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[Completed Build] Node 2.0 - Mac Mini replacement

- - - - - node mac mini low noise passive

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#1
AT0MAC

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I have had three different Mac Mini computers the past 8 years, lastly a 2011 Mac Mini with the dual core i7 and AMD graphics.
Lately it has started to annoy me, mostly because of the summer heat where the fan goes bananas if I try to play a game.
 
Something has to be done, and as I don´t trust the new Mac Mini is much of an improvement, the Mac Pro is too expensive and I already have an awesome screen so an iMac is not an option - I kind of have to build a Hackintosh!
 
 
Took me about 1 week of research and then about 1 month of assembly (see more in the thread I link to) to get everything to work - except one minor detail, it can´t wake up from sleep (it freezes until I physically push the reset button).
Anyway, when I leave m computer it is either because I am not doing anything so it´s off - or I am doing something that takes an endless amount of time and just turns the screen off. Who needs sleep then anyways...
 
 
 
Node 2.0
 
 
Parts list:

  • MSI Z77-MA-G45 motherboard (easy to hack and love the colour scheme)
  • Intel i3 3225 3.3GHz IvyBridge CPU (low TDP with plenty of power)
  • Cooled by a NoiseBlocker modified Noctua (with two M12-S1 8dB fans)
  • Corsair DDR 1600 CL9 16GB low profile RAM (3225 native supports DDR 1600)
  • ASUS GTX660 TOP 2GB graphics card (nVidia is easiest to get working in OSX)
  • LyCOM PE-107 FireWire 800/400 PCIe card (should be OSX compatible)
  • IOGear GBU521 bluetooth adapter (should work natively in OSX)
  • Silverstone SST-SOB02 Blu-Ray burner (slot in type and perfect match for the case)
  • Two Intel 520 series 240GB SSDs in RAID0 (FAST! and reliable)
  • Two NoiseBlocker M8-S1 (8dB fans to blow in a little fresh air)
  • One NoiseBlocker M12-S1 (8db fan in the top of the case above CPU cooler)
  • Seasonic X400 fanless PSU (plenty powerful and build to last)
  • Lastly, the NoFAN CS-70 case (it´s very unusual and easily could be something Apple had thought up + perfect for true noiseless build without killing your hardware)

One more thing... Why Node 2.0?  Because most of the parts come from a friends server that is now retired, it was called the Node.
 
 
Notes:
 
It runs OS X 10.8.4 perfectly, have delayed the startup process with 5 seconds to give me time to punch in any boot parameters if needed, but after the countdown has passed it can boot in about 14 seconds due to it´s SSD RAID0 setup!
 
Took me half of the building time just to get the installation right, but now it runs smooth as butter!
I can play any of my games in highest possible resolution and detail, like Call of Duty 4, Grid, Batman Arkham City and so on... Very demanding Mac games! Looks stunning... 
 
Best part though, the machine is extremely silent!
I am placed about 1.5 meters away and can´t hear when it´s on unless I turn my screen off and the fridge in the kitchen next door is not running... The buzz from my IPS screens backlight (Dell 2209WA) make more noise than the computer!
 
If you take the time and go trough the work log I linked to earlier you will find and immense amount of software hacks to make this the perfect setup, everything from the dock to the menubar, Geektool, log in procedures and About This Mac have been tweaked!
Even the placement of some of the default system folders is rerouted to external drives to not tear up the SSDs.
 
 
Enough talk, go check out the work log if curious. 
 
 
Pictures:


9325167880_a5959ed5f1_o.png
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zrj2.jpg

6ikc.jpg

06ly.jpg

6lth.jpg

3k6p.jpg

whm2.jpg

3o4c.png
 

 
 
All pictures can be found on my Flickr in full resolution

 

 

 

PLEASE CAST A VOTE IF YOU LIKE   :whistle:

 

---------------------------------------------

 

Totally forgot to post benchmarks!
Uploaded in full resolutions so everything is clear (if I reduce the size some of the numbers are very hard to read).
I did a little testing and here are the results (do remember though that the SSDs are 55% full and a lot of tools like antivirus, geektool and other essentials running, so its the complete working results):
 
 
GeekBench:
 
2pmc.png
 
As GeekBench only test RAM and CPU it is not a big surprise my result is kind of low.
My RAM is only DDR1600 and my CPU a low-end i3.
 
vrm9.png
 
My 8K GeekBench score for my hackintosh is right in the sweet spot where most Mac Pro 3.1´s fit in - but most of them might actually be very close to identical hackintosh systems so not a big surprise...
 
 
NovaBench:
 
w1by.png
 
Pretty OK score, specially when you do a little digging and find out its similar to what a genuine Mac Pro 4.1 scored!
 
rrhh.png
 
Both the Pro 3.1 and 4.1 had very powerfull CPUs compared to what I use, but my rig scores better in benchmarks. Neat.
 
 
CineBench:
 
a0jt.png
 
skuh.png
 
 
XBench:
 
lge0.png
 
Very suprising to see that my XBench score is lower than my old Mac Mini (scored 415)...
A big potion of it seems to be due to the fact my RAM are now "only" DDR1600 where my Mac Mini was upgraded with DDR1866 (even that multiple sources say that the Mac Mini of that time could not benefit from the higher speed it looks like it worked here). 
 
 
Disk Speed Test:
 
sqtn.png
 
My two Intel 240GB 520 Series SSDs really shine in RAID0!
Even so that it might only be software raid they do put on a good show... :D
I have never used this much space on them before (55% full out of 480GB - two 240GB in RAID0), so maybe that is why the speed seems a little off compared to what I usually got in scores on my Mac Mini (or the fact that the SATA controller is totally different) idk...?!
 
 
Not the fastest hack out there, I know, but as a replacement for my old Mac Mini it does an absolute superb job, could not be happier!
Also has quite a few upgrading possibilities, so it maybe will live on as Node 3.0... (actually already have a whole sleeve of upgrades ready, just need the prices to be right)
 
 
PLEASE CAST A VOTE IF YOU LIKE    :whistle:


#2
Tomppaq

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You got my vote!

 

Easy vote for nice build.  :rolleyes:



#3
AT0MAC

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Just got around and benchmarked in Unigine:
 
Haeven 4.0
 
7x6b.png
 
3fgl.png
 
Tried two different settings, but it refused to do tessellation no matter what (had hoped to compare with these guys).
So on average my score is something like 825 points - better than the GTX 660 score Im linking to :D
 
 
Valley 1.0:
 
7r3i.png
 
Kind of low when you see what these guys are up to...
But as they also prove, the Valley benchmark is full of holes and can´t really be trusted (one even hacked it and got a 9999 point score with 99.9 fps).
 
 
I am still very satisfied with my build, blasts trough any game I have yet played on it with absolute stunning visual details :D


#4
3.14r2

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You got my vote!



#5
theconnactic

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You got my vote!

 

I'll bookmark your build so i can copy it for my next hackintosh for HTPC. Really liked it.

 

All the best! 



#6
Mr.D.

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Holy crap this is a super nice build. Very well done!

 

You have my vote!



#7
AT0MAC

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Holy {censored} this is a super nice build. Very well done!
 
You have my vote!


Appreciate it :)

You got my vote!
 
I'll bookmark your build so i can copy it for my next hackintosh for HTPC. Really liked it.
 
All the best!


Thanks M8, look forward to when I in like 6 months time rebuild this and divide it into a gaming PC and a passive cooled HTPC using a Streacom case. At least, that is the plan...

You got my vote!
 
Easy vote for nice build.  :rolleyes:


. :thumbsup_anim:



#8
dsmmichael

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Nice build man!



#9
AT0MAC

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Update:
 
The machine is now dual booting in Windows 8.1 Preview too!
Had a small 64GB Plextor M3 SSD I just threw in for the very same purpose.
 
5zvc.jpg
 
Benched it a bit in Windows too:
 
iz1y.jpg
 
u196.jpg
t35m.jpg
 
uowu.jpg
 
t7xx.jpg
 
lg74.jpg
 
By the way, you can see a comparison GeekBench 3 score here for OS X.
 
5yxe.jpg
 
Not sure why, but could not get GreenScreen app or Fraps to take screenshots of Unigine benches... So they are taken with my iPhone.
On another note, the programs refused to run in 1920x1080, might be because that is not my native resolution...
 
9xpj.jpg
 
Also benched the M3 SSD because sooner or later it will be updated as 64GB is kind of small... So wanted to know in numbers how well it performs currently:
 
u0et.jpg
 
vood.jpg
 
tg5p.jpg
 
9jxz.jpg
 
 
 
Why did it make it run Windows when I despise the layout of the OS so much?
 
To run my good ol' Windows only games like Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun!!! :D
 
pgqk.jpg
 
 
//Thanks for looking. 
 
Next up is a new keyboard and mouse as my current Logitech EasySwitch dont want to connect in Windows and im therefor now using my good old Apple Wired Alu Keyboard which dont have any backlighting :(





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