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Hackintosh HTPC Build - Advice Please


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Hello

 

I am a first time poster and first time Hackintosh builder. I'm sort of a beginner with building computer so bare with me.

 

Here is my current situation:

I have a file server with a couple TB's that I am using solely to hold my HD mkv's. I have that hooked up to my macbook which is running Plex and is hooked up to my TV via DVI-HDMI and sound via optical.

 

What I want to do is build a Hackintosh that will be a dedicated Plex/iTunes box.

My wish list:

1. Based on this Antec Fusion case (http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129055) or something similar to this. I just want something small and sexy that will sit on my TV stand. Therefore, I believe my mobo would need to be micro ATX. Has a hackintosh been based on a micro-ATX mobo?

2. HDMI video and audio. Would this need to be run off my video card or mobo? I would like 7.1 sound if at all possible as well.

3. Be able to use the IR apple remote. I saw this tutorial (http://photos.pottebaum.com/gallery/7075206_LwKc4) and was wondering if there was an easier way rather than having to solder.

4. Be able to run 1080p files like a pro. My macbook has trouble handling any file over 8GB. Would this be due to the processor?

5. Not be too loud.

6. Wireless Capability so I can use my iPhone to control iTunes.

 

Has anyone here built something similar to this that can impart some advice unto me.

 

 

Thanks

 

After looking at the case, it looks like it is ATX so that solves one problem. It seems most people are using the Gigabyte EP45-DS3L so I would likely go with that.

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First off, depending on your budget, make certain that a base-level MacMini wouldn't better suit your needs. The case you linked to is $300 by itself. (Personally, I think it's a bit overpriced- there are a lot of decent HTPC cases that don't cost 30-40% of an average HTPC budget.) Also, make sure you measure- at nearly 18" by 18" by 7.5" tall, that case is NOT "small". But then, that's the 'price' of full ATX.

 

2. Use a decent supported video card for OSx86 and a DVI to HDMI cable. There's a lot of info around here about which cards work best, and how to enable Quartz Extreme and Core Image.

 

Make sure the EP45-DS3L has working digital or optical audio, or use an external solution. Personally, I use an external Griffen Firewave 5.1 unit for my Hackintosh HTPC.

 

3. You can use Mira/Manta to make use of an Apple remote with a Hackintosh (or any Mac without built in IR). You can use lots of Keyspan or MCE eHome USB IR receivers found on ebay for cheap, with the Mac if you're running Mira.

 

4. Mostly depends on the video card, but a decent CPU helps as well. You can easily get away with an E5200 dual core Pentium with an HTPC, but if you also want gaming, and/or BluRay etc. on the PC side (yes, dual boot) then you might want an entry level Core2Duo. 4 Gigs of RAM is plenty.

 

5. Spend a little for a good third-party CPU cooler, as well as a few quiet (preferably 120mm) case fans if your case doesn't already have decent fans. Also, spend a few extra $ for rubberized anti-vibration dampeners for your case fans, PSU, and hard drives.

 

6. By wireless, I assume you mean WiFi? If you can, forget wireless and hook the system up to an Ethernet connection. If you already have a file server, you can then playback any content on it easily. A wired connection can handle anything from music, to HD video, to full-speed internet, as well letting your iPhone control iTunes. Wireless connections suck for sources like HD video and even SD sources like DVDs and such. But if you have no other choice but to use wireless, I've used this card with OSX and it works great. If you need bluetooth, these work great.

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Money isn't an issue really for this build. As far as the Mac-Mini goes, I don't think it's powerful enough to run 1080p movies on a consistent basis. I need this build to run the most-action action filled 1080p mkv's without a stutter.

 

I found the Antec case for about 185 on another website. I know it's pricey, but it looks nice and includes a PSU so that factors into the price. I measured my entertainment unit and it will definitely fit without a problem.

 

As far as the mobo goes, it definitely has optical and coax out. It sounds like this is the mobo I will be going with. Does anyone have any issues using this mobo? I would be hooking the optical cable to my receiver so I wouldn't need something like the Firewave Griffin. Do any hackintosh compatible video cards have HDMI out for audio and video? Right now my receiver doesn't support HDMI audio (only video), but any receiver I buy in the future will so I would like to build my HTPC to be able to do this.

 

I have read up on the MIRA. It seems like it could require some trial and error, but that may be the route that I go. @zaap: Do you use Plex? Have you had any trouble programming the remote?

 

I do not want gaming (I am a console gamer). It is strictly for media. Movies, music, and pictures. I think I will probably go bigger with the processor (like 2.8 GHZ dual core) just to make sure it can handle those beefy mkv files. I would likely go with G.Skill 2 x 2GB RAM as that has worked good for me in my file server.

 

What would be the issue of using the CPU cooler that came with the CPU? Also, is there any fan that you use that are more quiet than others? Also, can you post a link to the rubberized anti-vibration dampeners so I have an idea of what to get.

 

Lastly, I did a little research and I don't need a network card after all. The remote application will be fine with a wired connection.

 

Thanks

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As far as the mobo goes, it definitely has optical and coax out. It sounds like this is the mobo I will be going with.

Yes, but just be certain it works in OSX. I believe it does, but I'm not sure not having used it myself.

 

I have read up on the MIRA. It seems like it could require some trial and error, but that may be the route that I go. @zaap: Do you use Plex? Have you had any trouble programming the remote?

I don't use Mira, I use a Belkin Media Pilot keyboard and an old ATI All-in wonder remote. Both suit me fine. I do use Plex- excellent HTPC experience. I've heard from a few people that have used Mira that the Apple remote acts just like it would on any IR equiped Mac.

 

 

What would be the issue of using the CPU cooler that came with the CPU? Also, is there any fan that you use that are more quiet than others?

This is always the big issue with an HTPC- the tradeoffs between quiet, and cool. It's always somewhat of a tradeoff if you're going to have the type of HTPC that sits out in the open where it can be seen (and heard). What may be an acceptable fan noise level in your office with a desktop PC, can be absolutely hair-pulling annoying in your living room while you're trying to watch a movie.

 

The stock CPU cooler will perform the basic task fine, it's just not going to be the quietest fan in the world. Ideally, you want a nearly silent CPU cooler; the best have large, slow turning fans that can keep your CPU cool, while also staying quiet.

 

For me, for HTPCs, I tend to like the ball-style coolers, like this one. If you check the specs for 'noise level' the low end 17.5 dBA is pretty effectively 'silent' at an average viewing distance. You may get a lot of people bull{censored}ting you about even quieter performance, but realistically, it's actually not possible to make a fan that actually cools anything much quieter than this. By comparison, the average stock CPU fan will be around 23 dBA at it the quietest.

 

As for case fans, the case you're looking at probably has some decently rated silent fans that are under 18 dBa.

 

A lot of noise can come from the graphic card fan. If you can find the card you want with passive cooling (a huge heatsink, no fan) your ears may later thank you. If it's the ONLY thing in the PC making any kind of fan noise, with everything else fairly quiet, it's generally not a big deal.

 

 

Also, can you post a link to the rubberized anti-vibration dampeners so I have an idea of what to get.

Anything in a PC with moving parts that's screwed directly to the case can amplify vibration noise into the case. So adding a rubberized dampenr between the part and the case cuts down on that considerably.

 

For example:

 

For 120mm fans.

 

For hard drives.

 

For Power Supply.

 

On the cheap, I generally use rubber bands, rubber gromits, bits of packing foam, etc. to dampen component noise.

 

All together, you'd be amazed how much noise these types of simple measures can eliminate.

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The Antec Fusion is a mATX case. I have one. It has separate compartments for disks and PSU which reduce the available space for the mobo. I have a P5E-VM in mine which has HDMI output, but so far haven't been able to use the onboard video with OSX86. There are better choices of mATX mobos now, with better support for onboard video (9300M) and HDMI output.

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Just finished a micro-atx build with the Gigabyte ep31m-es2l board, which went sooo easy, everything just works using a 132-retail install.

 

This was definitely the fast Hackintosh install I have ever done - and believe me, I have done way too many.

The board is not the newest, ICH7 chipset, and is limited to 2 Dimm slots... but it is very inexpensive - 45 Euros in this part of the world.

There is also a version with on-board firewire if you need that.

 

The case I put this system in was this one, cost about 60 euro and has a nice carrying grip.

 

 

good luck,

ninetto

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Just finished a micro-atx build with the Gigabyte ep31m-es2l board, which went sooo easy, everything just works using a 132-retail install.

 

This was definitely the fast Hackintosh install I have ever done - and believe me, I have done way too many.

The board is not the newest, ICH7 chipset, and is limited to 2 Dimm slots... but it is very inexpensive - 45 Euros in this part of the world.

There is also a version with on-board firewire if you need that.

 

The case I put this system in was this one, cost about 60 euro and has a nice carrying grip.

good luck,

ninetto

 

Could you check motherboard name, because I can't find any with such name on gigabyte page, theres even no motherboard with P31 chipset in micro-ATX form factor. And can you confirm that audio is fully (5.1, front audio and microphone jack) working?

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I assume he means the GA-G31M-E2SL. (A fantastic board for Hackintosh). Generally speaking, mATX chipsets are labeled 'G' or 'Q' and ATX are 'P' or 'X'.

 

Front panel audio works, but to my knowledge there is no 5.1 support with onboard sound on Hackintoshes.

 

The Antec Fusion is a mATX case.

The case he linked to is a full-ATX version of the Fusion.

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I assume he means the GA-G31M-E2SL. (A fantastic board for Hackintosh). Generally speaking, mATX chipsets are labeled 'G' or 'Q' and ATX are 'P' or 'X'.

 

Front panel audio works, but to my knowledge there is no 5.1 support with onboard sound on Hackintoshes.

The case he linked to is a full-ATX version of the Fusion.

 

Zaap got it mostly right... except here in Europa it is the "M" in the Gigabyte series, e.g. G31M that designates Micro-Board.

 

As reported this board is really fantastic if you can live with just 2 Dimm-slots. YES, the front panal audio works just fine. And no, Zaap, the case is not a full-atx case... only a micro-atx will fit in this thing.

Here is a link to the case that works now : APLUS

This is no top-of-the-line case, but sleek and straight-foward with with more space for internal drives than many other micro cases.

 

I did a retail install even using my old PATA-Pioneer DVD burner... and it was the fastest install I have ever done. The board has the Realtek 883 audio chip which patches easily.

As for 5.1 audio for Hackintosh, there was the "old" trick using an aggregate device, but I never had need for 5.1 audio so I cannot comment further on that.

I have a passive Asus 7300GT video in the machine - I do not do any gaming with it and this was more than enough for my purposes.

 

good luck,

ninetto

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