Mac Pro vs. Hackintosh

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by adddictedtomac, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2012
    Saw on YouTube many hackers building their own 'Mac Pros' with i7 CPUs and ATI 5780 GPUs, etc etc and in the end they have a 'Fast' Mac Pro equivalent at a fraction of the price. Some spent less than Eur 500.

    Funny enough, some of them, even went out and got a PowerMac G5 and modded the case to get a Mac Pro 'authenticity'.

    What are your thoughts on this? (or experiences) Is it really worth the gamble?:D
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Have you tried the following Hackintosh specific fora and websites yet?

    While the entry Mac Pro is a bit overpriced, the higher models are worth their money and use higher quality components than an i7, they use server grade CPUs and RAM and chipsets. A similarly specced HP or Dell workstation sometimes even costs more than a Mac Pro and once the Mac Pro is using Sandy Bridge Xeons they will be up to date.

    Just because you can build a tower with some consumer grade components, doesn't mean you build a Mac Pro.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    In some cases you can build an equivalent Mac in terms of performance for a fraction of the price from pc parts, however experience with hardware is a must. The hackintosh community has come a long way in the last 3-5 years and the tools and methods available make is easy for most people to build one. As long as you buy compatible parts, have patience and can put them together yourself, you can have a very stable hackintosh, but as I said, its mostly for hobbyists or those driven to have a mac at low cost.
  4. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Fun to do, and a great learning experience. I haven't built a hackintosh myself, but I used to build my own PCs.

    Just keep in mind that you are saving money - not time. There is time involved researching what you will need, sourcing the parts, and assembling the parts. And then time needed to debug why something isn't working. And if you get a faulty part - you may have a hard time getting it replaced (depending on level of customer service for the vendor) since you can't "prove" a part is faulty simply because it won't work with an unsupported OS.

    Also... future updates to the OS will require you to spend some time ensuring that Apple hasn't thrown a curve ball.

    So.. if this is a machine for fun, and if you want to learn lots about how a computer is put together, then go for it....

    But if this machine is meant to get some work done... well, have a backup system just in case a part fails as it may take some time to work it out. Remember that your warranty is spread out by the number of vendors you have used. And that the OS is totally unsupported.

    Two other caveats. You are not building a Mac Pro, you are building a generic tower that runs OS X. May still run great.... but it ain't a Mac Pro.

    Technically you are running OS X unlicensed. If you care about protecting intellectual property - well you are infringing on it. I suspect Apple doesn't really care since they know that 9 times out of 10 you will be back buying Apple HW in a couple of years.
  5. macrumors regular

    Dec 6, 2010
    I've built them and did exactly that. The power is nice, but it isn't a mac. Just like a custom built high end gaming PC isn't an alienware. Raw power isn't everything.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010

    Actually if you visit they have many builds that work flawlessly, listing all the parts, where you can buy them, its actually pretty simple to do, all the parts work and are easily replaced if they fail. The support on the board is incredible and very helpful. I hear where you are coming from, but its not like it used to be in the old days, not at all.

    Yes you are running OSX unlicensed, so there is that which you have to live with, but over at tonymacx86 they do not and will not tolerate discussions about pirated software and always tell people to buy Snow Leopard or Lion if hey want to build a Hack, I understand even if you buy it and install it on non Apple hardware, you are violating the EULA.

    Not sure I understand the 'its not a Mac Pro' comments, if you can build an i7 system that benches close to the latest Mac Pro, then in terms of power, its virtually equal, isn't it? I realize that the parts, the Xeon's the logic board, etc in a Mac Pro are vastly different from anything you can build from PC parts, but I think from the perspective of those building hackintosh's they want the power equivalent and could care less about the rest.
  7. macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2011
    I agree 100% -- they are fantastic for the learning experience and for those of us who like DIY projects. They are NOT something you should gamble with for a production environment or one where you intend to make your primary income through as your risk of failure is higher and your downtime will be longer.

    If you have a Mac Pro and something breaks, you can pretty easily get a replacement part (yes it may be expensive but you'll be able to get back to work ASAP).
  8. macrumors 603


    Aug 5, 2010
    They don't tolerate piracy and it's definitely aimed at a hobby type project. I've never done one. There are little things that supposedly do not work at times. I think someone on there had a workaround for disk warrior.

    It depends how you want to use it. Most people who buy mac pros use them for work, and they want full licensing compliance and support. A G5 case would require quite a lot of work given that it won't fit a standard board size. Apple ignores these guys because they're hobbyists, and they bring Apple publicity. Most of the guys on there who have hackintoshes also own macs. In some cases they'll own a macbook pro and a hackintosh or an ipad or something Apple.

    I just want to respond on the 500 euro comment. If you're building it yourself, you can find parts without spending a lot, but you won't be using the exact same hardware. He was obviously looking for a good cost to performance ratio. The single socket mac pros are pretty expensive for what you get. That's never been debated, and everyone who buys them is aware of the existence of hackintoshes.

    Also Xeon cpus are not a lot more expensive than i7 equivalents. Even ECC ram is about the same price. It's just with i7s you're not quite so restricted on boards. The cpu in the baseline mac pro is $300 or so. It's nothing too insane in terms of cpu cost.

    I just wanted to lend some perspective here. If you were trying to a case with similar build quality and match most of the parts as close as possible, it would cost you significantly more, but still much less than a mac pro. If you're worried about anything breaking on updates, you can always keep a backup of a known working configuration.
  9. macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2011
    So freakin tired of listening about the cost of Apple computers.
    Do you understand that it costs to assemble a computer, to create the software, warranties etc etc.?????
    If you cant afford to use a mac, no one is putting a gun to your head and tell you to do so.
    Buy a freakin playstation, or whatever.
  10. Cindori, Mar 17, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012

    macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    Sure, a brand new Mac Pro is worth the cash.

    But after 2 years, the cost of parts in the Mac Pro go down several hundred dollars.

    The Mac Pro price does not reflect this. Even when you want replacement parts, you actually pay more then what the part cost when it was brand new. (excluding the repair service fee).

    Of course people are going to turn to the hackintosh scene, provided they don't need Xeons, ECC, and can handle tweaking the system etc.

    A friend of mine basically has no OSX system experience, he's a graphics/photoshop dude. Recently he bought a gaming PC with Intel 2600k, GTX 580 etc. I gave him the tip go hackintosh it, as he uses OSX on his Macbook and likes it. He said it was probably too troublesome.

    Eventually I persuaded him, and gave him one single link to a brief guide on TonyMac x86. Within a couple of hours he logged back in, "hey, I'm in osx now and everything works great :D".

    Hackintoshing has really come a long way, it's actually easier to install OSX on a PC (with compatible parts) then it is to install Windows.
  11. macrumors 65816


    Jun 30, 2002
    Rancho Cordova, CA
  12. macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    Even at launch the single processor 2009 and 2010 systems were $1,000+ more than those of other companies though. I think that is what has been the focus of complaints the last 3 years in addition to no minor component bumps. In the end it's just the price to have a powerful OS X system, you want it or you don't and over 3-5 years usage the hardware limitations Apple impose come across as more of an annoyance than the initial purchase price.

    There will always be complaints of course. 2006-2009 it was "why pay $2,500-$2,800 when a cheap PC runs applications too" ignoring the 8GB memory limits, half the number of cores, no SAS and no OS X. Now it's a PC with same performance is half the price or can be built for $1,000-$1,500 less. It'll always happen because there will always be someone who the Mac Pro isn't aimed at and Apple don't care about in any way that will moan.

    Too many people wanting to feel superior over another because of what they perceive as poor purchasing choice. First world silliness at it's finest really.
  13. macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    It always costs a bit more to get over the "cheap-ass" hump. I always buy better than the base and my prices are equal to less than a PC at the time I buy. It wasn't any cheaper if I got and built a Xeon workstation with a decently comparable case. I also don't care for a couple hundred over because I don't like using Win unless it is painting my video games. The complaints are so incredibly useless as you can only compare HW. Which does nothing without SW. Point is if you don't go "cheap-ass" Apple is fairly competitive within the first 6 months of product cycle. After that just wait.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9B176 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Not sure how you can call the $2500 entry price "cheap-ass". Base model is overpriced. Compare it to a base iMac at less than half the cost.
  15. macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    It is the USER who is cheap ass. Not the price of the Mac. The entry is expensive but there are models that compare favorably to PC prices.
    iMac can't really be compared to Mac Pro because it has none of the features that drive users to the Mac Pro (ie. PCI expansion, extra HDD bays) If an iMac can get you by awesome, it is a great all-in-one. iMac GPU is crap though. And I select my own displays.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2009
    C2Q & i7 (not Sandy Bridge) Hacks here. If there's a new Mac Pro, I'll pony up. If not, I'll end up with Sandy Bridge and i7 Hacks. Considering my i7 is stable at 4.0 when I want to push things, yes, I'd say it's worth it.

    My first one was a Sun desktop with an AMD CPU that didn't support SSE3. That one was a bit of a hassle (custom kernel). It's a snap now - custom installers, compatibility lists, etc.
  17. macrumors 68030

    Oct 15, 2008
    If you don't mind fiddling with things and all you care about is the OS and benchmarks, then a hackintosh is not bad.

    If you don't like fiddling with things, you appreciate the Mac Pro case and whisper quiet operation.. and you want to be legit on your licenses, then the real deal is where it's at.

    For me a hackintosh was just a gateway drug.
  18. macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It comes down to:
    1. How valuable is your time?
    2. Can you spare the time necessary to fix the system in the event of a problem?
    3. Are you technically minded (at this point, it's really a matter of "can you follow directions" if you follow the hardware recommendations)?
    4. What is your budget?
    From a technical standpoint, they can be just as reliable as a MP (both hardware and software), if you get parts others have already tried and discovered they worked properly.

    Though you can save money, the trade-off is time. Not only to put it together, but to maintain that system in the event of a problem. That said, the latter isn't much of an issue anymore if you follow the directions on various sites previously linked (includes hardware selection). But if it happens, you'll have to have the skills to do so, as well as be able to put in the time to fix it.

    It's even possible to do with Xeons and workstation/server boards, but you'll be on your own for most of it last I checked (almost zero on Xeon's and related boards).

    So it all comes down to your specific needs and limitations.

    I know it's not a simple answer, but every person's specific needs must be addressed, as person A may be fine with using a consumer grade Hackintosh, that may/may not be the case for you.

    And you're the only person who can figure this out. :eek: :p
  19. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    The time involved may or may not be an issue, depending on the person. Regardless of how easy tonymacx86 makes it, it is more time than buying a MacPro. Buy a MacPro, one purchase. Build a hackintosh, multiple purchases.... even if you simply using a parts list.... it's multiple purchases. Then there is the assembly and testing and QC. Not saying it's necessarily a huge investment.... but it could be if you don't know what you are doing.

    And that's if everything goes right. A part could be broken.... time to figure it out. You could break a part..... always a possibility if you are self-assembling. Again... may not be an issue for everyone... but anyone doing this needs to know what is involved going in.

    And the warranty is now held by each part's supplier... if nothing breaks... not an issue. I had two parts break on my MacPro... the GPU took out my logic board. Apple warranty covered it without trying to figure out whose warranty was involved.
    You may benchmark it equal to a MacPro, but that doesn't make it a MacPro. i7s are not Xeons. Regular Ram is not ECC RAM. It's like building a Ford with 3rd party replacement parts. It may act just like a Ford, but it's not a Ford. It may even be better than a Ford.... but it's still not a Ford. Semantics. But important ones.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    Right, but my point is that those building a hackintosh don't care about the Xeon's, the ECC ram or any of the other parts that mac up the real Mac Pro, they want the equivalent in performance only.
  21. macrumors 68040

    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Unless you're putting a Xeon with ECC ram in there, it isn't equivalent, and won't be acceptable for many people in the mac pro market.

    Yes, apple have a hole in their lineup between the current mac pro and the iMac, but building something with an i7 and consumer motherboard, etc is not building something equivalent, irrespective of cpu benchmarks.
  22. macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Except without Xeon you can't really scale up equivalent performance the same way a Mac Pro does. An i7 doesn't hold a candle to a DP Mac Pro.
  23. Tutor, Mar 17, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012

    macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2009
    Home of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
    , unless it's using a $1000 SandyBridge E i7 3960X or a $583 i7 3930k (in the hands of a clock tweaker) being compared to the top of the line $6K+ DP 2010 Mac Pro. [See, e.g., or and compare with this ] I know that the SB examples are running Windows, but historically its been more difficult to get the Mac score equivalent using Windows on the same system. Also, to compare the performance of one tweaked i7 980X (6 core Westmere) to that of the Mac Pro (Mid 2010) dual X5650 2.66 GHz (12 core - Xeon Westmeres), compare e.g., with .

    The i7 3930k (or its Xeon equivalent - $583 Xeon 1650 - if you want to use ECC ram) is dollar for dollar the best chip to use for a 1P self-built system. The Xeon equivalent for the i7 3960X is the $1080 Xeon 1660 chip - .
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The only thing keeping me from going hackintosh in terms of a tower-computer is the lack of a decent looking case. All the cases are plastic and ugly and the aluminum cases are just weird looking.

    The Mac Pro is an exceptionally constructed tower and its internals and the system with "trays" are genius since it's really easy to maintain a clean and good looking computer while at the same time keeping it easy to add extra memory or other things. If there were any tower available for PC that are similar to that of the build-quality of a Mac Pro, even if it's 250$+~, I'd buy it and build a hackintosh because I definitely agree with everything else about Mac Pro's being overpriced.

    Don't get me wrong. For those that need that kind of power the Mac Pro isn't overpriced. But the only market that Apple currently has NOTHING in is for the prosumers. Those that don't want a compromised computer in the form of an iMac with _mobile_ GPU and non-easy upgradability. I get the idea of the iMac, it's great for people who want it to "just work" - and the iMac isn't a bad computer by any measurements. But for those of us who wants a more easially upgraded computer, it really isn't for us. So we have the Mac Mini instead... but it's the same thing there really. Plus it's so small, you can't add extra hdd's/ssd's so you'll need external cases.

    Not to mention, mobile GPU isn't the best for gaming, doing rendering, etc. If you're working with graphics for a living, the Mac Pro is definitely the way to go. But for me, who does the occassional graphics-work where I need rendering capability aswell as needing good graphics for gaming, an iMac is just not good enough. And the Mac Pro is TOO good for my needs.

    So, hackintosh is really the most viable choice... IF(!!) they had a good looking case.
  25. macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    I'm pretty happy with my NZXT H2. While it is plastic, it sports a much smarter design then the Mac Pro when it comes to expansion.

    The front is covered by a door, and behind it are front fans that are connected by magnets. You can just pick them off, and behind them you can access 8 HDD sleds to remove/add drives. Without removing any side door. Trays feature rubber around the screws, so no vibration sound which you get in the all-aluminium Mac Pro.

    The case is only $99.



    Also fairly easy to get good cable management, here is a pic from my build:


    It's even much more silent then my old 2006 Mac Pro. Specs are: i2500k (OC to 4.5GHz), 8GB 1600Mhz ram, ATI 6950 1GB.

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