In my first Hackintosh blog article, I introduced the Hackintosh concept to my readers and presented the incorporated computer components in my music studio build. Because that build was done in September 2014, I already had plans for a future, new Hackintosh or how to upgrade the existing system to an up-to-date system supporting Thunderbolt. The missing Thunderbolt support of my current 2014s system was the only big downside of it, to be honest. Benchmark-wise, the old system can still cope with some 2017s original Apple devices like the iMac, and I never complained about a lack of processing power with regard to my daily music studio work until now. Because of my studio expansion that included additional analogue gear among others and my love to Universal Audio audio interfaces which I do not want to miss in my setup, a Thunderbolt upgrade for my main studio computer was inevitable. Read in the following how I built a new Hackintosh music studio system with Thunderbolt 3 support, running UA's Apollo interfaces.
|Case||Lian Li PC-7HB||New|
|Power Supply||Corsair RM650x (2018)||New|
|Motherboard||Asus Prime Z370-A||New|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 8700 (boxed)||New|
|RAM||Ballistix Sport LT 32GB DDR4 (4x 8GB)||New|
|Thunderbolt3 Expansion Card (PCIe)||Asus ThunderboltEX3||New|
|DSP (PCIe)||UAD-2 Quad Custom||Already owned|
|Graphics Card (PCIe)||Palit GeForce GTX 760 Grafikkarte (2GB GDDR5)||Already owned|
|Network Adapter (PCIe)||TP-Link Archer T6E||Already owned|
|SSD 1 (Mac OS & Apps)||Samsung 860 EVO (500GB)||New|
|SSD 2 (Recording & Current Projects)||Samsung 860 EVO (250GB)||Already Owned|
|HDD 1 (General Data Storage)||Seagate Desktop HDD 4 TB||Already Owned|
|SSD 3 (Windows OS & Apps)||Samsung 860 EVO (250GB)||New|
|Adapter (TB3 to TB2)||Apple Thunderbolt Adapter||New|
|Thunderbolt 3 Cable||Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 (2m)||New|
|Thunderbolt 2 Cable||Apple Thunderbolt 2 Cable (2m)||Already Owned|
|USB Flash Drive (Windows 10 OS - Bootable)||Transcend JetFlash (16GB)||New|
|USB Flash Drive (Mac OS - Bootable)||ADATA Elite USB3.0 Flash Drive (16GB)||Already Owned|
|Operating System (OS)||Windows 10 Pro Licence||New|
The Setup - Summary
The hardware setup was nothing special compared to my first Hackintosh build and just included an additional PCIe card to realise the Thunderbolt 3 support. It is important to mention that the motherboard is not equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports but has a for the upgrade required Thunderbolt header (TB_header) on-board. In general, motherboards equipped with on-board Thunderbolt I/O or even the previously mentioned header are quite rare. Therefore, if you are aiming for a Thunderbolt supporting system, you are limited with your motherboard choice of the commonly used brands Asus and Gigabyte. Before you buy it, ensure that it has one or two of the described options. Do not think that an on-board USB-C port will work with your Thunderbolt 3 equipment – it looks identical from the outside, but the technology behind it is different. But a Thunderbolt 3 port can run with USB-C devices. So, keep an eye on those things – you will thank me later ;)
After carefully setting up the RAM and the CPU on the motherboard, I just implemented it in the new Lian Li aluminium case and installed the power supply along with all related connectors. The implementation of the above-listed SSD for the different operation systems and applications as well as the HDD drive for big data followed. For an error-free operation Hackintosh with two operating systems, it is essential that you install Mac OS and Windows 10 on a different SSD each. Make sure to unplug the Windows SSD after installing Windows 10 successfully, so the Mac OS installation cannot interfere the already prepared Windows system – even if you install it on another SSD which is required anyway. Just to be safe. Installing the two different operating systems on the same physical drive but two separated partitions will not work for your build. The OS installations are done via two bootable USB flash drives that also act as your emergency tool if you face OS problems in the future.
To ensure a system setup with fewer conflicts as possible make sure to update the motherboard’s BIOS if possible before installing any operating systems or PCIe devices. I highly recommend you to not install PCIe devices other than a network adapter before the OS installation. Only if the system boots in this basic configuration without any issues, I continue with adding my PCIe’s. Handling a graphics card often comes with problems with your Hackintosh and may require additional work: adding Kexts, probably changing settings with the Clover Configurator etc…
The installation of a UAD DSP PCIe is easy and can normally be done without any conflicts. Check with the later installed UAD software if the associated hardware is recognised by the system. Getting the Thunderbolt 3 expansion card running is often described as pain by Hackintosh community members and requires some effort if it does not work directly on the first try. However, you need to start to install the drivers and firmware shipped together with the expansion card on Windows 10 and update those if possible. After shutting down the system, install the PCIe and change the BIOS parameters regarding the Thunderbolt support during the next bootup by following one of the several guides in the tonymacx86 forum. Connect your Apollo interface and see if the UAD Console (we also installed the UAD software on Windows before) initialises the Apollo. If so, it is very likely that it will do the same in Mac OS. Hackintosh users often reported that they cannot hot plug their interfaces and that the Apollo systems need to be powered on before booting the computer. Some of them need to boot into Windows first before they can use the Apollo in Mac OS. There might be solutions for those issues, but the named “restraints” are not a disaster if you ask me and are definitively not a reason to go for an original Apple computer. I do not have any issues with my Thunderbolt setup and just turn on the TB devices before starting the computer to avoid any issues regarding device detection.
The Apollo audio interfaces all run smoothly after being recognised by the system and do their job brilliantly as we know it in combination with an iMac or Mac Pro. The Thunderbolt 3 port works with older Apollo interfaces (generation 1 & 2) with a TB2-to-TB3 adapter and directly with the latest Apollo generation 3 equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 I/O.
Benchmark & System Information
From now on, my Hackintosh v2 will be the central piece of my project music studio where new exciting projects are waiting to be realised. In the future, I will also tell you more about my analogue studio gear and how everything is set up in my production environment. Those articles will appear bit by bit among the other common topic categories. Follow AlbrechtProduction on Instagram and Facebook not to miss any new article or production-related news!