[DIY] Recycling Macbook Motherboard for a Desktop PC

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by MrCarder, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. MrCarder, Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013

    MrCarder macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2012
    Preface/Background: Although I have built a few Windows PCs & HTPCs, I've never tried my hand at a "Hackintosh". I know that the options for components are more limited.

    I have an '08 Macbook that has just been gathering dust since I upgraded ~1 year ago. Recently, my side job as a freelancer (graphic design & video) has been picking up. My new machine gets the job done, but I'd love to have a 'Mac-Pro' to come home to for more intensive work.

    I remembered seeing a project where Mosburn converted his macbook into a Mac Mini on Gizmodo a few years ago, which got me excited. It was written in 2008, and may be a little dated.

    I'm looking to do a similar project, but I'm not really looking for size/design. I'm looking for POWER!

    The Macbook in question is version 4,1. As I said, looks aren't an issue for me (nor size). I now have an extra room in my house and it is going to be set up as an office. Everything still works on the laptop, although the battery no longer holds a charge. I initially planned to sell it, but with the dead battery and some cosmetic damage, I could only get about $200 for it. I think this project would be much more valuable to me.

    Project Goals:
    -Use as much of my existing laptop as possible (the whole buffalo)
    -Use a case that allows upgrades (more memory, more drives)

    -Increase memory (current: 4 | desired:16+)
    -Increase disk space (current: 80gb | desired: 2tb+)
    -At least 1 Solid State

    I know the Mac OS is pretty picky when it comes to components, so the initial question is: Will the system accept my desired spec upgrades? I know that I have to use compatible brands, but I have heard that there are maximums for memory on certain macbooks. Is this because it has to fit in the laptop shell? Or is it just a matter of "there are only (X) slots"?

    If Mosburn's Mac Min DIY is any indicator, I may have to do some soldering to make certain connections. Is there a guide or labeled graphic for my specific board?

    I did find this thread before deciding to post. He seemed to be looking more for upgrades allowing to keep his Macbook shell though. A few users stated that upgrading the specs wouldn't help performance much, which caught me off guard. Is this a true statement or are they referring to something I'm missing? The only thing I could think of is possibly the processor. If anyone suggests upgrading this as well (and if it's even possible) let me know.

    This post also raised some doubts. The consensus seems to be that it is impractical because upgrades are impossible. Is this a software or hardware issue? Although I don't know much about it now, I wouldn't be opposed to learning to mod the motherboard if that would make it possible.

    Thank you!

  2. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    It's highly unlikely that the motherboard will be able to see 16 GB of RAM. I'm not sure what the theoretical limit for that machine is but it's unlikely to be that high.

    As for hard drives, I believe that desktop and laptop drives have the same connectors now so you should be able to connect a larger drive. Be aware that there are probably only two physical connectors (hard drive and DVD) so you'll probably be limited to two drives.
  3. cgk.emu macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2012
    ...? You mean SATA? Yeeeeah, it's the same, but there might be spacing issues.
  4. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    But that '08 MB won't be anything close to a 'Mac Pro' and from the sounds of it, not remotely close to being as powerful to what you replaced that computer with. Even if you were to max out the RAM (which at most is probably 8GB, not 16GB) and put in an SSD, it's still going to be a slow C2D processor. Is the CPU enough to do what you want? I'm asking because you said you do graphic design and video work.

    You said you replaced that computer a year ago. Can't you use whatever you replaced it with at home in your office?
  5. MrCarder thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2012
    Yeah I realized the RAM was pretty much maxed out.

    I currently use my newer Macbook Pro for work. It's great for portability, but I would love to have some extra power from a desktop. I think I'm just going to end up building a Hackintosh. Been reading up on it and I can build a pretty amazing machine for under $1500
  6. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    You wouldn't be getting any extra power from a desktop. You'd have a Mac Book Pro with 8GB of ram (already do-able), and SSD (already do-able), an optional 2nd disk drive (already doable), and no battery (already do-able, but not recommended), and an external monitor (already do-able).

    If you used sata-splitters you may get extra drives, but run the risk of burning out the logic board since it was never designed to power more than 2 devices.

    So you get a 2008 Mac Mini and all you had to do was destroy a MacBook Pro.

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