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    My Hackintosh (Apple Clone) Build

    - Written December 2007

    This documents my Hackintosh build.

    Components and prices:

    Raidmax 530W Power Supply Newegg - $59.99 plus $5.55 tax = $65.54 - $59.99 rebate = $5.55 total

    Cooler Master black case - $49.99 plus $4.62 tax = $54.61 - $15 rebate = $39.61

    Intel Xeon X3210 Core 2 Quad 2.13GHz ClubIT - $241.50 + $5.00 shipping = $246.50

    Intel D975XBX2KR Bad Axe 2 Motherboard Refurbished mwave - $99.00 plus $9.65 shipping = $108.65

    Sapphire Radeon X1950GT 512MB GDDR3 PCI-E Video Card Directron - $137.99 plus $11.01 shipping = $149.00

    Patriot 4GB PC6400 DDR2 memory kit (2 x 2GB sticks) Frys.com $89.99 plus $6.03 shipping = $96.02

    WD Raptor 150GB 10,000rpm SATA drive ZipZoomFly - $169.50 + $8.89 shipping = $178.39

    WD 1TB SATA drive Directron - $269.99 + $11.38 shipping = $281.37

    22" WestingHouse WideScreen LCD monitor Best Buy - $221.11 ($202.39 after 12% coupon plus $18.72 tax)


    Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard MacMall - $109.00 plus $10.18 shipping - $10.18 rebate (free shipping rebate) = $109.00

    iLife '08 MacMall - $69.98 plus $0 shipping (shipped with OSX above) = $69.98

    Grand total: $1,505.18

    I reused some hardware I already had, here's approximate prices for the hardware I left out:
    DVD-Burner - $30 shipped
    Keyboard - $10
    Mouse - $10

    Brings our total to $1,555.18. You most likely already have a mouse and keyboard, or can find them even cheaper (keep checking woot.com, they often sell for a buck plus $5 shipping, buy three of each for $8 shipped). I just added this for completeness.

    The Bad Axe 2 motherboard was chosen for its stability and known compatibility with OSX. It is also one of only two current Intel motherboards capable of overclocking (the other being the original Bad Axe). I picked the Raidmax power supply as the specs looked decent and it had so-so reviews on Newegg, plus it was free after rebate with free shipping (unfortunately I have to pay tax on Newegg purchases). The Xeon processor was chosen because it is a socket 775 as are consumer Core 2 Quads, G0 stepping, and Xeon processors are rumored to be binned higher (meaning the best of the best become Xeons, the rest are relegated to consumer chips). I picked the Radeon X1950GT because I wanted dual DVI support plus HDCP, I could have gone with the cheaper 256MB version at ZipZoomFly (about $106 shipped), however they were out of stock and I did not know when they would be back in stock. Coincidentally, they were back in stock later the same day I ordered from Directron. RAM was chosen for it's quality and price.

    You can build a similar system for less if you keep your eyes peeled for deals (cases can often be had free after rebate, just pay shipping) and re-use parts from your old system (if you're not keeping your old system, you may be able to use the monitor, keyboard, mouse, dvd-burner, etc.). Prices posted will often change, just give yourself a few weeks or a month to purchase all the parts you want and you should be able to get similar prices, if not better.

    The cheapest Mac Pro I could configure at the time of this article was $2,200 plus tax (shipping was free when I configured it). Specs were:

    Two dual-core 2.0GHz Xeons (our one quad-core is slightly faster)
    1GB RAM
    250GB 7200rpm SATA Drive
    Geforce 7300GT 256MB video card
    No monitor
    16x SuperDrive
    Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse
    To configure a Mac Pro similar to ours would cost $5,344, the specs would be:

    Two 3.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon (we have one quad-core, plus overclocked above 3.0GHz)
    4GB RAM (Apple has the advantage with just one stick vs two, though you lose out on dual-channel)
    250GB 7200rpm SATA Drive (we have a 150GB 10,000rpm SATA drive, the raptor)
    750GB 7200rpm SATA Drive (we have a 1TB 7200rpm SATA drive, 250GB more than this drive)
    ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (not an exact match for our X1950GT 512MB, but close)
    Apple Cinema Display 20" (we have a 22" Westinghouse, bigger but not as pretty and without Firewire and USB ports)

    Now, I could say that my build is priced at nearly 1/5 of a similar Mac Pro, however I won't because if you're able to build your own PC, you're obviously capable of ordering a low-end Mac Pro and upgrading it yourself. I'd compare it to the $2,200 Mac Pro plus the cost of upgrades. Still a substantial savings building it yourself from scratch. The cost savings are even higher if you need several Macs in your household since you can buy a family pack of OS X and iLife for not much more than the single pack (you can't split the cost with some friends, it must be used in the same household).

    There are of course downsides to building it yourself. One is obvious, you have to build it yourself. Buying any prebuilt computer, whether a Mac or a PC, means you buy it, open the box, hook it up, take 30 minutes to an hour getting it ready, and off you go. Building it yourself means you must purchase each individual item, be ready to troubleshoot multiple components (if your DIY won't boot, it could be the power supply, motherboard, cpu, or RAM; if your prebuilt won't boot you simply exchange for another). Also, you can't just pop in your OS X DVD and install, you must get a patched DVD (which requires an existing OS X install, can be troublesome to do a legal install if you don't already have an OS X box laying around). One of the many reasons I chose the motherboard I did is because it supports EFI which OS X requires to run. Unfortunately right now Intel has not released a true EFI firmware, instead it emulates a regular bios which means you must still use a patched OS X DVD to make it install (but a true efi firmware may be available in the future, perhaps when Vista supports it with SP1). For now you must use a hacked kernel or pc_efi which converts efi calls into something your bios understands.

    Question: Isn't this against Apple's EULA?

    Answer: Maybe. There's a clause as of Leopard that says you can only install on an Apple labelled machine. Just buy yourself an Apple label and slap it on your PC. Also note that as long as this is for your own use and you're not reselling PCs with OS X on them, it's not illegal. If you're trying to start up a business reselling OEM Mac Pros, then my advice is don't (or at least, don't sell it with OS X installed, which defeats the purpose). Even if you were breaking the EULA, a license agreement is not the law. Anyone remember when it was against the EULA of FrontPage to use it to publish a website that spoke ill of Microsoft? Against the EULA sure, but not against the law. Now, I'm no lawyer, so if you get yourself into trouble it isn't my fault.

    Question: How exactly do I get OS X installed then?

    Answer: Can't tell you, just in case the lawyers are watching. Hopefully soon you'll be able to install using an unpatched DVD, things are in the works as we speak. I'll update this as soon as I hear of this being possible (do email me if you find out before I do, as I won't be looking to do a fresh install again until the next OS X release).

    Question: Can I do anything with this "Hackintosh" that I can with a regular Mac Pro?

    Answer: Pretty much. If you use a hacked kernel, you can't just go updating your OS X install willy-nilly. If you use pc_efi however, then you can pretty much update whatever whenever. Sometimes you may need to spend a little bit of time getting some hardware working again, especially anything that doesn't have native OS X support (such as the X1950GT video card I chose, an X1900XT would work without any special drivers, as would many others, I'm used to installing drivers though so no biggie for me). As far as installing regular software (such as iLife), just install as with any other Mac Pro.

    Question: So how much am I going to save over buying a Mac Pro?

    Answer: At least a thousand, probably more. If you take how much I paid plus add the cost of a case, keyboard, and mouse, you're still saving about $1,000 over the cost of the cheapest Mac Pro you can get, plus you're getting a more powerful config and a 22" monitor. The cheapest Mac Pro you can get is $2,200 plus tax, which in TN is at least 9.25%. Even if you figure a more modest 5% tax, that's $110 in tax. Total for Mac Pro is now $2,310, price of mine with case, mouse, keyboard, and DVD burner added in is $1,555.18. Remember, you're getting an extra 22" lcd monitor, faster processors (even not overclocked) 3GB RAM, 900GB hard drive space, and arguably a better video card (if you don't like ATI, just go find a cheap nvidia 7300GT card, it'll cost less than my ati X1950GT). Note: No not all of these figures made since, the $1,000 savings is if you compared apples to apples (no pun intended), our system comes with more of everything and still costs less though.

    Question: What about warranty?

    Answer: Everything has at least a year warranty, some even longer. Plus, if anything breaks outside of warranty, use that grand you saved and go buy a better piece of hardware to replace it. If you don't like troubleshooting and replacing individual pieces of hardware if something goes wrong, well you're not going to build this yourself anyways. It is much easier to just take the whole machine in to an Apple store and say "It's broke, fix it" than it is to do it yourself (note, I have not taken anything to an Apple store, it may not be that simple).

    Questions? Ask in the forum or email me.

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