Building A Hackintosh: Is It Worth It?

My now nearly 8-year-old MacBook Pro has more than earned it’s keep over its life. It’s the laptop that saw me through high school (although I did little work that’s not really an achievement), college and was the machine used to create my businesses.

But, despite being a high spec version, it’s no longer up to managing my more complex workloads which essentially boils down to using Photoshop alongside a bunch of other apps. So I made the decision to reinvest the company funds into a new machine that would stand the test of time as well as my trusty MBP.

After a quick look through Apple’s latest offerings, I reached the same conclusion so many do; fuck me these things are too expensive. The only machine that would really be an option for me would be the Mac Mini. But Apple’s desire to see to it that you never open any of their machines killed that idea off pretty quickly. The cost to performance wasn’t horrendous, but repairs or heaven forbid upgrades would at best be uneconomical and at worst, impossible.

With that, I started to look into the PC space to see if I could maybe get on with a Windows-powered machine just long enough to complete my more intensive work and continue using the MBP for pretty much everything else. I quickly ruled this out as to spend such a decent sum of money only to use it 20% of the time was nearly as uneconomical as the aforementioned Mac Mini.

It was at this point, I got lost down a YouTube rabbit hole and found many people beefing up the old Cheese grater Mac Pro. This idea stuck for a little longer as my love for these machines back in the day was enormous, but I eventually concluded that most of my workload requires good single-core performance. With the older architecture in the Mac Pro only being able to offer average to good multi-core performance, I ditched that plan fairly quickly as well.

I was about to give up when YouTube through me a curveball; the Hackintosh. This would surely be the perfect machine for me! I could build it to my exact needs and when in future it needed repairing or upgrading, this would painless and incredibly cheap compared to the Mac Mini. The warnings of how complex a Hackintosh build could be were as numerous as the tutorials boasting of quick and easy vanilla installs. I eventually found Morognaut; who was a lifesaver.

After a brief chat with her, I become a Patreon member, placed my Amazon order following a build of hers and sat by the door until the parts came.

My Spec:

Intel i5-8400
16gb Ram
500gb SSD
Z370-A Mobo

Following an obsession I had when I was younger surrounding building my own gaming PC, I was fairly confident I could tackle the physical assembly without too much difficulty, but I watched a few tutorials just to refresh my memory (of course ignoring the Verge’s effort). The build itself went faultlessly and everything whirred into life first try. Then came the difficult bit…

Morganaut supplies Patreon members with EFI folders, so you can simply install this on the EFI partition of your boot volume. Alongside an installable version of Mojave on USB, I was ready to go. I tweaked motherboard settings according to another one of Morganaut’s guides and tried to boot…

The problems showed immediately, but through determination and some sort of blinding pride, I persisted trying countless fixes and reading all manner of forum posts. I eventually figured out the problem was caused by the inbuilt graphics module on the i5. More countless hours tweaking settings in Clover Configurator later… lift off. I booted into Mojave and everything worked fine… sort of.

Although I was able to boot now, the IGPU was not being utilised, so any graphic intense elements (even dragging a window around the screen was too much) the machine would lag horribly.

I finally gave in and scheduled a skype call with morganaut. Unsurprisingly, my problem was very simple if you knew what you were doing. A small tweak in Clover to tell the mac I was using X version of IGPU instead of Y (there are multiples versions of the same IGPU annoyingly) and everything was running smoothly.

I knew the performance would be excellent, but I didn’t foresee just how much more capable this machine would be of handling larger more complex workloads. I threw everything I had at it but it quietly wired away never getting over 60 degrees.

I quickly became restless and invested in a Sapphire 580x graphics card. I justified the purchase by telling myself Photoshop performance and video work I had to do would thank me greatly for it, but in truth, it was so I could game.

I harvested my MBP’s secondary 750gb hard drive which occupied the space where the CD drive used to sit – it’s hilarious to think how essential I once thought this was. I reformatted the drive and set to work installing Windows. Semi heeding Morgonaut’s advice, I made sure to disconnect all Mac OS drives before booting into Windows; a precaution I still take every time to this day.

This install was obviously painless in comparison to the Mac OS one and I was soon making a fool of myself on BFV for the first time (it’s really hard to aim with a mouse if you grew up with console controllers).

Overall the experience was definitely worth it. When the company is more profitable I’m sure I will dip back into the expensive world of Mac (ideally the newly released Mac Pro), but right now none of their line up makes sense for me. They’re just too expensive to purchase and once the warranty has expired, they’re a fortune to fix. I’d highly recommend taking the route I did which was essentially cheating. Be that with downloading pre-configured EFI folders or following one of the many detailed guides online to the letter. Either way, I’d consider it essential to purchase the exact same components as this is where most people run into issues.

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