosh is to build a $500 laptop. That is the average price for a PC these days, but $500 won’t get you anything from Apple so you can’t justify the “stealing” claim. While a $500 machine won’t cut it as a primary computer, an iPad isn’t sufficient as a second machine for many of us with big macs at home.

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