Welcome to the second part of a three part series about building a Hackintosh. In the first part we discussed what goes into a Hackintosh, and why I decided to build one, as opposed to buying a Mac directly from Apple. In this part we’ll go over the actual build process and the installation of Mac OS X on the system.
Assembling the Components
The assembly of the components is no different for a Hackintosh than any other standard PC build, if you’ve ever done one before. It had been a while since I’ve done a PC build, so I was a little rusty. That said, it still only took me an hour to an hour an a half to actually do the assembly.
First, take the motherboard out of the box and out of it’s static wrap. Place the wrap on your work surface, and then place the motherboard on top of it. If you have an anti-static strap now would be a good time to put it on and attach it to something metal. If you don’t have one, be extra cautious when touching the static sensitive components of your build (ie- all of the components). Touching a bare piece of metal frequently during your build to discharge yourself is a good idea, and a step that shouldn’t be overlooked.
With the motherboard on the table (on the static wrap) carefully unbox your processor. It’s way easier to install it on the board outside of the case, so that’s what we’ll be doing now. Attach the processor as per your motherboard and processors instructions. It’s usually as simple as dropping it on the pins (carefully) in the appropriate direction and then pulling down the arms to hold it in place. Afterward attach your CPU cooler of choice following the directions that came with your cooler. For me, I used the stock Intel cooler, so it was a matter of lining up the pins with the receptacles on my motherboard, and then pressing down firmly.
Next up is the memory (RAM). Again, it’s easier to do this outside of the case. Open up your memory and put it in the slots. If your motherboard has color coded slots (two of one color, two of another) put your RAM in the same colored slots. If it’s they’re not color coded check with your motherboard’s manual to see if your board supports dual channel memory, and if so install your memory according to the instructions to achieve the best performance.
It’s now time to start working on the case. The first thing we need to do is install the power supply. Open up the case and remove the power supply. Install the power supply in the appropriate location and use the included screws to attach it to the case. Follow the instruction manuals for your case and power supply for more details.
Now we’re ready to drop the motherboard, with the attached CPU and RAM into the case. Assemble the motherboard stands (if necessary) in the appropriate formation to hold your motherboard. Next, attach the IO plate that came with your board to the opening at the back of the case. Once snapped in, carefully place your motherboard on the stands and attach your board with the included screws. Make sure the IO plate is lined up correctly before screwing everything down.
Once the motherboard is installed we need to hook up the power. There should be two connectors on your motherboard for power. One big one and one small one. There should also be corresponding cables from your power supply. Take each cable and carefully plug it into the appropriate spot on your board.
Now comes the most tedious part of the install, snaking all the case wires to the pins on the motherboard. Locate the bundle of wires coming out of your case somewhere. There should be about 6 or 8 little wires that are labeled like “SW RESET”, “PWR+”, “PWR-”, “HDD”, etc. You should see a similarly labeled group of pins on your motherboard. Plug each of those wires into the appropriate place. Look at your motherboard’s instruction manual for greater detail.
If you have a separate graphics card or any expansion cards, now’s the time to install those. For the graphics card, you typically want to use the fastest PCI slot on your board. For me, that was the top slot, so I removed the corresponding plate(s) from the back of the case, and gently pushed in my GPU. Once properly seated I screwed it into the case using the included thumb screw. I installed my firewire card in the same manner.
Last, but not least, comes the installation of your storage media. I have 3 hard drives (two regular one, one solid state) and a DVD writer/reader. I mounted the DVD drive in the top most 5.25″ bay, and then each of my HDDs in the appropriate spots in my case. I plugged in my SSD into a 6 GB/s SATAIII port on my motherboard, and the other 3 drives into the 3 3 GB/s SATAII ports.
The Moment of Truth
It’s time to close up your case, and hook it up to some power. Plug in the cable from the wall in to your power supply and hook up your monitor, keyboard and mouse. If you have a graphics card, some suggest to use the on board video for the installation of Mac OS X. I didn’t, and I didn’t have a problem.
Once you have everything connected, press the power button, and with any luck you should see (and hear) your new toy turn on. Sit back and marvel at your handiwork and your geek prowess for a second.
When you’re finished marveling, reboot the machine and head right into the BIOS. In your BIOS you’ll need to configure a few parameters before you can start installing Mac OS X. If you chose a Gigabyte motherboard as I did, here’s a handy guide to configuring the BIOS for Mac OS X.
Locate the HDD or storage area of your BIOS and look for HDD or SATA mode. You will be prompted with several options, like RAID, IDE and one of those options will be AHCI. Select AHCI.
You’ll need to select the drive that you intend to install Mac OS X on. For me, it was the SSD, so that is the drive I selected to boot first.
Installing Mac OS X
There are many different methods to install Mac OS X on a PC. I chose to use tonymacx86′s UniBeast method as I believe it is the easiest, and most widely used method. The only problem with this method is you must already have a working Mac to build the UniBeast USB drive. I have a MacBook, so this wasn’t a problem for me.
To install, register at tonymacx86.com and download UniBeast and MultiBeast. Run the UniBeast installer on your preexisting Mac, and select the Mac OS X Mountain Lion installer (that you legally obtained from the Mac App Store). The USB creation will take about 30 or 40 minutes to complete.
Once the USB drive is ready plug it in to your new Hackintosh and power it up. Press the correct function key on your keyboard to enter the boot order (F12 for Gigabyte boards), and select “USB-HDD” to boot from the USB drive.
You should eventually see a multi-language welcome screen, which is the installer for Mac OS X.
From there, follow tonymacx86′s guide for getting Mac OS X installed. When the installation is finished, come back here for the next steps.
Like UniBeast, MultiBeast is a tonymacx86 special. It makes selecting the appropriate drivers for your hardware a breeze. If you have a second USB drive, copy the MultiBeast installer to it from your other working Mac, then copy it to your freshly installed Hackintosh. Once copied to your Hackintosh, run it and select the appropriate options for your hardware.
If you have the same hardware as I do, here’s what you’d select:
NOTE: If you don’t have a dedicated nVidia graphics card, be sure uncheck the box that says “GraphicsEnabler=No”.
As far as System Definitions go, you can choose whatever you’d like here, but I went for “iMac13,1″, which is the equivalent of a Late 2012 iMac with an i7 processor. The reason I chose this definition is because it was the closest match to the hardware I have (notably the i7 processor), and because it offers the best compromise of performance and features (such as AirPlay Mirroring).
Once your MultiBeast settings are configured, remove any USB drives and reboot. In a few seconds (or minutes if you don’t have a SSD) you should see your Mac OS X desktop! Congratulations! You successfully built a working Hackintosh!
It’s not uncommon to run into a few issues when attempting to do a Hackintosh build or installation. Fortunately, I only ran into one, and it was an easy fix. I was getting a “boot0″ error when attempting to boot from my hard disk, and luckily it was a very common problem. Check out this guide for help resolving it, if you run into it.
For other problems, I wholeheartedly recommend you join the tonymacx86 forums. There are a bunch of other like-minded folks doing the same thing you are and can help you solve any problems or provide guidance. If I hadn’t done my research on these forums prior to doing my build and installation I don’t think I would have had as much success as I did.
That wraps up this second part in my three part series on building a Hackintosh. So far, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to go down this path, and my system is performing wonderfully. I’ll report back in a month or so with the third and final installment in this series. For now, here’s a time lapse of the build:
Welcome to the first part of a three part series about building a Hackintosh. In this part we’ll go over what a Hackintosh is, and the parts I am using to build this system. The second part will be about the actual build of the system and the installation of Mac OS X, and the third part will be about a month or so after the build as an update to how things are running, etc. This series will be mainly geared toward photographers, as the main reason I am building this system is for my photography.
So, what is a Hackintosh?
A Hackintosh is a computer built out of readily available PC components that runs Mac OS X. The components chosen are the same, or very similar, components found in real Macintosh computers. The end result is a much cheaper “Mac”, that often out performs the real Mac you are trying to replicate.
Is it legal?
Probably not, but the cost for Apple to bring you to court would far outweigh the benefits of them doing so. I happened to obtain my copy of Mac OS X legally (from the Mac App Store), so I have a legitimate license to use the software, I just happen to not be running it on Apple branded hardware. LockerGnome and OS News both have very good articles about the legality of building a Hackintosh.
Because I love Mac OS X. I’ve been a Macintosh user since the Mac Plus back in the mid-1980s. Over the years I gradually obtained more Macs. In college I started building my own PCs, and as a result running Mac OS was out of the question. I ended up running FreeBSD for many years, and then Linux and then ultimately turned to the darkside and started using Windows when XP came around. While my desktop systems ran Windows XP (and eventually Windows Vista and then Windows 7) I kept up on Mac OS by owning an iBook and now a MacBook. Now, my 7-year-old PC (the first PC I didn’t build myself) is getting old and slow, so it’s time for something new and better. I figured now is the time to get back to my PC building roots, and this time I have the ability to run Mac OS X instead of Windows.
I’m building this as my primary photography workhorse and local backup destination. As my photography workhorse I need it to run Adobe Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, LR Timelapse, Photomatix Pro and other associated plugins and software. For my local backup destination, it needs to be able to run CrashPlan and store local backups from mine and my wife’s laptops on a Drobo. In the future, I may start using this system to edit DSLR video, now that I’ve upgraded my camera to a Canon 5D Mark II.
My goal is the build a system that somewhat mimics what is found in a recent model iMac. Claiming my Hackintosh as an iMac will give me the best balance of features vs. performance when it comes to Mac OS X (more on that in part 2). Next to each component will be links to both Amazon and Newegg, which I find are the two retailers with the most reasonable prices (plus, if you purchase from those links I get a little kickback, which I would certainly appreciate!).
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77-DS3H (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Memory: Corsair 16GB XMS3 DDR3 SDRAM / CMX16GX3M2A1600C11 (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Graphics Card: Gigabyte GeForce GT 640 / GV-N640OC-2GI (Amazon) (Newegg)
- SSD Boot Drive: SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD / SDSSDX-120G-G25 (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Backup/Scratch Drive: Western Digital Black 500GB / WD5003AZEX (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Media Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB / ST1000DM003 (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Optical Drive: Sony SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive / AD-7280S-0B (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Firewire: Syba Low Profile 1394b/1394a Card / SD-PEX30009 (Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair CX600 600W ATX (Amazon) (Newegg)
- Case: Corsair Vengeance C70 Arctic White (Amazon) (Newegg)
There you have it! I will be acquiring these parts over the next few weeks if/when they go on sale. Once I have all of the parts I will put everything together, install Mac OS X Mountain Lion and document my progress in part two. Heck, maybe I’ll even make a time lapse of the build, too!
Questions? Comments? Do you think I made some bad component choices? Let me know in the comments!