Hack Pro or Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by tehninja, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. tehninja macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2010
    I'm currently on a Dual 2.3 G5 Power Mac and I'm finally ready to purchase a new computer for my video / animation / design needs. Primary uses for the machine will be 3d, compositing, and film editing with FCP.

    I'm not sure if I should build myself a hack pro now, or wait and see what apple will be offering when / if the next Mac Pro's come out. Not absolutely life or death that I get a machine asap, but I'll need one sooner than later.

    I don't really have any experience building a hackintosh, but I used to build my own PC's before I jumped over to the mac side, so that's not unfamiliar territory for me. I'm actually curious as to the pros/cons of either a hack pro or a mac pro. Any advice?
  2. PowerGamerX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 9, 2009
    Well, I wouldn't go for a hack-pro personally, but anyway, if you've gotten by with a G5 this long for all your uses, then you can find a nice, almost new Mac Pro with relatively the same specs as the current one for about 1300-1600 USD. If you're totally against going used, then I guess just wait. Personally, I'd just go used. Hackintosh's almost always have something wrong with them at one point or another.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Hack lets you have a lot more options. You can use the same parts when upgrading e.g. mobo and CPU. It's also cheaper. However, it's bigger hassle and updating is not so easy. Take a look at insanelymac for Hackintosh help
  4. nyzwerewolf macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    tehninja, i am a college student who wanted a Mac Pro so badly an year ago, but could not afford it. So I had to build a Hackintosh. I am not very savy with all the kext files and all that core stuff of Hackintosh. I just wanted a simple method of building a powerful machine that I can run 10.5/10.6 to run Adobe Master Collection, Final Cut Studio 3, Aperture, LightRoom, etc.

    Here is my Hackintosh specs:

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83Ghz 12MB Cache
    MOTHERBOARD: Gigabyte EP45-UD3R
    RAM: 8GB (4 X 2GB) DDR2 1066 Mhz
    Boot Drive: Western Digital 640GB 32MB Cache
    Boot Drive Clone: Western Digital 640GB 32MB Cache
    Final Cut Scratch Drive 1:Western Digital 1TB 32MB Cache
    Final Cut Scratch Drive 2:Western Digital 1TB 32MB Cache
    GPU: nvidia 285 GTX
    Power Supply: 1000W Thermaltake
    OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.4

    I installed the snow leopard using retail disc. No hacking/modifying to the OS was done.

    When I started building my hackintosh, i purchased "EFI-X", but it died on me. So don't buy EFIX. Instead, use this lifehacker guide: http://lifehacker.com/5360150/install-snow-leopard-on-your-hackintosh-pc-no-hacking-required

    I have been using it since December 2009, and never had any issues. I can update the OS directly from Apple. Install any Mac applications.

    All these stuff cost me 1000-1500 bucks. I will buy Mac Pro when I can afford it... hopefully the next release. Until then the hackintosh will do the work for me.
  5. donw35 macrumors regular


    Jul 3, 2010
    Los Angeles
    It’s called Hackintosh for a reason; you will enviably need to do some hacking. A Mac Pro will deliver on the end user experience a lot better than a hackintosh but if money is tight and you can afford downtime due to updates that may or may not cause issues then it may be an option.
  6. Oldschoolwax macrumors member

    Feb 5, 2007
    Biggest downside I see is that for crunching, you may really want to max out the ram later in life, going the hack rout may take away some of that longevity... but the cost savings my help in that regard. That being said, honestly if you really spec it well, there is not so much money to be saved in the long run. The biggest downside to MacPro is that the freeking idiots designed it to suck air through the optical bays which requires cleaning... ***** stupid! Yet, I love my '08... so go figure.
  7. Giuly macrumors 68040


    If you make money with your Mac, get a Mac Pro. Else build yourself a i7 or Xeon Hackintosh. If you need a dual processor system, a Hackintosh would be the same price of a Mac Pro, unless you realize that with Opterons -> which puts more Hack into Hackintosh, because it doesn't work out-of-the-box like the X58 Hackintoshes. Building a AMD hackintosh is like building a Intel one a couple of years ago, regarding to the time you have to spend to get it up and running. Depends on your skills whether it works on not.
    Pros are $, cons are 1) you have to spend time to set up, 2) you have to spend time to maintain it 3) you don't get a nice brushed aluminum cover and all the small details which make Macs the best computers in the world. The experience of building a Hackintosh may satisfy people switching from GNU/Linux because they are used to do this stuff, but if you are switching from a real Mac or Windows, you may find it annoying or not have the skills to search drivers and spend hours on the console to make things work. Also, you need to calculate that you may have to spend time every time a system update (i.e. 10.6.2 to 10.6.3) occurs to fix your system, and you have to wait until 3rd party stuff is ready to take the update without leaving your system unbootable, and spend time on the console of the installation DVD to fix that again.
  8. 68topls macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2009
    Hack Pro

    I currently do video / animation / design / recording using Adobe Master suite, Final Cut Pro and pro tools HD (occasionally Logic when requested). I do a majority of the work on a real 8 core mac pro with a non-apple branded 4890 card and a mac book pro. I also have an i7 hackintosh. I had most of the parts lying around from a dead imac, pc & wanted to avoid buying a new imac for home use. About a month ago I took the mac pro in to apple to have the wireless card replaced and add some more memory. So I started doing a lot of work on the hackintosh (almost two weeks worth of use) and didn't miss a beat. It is completely 100% stable and I have it overclocked. The problem your going to run into with the hackintosh is:

    1. Make sure all of the parts are going to work together on snow leopard.
    2. Know what additionally needs to be done to get them to work together.
    3. Don't ever install an update without checking multiple sites on it's compatibility with the modified kexts, boot loader, etc unless you are prepared not to work for a while.

    If your willing to deal with the pain of getting it up and running (which is actually getting way easier) and knowing you can't run auto updates, etc you should be fine. If I knew for sure that there was going to be a mac pro released with all the rumored specs in say six moths I would sell my current mac pro and work exclusively on the hackintosh until then. I'm setting out to build another i7 hackintosh for my little brother.....go figure....
  9. ytk macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2010
    They're really very different animals. If you have to ask the question, you probably shouldn't build a Hackintosh as your primary work machine. That's not to say it can't be done, but until you've built one you have no idea what you're getting yourself into.

    The best analogy I can think of is this: Buying a Mac Pro is like walking into your Harley dealer and riding off on a brand new hog. Putting together a Hackintosh is like building a custom chopper starting from a chassis and engine. Sure, they're both motorcycles. But they're not really even close to the same thing. The Harley is a highly engineered and tuned machine with components that are designed to work together*, and the chopper is an assemblage of individual parts that, with skill, patience, and a bit of luck, will run relatively smoothly. Of course, you get exactly the bike you want with the chopper (not to mention the coolness factor), but it's never going to quite be a Harley.

    With the Harley, if you have any problems with it you take it back to the dealer and they fix it. You might be able to do a bit of maintenance on your own, but certain things are simply beyond your reach. For example, a Mac Pro at work just died suddenly, probably due to a bad power supply. With off the shelf PC hardware this is trivial to replace, but it's not something that can be fixed easily on a Mac Pro, if you can even diagnose that is the problem in the first place. But then, you don't have to worry about that, because you just take it back to Apple or pay someone to fix it for you.

    With the chopper, you'll be intimately familiar with every component in the system. Which is a really good thing, because you can expect absolutely bupkis in terms of official support. Since it's your custom setup, a given component may or may not work correctly--or at all--and pretty much the only way to find out is to try it and see if it works. Even then, you have no idea about the long term reliability of the system.

    Having built several Hackintoshes myself--my main desktop has been a Hackintosh of some sort for the last two years--I can tell you that it's never as straightforward as it might seem. Getting the system up and running is no picnic. There are no clear instructions on how to use all of the tools together to even get the system to boot OS X, and when something doesn't work correctly, you're left with little more than a cryptic error message, or just a consistent hang. Once you do get it working, you're going to have to learn about kexts, graphics strings, DSDT files, and so on just to get each individual component working. Software Update? Yeah, good luck with that. It might work, but it's just as likely to break something in some unexpected way. Also, there are weird bugs that will just surface randomly, even after you have everything ostensibly working. Some of these will be merely annoying (e.g., the system doesn't shut down properly after waking up from sleep) and some will be real hair-tearers to diagnose and fix, if it's even possible to fix them (e.g., ripping a DVD from a SATA drive causes random kernel panics, but only if you have more than 4GB of RAM installed).

    Eventually, though, you'll most likely end up with one of two outcomes: a flakey computer that will give you no end of trouble on a daily basis until it ultimately dies in a spectacular way, taking part of your data with it; or a system that's reliable and stable, but somewhat fragile in that if you screw with it too much in terms of changing the hardware or mucking with the OS, something is more likely than not to stop working properly. I've built both kinds; in fact, my current hardware was previously the former under 10.5, but with the upgrade to 10.6.2 it has become rock solid. Even then, updating to 10.6.3 caused my sound card to stop working. I managed to fix it without too much trouble after searching through the incredibly helpful forums at insanelymac.com, but it was still an extra hassle that would not have been an issue on a real Mac.

    The flip side of this is that you gain a lot more flexibility in terms of what you can add to the system. Off the shelf PC video cards? Sure, no problem. Stuff five hard drives in your case? Yep, and I've still got room to spare. Want a faster processor? Just swap it out. Of course, you'll still have to configure all of these things, and any one of them might not end up working, but on a Mac Pro, it would be impossible anyway.

    So, the bottom line is that if you want a customizable system, want to learn about the inner workings of a Macintosh, have a reasonably solid grounding in Unix and the command line and computer building (or are willing to learn), and don't mind wrenching your system on a semi-regular basis, a Hackintosh can be a great choice and a fun learning experience. If you're looking for a computer for work, and can't face the prospect of having your computer potentially explode at any given time with no tech support available at any cost, then a Mac Pro would be a better choice.

    *Well, that's the theory at least...
  10. Giuly macrumors 68040


    ytk: I agree, but you forgot golden rule: Never touch a running system.

    Yeah, that... makes sense.
  11. 68topls macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2009
    Not sure what you mean by this comment..... the air card was flaky and they blamed it on memory......
  12. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2009
    Nope, tonymacx86.com is the place to go. With their method there's just about no hacking required. My main system (see sig) is a Hackintosh that does everything I want it to do – and way faster than my Mac Pro, which I am about to sell now; the Hack cost me ~€800 (...which is what Apple wants for a mini!)
    Just have a look at that forum and the guide you find at tonymacx86.blogspot.com. It's brain-dead easy.

    The lifehacker guide?! You don't want to build a Core 2 Duo/Quad Hack nowadays. For about the same money you can build yourself an i5/i7 one with even less effort than the lifehacker guide.
  13. parakiet macrumors regular

    Nov 23, 2008
    true for only one kind of mobos.

    i'm spending hours on insanelymac now.

    probably going to build my own 3,3 quad i7, 12 gig ram, ssd hackintosh :p
  14. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3


    Apr 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Would there be any legal repercussions from using illegally** using OS X for production reasons?

    **I'd like to see a court case that supports this, but it is against the EULA.
  15. Giuly macrumors 68040


    It's an End-User License Agreement, not a federal law.

    Worst case scenario would be: Apple sues you on regrets about the hardware you didn't purchase to run OSX. With an average lawyer, the court gives you a sentence to pay $700 for a Core2Duo hackintosh, or $2000 for an i7 hackintosh, plus the costs of the case. A better lawyer makes an arrangement to make Apple forget about your hackintosh. A son-of-a-bitch lawyer goes up to US surpreme court and makes Apple take it out of the EULA for personal usage because of some strange reason regarding to discrimination and even have his unreasonable wage paid by Apple.

    Those EULAs are questionable anyways, as soon as you bought a Mac OS X-DVD, you can do whatever you want, as long as you do it for personal use. If you use it for commercial use, Apples laywers probably make you pay every single dollar or even more you earned with you hackintosh based on some kind of calculation - plus the money for the hardware.

    God bless America.
  16. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    EULA does not apply in all countries, it's mainly US thing. Besides, the chance of you getting caught is astronomically tiny. I haven't heard that someone has even gotten caught because of this, let alone that Apple would sue him.
  17. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    I say go for the Hack.

    I feel like for their mobile devices, there is nothing better that has a remote possibility of running iOS, so I will buy their iOS running products.

    When it comes to a Desktop PC, where I want to have some upgradeability, I don't need a full on 4 core xeon but I need something where I can put in a raid card and have a few hard drives installed which won't need extra plug sockets, then building makes more sense than a mac mini or iMac.

    I can get a 2x5.25 to 3x3.5 hard drive caddy for my computer and if I want to, 3 2TB or even 3TB hard drives to put in there and still have the 2 original hard drive bays and the original 3.5" bay for more disks.

    I guess if you want a lot of storage without needing to get a drobo, then building a hack pro with the right case would be the way to go.
  18. 300D macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2009
    Hackintrash is never a good option. Its illegal (except in a few poorly governed countries) and it greatly harms Apple.
  19. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
    tehninja: ill just say that the most taxing stage in the hack is researching to make sure all the components will be supported. if you want a full vanilla install then you MUST research and make sure every component such as GPU, LAN, wireless, and even sound card are supported by Apple. if not then you must find an alternative.

    if you are doing video work then this will prove difficult - as you want full compatibility with all ports on your machine (no doubt).

    its entirely up to yourself, its a really fun HOBBY - but i never recommend a hackintosh as a fulltime replacement machine.
  20. Rankrotten macrumors 6502


    Sep 12, 2006
    Utter rubbish.

    That is all.
  21. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Apple fixed that problem for you, it's called Light Peak and FireWire3200. The former lets you connect a RAID0 of 10 Western Digital Caviar Black, the later 3. Per Port.
  22. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    FireWire is waaaaayyyyy too slow for good RAID. External RAIDs are not an option if you're looking at RAID 0 setup and that's what most people get. Even a single 3.5" 7200rpm HD is faster than what FW800 can provide, let alone when you have several of them in RAID 0.... Everyone has different needs. Hackintosh isn't always about money and speed for everyone, usually there is upgradeability and freedom of choice included as well.

    You can upgrade the CPU in Mac Pro but your choices are more limited due the microcodes
  23. Giuly macrumors 68040


    I rethought that, and FireWire800 is indeed to slow. Light Peak and FW3200 however aren't.

    Beside, what kind of choice do you have when it comes to an i7 hackintosh? They all use the same X58 ICH10R, so regardless of what you choose, it's the same motherboard, in a different color, with the Apple one beeing blue. Then you have the CPU, where everything beyond i7-970 points you towards the price of an Mac Pro. Memory? As the memory controller is embedded inside the CPU, they support the same then the Xeon does. Case? I doubt you find a nicer case then the Mac Pro ones. Graphics card? Everything that works on a hackintosh works on a Mac Pro, if you treat it the same way. Hard drives? If you don't use VelociRaptors, SAS drives or SSDs, you'll most probably end up with the same Western Digital 1TB or 2TB drives that are inside the Mac Pro.
    If I had to build a i7 Hackintosh, it wouldn't look any much different than the quad-core Mac Pro, in terms of specs, and it would stick around $1300-$1500. For my understanding however, this is still a bunch of $ for a PC, and I see most people think the same and build Core2Quad Hackintoshes for around $500-$750. This is still much money in relation of the hardware you get.

    BUT: If you however have opened up your eyes and mind and build a AMD hackintosh, you'll end up much cheaper and I recognize that advantage. The point is that most people don't know nor realize that this is possible at all. A top-of-the-line hexa-core AMD hackintosh would cost me about $1000-$1200. Compare that to Intel's offer. You can even build an Operon octo-core hackintosh for about $1700-2000 these days.

    I based my calculations on the cheapest price for all components I could find in Euro and took them *1.2 in $. That's the first number you see, the second is what the same components would be on NewEgg or Fry's.
  24. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    They aren't available yet.

    Get i7-930 and overclock it to ~3.5GHz. That you cannot do with Mac Pro. Add decent CPU cooler and it will be dead silent and cool. With a PC mobo you have more choices, e.g. more SATA ports, PCI/PCIe slots etc

    You need Xeon in order to use ECC RAM although most people are fine with non-ECC

    This is an opinion. Mac Pro's case is fairly limited, there are cases with more than 8 HD bays. MP's case is gorgeous though but you can find one from eBay and use it for hack ;)

    Core 2 Quads aren't really cheaper, they start from 150$ in NewEgg (2.5GHz). You can build iX rig for about the same $. There is no reason to get other than the low-end i7 because you can overclock it. If you bought used parts, C2Q would end up being cheaper but iX is still worth it. A quick calculation shows me that i7 930/860 rig would cost around 1000$, depending on the components you get

    Phenom II x6s aren't that great. In fact, i7s beat them in most benches as they have Hyper-Threading. I wouldn't get AMD Hack as the support is worse (they have different chipsets) and I have no idea how AMDs perform under OS X

    Just correcting few points and adding my own opinion/calculations :) Mac Pro is amazing machine but I've always been interested about hacks, hopefully I can build one in the future
  25. flatfoot macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2009
    Nope, at least P55 and X58, which are too separate kinds.

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