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Results and Benchmarks

Important note: the below benchmark results are comparing the hackintosh that I built in October 2010 with the current generation Mac Pro. However, the newer hackintosh components that I’m now recommending are much faster, scoring well over 10,000 (in the teens) — depending on which build you choose, your scores should be 15,000+. For a price-performance comparison these old results are still useful though and I didn’t feel like redoing the images; today, the new machine trounces ye olde Mac Pro even more thoroughly.

Let’s take a look at some benchmarks, so we can measure our hackintosh against the Mac Pro. Geekbench is a program that measures CPU and memory speed — note that it does NOT take into account GPU acceleration, which is one of our largest advantages over the “real” Mac Pro (if you’re going to be using Adobe video applications and other programs like DaVinci Resolve). You can find the top scores of all Macs tested with Geekbench, including $10,000 12-core machines, here. There are some ridiculously high scores there, but keep in mind there are also some ridiculously high-priced machines — the top machine costs well over six grand. So let’s take a look at the range of scores that includes the current $2,500 Mac Pro model. Higher numbers are better. How does the NoFilmSchool Hackintosh compare to a machine that costs twice as much?

That’s 20% faster performance at 50% the price. On top of this, if you follow this guide today, the machine you’re building should be significantly faster, since I’ve updated the guide to recommend the latest Intel processors. Plus, this isn’t even taking into account the nVidia GPU, which will accelerate Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 to the tune of ten times faster (later on, we’ll see benchmarks to prove that, too).

Again, the current machines are at least 50% faster than the example graphic above. With overclocking, in fact, I was able to make this old computer take fifth on the entire list — above the 6-core 3.33 GHz 2010 Mac Pro, which retails for $3,500 (more than twice the price of our Hac Pro). However, after doing some reading about how processor temperatures affect longevity, and facing the undeniable truth that “overclocking by definition reduces the useful lifetime of any CPU,” I decided against overclocking my machine. For my own purposes, I could only detect the performance difference between the overclocked CPU and the stock version through benchmarking applications and After Effects render times; I’d rather have a computer that lasts several years instead of one that runs marginally faster and dies an early death. However, once you’ve built the machine, it’s simply a BIOS setting — you could certainly overclock it for certain times, and leave it running at stock speed the rest of the time.

There are a lot of hackers out there who overclock their machine to the extent of running a 2.8Ghz processor at 4.2GHz, but their goal is to get fast benchmark scores. Our goal is to create stuff with our machine, and in that regard, stability and longevity are more important to us than they are to your average hacker. Still — once you’ve built it, it’s up to you.

Now, Geekbench isn’t the only benchmarking utility out there, but it’s sort of the “main” one. I could run a lot of others, and I’ve tried a few. In the future I might sift through these results and post them here if anyone wants more results. But quite frankly, I could care less about the benchmark scores. All I know is this machine works, and rather than run a dozen tests, I’ve been putting it to good use. I recommend you do the same.

Before we go any further, let’s compare the components of our hackintosh with that of the stock Mac Pro.