How I achieved "hackintosh" nirvana

When I built my Windows 8 gaming PC, I didn't even consider running OS X on non-Apple hardware. The last time, about 8 or 9 years ago, I attempted such an endeavor, the process was incredibly convoluted, buggy and long. It was mostly due to the fact that OS X had just switched over to Intel processors which opened the door to the "hackintosh" community.

Fortunately much has changed since then. Apple transitioned their OS X platform to to the Intel architecture and as a result increased compatibility with non-Apple hardware. At the onset, the hackintosh process was still pretty complex and prone to failure.

Today things are vastly easier. You create a bootable USB with OS X using Unibeast, install OS X, run the post-install application known as Multibeast and you're essential done. Of course it's more than that.

But I got lucky and I had help

Honestly, I stumbled into this hackintosh build by accident. When I chose all the parts for my PC, I had no intention of using OS X with it. But unbeknownst to me, I had all the parts of what's referred to as a "Golden Build". What this means is that all of my PC components are 100% compatible with OS X.

The process of installing OS X on non-Apple hardware is still somewhat involved. However, the community and support around hackintosh projects are breathtaking. I was able to confirm my hardware compatibilty with this guide CustoMac 2012 guide and execute the install process with this guide. In addition, you get all the discussions, tips and tricks that go along with this specific build.

Not a perfect process

Hackintosh projects are still recommended for people who aren't afraid to tinker or break stuff. While hackintosh have almost reached pretty low learning curves, you still run the risk of irrevocably losing data. It's why I suggest you using a separate harddrive. Partitions are great, but you always run the risk of hosing a boot record with hackintosh installs.

Before my I ran into some compatibility issues. One being my mini PCIe wireless card. Bluetooth and 2.4ghz wifi was under Windows. Unfortunately, OS X only supported bluetooth. Thankfully the install guide and notes mentioned this and I was able to purchase a compatible mini PCIe card along with a new harddrive.

The other issue was audio. Either I missed a step or misinterpreted the instructions and notes, but I had a hell of a time getting audio to work. But after some searching around the forums of tonymacx86, I was able to set the right configuration and enable sound. I had reached the promise land. A full no-compromise Apple OS X experience on custom hardware.

Conclusion and realization

I couldn't be happier with the results. Hackintosh allows me to have my cake and eat it too. But unfortunately this project brings to light an unsettling fact. Apple hardware is expensive. Granted, my PC doesn't look nearly as svelt or polished as a iMac, Mac Pro or Mac Mini. And I definitely don't get the peace of mind that is the AppleCare warranty.

But let's face it. Buying your own hardware and building it yourself is cheaper than similarly configured desktop computers from Apple. Hundreds of dollars cheaper. But what you gain in discounted configurations you lose in customer support and a high-quality build. When something breaks, it's on you to replace the parts.

But in a perfect where I'd have the money to afford Apple hardware on a regular basis, I'd still buy from Apple versus building my own.

October 20, 2013