Archive | February, 2013

Building a Hackintosh, Part 1: The Components


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.

What else?

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.

The Components

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)

Shameless Plug: You can also find many of these parts, and a bunch of others, at my new webstore: only contains parts and components that are known to be hackintosh friendly and compatible.

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!

[Part 2: The Build]

[Part 3: The Aftermath]

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