With all those different Apple Computers available like Mac Mini’s, Mac Book Air’s, Mac Pro’s, why the hell should we consider setting up a hackintosh these days, since a Mac Mini comes at a price tag of only 600€ here in Europe?
Well the answer to this is quite simple. Hackintoshs aim at people who are basically interested in understanding and tweeking. If you just wanna use you Mac for Mails and a bit of internet-surfing a hackintosh is most likely the wrong thing for you.
But if you are artist for instance, dealing with audio- or video-editing a hackintosh definitely comes a lot more handy than an original Mac. The reason is simple: original Macs have become a lot less flexible when it comes to manual hardware upgrading during the last eight years. Let’s take the latest Mac Pro for instance. The design is still outstanding, but this design comes at the price that Apple entirely dropped the PCIe Bus architecture. What means, that we cannot use dedicated DSP, soundcards or videocards in that device anymore and need to switch to Firewire or Thunderbolt solutions. Which is an additional economical strain.
The Hackingtosh Scene
During the last years the hackintosh scene has consistently grown. Some outstanding resources are available for guys, who wanna know what’s going on inside Mac OS. In the meantime even the official Apple forums often link to the hackintosh forums like InsanelyMac. InsanelyMac has gathered more than half a million worldwide members since 2006. Or take the TonyMac forums, where you can download easy-to-use-tools and read detailed tutorials, that make your first steps in the hackintosh life a lot easier.
The ProQ Project
Since 2013 prepping a hackintosh has even become more easy. The ProQ kickstarter project has successfully been funded with about 190,000US$ – funded by the worldwide hackintosh community. The goal of this project is to create a motherboard and BIOS software which is as close to Apple’s original features as possible. So this is a dream-come-true for most of the hackintosh scene specialists. All of us who had to deal with obstacles over the years will appreciate this outstanding effort.
The first batch of produced motherboards goes under the device name Z77MX-QUO-AOS. There are rumors that it is getting OEM produced by Gigabyte, what would make sense, since the hackintosh community always preferred Gigabyte over other brands. The motherboard is exclusively available over at QuoComputer’s Webshop for a more than fair price: 230US$ (atm: ~165€ – Europeans: s/h/i and import tax comes on top! We would estimate ~250€ in total), if you consider the unique features of the Z77MX-QUO-AOS:
- Chipset: Z77 Intel Chipset
- CrossFire X 2 way
- PCIe Bus: PCIe Gen 3 16X, 8X + PCIe Gen 2 1X, 1X
- SATA Controllers: Sata III (2) + Sata II (4)
- Raid: Software Sata Raid Z77
- Thunderbolt : Cactus Ridge (2 port)
- Firewire: Texas Instruments 1394a (Firewire 400) & 1394b (Firewire 800) Chipset
- LAN: Intel 82574L Chipset
- Audio: Realtek ALC892 Chipset
With these features this motherboard has a unique selling point: Thunderbold, Firewire 400, Firewire 800 and USB3.0 already available onboard is unrivaled at the moment. By using an Intel CPU with an HD4000 you won’t even need an additional graphics card to get the system running for a first start, which makes this board a very good consideration for many musicians around the globe.
Anyway sustainability thoughts and legal considerations (lessons learnt from Psystar) seem to have driven the company to the decision to let the hackintosh community support the required BIOS to make this motherboard fully OSX compatible. For legal reasons even the programmers of the ready-to-install MacOS compatible BIOS prefer to stay anonymous and go by an – until now – unknown group name of HermitCrab Labs. You may download the BIOS from their website in the hidden Tor network only (Follow this link).
There are lots of resources for this motherboard out there. We recommend you check this TechSpot article. They did a consumer readable test with this unique board and explain the obstacles and grant a more detailed background insight. And you may check this forum thread on InsanelyMac, which deals with the in detail. TonyMac provides a cpl of installation videos on Youtube, but instead of using HermitCrab Labs’ prepped BIOS, they go with their Unibeast/Multibeast solution, which seems to work quite well but underchallenges the possibilities that are offered with a customized Open Source BIOS.
Pictures courtesy of Quo Computer and TechSpot