Building a Hackintosh Mini

Building my Windows Tower last year was fun, so I have been looking for another project.  Then I found this page at Tony Mac’s on building a Hackintosh Mini.

What I’m looking for is a small system to hook up to the TV in the Den.  The motherboard in the parts list has a HDMI port, and I already have a remote keyboard/trackball to use.  There is an Ethernet switch where I want to put it so, no need for a WiFi card either.  I figure I can build it for around $470.  That includes $20 for a copy of Mountain Lion MacOS.  Not bad considering low end Mac Minis start at $600, and that is with a 500 Gig HD and 4 Gig of RAM.  I’m planning on a 2 TB HD and 8 Gig of Ram.  The foot print is a little bigger than a Mac Mini, but I’m replacing a mini-tower, so the space isn’t a problem.

Here is the parts list I’m looking at:

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Expanding the desktop…

No, I’m taking about monitors, screen size and resolution. I’m talking about the tower PC I built.

Running quite nicely.  I’ve got dual monitors set up, and it is handling just about anything I’ve tossed at it so far.

The thing has plenty of room for additional drives, but I decided to go with a Drobo for external storage.

The system has a 256 Gig SSD and a 1 TB Western Digital drive, but wanted something for storage that was going to give me some level of data redundancy.  Having it  not in the tower was a plus from the suspenders and belt viewpoint as well.  The only downside was the Drobo’s USB was USB 2.0 and the  ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Z-LGA 1155 Z68 motherboard is a USB 3.0 beast, with lots of USB 3.0 ports.  It also has a few ESATA ports, but the only Firewire port was on the front, and not well placed for what I wanted.

Easy enough to fix.  I’ve got open slots, so I added a Firewire card. That and an 800-800 Firewire cable and I’ve got much better transfer speeds from the Drobo.

System Building

I’ve been thinking about building a new desktop and finally bit the bullet and ordered a bunch of parts.

One of the first things to arrive was the Cooler master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case.

w00t! This thing is big!  It comes with three 230mm fans.  One on front, one on the side and the last one on the top.  If that isn’t enough airflow, you can replace the side fan with four 120mm fans, and the top one with three 120mm fans.  I’m going to stick with the default fans for now.

The 800 Watt power supply also arrive, so I installed that. The Sandy Bridge processor and CPU cooler arrived, but not the thermal compound, so those are still in their boxes.

I figured this would have to last me a few years, so I went with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Z-LGA 1155 Z68 motherboard. Lots of I/O on this beast, including plenty of USB, 800 Firewire, ESATA and two Gig Ethernet ports.

Once the thermal paste and 8 Gig of RAM arrive, I’ll be able to install the motherboard.

The two other key components I’m waiting for is a  256 Gig SSD and a Samsung Blu-Ray reader/DVD writer optical drive.

Once I have those, I can fire it up and install Window 7 Ultimate, 64 bit.

Ya, I hear you.  No video card.  I’ll be cannibalizing  the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 out of my old system, which will have to get by with the on board graphics again. That and a 2 Gig 7200 RPM hard drive.

That should be enough to get me rolling and installing software.  I’ve also got a multi card reader on order, but I can always add that later on, especially since that seems to be the long pole in the shipping wait.  The old system will eventually end up in the basement, hooked up to the TV for the display and a wireless keyboard/trackball.  It’s got enough horse power to make a good music/movie server, and given the big screen on the TV, hopefully a decent device for stray web surfing.