It’s been roughly two years since I built my original Hackintosh desktop computer and I decided earlier this year that the time was ripe for an upgrade. After considerable waffling on the exact components to get, I finally settled on an relatively high-end build largely based on the December CustoMac Buyer’s Guide that reused a few components from my original Hackintosh (case, power supply, and memory).
If you’re on a Mac with Windows installed via Bootcamp then you’ve no doubt noticed that the Bootcamp partition mounts as another drive when using OSX. I rarely needed access to the contents of my Bootcamp installation so I thought it’d be nice to prevent the partition from mounting at all on the Mac side of things. There’s a relatively easy way to achieve this using just a little bit of command line fiddling. The only thing you need is administrative rights on the computer.
The following is a record of the problems I encountered with my MacBook Pro (Early 2011) beginning in late August and hopefully culminating in a once-again functional laptop. I’m making an effort to document all of the steps I took in attempting to rectify the situation including my experience with the Apple Retail Store. I’ve had great experiences with the repair team at Apple Stores in the past and I hope this will continue the trend.
One of the biggest risks of immediately upgrading to a new operating system is the loss of functionality for vital programs. While developers will scramble to get their apps ready for the sweeping changes oft accompanied by an upgrade to an operating system, it is inevitable that bugs/quirks/errors will surface. As an engineering graduate student, one of the programs I use quite frequently is MATLAB, which is built upon the X11 window system for the Apple OS environment. In the latest update to OS X, Apple decided to remove X11 in favor of an open-source development called XQuartz. What this means is that if you upgrade to Mountain Lion, MATLAB cannot run because X11 is no longer included in the operating system. While I’m sure many will complain about Apple’s apparent lack of support for one of the most commonly used technical programs, they did not truly abandon X11. Rather, they have provided development support to the XQuartz project which is effectively an updated version of X11 which was first included in Mac OS X 10.5.
The release of the latest Apple computer operating system OS X 10.8 ‘Mountain Lion’ has been a resounding success with over 3 million copies sold in less than four days. As with any system update, the Hackintosh community anxiously starts refreshing their favorite websites (TonyMacx86) in hopes of reading tales of successful installations before attempting it themselves. After installing the $20 update onto my laptop, I finally decided to give it a whirl on my Hackintosh. I used the Unibeast tool from the aforementioned TonyMacx86 community to create a bootable flash drive with the Mountain Lion installer. A typical installation would then simply require booting off the flash drive, selecting the installation drive, and then enjoying the new OS. Unfortunately, my graphics card (ATI Radeon HD 6870) has had issues with the installation process and requires a few extra steps to get everything working. Without these additional modifications, the installer hangs at the launch screen indefinitely. This fix should work for any ATI Radeon 6XXX card but I have only tried it on the 6870.
After about two months of using my new Hackintosh without any custom modifications, I decided I wanted to overclock my 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K processor a little bit to see if I would notice a performance increase. However, in order to do this, the horribly inadequate stock Intel CPU cooler needed to be replaced. After a brief search online, I settled on the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ as a suitable replacement for my CPU cooling needs. After an excruciating two-day wait, the part finally came in and I began the installation process of this gargantuan new cooling unit that just barely fit into my case. The new heatsink offered easily 10x more surface area for heat dissipation, which drastically increased the cooling efficiency of the running CPU. With the stock cooler, I saw the CPU idling around 45-50C. In stark contrast, the overclocked system now idles around 35C.
In the weeks leading up to my winter break from classes, I decided I was going to build a gaming computer since I was tired of playing on my laptop. While I was originally planning on just building a beastly Windows machine, I realized it was now ridiculously easy to throw together parts to make a “Hackintosh,” or a computer running Mac OS X minus the Apple hardware and price. I spent several weeks researching the viability of the Hackintosh build, predominately on TonyMacX86, and selecting the components for my system. I ended up settling on the following list of hardware, rocking a SSD for my operating system and a regular HD for everything else.