During my school days, I received my first Macintosh as a present - one of those, at that time innovative, chic silver iMacs. With it, everything began: my affection for the Mac OS and the DAWs like the old Logic 9. Someday, its processing power became too low for my needs and I informed myself about upgrade possibilities. Unfortunately, I had to realise that these "possibilities" were extremely limited and still are till this day. At the beginning, I was satisfied with a simple RAM upgrade - a performance enhancement was fairly noticeable. But after a certain amount of time passed, my old beloved iMac simply could not cope with my requirements. It actually limited my productivity and creativity enormously by its processing restriction. It was time for a new desktop computer and, thus, my search for a suitable solution began...
Because the latest Mac Pro ("trash can" as some of you would call it) did not offer me flexible expandability and a reasonable price, it was not ineligible as my new studio device. While searching for serious alternatives, I read a lot about the magic word "Hackintosh" and the corresponding phenomenal community site called tonymacx86. Once a month, the website operator presents the newest Mac-compatible components, with which you are able to build your own Hackintosh. A Hackintosh is nothing but a DIY Windows computer on which you are able to install Mac OS, thanks to the preselected components. Beyond the monthly so-called "builder's guide" (=latest components list), the website hosts a giant community, which is the central point of the Hackintosh support. It consists of newbies and real pros answering general Q&As or more specific issues.
Since I have built my own Hackintosh, I am an avid fan of this concept! With my broad cassis and the respective components, I am able to upgrade the system or build a completely new one whenever I want. And, without a doubt, this is a must-have for me, whose computer is the centre of the professional work! In the following, I present you my actual build, which is already 3 years old (September 2014), and I will talk briefly about my future upgrade plans.
To start with everything, your computer components need a safe and probably nice looking home. I decided in favour of a brand-new Lian Li aluminium case instead of an old Mac Pro 5.1 case, which was hyped to be such studio Hackintosh. I attached acoustic foam panels to the inside of all chassis walls (let fan slots open!) to generally improve the isolation and thereby the noise level of the entire machine.
5. Graphic card
6. Power supply
7. System drive (SSD)
8. Big Drive (HD)
Thanks to that brilliant invention, these UAD emulations do not need my main CPU power. More power left for the DAW and additional plug-ins and virtual instruments which run on your host system.
Of course, there are plans for my future build - my second version of my audio Hackintosh. It will be a big overall upgrade which is long overdue and will probably take place next year.
- New motherboard with Thunderbolt 2/3 focus
- Thunderbolt PCIe extension
- New graphic card (4 or 6GB)
- New up-to-date CPU
- Professional cooling system (quiet!)
- Large SSD system drive (e.g. 1 TB)
- More and faster RAM (min. 64 GB)
- Poss. additional UAD-2 DSPs
Let's see ;)
A Hackintosh system is very flexible: you can upgrade or customise it whenever you want. One of the most important benefits of such DIY computers is that you save a pile of money compared to an original Mac Pro. It is a must-have for professionals, who want to extend their systems with PCI components like DSPs, sound or graphic cards.
On the other side, an own build can have some issues and, therefore, is time-consuming until the system runs completely stable. In my opinion, a Hackintosh is not suitable for IT newbies. Assembling your own computer comes without warranty and official support from Apple or other companies because you do not own an original Apple device.
As far as I can see, I don't want to miss a Hackintosh system anymore. Especially when Apple is not changing his pro-audio strategy.