3 days and some $900+ later, I have a functioning Hackintosh. The build was not easy — not because tonymacx86’s excellent blog doesn’t give you step-by-step instructions for the build, or because parts are hard to come by, thanks to the interwebz and Amazon. No, the build was difficult because the builder, that would be moi, didn’t RTFM.
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA Z77-DS3H
CPU: Intel Core i5-3750k @3.4GHz
RAM: Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 MHz, 4x4GB
Graphics: EVGA GTX550 Ti
SSD: Corsair Force III, 60GB
HDD: 2x Western Digital Green Series, 7200RPM/1TB
PSU: Corsair Builder Series, 430W
Case: Antec P280, Piano Black
[+Apple TrackPad; R.A.T 7 Mouse; Corsair K90 keyboard]
First off, since I didn’t RTFM, I ended up buying a retail DVD for OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. So right off the bat I was going the wrong way; you see SL works great on Intel i3/5/7 Sandy Bridge Hackintoshes, but not on my newly-purchased i5 Ivy Bridge CPU. Oh yes, there’s a clear warning on tonymacx86’s web site, but did I read it carefully? Of course not. Ideally I was to first build the Hack with Snow Leopard, then upgrade to OS X 10.7 Lion. This was not to be. At least the way I envisioned it.
In order to have the bootloader to “trick” Mac OS into thinking it is in fact running on Apple-ordained machinery, one must be able to create a thumb drive or a CD to be run during the OS X installation process. You can create the slightly older iBoot CD, or, if you already have a Mac, a MultiBeast thumb drive. iBoot works well with Snow Leopard, but if you want to play with Lion, you have to have Multibeast. My problem? I don’t have a Mac so I couldn’t create the MultiBeast thumb drive. Of course I could always burn a copy of iBoot, if I was to eventually boot to Snow Leopard, which of course I couldn’t, since Snow Leopard doesn’t support Ivy Bridge CPU’s. What to do?
Enter the fantastic world of virtualization. I’ve played with Oracle’s VirtualBox quite a bit in the past, and while otherwise a great virtualization tool, getting USB devices recognized has been a hit and miss. With my official copy of Snow Leopard? More of a miss. I moved on to VMware, another commonly used application for virtual computing, and while not the easiest of setups, I was able to get Snow Leopard running and eventually create the MultiBeast boot USB. Finally I was making progress.
A new day began with me trying to figure out how to duplicate my success from virtual world to real world hardware. Like I mentioned, tonymacx86 et al have done a fantastic job creating detailed instructions how to go about getting OS X on PC hardware. My installation was not to be without hiccups though; for some of the problems I ended up googling stuff, since not every error log entry from a kernel panic or boot-loop can be addressed on a single website. Two key changes for my installation process were 1) not to use USB 3.0 port for the thumb drive boot, and 2) disabling “Limit CPUID Maximum” on the motherboard BIOS. Once Snow Leopard was up and running, a quick installation of basic software bundle from Multibeast (kexts, drivers etc). Then on to upgrade to Lion. So far so good.
Final day had its own set of issues. Sleep mode was not working, and during boot I’d have to enter “Graphics Mode”=”1920x1080x60” to get full resolution out of the i5-3750k’s HD4000 graphics. Alas, HD4000 hardware acceleration for graphics is not available until Apple releases Ivy Bridge machinery. I was very hesitant to include extra kext files from MultiBeast to resolve the sleep and resolution issues. With regards to sleep, it is a matter of disabling Apple’s own CPU power management, and using a patched kext file instead. But since I am complete noob to the art of Hackintoshing, I didn’t want to risk my otherwise stable setup for a slew of kernel panics. The same went for the resolution issue. Now I know adding the appropriate kexts from MultBeast would’ve had solved both of my issues.
I had been waiting for over 2 weeks for my graphics card to arrive, to no avail. I sh!tcanned the Amazon purchase order, and went to Fry’s and got myself EVGA’s GTX 550 Ti, one of the more popular and tested graphics cards for Hackingtoshing. After a quick realization that my monitor does not have a DVI-D “in”, and the GTX 550’s other “out” option is mini-HDMI for which I didn’t own a cable (a smarter, more methodical buyer would’ve naturally done this before leaving the house for said box store…), I was down another $30 for a new monitor cable. Oh well.
Now though, I have a fully functioning HackPro. VMware Fusion runs Windows like a champ, or as “champy” as one can run good ole Windoze… By allocating 4 cores, 4GB of RAM, and with a dedicated graphics card, Windows 7 runs like it was natively installed. [A quick side note: the early plan was to dual boot Lion and Windows, both from the same SSD and subsequently both having individual HDD’s for storage. The problem is/was, as I discovered in the middle of all this, OS X uses GUID Partitioning Table for harddrives, and while it is possible to partition Windows using GPT, this must be done before any other OS has been installed, i.e. making my hard work getting OS X running useless. Needless to say, for now I am sticking with VMware Fusion and virtual Windows.] Apple TrackPad via Belkin bluetooth dongle was recognize without a hitch, and TrackPad gestures –love them! — work like on a bona fide Mac, as do sound and the rest. And my 22″ Samsung monitor displays in all of its1080p glory — ok, the one thing you can’t really have on a Hackintosh budget, is the dazzle and sleekness of Apple’s hardware design, including their fantastic displays.
But all in all, my HackPro is a beast of a machine.
While many hackintoshers are enjoying OS X Mountain Lion, it is not to be, at least so far, with my HackPro. Problem is my tried-and-true GTX 550Ti graphics card, which so effortlessly works on 10.7 Lion, but creates havoc on 10.8 Mountain Lion, to a point of being unusable. Of course I could revert back to i5 CPU’s HD4000 graphics, but I fear my desktop swappiness with Ubuntu and Windows under Fusion would greatly suffer.
While I wait for the true hackers — or Nvidia — to come up with new drivers for 550Ti, indeed for all Nvidia Fermi-cards, I decided to upgrade RAM to 16GB, and also upgraded VMWare Fusion to.5.0 with plans to eventually replace Windows 7 with 8.