Hot-rod Hackintoshes perform like the latest Mac Pro

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

This P280 Hackintosh screams like a Mac Pro. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Although it looks like a vanilla PC in a boxy case, the machine pictured above is a high-performance, custom-built Hackintosh.

This thing is hot! Known as the P280, after its Antec case, this Hackintosh is equivalent in performance to Apple’s latest Mac Pro workstation, but costs significantly less.

Roughly comparable to a Mac Pro costing $3,500, the P280 was assembled from off-the-shelf PC parts costing just over $2,000, including a water-cooling system to chill its chips. The Hackintosh runs Apple’s OS X Mavericks and, according to its builder, bests a similarly configured Pro on many benchmarks.

It has none of Jony Ive’s industrial design magic, of course, but that’s not the point. This is a DIY rig that’s as badass as it gets.

Hot-rod Hackintoshes perform like the latest Mac Pro

Built by Jonathan Moos of Antec, a PC parts company that supplied some of the components, the P280 is a high-performance machine. Jonathan gives a tour of the hot-rod Hackintosh in the video above, which also shows off a cheaper “value” Hackintosh he built for about $1,000 (more on that below).

A Hackintosh is a machine capable of running Apple’s OS X but made from non-Apple hardware. Strictly speaking, a Hackintosh is illegal. OS X’s End User License Agreement (EULA) forbids the software from being installed on any hardware that isn’t Apple-branded. “The grants set forth in this License do not permit you to, and you agree not to, install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so,” the license says.

Apple has prosecuted a couple of startup companies that tried to sell Hackintoshes to consumers, including Psystar and PearC. But nonetheless, the DIY Hackintosh community is alive and well, with hackers around the globe turning PCs into Macs thanks to easy-to-use software like UniBeast, which has software drivers for many of the parts.

It’s impossible to estimate the size of the community, but there are more than 800,000 active members of tonymacx86.com, a popular Hackintosh forum, according to the webmaster. The community is “likely in the millions of users,” said the webmaster, who asked to remain anonymous.

“People build for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s fun!” said the webmaster. “That’s why I do it. I love tweaking and experimenting with stuff to see if and how we can make things easier and better for the community.”

In addition to the fun of building your own computer, the Hackintosh scene offers an almost endless variety of options and configurations. Rolling your own Mac means significant cost savings and easy upgradeability — and it’s a great way to learn about computers.

John, the owner of OSx86.net, another popular Hackintosh forum, said the custom machines are a gateway drug for chip-heads. Tinkerers often graduate from custom-PCs to Apple made machines. “The people that build Hackintosh are exploring the possibilities on their computers and curious about the Mac operating system,” said John, who also requested anonymity. “I’ve been in the scene for quite a while and I’ve always seen people experiment and learn about OS X on a Hackintosh first and when they are ready to switch entirely, they buy real Macs. Less hassle :-)”

According to Antec’s Moos, his two Hackintoshes are on par with current Mac Pros. The P280 scored 17,764 on the Geekbench multicore benchmark. That score bests a similarly configured Mac Pro, but falls short of the really high-spec Mac Pros, which can score 32,000 and above (and cost a lot more). Moos’ machine is capable of powering a 4K monitor. Everything runs silently and it boots almost instantly thanks to its fast solid state hard drive.

I played around with it here in the office, and of course, it’s indistinguishable from a genuine Mac. The machine was fast and responsive. I ran a couple of GPU benchmarks, which scored very highly. I watched with great delight as an endless loop of the new Transformers movie piped to the office’s big-screen HDTV. The giant dinosaur robots battled without a glitch.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The guts of the P280. Note the Thunderbolt-equipped motherboard and water cooling system. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

P280

The P280 is powered by an Intel i7 4770K 1150 Quad-Core CPU running at 3.5GHz. It’s one of the most popular chips for a Hackintosh. And thanks to the Kuhler 1250 cooling the CPU, it can be overclocked to 4.2GHz or higher.

The P280 has 32GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The operating system and apps are loaded onto the SSD for maximum performance. Moos is planning to add a big hard drive for media storage; the case has several open drive bays with soft rubber bumpers to minimize vibration.

The graphics card is a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce. It’s not as powerful as the Mac Pro’s dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics processors, but the card is more than capable of driving a 4K monitor.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Moos’ budget Hackintosh, the ISK600. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

ISK600

The ISK600 is a “value” Hackintosh, built by Moos for just over $1,000. Running an Intel i5 4670K 1150 Quad-Core processor at 3.4Ghz, the ISK600 (also named after the case it is housed in) is also roughly equivalent in performance to a Mac Pro. Like the P280, the ISK600 is water-cooled. The system is sealed and never needs refilling or topping off with coolant (they rarely spring leaks, I’m told). It has 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 WindForce graphics card. In total, the parts cost $1,143.92.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Look at all those ports on the ass end of the ISK600. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Looking straight down at the colorful innards of the ISK600. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Sinister-looking fans cool the graphic card on the ISK600. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Here’s the list of parts used to build both machines (and the parts in the Mac Pro, for comparison).

Hackintosh_specs

  • Rocky Carr

    So, for my money and assembly work I get an ENORMOUS box that’s four times the size of a Mac Pro, won’t fit on my desk, is butt-ugly, is probably as loud as a Hoover due to its four fans, and may or may not work with the next version of OS X without major tinkering. Hmmm… Sounds like a deal to me!

    • Windlasher

      It’s the journey…

      If you watch the video it’s silent. Yes, ugly and huge, but silent.

      • mahadragon

        Silent? What happens when you’re running multiple apps in the background and rendering videos as well? The Mac Pro has only 1 silent fan to cool the whole computer. And even 100% water cooled systems aren’t dead silent, not that this Hackintosh is 100% water cooled, it has at least 4 fans which will only add to the noise.

        No Hackintosh out there can hang with the Mac Pro in terms of design. It’s not just slapping together the fastest motherboard, processor and SSD you can which is basically what everybody is doing and saying, “There! I did it!” You’ve done nothing. Anybody can buy a fast processor, motherboard, RAM, SSD, etc. and throw it together in a box. Keeping it silent and cool is another matter entirely.

        I think it’s interesting to also note that most of these Hackintoshes can only have max 32gb ram. The Mac Pro can have a maximum of 128gb. So your Hackintosh isn’t totally equivalent.

      • PMB01

        Let’s not forget power management too! The Mac Pro is going to have lower power consumption at idle than either of these. Also notice how the Hackintoshes have beefier power supplies than the Mac Pro. When we talk about performance, the whole picture must be taken into account.

      • Allan Nichols

        Right that’s so we can add up to 4 high end video cards which you can not. That was my whole point I’m the end the number crunching power of the hack is double or triple that of the Mac Pro.

      • PMB01

        And again, your setup is illegal and immoral.

      • Allan Nichols

        In what way ? I paid for everything !

      • PMB01

        Breaking the EULA you agreed to when installing the OS, by actually installing it on non-Apple hardware.

      • Hugh Howlett

        Hackintoshes can have more than 32GB of ram, it’s just the i7 processor that can’t (just look at the iMac). Xeon hackintoshes can easily be built.

      • Oleg Belyaev

        i7 CAN have up to 64GB of ram. That’s not processor, that’s chipset issue. Just look at X79 chipset specs.

      • seaalex

        “Anybody can buy a fast processor, motherboard, RAM, SSD, etc. and throw it together in a box.”

        From the way you talk I doubt you can …..

    • old_school

      Well, it’s obvious you never tempered with OS X or hackintosh. I custom built several ones, beginning with Tiger 10.4.11 back in the 2006. The last one was driving Mountain Lion 10.8.2 that i updated to 10.8.5 via Apple Software Update menu without one glitch, and after the update i used it for a year or so before i bought an iMac and an Macbook White! It was Intel dual core with 4Gb of RAM and nvidia GT640 and it worked flawlessly! Try and sum up how much would you pay for the real Mac with these specs? Yes, a real Mac is a real Mac but hey, let’s not be be judgemental!

      • Rocky Carr

        I’m not knocking the idea of a Hackintosh – I’m just saying that if I want to use OS X as my primary OS, it’s always going to be cheaper in the long run to actually buy a Mac. If I’m a hobbyist looking to experiment with OS X, it makes absolutely no sense to spend thousands on a machine that will likely not be able to upgrade to the next major version (10.10?) without waiting for somebody to write new kernel extensions. A budget machine, certainly, but not a top of the line one. The IDEA of building a machine that runs OS X faster than a Mac Pro for less money is certainly interesting and fun, but from a practical standpoint, it’s a money-losing proposition.

      • Emile Sawaya

        Had my Hackintosh for 2 years, updated to Mountain Lion pretty fast and seamlessly, ML does everything I need it too, my Adobe’s run great on it. Very fast machine more than capable for all I use it for. Less than half the price of an imac at the time I built it. I plan to run it for at least another 2 years before upgrading, and when I do upgrade it will not cost that much since I bought a very high end psu that will last a good 10 years, hard drives are in great shape, SSD’s are cheap anyways, the case is great, etc etc. Much, much cheaper in the long run. 2 years no issues or hiccups whatsoever.

      • Bungle

        Agreed that it’s not for everyone, but it makes a lot of sense to certain types of users.

        If you’re a professional user, then time is money, and you can’t afford the risk of issues on an unsupported system. Therefore, pay the extra $1500 and buy a prebuilt, high-spec Mac Pro with official support from Apple.

        If you’re like me, a pro-sumer user that likes to dabble in video editing and 3D graphics, you enjoy building computers and you have some time on the weekends to spare, then building a faster machine for 2/3 the price is a no-brainer. Upgrading the OS has so far been a non-issue, although I agree it’s a risk – once again to be weighed against the cost savings.

        If you just want to play with OS X, there are much cheaper ways, so I think their suggestion to build a system like this for those purposes is more of a marketing tactic than realistic advice. Borrow a friend’s Macbook, or just buy an older one for a few hundred dollars.

        Also keep in mind that the high-end system they showed had used very little of its expansion space. Add up to 3 more video cards, probably 8-10 HDDs, and the ENORMOUS box makes a lot more sense. And personally, I’d rather have all of the components housed in the same assembly than fooling myself into thinking that a compact, round tower that needs *everything* plugged in externally is going to somehow conserve space.

      • old_school

        i understand but i can’t agree concerning updates, there are people today still using SL 10.6.8, so using, for example ML 10.8.5 is still sufficient and i think it sure will be for year or two! Although i update my Macs on a regular basis there is no need to rush with updates, i know cause i tried it. ;-)

    • MPen_Mk2

      If you want a Mac Pro just so you can put it on your desk, look trendy and admire its design – get a Mac Pro, if you’re only after raw hardware power, then you don’t really care all that much about what it looks/sounds like.

      • Jim

        There’s another difference, the Mac Pro is built of server class hardware and will last twice as long as the custom box. In that regard, it is the better value. You can buy 256GB SSD for $150 or for $400, the difference even when IO performance is equal, is lifetime rating. Just one example. Do not assume the hardware is equivalent just because the performance is.

      • Allan Nichols

        So you are telling me that that I can not buy server grade hardware for my build ? In fact the PC Power and cooling power supply I use is server grade. The enterprise grade drives I use are server grade and the high end motherboard along with the Core I7 are every bit as server grade as any mac pro.

      • PMB01

        The Core i7 is NOT server-grade. I don’t think you even know what that means.

      • Allan Nichols

        Ok you got me there technically yet from experience i7 chips are just as durable as any Xeon even if they are not technically server grade. My i7 860 has been running heavily overclocked since 2010 without a hiccup.

      • Mario Malnar

        Jeezs, cmon, man, you did well with the setup and all, and the benchmark is cool, but could you please run FCX in 4k with at least ten effects simultaneously over the movie you edit in real time, of course, and use at least 4 4k screens, with at least two spewing 4k movie.

        People who know nothing about bussiness performance of mac pro should read more. And learn more.

        Yeah, even if you put 4 cards in it, it won’t be possible.

        And it might burn up if you manage to power it all up(check US blackhole scientist interview (mac observer) explaining what he went through to get quality parallel supercomputing capability).

      • Hugh Howlett

        I’ve got a dual Xeon hackintosh, 64GB of ECC ram. That’s definitely server grade.

    • azntaiji

      The whole point in my opinion is the fun of piecing together your build and coming up with something you did on your own, while being able to upgrade it whenever you want.. it’s really a more logical solution if tech is important to you. If you don’t like that, then you can buy a MacPro for 3x the price, and pay out the ass for upgrades.

      PS – the builds on this article are slightly overpriced. I just built my hackintosh for $800 (minus peripherals), and it’s got a GTX 760, 2 SSD’s, an HDD, i5-4670k, Gigabyte GA-Z87MX-D3H and Corsair 500w modular PSU

      • PMB01

        An i5 is not server-grade or comparable at all to the Xeon E5 processors.

      • Rich Cook

        Very few people are actually using Macintosh for servers, are they? What’s all the hoopla about server grade? I’m one who just buys macs, but I can see using one of these if your budget is limited.

      • PMB01

        I’ve never seen any reliable numbers on that. The point is that they will last longer and have higher fault tolerance than consumer-grade hardware, which is what people and businesses want for mission critical applications. If you’re going to use it for any business purposes, save up and buy a real Mac or stick with Windows. It’s against the EULA to use OS X on anything but Apple hardware.

    • Office NInja

      Its a good thing we have people like you still buying real Macs thinking they are better so Apple doesn’t start to lose revenue and start coming after the Hackintosh community. While I would agree that a real Mac can be less of a hassle their cost out weighs the benefits. If you buy the correct parts (Tonymacx86 provides a great guide) you can get it up and running in about the same time as a custom built PC and spend a lot less. I just prefer to have the option to run Mac OSX without having to spend the “Apple Premium” pricing for off the shelf PC parts marked up by a ridiculous amount.

      • Rocky Carr

        Without people buying “real” Macs, there would be no OS X to speak of, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      • Allan Nichols

        That’s not entirely true because Apple would be forced to deal with the situation and give the market what it wants. Currently their are plenty of people willing to spend the big dollars for the designer looks and high end construction of Apple Mac’s enven though they come complete with inferior outdated hardware under the hood where it counts to people like me and the others who opt to deal with the headaches of building and maintaining a Hackintosh, Namely the board,CPU and graphics. If this were not the case Apple would be forced to change as me and many others wish they would. They could still make the best OS in the world and still make boatloads of money as, I would be glad to pay as much as $150 every year to upgrade to the latest and greatest OSX if Apple built it to support more hardware like Microsoft and Linux do. Heck they could even continue to build Mac’s and allow people with real Mac’s that do not require the extended hardware support to upgrade for less money or free and everyone would win !!!!

      • Rocky Carr

        I would counter that since Apple is still selling Macs at a profit when most PC vendors have dismal sales and profit numbers, that Apple is indeed giving the market what it wants. I used to think as you do – that Apple should license the OS to any vendor who wants to build Mac OS compatible computers. I was quite vocal about it – but then I realized what Steve had realized: that by licensing the OS you are diluting your brand, forcing a race to the bottom where nobody makes any money.

        Apple has built a perception, whether it be real or imagined, that it manufactures premium computers that come with a fantastic operating system. NO OTHER COMPUTER VENDOR can make that claim. Not one. Everyone else is trying to out-gimmick each other while building the cheapest possible products in order to make razor-thin profits.

        IBM saw the writing on the wall years ago and got out. Sony saw the writing on the wall and got out. HP very nearly got out of the game themselves. Dell has lost so much money that Apple could buy them with their pocket change.

        The personal computer has become an appliance, like a microwave oven. You buy it, use it, and then throw it away. Only Apple has managed to buck that trend, but Steve Jobs saw the future and realized that the desktop is dead – at least when it comes to the vast majority of consumers. Devices like the iPad are the future of everyday computing.

        As a hobbyist, I’d much rather spend my time playing with the many excellent distributions of Linux that are available. OS X, is, after all, just another UNIX variant like Linux. Linux does many neat things that OS X will likely never be able to do. On top of that, it’s FREE and runs on most any piece of hardware.

        Apple is a for-profit company. Their primary focus is to make money. Period. And until they stop making money, you can bet that they will keep their OS a closed, proprietary enterprise.

      • Allan Nichols

        I agree with mos of what you said but I was never suggesting that Apple should make OSX open source in fact I agree it is the best OS and I would be willing to pay big dollars to buy and then upgrade OSX every year if they would simply include more driver support so that it would run on more hardware.

      • Rich Cook

        Actually, their primary focus is to make insanely great products. That’s why they manage to stay in business. They never sell out their true vision. You can argue with whether they succeed, but you cannot say they are not about making great products.

      • Rich Cook

        You do realize Apple is a hardware company, right? There is no way they are going to trade the extra $50 on the OS you might buy once a year for the $500 they make on the Mac they sell.

      • Allan Nichols

        Yes I know they buy PC parts take bits and pieces from BSD among others slap it together in a chineese sweat factory at the Foxconn prison city and call it their own. Complete with a “Designed in California” label.

        No reason they shouldn’t sell OSX versions with enhanced support because they would make more money. People like me will never buy a real Mac I could care less about design and form factor.

      • http://www.jailbreakmatrix.com Mario

        Real Macs wont allow me to run this kinda setup without spending $10,000, which I’m not prepared to do. My System was 3.5k with 6 monitors and stand, SSD, USB3, everything works flawlessly

      • josueochoa

        What mouse is that?

      • http://www.jailbreakmatrix.com Mario

        hp

      • Jim

        You are completely wrong. Mac Pro’s are built of server class hardware. It’s more expensive because it will outlast the equivalently performing PC class hardware.

    • Hugh Howlett

      I think a Hackintosh with 8 internal hard drives will look neater than a MacPro with 8 External hard drives cluttering my desk.

      Granted the MacPro is a great system, but each have their advantages and disadvantages, price being one of them.

    • Allan Nichols

      You are right se people will want or need the revolutionary form factor of the new Mac Pro and for them their is no substitute. For the majority of us however we don’t mind tower somewhere on or near our desk. They do not have to be loud either for example My Hack has 6 NZXT fans and they are whisper quiet ! I can tell you never built a computer as their are many companies that make high quality silent fans even with pretty LED lights built in.

      • Rocky Carr

        Cute. I’ve been building computers for 25 years, starting with a 386sx at 16Mhz. The appeal of building for me has long gone. I would now rather have my computer work for me instead of me working on my computer.

      • Allan Nichols

        I am guessing that you whipped out the whole 25 year thing to impress me and prove you have been around so long, yet I will set you strait, It would have been more like 24 or less years if you’re first build was a 386sx considering it was not until Q4 1990 those machines began to come to market. Anyway point taken and for many people they would share you opinion

        PS. My first build was PC/AT clone in the 80’s running DOS 2. something

  • mrichman

    No benchmarks?! Where’s the data?!

  • Waronxmas

    A machine with an i5 or i7 is not similarly spec’d to a machine with a Xeon. Not by a long shot. LOL

    • Allan Nichols

      Looks like the joke is on you and you have no clue what you are talking about because for the kind of tasks most users do and for gaming the i7 4770K completely destroys the Xeon period. Anyone who knows what they are talking about would even begin to dispute that. Single thread performance on the i7 4770K is better than just about anything in the market. Only a few 900+ dollar chips will beat the 4770K in single thread period a simple look at the passmark charts will show you this.

      Now we have not even overclocked the i7 yet considering this rig is equipped with H2O. On to multi tread workloads where you are right if the application takes advantage multiple cores and Hyper Threads then yes the Xeon is superior but the average user will not even notice this, unless they use it for work ie. Auto Cad, Video Editing, Building Space Shuttles, Crunching numbers for scientific research and so on. Again we did not even take into account the overclocking ability or the i7K which the Xeon does not have.

      To this point we have also failed to mention that most of that work is done with Video Cards in 2014 so you could SLI or XFire a couple cards and totally smoke the Mac Pro still spending a bit less money depending on what cards and how many.

      • PMB01

        You’re the one who doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

        Considering the market for the Mac Pro consists of people in those markets, it makes your points moot. For that kind of work, the Xeon and FirePros absolutely do not compare to the i7 and consumer graphics cards. Considering the market, you can’t compare consumer parts to the server-grade components in the Mac Pro. In addition, those SSDs are not comparable to the PCIe flash modules in the Mac Pro. The RAM is rather limited compared to the max of 128GB that the Mac Pro supports. The ISK600 lacks Thunderbolt and the P280 doesn’t have TB2. This machine should be compared to the iMac, not the Mac Pro. But you would then have to add a high quality display to the price and the package doesn’t look as attractive anymore.

        Also, you’re a moron if you’re buying a Mac Pro for anything but actual work (which you shouldn’t be making a Hackintosh for anyway), let alone for gaming!

      • Rocky Carr

        I agree with everything you said except the name-calling. Not necessary.

      • PMB01

        Wasn’t directed specifically at him though. Perfectly okay to say that people buying a Mac Pro for gaming are dumb.

      • Allan Nichols

        Not really what other choice do you have when it comes to Mac?
        A Mac pro is the only Mac that is capable of gaming at full details in 1920×1080 and higher resolution with games like Borderlands 2 and Tomb Raider period……. Plus it is the only one you can upgrade the video in at all though the new Mac Pro even ruins the consumers ability to do that. BIG MISTAKE !

      • PMB01

        Or you can buy a Windows PC like most people that care that much about gaming do. If you hate Windows, that’s your own fault for not going with a perfectly good choice for gaming. Quit your bitching and blaming others for your own decision to not buy a computer (and OS) designed for gaming.

      • Allan Nichols

        Who said a Mac was the best platform for gaming? I did not and I own two Windows gaming machines would you like pictures ? Who said anything about hating Windows or MS ??????

        You sir are using Typical Lefist tactics having no grounds to stand on so you make things up you belittle and attack others as you have no position to defend.

        Much like a certain president you voted for.

      • PMB01

        I didn’t vote for Obama you little dipshit. Quit before you make more of an ass of yourself.

      • Allan Nichols

        Sure we believe you wink wink. Sounds to me like I hit the nail on the head as you fume some more spitting expletives showing off you’re lack of education.

      • PMB01

        Too bad your terrible grammar gives you away and leaves you with zero credibility. Keep trying though. You acting like a stubborn jackass is highly entertaining.

      • Allan Nichols

        I understand that the Mac Pro is used by people in those segments and I am one of them. On top of that you better go check the benchmarks because an i7 4770k in particular one with H2O for overclocking is in fact faster in single thread workloads than just about every chip Intel makes. In multiple thread workloads it is nearly as good to the point the difference in negligible. Also you are the one missing the point and does not seem to understand that a Fire Pro is not much different in terms of horsepower than a high end GTX or R9 card. They simply run at a lower clock and are build with more expensive components among other things. Yet in terms of finishing the task at hand they are not much different in the end I simply under-clock my card to cut down on heat which in turn reduces heat increases life and does impact performance much for these types of workloads. Also what is stopping me from adding a high quality display I am using one now ! You need to add one to the price of that Mac Pro as well !!!

      • PMB01

        The display point was for comparing to the iMac, not the Mac Pro. If you don’t understand the point of server-grade components, then you need to do some more research.

      • Allan Nichols

        Wait why are you a moron for making a hack for Mac gaming ???

        The only moron is the one paying apple the premium price for their graphics cards rather than using any old GTX 6xx or 7xx series card or cards.

        Also I never suggested a Hack should be used for mission critical systems as they are called. I thought we were talking about what people use at home. To my point that I along with many professionals use a hack at home to do work just fine and have been doing so for years !

      • PMB01

        I said anyone who suggests the Mac Pro should be bought as a gaming machine is a moron.

        Uhh, no. Actual professionals have integrity and know that they can’t do things like this for getting work done. Anyone that does this should re-examine what they’re doing. You’re illegally using something you didn’t properly pay for to make a living. It’s like stealing a limo to be a professional chauffeur. If you make a living doing it, man up and pay for it like most people do!

        To reiterate the obvious, the Mac Pro is NOT a consumer product. It is a PROfessional server-grade workstation. If you think these machines are actually equivalent to that, then your ignorance can’t be helped.

      • Allan Nichols

        First off let’s be clear I pay $$$ for every copy of OSX I have ever used on each machine. So I have done nothing wrong and that is what fumes people like you the most. So you might want to watch what you say because slandering someone is an actual crime unlike modifying a bootloader and installing Kexts to make a legal copy of OSX. Run regardless of what you do with that machine.

        Secondly you are right in every performance metric my Hack destroys a new Mac Pro so there is no comparison.

        Thirdly a hack can be built on the 2011 socket using a board that is every bit server grade with the same Xeon chips.

      • PMB01

        From the EULA: “The grants set forth in this License do not permit you to, and you agree not to, install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so”.

        You’re not using Apple hardware so your setup is illegal, like all Hackintoshes. Apple could prosecute you if they wanted to. Furthermore, morality dictates that you pay for and follow license agreements on the products you use for your business. If you need to build your own PC to fit your needs, then run Linux or Windows like everyone else.

        If you still think your in the right standing, you’re even dumber than I thought.

      • Allan Nichols

        I paid for every copy of OSX I use like I said three times now and if Apple had such a strong position with that BOGUS EULA they came up with they would prosecute yet they do not because no court in the US is award Apple the win in that lawsuit. Considering the consumer bought the product OSX and Apple has no business telling anyone how they can use it. Not to mention the bad PR that would basically destroy Apple who already has a Rep as a Patent Trolling Bully among other things.

        I ask you can an automaker tell me can I can only use my car on certain streets or certain times of the day? Can they tell me I can never take the engine out and use it in non Chevy hardware?

        Sure they could try but in the end the court not do anything about it because when I buy a product I can do with it what I please as I am not using more than one copy per license and I am not reselling it nor profiting in any way.

        Also their is no need to throw around insults and that usually show the weakness of ones position ! Like I said this is what fumes the elitist yuppies like yourself and the yippies turned Corporatists from Cupertino to DC.

      • PMB01

        Apple is not known as a patent troll so just quit the ignorant talk. It’s their product and they absolutely CAN choose how it is used. You’re only buying a license to use it and you are bound by their terms when you install it. Cars are an invalid comparison and the courts absolutely would stand by Apple.

        Try being an informed consumer before making ridiculously idiotic comments.

      • Allan Nichols

        Then why does Apple not sue the Hackintosh community?

        Answer they do not have any grounds to do so or they would !

        In other word that is all the Apple EULA is mere words. Their EULA is bogus otherwise they would step up to the plate and do something about it.

        If I purchase a product I am free to hack it and make it do whatever the heck I want it to as long as I am not doing so for profit end of story and if it was not Apple would be suing and they are not.

      • PMB01

        You don’t know how software works. Keep educating yourself so you don’t look like a moron.

    • Hugh Howlett

      Agreed. It is not a good comparison. They should have used my Hackintosh with dual Xeons :)

      • Allan Nichols

        Wow my i7 smokes one of these your hack would eat it for breakfast then stomp it Into the ground performance wise an I bet you still spent quite a bit less.

      • Hugh Howlett

        Yep, spent $2000 on it including 64GB RAM. (The 8-core Xeons were only $200 each on ebay!) The dual Firepro graphics in the MacPro are better than my GTX 580 ($160) for most compute/openCL though, but not for most openGL tasks.

  • J A Smith

    I could learn to live with this enormous box on my desk. It looks pretty nice with a stack of Benjamins beside it.

    • Hugh Howlett

      Would definitely look better than a MacPro with several external hard drives cluttering up the desk.

  • bentech1

    The SSD looks much worse. They have a PCI-E style flash storage device which are meant to be much quicker… Anyone know the figures?

  • anonymous

    its not even server grade components…

  • Sleeping Moose

    Yeah, performance like the new Mac Pro unless you don’t mind it being vastly slower. The ADATA SSD clocks in at a cool 350 MB/sec (hothardware.com/Reviews/ADATA-XPG-SX900-256GB-SSD-Review/?page=2). The PCIe SSD in the Mac Pro comes in at 1184 MB/sec (macperformanceguide.com/blog/2014/20140307_2-2013MacPro-SSD-speed.html). But what’s a factor of three slower if you enjoy building and maintaining your own hardware?

    Also, the Hackintosh doesn’t seem to come with ECC memory. So what if your 15-hour video render crashes after 10 hours due to a single stray cosmic ray? Just enclose it in a big lead box!

    And a Core i5 surely beats a Xeon in performance, reliability, and the rest.

    Maybe a better title for the article would have been: “How to have fun building a low-performance computer that can illegally run OS X.”

  • Brandon Butler

    Great except for the incompatibility… Try opening preview and watch the GPU frequency go up and not come down because of an OpenCL bug. (I have my own hackintosh) I am curious how they got hdcp working. Are you sure it was a high def video? Did it lack DRM and was playing in VLC? Try buying a movie in iTunes, good luck :P

    • http://www.jailbreakmatrix.com Mario

      lol you dont have your stuff configured right if you can’t buy things from iTunes, I can do it just fine

      • Brandon Butler

        I can buy stuff from iTunes just fine. What I’m talking about is trying to play a video that requires HDCP. Do you have any high def videos bought from the store? Do they play? If so what is your hardware configuration?

      • Brandon Butler

        I can buy things from iTunes just fine… the problem is playing movies purchased from iTunes ;)

  • Anders Lundberg

    How is it like a Mac Pro with maximum 32 GB ram? The Mac Pro starts at $4k with dual D700 cards (which are roughly equivalent to $3k Firepro W9000 cards) and can fit up to 128 GB ram. This hackintosh is more comparable to the top of the line iMac which is $2550 plus the extra ram (about $270 for 32GB) and comes with a decent 27″ ips display. It’s faster than the iMac to be sure, but it’s not comparable to a Mac Pro with D700 cards and 64 or 128 GB ram.

    • mahadragon

      I think your comment deserves more attention.

    • Jim

      You sir are correct.

    • ChaosMaster

      Completely agree. I’m surprised to see how many people make these “cheaper” builts when to build a TRUE equiv it would actually cost much more. Comparing non-ECC RAM to ECC RAM in the MacPro alone already shows how flawed this comparison is, much less a professional base FirePro/Quadro class VGA against mainstream gaming VGA’s as well as PCIe SSD against a SATAIII one. The MacPro WILL handle raw 4k videos without a hitch, you can edit on the fly without even waiting 1s for it to process, I would like to see that work on the P280.

      • Hugh Howlett

        Agreed, it’s not a good equivalent. But Xeon hackintoshs exist with up to 256GB ECC RAM. Then Put 4x GTX 750 Ti (just $140 each) in it an that will outperform the dual D700s for compute and OpenCL.

      • ChaosMaster

        The issue isn’t if Hackintosh supports Xeons and ECC RAM, it’s that when people make comparisons and claim that they can “build the same for less” when they are using inferior spec parts.

        As for the GTX750 Ti QuadSLI vs D700 CF, I’m not sure about that. What I do know is that I’ve tried and tested a GTX570 SLI, and a GTX680 against their Quadro equiv (can’t remember what model, it’s been a while ago) and the Quadros were easily twice as fast as their Geforce counterparts. In fact, I found the older Quadro to be faster than the GTX680 as well. Do note that I use AutoDesk (3ds max and Maya) and Adobe CS5 as well as MediaEspresso for my test, all were done on WIn7 64x, so it maybe different for other programs and OSX. Also note that I found SLI to provide no improvement over running single GTX570 at the time, although that could be due to drivers.

      • Hugh Howlett

        Good points. I agree, can’t compare two computers of different spec without at least seeing any benchmark results for the applications you’ll be using.

        Of course for professional applications where top performance is required regardless of cost, MacPro wins it. But for a lot of people, a cheaper alternative would be more advantageous.

        The 750 Ti is based on nvidias New chips, and do outperform every other nvidia including quadro for opencl. Which is all I need anyway. But would depend on what it’s needed for.

    • Guest

      Agreed, it’s not a good equivalent. But Xeon hackintoshs can easily be built with up to 256GB RAM. Then Put 4x GTX 750 Ti (just $140 each) in it an that will outperform the dual D700s for compute and OpenCL.

  • Jim

    This is cool, but I hope people don’t start with the “see how much Apple is ripping you off” nonsense. Few reasons it’s not the same thing, looks and size not even being worth mentioning:

    1) This guy had to build it and know what he was doing. That takes time and effort and that costs money if you are going to buy an already built machine. Does that make up the $1400? No, but there’s a second point…

    2) The components in the Mac Pro are higher quality and better than the custom build. The performance might end up the same, but Apple’s proprietary motherboard and powersupply will outlast the custom box. What people don’t realize is that a Mac Pro is essentially the same enterprise class hardware you get in a server class machine, like an HP Proliant or equivalent. You pay more for that enterprise class hardware because it’s going to last much longer.
    I can buy 256GB of SSD storage for $150 or for $400. The difference, besides IO performance, is lifetime rating. One will last twice as long as the other for instance.
    I worked in IT and configured and sold B2B server solutions for ERP systems to customers, I know the difference between off the shelf beige box components and what’s inside a Mac.

    Just want to make sure folks realize these differences. :-)

  • Hugh Howlett

    Everyone dissing the hackintosh saying “an i7 is not comparable to an Xeon” is indeed right. But be aware that hackintoshs can use Xeons too! (and dual Xeons). My hackintosh has two 8-core Xeons.

  • Brandon Butler

    Don’t forget if you have an IvyBridge/Haswell CPU HDCP will not work meaning that you cannot watch movies purchased via iTunes :(

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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