Hackintosh
image via Nerdtrek

A while back, I listened to an episode of the On Taking Pictures podcast, featuring my photographer pal Bill Wadman. Bill described how he, and many more around the Internet, are building their own Macs from standard PC components. A Hackintosh, if you will. The reasoning is two-fold. First, Apple hasn’t exactly kept up with new products in the pro desktop market. Their Mac Pro is generations behind by PC standards, leaving many designers, photographers, video guys, and other artists twiddling their thumbs with old hardware. Second, it’s much cheaper to assemble it yourself rather than buy from Apple. After all, Apple’s products are a luxury.

Listening to Bill gave me some confidence. With the increasing number of components compatible with the Mac OS, and an ever-growing community of Mac-builders, it seems like the time is right. Also, my Mac Pro — which was physically damaged by an enraged ex-roommate — has been giving me problems. In fact, I’m very worried that the entire thing could crap out in a moment’s notice.

Bill isn’t the total source for this stuff. There is a thriving forum over at TonyMacX86.com, where Tony makes recommendations, reviews hardware, provides instructions, answers questions, and most importantly, publishes the software required to transform a normal PC into a Mac. The site is very in-depth; I’ve only scratched the surface in reading the forums, but I have made use of the CustoMac recommendations. These are essentially shopping lists of approved hardware that, according to Tony, plays nicely together and with the Mac OS. Very helpful all-around.

There’s also a Hackintosh sub-Reddit on Reddit, the beautiful catch-all for Internet resources (and sillyness).

Not that I’m some kind of Rockefeller, but I took a bit of pride in ordering modern components, and buying the parts with those one or two extra features. Here’s the parts I purchased, all of which were recommended by Tony and listed over at CustoMac.com:

The ordered components for my Hackintosh
The components for my Hackintosh, unassembled

I also bought a few extra fans, some USB thumb drives, and some USB extension cables for my scanner and printer, but you probably have those lying around. I’m planning to use my existing monitors, keyboard, and Wacom tablet, since those are still in fine working order. All in, these components ran about $1800. Not exactly cigarette money, but much more affordable than any Mac Pro system on the market.

Next steps are assembly and setup. Assembly shouldn’t be too bad — I’ve put together PCs before and consider myself mechanically inclined (I do have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, after all) — but the setup is likely to be very interesting. In any event, it’s uncharted waters for me.

Have you built a Hackintosh? Would you consider it? Lemme know your thoughts in the comments below.