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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

Hackintosh Performance

The extensive array of benchmarking software we take for granted in the Windows world doesn't really exist in the Mac world, so I'll be using the same three programs I used in my original Hackintosh article. This time I'll be comparing four systems:

  • My original Core i7 920 Hackintosh, with the processor base clock at 172MHz and the multiplier at 21 for a speed of 3.6gHz
  • A 15" MacBook Pro laptop with Intel's Core i7 2820QM processor. This is the fastest laptop configuration Apple offers, with a base CPU speed of 2.3gHz and a max turbo speed of 3.4gHz.
  • The Sandy Bridge Hackintosh with a Core i7 2600K processor at the stock settings, 3.4gHz with a max turbo speed of 3.8gHz.
  • The Sandy Bridge Hackintosh with the maximum turbo boost multiplier set to 49, resulting in a max turbo speed of 4.9gHz.

Geekbench Results

Primate Labs' GeekBench is a "one-click" benchmark utility that performs a number of processor and memory tests; it does not test video cards or disk I/O. There are 12 integer CPU tests, 14 floating-point CPU tests, 5 basic memory tests, and 8 memory bandwidth tests. All tests comprise a mixture of single-threaded and multi-threaded versions. It produces a weighted composite score based on the individual scores.

sandy_bridge_hackintosh_geekbench.png

Interestingly, the original 920-based system produces better scores in the integer and floating point benchmarks than does the stock Sandy Bridge system. The overclocked Sandy Bridge system returns 28% better integer and 26% better floating point scores than the 920. Althought the Sandy Bridge memory system is dual- rather than triple-channel, it's running its memory at 1600mHz while the 920 was running at just over 1400mHz. The overclocked configuration has 39% better memory performance and 54% better bandwidth than the 920 system. These memory differences are much higher than I'd expect and I have no real explanation for them. Latencies were 9-9-9-24 in both cases.

It's interesting to see how close the scores of the MacBook Pro are to the overclocked 920. The 2820QM mobile processor is virtually even with the stock-clocked 2600K in these tests.

CINEBENCH 11.5

Maxon Cinebench is a real-world test suite that assesses the computer's performance capabilities. Cinebench is based on Maxon's award-winning animation software, Cinema 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. Maxon software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. Cinebench Release 11.5 includes the ability to more accurately test the industry's latest hardware, including systems with up to 64 processor threads and the testing environment better reflects the expectations of today's production demands. A more streamlined interface makes testing systems and reading results incredibly straightforward.

The Cinebench R11.5 test scenario uses all of a system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene, "No Keyframes", the viral animation by AixSponza. This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores.

sandy_bridge_hackintosh_cinebench.png

The stock-clocked 2600K is just over 7% faster than the overclocked 920 in the single-core rendering test, but 53% faster when overclocked. In multi-core rendering, there's only a 5% advantage to the 2600K running stock, but the difference widens to 36% when overclocked. Again, the MacBook Pro is turning in scores that would have been unthinkable for a laptop computer even a year ago. Intel's mobile Sandy Bridge parts are quite impressive.

Handbrake 0.95

Few consumer applications will make good use of a six-core processor, or even a four-core processor. Extra cores can give you a system that remains responsive when performing a computationally-intensive background task, but will rarely accelerate the execution of an individual program. There are several reasons for this:

  • Most users' systems still have two cores. According to Steam's July 2011 statistics, dual-core systems comprise 49.28% of its users, quad-core systems 41.73%, and six-core systems a miniscule 1.29%. This shows a huge jump in the number of quad-core systems out there, as the percentage has almost doubled from the 27.49% in August 2010.
  • Relatively few computational problems scale well with the number of threads available. (One common task that does is rendering, which is why modern video cards have dozens or hundreds of cores).
  • Writing good multithreaded code is difficult and time-consuming. Developers generally realize a better return on their effort for other code optimizations.

All that said, media transcoding (converting to a different format) is something that does scale well with the number of available cores, and the free and open-source Handbrake 0.95 video transcoder is an example of a program that makes full use of the computational resources available. For this test I used Handbrake 0.95 to transcode a standard-definition episode of Family Guy to the "iPhone & iPod Touch" presets. The encoding times are in seconds; lower is better.

sandy_bridge_hackintosh_Handbrake.png

The stock Sandy Bridge system is only about 4% faster than the overclocked 920, but the overclocked 2600K is 24% faster. The MacBook Pro trails here, but still turns in a credible performance for a laptop.

I'll discuss my thoughts and present my conclusion in the next section.



 

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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