The HacMac project revisited

Posted on 21 Sep ’12 by Earl


Back in June this year I successfully built a PC with standard off-the-shelf components to run Apple’s OS X operating system.  These non-Apple hardware computers are commonly called Hackintoshes and there’s a whole community on the Internet running and supporting them.

At build time I installed the most current OS X Lion version 10.7.4 but lingering in my mind were concerns about future ability to upgrade to newer OS X releases in a reasonable fashion.  Well since June there’s been numerous smaller application and security updates as well as a new major OS X, Mountain Lion, currently at version 10.8.2.

Before I get into the upgrade process let me say using this computer has been a pleasure and I’ve experienced ZERO problems associated with the non-Apple hardware.  I  even upgraded my graphics card a few weeks after the initial build because I found the original one I’d selected was not satisfactory when driving two monitors.  That graphics card upgrade was as simple as plug and play.  “HacMac,” as I call it, is much faster then my old Mac Pro and fully 64-bit compatible.

I’d give credit for this painless hardware experience to careful research in selecting tested and nearly 100% OS X compatible motherboards, memory, and other components.  It’s not that hard as there are suggested build models here.

Now about the Apple software upgrades.  The application and minor upgrades installed using Apples Software Update or the App Store update without incident — same as with a “true Mac.”  When Mountain Lion 10.8.0 was released I decided to wait until the second minor revision, 10.8.2, before trying an upgrade.  Experience has taught it is usually the second update when a new Operating System reaches a level of stability.  It was released  this past week so I began making preparations for a major “HacMac” OS X upgrade.

I’ll not walk through the upgrade/install process step-by-step as it’s listed in detail elsewhere on the web.  Bottom line first — the upgrade was 100% successful and if measured on an effort scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the standard Apple hardware automated process and 5 being a mind numbing manual screwup, I judge this upgrade as a 2, or perhaps a 2.5 only because of extra time for preparation.  It was mostly automatic but the user needs  to know the sequence and steps to make it work.

Yes, a little technical knowledge is needed. Not because it’s terribly difficult but for comprehension of the online instructions and understanding the “why” of what you’re doing.  Now much of this can be gained by devoting time to reading of other’s experience on the Internet.  It you’ve used OS X before and have the ability to select components and build a PC you probably would be okay.

In June the main allure of this counterfeit path was mostly the wonderful cost to performance ratio.  Now with three month of near non-stop problem free run time as well as minor and major software upgrades it’s looking even more like a firm course of action.  However, when you’re running a “HacMac” there’s no Apple support and at any point Apple could change their code to make future upgrades impossible.  Luckily as far as support goes, all the answers I’ve needed have been readily available from the support community.

So yes…I’m glad Frankenstein “HacMac” lives now with it’s “Mountain Lion” brain!  There’s always a few moments during a major software upgrade where you wonder if you’ve just screwed everything up. :-)

What Others Are Saying

  1. Mark 21 Sep ’12 at 9:55 pm

    I haven’t updated anything to Mountain Lion yet. Like you, I like to wait until the initial bugs are worked out. Glad to read it was no issue for you Earl.
    Mark recently posted..Beach Rocks

    • Earl 21 Sep ’12 at 10:04 pm

      Mark, thanks. I’ve not had a chance to explore the changes in Mountain Lion yet. I wasn’t looking forward to this first major OS upgrade but I’m feeling much better about it now. It wasn’t all that different then the Apple process…mostly just loading a couple of special drivers.

  2. Tom Dills 21 Sep ’12 at 10:05 pm

    Fascinating follow-up, Earl. I lack the technical expertise to tackle such a project myself, but might try to talk my son into giving me some assistance. My iMac has seen better days and a replacement may be in order.
    Tom Dills recently posted..Protection, or Overkill?

    • Earl 21 Sep ’12 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks, Tom. If you follow some of the proven paths and suggested hardware configurations I don’t think you’d have any problem. You do still need a Mac at the very first to create a boot USB drive with OS X on it. All the instructions and specifications are on the site I linked to above.

  3. Paul 22 Sep ’12 at 7:15 pm

    Earl, that project of yours is just the ultimate in cool. I wish, sometimes, that I had the desire to pursue such a cool, techy goal; alas, I guess that I’m just a software guy. I’ve never built my own computer.
    Paul recently posted..First day of fall

    • Earl 22 Sep ’12 at 10:59 pm

      I appreciate that Paul. I get pleasure out of doing something techy like this and making it work. You’d have no trouble building your own computer and there are plentiful guides out there to help.

  4. Monte Stevens 23 Sep ’12 at 6:40 pm

    I do not have the knowledge or the desire to delve into such a project and admire anyone who does so and succeeds at it. I had actually forgotten about this project and excited to hear of its success.
    Monte Stevens recently posted..The Campsite

    • Earl 24 Sep ’12 at 9:24 am

      Thanks, Monte. I understand this is not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s this techie side of me that enjoy’s this type of thing and I have to “feed” that need every once in a while. :-)

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