Let’s make us a hot gaming rig for super cheap. Cover design: Stephen Smith
This week, we’ve got an amazing bunch of content for you, all cleverly bundled together into one fantastic high-quality digital magazine. It’s like all the best Cult of Mac stuff you might have missed crammed into a delicious metaphorical pastry that’s just brimming with sweet goodness.
Want more power for your money? Build a Hackintosh. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
I recently decided it was time to get a proper desktop computer. I needed it predominantly for work, but I wanted it to be powerful enough to play the latest games in 1080p without worrying about stuttering or terrible frame rates.
The new Mac lineup didn’t offer a perfect fit — the Retina 5K iMac was too expensive, and the new Mac mini simply wasn’t powerful enough — so I set myself a goal: To build a gaming machine with a dedicated video card, capable of running OS X, for around the price of a Mac mini.
I set a budget of $650 for my build. That’s $150 more than the base model Mac mini, but $50 less than the midrange model. In this piece, I’ll take you through the components I purchased and why I chose them, and how I put them all together. Next week, I’ll show you how I installed OS X to turn my DIY gaming rig into a Hackintosh.
A really old Apple computer can fetch a fortune at an auction these days, but more recent models that you can easily pick up on eBay aren't going to make you a great deal of money -- especially if they no longer work. But instead of sticking them in your garage and leaving them to collect dust, why not turn them into something useful?In this gallery, we'll show you 11 old Macs that have been given a new lease of life, like the Mac Pro that's now an aquarium, a group of Macintoshes turned into planters, and an old iMac G4 that's been transformed into a desk lamp.Photo: theappleguru, eBay
This old Mac Pro G5 case has been transformed into a gorgeous aquarium that would look right at home in any Apple fan's living room. It's fully functional, and complete with lights and an air pump."In keeping to my fascination with reusing and recycling things to fulfill a new design and function, this fish tank built from a Apple G5 desktop seemed like an ideal way to give a new life to a dead machine," says creator Michael Garito.Garito used acrylic to make the tank that lives inside the case, and its miniature air pump is concealed beneath it where the Mac Pro's power supply would have lived.Garito is currently selling this particular tank, and you can contact him via his website below if you're interested.Photo: Michael Garito, mgarito.com.
Another Michael Garito creation, this aquarium was made out of two old Apple monitors sandwiched together. Due to its strange shape, Garito had to build a custom filtration system for this tank."I built a filtration system that is submerged in the tank, hidden behind the central 'hide'," he explains. "I did not want the aesthetic of the tank diminished by air tubes running over the side so they, along with the filter's power cord, and the tank's drainage tube are all discreetly ran out of the bottom and through the monitor stand."This tank seems a little trickier to build than the Mac Pro tank, but it looks pretty spectacular. Garito donated this one to an elementary school.Photo: Michael Garito, mgarito.com
If you've got an old iMac G4 knocking around, turning it into a stunning desk lamp is actually easier than it looks. This particular model was sold on Etsy, but there are lots of guides to making your own.Photo: SewWhatSherlock, Etsy
Perhaps the greatest way to breath new life into an old Mac is to turn it into a "Hackintosh." That's doing away with its old components, using its case to house a brand new PC, and then installing OS X on it.Of course, Mac Pro cases won't just take any motherboard and components, so you'll have to make a few adjustments to make them fit. This particular Hack Pro was put together by "Commander Zero" over on the InsanelyMac forums who details each modification that was made in the thread below.Photo: CommanderZero, InsanelyMac
If you're not up to building a Hackintosh, how about gutting that old Mac Pro case and using it as a cable tidy instead. No one likes the sight of messy cables, but this "Power Tower" from Kiwidee looks great when it's all closed up.Tucked away inside it there's an integrated power surge, three AC circuits, and up to 30 plug sockets. There's even a handy socket on the front of the case.Photo: Kiwidee
These Macintosh planters are the ideal garden accessory for any tech freak who likes getting their fingers green - and they couldn't be simpler to make. Simply gut your Macintosh, cut a hole in its top, and fill it with soil.Photo: Superchou, Flickr
Another simple hack, this one turns an old Mac Pro G4 case into a mailbox. All you need to do is gut your machine, cut a hole out of its front for your mail and install a door, then add some numbers.Don't forget to make the case waterproof, though, because you could come home to soaking wet post after a rainy day.Photo: Digitaldust, Flickr
When it's sunny outside, you don't want to be stuck in with your Mac. So how about turning it into a barbecue grill and taking it outside for some cooking. You can make your own by following the steps in this Imgur gallery.Photo: 100uf, Reddit
If you've got more than one Mac Pro case collecting dust, sticking a block of wood between them creates a beautiful bench like this one from Klaus Geiger.Photo: Klaus Geiger
Another Klaus Geiger hack turns a couple of old Mac Pro cases into a set of drawers that even Jony Ive would be proud of. This one's a little harder to put together than the bench, but it's well worth the effort.Photo: Klaus Geiger
This old Power Mac G4 Cube case makes for the fanciest tissue box you'll ever see. Creating this hack is as easy as swapping out the computer's old logic board, hard drives, and other components for a box of tissues. You can find step-by-step instructions via the link below.Photo: Macgeek, Instructables
Based on a pair of Intel Xeon X5690 CPUs, the machine’s total cost was $4,500. That’s less than half of an equivalent 2012 Mac Pro, which would have cost more than $10,000 and topped out with a Geeekbench score of 25,000.
This is a mini G5, approximately half the size of the original. It was hacked down to size by prolific hacker neilhart. "This has been four months of 'fun' and I end up with a high performance machine that runs with the best," he wrote.
With a Star Wars aesthetic, the G4 Stormtrooper Haswell has been updated with a speedy 17 processor. Painting the case was a lot of work. "I sanded all the parts, applied a coat of primer, sanded down, applied a second coat, painted it in black and white (two layers), sanded with steel wool, and finally applied three layers of varnish," said its creator, antonvodenitcharov.
"I got excited by the idea that i could have a crazy powerful machine in ANY case I wanted," wrote modder rayd. "So naturally I picked the best looking case ever to be made; the Powermac G4 MDD." The Powermac G4 MDD runs OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Not too shabby!
"Extremely small form factor micro PC kits are gaining steam," writes Tony of TonyMacX86. "Since the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) was launched, many users have started using them as HTPCs, and even full desktop replacements."
There's no accounting for some people's taste. This modified Xbox 360 is based on a low-power Celeron processor. It's no speed demon, but serves well as a Mac-based media PC. "The idea was to make a small, cheap but yet capable machine, mainly intended for usage under a TV set," said its creator dj_aris.
These are the computers Apple never built, and never will — a water-cooled Cube; a teeny-tiny G5; a faux Mac Pro in a trash can.
Oh wait. Apple did the trash can, but not a genuine rubbish bin with a matching toilet brush, like the purple beauty in the Hackintosh gallery above.
These homemade Macs, built from non-Apple hardware, come in a thousand different shapes and sizes, built by legions of dedicated, ingenious hackers. In the nine years since Apple switched to Intel processors, a DIY subculture dedicated to building alternative Mac hardware has steadily grown. It’s not a strictly legal endeavor — Apple’s EULA forbids OS X from running on non-Apple hardware — but Cupertino turns a blind eye to hobbyists.
“You know what? We’ve never gotten anything from Apple other than a few anonymous employees asking for help :),” said Tony, who runs Hackintosh website tonymacx86.com, in an email to Cult of Mac. “It’s clear that tonymacx86.com doesn’t sell hardware. I would think that they’d understand that we are promoting the purchase of OS X and Apple peripherals and laptops, and have zero tolerance for piracy.”
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.
That got one German thinking. If the Mac Pro looks so much like a trash can, why not build a Hackintosh out of a trash can. Which is exactly what he did, crafting his Mac Pro out of an Authentics Lunar bathroom trash can that comes with matching toilet brush. And while the replica isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the real thing, it certainly looks the part. Check out more images below.
Apple makes some really great software and hardware. We love it. But sometimes there are certain little things you want out of your computer that Apple can’t or won’t provide. That’s why we have jailbreaking and modding.
We love it when someone takes an Apple product and morphs it into something completely different. There have been a lot of Apple hardware mods that have crossed our desks over the last few years. Some have been simple, while others have required over a hundred hours of work. Here are the five greatest Apple hardware mods we’ve ever seen.
Creepy Mountain Lion hugging a flash drive? Uh… ok.
OS X is designed to run seamlessly on Mac hardware, but did you know that you can actually install Apple’s desktop operating system on a Windows PC and make what’s called a “Hackintosh?” Apple released OS X Mountain Lion in the Mac App Store last week, and it has already been downloaded 3 million times. But if you’re stuck with a PC, you can’t taste the forbidden fruits… until now. UniBeast, the tool used for creating a Hackintosh, has been updated with support for Mountain Lion.
Hackintoshing is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up to the challenge, it’s possible to get Mountain Lion up and running on your PC.
The Mac Pro is the most PC-like Mac, but it serves niches that other Macs and PCs can’t.
Apple quietly updated its Mac Pro line last week. The update was an important move even though the actual changes were so minor as to be barely noteworthy. The minor refresh gave high computing customers a sense of confidence that Apple wasn’t going to abandon the Mac Pro line anytime soon. That sense of confidence got a boost from New York Times columnist David Pogue, who was assured more substantive Mac Pro upgrades were in the works for 2013.
The Mac Pro is something of a relic when it comes to Apple’s current strategy. It’s the only Mac that features significant expansion options using industry standard hardware – a point made by Lifehacker columnist Adam Dachis, who compared the Mac Pro’s specs and costs to three hackintosh options. Looking at the Mac Pro as simply a series of specs, performance, and cost is appropriate for most users – but not for some important niche markets.