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Let’s Build a Hackintosh – 2017 Skylake Build (Part 1)

hackintosh

Being utterly dismayed with the gimmicky touch bar in the new line of MacBook Pros and its utter lack of functional ports (I won’t even be able to directly charge my iPhone 7 with it) despite its premium price tag, I’ve finally opened up to the idea of building a hackintosh. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s fundamentally running macOS from a PC build which use supported and compatible components.  I’ve been frequenting the tonymac forum for several weeks now and it seems that support for a Skylake (6th gen Intel) hackintosh build has been really positive. Some enthusiasts have even already started working on their Kabylake (7th gen) projects.

So just to set things into perspective and not get carried away with PC modding, I’ve made a checklist on what my hackintosh build should and shouldn’t be:

Non-negotiables

  1. It should be able to run macOS Sierra and Adobe CS6 and CC.
  2. It should also be able to run Windows 10 without any issues. Why? Because There are some apps that I wanna run which aren’t offered in macOS. No point in having PC components and not be able to have the option of running windows.
  3. Should be able to use the i3’s HD 530 internal gpu. My current workflow doesn’t demand a discrete graphics card, but I want to have the option to add one if I want to without changing up the system I have in place.
  4. Should be able to run steam games like CS:GO, Dota2, Team Fortress and the likes. I intended this to also be Aki’s steam machine as well.
  5. Small form factor. I don’t want no hulking tower cluttering up my desk. Doesn’t have to be mac mini sized, but I want something smaller that a standard sized ATX tower.
  6. Should be able to run Tekken 7 when it comes out on June via steam. I’ve forgone purchasing a PS4 for this build because it was announced that T7 will come out on steam, and there’s really not much PS4 exclusive games out there that I fancy. I’ll most probably need a GPU for that, but the build should be okay without one at the moment.

What it won’t be

  1. A gaming rig that plays triple A titles  on ultra setting — ain’t got no time for that.
  2. A video editing or 3d rendering machine. Though I do video editing projects from time to time, it probably is just less than an eight of what I do. Hence the lack of an actual need for a discreet GPU.
  3. A financial blackhole that’ll cost more than a new mac mini and a PS4. Because if it does, there’s no point to this build — I’d rather buy both the latter and skip all the headache.
  4. A show rig. I know how easy it is to go overboard with a new DIY rig — to be completely honest, I actually spent a fair amount of time researching on cold cathode and UV components before talking myself out of it.

The budget
I’m looking to spend somewhere around S$600-700 for this project. S$600 being the general budget with an allowance of another S$100 since I’m planning to get all the parts (as much as possible) as brand new and under warranty. Having warranty is very important for electronic products since anything could go wrong and you wouldn’t want to drop a couple of hundred on something that’ll go kaput and cannot be RMA-ed. I know that this is a bit tight, but I wanted to build something for less than how the top-end mac mini retails for (S$999).

Shopping list

  1. CPU: i3 6100 3M Cache, 3.70 GHz, Dual Core (http://amzn.to/2lj4STp)– I decided to go with this instead of an i5 because most of the tasks the machine will be performing doesn’t really benefit much from having multiple cores. So what I’m aiming at here is higher clock speed over number of cores. And I reckon that the skylake i3 would be the best value for money that I could get for my build. Some would ask, why not get an AMD instead? Well, it’s because of macOS compatibility. AMD CPUs sadly aren’t natively supported because recent macs have been built with an Intel architecture.
  2. Motherboard: MSI H110M Gaming (http://amzn.to/2kpnJwH) — since I wanted some sort of small form factor rig, I had the choice of either going for an mATX or an ITX mobo. At first I wanted to go for the ITX build but then after much research, I found out that the stock BT and WIFI cards included with the ITX mobos won’t work with the hackintosh. So instead of having to hack the actual ITX motherboard, I chose an mATX build instead and just add get a BT + WIFI module later on. This mATX model wasn’t my 1st choice either, at first I wanted the MSI H110M Eco but it wasn’t available for free shipping to Singapore and I didn’t want to spend (US$14.99) on shipping that I could otherwise be allocated for the other components on my list.
  3. RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB kit (http://amzn.to/2kwTvD6) — based on much research of RAM benchmarking reviews, it was clear that I wouldn’t really benefit much from bumping things up to 16GB of RAM, so I kept it at 8GB which is just right for my workflow. I got these as they complement the motherboard’s theme and I got them relatively cheap from amazon (which now ships free* to Singapore for orders US$125.00 and above.
    for eligible products under AmazonGlobal
  4. Chasis: Tecware Quad mATX Cube (https://goo.gl/0Q3d4Q) — I was initially considering the Cosair Carbide Air 240, then I saw this beauty going for almost a third of the 240’s price. It has a horizontal mobo orientation which is complemented by three gorgeous windows. Although the casing readily supports a radiator cooling unit, I opted for an air-cooled build since I won’t be overclocking and a Skylake build would generally have low power requirements. And this casing perfectly fits the bill.
    tecware quad mini
  5. Storage: 1TB HHD and a 240GB SSD — at the time of writing this I’m still researching on what I’ll be getting for storage. I might just be getting the cheapest I can get my hands on from either Toshiba or WD for the 1TB HHD, which will house my Windows 10 installation – which is where the Steam app will go to. And I’m looking at either PNY or OCZ for the 240GB SSD that’ll house my macOS installation. I’ll be using the SSD for the macOS is because most(if not all) of my work will be done there and they involve a lot of opening, loading and closing several apps over and over again – hence I want fast loading times between each app. Then the Windows installation will primarily be used for gaming, hence the large storage for Windows. Also I don’t mind longer boot/load times for WinOS ‘coz most of the time you’ll just be loading a game once and just keep on playing it for hours without much need for app switching or running multiple instances of them.
  6. Power Supply: FSP Hydro 80+ Bronze 500W (https://goo.gl/XezWTp) — this particular model had great reviews compared to similarly spec’ed PSUs. I actually wanted a semi-modular unit but those things are priced way higher. Also I think my chassis already has great cable management space which can accommodate the extra cables from this unit. Another nice feature of this unit is that all the other cables are flat-type and all are nicely coloured black.

So what’s the theme?
Theme?! I thought this wasn’t supposed to be a show rig? Well… being a designer, it’s really heart-breaking for me to craft an utter eyesore just for the sake of penny-pinching. Even with the limited budget I have for this project, I want it to have a nice and cohesive theme worthy of my time (and portfolio, maybe?). I don’t just want a black mid-tower rig that’ll be chocked under my desk, I wan’t something that I can stare at and proudly say “Dayum… I made that.”

Having said that, I’ve decided to go for a clean and very manly 30s Hot Rod theme (thanks to my brother Tony for telling me straight up that my initial UV-rig idea was tacky and ‘not me’). So for this rig, there’ll be minimal LEDs, colours are conservatively gonna be automotive-ish, and it’ll have a majestic chrome centrepiece – it has to, there’s no point in having three chassis windows to showcase a stock intel heatsink. Right?!

hot rod theme

So that’s about it for now. I’ll keep you peeps posted with developments on the rig, most of the stuff I’ve ordered are still in transit and will only be getting here in couple of weeks. I’ll be posting unboxings, installations and whatnot’s in the links below as and when the parts arrive. So stay tuned and do share your thoughts and tips about this build in the comments section.

 

Part 2: Assembly

Part 3: Installing Windows 10 (coming soon)

Part 4: Installing macOS (coming soon)

Part 5: Post Mortem (coming soon)

Unboxing/Reviews:

 

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