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the 3 G challenge, Operation: The Dream


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#1
TWeeKx3

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Good people of the InsanelyMac forum,

I give you the Hackintosh FCS challenge.

I've got a 3G budget for a custom build hackintosh with dual harddrives. Ideally I'm looking to have a 1tb harddrive running Snow Leopard (unless there's a more recent Mac OS I need to go buy) specifically for intensive video/photo editing using Final Cut Studio/CS4 (I'm a freelance photo/videojournalist and the rig will be used primarily for business), also a 200 gb harddrive running Windows so I can play Left 4 Dead 2 when things get slow. All work and no play makes TWeeK a dull blah blah blah.

I've been researching hackintosh builds for some time now, specifically rigs built for photo/video editing and I've come across three common issues. (1) Compatibility problems between components and FCS/cs4/mac os software. (2) If you're not the type who regularely tweaks/mods custom builds it's too much of a pain in the {censored} and you should just buy a real Mac. (3) (more of a personal issue than anything) the only tweeking/modding I do is with photographs/video. I've never built a custom rig, and though I do know my basic way around a computer I'm a far cry off from having the know-how to do it all myself.

Fortunately I have formed a crack team of recreational rig builders and one very crafty programmer who happen to be good friends, and they have agreed to assist me with Operation:The Dream. Unfortunately despite the fact that they are all experineced and willing to help, none has attempted a hackintosh build before. This is why I have come to you, InsanelyMac Forum Members, with the humble request that you share your collective intellect and experience.

I know I'm in need of a case, at least 8 gigs of ram, a 750 watt power supply, a mother board, graphics card, CPU, a dvd drive, firewire/hdmi ports, a decent sized monitor and possibly a video capture card (I read an article that suggested they are quite helpful).

Are there components that are tried, tested and proven to work for this type of build? are there any pitfalls or other issues I should be aware of regarding this indeavor?

Any and all suggestions are welcome, and I thank you all in advance for your help!

#2
Zaap

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3G is an overkill budget for a Hackintosh- if you're really gung-ho on spending that much, you can build one hell of a kick-{censored} system with every possible bell and whistle.

Look into a compatible i7 build, and guide to go with it.

When a Hackintosh is set up properly according to a decent guide, you should have no problems at all running Final Cut Studio (which are very stable apps that run on virtually anything, even my little Atom 330- though not 'speedy') and ditto Adobe CS4. I use both every day on my signature rig for work purposes, and have been since May 2008. (And frankly I prefer my sig system from running FCP to my Xeon-based MacPro at work).

The main issue with a Hackintosh, is system updates, and with a rig you plan to rely on for actual work, you should really have a game plan with this. The solutions are pretty simple, but it still amazes me how people can {censored} up their systems because they refuse to plan ahead for all of 20 minutes or so. Just make sure you operate using one or more backup partition installs of OSX- the same OS can be installed infinite times on a hard drive. Apply system updates ONLY to a test install before you {censored} with a main install you've got set up to do actual work with. If you do experiment, or apply questionable updates, always make sure you leave yourself at least one 'back door' (in the form of known-working OSX install) to get ready access to your work files in a pinch. IE: if an update borks a backup install, then it's a safe bet not to bork the main install the same way.

Observing a few bone-simple and frankly common sense proceedures like this will assure that you ALWAYS can rely on your Hackintosh, regardless of updates or anything else. There are still people who will bork thier ONLY install of OSX, lose files and work, and go online screaming about how Hackintoshes don't work. But simply realize they're people who can't seem to grasp the concept of redundancy and that it's a simple, cheap, and mandatory LIFESAVER when it comes to computers, and that leaving yourself without it on a Hackintosh for a working setup is downright stupid.

Anyway, that's my rant. Use the right hardware, proper guide, and some common sense and you shouldn't have any trouble making a very capable FCP/CS4 rig.

#3
TWeeKx3

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@ Zaap, Thanks so much for your input! The team found it very helpful.

We're now in the process of gathering components for an i7 build, and have stepped up to a three harddrive split, two running Mac os and one running windows 7.

Any and all component recommendations and/or cautions are welcome.

We plan to buy and build tomorrow, so thanks again for all your help!

#4
ryan Sheffer

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I work as a final cut editor and after effects vfx artist. I have recently built two hackintosh systems for friends and found them so great for professional work given your ability to upgrade as you go that I am now building my own system and selling my Mac Pro (quad core 2.66, 10gb ram, x1900xt gfx, 4TB hard drive space).

The i7 build I recently did for a friend on a $900 budget that scores 9000+ on 32 bit geekbench (blows my mac pro out of the water)
Mobo: Gigabyte p55m-ud2
CPU: i7 860
RAM: 4GB Corsair 1600mhz
Hard drive: Samsung spinpoint 1TB
GFX: EVGA 9500gt (you would want better than this for your build, this is where I kept the budget low)
Case: Coolermaster CM690
CPU cooler: stock (again keeping price down)
DVD burner: a SATA 22x samsung drive


The i7 build I have come up with is as follows
Mobo: MSI P55-GD65 (about $160)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
CPU: i7 860 ($229 Microcenter, $280 most places)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
RAM: 8 GB corsair 1600mhz ram (about $180-190)
GFX: xfx ati 4890 ($190)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
Case: Coolermaster HAF932 ($135)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
PSU: Corsair 750W (I got non modular to save money)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
DVD burner: Sony optiarc 24x
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint 1TB (nearly as fast as an SSD, about 110MB read and write)
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
Firewire card: startech 2x 1394B, 1x 1394a
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
Bluetooth: Tiny bluetooth USB
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
Wifi N: TPlink
http://www.amazon.co...oss_T15_product
CPU cooler: Cooler freezer pro
http://www.newegg.co...6-134-_-Product
Card reader: NMedia usb bus powered (runs off of usb bus and is driverless)
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820132016
Capture card: Blackmagic Intensity Pro
http://www.amazon.co...n...7230&sr=8-1

Total cost of my new system: Slightly under $1500

Though I haven't built the system I am guessing it will Geekbench about 11,000 64 bit after a slight stable overclock.

I obviously have opted for the LGA 1156 vs LGA 1366. Among other reasons, I chose this because of power usage. The idle power used by a 1366 system is quite a bit more than an 1156 system. For anyone who leaves their computer on 24/7 (like an editor), you will see this on your bill. The lower power also allows you to purchase a slightly smaller psu if money is an issue. It was, however, a tough decision for me to go 1156 over 1366 because I have read recently that the newest Mac Pros will be sporting 6 core 1366 based cpus. I say all of this being very aware that I am new to making hackintoshes and where I know a lot about the needs of a final cut pro editor, I know much less than most people here about hackintoshes.

I strongly suggest you check out tonymacx86's blog. His info about the 1156 platform pushed me over the edge in terms of what I would get.
http://tonymacx86.blogspot.com/
He and other people on this forum have made installing os x on a p55 motherboard a breeze.

Last few notes: I have not built my system yet so I cannot confirm that it will work 100%. I have done a lot of research that leads me to believe it will. The P55m-ud2 system I built for my friend, however, worked perfectly. INCREDIBLY STABLE. I ran a week worth of virtual clustered 99% cpu usage compressor renders without a flaw. An incredible system for $900.

As far as editing goes. I can't think of anything better than a hackintosh. The reason is, if you work intensely with a computer with HD video and FX, there will always be issues. ALWAYS. Learning how to build and maintain a Mac from the ground up is the best investment you can ever make into yourself as an editor. I have a career because I know how to maintain these computers better than the average editor and after spending time on this site my mind was opened to just how far you can go with teaching yourself the guts of a computer. If you do your homework, it will be as stable as a mac if not more so. I say more so because if there are problems, you have complete control of isolating and fixing those problems. As helpful as Applecare has been to me in the past, it's still a phone call and it's still asking for five peoples' managers until you get to someone who will help you.

Basically - my point is this. You can build an incredible editing and FX system for about $1500. You will have everything at your fingertips that a Mac Pro that costs 3x as much does. Also - though compressor can be set up to use as many cores as you have, Final Cut is still only based on 2 cores for most of its processes. 4 3ghz+ cores is MUCH MUCH MUCH more useful in final cut than 8x2.26ghz cores.




For Monitors check out Dell outlet.

http://www.dell.com/outlet

Dell has many IPS panels that are fantastic and the refurbished come with the same 5 year warranty.

If you want to step it up a little in terms of capture card. My other card is a Matrox MXO 2 mini with Max. The matrox is an incredible option if you plan on doing color correction because it offers software to calibrate any HDMI based television you connect it to. No matter what anyone says, it's the next best thing to a $10,000+ set up. What you can do in Color with a high end lcd tv and an MXO 2 is awesome. I have color corrected many things for broadcast using my set up (MXO 2 plus Samsung 46" lcd).

If you don't need h.264 compression the non max MXO 2 is a great option that can be had for $450. I love the thing.
http://www.amazon.co...p/dp/B002CU8IO6

Also - I should add that the $1500 budget didn't involve the capture card. I already owned that before building the system.

Another random thought. Blu-ray burners still aren't necessary. Burn your blu-rays to regular dvds using Toast Titanium 10 with the blu-ray plugin. You will save yourself a fortune by not having to buy blank blu-ray discs.

I guess I'll keep going.

Since you have 3K. Look into an esata array. 4 2TB disks in a port multiplier box would work just great unless you need to capture uncompressed 1080p.

If you're really trying to spend the money for an incredible rig I would say. Computer. 2 monitors. Matrox MXO 2. Nice 40" playback LCD. and a pair of nice stereo speakers.

Speakers I love for the price: M-audio BX5a
http://www.amazon.co...-...8094&sr=8-1

I am confident you can get all of this for about $3000. You will have a rig better than most post production houses. It's actually pretty close to what I'm working on now finishing a feature for Disney.
Computer: $1500
MXO 2: $450
Speakers: $250
2x23" dell display: $158 each
http://slickdeals.ne...d.php?t=1774184
TV: Samsung 40" lcd $700
http://www.amazon.co...-...8336&sr=1-3

Total price $3216. You can easily pull $200 out of that and obviously don't need to buy everything up front.

#5
Zaap

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We're now in the process of gathering components for an i7 build, and have stepped up to a three harddrive split, two running Mac os and one running windows 7.

Mulitple hard drives is perfect- especially for Windows- I always recommend keeping it entirely seperate from OSX, and even installing it with no other drives attached to the system at the time.

As for OSX, remember, it can be installed any number of times on parititions of the same hard drive. A bootloader like Chameleon will see every instance of it and allow it to be selected for booting. So unless you really want them, you don't need multiple drives for OSX. When I set up a Hackintosh, I usually carve off at least one extra 20GB partition of my main OSX hard drive, and install a backup copy of OSX. (At the least, OSX can reside in about 6GB of disk space, but 20GB is a good working size for added apps and growth). This serves as both a service/backup OS to my main install, and/or the OS I'll try questionalble hacks and updates on without screwing with the main install.

Sometimes I'll have addidional partitions for experimentation. For example- moving up to Snow Leopard was painless for me: I simply used another partition, and as the information on how to install it came out, I did experimental installs in my leisure on this partition until I got it right. My main install of OSX was never touched, and always available for me to do my work on. Eventually as I got Snow Leopard running, I began to migrate my working files over to it, and now just consider 10.5.8 to be another backup install.

#6
TWeeKx3

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wow thanks everyone for your posts. I cant thank you enough and Ryan thank you expecially for your amazing post I wouldnt be this far without it.

Sadly i come back to you guys with another question. Everything was a go until i got to the step on tonymacx86's blog that requires me to type in a line to remove the mach kernel off of snow leopard and cp it off of what i had put on the USB. everywhich way i type the line i cannot get either to work. the line includes:

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/mach_kernel
then i am to type in
sudo cp /mach_kernel/Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/

I cannot for the life of me figure out what i am doing wrong. It comes up command not found by the way.

Thank you again for all your help and hopefully i can get this running soon so i can make the video of the entire process which i have been shooting video for.

Cheers

#7
LogicalUser

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now... I'm not familiar with that guide, but I think you've got the syntax off slightly

assuming the file you are trying to remove/replace is mach_kernel and the destination is /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/

you've got the step of deleting the old one down fine, but your either missing a space before /Volumes in the second command, or have an additional slash & are missing a space
assuming you've navigated to the location of your new mach_kernel the 2nd command should be

sudo cp mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/
if that fails:
sudo cp /mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/

if you haven't navigated to mach_kernel's location you could try typing "sudo cp " and then dragging the new mach_kernel into the terminal window, then typing in " /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/"

#8
Evildemon989

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Try deleting the \ between Snow Leopard. I believe this was probably a mistype on tony's part.

#9
TWeeKx3

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Well, We've finally got SL to fully install, but everytime we try to boot from it we're hit with an automatic restart. Moreover, the commands to delete the kernel file is still coming up as unknown commands. We've tried a great many variations including those mentioned above.

Has anyone faced a similar issue?

We're not giving up any time soon, and we truly appreciate your continued support!

#10
LogicalUser

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which guide are you following? I just gave tonymac's latest guide a onceover and am not seeing the fiddling with the kernel you are having issues with
http://tonymacx86.bl...ectly-from.html

#11
Evildemon989

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Did you maybe label the drive different from "Snow Leopard"?

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/mach_kernel
then i am to type in
sudo cp /mach_kernel/Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/

Also, It should probably be:

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow Leopard/mach_kernel
sudo cp /mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow Leopard/

If this doesn't work try:

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow Leopard/mach_kernel
sudo cp /mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow Leopard

#12
LogicalUser

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Did you maybe label the drive different from "Snow Leopard"?

Also, It should probably be:

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow Leopard/mach_kernel
sudo cp /mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow Leopard/

If this doesn't work try:

sudo rm /Volumes/Snow Leopard/mach_kernel
sudo cp /mach_kernel /Volumes/Snow Leopard

not to be rude, but are you new to OSX/terminal?

OSX's Terminal traditionally uses spaces to separate commands, paths, modifiers, etc....
In order to work with file or directory names that contain spaces terminal needs to be instructed specifically where the name/path begins and ends. Without doing so terminal treats that space as the end of the name/path, everything after is treated as a separate term/modifier/whatever, and your command will fail or have an undesired result

There are two ways to do this. The first is to include a backslash before the space as tonymac did in his guide, the second being to use quotes around the directory/filename containing the spaces.

If the boot volume in question is named "Snow Leopard" then
sudo rm /Volumes/Snow\ Leopard/mach_kernel
is indeed the correct syntax to delete the kernel. Without the backslash the command is telling terminal to delete a file named "Snow" from /Volumes/. The same methods are also needed with file/dir names containing certain special characters.

As for the copy, my guess would be the reason the command failed would be the missing space between /mach_kernel and /Volumes, or... he failed to navigate in terminal to where the new mach_kernel is located prior to doing the sudo cp.

with that said, the link I posted a few posts back appears to be updated/streamlined and does not contain any of this kernel-related tinkering, it may prove helpful

#13
Zaap

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Well, We've finally got SL to fully install, but everytime we try to boot from it we're hit with an automatic restart. Moreover, the commands to delete the kernel file is still coming up as unknown commands. We've tried a great many variations including those mentioned above.

Has anyone faced a similar issue?

We're not giving up any time soon, and we truly appreciate your continued support!

What hardware are you using, specifically the motherboard?

I'm hoping it's a Gigabyte-based system, or another known-working motherboard model. I may have missed it, but I don't recall seeing your own list of exact purchased hardware.

#14
TWeeKx3

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@ LogicalUser

Wow, thanks so much for the link to tonymac's latest guide, that definitely saved us a lot of trouble fiddling with the kernel in terminal. Although we did manage to have a spot of success with that as well before abandoning the method for the retail disc boot style. After some 4 re-installs we finally tried dropping "sudo" from the command lines and they worked like a charm. Nonetheless, we started fresh with the retail boot and have just completed Step 4. lol, you're hardly being rude LogicalUser, and we really appreciate your continued support with the project!

@ Zaap

We're running a gigabyte p55-ud2 mobo, ati radeon 4890 (after discovering the 5770 we bought is too new/not compatible- anybody looking to buy one? lol), i7 860 processor, 4 gb of ram and a samsung syncmaster t240 24" hd monitor.


We've made great progress since LogicalUser linked us tonymacs latest guide. We're now got 10.6.2 up and running! very exciting to see things coming together bit by bit!

Unfortunately despite direct connection to a reliable internet connection, the system still won't register any activity, so we're trying to figure out how to get the ethernet capabilities up and running, any and all suggestions are appreciated!

Another strange note is that we did not received the big "Welcome!" screen, which I suspect means we need to tweak something related to the graphics card.

Is it possible we missed a step that might be contributing to the failure of the ethernet card/skipping of the "Welcome" screen?

#15
LogicalUser

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I have yet to use the guides in question, so am sort of flying blind based on what I know these guides are trying to accomplish, without necessarily knowing HOW its trying to accomplish it :D

onboard ethernet should just be a matter of some minor tweaks of com.apple.boot.plist in /Extras/ or/and your DSDT file. Really it depends on which method tonymac's guides used to enable it, fraid I can't provide much more help without digging through the guide :(

to check if you have full QE/CI support with your video card, you can either load something with transparency (add something to dashboard?) or check the OpenCL info (how to do so is escaping me at this moment, google?)

If its not running with full QE/CI/OpenCL you may need netkas's ATI exotics package to enable full functionality, check netkas.org for more info

#16
TWeeKx3

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Ethernet issue has been resolved, will get back to you all on the QE/CI problem after we try BarryBar's guide here -> http://www.insanelym...p...200458&st=0

#17
Cindori

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you can check for QE CI support with my app

http://groths.se/ati...lashingtool.zip

(QE_CI->Test)

you can also patch QE CI and it will automatically download new QE patches when available


Posted Image

you shouldnt follow that guys guide cause he is very off.

#18
jn130883

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you can check for QE CI support with my app

http://groths.se/ati...lashingtool.zip

(QE_CI->Test)

you can also patch QE CI and it will automatically download new QE patches when available


Posted Image

you shouldnt follow that guys guide cause he is very off.


Help

#19
Mackilroy

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"Help" is not enough information.





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