After fiddling about with Linux, Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux again (different flavours) and totally hating the new Gnome3 desktop, I’m now trying something new for my home project.
Building my own Apple Mac machine. But then cheaper!!!
Around this time, my home PC was about to go dead, so I had to buy new stuff. After 7 years of loyal work, I decided to create a new home PC with the Apple Mac specifications in mind. After all, the new macs are Intel based so it is easy to get this to work.
I’ve done some investigation and decided to build one using the following specs in mind:
At least an Intel i5 of the 4th generation, plenty of RAM, 16GB. An SSD drive of 250GB. Small case and quiet, a WIFI adapter.
According to this nice site: http://www.tonymacx86.com/ I could spec my own CustoMac and it had to consist out of a Gigabyte motherboard. The big issue to get the thing working is basically the WIFI stuff to work, and yes, I have only WIFI available at the place I’m sitting currently. Just too lazy to pull some cables in the house. Also, since I’m going for Apple, the bluetooth adapter should work as well because of the Apple keyboard and the magic mouse. (The last one seems the most difficult part due to the Bluetooth detection inside OSX).
I’m new to OSX so I hope I can manage the thing. Fortunately very experienced with all sorts of Unix and when started at CSC (or TRW at the time), I used to work with Mach/OSF i386 machines (in 1997). In fact OSX and iOS still has the TRW branding in all header files of SCSI driver stuff.
Gigabyte Motherboard: GA-H87N-WIFI (not using the WIFI because it’s an Intel 7260 mini-PCI-half card = no OSX driver)
Intel Core i5 4570 boxed
Kingston HyperX blu KHX16C10B1K2/16X
Samsung 840 EVO 250GB
be quiet! System Power 7 300W
BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Zwart
Targus Bluetooth 4.0 Micro USB Adapter
Apple keyboard (wired)
Apple magic mouse
USB3.0 stick to place OSX install files on (no CDROM/DVD on board)
Currently I’ve attached 2x 24″ Illyama screens on the HDMI ports. 1080p.
Basically the building of the motherboard is pretty straight forward. Just put it together and make sure the small cables are in the right position on the motherboard.
Preparing the software:
Unfortunately I could not get the Apple installation media because of the restriction of me not-having-a-mac and thus not having the Mac version of the App store. Fortunately I could get my hand on a VMware Virtual Machine with OSX and used that from my Windows PC to prepare the USB files. I’ve used Mavericks 10.9.3.
I followed the guide here: http://www.tonymacx86.com/374-unibeast-install-os-x-mavericks-any-supported-intel-based-pc.html
Configure the BIOS according the manual.
Inside the OSX Virtual Machine:
Basically what you do is download the Apple OSX, download the install software, use a nice software program to put it all on the USB stick.
Boot the new PC from the USB stick and the installer starts.
When the installer has finished, I had to use the -x bootflag. Otherwise it didn’t start-and-complete the post-installer.
When done, I had to download the Multibeast kext- and boot-installer tool.
Select your drivers, that is:
DSDT free, Soundcard: ALC892
and the rest is pretty much default
Reboot and you are done.
The configuration was quite easy but it took a while to get used to all the screens inside OSX.
I’ve disabled the power save-sleep stuff to prevent issues where the machine doesn’t wake up.
I’ve used on older version of the FileNVRAM to get iMessage to work.
Some things that are not working yet:
I cannot shut the machine down for some reason and it does not wake up when using keyboard/mouse. I’ve digged around and it looks like there is some interference with USB- or PCI card. Probably the Intel WIFI card. I can shut down OSX, but it does not power down the PC. Simular to some Linux bugs related to ACPI.
Simular thing with sleep mode. I’ve disabled powersaving stuff and display power save mode.
Fortunately the whole machine starts up within 5 seconds so no big deal here.
Currently I just use the shutdown option inside OSX what brings down OSX cleanly and after that the power-button on the case to shutdown immediately (configured inside the BIOS to do that to prevent the 5-secs wainting time)
I’m still waiting for the USB bluetooth dongle so my Magic Mouse is not connected yet.
The Intel card on the motherboard has bluetooth AND is also detected inside OSX, but
I’m unable to get something connected. I’ve decided to use an USB dongle with a supported
Broadcom chipset, the BCM20702a0. I found a local reseller who had a dongle with this chipset
with the name of a Targus. Hopefully that works.
The whole setup was about 650 euros, which is not really expensive for this kind of power.
The cheapest Apple starts around that price but you get an Apple mini with i5-laptop slowgrade CPU of 2 years ago and a few MB of RAM. Now I have a 4-core 3.5Ghz fast CPU and 16GB or RAM.
I was initially waiting for the NEW Apple mini but still no word when Apple was going to bring it out. I didn’t want to buy such an expensive machine with these poor specs.
Eventually maybe a Mac book pro, but I first want to see if OSX is something for me.
I will keep you up-to-date