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I built a Hackintosh for my photography business

Hello!  Most of the time I basically just post photos of the events and people I photograph, but today I wanted to share a fun experience not ENTIRELY having to do with posting photos.

First off, here are the requirements for building your own Hackintosh:

  1. PATIENCE – it’s not like building a PC… except when it comes to those things called “drivers”. Most of the time with Mac systems we all just plug it in and let it do its thing and never think about “running the machine”.  The common expression of “The Mac just works” is slightly a misnomer for Hackintosh systems.
  2. 75% of a “Real” Mac budget (or less depending on your needs) –  The iMac I replaced was about $3,400 when I bought it.  This machine only has about $2,300, including a high-end graphics monitor. Most people could get away with spending a lot less than I did, but I wanted a powerful machine.
  3. Forum Dedication – if you’re dedicated to operating this Hackintosh you have to be use to and dedicated to living on forums to help you troubleshoot issues that arise.
  4. NO AUTO UPDATE – yes, your system will notify you of OS updates, BUT do NOT update until you’ve thoroughly read everything on the Hackintosh forums about that update and how it might BRICK (read “KILL”) your system. Once you’ve confirmed on the forums that the update will not kill your system, follow THEIR instructions on properly updating. FYI, it might require you to wait a couple weeks while they build new drivers or updates before you can proceed.
  5. No Critical Software until your system is completely stable – I made the mistake of installing Lightroom and moving my library files to my machine on the first three tries.  This was a HUGE time suck and waste since I failed the first couple times to make sure all the bugs were gone.  Then when my system would crash or freeze I would swear a lot and then spend HOURS recovering my files.  BAD mistake.  🙂

When my boyfriend moved in Seattle in December he said he wanted to help me build my own Hackintosh (PC parts running Mac OS X).  At the time I had a perfectly fine, fairly new iMac and was perplexed as to why I would want to get rid of a perfectly good iMac. I wasn’t sure this home-built machine would actually work NOR was I sure what the advantages would be.  The iMac had an Intel i7 3.4gHz processor, 16gb of ram, 3TB Hybrid drive, and lots of other fun goodies.  I had only purchased it in March 2013.

Well, after a month or so I sold the iMac since we only owned one desk and I primarily used my Macbook to process my photographs.  He was upset that I sold the iMac “for him” since he also had a power PC that he had built from scratch, which I decided would make better use of the one desk we did have.

Then, it happened. I decided in March 2014 to leave my cushy corporate finance job and strike out on my own to “focus” solely on my photography business.  (Another long story for another post)

Being that this was going to be my sole source of income I wanted to use all my tools to their fullest extent and decided it was a mistake to sell my iMac.  I started shopping for a new one, even contemplated buying the new Mac Pro (if only I had $5,000 laying around).  Then, I decided that I would take the BF’s advice and attempt to build my own Hackintosh.

Research!

There are a number of great websites and forums dedicated to the complex art of building and managing a Hackintosh system. I highly recommend Tonymacx86.com.  They have GREAT posts they create monthly on recommended hardware purchases for each of the various builds of the Mac system.  They also have downloads to help you install the Mac OS on your system for the first time. And they have downloadable tools to make sure all your (or at least most) hardware drivers stay up-to-date.

Problems I ran into:

Upon initial installation (my very first installation of this kind) I had TONS of stupid simple problems because I wasn’t FULLY reading or paying attention to all the various details about the setup of the system from TonyMacX86.com.  In specific there are settings that need to be changed on the motherboard BIOS before you can start.  Also another IMPORTANT issue is that I installed all my memory, but you need to only use one stick of memory until your system is completely up and running.

My first “real” issue came when the update came from Apple for an upgrade from OSx 10.9.2 to OSx 10.9.3.  I hadn’t read all the details about CHECKING THE BLOG before updating the OS.  This update crashed my system because the video drivers were broken for this hardware configuration.  Even after I got the drivers fixed I still had major issues.  I failed… I installed Windows 8.1… this was two weeks into my new system.

After another two weeks I decided to go BACK again to my Hackintosh and tried re-installing.  I was much more careful this time and some of the installers from TonyMacX86.com had been updated.  This time ran for another two weeks before I started tweaking with settings to get stuff running faster… well, I did SOMETHING that, once again, bricked my system.  BACK to Windows 8.1.

After yet another two weeks on Windows 8.1 and researching how much a Mac Pro was going to set me back I decided to give this Hackintosh ONE MORE TRY.  There were yet more software updates available on TonyMacX86 and… I really hated doing all my photo editing on a PC.  Even if I was using the same software, it seemed like the results were slightly different.

So, that’s where I’m currently at!  I’ve been running OSx on my Hackintosh for yet another 3 weeks or so now.  Even upgraded my Wifi card to a new AC model (see below) and have everything running beautifully!  No lockups, no hangs, no random re-boots.  I hit power and she runs!  And she’s fast!  At this moment, I love my Hackintosh!

So, with all that, here is the hardware I’m currently running:

I chose not to install a DVD/Bluray bay because I have an external that works great on USB 3.0

I also chose not to install a Card Reader in any of the bays because I hear that my USB 3.0 model will actually work faster than an internal model if I were to install it.

And my talented BF even airbrushed one of the side panels of my box!

2014-07-16 12.23.08

If you’re going to try this setup, READ READ READ!  Be patient! Don’t install anything critical on your system until you make sure you have all the bugs worked out for your configuration!  Feel free to drop me a comment if you have any questions of concerns.  Would love to help if I can!

 

 

  • Donna Read - Great read! Not that I’m planning on doing something that drastic in the near future but if I did …. I know who to call! ReplyCancel

  • Ollesandro Zarutchini - Wow. I am impressed. However, I guess, 25% saving does not cost all of these problems, and especially potential problems in future. 50%, yes, that is a deal 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Francesco Rao - great! can you share which card reader are you using. Just got a trascend usb3 but everyime I plug it in, my hackintosh freezes! Any comment would be appreciated, thanksReplyCancel

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