Building a Hackintosh 2.0

A couple years ago I blogged about my experiences about building a Hackintosh HTPC, which kinda got my feet wet as far PC building as a whole.  When building that PC I can’t say I was shooting for the moon when it came to specs, just something that at minimum could handle streaming video and play movies back at 1080p. I’ve had that computer running, with somewhat light use for a couple years without too much issue. It works great for what it was built for.  I never bothered upgrading or updating that computer because it worked and I really didn’t want to much anything up with it, using the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mantra.

So now here we are in 2012 and I’ve rolled up my sleeves again and dive into a Hackintosh project. This time around I’m looking to replace my workhorse machine, my mid 2007 24″ iMac. It still works as a viable day to day machine for the most part, but in putting together the last edition of The Read Book I definitely stretched some of it’s limits with that project as far as processing power, so I’ve decided it’s time to build a new workhorse.

Being a Mac user for over 20 years at this point I definitely felt some guilt about plotting a course away from using actual Apple hardware, I decided I would try and build my Hackintosh in an old Mac case. I put an ad on Kijiji and got a few bites back managed to secure an aluminum PowerMac G5 case for $25. It was entirely stripped on the inside so there isn’t too much to work with, so it’s pretty much a blank canvas at this point.

PowerMac G5 case

Specs

I bought all those components last week and set about building. The only problem was that the case wasn’t nearly ready to do anything with, but I will cover all the logistics of that in a future blog post.  So I decided to gut my existing HPTC and install my new components as it is the only other case I own. I couldn’t take the chance that I had dud hardware and didn’t actually test it before the return period.

I was able to install and get the hardware working in pretty short order. It was the software stuff that turned out to be the long process, and I will admit to making some ill advised decisions along the way with that. Since I had a working system running Leopard I decided that would be a good starting point to work off of. I cloned my drive and then tried to upgrade to Snow Leopard, then subsequently Lion. I’ll just tell you this was entirely unnecessary and wasted a lot of my time.

The easiest way to go about things is to do a fresh install of Lion. I followed the instructions on Lifehackers’ Always Up To Date Hackintosh Guide and it definitely pointed me in the right direction. If I were to make a suggestion for improving on these instructions it would be to burn an rBoot disk at the very start of the process, as that is what helped me with a lot of the crashes and issues I ran into along the way.

The real bug I ran into was trying to get my video cards to work properly. I started the process with the old card from my HTPC and later bought a new one. For some reason I was never able to get the card running with the GraphicsEnabler set to yes, but my card seems to run fine and have Quartz Extreme and Core Image without it enabled.  I think I spent a lot of time trying to get this working thinking that I needed to have the graphics enabler on, when it just seemed to work out of the box in Lion without it.

Hackintosh Screenshot

I was able to get audio, ethernet and the USB 3.0 ports in the back working as well without issue. I don’t actually have any USB 3.0 devices to test it out with, but the ports do work.

Overall I’d say it wasn’t that painful of a process, I just made some errors reading either old data or trying to freelance on things when the solutions after were staring me right in the face.  The process isn’t that hard, you just have to follow the instructions I linked to above.  Using the Hackintosh is pretty slick. Everything feels really snappy and fast, as is usually the case with a fresh install. So far it’s held up to any testing I’ve done with it. I was able to watch a streaming HD movie from my iMac without so much as a hiccup, which was pretty awesome. I was able to download and install Twitter from the App Store, as well as have my iPhone sync with it.

I’m going to do another blog post once I get cracking on building my Hackintosh in the G5 case, but that is a whole other topic.  I figure that will be a couple weeks away as I’ve still got to track down some internal parts to make it work.