I’ve had my 2009 iMac for a couple of years now. It has served me well for both development and gaming, and I can safely say it is the best computer I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. But it has grown a touch long in the tooth, and the Radeon 4850 really struggles with the newer games¹. Thus, as the year has progressed I’ve found myself more and more desperate to upgrade. WWDC was awaiting with baited breath, only for the desktop line to be utterly ignored. While I can console myself that MacPro users were left even more in the lurch, it was somewhat of a disappointment.
And so, with iMac updates in the ether, I began investigating Hackintoshes. My few dislikes of the iMac – 4 USB ports, SSDs can’t be retrofitted – would be easily solved, and I’d save money as an aside. Future upgrades would be in my hands, with the downside that the mercurial chap[ette]s at Apple could take it all away at a whim. And all this without the dubious joy of having to return to the Windows fold (or the joys of Unity).
A splash of Google revealed the Hackintosh scene has come a long way since the heady days of the Intel transition. With Gigabyte’s entry into UEFI, you could get a build up and running without even looking at a Bash prompt. Being a machoist, however, I decided to go for the bleedy edge and build an Ivy Bridge system. Apple’s first Ivy Bridge machines were the new MacBooks at WWDC, so driver support is currently based on extracts from packages for these machines. As such, life is slighty – very slighty – harder, although such problems should soon be a thing of the past.
All of the hardware suggestions, installation instructions and troubleshooting advice I’ve used came from the community at TonyMacx86. It’s a one stop shop if you’re mad enough to indulge in such pursuits, and I cannot recommend it enough. I’d have been dead in the water on multiple occasions without such help.
I ended up writing up the build (with an abbreviated version of the trials and tribulations involved) on the TonyMaxx86 forums. This includes all the hardware used and a link to the installation guide. Should your hardware tastes differ, there are plenty of other variations in the same forum.
The end result is that I’m very happy that I’ve gone with the Hackintosh route². While I did suffer nightmares that I’d get niggling issues that would suck my will to live, the only real problem was Corsair’s inability to build CPU coolers, which is being sorted with almost no pain by Amazon (no thanks to Corsair). I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting a Mac who has experience of building their own boxes – all the flexibility, none of the Windows.
¹ CDProjekt, take a bow.
² As is Polly, as she now has possession of the iMac.