The Newest Adventure In Hackintosh Land

The Newest Adventure In Hackintosh Land



Herein is a synopsis of the issues encountered building a Hackintosh PC from scratch.

All the information was gathered from 2 web sites.

The first is:  www.buildahackintosh.com where James Mason is selling a starter kit for running the MacOS X 10.5 on a PC.

The second is www.insanelymac.com where there are forums dedicated to using different motherboards as a base for running MacOS X 10.5 on a home built PC.

I started by searching the Internet for information about building a PC for running MacOS X. There is plenty of information but little support available. I finally came across www.buildahackintosh.com web site where for $19.99 they sell a package with a Boot -132 disk as well as an instructional DVD of the entire process.

After receiving the package, I decided to use the very latest Intel Core i7 Quad processor.Build Parts

Intel CPU

There are three different versions available starting at 2.66 GHz and moving up to 3.33 GHz. The difference is the cost of each incremental step upward in speed. After researching the process to “build” a CPU, I discovered that all processor cores are built from the same fabrication, but are tested for maximum native speeds and hand separated for sale. The 920 (2.66) is built the same as the 975 (3.33) but hand selected for sale under a different model number. The 920 sells for around $280 while the 975 sells for over $1000. The interesting thing is that the 920 can be easily overclocked to the 4.0 GHz mark while the 975 can be overclocked to around 4.5 GHz. The cost savings vs. speed potential were very revealing.


I chose the latest Intel X58 chipset Gigabyte motherboard because it seemed to have the best capabilities for a motherboard under $300. While there were no dual CPU i7 Core motherboards available at this time, there most certainly will be within a year. This system is a Quad Core i7 920 CPU (1336 socket) on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard, mounted in a Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 case with a Cooler Master 900 watt power supply.

The main issues to getting MacOS X running on a PC are setting the BIOS settings properly and building a bootable disk with 10.5.7 pre-installed. James Mason supplied the proper BIOS settings in a whitepaper but what eluded me was the proper build of the boot disk. Digital Dreamer has supplied a script to build the disk in a sequential fashion. The script is titled X58_Mobo_Patch_Installer and runs on an Intel Macintosh already running 10.5.7 or higher.

The part I did not understand is that the boot disk or any other mounted volume, for that matter, must be formatted as GUID. This is the native format for Intel Mac disks.

I tried many times to build and rebuild that boot disk with a Power PC (PPC) Macintosh before realizing the difference of an Apple Partition Map formatted disk drive and the Intel GUID formatted disk.

It is also important to understand that step 7 of the script must be executed on the PC, after the disk has been built on the Intel Mac. The DSDT patcher gathers information about the hardware that the boot disk will run on for further fine-tuning operations.

Once I had the BIOS settings correct and built the Chameleon 2.0 RC2 scripted disk drive, the system loaded MacOS X and provided a beautiful platform for that operating system. Keeping the latest BIOS version is also important. While my motherboard came with BIOS version F7, the newest F8f was available and I chose to use a flash drive to load the latest BIOS version. The UD5 motherboard has dual bios chips to insure that a good copy of the BIOS is always available.

Within the original system components I also included 12 GB of DDR3 1600 RAM as the motherboard has six RAM slots as well as not only a SATA connected Pioneer CD/DVD burner but a SATA Pioneer BluRay burner. I originally used the Intel supplied CPU cooling fan but with intentions of over-clocking the 2.66 GHz 920 chip to something higher, I later, installed a water cooling system.

I chose the latest Corsair Hydro H50 water cooler, as it is self contained and very easy to install. I removed the motherboard, de-installed the stock Intel cooling fan and added the motherboard support bracket for the H50 and proceeded to install a new 120 CM rear fan and the cooling radiator along with the cooling head that pushes against the CPU chip through conductive paste. The new rear fan is temp/speed controlled by connecting through a 4-pin plug to the CPU fan connector at the top of the motherboard.

I finally connected the BluRay 203 burner to the next available SATA port and installed all 6  – 2 GB RAM sticks for a total of 12 GB.

At this time there are a couple of boot up initialization errors concerning the sound structure. Digital Dreamer (MAJ) says that they experience many sound assertion errors, not to be too concerned. Be sure to run Repair Permissions using Disk Utility after booting into MacOS X on your Mac clone.

Now I must discover the right way to over clock the 2.66 GHz Core i7 Intel CPU to 4.0 GHz to complete the setup of this project. I have been very pleased by the helpful attitudes of James Mason and Digital Dreamer in answering questions while trying to discover the proper steps to a successful “build” of running Leopard 10.5.7 running on a hand built PC platform.

While I spent just about $1700 to build this system, you can also build a similar system using a different motherboard and RAM and the same Core i7 920 CPU for just barely $1000. My thoughts were to build a HUGE system up front, and later on upgrading to newer technologies would be of minimum cost. I used the 900-watt power supply as a “future proof” platform for just about any configuration including an 8 core, dual CPU motherboard with two video cards and up to six on board disk drives. The future benefit should eliminate the need to hand over $4000+ ever time Apple comes out with a new-faster hardware platform. The ability to over-clock the CPU to 4.0 GHz definitely overshadows the typical Apple speed bump offerings where the currently fastest processor is 2.93 GHz.

While you could choose to spend $1000 for the i7 Quad Core 975 CPU (3.3 GHz), that cost vs. speed seems to be made up rather quickly by planning on a simple water cooling investment and saving the $600.00 difference to get to 4.0 GHz over clocked i7 Quad Core 920. As an Intel based platform, the future CPU developments should prove very stable and useful for Apple OS users.

It took me several days to amass this information that allowed me to complete installing MacOS X onto a hand-built PC platform.

Next: The Parts List

Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 ATX case                                              $ 179.99

Cooler Master UCP 900 Watt power supply                                      $ 199.98

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 ATX mother board                                   $ 288.99

Intel Core i7 Quad 920 CPU and Intel Cooler Fan                            $ 279.99

EVGA Nvidia 9800 GTX+ 512 MB Video Card                              $ 129.99

OCZ 6 GB DDR3 1600 XMP Ready RAM Kits (2)                         $ 201.98

Seagate 7200.12- 1TB 7200 rpm SATA II Disk Drive                      $   89.99

Pioneer 216-D SATA CD/DVD burner                                             $   34.99

Pioneer 302 BKS SATA BluRay burner                                            $ 208.99

Corsair Hydro H50 water cooler                                                        $   74.99

Apple Mac Box Set  (Leopard 10.5.6- iLife 09- iWork 09                $ 169.00

Apple MacOS X Snow Leopard                                                        $   24.99

Call of Duty – Computer Game                                                         $   49.99

Discount for Combo Cooler Master Case and Power Supply                        $  -50.00

Discount for Auto Add “ Call of Duty” Game                                  $  -49.99

All the parts were purchased from www.newegg.com except for the Apple software and the Corsair Hydro H50. These are the prices I paid on the day I ordered and may vary from vendor to vendor. This is illustrated to give you an idea of the cost for building a similarly equipped system. The next phase of “building” a computer from a box of parts is based entirely on your abilities to turn a screwdriver and install slot based components (RAM – video cards, etc).

Please consider having a person who is comfortable with mounting and wiring up a motherboard if that person is not you. Please BE AWARE that these components are static sensitive and if not handled properly can fail immediately or even somewhere down the road but prematurely if not handled correctly.

Here is a picture of what my system case looked like initially with the required parts to build it.

Case - Empty

Build Parts

Here is what it looks like when assembled.

Initial Build

This picture was taken upon initially installing all the primary but necessary components for a working PC.

My goal in choosing these parts was to build a MacPro like computer with current technologies such as the Quad Core i7 Intel CPU and the EX58 chipset motherboard.

Doing this actually allows me to build a newer, better and faster system than what I can buy from Apple today! I also wanted to choose a case with ample room for future additions so that I would not need to change cases if I wanted multiple video cards or a RAID system of disks mounted internally.

The Cooler Master Cosmos is well designed and very sturdy. It is a very LARGE case at approximately 24” by 24” in height and depth and the empty case weights in at 37 lbs as shipped. The quality of construction is far better the typical PC case. The first attribute was a power supply that has an airflow that does not enter the PC case in any way.  The Cooler Master UCP 900 watt was installed so that the air enters from the back of the system and exits out the bottom. There is a sealed chamber upon which the power supply mounts. This feature will help keep the interior of the case much cooler when it comes to keeping the CPU temperatures in check.

Close Up

This close-up of the motherboard illustrates the roominess of this case for working inside.

Note that this was initially built with 2 sticks of DDR3 1600 RAM and utilized the original Intel cooling fan.

Booting MacOS X on this Intel box

The next task was learning how to load MacOS X and all the needed Kexts onto a GUID formatted disk drive. To do this successfully, you must use an Intel Macintosh running 10.5.7 or higher. (As mentioned before, I tried using a PPC G5 Macintosh for this but it only caused much frustration and would not successfully build a bootable volume for the Hackintosh computer).

One of the first tasks is to set up the BIOS on the motherboard to allow MacOS X to boot. The following are the BIOS settings that were recommended by a whitepaper.

BIOS Settings for the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard with F7-F8f BIOS

MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) (this is where all overclocking happens)

CPU Clock Ratio: [20x]

MIT Window

Standard CMOS Features

Date: [set]

Time: [set]

Drive A: [None]

Floppy 3 Mode Support: [Disabled]

Halt On: [No Errors]

standard cmos features

Initially, you will see the SATA devices listed here, as attached, but after setting the Integrated Peripherals SATA RAID/AHCI Mode to [AHCI] you will no longer find them listed here.

Advanced BIOS Features:

Hard Disk Boot Priority: [set your boot drive as #1]

First Boot Device: [CDROM]

Second Boot Device: [Hard Disk]-boot disk

Third Boot Device: [Disabled]

Boot Up Floppy Seek: [Disabled]

Boot Up Num Lock: [On]

Password Check: [setup if desired]

HDD S.M.A.R.T Capability: [Enabled]

Limit CPUID Max. to 3: [Disabled]

No-Execute Memory protect: [Enabled]

Delay for HDD (Secs): [0]

Full Screen LOGO Show: [Disabled]

Init Display First: [PEG]

CMOS Setup

Integrated Peripherals:

SATA RAID/AHCI Mode: [AHCI]

SATA Port 0-3 Native Mode: [Enabled]

USB Controller: [Enabled]

USB 2.0 Controller: [Enabled]

USB Keyboard Function: [Enabled]

USB Mouse Function: [Enabled]

USB Storage Function: [Enabled]

Azalia Codec: [Enabled] —disable if you are using a separate sound card

Onboard H/W 1394: [Enabled]

Onboard H/W LAN1: [enabled] —-disable if you are using a separate network card

Onboard H/W LAN2: [Disabled} —enable if you want to use both NICs

>SMART LAN1: [Press Enter]

>SMART LAN2: [Press Enter]

Onboard LAN1 Boot ROM: [Disabled]

Onboard LAN2 Boot ROM: [Disabled]

Onboard SATA/IDE Device: [Enabled]

Onboard SATA/IDE Ctrl Mode: [AHCI]

>SMART Backup: [Disabled]

Integ-Perip

Power Management Setup:

ACPI Suspend Type: [S39STR)]

USB Device Wake-Up From S3: [Enabled]

Soft-Off by PWR-BTTN: [Instant Off]

PME Event Wakeup: [Disabled]

Power On by Ring: [Disabled]

Resume by Alarm: [Disabled]

HPET Support: [Enabled]

HPET Mode: [64-bit mode]

Power On by Mouse: [Disabled]

Power On by Keyboard: [Disabled]

AC Back Function: [Soft-Off]

Pwr Mgmnt

Now we are ready to build the Hackintosh Boot disk with MacOS X

There are a few ways to complete building a PC bootable MacOS X disk drive.

The easiest way, in my opinion was created by Digital Dreamer utilizing an Apple Script. The scripting package comes complete with appropriate Kexts.

WARNING: This method requires you to be using an Intel Macintosh running 10.5.7 or later. DO NOT Try this on a Power PC G5 or G4 Macintosh!

I post this warning as I spent many hours trying to determine why I could not build a bootable SATA disk with my G5. The term GUID was thrown around many times but it never occurred to me until one day I looked at the disk formatting on a G5. It was Apple Partition Map format. When I looked at the boot drive on my MacBook Pro – it was GUID! One last attempt at building the boot drive on the Intel Mac was successful.

This is referenced from www.insanelymac.com in the forums where Digital Dreamer is a moderator for the GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard.

Make sure, also, that the SATA cable to the boot drive is in SATA2_0 and the SATA cable to the CDROM drive is in SATA2_1 connectors on the motherboard




Here is the text supplied by Digital Dreamer for using the script.

instructions

Please keep in mind that the script warns you to run Step 7 on the hardware that this disk drive will be booting on.

STOP! Do not run Step 7 until you have booted up the disk on the Hackintosh computer, that has been built on the Intel Macintosh.

Once you see that beautiful MacOS X 10.5.7 (or) 10.5.8 come to life, there are still things to be done. Finish using the Script and run Steps 7, 9,10,11 12 and 13 to set up correct visuals of the “About This Mac” dialog, making sure that the correct memory statistics and version number are present.

Finally, do not forget to run Utilities/Disk Utility/Repair Permissions

There are a couple of other fine tools for MacOS86 tuning.

OSX86Tools and UInstaller can help fine tune for video cards and other unique Mac’ish visuals.

Final Steps to Success

After getting the PC Hackintosh computer (which I call MacHack) solidly booting, I finished the complete build-out for my very own customized PC Macintosh. I removed the motherboard, de-installed the stock Intel cooling fan and installed the Corsair Hydro H50 water cooler on the 920 CPU.

How it looks now

Faster – Faster

So now you have a homebuilt Intel powered PC with MacOS X running on it. While you can buy the same computer for around $2400 base price what is the next advantage of building your own? Faster CPU speeds than Apple Inc offers.

Even with a 2.66 i7 920 Quad processor, it seems possible to make it run much faster than what anyone else is selling today. Known as “OverClocking your processor”, I was able to overclock my 920 to 4.0 Ghz..

Suppose 4 cores at 4.0 Ghz are faster than 8 cores at 2.93 Ghz ! (fastest advertized speeds available). What does that mean to you?

We folks that love Apple computers and have doled out hundreds of dollars ever few years for a “much improved speed” computer are jolted into reality when Apple Inc. ships the next speed bumped computer.

Overclocking the 920 is no easy job. Selecting the proper parts in advance is one task to make this very easy at execution time. Proper memory selection and Power supply selection allow for expanded usage of internal resources to supply proper voltages to the CPU and memory modules to be able to successfully overclock to something greater than 2.66 Ghz.

It takes much planning and coordinating to realize the full advantage of being able to run your programs at overclocked speeds for the very first time! This cannot be done with lower cost or substandard performing parts. Since we are now in the PC component world, this advantage gives us latitude in making cost decisions. Video cards are one third the cost of an Apple Inc. Macintosh supported product. Memory costs are much less and since PCs use newer memory types sooner than Apple Inc. can offer, so we have another advantage when selecting our own components.

Now comes the water cooling! Air cooling is the defacto standard for CPU cores as Intel ships it’s boxed processors with a nice but basic fan for conductive cooling. Many manufacturers are claiming their air coolers are just as good as water cooling, and water cooling is just plain expensive. Then there are a couple of new self-contained water cooling devices in the same price range as the top air coolers. So I choose the Corsair Hydro H50 self contained water cooling system.

When I first looked at the Corsair Hydro H50, I was skeptical of the design but after learning the very same design was being used in custom PC gaming systems, I investigated more thoroughly to discover that there are advantages to self-contained water coolers. Originally marketed under the name Asetek LCLC, the Hydro H50 has a history behind it.

Once I installed the Hydro H50, I ran the system at 2.66 Ghz for nearly a week to make sure things were running as planned. I then utilized information I had gleaned off numerous web sites concerning overclocking the Intel i7 920 processor. One interesting fact I learned is that while all these processors are made in Costa Rica there are improvements being made while in process. One such improvement is the C0 to D0 stepping feature. While this subject is too technical for this article, the point to be made is that the D0 stepper 920 is superior for overclocking. Your clue to the D0 stepper processor is on the packaging. Printed on the label of origin is the term S-spec. When SLBEJ is printed on the box, that indicates you have the D0 stepper processor.

close-up2

Shown below is one of the documents I used to learn proper overclocking the 920 Quad Core processor in my computer to 4.0 Ghz.

table

Because I choose the OCZ XMP Ready DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) memory kits of 3 x 2GB, I could have used one kit in a 3 way memory system but as I did, I used 2 kits of the same for 12 GB of Ram in a 3 way memory system. The XMP Ready Ram also has available profiles built in so that the motherboard can select the proper voltage and states automatically when that is chosen in the BIOS settings.

Setting the proper voltages in the Intelligent Tweaker BIOS window insure proper voltage to the CPU core without raising the operating temperatures significantly. I utilized a free tool – Temperature Monitor (for Mac) to watch the CPU core temps.

http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=149505
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  1. John Says:

    Here’s an update to my MacHac computer. I tried, unsuccessfully to load Snow Leopard many, MANY times over the last two months with varied problems. Mostly no ethernets and no sound as well as one screen resolution. (1024 x 768)

    When the latest version of Digital Dreamers X58_Motherboard_Patch Installer (4.22) script arrived, things have gone much better. I simply load the Snow leopard RETAIL DVD onto the target drive and use PCWiz’s OSX86 Tools to build and load the proper EFI string for my video card. My final task is to repair the DSDT.ami file to prevent the Snow Leopard dreaded CMOS reset feature so that I don’t have to reset the BIOS ever time I start up my computer.

    Like everyone says, it takes plenty of time and effort to get MacOS X running on a PC properly,but with the help of those like Digital Dreamer, things are getting easier. (Reminder – I use an Intel MAC Book Pro to build the boot disk for MacHac)

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