Build your own mac

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Albone, May 5, 2004.

  1. macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2003
    My PC buddy says he can make himself a PC computer for a fraction of the price of a G5. Is it possible to make your own Mac? Can you buy parts and assemble it yourself at a cheaper price (but more trouble) than buying it retail?
  2. Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    You'd probably have to pay a premium for the parts on ebay, but theoretically its possible...just not very cost effective...

    Also, this should have been posted in the Hardware forum...I moved it.

  3. Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Yeah, but it would still be just another buggy, virus-ridden, crappy beige box though wouldn't it?
  4. macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Well, its possible if you can get a motherboard with an apple boot rom on it. Generic powerpc motherboards cannot, to my knowledge, boot to mac OS. Getting your hands on such a motherboard would not be easy. Even ahrder for G5 motherboards too I'd wager.

    You can assemble cheap PC's, but often they are exactly that, cheap. If you get quality components, even a self assembled PC can get up there. Price goes up with performance motherboards with fast ram and front side bus support, good processors aren't always cheap either. These home brew, high performance PC's come in cheaper than retail perhaps, but not as jaw droppingly cheap as people make it sound sometimes. Its also potentially asking for more trouble because you have to buy the OS youself (not cheap if you do it legally), and the hodge podge of parts can lead to weird happenings.

    You buy a mac because it just works. Cobbling it together in some ways almost defeats the purpose or philosophy behind it. Not saying I wouldn't like to do it myself, but there's a reason apple keeps tight controls on who can build Mac OS bootable machiens (which nowadays is just themselves)
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 17, 2003
    Sum, Ergo Sum.
    Your friend can almost certainly make a PC at a fraction of the cost of a G5. The question is whether or not it will outperform the G5, whether it's similarly specced and built with equally impressive features and technology, or if its sole purpose is to be cheaper.

    A dual-processor Xeon or Opeteron system costs roughly $2,000-2,400, in parts alone, for the same general kind of features and design as the G5, and that's assuming you have the case already.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2003
    Montréal (Canada)
    A few years ago I build myself a ultimate PC, it was super cost efficient but had one major problem: even if the manufacturers all said they parts were compatible with each others, it wasnt the case. I had a lot of conflict and worst of all, the CPU over heated quite a bit and the computer would shut down once in a while.

    I lost 4hs of my master thesys because of this and from that moment, I swore that I was going to get a mac! A year later, I got my first PB and I am super happy with it since then!
  7. macrumors G4


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    The biggest problem will be getting a motherboard with a Mac OS boot ROM, like previous posters have mentioned. The other parts you will need aren't exactly easy to find, either (since only the industry standard parts of a Mac, like the RAM, are widely available). It probably won't be all that much cheaper, either - plus you'll never get the performance tuning that Apple does with their machines. All in all, I'd strongly advise against attempting it since it will be so difficult.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    Last saturday I helped one of my friends build a pc. Here are the parts we used.

    MSI K8t Neo
    AMD Athlon 64 3200+ w/1mb L2 cache (overclocked to 2.2)
    1 gig OCz pc 3500
    Ati radeon 9800 pro
    Maxtor 160 gb @7200 RPM w/8mb buffer
    panasonic 8x DVD+-RW
    400 W powersupply
    Soundblaster Audigy
    Windows 2000

    It absolutely screams, and jedi academy runs at 50 fps at 1280X960 w/ full detail.

    BUT, I wouldn't trade my emac 700 for it. His pc is fast, but it's still not "snappy", if you get my drift. The thing still doesn't have a fast feeling interface. After using the (arguably) fastest pc money can buy ($1500) and 10 hours of our time, the G5 is YEARS ahead in responsiveness (and stlye!!!), and it will be at least 2005-2006 until windows catches up to panther in this regard. By then, the mac will be running a full 64-bit OS that will trump longhorn.

    It's like a car. The pc will do 0-500 in ten seconds, the mac does 0-400 in 2 seconds.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2003
    Fredericton, NB Canada
    I've built a few PCs over the years...

    and it was fun at the time. But now, for me, it doesn't make sense to build a PC when I can buy a Mac.

    Back then, I was learning a lot by building machines from scratch, installing operating systems, configuring, downloading drivers, compiling, debugging, recompiling, etc. Now I understand how computers work, so the time spent on building computers and learning how to make the software work was well spent. However, spending *more* time on that now would be a waste, as I don't need to learn any more about that (right now). And my time is valuable.

    So, if you can build a PC equivalent to a G5, install all the software, and get it up and running in, say, 20 hours, and your time is worth $20/h, make sure you add $400 to the cost of the parts and software when you compare the final prices of you roll-your-own-PC and the G5. If you're learning something in the process, it's probably still worth it (unless you wind up with a burnt CPU, or a machine that runs Windows). But if, like me, you just want a good machine that works really well and runs a great OS with the minimum hassle, buy a Mac.


    P.S. If Apple sold build-it-yourself kits, I'd certainly consider buying one to assemble with my son when he's a bit older.
  10. macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2003
    True that... only my custom built PC is housed in a stealth black aluminum Lian-Li case. Biege is so 1995.

    But then again, of course you have 100x more software support on a PC.

  11. macrumors 68020


    Jul 6, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It Can Be Done But It's Not Worth It

    I know of people who have built their own Macs "from scratch" and I have considered doing it myself. You really only do it for bragging rights. It isn't worth it. You have to buy a lot of used parts, which will be from older Macs, and some 3rd party upgrade parts. In the end you will have a 3-4 year old Mac that ended up costing you almost as much as a new one.

    If you want to spend $1500 on a Sawtooth G4 then go right ahead.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Sep 10, 2003
    Of course it won't be very snappy. Windows 2000 isn't the OS of choice for games. While I agree that the G5 is more appealing to the eyes, a system like that should run very fast. I still have my older Asus A7N8X Deluxe with 512MB RAM and AMD Athlon XP 2600+ and it is still fast, and it's almost 2 years old.

    And 10 hours of time? Were you taking a bathroom break every hour? :)
  13. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2003
    We went through three motherboards before we got one that A)came with all the parts and B)didn't have the 'dump cmos' jumper factory set to fry the board. Windows took 3 hours to install, then about 2 hours installing drivers, updates, apps, and overclocking.
  14. macrumors 68020


    Jul 22, 2002
    Almere, The Netherlands
    That was a wast of time, LOL.
  15. macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    I really wish you could easily buy mac parts and build your own.

    what apple needs really bad though is a consumer tower. pretty much an emac without screen. the emac would appeal to many more people if the screen wasn't on it.
  16. macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2002
    Boogie-Down Berlintown
    sure, it has been great fun for me to put together and tinker with oldskool 68k machines...

    - you get the parts cheap or for free
    - I doesn't to much harm to your wallet if you screw something up
    - you get to know a lot about the mac of "ye olden tymes"
    - you might end up with a nice and snappy OS 7 or BSD machine that everybody wants to know something about when they see it/them

  17. macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2003
    New York
    you are nuts

    I think you are nuts. Windows has one of the snappiest user interfaces, I have been severly impressed by it, especially how it ages with older machines. I have 10.2 installed on a 500MHz G3 and it is PAINFUL slow at times. I installed win XP on a 400MHz pII and it is about 2-3 times "snappier" than the mac OS. This does make a certain amount of sense: OS X has the most "eye candy" user interface effects of any OS I can think of. Looks cool, yes, but snappy, no. With newer hardware, I imagine that both computers will feel pretty snappy, but theres no way OS X should ever be snappier than Windows unless there is something seriously wrong with windows.

    Only think that slows down windows sometimes is network complications... windows will hang something terrible if a network connection is not acting as it should. I am not sure how the newest Apple OS handles network connections, but I see plenty of spinning beachballs as it is.
  18. macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2003
    You've got to be kidding me! My dad's 1.8 GHz P3 Laptop is horribly slow with Windows XP. It's a joke compared to my G4 iMac with 800 MHz. Once you turn on the computer, you have to wait a couple of minutes for the PC to be ready to do anything. You'll click, nothing happens, and you'll sit there for a couple of minutes until something moves. My iMac, sure it's stuck after a initial startup, but that's only for about 30 seconds. And Windows XP redraws every window by layers which really lags it. In OS X, it just pops open, and you see no redraw. Now, you have Jaguar on your iMac (and not to mention its a G3), so that may be the problem, but even when I had Jaguar on this iMac, times were only slightly worse. I think my dad is going to have to erase his HD completely and reinstall Windows. It's only getting worse the speed. It's better to try to run OS X on the lowest-requirement Mac possible vs. using XP on the lowest-requirement PC.

    I helped my friend purchase a $900 Dell PC about 6 months ago. He wanted to buy another Mac (after his Lime iMac died), but his family just couldn't afford an iMac or iBook at the time (they were a couple of hundred dollars more), so they decided to go Dell. Well, I helped him get a 2.8 GHz (I believe) P4 with 512 MB of RAM and a GeForceFX 5200 and Windows Home edition. Well, even his decent PC is a choppy mess. Windows, icons, buttons don't respond when they're expected to. At least after starting up his PC, there's no long hang, but the windows once again have that slow draw speed. The buttons and menus pop up much more slowly than on OS X. His PC only has an edge on gaming over mine. Interface and speed-wise, it's a joke.

    You can technically build your own Mac. had an article about going about doing this. However, you're most likely going to have to buy used parts. Especially the motherboard. The processor could be upgraded with an upgrade kit, but it's not good as a real G4. It's a waste of effort and money.
  19. macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    my mac is a G3 tower upgraded to a G4/500 and its as fast as a real G4/500 tower or even faster in some cases. its not a waste of money if you only have a small amount to spend and need faster performance.

    if upgrades didn't have a market then they wouldn't be around.
  20. macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2003
    Rockin' Pittsburgh!
    I ahve to agree with the netwroking problem - my 2.6 celeron (yes i know its a celeron, so it won't be a demon) get REALLY bogged down with Kazaa open, thoght maybe that's just what Kazaa does. Kind of ironic, since the only reason i really keep this pc is for PC only prograsm like Kazaa . ..
  21. macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2003
    Actually, I should restate what I said. Depending on how much of a jump you're making, it may not be worth it. Also, your bus speed will also make a difference.
  22. macrumors 65816

    Apr 28, 2004
    the lack of macintosh parts makes building your own mac next to impossible (you can build one, but it will be using old parts from a computer that nobody wants anymore, you will have next to zero success finding new G5 parts). I wish you could build your own Mac, but the lack of a market as well as the lack of parts makes it next to impossible, and you'll end up paying far more than it's worth for the parts.
  23. macrumors 68040


    There are acutally places out there for old Mac parts, like, which refurbishes and sells Mac parts, but usually only Apple techs use them for computers who are out of warranty or the part is no longer made by Apple.
    You could try and find a quicksilver case which has mobo with a 4x AGP slot then you could get a processor card and upgrade it a 1.4ghz G4, and have a decent graphics card.
  24. macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    No, it would be a very powerful, tricked out machine that would cost about 1200 bucks. The myth of a crappy beige box is naive and represents the extent to which some of you Maccies have breen brainwashed.

    Love my Mac, but honestly, PCs are cheaper and won't break on you just because you don't pay 3000 bucks.
  25. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2003
    There is no such thing as 1.8Ghz P3. There is a 1.8Ghz P4, however.

    Common problem when the video driver is outdated. I'm surprised so many PC vendors continue to ship computers with outdated drivers. I had a friend running a nForce IGP motherboard--redraw problems just like you described. 30 second D/l from, restart, and it was gone. It's just that easy :)

    Again, the same problem. Sounds like a spyware/virus problem when icons don't respond the way "they're expected to". Tell him to stop using IE/OE. Run Spybot. Switch to Firefox/Thunderbird.

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