Like you, I’ve been finding myself working from home more often than not. These days, I probably go to an office once a month. I have a 16 inch MacBook Pro, but using it in clamshell mode, all the time, connected to a 4K monitor was… not ideal. It would often thermally throttle way down (often, it would be really sluggish — I wondered, how fast is this running? 800MHz. 90C. Fans at 100%.)
The 16″ MacBook Pro was a great machine for when I’d go to an office 3-5 days a week, but it just doesn’t make sense when it’s essentially used as a desktop.
This is where I thought, why don’t I just get a desktop Mac, then? That gives me a few choices: iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro, Mac Mini.
iMac (Pro): Pretty good performance, but a little expensive for my target price. Also, I had just gotten a new 4K monitor, and I didn’t want to get rid of it so soon.
Mac Pro: Way too expensive.
Mac Mini: Probably pretty similar in performance and thermal characteristics to my MacBook Pro.
I didn’t want to spend too much on it — especially with the Apple Silicon Macs coming out, meaning Intel support is on its way out, limiting the longevity of whatever I’d be buying. I’ll probably get a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple Silicon Mac, so what I wanted is something high performance that makes sense to bridge the gap of a couple years.
This led me down the rabbit hole of building a Hackintosh. My target price was “less than $2,000” (the price also is due to tax reasons — I thought it would be more fun to build a PC than it would be to calculate depreciation over 4 years). r/hackintosh on Reddit was a huge help — it was an invaluable resource when picking parts. I would look through everyone’s success stories and pick similar (or identical) parts. Here’s my entry (from when it had Catalina — I have since upgraded it to Big Sur).
Using some parts from my previous PC, the new parts came out to about $1,500. Not bad for a 10-core i9-10900k with 32GB RAM and a 1TB SSD.
I’ve never done water cooling before, and it sounded pretty cool, so I got an all-in-one unit that was really easy to install. Building a custom water cooling loop sounds fun, but really time and tool intensive — not something I have a lot of here in Tokyo. Maybe next time.
All in all, doing this Hackintosh was a fun little project. There are a lot of excellent resources that hold your hand through the whole process. If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, I recommend reading the OpenCore Install Guide and looking through the aforementioned Reddit community.
When I started out to write this blog post, I installed Catalina 10.15.7 with OpenCore 0.6.2. Since then, I’ve upgraded to Big Sur 11.0.1 with OpenCore 0.6.3. I’ve only done one major upgrade, but it was relatively smooth.
One word of warning, though: Hackintosh-ing is definitely not for the faint of heart, or someone who is not prepared to spend hours debugging some issue that involves reading a bunch of white text on a black background. I would not recommend this to anyone who doesn’t like fiddling with computers. I had a bunch of small, strange issues (Ethernet instability, hardware video decoding, to name a couple) that required multiple reboots and trial-and-error with the
config.plist configuration file.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a Tweet.