The two articles about Hackintosh, my first more general one from 2017 introducing the concept of "Hackintosh", and my latest one from late 2018 about my music studio Hackintosh running with the latest Thunderbolt 3 version in combination with different generations of Universal Audio Apollo audio interfaces, were a big success. The present article focuses more on hardware and software/operation system optimisations regarding your already built or for the near future planned Hackintosh to get the best possible out of your audio workstation.
Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
Nowadays, I usually do not use hard disk drives (HDD) for recording anymore. For that purpose, I always highly recommend you to use solid state disks (SSD) because of their unbeatable reading and writing speed. But I also admit that having several SSDs with a few TB set up in your workstation is still quite expensive and not the best option for general long-term storage. In that case, the usage of HDD to archive finished projects or to store huge sound and sample libraries of your virtual instruments is a reasonable solution. Especially for files related to your virtual instruments, it is essential to use HDDs with a certain "revolutions per minute" (RPM). An RPM of 7200 is required to avoid system performance issues or freezes caused by a drive. Do not buy "green" drives because those usually do not offer you the required RPM speed. Keep an eye on it when you are buying HDDs for your Hackintosh! For simple storage of only old projects, a drive with 5400 RPM is excellent if you are on a budget.
Solid State Disk (SSD)
As mentioned above, I use SSDs as Mac OS system drive and record and mix my current projects on separate SSDs or store smaller sound libraries that require a super fast drive to run smoother. Keep in mind that the SSD that acts as your Mac OS system drive is also the place where all software such as your DAW, plugins and other software needs to be installed. Therefore that SSD should have a capacity of minimum 500GB. Depending on the size of your projects, SSDS with a capacity of 250GB can work well. However, I would directly buy a drive with 500GB+ to temporarily store more than one active studio production on it.
Described in more detail in my article about my latest music studio Hackintosh, I highly recommend you to build a Hackintosh system supporting the newest Thunderbolt 3 version. By now, Thunderbolt is the fastest and most suitable connection for your professional audio environment to connect high-class audio interfaces or external storage to your workstation. Find more information about this topic here.
System Settings & Software
Mac OS X Configuration
Internet Connection - Use LAN instead of WLAN
For better stability and higher connection speed, the use of LAN should be the preferred way to connect your workstation to the Internet. Plugins, virtual instruments, software updates as well as your project files are getting bigger and bigger, so an unstable connection that does not use the full potential of your network capacity is more than frustrating in your daily working routine. Nobody wants disconnections or wait hours to have the project files uploaded to cloud storage or sent to collaborators or customers. I experienced huge differences between LAN and WLAN in my environment, and you only can use the full connection's potential by using the wired solution.
Turn Off Automatic Software Updates
Never change a running system. You probably heard this sentence a million times - because it is true. If you face a situation where a software update is necessary for whatever reason, you want to be in control for doing that and do not want regular automatic software updates that can slow down or even endanger your running system. If you installed your Hackintosh successfully, the first action should be to turn off any automatic software updates. Before running updates manually, always check compatibility information and search for an important announcement (including warnings) of all important software and hardware brands you use, to avoid running into unwanted complications.
Turn Off Energy Saver
To ensure that you will not face any issues caused by a disk spinning down during a recording/mixing session, system freezes triggered by wake from sleep or USB/FW/TB device disconnects, set your computer sleep setting to "never". Also, set the display sleep setting to "never". Deselect the "put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible" option.
Disable Spotlight Indexing
Disabling the spotlight indexing that is automatically running in the background can save you a few system resources. Search for the "Spotlight" section under your system settings, go to "Privacy" and drag and drop your system drive icons there. Done!
Disable FileVault Protection
By disabling FileVault protection under System Settings > Security > FileVault let your drives work more efficiently and can prevent specific DAW system errors from occurring.
Cloud/Network Storage Backup
I like to back up my data so I can minimise the risk of losing essential files when my system suddenly cashes one day. In another article where I presented "10 Apps Increasing Your Productivity" you can find more information about my cloud storage favourite Dropbox Pro/Business. For some audio professionals, Gobbler can be a suitable alternative, that is focused on a cloud-based collaboration environment. To store a reasonable amount of your important files, you will need a high volume online backup storage that will cause running costs, or you buy a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system running at your place if you prefer to host the files your own on a separated system. It needs to be evaluated whether such alternative is the more cost-efficient solution because the NAS needs to run 24/7 to work exactly like services like Dropbox and hence cause electricity costs and probably need new drives some day. If you are interested in a local solution using a NAS, you should check out brands like Western Digital or Synology.
For Software that uses locally saved licence files, I suggest you using a central file location for all of the licence files. That facilitates licence management, and you directly know where to find such files. I always store a backup copy on my cloud storage to be on the safe side. Depending on your workflow and usage it potentially makes sense also to save the licences managed by a cloud service on a USB flash drive (usually in an encrypted file type) if possible with, e.g. Waves Audio. I store my Waves plugin licences on a dedicated USB flash drive and use it like an iLok. That comes with benefits and disadvantages: You always have your licences with you and can use them on different workstations, and the licences are safe in the case of a system failure. The downside is that you need to use one USB slot of your workstation or USB hub to be able to use the software. All in all, I prefer solutions that do not require a permanent internet connection to use the purchased software without any issues.