Built a Hackintosh Pro using a Quo Computer Z77MX-QUO-AOS - Easier than expected!

Discussion in 'Alternatives to Mac Hardware' started by flyingmanatee, May 4, 2014.

  1. flyingmanatee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #1
    I love OS X but at this current juncture, Apple doesn't offer a computer that truly meets all my needs. I considered the 27 inch iMac (with the additional GeForce GTX 780M and Core i7) but graphically, it left too much to be desired as it even the mighty GeForce GTX 780M isn't nearly as powerful as desktop GPUs, like my aging ATI Radeon 6870 in my Mac Pro.

    A few weeks ago something that's always seemed like a pipe dream became a reality once I discovered the "Quo Computer Z77MX-QUO-AOS" motherboard browsing these forums. Its a redesigned Gigabyte motherboard with a wink-wink, none-too-subtle-nod, and nudging of the elbows, "Run any OS". By any OS, they meant none other than OS X.

    After reading up on the Quo Computer, it started off as a successful kickstarter project that actually resulted in a working motherboard (although they never were able to deliver some of the promised stretch goals like built in Wifi/Bluetooth) which left a lot of the funders feeling burned. I took a risk ordering the motherboard and I received it 3 days later. Not bad.

    Despite its short comings, Quo produced a motherboard that spec wise resembled a Macintosh: Firewire 400? Check. Firewire 800? check. USB 3.0? Check. Thunderbolt? Check, with 4 PCIe slots (two 3.0 and two 1.0), 4 DIMM slots (max 32 GB of ram) and an LGA1155 socket for a Core i3/i5/i7 CPU.

    It wasn't the motherboard to end all motherboards being a CPU socket generation late, limited RAM, one solo 16x PCIe slot (and a secondary 8x PCIe slot), one PCIe slot that'd enviably be blocked by a graphics card but it had something no one else had; a special uEFI rom for the motherboard that allowed it to magically boot OS X. Magic indeed, the ROM isn't provided by Quo but a mysterious group called HermitCrab Labs.

    For my computer I decided to use the following hardware:
    • Fractal Design R4 Case
    • Quo Computer Z77MX-QUO-AOS Motherboard
    • Intel Core i7 3770k (3.5 GHz)
    • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 2 GB*
    • SeaSonic Platinum SS-860XP2 Power Supply
    • Crucial Ballistix Sport 16 GB DDR3 Ram (PC3-12800)
    • Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive
    *originally I attempted to use my EFI Rom flashed AMD Radeon 6870 which didn't function properly

    The Holy Bible for this Crusade was a single lone article by TechSpot using the Quo Computer motherboard.
    www.techspot.com/article/720-building-a-hackintosh/

    It provided everything one needed to get the Quo Computing mobo going on a single page. So based on this one article and TonyMacX86 I ordered roughly $1100 of PC hardware to built my own Hacktintosh. All my storage was already in my existing Mac Pro.

    Putting together my PC took a usual amount of time, the Fractal Design R4 is a very large case, roughly the same dimensions as a Mac Pro (mid-tower seems like a short sale). PC cases are still as unsightly as they were about a decade ago: plexiglass and glowing LEDs seem to be still all the rage with the kids.

    Once with the BIOS, I plugged into my computer a USB thumb drive containing the latest ROM for the quo computer mother board, and hit the END key and brought up the motherboard rom flasher. SUCCESS! Next I plugged in my SSD from my Mac Pro... and it booted! The screen was jibbled up (after a quick read, I forgot to enable the video) Once enabled OS X booted! I tested both bootable volumes, a copy of 10.8.5 and 10.9.2, already installed on previous volumes.

    Once the computer was booted, RAM seated securely the biggest problem was my video card which meant dropping $270 on the computer, raising the price from $800ish to roughly $1100ish.

    Strange Problems Encountered:

    • When installing my CPU I managed to bend (without realizing) two of the CPU pins on the motherboard. I had to use an exacto knife to straighten these out.
    • By default the internal video chipset isn't enabled, this requires enabling it. Its clearly outlined in the guide but I still managed to skip it.
    • I couldn't use my old AMD Radeon HD 6870 in my Hackintosh with my 27 inch monitor (2560 x 1440). This was likely due to the EFI rom that I loaded onto the card. Not all the ports are detected due to the flash so perhaps the EFI rom doesn't play nicely with the motherboard's uEFI rom (despite displaying video at the BIOS). The only solution was to buy an nVidia card if I wanted to keep my display.
    • A slightly loosely seated ram caused powering up to fail randomly. Since it was booting occasionally, I didn't think to check the RAM at first.
    • It appears the loosely seated RAM caused the BIOS to corrupt, fortunately the vanilla BIOS reinstall automagically and reapplying the new ROM for uEFI only takes seconds
    • Installing the GeForce drivers were a pain. My drivers installed were from 2011. I found on TonyMacX86 a user who was kind enough to upload the drivers he had, however these did not work. After much digging, I found that nVidia quietly has OS X drivers for its graphics cards which can be found here. http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/73628/en-us Installing these and the sequential update (found in the control panel for the nVidia card) did the trick. I also installed the optional CUDA drivers during the process, it is unknown if this helped.

    Minor annoyances

    • Cubase's stupid USB eLicenser complains that the hardware configuration is different. Isn't the point of damned USB Dongle that I should be able to plug and play? I already hate the damn thing so much that I keep debating if I want to remain in their DRM hellish scheme. Now I need to contact them? C'mon. Shouldn't I be able to plug this thing into any computer I please and launch cubase? This is a problem with Steinberg, not Apple or Hacktinosh related.
    • iTunes gives me an error -50 but appears to work. Messages asks for my keychain access not sure which password its requiring, it isn't the admin.
    • Audio doesn't work out the box, it requires installing kexts.

    Had it not been for the QUO computer motherboard, I don't know if I'd undertaken this project. Once the computer was set up, I literally was able to take my copy of OS X from my Mac Pro to my Hackintosh (and even back to my Mac Pro and back yet again to my Hackintosh).

    I would have gladly paid for a Apple Mac with a user replaceable PCIe graphics card preferable a few drive bays. My previous Mac Pro lasted me 6 years. That's an incredible feat! I can't imagine a 2013 Mac Pro lasting until 2019 as good chunk of the longevity was locked up in upgradability.

    Will this replace my Mac Pro? Its looking very promising. I played Borderlands 2 via Steam with friends to test it out. SATA3 makes a world of difference.
     
  2. bizzle macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    #2
    Are you drunk? A 780m is significantly faster than a 6870.
     
  3. flyingmanatee thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 7, 2014
    #3
  4. bizzle macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 29, 2008
    #4
    That GPU Boss link is still wrong. A 6970 doesn't get 24k in 3DMark 2011. It gets like... 6k, tops.
     
  5. antonis macrumors 68000

    antonis

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    #5
    You can also check all the aforementioned cards here

    The 780M seems to be significantly higher that both Radeons mentioned above.
     
  6. gpzjock, May 5, 2014
    Last edited: May 5, 2014

    gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    #6
    Both Nividia cards mentioned are better performers compared to the 4 year old AMD cards:
    GTX780m http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=GeForce+GTX+780M&id=2536
    GTX760 http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=GeForce+GTX+760&id=2561
    6870 http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=Radeon+HD+6870&id=22
    6970 http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=Radeon+HD+6970&id=84

    The card to beat the 6970 is the GTX 770: http://gpuboss.com/gpus/Radeon-HD-6970-vs-GeForce-GTX-770

    The big difference between the iMac and Hack are the costs to buy. About $1000 more for the iMac to return similar performance.
     
  7. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816

    calaverasgrande

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York.
  8. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Location:
    near Spokane, WA
    #8
    Congratulations! That sounds like quite a project.

    Personally, I would never build a Hackintosh because my computer exists in order for me to make a living. I just don't have the time, knowledge or mental energy necessary to devote to building something that complex from scratch. It's much more efficient to purchase ready-made computers: Doing so allows me to get back to work.

    Still, I do admire and respect those who do this sort of thing, perhaps in the same way that I admire long distance runners: It takes dedication and desire, but I still get there faster in a car. ;)
     
  9. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 20, 2010
    #9
    Have you tested thunderbolt, does it work? Does it show up in system information?
     
  10. KBS756 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2009
    #10

    I've built Hackintoshs for several of my friends and their small issues despite their savings would really wear on me so I do agree with you on not living with one.
     
  11. flyingmanatee thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #11
    Ah, internet forums, where people go for validation.

    antonis, gpzjock, bizzle: Never been told I've been wrong so fast on the internet, more effective than the thesis panel. 6970 apparently doesn't score as high, but I recall looking at 2560 x 1600 benchmarks sometime ago and being disappointed by the 780M, alas I digress...

    calaverasgrande: And yes, thanks for clarifying. Its pretty easy for me to confuse the brushed metal aluminum tower sitting next to generic white sheet metal box. Sooo... its the one that the icon, that looks like an Apple on it that's the Mac Pro right? I think I'm getting better at this.

    ashman70: Thunderbolt shows up but the only Thunderbolt cables I have are in my office, one for my external display for my work MacBook Pro, and a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt connector. I suppose I could always boot the MacBook in Target disk mode.

    sigmadog & KBS756: I hear that, my work computer is a company provided MacBook Pro 15 inch Retina. That computer I keep almost exclusively for web development. A hacktinosh isn't a viable option as one's only Mac.

    If I had a lot more disposable income, I'd probably have just gone for a 27 inch iMac, maxed out but then again, I'd probably ditched my 2008 Mac Pro ages ago. Since my Mac Pro has been my primary computer for home where I mostly do creative projects, (once upon a time some freelanced gigs for a few TV Shows) and some gaming, I'm not sure if I really want to give up the stability I've become accustomed to.

    Using a Hacktintosh reminds me of transporting back to the early days of OS X, like 10.0 and 10.1 and 10.2, especially when using PCI cards like storage controllers and audio cards. Tracking down random kexts, trashing .plists, and sudo -rming esoteric system files, and cruising crash logs isn't my ideal of a good time. This hasn't been as painful as I'd thought but...

    -------------------
    Update

    After a few days, my Hackintosh suddenly exhibited a problem that's eluded me, which might be the deal breaker and usher a heap of returns to Amazon. The damn thing keeps booting with the CPU clocked to the wrong speed. I've set the BIOS to disable HyperSpeed, EIST and messed with other settings but the computer frequently boots clocked 4.3 GHz. Unsure where the problem lies. I've done some research but no real leads yet. This creates a funtastic slideshow effect and the computer runs slow which requires rebooting until it corrects itself. Its a bizarre problem. Since the CPU will be reporting higher-than-normal speed sometimes at the Motherboard's Bios/uEFI level, this doesn't seem to be a Hackintosh specific problem. I'm sure it'd manifest in Windows which brings me to the other problem.

    Booting windows appears to be more effort than I figured it'd be. My old bootcamp HDD isn't detected as a bootable volume by the uEFI and when you try to boot, it just ignores it. I'm guessing this requires a uEFI boot record and thus my bootcamp install of Windows 7 won't cut it. I don't have a lot on my Windows drive that can't be replaced other than some game saves. I'm not in a rush to reinstall Windows yet again after Windows 7 inexplicably self corrupted in a wonderful bluescreen of death a few months ago after about two years of a trouble free existence.

    The Quo board removed like 3/4s of the ******** associated with Hackintoshes. Considering my hackintosh experience nearly nill, I'm pleasantly surprised. That said, the iffy behavior of the CPU clock speed isn't something I think I want to balance $850ish on. I've resigned myself that no matter what I did on this venture that I'd be stuck with the motherboard as QUO just doesn't seem like a company that is going to stand by its product. I'm not sure if its a lemon, a software conflict on the motherboard, a bunk CPU (unlikely) or what.
     
  12. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    #12
    Not sure if you want it to boot at base speed (3.5) or if you're trying to clock it higher and it won't go above 4.3.. But anyway, I built a hackintosh a few months ago, and trid to overclock it from 3.5 base speed to as high as I could, aimed at 4.7. No matter what I did I couldn't get over 4.3, that seemed to be some fixed limit.

    What solved it for me was to change some settings in Chameleon - I changed "GenerateCStates" and "GeneratePStates" options in Chameleon to "no", after that it worked great to set the clock to higher than 4.3. Maybe that could help you?

    On my machine I had two drives, so I started with installing Windows 8 on one drive, and after that was done, OS X on the other. After OS X install was done, I just selected some options in Chameleon to show boot selector, default boot device and such, and dual-boot win/osx worked straight away. I've tried booting VMWare from the other drive and that worked fine at least.
     
  13. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    #13
    A lot of the ppl on tonymac are experiencing random freezes on their hackintoshes. I just can't see myself using such a machine for mission critical work.
     
  14. flyingmanatee thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #14
    Nah, no interest in overclocking, I got that out of my blood back in the G3 days with the daughter cards. I've tried to enforce the 3.5 GHz speed. Sometimes the computer turns on and the CPU is jacking itself up without any real explanation.

    Thanks for the info. I'll look at Chameleon. I used any boot loaders or anything of that nature yet. I've been trying to carry my Vanilla OS X install as far as it can go.


    Haven't experienced a single Kernal Panic or random crash, just a CPU timing issue.
     
  15. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    #15
    I built a Hackintosh out of an Asus P67 Sabretooth board, I standard clock set a 2700k i7 Sandybridge to 3.5 GHz and slung in a GTX660ti all for £1200 including a nice case, 16 GB RAM, 2 x 256GB SSD and 750w PSU.
    Runs like a Mac on Mountain Lion and has run well since Feb 2013. I swapped in a GTX 770 4GB Palit Jetstream card back in June and love it to pieces. Hope your Quo board issues are resolved soon. Hacks are fun to make and use. Your Mac Pro with a 6970 in it is still a good workstation but you can build a better one for far less money now. Provided you can do your own dirty work.
     
  16. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    #16
    I agree, building a hackintosh is great fun. I wouldn't recommend it to the average user that just want to get up and running as soon as possible, but for us that likes to "tinker" a bit it's a really fun project.

    Here is a link to my build I did a while ago. Didn't have much trouble setting it up, and once it was up and running it has worked 100% like a real mac. I can't say that I agree with the above statement that they crash/freeze a lot.
     
  17. driverguru macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2014
    #17
    You can have many bootable drives on a QUO motherboard

    SELECTING A DRIVE TO BOOT CONTAINING WINDOWS 7 is EASY on QUO motherboard.

    You first set the 'bios' to allow UEFI AND LEGACY boot, then whwn you hit 'F12' a few times after seeing boot logo, a list of storage devices and UEFI abstract nvram settings shows up. You want to select a sata device containing your BOOTABLE windows 7. Typically MBR, but GPT is allowed too, but it HAS to be on a separate drive from mac, or else boot gets hijacked into mac os x.

    So two things : set your machine permanently to allow selecting no UEFI boot devices, and also use f12 key to select which drive to boot from.

    use 'Delete' key, of course to enter 'bios' settings of motherboard

    The setting is in third 'bios' tab : BOOT OPTIONS, scroll down BOOT OPTIONS looking for setting called : BOOT MODE SELECTION

    change BOOT MODE SELECTION from "UEFI Only" to "UEFI and LEGACY"

    now when saved, your QUO computer can boot off standard hard drives and SSDs and DVD drives that have bootable osses on them requiring some form of bios load.

    Its that simple, but NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT EVER ON ANY blog.

    You do need to have your hackintosh OS on a separate boot drive and should use pure UEFI for OSX for convenience.
     
  18. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    #18
    Did your system create a recovery partition with this board and your vanilla install?
     
  19. hollandog, May 7, 2014
    Last edited: May 7, 2014

    hollandog macrumors regular

    hollandog

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    #19
    I built 2 hackintosh before I finally gave up on them due to random small annoying quirks.

    First one was:
    Intel Q6600
    Gigabyte Motherboard
    4GB ram
    Nvidia 8600GTS
    WD HDD


    I was using this setup as my Windows machine for few years with no issues until one day I wanted to turn Windows into OSX. This machine was pretty fast at the time.

    After it turned into a Hackintosh, it kept having random freeze that I wasn't able to fix due to the nvidia chip compatibility issue. I bought a new nvidia GTX 660 Ti and apparently it fixed the random freeze.

    A year later I upgraded my build to:
    Intel i7-3770
    Gigabyte UD5H Motherboard
    16gb ram
    kept the Nvidia 660 Ti
    Sandisk Extreme SSD


    This built has it's own share of headaches, even it was a golden built in tonymac's forum. I spent 2 days to figure out some bios setting issues with the Intel 3770. After everything is setup, the machine is fast as hell.

    3 months later the issues started to come.

    1) The usb ports weren't detecting from cold boot. I couldn't login to OSX as my usb keyboard would not detect. Restarting fixed the issue.

    2) The sound gets distorted slowly as you watch movie or listen to music until to the point you can't stand it anymore. I did some test and my speaker wasn't the problem.

    3) Sometimes cold boot would show me that there's issue with the bios and I had to go into bios to reload my settings in order to boot.

    4) OSX updates. You don't know if you want to install the update. Every update install is like gamble. You don't know if it will break your setup. You need to reapply the Multi-beast to get some things back to work after updates, like sound driver, etc.


    After a year of annoyance I say fk it. Now I'm using my MBP hooked to a Caldigit TB dock as DeskLaptop. Not as fast but enough for what I do. It's nice now that I don't need to worry about random small issues. But it was fun building the Hackintosh.

    The Hackintosh is now back to a Win7 machine for my Dad and it's running flawlessly.
     
  20. driverguru macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 7, 2014
    #20
    Properly built hackintoshes, using expensive motherboards and good power supplies have no problems ever in my experience.
    ASUS P5k-e wifi + AMD HD 6870 + your Q6600 CPU]
    and
    QUO Computer + GTX 770 + latest drivers + your i7-3770 CPU

    fancy power supply and ram in both

    maybe you had dying cmos battery? maybe more than one ground path to more than one outlet?// or maybe UPS but others plugged in outside UPS path?/ or maybe salt spray ions corroding? / or probably TIN WHISKERS. google image search 'tin whiskers', bad cables or loose, etc.

    never had a crash, never had a problem and one machine has 10 hard drives , 4 cards, and 3 optical drives in it.
     
  21. hollandog macrumors regular

    hollandog

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    #21
    Motherboard might have issue but they weren't low end boards. Gigabyte boards are highly recommended over tonymac's because of compatibility.

    The same setup is running perfectly now that I put Win7 back on it for my Dad.
     
  22. flyingmanatee thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #22
    A scholar and gentleman, can't wait to try this when I get home. Still have my CPU timing issue.
     
  23. flyingmanatee thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    #23
    Thanks, took a me a second to find it and I'm posting from Windows 7 while installing drivers.
     

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