My Hacintosh Experiment


In the fall of 1995 I purchased my first Macintosh computer, and my PC computer friends thought I was crazy. "Why buy a Mac?", they said: Macs were more expensive, ran slower, had a limited selection of software and hardware, were lousy for playing games, and only used by artists. PCs, they bragged, were "much faster at half the price!". I countered that, basically, you get what you pay for: A Mac's industrial design, top-quality components, custom engineering, operating system, software, and longevity were far better than a PCs, and thus commanded a higher price. If computers were automobiles, I reasoned, PCs were the economy cars while Macs were the luxury cars.

When Apple switched their product line to Intel processors and PC-industry hardware, I expected Macs to have speed and price parity with PCs: Instead of Motorola processors, SCSI buses, NuBus slots, HD-15 video, and the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), Apple would now use Intel processors, IDE buses, PCI slots, VGA video, and USB...just like everybody else. However, in addition to processors and USB, Apple also adopted Intel's "Electronic Firmware Interface" (or EFI), designed to prevent unauthorized software from being installed on an Intel computer. In Apple's case, the EFI software was used in reverse: To prevent Apple's operating system from being installed on non-Apple computers. Apple computers may have achieved speed parity with PCs, but their much higher prices, and profit margins, remained.

For every challenge, either actual or perceived, there are plenty of people willing to rise to the occasion to overcome it...and this was no exception. PC users wondered if Apple's OS X could be installed on non-Apple PCs, and soon an entire community sprang up to modify, or "hack", OS X to accomplish this: The result was a "Hackintosh". Eventually, the process and tools required to create a Hackintosh not only became substantially easier, but allowed the use of a purchased, retail version of Apple's OS X software rather than a modified copy of Apple's software typically available for free (and illegally) on the internet.


This document is provided for information and educational purposes only. No warranty or fitness-for purpose is expressed or implied, so a Hackintosh built according to this document may not achieve the same results. In addition, all components and software used in this document were obtained from authorized retailers, and purchased at the price demanded by the retailer. Along with Apple, the Author reminds you not to steal Mac OS X, and to purchase the Family Pack if it is to be installed on multiple computers.


With a failed power supply in my 2002 Apple Power Mac G4 1GHz Mirror Drive Door (about $150 to replace), the process for creating a hackintosh becoming steadily easier, and having more time than money, I thought it would be a nice challenge to build my own hackintosh. For my experiment, I didn't want to build a PC and discover later that installing OSX would be difficult or impossible, requiring I either install a Windows or Unix operating system or sell the computer. Thus, my modest goal was to build an Apple-compatible PC desktop computer ("Hackintosh") with the following attributes:
  • Performance equal to or better than the Mid-2010 Mac Mini (ie: "Aluminum Mini") 
  • Evidence that it was possible to successfully install OS X on the whatever PC hardware was chosen for the project.
  • Inexpensive, but not "cheap", hardware components.
  • Must use a version of OS X purchased from retail (ie: not an illegal copy).
  • Minimum amount of additional software and process steps needed to install OS X.
  • Ideally, fully functional (ie: Sleep, Screen Resolutions, LAN, Video, etc. all work), or requiring a minimum amount of effort to enable full functionality.
  • Able to use Apple's Software Update with minimum loss and easy recovery of any functionality.
As a bonus, it would be great if I could get all the components at my local Microcenter: It's one of the few brick-and-mortar stores where one can enter with a pile of money and walk out with all the components needed to build their own computer.
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