|Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridge|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 08 August 2011|
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Historically, Macs have always come with installation DVDs for their OS; the previous generation MacBook Airs came with Snow Leopard on a read-only USB key. Apple's moving away from physical media, with the latest generation MacBook Air computers supplied with no installation media at all, but rather a recovery partition on their SSDs, much like consumer Windows machines. However, unlike Windows machines, the new Airs can restore their OS via a WiFi connection even if their SSDs are completely erased.
None of this matters to a Hackintosher, of course, since you'll need a physical copy of an OS X installation disk or USB key to bring your machine up. As of this writing Apple still sells Snow Leopard 10.6.3 for $29.99, while OS X 10.7 Lion is available only as a download from Apple's App Store at $29.99 (although it's easy to extract a disk image file from the download and use it to create a bootable installation DVD). Apple plans to offer Lion on a USB key in a month or so.
The regae boot CD has a pre-configured Chameleon boot loader and some utility software. After assembling the hardware for my Hackintosh, I booted from this disk, swapped it for the standard Snow Leopard installation DVD, and formatted the hard disk and installed Snow Leopard. At this point I could boot Snow Leopard 10.6.3 (after booting from the regae boot CD first), but video resolution was fixed at 1024x768, and audio and networking were nonfunctional.
My next step was to apply the 10.6.8 combo update. This 1gb update file can be downloaded for free directly from Apple, but make sure you get the combo update, and not just the smaller 10.6.8 update, which is only good if you have 10.6.7 installed. The combo updater will update any previous version of the OS. Before you can run the update, though, you must dig deep within the OS X library and remove a specific kernel extension to avoid a crash in the update process. The regae boot CD comes with a nice Mac OS X 10.6.8 Helper utility that will do this for you. You'll need to reboot afterwards, then run the 10.6.8 update, then run the Mac OS X 10.6.8 Helper again to restore the kernel extension you removed previously. Remember that operating system updates that cause OS X to crash are just part of the Hackintosh experience.
Booting to a black screen
One nice thing about the 10.6.8 update is that it includes native drivers for the Radeon 5xxx series of video cards, like the Radeon 5870 I'm using. However, after installing the update and rebooting, I was presented with a black screen after the initial gray Apple screen. Fortunately, I'd run into this before as I described in my previous Hackintosh article: the solution is to edit a few strings in the com.apple.Boot.plist file to explicitly set the OS X desktop to the native resolution of my monitor.
After that, I could boot into 10.6.8 (after booting from the regae boot CD) with the full 1920x1200 resolution of my Dell 27" monitor, with full video acceleration. However, I still had to boot in two stages, and had no networking or sound. The next step is to install the Chameleon boot loader as well as the various kernel extensions that enable these features. Included on the regae boot CD is a "regaePackage v3.0" installer that allows you to configure and install a number of kernel extensions (kexts) that should enable these functions, as well as writing a copy of the Chameleon boot loader so you can boot directly from your hard disk. However, picking and choosing the kernel extensions required (and DSDT and other stuff) isn't straightforward, and since only the kexts for the ASUS P8P67 Deluxe motherboard are included, this wasn't a good solution for me since I had a different motherboard.
The solution was to use an installer package from the second guide on InsanelyMac.com. Note that three installers are provided: one each for the vanilla P8P67, one for the P8P67 Pro, and one for the Sabertooth P8P67. I downloaded the first package, ran it, selected my hard disk and...success! With Chameleon and the proper kernel extensions automatically installed, I booted directly into OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard and had full network and audio. The package even enabled the Bluetooth module on the P8P67 and I was able to connect and use my Magic Trackpad.
Moving the Hardware
Now that my Sandy Bridge Hackintosh was working, it was time to move the hardware into my HP Blackbird case. The only problem was the water cooling: the Blackbird came with an integrated Asetek LCLC cooler (the basis for most of the all-in-one water cooler kits introduced since then) with a 120x240mm radiator built into the top of the case. The original pump/water block mounting system was for Intel Socket 775, and I was able to buy a Socket 1366 mounting system when I upgraded the system later. However, as far as I can tell, Asetek has never provided a Socket 1155/56 mount as a separate item, so I wound up using the Intel mount from an Antec Kühler H2O 920 Liquid Cooler. Since even the Antec cooler is based on the Asetek design, this worked perfectly:
UPDATE: Asetek contacted me to let me know that they sell a universal Intel/AMD mounting kit, and will have new kits available for motherboards based on Intel's upcoming LGA2011 socket, too. You can get the current mounting kit, which accomodates Inel socket 775, 1155/56, and 1366 as well as AMD sockets here for $10.
With all the hardware installed, there was only one last step: restoring all my user applications and data from a Time Machine backup of my previous Hackintosh. This took several hours but when it finished I booted to a clone of my original system. Really, Time Machine rocks. The only extra thing I had to do was re-install a printer driver.
How did it perform? Join me in the next section to see.