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Coming Next Week: How to Build a Video Editing Hackintosh

10.14.10 @ 2:30PM Tags : , , ,

A couple of months ago I said I was going to build a Mac Pro out of PC components, the goal being to make a faster machine that cost a thousand dollars less. I researched and bought the components, built the machine, installed OS X, tweaked it, ordered new components, and tweaked it further. Then I gave it a trial-by-fire recently while editing a trailer for my project 3rd Rail (we’re still figuring out what to do with the trailer, while we meet with producers and financiers). And it’s been a total success; I never could’ve edited the After Effects-heavy project on my laptop, and the Hackintosh handled it with aplomb. It’s seriously fast – and it hasn’t crashed once. I’m happy to report the machine has lived up to my stated goals at the time:

Here’s what I think is possible for a video editing-optimized hackintosh: compared to the $2,500 Mac Pro base model, I believe the Hac Pro can have a faster processor, four times as much RAM, a Blu-Ray burner, USB 3.0 connectivity, more storage space, and an nVidia graphics card that accelerates Adobe CS5. The kicker? This Hac Pro will cost $1,000 less.

With a couple of minor exceptions,1 the above goals have all been achieved by the machine sitting under my desk. To arrive at such a trouble-free solution, however, I went through several iterations and tweaks (this is why the article’s taken a bit of time); at present, the only aspect I’m not totally satisfied with is the Wi-Fi connectivity, but I’ve got some parts on the way from China that should bring the Airport connectivity up to 100% (if this sounds too complicated, fear not: there are a number of viable USB Wi-Fi solutions that work fine provided you install the correct drivers — I’ll include this in the tutorial). So stay tuned — the detailed step-by-step article should be ready sometime next week. The week after, at the very latest. For independent filmmakers and creatives, this is a machine that is built to create — even if you don’t have quite enough cash for the new Mac Pro, which I’ve wondered how good of a value proposition it is. And, as I’ll talk about in the article, contrary to my expectations going into the project, I actually found it to be a lot of fun.

  1. I went with the same speed processor as the entry-level Mac Pro, but you can always go faster; USB 3.0 isn’t yet supported by Mac OS X, but the hardware’s in place. []


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Description image 24 COMMENTS

  • Ryan,

    Looking forward to this guide. After seeing your original post outlining your intent to build the Hackintosh, I evaluated my interest in a DIY build of a new desktop for myself. I kind of went with components that met my price range, regardless of whether or not they would be compatible with OS X, though I’m fairly sure I can install it based on what I’ve read. My build came in just under $700:

    Cooler Master Elite 310 Case
    AsRock P55 Extreme MB
    Intel Core i5-760 (2.8 GHz)
    4GB G-Skill Ripjaws 1600-CL7
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 896MB
    WD Caviar Blue 500GB HDD

    I built it with the express intent to move to Premiere Pro CS5 (and, by extension, AE), understanding that GPU-acceleration through the new Mercury Playback Engine was being looked upon as the game-changer for editors at the moment. And I can confirm that–with a hack–the GTX 260 will play nice with the MPE for GPU-acceleration.

    And boy is it fun to edit now!

  • I had Windows 7 and OSX on my machine for a while. I never could get the sound to work properly. I’m sure the gap in hardware has become a lot smaller these days. I’m not sure why anyone would waste money on a Mac these days other than a Macbook.

  • Awesome. I’ve been waiting for this one. You’ve got some really innovative, original stuff on this blog. Keep it up man.

  • I can’t wait to see this!

  • looks very very promising :)

  • looks great

    I’ll stay on the windows side of things in any case, but this is interesting anyway

    among other things, because just from the start I can see you made some great choices regarding the components, as judging from that sweet case in the picture (best case I’ve used: well designed, incredibly well cooled and at the same time totally quiet; the only problem I found with it is that you can’t mount long 3.5″ drives on the top bay, as they hit the super-big top fan)

  • Interesting article. I’ve always known that Macs are more expensive than PC’s, since they went Intel the price difference has been less justifiable. One selling point for macs though is design; shallow I know, but they just look good, another is that they just work, out the box, doesn’t seem to be the typical hackintosh experience.

    Blu-ray would be nice, but then blu-ray is a dead duck anyway. Discs are dead.

  • Any DIY computer will be cheaper than a OEM model. A workstation like the Mac Pro will cost about the same (if not more) if you buy them from an OEM manufacturer like DELL e.g. It’s not fair to compare it that way.
    If you’d add the cost of all the parts of a car you would have the same result.
    Also, cost of computer parts aside, a Mac Pro delivers a high precision enclosure with many “easy-access” parts. It’s not so much about “macs are too pricey” but more of a lack of something between a high-end iMac and an entry-level Mac Pro

  • Yes! been waiting for this article!

  • Im a media student and there is quite a prevalent mentality of “if you dont use a Mac your not serious”. Ive been an expert Windows user my whole life and been using my home built i7 Windows 7 machine for 7 months now. Ive learned quite a bit and get things done just as well on my computer. This was my first machine that I built and hey, it just works. Its performance is quite spiffy, I must say. I have a 3 year old HP laptop that I downgraded to XP from Vista, there hasnt been any hardware failures in its life, I reformat about once a year because I like to.

    Anyways to my point, I want to convert my Windows 7 only machine into a hackintosh. Right now another computer, especially a Mac, is too costly. My prioroity is investing in camera equipment, I already have a fully capable and great computer. In my opinion it would be inefficient to buy a Mac computer right now just because the psychology that exists. But, I do recognize the importance of knowing both OS’s, and the software on both sides for my marketability. I have some exprience on a Mac, but its minimal and mostly home networking. I would like to explore it so I can rightfully make a judgement as to what I prefer and what is “best”. Ive been looking forward to this article ever since you first posted it, Ill take two servings please!

  • Hi Koo, still here reading the big news and as you know still wating ;) I only hope that your site hold well the incoming huracane of people and dont go down with too much demand. Best luch and i hope you fix your wifi ussiu. Only one question, i want to make my hack pro with a dual xeon X5660, are you testing with a dual prosesor soluttion ?

  • I am excited about it but when will it realesed

  • so its saturday! wehre is the article??? I wanted to go shopping this weekend for computer parts and im thinking dual xenon :) well anyway where is the article?????

  • I built my first Hackintosh earlier this month. I am running OSX 10.5.8 iDeneb Lite

    Computer Spec:
    CPU: AMD Phenom II x4 945 3.0 ghz (Overclocked to 3.6 ghz)
    Motherboard: MSI 760GM-E51 AM3
    Memory: 8GB DDR3 1333x
    500GB Sata2 HDD Western Digital 7200rpm
    Logisys 400W ATX Power Supply
    Cooler Master Elite 310 Case

    Video Card: I been holding off to find the best video card to use for Adobe Premier Pro CS5 on tight budget. I will end up buying the GTX 460 1GB.

  • it is running in full speed but the only drawback is the resolution problem, i couldn’t get it to 1920x1080p60, i couldn’t get the sound to work either and Extreme C aint enable in Mac due to no external graphic card or something. so i still got more things to do.

    • Yeah, those are pretty typical problems — problems I’m happy to say I’ve avoided. Article tomorrow…

  • JoeBahoovy6 on 02.9.11 @ 1:39AM

    Whatever became of this build? Thanks for all of your information, we are in the same field as I am an AVID Master Editor and Final Cut Power User, ready to make the jump to the Hackintosh. In fact I just bought most of the parts today!

  • I’ve been pretty excited about this build, as I am in need of a faster computer for my edit suite.
    I’m having a lot of hang issues using the tonymacsx86 Sandy Bridge i7 2600k build. I’m at the iBoot stage, switch over to the retail disk and when I hit enter… *HANG*. I’ve tried the PCIRootUID=1 (-x), as well as the GraphicsEnabler=No (=Yes)
    I’ve tried the retail OSX10.6.0 with the hope of then installing the 10.6.8 update. I then heard that the video card wasn’t compatible with SL, but compatible with Lion, so I purchased 10.7.2 from Apple Apps.
    Here’s my set up.
    Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 (f7)
    GPU gtx550ti
    16gb DDR3 ram (4gb installed for set up)
    1 TB 7200 HDD
    I’ve never had this problem before. Has anyone else experienced this? Thanks.