Turning PC into Apple Macintosh: Hackintosh Computer


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Hackintosh Hardware Requirements

Before you start a Hackintosh project, you need to spend some quality time on the Web researching your hardware. While AMD systems can be used as Hackintoshes, there is much more support and information available for Intel systems. And unless you like writing your own drivers, you should choose a motherboard and processor that others have successfully used as the basis of a running system. Graphics card support is spotty: NVIDIA cards seem better supported than ATI cards, with many boot loaders (we’ll get to those in the next section) providing drivers that will work with most NVIDIA cards made in the last few years. ATI cards are less well supported, but experimental support for the 5xxx series has just become available and seems to work.

Much of the existing knowledge and support in the Hackintosh world is for older hardware; LGA775 motherboards based in Intel P45 chipsets and older netbooks are well represented. However, in the last few months, support has been growing for the newer Intel chipsets such as the P55, H55/57, and X58 motherboards. Since Apple has never produced AMD hardware, getting OS X running on an AMD system requires modifications to low levels of the OS X kernel and I wouldn’t recommend it for most people. What you build your Hackintosh on depends on what motherboards you have available or are willing to buy. But if you plan to buy new hardware, remember that there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get anything running, or that it will be reliable enough to be useful if you do.

For this project I chose an ASUS P6T V2 Deluxe motherboard (since I happened to have one available), an Intel Core i7-920 processor, and an NVIDIA GTX 280 video card. The memory, hard drive, optical drive, and power supply you use don’t matter much, but it’s best to stick with SATA drives. Although the ASUS motherboard I used has an IDE port, IDE support is less than perfect and as of this writing I’ve not been able to get an IDE optical drive to work (an optical drive connected to a SATA port works fine). And while you can use multiple video cards to drive multiple monitors, NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX don’t exist in the Mac world, so don’t plan on using these features.

For my case, I used an HP Blackbird chassis with its Topower 1.1kW power supply and ASETEK water cooling system. The Blackbird chassis is one of the few PC cases that’s in the same class as a Mac Pro case: the massive aluminum structure weighs over 50 pounds and incorporates a full SATA backplane for up to five plug-in 3.5″ drives. A pop-up panel on the top of the case opens to expose an integrated card reader and USB and audio ports. The Blackbird computer was the first fruit of HP’s acquisition of Voodoo PC and while the case was never made available as a separate part, you can occasionally find them on eBay for very high prices (“very high” = “>$500”).


Funny, it doesn’t look like a Macintosh…

OK, let’s take a look at what we have to do from the software side…


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