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A Little Background - My MSI HackPro


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I've been a Mac user for *almost* as long as there have been Macintoshes. I have a spare bedroom full of all the Macs I've ever owned; most of them are ready to run, just in case I have to get at old files that need an older OS on the genuine hardware. Not that I did anything life-threateningly important on those machines, mind you; I'm just O.C.D. about backup and being able to get at my work again; just in case. It's happened before that I've needed to fire up the Mc IIsi to run Performer 1.53 to export a MIDI file, or needed to properly translate an old MacPaint doc to TIFF, you know? And it will, no doubt, happen again.


A few years ago, a friend of mine who is a Windows guy with about the same length of experience as mine in this I.T. game asked me for a copy of OS X to try under PearPC. Though it ran, after some effort, it did not run well enough to use. But it was interesting experience, nonetheless. We Mac guys had been running PC stuff under VirtualPC and its predecessors for eons.


Needless to say, when the Intel Macs shipped, we began monitoring the internet for word about ports and hacks to get OS X running on generic PC hardware. My friend found this forum a long time ago, and began compiling a list of hardware that might be compatible. Last Spring, he finally built a PC to run Mac OS, based on a Gigabyte 965 board and an Intel E6600. He had to do quite a bit of tweaking in the BIOS to get his boot drive to work, but he finally succeeded in getting JaS 10.4.7 to support all of his hardware (except the mic/line audio in, of course! ha!)


Based on that experience, he put together a shopping list of hardware which, at the time, was probably the least expensive PC that would run Mac OS. That was his goal: build a Hackintosh for less than 300 bucks!


So, for my birthday last May, having had no PC-building experience at all, I examined the recommended parts on his list (with pricing at that time):


MSI MBOX945GM3-F, $108

Intel E4300, $116

1gb Kingson 5300 RAM, $39

TOTAL: $263


It was over $2000 to get into an equivalent MacPro! EVEN TODAY, used G5 dual 2gHz Macs are selling for a grand every day!!! I HAD TO TRY THIS! The specified machine would run around twice as fast as a dual G5!!! As a Mac guy, I was (and am) positively DROOOLING over the possibility that this might and could work...


I ordered the parts. While I was waiting for the parts, I torrented a copy of JaS 10.4.8 Intel SSE2 SSE3

from the 'net. Happy Birthday Glenesis!!! I modified the parts list. I ordered an E4400 for thirty bucks more, and I got a second gig of RAM. Why not, right? I needed a SATA drive. I grabbed a 160gb drive from Staples, for around $70. That brought my total investment into that machine up to almost $400.


When the parts arrived, my friend and I gathered in my Kitchen for the great experiment. He installed the chip and the RAM. He got into the BIOS and shut off the legacy ports (serial, parallel). We fired it up with JaS 10.4.8, on this PC which was destined to never run Windows.


We held our breath. The installer booted! Knowing that this meant nothing toward completed success, we waited for what seemed an eternity while Darwin did its thing, seemingly hanging while loading Crash Reporter, then... the blue screen loaded! We had graphics! Then the installer loaded! YEAH!!! HOLY DINGIN' YAY! THAT'S A LOT OF YAY, right there. Then, it installed and ran on the very first try. That disk still runs the same installation today.


We dubbed the machine the Hack ][, a tip of the hat to Howie's second success, and to the Apple ][, the classic...


Caveat: around 6 months into this machine's existence, it stopped booting from the original drive. I struggled for around 2 months to get some version of Tiger booting on it. The Front Side Bus started clocking the chip at weird speeds. I think the board is defective. It has always lived in a fine environment, and I didn't mess around with it (much). Kalyway Leo runs on it great, with no problem. Of course, the very day I ordered parts for my next computer build, the machine did a reset at startup all on its own, and it's been running like a charm, absolutely behaving itself, ever since. Go figure. I can't live with instability issues, however minor, so, I've been spending those months researching parts for my second building adventure, which I began construction on this month. I'll detail that nightmare when I have more of a story.


I wholeheartedly recommend the MSI MBOX945 for its compatiblity with OSX86 and dual-core support, but it was flaky on me. Howie built one after mine to the same spec as mine, and his spontaneously reboots sometimes. But if you read these forums, there are much greater problems with systems costing sometimes much more.


Since then, I tried the same JaS 10.4.8 DVD on a friend's Dell Dimension 3000 Pentium IV computer, and, to my surprise, she now runs that OS with full hardware support. It just needed an increase in the video buffer setting, and a change to the sound input and output. It XBenches at around 70 overall, booting from a USB hard drive!


Crazy fun, man. You, the OSX86 community, all rule. Hail, Hail, Hackintosh! Woohoo! :graduated:

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