After about 15 years, I got back into building my own computer. I switched from a PC to a Mac circa 2010 and have not looked back since then. I always have had a Mac Pro for my desktop at home and of course a bunch of Mac Book Pro’s – starting from a 17″ one when they made it – to my current ~2017 15″ Model that I use.
Over the Covid experience, I was at home (duh!) a lot and I started getting into video editing a well as running a podcast/zoom meetings. I figured, I needed to upgrade my computer and this would be a good chance to get back to my roots – building/assembling a computer from scratch and getting it _exactly_ the way I wanted it.
Few good reasons to _build_ a hackintosh;
- Price – Yes – its cheaper.
- You get the exact specs you want – instead of paying an arm and a leg for 16GB of RAM.
- HDD – the way you want. Today’s NVME’s are absolutely crushing it – it almost has 3GB/S IO Read/Write. A 1TB NVME is almost a must!
Few reasons NOT to build your own;
- If you don’t have the time to tinker around and try different options.
- You never have built/assembled a computer – and literraly dont know where the DIMM goes – then this is a steep learning curve. BUT – I also did that so I could teach my two daughters how to assemble a computer – and it’s not a “Black” box (or a white box in the case of an Apple 😉
- Patience 🙂 – Especially since this will be a hackintosh and you’ll have to learn about EFI and Clover and everything in between. I know it was a steep learning curve for me!
Now – lets talk about the hardware spec
I went with the Gigabyte AORUS 390Z Series. They all have been vetted and known to work with the underlying components – (well most of it) – except the following;
- Onboard WiFI
- Intel Graphics Card
Motherboard Form Factor
I made a mistake and went with the Pro Wifi model – this is a mini-ITX form factor instead of the ATX. Is ONLY HAS 1 PCIe Slot (for the Display) – this is a problem!
DO NOT GO WITH THE PRO-WIFI Lineup – It’s too small and there are 2 drawbacks;
- DIMM – There are only 2 DIMM (Memory) slots – so practically you can go up to 32GB not 64GB
- PCIe – Only 1 PCIe Slot.
If you can go with the Ultra or the Master – for about 250 bucks – its a good deal.
I went with the i9-9900K Processor. 8 Cores. Plenty of horsepower for whatever I throw at it. Moreover, the iMac has the same configurations – so this would mimic that.
For the memory, here is where getting the right motherboard matters. If you get a ITX form factor, you’ll likely only get 2 DIMM Slots – this means you can get 2x16GB and get 32G of RAM. But with the Mini-ATX form factor, you’ll get 4 Slots – Even if you don’t think you need 64GB of RAM – you can expand later on.
I got the these ones for ~$91 Bucks a piece – 3200 MHz
Hard Drive / Storage – Primary
Samsung has this beast of a NVME Storage that I am abolutely in love with. In fact I am in love with NVME and will never go back to ATA/SSD drives anymore. I did the benchmarking for the drive – its 3GB/Sec – BOTH / Read and Write. With SSD’s I get about 300M/S – so basically a 600% increase in perofrmance OVER SSD – lets not talk about spinning disks altogether!
I went with Samsung EVO Plus;
I struggled with the EVO vs. the EVO Plus – but I think in the end you could go with either of them and it’ll be fine.
Here is a BlackMagic Disk Speed Test – a Whopping 3GB/S!
Hard Drive – Long term / RAID
I also wanted a long term / RAID solution as part of my build – with spinning cheap disks that I can load a bunch of data into. The Motherboard comes with 4 SATA ports and that was good enough for me to attach them ;
- 2 x 8TB Spinning Disks
- 2 x 250GB – SSD Drives (Windows10 & Ubuntu)
I wanted a dual boot (and even possibly triple boot) with Mac OSX, Windows and Ubuntu. I used the 2 extra 250GB SSD drives for the Windows and Linux installs.
I used WD – for the 2×250 GB SSD Drives;
For the spinning disks – I went with the cheapest for size – 5400 RPM is fine by me. I am just going to use this for backup and storage – not any active IO.
The Graphics card is probably the most important choice – this is the one that will be driving my GIANT 43″ LG Monitor. I got this epic 43″. monitor – instead of purchasing multiple monitors. I’ll talk about the monitor later – but for the Graphics card – I went with a AMD 580 based one; Specifically;
Saphhire Radeon RX580 – $179
I love this card. It has 4x port output – 2 HDMI and 2 Display Port. I wish it had 4xHDMI but that’s not that big a deal. You can always get HDMI -> DP or Vice Versa Adapters.
I went with this giant 43″ Monitor – from LG.
I will say that I am not that happy with the monitor. Its ok. I am used to the Mac Cinema Display – Retina – this does not have the same pixel density. It’s quite frankly shit. I am going to return the monitor and try a curved one – 5K maybe.
Here is the deal with keyboards – its the MOST important interface. Don’t piss. I originally bought a cheap ass wireless keyboard and regretted it almost immediately. My friend egged me to spring for a mechanical keyboard and I finally sprang for it. BOY was he right. Having a GOOD mechanical keyboard is the difference between feeling amazing while typing and shit!
I got this one;
Again – for the same reason as the one above (keyboard) – don’t piss around with the mouse either. I am a fan of the Logitec MX Anywhere – I’ve used them before and I love the weight. Does not feel plastic.
Few things about this mouse – its _BOTH_ 2.4GH wireless as well as Bluetooth – So it can work seamlessly with both windows and mac osx.
After reading a LOT of reviews around the Meshify -C I went with this. The good news is that it comes with 2 Fans – built in and installed for the cooling for the tower itself. I REALLY like the looks of it. Looks like a boss!
You can probably get a cheaper one for half the price – but I decided to go for the Fractal Design – they look good and with the dual fans – keep the whole unit with good air-flow. Their cable management system is also pretty bad-ass.
Max OSX Installation
This was a STEEP learning curve for me. I’ve never build and installed a hackintosh in my life – I;ve built many PC’s – In fact I’ve built many of the servers that ran QuestionPro and back in Russia (where I studied for 2 years) I used hustle the local dorm kids – to buy their PC’s from me and I used to assemble them.
Key Steps for installing OSX;
OK – Lets go through the process;
- Create a BOOTABLE – USB Stick – Using Install Disk Creator
- DO THE FOLLOWING ON YOUR BIOS
- DISABLE THE IGFX – This was a royal pain in the ass. This is your integrated Graphics card that comes with the MB. DO NOT USE THAT – its an Intel One. Mac OSX does not recognize and work with this. Here is a screenshot of disabling the iGFX
- Make your primary boot device the NVME.
- Use UNIBeast to create a Clover and EFI Partition for your USB Stick
Success! (Ok – It’s not that easy) – but eventually I got everything working!
- I don’t use the built-in WIfi chip. This is a desktop for me and I have it hard-wired (Ethernet) – Gasp! I never got the built-in WiFi Adapter to work. I am planning on working on it later 😉
- Bluetooth – Mojave recognized the built-in BT adapter in the Motherboard. That was good news – since I actually use the BT for pairing my bose headphones when on Zoom calls and I want to walk around the office.
Here is my final System Spec
Here is a link to my link to a zipped version of my EFI
Windows – Dual Boot
After some time I decided to install Windows also on the same box – on the separate SSD. Was not very tricky – just follow the instructions to get a bootable USB Windows 10 drive and install windows obviously on a separate drive. Keep in mind, Windows will write into the same EFI partition – so you’ll have a Windows directory also.