Dear friends, it’s a sad day in Vladville if I’m putting together Mac’s. Sad as it may be, the customer is always right and the customer seems to be buying more Mac’s than Windows as of late and I too must become familiar with what they are using. As of late there has been a huge scene behind OS X on non-Apple hardware so I figured I’d give it a shot and put together a Hackintosh.
First and most important part of the purchase was the motherboard. I chose the ASRock ConRoe1333 powered by the Intel 945 chipset and ICH7 southbridge which a number of people were successful with in their Hackintosh rollout. I chose ASRock because it’s an offbrand ASUS that can handle both beating and overclocking. Not to mention that this is a fully integrated board with video, sound, NIC, and more so no need a ton of other parts. On the other hand, two PCI and two PCI Express x1, x16 slots if I feel anything ought to get upgraded. Cost: $50.
Case was the second most important aspect because I wanted something cheap, something small, something adequate. I went with the Apex M-318 which is basically an Antec Minuet case with a 275W power supply. It will fit the MicroATX motherboard, has plenty of room for two or more hard drives and a handy loading steel chasis. I’ve used this case before and frankly the size sells it: 12”x15” and 4” high. Price isn’t bad either, with the power supply cost: $50.
Now we’re at $100 for the barebones and frankly, for my purposes, the processor, memory and hard drive choices don’t matter at all as far as Hackintosh is concerned. Could have gone with a Celeron ($40), 1GB DDR2 ($20) and an 80 GB SATA2 ($40) drive for about $100 total. Maybe $60 more for an upgrade to an Intel Core 2 Duo processor if I wanted to replicate a Mac Mini, which retails at $699. So total cost could have been between $220 and $280 shipped if I went with the Mac Mini approach. But I figured if the Hackintosh doesn’t work out I could always use another Linux box as there is always something to play with. Here is what I actually went with though keep in mind that these are pretty much all performance games. I went with the WD 250GB SATA2 drive ($70), 2 GB DDR2 Ram ($50) with heat spreaders, and the Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz (E4500) processor ($124) bringing the grand total of my Hackintosh to $344.
Now, I will admit that I could have saved maybe $50–100 if I chose less RAM, smaller hard drive and perhaps a slower Pentium D or Celeron processor. I also definitely could have spent a little more to get a 4MB L2 cache processor for $40 more 4GB DDR for $100 more but at the end of the day this was project for fun and I didn’t want to go for an overkill. With the current specs this is a hack of a lot more powerful than a Mac Mini for half the price, it would make a very decent Windows Home Server or Linux appliance and would be cheap to keep: 45W processor, 275W power supply. That’s not a lot of heat or a lot of noise either.
The grand total for this toy, shipped, comes to $367. Mac OS X 10.5 is $114 but I already have 10.4 sitting in the office which came in as an early Christmas from someone that I give free hosting to. Tune in next to see the assembly. Will this be worth it, whats the end goal? Well, it will be worth it if the box powers on and runs Mail.app and Safari without much trouble. That alone is why I’ve built it. If that fails, I’ll just have another WHS or HTPC box.