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Mac on the cheap: The Hackintosh

Lisa1This is typical Lifehacker, they point our something incredibly useful after I’ve already gone with the expensive option! The idea is pretty simple, since Mac OS X now runs on Intel gubbins, you buy your own PC hardware, cobble it all together and then install Leopard on it. And call it the Hackintosh. Top idea you’d think? Well no, not really. The article is full of crater sized holes.

It’s based around the premise of spending less than $800 but that’s just on hardware and it’s a cheat at that. The author uses coupons to bring the price down since the parts are actually over $800 ($842.90 at the time of posting). 

Plus you need a patched version of Leopard, because by default it only installs on Apple hardware, which is fair enough. The article describes two methods of acquiring said patched Leopard, one is to go download a copy via Bittorrent or the alternative is to manually patch your copy of Leopard… but there is no mention of having a copy already. It’s just kind of assumed. It’s another $129 if you don’t have it or free if you pirate it.

Shuttle N00bAnd it’s at that point I think it’s a lot of work for not much gain. Why would you build a Hackintosh if you’ve already got a Mac with Leopard on? Why would you want to go through the pain of building your own box? (I don’t want to have to do that again!) Why would I want to bother with either spending hours downloading a hacked copy of Leopard or laboriously making one myself? Do I want a fugly PC looking box again? 

The answer is no, I don’t. The reason I switched to Mac was to make things easier. To use software that designed to work with it’s hardware from the beginning. In cost terms, yes, it is cheaper to go down the Hackintosh route, it’s less than a $1000 where as my iMac comes in at $1,799. (I’m using dollars as the comparison since that’s what Lifehacker uses.)

But as they say, time is money, and now I would rather pay extra for a proper Mac and then waste my time more wisely on other things :).

These two comments sum it all up for me:

BY CDC AT 11/13/07 01:22 PM

I think people miss the point with getting a Mac. The idea behind the Mac is that it is an experience not only with software, but with hardware as well. Having both the software and hardware talk to each other and get along makes that user experience. Once you take Mac OS X out of the hardware, even though it is still a great piece of software, you lose the whole experience. And Apple Hardware isn’t that much more expensive than PC’s if you compare apple’s to apple’s (pun intended)

The emphasis on this next comment is exactly what I think:

BY BRIAN LITTLE AT 11/13/07 01:41 PM

Adam,

I don’t want to discount the creativity of this project, which is impressive. I was a system builder for many years, so I know how much fun this can be. This is why it probably says a great deal about me that I just don’t see any point in doing this kind of thing. Really.

When I was 18 years younger and single, with more or less unlimited free time and a lot of discretionary income, I might have done this and enjoyed it. But I have a kid and a mortgage, and have better things to do with my time. I have come, lately, to see the value of my time versus the value of my things.

Which is to say that the time you spent hacking together a machine that will be a maintenance nightmare is time I get to spend with my daughter. Money you saved in the short term is money that I spent up front to get a machine that works right, right out of the box.

All things being equal, I think I came out ahead. But that probably means I’m not part of the audience you’re writing to, doesn’t it. :)

Nice piece of work, even if I do agree with your critics that you aren’t being up front about the complete costs

So all said and done, I’d much rather have my shiny iMac any day.

There’s some fun benchmarks on how well the Hackintosh runs, which, amusingly, is better than actual Macs do.

bear said,

December 2, 2007 @ 2:33 am

The promise I see in this development is that it might be possible to run all three major OS:es on the same computer. Might not be worth it for most people but it would be great for small scale developers making multi-platform software or anyone just wanting to be able to pick the best software for any particular task regardless of OS.

ancient said,

May 24, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

The real point of a hackintosh is only as a replacement for a quad core macpro comparable machine, anything below a quad core macintosh pro and you may as well buy a real mac, anything above you may as well buy the real 8 core Mac Pro, consider this scenario:

base quad core mac pro from apple store UK : £1899

You can build from website based component suppliers a quad core hackintosh that beats it, from parts including 4gb instead of 3gb memory, a 9800gtx+, and is completey overclockable, for a price that when i made my pc came in at at £370.00 exc VAT.

I also have been using macs since the days of The Apple II europlus, pre macintosh etc, And have owned and purchased 8 full price macintoshes in my time. and converted well over 100 people to macintosh.

I dont understand how it is I as and individual can make a Macpro that is 5 times cheaper than them making one for me ? surely with their purchasing power they should be able to make a much cheaper mac pro than that, i’ll pay double for Apples design sense but not 5 times. And Secondly hardly anyone ever upgrades a mac pro except for sticking the odd compatible card or a new hard drive, whereas the machine I have assembled I can replace any part, as i put them all together myself.

They need to build a Mac Midi for £800-900 that is like a medium sized fully upgradeable MacPro type machine less build quality and slightly smaller, until they do this theyre quad core offering is not an attractive prospect at all, this problem is partly to do with the fact apple is always using intels most expensive CPU’s rather than theyre more value offerings.

Because apple is sitting on some $24.5 billion dollars in cash, you would have thought in this recession they could have lowered what must be the healthiest margins in the world, or made some recession priced macs, but really theyre now just obsessed with the iphone. And anyone who works at or near apple makes so much money they cannot perceive theyre mac pro product line as being too expensive for the general user, if they want more pc market share they will have to get cheaper, I can normally persuade relatives to buy macs, recently I couldnt and two of mine went for sub £400 pc laptops against my wishes, I guess those are the times we find our selves in.

You are 100% right in stating this being a task for a single person with time, tenacity and intelligence on their hands, and a fair bit of hair to lose, As I would not recommend assembling or give support to anyone else building a hackintosh as it was stressfull enough for me, and if I had kids or a wife to consider I probably wouldnt have time to do it. There are allot of PC users who try it out for a laugh and then revert to their PC setup as basically there machines sort of work but would never be 100% stable or fully functioning.

The only person who might consider it seriously are the people who have the time and energy to make it work and were considering spending £1899 on a quad core mac pro. imo this is generally a very small group of people.

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