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Known good hardware for barebones / custom build box

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    InsanelyMac Protégé

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Afternoon all

Firstly I'll apologise for what must be a very regular question - I'm a theatre technician by trade and I'm a member of some other theatre forums where we get the usual "How can I light my band for £6.80 using all the latest effects and still fit it in what's left of the boot of my car after the drum kit?" fairly regularly.

I've been messing about with OSX on desktops for a while, and I've got a set of three Dell Optiplex GX280s (2.8GHz, 2GB Ram) which are running a stable 10.5.5 - these are used as admin desks and occasionally used with a second monitor out (can't remember what the graphics cards were but they were a pig to get working) for things like running to TVs and very occasionally for live video playback for events. I've been trying to do 10.6 installs on these using a 10.6 retail disk and a Mod CD but not having much luck - mainly because these Dells have bad caps - so the BIOS settings keep wiping and other unhelpful stuff.

Can anyone recommend a list of hardware to build a custom PC, or a barebones system that I can add compatible hardware to, that'll let me do a 10.6 disk install with a recommended mod CD, or a 10.7 install (how would you do that without a disk? Can you buy a disk? I'm under the impression it's download only)

I'll be after two or three identical PCs - budget isn't important, but if it ends up costing as much as a Mac Mini, I'll buy a Mac Mini.

Important features are DVD-RW, dual video output with second output capable of VGA or Composite (primary DVI or HDMI), and preferably FireWire for connection of Firewire Audio interfaces

Thanks, Tom



    InsanelyMac Legend

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Hi, have a look on ebay for the bits in my signature, if you don't mind not being bleeding edge, but still very quick and very stable.

I just bought a replacement motherboard due to mine having an issue with 2 of the ram slots, possibly due to a mosfet water block developing a leak (after a year!) and peeing coolant (complete with bits of green copper oxide) everywhere. Lol

Anyway, I picked it up for under £80 including postage, new they are available for £115 from hardwareking.net, ~£300 everywhere else.

An i7 cpu isn't expensive, I saw an i7 930 go for £30 a few days ago.

PSU, get a decent 750 or 1000w one and forget about it, rather than buying a 300w one and worrying it won't be man enough. ~£50

2 x SATA HDD (you will want at least 2 so you can have a backup system, even if you keep the HDD in your cupboard it is well worth the extra pennies) ~£75 each for seagate 1TB 7200 rpm

Nvidia GFX cards are the easiest to work with, you don't need the latest and greatest. If you can find a 480 GTX they are great. Alternatively 8600 works perfectly and is available for about ~£50 passively cooled so nice and quiet.

Get decent ram, I got 6Gb Corsair Dominator 1866Mhz for £27 a few weeks ago

I think that's it really.

I'm overclocked to 3.4Ghz and less than stock voltages, running 10.7.2.
My geek bench is ~12300
I get 40fps in cinibench

Uptime is about 3 weeks, sleep, auto-sleep and wake work perfectly,
I've not found one thing that a MAC does that my PC doesn't, and I use it as my main system.
In fact, my PC charges my iPhone even while it is off (the PC is off that is), yet my MAC at work has to be on in order to charge. Work that out!

If you go with an ex58-ud5, get a revision 1.0 and I'll give you everything you need to get it running nicely.



    InsanelyMac Protégé

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Thanks for that.

How do you get 10.7 onto that - is it an aftermarket distro, or are you installing 10.6 via a disk and upgrading?

Gringo Vermelho

Gringo Vermelho

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Once you have bought 10.7 from the app store it's easy to make your own bootable installer, either on a hard drive partition or a big enough flash drive. If you have 10.6.8 working already on the same hardware you can use the same Chameleon setup to boot and install 10.7.2.
There are many guides available. You could also use a real Mac to prepare the installer - just be very careful that you don't install anything to the Mac's internal hard drive by accident.

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