Monday, March 20, 2017

Building a Hackintosh Pro

Dan Counsell (tweet, Hacker News):

If Apple made a mini tower that was upgradable and could take a full sized graphics card (or two), I’d have purchased it in a heartbeat. However, they don’t. There’s no doubt that Apple has a refresh for the desktop market in the works, I just don’t know if it’s going to be enough to satisfy the creative market who seem to be slowly migrating to Windows.


Building a Hackintosh is not for everybody. It’s not a simple process, there is an overwhelming number of parts to choose from, and on top of this you need to pick the ones that are compatible. When you’ve built the machine you need to get macOS running on it, it’s not a quick process. If you want to do it, do your research and take your time. I’d probably say this build took me around 8 hours from unboxing the components to getting macOS installed.

I’ve been running this machine for a couple of weeks now and I couldn’t be happier. It’s super fast and I can easily switch between Mac and Windows. I’ve switched off auto-updates in Sierra. While system updates should work just fine, I prefer to hold off until the community over at tonymacx86 have confirmed there are no issues. This is probably one of the major drawbacks to running a Hackintosh.

Michael Rockwell:

The performance this machine was able to achieve, at the price he paid, is staggering. On single-core tasks, it’s faster than any Mac Apple currently sells and, if you forgo all the bells and whistles, it can be built for about $1,800.

Previously: Video Pros Moving From Mac to Windows for High-End GPUs, Building My $1,200 Hackintosh.

Update (2017-03-20): See also: Stephen Hackett, Kirk McElhearn.

Update (2017-03-22): Dave Mark:

Have your heart set on a speedy new Mac Pro? Given that nothing appears to be on the horizon from Apple, your best bet is to build your own Hackintosh.


I’d also make your way through both of the Dan case studies above just to get a sense of the process and, most importantly, to understand the caveats that come with building a Hackintosh.

Update (2017-05-06): Joshua Nozzi:

I was considering a desktop. I didn’t want to wait (and pay premium prices) for Apple’s promised “sometime in a year or so” modular Mac Pro. I also didn’t want to spend a shit-ton of money on a still-highly-valued used Mac Pro from 2013 with specs easily outdone by a modern PC for half the price. So I “innovated” (by copying instructions read by more enterprising individuals.

Update (2018-08-16): Martin Hering (via Aaron Pressman):

After Apple showed us the future of professional hardware with the iMac Pro, I was fed up with the situation and I started to investigate the possibility of building my own Hackintosh. Putting all the hardware together was the easy part, making macOS work was tough, but I did it.

Looking back on 7 months working with, it I don’t regret it at all. I was able to put 2 extra SSDs and 2 extra big hard disks into it (imagine how fast Time Machine is), added a beefy graphics card and recently installed a Blackmagic DeckLink SDI 4K PCIe card. And all that internally in an unobtrusive tower case that sits under my desk and hides the bulk of cables inside it. PCIe… I can’t really understand, why Apple really has NO hardware in its line up that supports adding PCIe cards. There is so much great hardware available on the market that is inaccessable to Macintosh customers. Boggles my mind.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

Since upgrading to a retina MacBook Pro a few years ago, I really don't think I could use daily a computer without retina. My eyes start to water if I can see the antialiasing take place. This is a powerful remind that the "Mac experience" is about more than specifications. I'd hate to use a non-Apple keyboard and mouse with a Mac too. Again, it wouldn't be the Mac experience.

"Since upgrading to a retina MacBook Pro a few years ago..."

But the point of a Hackintosh is not to replace your laptop. It's to build a desktop Pro machine for doing Pro work on a regular basis.

"I really don't think I could use daily a computer without retina. My eyes start to water if I can see the antialiasing take place."

Unless I'm missing something, this one is just weird. The Hackintoshes being discussed all involve 4K graphics cards...

"I'd hate to use a non-Apple keyboard and mouse with a Mac too."

This one baffles me as well.


I'm not in the market for a Hackintosh because I'm not doing Pro level work on a regular basis. But if I were, the option seems quite compelling. You can live with delayed OS updates in a Pro work machine, for various reasons that should be obvious.

I built a really nice PC and loaded up Ubuntu 16.10 on it. I now run OS X under QEMU/KVM and it rocks. I followed these instructions:

Took me a few days to figure out bridged networking in QEMU. I contributed some docs on that topic to the above project. I run OS X in a window on my main desktop but with some more effort I could pass the video card through (via PCI pass through) and get HW accelerated video and all of the goodies. But I don't play games or use anything that requires video acceleration so I'm content with running it in a window.

@Keir Thomas What makes you think you can’t have a Retina display, and use an Apple keyboard and mouse? This is only talking about swapping out the main box for something else. And as for displays, you can’t have an Apple external display these days anyway. Who knows if or when they’ll decide to stop making mice and keyboards.

I had a Hackintosh during the Ivy Bridge days... gave me fewer problems than my current 2010 Mac Pro.

I shied away from Hackintoshing after it started requiring utilities that needed to be downloaded from SourceForge. But it seems like SourceForge offers HTTPS downloads finally, so I'm keeping an eye on the Hackintosh scene once again.

@Marc Edwards: "What makes you think you can’t have a Retina display"

You can even get a Matte Retina Display, which Apple apparently isn't interested in providing.

[…] If the plight of Apple’s Pro customers kept him up at night, they wouldn’t be in the situation they’re […]

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