on-buttonIt was around Christmas time when Apple was rolling out their modern marvel of industrial design, the black and beautiful Mac Pro, and my good friend Dan was starting to get an itch for a new toy. He liked the looks of Apple’s new cylinder, but couldn’t get past the $3,000 price tag of their “low end” model. As pretty as it is, the folks from Cupertino, California could keep it.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to get a new toy!

…and it didn’t mean he was going to go without a Mac Pro!

Think-CheapIt was a little more than a year ago that Dan had bankrolled the construction of the Customac Mini as a proof-of-concept. A Customac or a Hackintosh is a PC assembled with just the right components along with a few software patches and work-arounds that will run Apple’s operating system for the Mac. Dan bought the laundry list of parts as detailed at tonymacx86 which were shipped to my house, and it was up to me to put together. I detailed the small, ersatz Mac mini’s construction and operation here, here, here, here and here. It was the first PC I ever built, but I followed the instructions, and it worked. The concept was proved; the guys on the internet weren’t crazy; I got the computer component fever, and Dan pondered the possibility of building one of the more powerful rigs at tonymacx86.

Dan, being all too generous, gave me the fruit of my labors as a gift that Christmas. I’ve been running it for over a year, and although it is a lowly Intel i3 processor, it is easily the most powerful computer I have, and it runs like a dream. This further proved the concept and Dan compiled a shopping list.

  • Intel Core i7-4770K Quad-Core Desktop Processor 3.5 GHZ 8 MB Cache
  • Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H Z87 LGA 1150 2-Way SLI Dual LAN ATX Motherboard
  • Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
  • Corsair Carbide Series Black 500R Mid Tower Computer Case
  • Corsair Enthusiast Series CP-9020039-NA650W ATX12V v2.31 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular High Performance Power Supply
  • TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 Dual Band Wireless N900 PCI Express Adapter
  • EVGA GeForce GTX760 SuperClocked w/EVGA ACX Cooler 2GB GDDR5 256bit, Dual-Link DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI,DP, SLI Ready Graphics Card

It was an orgy of cardboard boxes, plastic bags, twist ties and those weird little plastic skins that they put on electronics to protect the finish of various shiny bits and pieces. Eventually all of these components went into the big Corsair 500R Tower case with room to spare. What I found especially helpful was a series of Youtube videos from Newegg on building a PC. I watched this video half a dozen times. While it isn’t my exact build, the guy’s words of wisdom gave me the confidence to see it through. Thanks, Newegg!

IMG_4114I got this beast together and fired it up without a hard-drive. No sparks flew and nothing belched smoke. The little speaker on the motherboard made it’s single reassuring beep. All was well.

I shut it all down and inserted the hard-drives. Dan already had two 1TB mechanical drives he wanted to put into this box and purchased three new solid state drives — a 120GB and two 240GB. Dan decided to fulfill his need for speed with these beauties.

Now it was time to make this stuff think it was a Mac.

Next week: Making it a Mac!


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2 Responses to It’s ALIVE!

  1. oldnfo says:

    Good for you, I gave up on building em when I left the west coast…

  2. Joe_Williams says:

    I was mainly a Mac guy and took to tearing apart and fixing old Macs which is fun, but a lot of the parts are proprietary, and if you expect to get a particular part for a particular model, expect to pay a premium as you would for parts on a vintage automobile. The other problem with Mac as they go forward is that they are making their computers impossible to upgrade. They have become slaves to their own industrial design. That isn’t the case with the PC/Hackintosh. It may be at times a frustrating process in building one, but it is very rewarding and there is more of a sense of ownership. I’m hooked.

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