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Optimal Mid-Range CS5 and Gaming Build for Late 2010/ Early 2011


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I'm new to Hackintosh but somewhat familiar with building PC's. However, I have not built a PC in 4 years so my hardware knowledge is useless.


I'd like to build a system that will be used for a couple things primarily(in order of priority):

- Photo editing/ visual design (CS5)

- Gaming - mostly scifi MMOs(SWG, SWTOR, EVE, etc.) since I tend to play other genres on Xbox

- AutoCAD/ Revit/ 3D Rendering


BIG QUESTION: Why do video editors, 3-D artists, gamers, etc. command different system specs? What parts of a system are emphasized for different use cases? Hoping someone can shed some light on this for me.


COST: I would like to minimize cost as much as possible(< $1000) but definitely want a machine that can max out graphic settings in certain games(mostly MMO), possibly on multiple(3) displays. I believe that buying in the mid-range price/performance sweet spot is best since tech advances so quickly and prices drop so rapidly on high-end components.


LIFESPAN: I would like to go with newer technologies if possible(SATA II, DDR3, USB3) to maximize lifespan, but appreciate any advice.



CPU: Leaning towards i7 920 because that seems to be the current price/performance sweet spot. I would like to overclock, but not immediately. Not until I'm up and running and more knowledgable.


MOBO: I'm at a loss here, and the options are dizzying. Is there a master spreadhseet of Hackintosh-compatible boards with feature comparisons?


GPU: Obviously looking for the ultimate price/performance sweet spot for late 2010, early 2011. Not apposed to a dual card setup per se, but single seems simpler. Open to either NVIDIA or ATI to find that sweet spot. ATI has the multiple monitor crown for now, but sounds like NVIDIA has their own solution on deck soon.


RAM: planning on going with at least 6GB DDR3 and maybe more, but open to suggestions. I tend to have a lot of apps running at once and want to maximize game performance. I heard RAM prices are a bit high currently?


HDD: Considering a SSD for the OS and one or two primary games, and a 1TB SATA for storage. I currently have a Macbook and use a 2TB external RAID(mirrored) for backup and media storage.


DISPLAY: I'm seriously considering a triple monitor setup. If I can get three 24" displays for $600, then it feels like a no-brainer. But I'm also wondering why more people don't opt for large LCD TV's as display options.


Thanks in advance for any advice and assistance!

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Gamers and professional graphics artists/video editors have different graphics needs only (everything else is pretty much the same). A gamer is only concerned with the GPU spitting images out as fast as possible while a workstation graphics card is more optimized to render large images etc. Generally the two have the same central processing unit but the workstation one is tweaked so that it loses the ability to spit out frames at a high rate but gains in processing and rendering. E.g. GeForce GTX 285 and Quadro FX 5800 use the same GPU but the Quadro is modified to better suit workstations. If you played Crysis on the Quadro it won't be very fast (it won't be slow but compared to the 285 it's pretty sad) and vice versa (if you use the 285 to run Maya you'll be pretty upset with the performance)


There is no single video card that can process a 24" tri monitor setup and still play games on high. In fact, to have three monitors you need two video cards as each card can only connect two monitors. On OS X there is no crossfire or SLI so having multiple graphics cards won't improve the performance of gaming. Honestly, tri monitor gaming on OS X is probably not going to happen, its more like you'll be gaming on one of the 24" monitors while the other two display the wallpaper. A Tri monitor setup is fine for graphics work though.


As for the motherboard, pick one out from the list in the Insanelymac Wiki depending on the OS X version you want to install.


On the topic of RAM, you'll get the same performance with 6GB or128GB. No game needs that much memory. Make sure you have enough memory for AutoCAD and the like, don't worry about the games.

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Thanks for the info! That clears it up pretty well re: use cases.


I guess I forgot to mention I'd be gaming on WIN only most likely, and want the system to dual boot then obviously.


So I cannot use multiple cards on OSX, but if I boot up WIN can I take advantage of SLI/Crossfire?


I thought ATI cards support multiple (up to six) monitors currently with Eyefinity, no? And I thought Nvidia Surround was going to be the equivalent.


Perhaps just going with two displays is prudent. One would have to be center though, and one side. The reason I jumped from one to three was to avoid the seam in the center.


I'd like to stick to one card if possible. Sounds like I'd end up breaking the bank trying to run three 24" displays on Windows. Can't afford two $200-$300 cards.


Is there another contender to the i7 920 I should be considering? Maybe something that's coming down the pipes in that price range with newer technology?

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I'm seeing a bunch of threads out there using multiple cards on Hackintosh builds. So how are people doing it?


Also, can't find 10.6.4 section on the wiki...any reason?


Finally, how does this i7 920 build look? CPU is not listed on newegg currently so it's omitted for now. It's preliminary, and I'm wondering a few things:


1) Do I really need 850W PSU? I'm loosely following this build on tonymacx86:



2) There's a huge price spread with cooling units and PSU's with seemingly similar specs and brnads I've never heard of before. How do I know what to look for?





CASE: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower ($60)


CPU: Intel i7 920 ($260)


COOLER: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm ($30)




GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1372-TR GeForce GTX 460 Superclocked 1GB ($240)


RAM: OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ($155)


SSD: Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAA064MAG-1G1 1.8" 64GB SATA III MLC ($145)


HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" ($90)


DVD: Sony Optiarc AD-7240S-0B 24X Dual Layer DVD+/-RW SATA Drive ($30)


PSU: KINGWIN ABT-850MM 850W ATX 12V v2.2 / EPS 12V v2.91 / SSI EPS 12V v2.92 ($70)



TOTAL COST: @ $1289


I'd love to get the cost lower without sacrificing mush performance. Any advice on tweeking this build is much appreciated.


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Let me begin with what Intel will release in 2011, the processors are called "Sandy Bridge" and they'll be the top of the line, but for the mean time, Core i7s are premium and you really should not wait for "Sandy Bridge". You can expect 6 core i7s to become "high end" from their current status as "extreme end" but for the time being, the 920 is probably not going to be replaced with anything significant =\. The most logical replacement is a quad core i7 that is currently priced higher than the 920.


Also, let me say that I have no experience with a dual card setup Hackintosh. It is hard enough to get ONE card to work, so getting TWO to work is just plain :P . Also, dual booting is a pain in the rear to setup. Sorry I can't help and am just saying how hard it is, but please don't underestimate the challenges ahead for you.


Now, in terms of graphics, Windows will do SLI, Crossfire, Eyefinity and all that fancy multi card setup, but it'll definitely break the bank. The GTX 460 probably can work two 24" monitors for old games like WoW, but the problem is will WoW support that style of gameplay (basically, will the games you play allow the use of a second monitor? Supreme Commander will, and thats likely the only one unless nVIDIA or ATI has some customized software).


10.6.4 probably isn't up because people have not gotten around to hacking it yet. With each new release Apple most likely throws in some tricks to mess up a Hackintosh, so never update OS X on your Hackintosh...


Now onto your hardware:


A 850 W PSU is wayyyyyyy overkill unless you need like 3 SLI graphics cards and a Core i7 980X Extreme CPU and other fancy things. For a PSU, you probably need 450W minimum and 550W max. When looking for a PSU, read the ratings and reviews of other buyers. Name brand PSUs are not necessarily better. They are guaranteed to be higher quality, but honestly, I bought from some smaller companies and their PSUs are just as quiet and reliable as a high end one.


I find the SSD unnecessary unless you just wanted to have one to tinkle around with. For one, Windows NT 6 (Vista and 7) perform horribly on a SSD. This isn't publicized much, but the information is around on the web. XP is faster than Vista on an SSD. OS X should be fine with the SSD, but the speed gain of an SSD is NOT worth the price in my opinion. 64GB for $145 ($2.26/GB) vs $1TB for $70 (7 cents a gig). Two 1TB disks in RAID 0 will be plenty fast. OS X and Windows supports RAID 0.




Everything else in the build checks out. Gaming wise, you don't need everything to be premium to get high performance. If I remember correctly, the games you were intersted in were less intense than say Far Cry 2, so if you want to go cheaper, I would find less "premium" items. That OCZ Gold RAM is certain to cause jealously among others but its not necessary either for a excellent gaming experience. Premium items are sold that way because they pass vigrous testing and might have faster speeds. Some of the "value" memory is stock of "premium" memory that didn't meet the cut, just like how AMD Triple Core processors are defective quad cores. But that is some fine memory you picked out though, and worth the cost.

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Thanks so much fo the input. I had no idea dual booting WIN and OSX would be a headache?! Why would that be? I'd expect WIN to boot no problem.


I'm going to do some research on it though and see if I'm really up for this.


Once again, thanks so much for the input.

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The problem that can arise is that one of the operating systems are not recognized so you can only boot into one. Some people use a Linux bootloader to switch between OS X and Windows. Don't worry about setting up Windows, it'll be a piece of cake. OS X on a unsupported system however can cause massive amounts of headaches and frustration. I assume OS X and Windows use a drastically different bootloader, which is one of the reasons Bootcamp is needed for Macs to run Windows. Look, I installed OS X on the easiest setup: Intel Atom D945GCLF, and I still had some problems (not much though compared to what other people had to go through). The bottom line is, the more frills a system has, the harder it will be to setup.

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Hmm, it seems easy enough, but every Hackintosh will differ. I cannot vouch for those methods, and I doubt anyone on these forums posting under the "New User" section has attepted such an undertaking. The thing is with Hackintoshes is that the computer won't function 100% like a real Mac. I am slightly skeptical of the methods he used, as all of the snow leopard installtions I saw required leopard preinstalled in one form or another. Another thing is I don't know what hardware he used, and it seems like he did not use 2 graphic cards. In the world of OSx86 there is rarely a catchall method, and if you have different hardware chances are the method will either not work, or work with some flaws. I honestly would not put 1500 down on that guide, it may work and it may not. I'm not trying to talk you out of a Hackintosh, but you have some pretty ambitious plans with your build and you need to make sure that it works at least 90%...

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ok, thanks for the advice. Was a bit surprised you're not more familiar with the tonymacx86 site since they seem to be very popular when googling 'hackintosh' and I can't help but keep running into people who have had success with that approach(it's even inclded in the wiki here).


I guess I'll hop over there and post my specs. They seem to have some fool-proof tools that allow a wide variety of configs.


thanks again for all your assistance.

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