From A Mac Mini to a Hackintosh, any advice?

Jase Winter

Well-known Member
I’ve gone through a 13” Macbook Pro and currently using a mid 2011 mid spec mac mini in the space of a year, the performance for every day stuff is fine but i’d really like to be able to run some games at decent resolutions and quality settings, you can just about run the likes of dirt 3 and (at a real push) BF3 under a bootcamp windows instal but lets be honest, it’s not the best experience in the world.

I’d love to be able to go out and buy the top end iMac but unfortunately money is tight and even that isn’t gonna be too great for games since it’s still running a mobile GPU.

So I’ve been thinking about giving a hackintosh a go, i’m no stranger to building PC’s and used to doing stuff like jailbreaking so the actual process of getting up and running doesn’t bother me too much and it seems like it would be the ideal solution to be able to dual boot windows and OS X with decent hardware for gaming and probably outperform the top end iMacs.

So, anyone out there have much experience with them? I’m interested to know for example, how long it usually takes for an update to OS X to be usable on a hackintosh particularly big updates with Mountain lion out sometime this month. What’s the stability like?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
My main HTPC/server is now one, so i've got a bit of experience but not in the leagues of the people who do all the work.

The 1 golden rule is pick your hardware carefully. Lots of hardware can be made to work via things like kext (driver) edits, but its tedious, frustrating and runs the risk of making your system unbootable. With the right hardware though it is much better.

Don't use one of the OSX "distros". Use a legit copy. Its pretty cheap and you know there is nothing nasty hidden in it. You can download it in the app store and create a bootable USB. After that you don't need another mac.

I've not done a dual boot hack before, but i know the bootloader (chimera) does support it.

Lots of the combo updates work straight away, especially if you have a supported motherboard (eg, is in the DSDT database on tonymacx86. Gigabyte are best).
I installed a purchased 10.7.3 onto mine and updated to 10.7.4 without any work (its recommended you download the combo update rather than doing it through software updater)
The forums over at tonymacx86 are a great resource. You'll see over there that people are already running developer previews of mountain lion.
A bootable clone of your drive is essential for hacks so if you screw your main install you can boot into it and image it back across. I use carbon copy cloner for that.

Stability wise, you aren't looking at mac-like reliability, but with the right hardware you can get very close.
My hack has currently been up for the last 4 days 6 hours. That has included doing downloads, lots of disk activity (moving data between drives), xbmc. It has also been in and out of sleep a number of times during that period too.
The only reason mine hasn't been up for longer is Paragon was causing kernel panics when it was enabled and i was copying data to/from ntfs drives. I assume this was a hack "feature" rather than a problem with Paragon itself.
The only other crashes i've had were when pulling USB things in and out while still finalising my install.

I'm using HD3000 integrated graphics, but the ATI 6870 seems to be a popular choice of graphics. Decent at gaming too (got one in my gaming PC). Better checking with someone else first though.


For info, i can install my hack from fresh in about 25mins. And 20 of those is waiting for the Lion installer to do its thing.
 

Jase Winter

Well-known Member
Cool thanks for the input, I do have a legit copy of Lion, purchased from the app store and have a bootable USB flash drive already set up for 10.7.4 for using with the mini I have at the mo so that's not an issue.

My understanding as regards to dual booting is that I could just swap the boot disk order in the motherboard bios, can't see how that wouldn't be possible anyway.

I want to keep it as simple as possible for the most stability so i'll be using recommended hardware for sure.
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
Cool thanks for the input, I do have a legit copy of Lion, purchased from the app store and have a bootable USB flash drive already set up for 10.7.4 for using with the mini I have at the mo so that's not an issue.

My understanding as regards to dual booting is that I could just swap the boot disk order in the motherboard bios, can't see how that wouldn't be possible anyway.

I want to keep it as simple as possible for the most stability so i'll be using recommended hardware for sure.

You'll need another drive I'm afraid for installing on non-apple hardware. Created from the app store version using unibeast.

No need to swap hdd priorities. You can get a boot selector on boot up like a regular dual boot. If imagine you need to install windows first.
 

Jase Winter

Well-known Member
No worries, not exactly an issue. Thanks for the advice.

Any idea what the status of using Ivy Bridge CPU's and USB3 is now that there are macs out that use both?
 
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bryanchicken

Novice Member
No worries, not exactly an issue. Thanks for the advice.

Any idea what the status of using Ivy Bridge CPU's and USB3 is now that there are macs out that use both?


I think some z77 motherboards work. Again, I think there is some stuff on tonymacx concerning ivy.
If you couple an ivy CPU with a discrete card then it will probably be ok. It's the hd4000 that is the issue rather than the actual cpu. Luckily most builds on tonymacx use a dedicated card so there will be lots of info. The integrated intel graphics is a fairly new thing (since 2011 maybe)

My motherboard has usb3 and it works with a kext installed from multibeast. I don't have any usb3 stuff to actually test it's working as 3 rather than just 2 though I'm afraid.

Search google for customac. They are recommended builds by tonymacx. They're all sandybridge (with or without discrete graphics) at the moment but I think some recommended ivy builds are on the way if you are happy to hang tight for a bit
 

MartinPickering

Well-known Member
Mine uses a "micro ATX case", with
Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard,
an i5 760 quad core CPU,
PSU = octigen model no. 102709PSOTG ATX 400W,
nVidia 8400 GS graphics card.
two internal 1TB Hard Drives,
4GB SDRAM,
Firewire and USB cards,
Gigabit Ethernet,
DVD-RW dual layer "Lightscribe" optical drive,
mini PCI-E to PCI-E x1 wireless adapter off eBay,
BCM94322MC AirPort Extreme Wireless 802.11n

It's able to dual boot OSX or Linux (and would probably boot Windows, too, if I wanted it to - I don't)

It has been tolerably reliable for a year but, just last week, started to stick in "sleep" so, for the moment, I've simply disabled sleep.

I recommend you install AppleJack and list "Single User Mode" as an option at boot-up so that you can use it. I've had to use AppleJack a couple of times when things went screwy.

The Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard is obsolete now but I understand you need something faster anyway.
 

deksawyer

Active Member
I built one back in back in Feb and it's been amazing. Picked the parts from various builds on tonymac and it's a bloomin flying machine. Sold my Mini a few days ago as it wasn't getting used.

Search for deksawyer in the user builds area and you'll find all you need to know.

cheers

D.
 

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