My first self-built Hackintosh/Gaming PC
This last weekend I fulfilled a dream I have had ever since I got my first desktop computer when I was about 14 years old. I build my own computer. From scratch. All by myself (almost).
Being able to actually open up and look into a computer, see all the moving parts, components and cables fascinated me immensely back then and still does to this day.
For the past year I have been using a 15 inch MacBook Pro (non-retina version) and while it’s a fantastic and beautiful piece of equipment, the limitations of the hardware (namely gaming performance under Windows and lack of upgradability) and the fact that my fiancee wanted to get a MacBook as well, led me to the decision to pass my trusted steed (which coincidentally had just gotten its motherboard replaced after a hardware failure) onto her.
I temporarily went back to using my old Mac Mini (using a unix-based os is a huge advantage when working in web development, so OS X is my go to operating system) and pondered my options. I considered both a MacBook Air and an iMac, but ultimately remembered that I had previously read about Hackintoshs. After some online research, I realized that it was a great option; I could choose whichever hardware I wanted (provided it was suitable for a Hackintosh build), run both OSX and Windows, build an incredibly powerful computer and do it cheaper than any option Apple provided.
So I set out to pick the hardware for my new dream computer and after some back and forth, I ended up with the following setup:
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-77X-D3H. Gigabyte boards tend to be most compatible with OS X and are easiest to setup for first time Hackintosh builders. This one delivered good bang for the buck and had enough SATA3 and USB3 ports for my needs (unlike some cheaper Gigabyte boards).
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3770. I chose the boxed, non-k version, as I’m not planning on over-clocking the processor. It will deliver plenty of raw computational power for the years to come.
- RAM: Kingston HyperX Beast 16GB (2 x 8GB) 1600 DDR3 CL9. I originally chose 2 8GB sticks from Corsair, but they weren’t in stock anymore and I ended up with these (literal) beasts from Kingston that have a better performance and ended up costing less.
- GPU: MSI Nvidia Gefore GTX 760 Hawk 2GB. This is a slightly over-clocked version of the stock GTX 760, which also has a better (and more silent) cooler.
- Storage: 1 x Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD. 2 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 64MB Buffer HDD’s. I used the SSD as the OS X drive that has my essential applications and files. One of the HDDs is used for Windows, while the other one serves as a media drive under OS X. I also had an old Samsung EcoGreen 1.5TB drive sitting around that I’m using as a TimeMachine drive for Mac OS X.
- Disc Drive: LG 24x CD/DVD Burner. I hardly ever use CDs/DVDs nowadays, but as a decent DVD burner is quite cheap, I figured I might add one.
- PSU: Seasonic S12II-620Watts. Seasonic is known to produce quality PSUs and 620 Watts should give me plenty of power, even for future upgrades.
- Case: Nanoxia Deep Silence Two (black). This is a truly beautiful, simplistic case that has good airflow, cable management and is noise dampened. I also bought 2 additional 120MM 1800RPM case coolers from Nanoxia.
After ordering all the parts I had to wait a painfully long week (just ask my better half, it was probably much more painful for her) for everything to arrive. While waiting for the parts I watched this excellent video from Newegg, demonstrating the construction of a DIY computer (with some excellent tips and pointers).
After putting everything together (and recruiting my fiancee to help me with the cable management), I booted for the first time and lo and behold, I saw the bios screen. Time for celebration (and by celebration I mean moving on to installing an operating system).
Next on my todo list was installing Mountain Lion on the computer and I followed this proven guide from tonymacx86.com. Using UniBeast and MultiBeast I got everything working fairly quickly, save for the sound which took a bit of fiddling around, but ultimately bent to my will as well.
I now had a fully functional, extremely powerful Hackintosh (that believes himself to be a late 2012 iMac).
The final step to computer heaven was getting Windows to run and boot alongside OS X. Once again I referred to tonymac86.com, this time using this fantastic guide found in their forums. Initially I tried to install Windows 8, but after having some issues, I decided to go with Windows 7, which works flawlessly.
Then followed a weekend full of updating, installing and customizing (much to the dismay of the Mrs. Thank you for loving me anyway sweetie, I love you!).
All in all, putting this system together was a whole lot of fun and a great learning experience. I have of course already upgrade plans in mind, such as additional case fans, a better, 3rd-party processor cooler (under full load the processor gets a cozy 70° C) and WiFi/Bluetooth adapters and I’m sure I’ll keep tinkering and tweaking things, but that’s what’s so fun about it.
To conclude this post, I will post some benchmarks I have taken under Mac OS X and Windows.
Geekbench Mac OS X
Unigine Mac OS X
3D Mark Windows