|Budget Hackintosh PC Build Project|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 10 April 2013|
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Since you can't use SLI or CrossFireX on a Mac, there's little need for multiple video cards, and there are no OS X drivers for third party sound cards and the like. So a single-slot mini-ITX solution works well for most applications and it's the way I went with this design. The best bang for the buck I've seen in m-ITX cases is the Cooler Master Elite 120. I've previously reviewed this case, but as a quick recap it offers both USB 2.0 and 3.0 front ports (which will be important as we see later), room for a standard ATX power supply, and a full-sized 5.25" drive bay in addition to the internal 3.5" bays. With an MSRP of only $49.95, it's a great deal.
It's almost impossible to build an AMD Hacktinosh, so we're stuck with Intel CPUs. Of course, that's hardly a bad thing, since the current Ivy Bridge lineup offers a tempting mix of power efficiency and performance. For this build we'll be using a Core i3-3220 dual-core CPU, but it supports Hyper-Threading, so the OS will see four cores. At 3.2gHz and with 3MB of cache, its performance should be all we need.
Although Intel shipped us a "white box" processor, it did come with the standard push-pin Intel cooler. And since we're building a mini-ITX rig and using a non-"K" code CPU, we're not going to be overclocking anything, so the standard cooler should work just fine. But its tiny fan can get a little whiny, and besides, I just don't like using that cooler if I can help it. Cooler Master's GEMIN II M4 low-profile cooler will keep this CPU a lot chillier than the stock cooler, and is whisper quiet, too.
The Cooler Master Elite 120 case supports standard ATX power supplies, but its tiny interior means that you'll fill most of it with the extra length of the cables that were designed for ATX-sized cases. Silverstone offers the PP-05 short cable kit for many of their power supplies, but it's easier to start with a power supply designed for small spaces to begin with. The ST45SF-G SFX power supply is small (and comes with an ATX adapter mounting plate). It's 80 Plus Gold certified, and will provide more than enough power for this build.
Seagate responded to our request with one of their new "SSHD" hybrid hard drives. This razor-thin drive is only 7mm thick and is really aimed at the ultrabook market, but it will work just fine here. The 500GB capacity of the ST500LM000 drive is supplemented with 8GB of onboard flash memory, which acts as a cache to speed frequent operations.
Let's proceed to the next section where I'll finish up the component list.