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Written by David Ramsey   
Monday, 08 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridge
Installation Fun
Hackintosh Performance
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridge

Benchmark Reviews has previously detailed our experience in creating an Apple Macintosh into Hackintosh: a computer built of PC components, running Apple's OS X operating system and applications. Apple doesn't make this easy to do, since they'd prefer you to buy a real Macintosh, but years of work by the enthusiast community has resulted in a support system of software, guides, and online forums that provide enough information for the dedicated Hackintosher to succeed. In this article I'll describe my experience moving my Hackintosh from its X58 hardware to a new Intel Sandy Bridge platform.

EDITORS NOTE: Benchmark Reviews has also published an updated Budget Hackintosh PC Build Project, Hackintosh OS X Software Installation, and Hackintosh Performance Hardware Options.

How It Works

Bringing up a Hackintosh used to be the province of only the geekiest hackers, but due to the efforts of the growing Hackintosh community, it's gotten a lot simpler. It's not plug-and-play quite yet: depending on the hardware you have (and the up-front research you do), the experience can range from easy to impossible. I detailed my first experience building a Hacktosh in this article. Although several months have passed, the basic technique remains the same:

  • Create a boot USB key or CD containing the Chameleon boot loader with the minimal support for your motherboard and CPU. Use this to boot from an OS X installation DVD and install OS X.
  • Apply whatever special kernel extensions are necessary for full option of your system; things like the network interface, audio, and video.
  • Install the Chameleon boot loader on your newly configured hard disk so you can boot from it directly.

The above is a very simplified description of the process by which you bring up a Hackintosh. As always the devil's in the details.

First, of course, it's important to realize that Apple's end user licensing agreements for OS X specifically restrict its installation to Apple branded hardware, so technically it's illegal to create a Hackintosh. That said, while Apple's shut down several Macintosh clone companies, they've never seemed interested in pursuing individuals or non-profit entities like the various Hackintosh-themed web sites.

After several months of stable use of my original Hackintosh, I was itching to upgrade it from its X58-based Core i7 920 processor to the latest Sandy Bridge architecture. Flush with confidence from my previous Hackintosh experience, I began...

Testbed First

Since my Hackintosh is my primary system, I couldn't just rip it apart and start over. Instead, I set up the Sandy Bridge Hacktinosh on a test bed chassis. I used an ASUS P8P67 motherboard with a Core i7 2600K processor. This is not my favorite motherboard since it doesn't support NVIDIA SLI or external video from the Sandy Bridge iGPU, but it's a perfect platform for a Hackintosh.

sandy_bridge_hackintosh_testbed.jpg

As before, I found the information I needed in the Insanely Mac forums, but it took a little more work than I thought it would. The forums are peppered with threads marked "GUIDE", which are instructions on how to bring up a Hackintosh on specific motherboards. I found one guide on how to bring up OS X Snow Leopard on an ASU P8P67 Deluxe (I have the non-Deluxe board), and another guide on how to install OS X Lion on several different ASUS P8P67 motherboards, with specific configurations for the P8P67, P8P67 Pro, and Sabertooth P8P67.

I didn't want to install Lion just yet, since it breaks some software I still use daily (like Quicken...thanks for all your support, Intuit!), but the Snow Leopard guide was for a motherboard I didn't have. What to do?

I wound up using the regae Boot CD from the first guide, and the "updater" for the standard P8P67 board from the second guide. The combination enabled me to get everything working perfectly. Well, almost everything...



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy BridgeThe Techno_Alien 2011-08-17 06:11
Before I go any further..
That's the kind of case I am looking for, What model is that?
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# RE: RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy BridgeDavid Ramsey 2011-08-17 07:52
Which case? The red open-air case you see in the front of the article is a Lian Li PC-T60; I reviewed it here: #benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=548&Itemid=61

The case the finished computer is in is an HP Blackbird case. It was never really available for retail sale-- you got it by purchasing an HP Blackbird computer. When HP shut down that division they did have a few cases for sale, but they were $1,000 each.
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# ThanksDavid Siebert 2011-08-17 07:35
I am a long time computer user SuperPet->C64->CP/M->MS-DOS->Amiga->MS-DOS->Windows->Linux->OS/X. I had to start using OS/X to do IOS dev work and I must say that I think it is a very good OS. Just thought that I would get that out of way for the haters.
I would like to see more about this subject if I might suggest.
1. The cheapest full functioning build possible. How cheap can one build a workable Hackintosh where everything works including sleep. Will it be cheaper than a Mini?
2. And inexpensive notebook build. Can you find a sub $350 notebook.
3. A MacPro. Xeons and everything.
4. An i5 and i3 build. Nice middle ground systems.

Again thanks for your efforts.
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# RE: ThanksDavid Ramsey 2011-08-17 07:59
Fun suggestions all, David. i3 and i5 builds should go about as smoothly as this one assuming you used the same motherboard (it's the motherboard that's the real compatibility issue, once you have support for a given family of processors). But we'd have to buy a lot of hardware, especially for the Mac Pro/Xeon build! Used to be that you could build a Hackintosh around the Intel Atom processor, but that doesn't work since Apple changed the OS kernel a year or two back.

I'd suggest you check out the big Hackintosh sites like Insanelymac.com and tonymacx86.com. You'll find tons of information there, and folks are building Hackintoshes out of damn near everything.
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# Been thereDavid Siebert 2011-08-17 12:34
I have looked but it would nice to have a well written article that lays out this +this+this works perfect and you can buy them here. Maybe New Egg would offer to donate some parts for this.
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# dramsey@mac.comDavid Ramsey 2011-08-17 12:54
With Hackintosh, there is never a "It just works" scenario!
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# RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridgeyclee 2011-08-17 20:33
why do this? just run it inside a vm... unless 3d accel is not support via vm driver yet.
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# RE: RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy BridgeDavid Ramsey 2011-08-17 21:29
As far as I know, nobody has ever successfully run OS X inside a VM except on a real Macintosh. That's why.
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# OSX Virtual way..David 2011-08-22 11:26
"
# RE: RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridge ? David Ramsey 2011-08-17 21:29
As far as I know, nobody has ever successfully run OS X inside a VM except on a real Macintosh. That's why."

Reply

I have. Inside Virtualbox. You just install OSX the same way with a chameleon bootloader inside the Virtualbox VM bubble. There are guides out there that explain how and its fairly easy. Though its more stable as a stand alone install with Chameleon..
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# RE: OSX Virtual way..David Ramsey 2011-08-22 22:24
Interesting...I didn't know you could do that.
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# RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridgeaberkae 2011-08-28 11:23
My boy wants to purchase a Mac, i'm telling him not to and instead help him build something similar minus the case, any suggestions on where to start.
I built my own $4k pc last year but this seams more challenging.
Also, does a hakintosh support the latest ssds like the m4?
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# RE: RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy BridgeDavid Ramsey 2011-08-28 11:34
You can review my two articles to see what I did, initially with an X58 platform and then moving to a P67 platform. Check out the web sites I mention in the articles for tips.

Nothing is guaranteed with a Hackintosh, but with the resources available it's easier than ever to get one going.
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# RE: RE: RE: Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridgeaberkae 2011-08-28 11:39
thanks that's why i love the web, i actually did read both articles, and now will do further research.
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# My recommendationdavidm 2011-08-28 12:13
I recommend going with an Asus Z68 pro or deluxe. I did it initially with a p67 but swaped it for a z68. You should have no issues running a sata 6 SSD drive but it will probably limited to sata3 speeds unless someone hacks some kexts to get it going. Also trim support in Snow Leopard needs a trim enabler hack. Not sure about Lion as its suppose to have trim but have not tried hackintoshing Lion. Also there is support for the marvel raid controller. I have a two disk raid 0 running shared between windows and osx. Good luck.
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# RE: My recommendationDavid Ramsey 2011-08-28 12:26
I don't think a Z68 board would have any advantage over a P67 board for a Hackintosh. As far as I know, nobody's gotten the Sandy Bridge iGPU running on a Hackintosh, which means you'll still need a separate video card; and there's also no way to enable the Intel SSD caching scheme the Z68 also supports. Since these two capabilities are the main things distinguishing a Z68 from a P67, you might as well go with the cheaper platform.
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# I disagreedavidm 2011-08-28 12:41
Not over a Hackintosh there may not be immediate advantage but its a better choice. Let me tell you why. Firstly I had issues with my p67 even after two rma exchanges primarily due to the sandy bridge issues. Secondly you dont have to use the igpu feature and on the Z68 Deluxe that feature isnt even available unless within Windows you need a coprocessor to help out video encoding. I dual boot between Osx and Windows. Also whats wrong with using a discrete graphics card and still having ssd caching for your Windows install? Its like having your cake and eating it too!
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# RE: I disagreeDavid Ramsey 2011-08-28 13:15
Ah, it does make sense if you're going to be dual-booting the machine into Windows!
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# Another thoughtdavidm 2011-08-28 12:57
The only reason I can think of going with P67 might be because there may be a dsdt available which maybe true for Gigabyte boards. Though dsdts are complicated to implement supposedly it helps your devices get properly recognized by osx however not neccessary. In which case going Z68 may have a wait before someone posts a compatible dsdt. I personally tried to make one but gave up.
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