I started building hackintoshes back in high school because at that time I simply couldn’t afford buying anything else than a hackintosh build based on used components. In 2011 my main reason to switch from a Linux to a Mac machine was, that I had to run graphics design programs on my computers and seven years later barely a thing has changed in terms that there’s still no Adobe CC for Linux systems, I still enthusiastically prefer not to use Windows for anything else than casual gaming, except that while I am happy using my second MacBook (after having had a 2012 Air for literally years, I switched to a MacBook Pro 2017 last December), Apple somehow fails at providing a decent line-up in terms of desktop macintosh.

What Apple offers:

Apple currently has two machines being relevant for me in their line-up, the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini, albeit the iMac and iMac Pro seem to be overall good choices, I actually want to bring my own displays as in multi-monitor set-up and dislike that these machines aren’t as upgradable as I want them to be.

The Mac Pro only offers Thunderbolt 2 and the seemingly outdated hardware isn’t worth its price for me. The Mac Mini hasn’t seen updates since 2014 either, and with desirable RAM upgrades one has to pay around 800 to have a okayish workstation.

It’s either buying outdated machines matching my usecase, or buying a decent iMac Pro not matching it in terms of Apple, so for the next years I decided to go Hackintosh again.

What are my requirements?

When I started adding parts to all those fancy online electronic store shopping cards I thought about a rather modernish hackintosh set-up featuring USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, a decent GPU and lots of storage, until I realised that this was kinda out of scope. USB-C is awesome for my mobile devices, since I am able to charge my video game console (Nintendo Switch), my laptop and my phone (actually my backup phone, since my primary one is an iPhone 6 plus running on lightning) with the same cable, but I couldn’t see any use case for it at my desks workstation.

So I finally aimed for something like:

  • lots of CPU power as in i7
  • 12 to 18 GiG of RAM
  • a GPU being able to deal with a 2K and FHD multi monitor set-up
  • a 180GB SSD
  • possibly some itx formfactor and at least a working cooling concept

What I finally bought:

After having scrolled through the tonymacx86 buyer’s guide and considered either going for a CustoMac Pro or CustoMac Mini Deluxe build, I decided that I probably do not need Coffee Lake CPUs and DDR4/USB-C mainboards, instead I sided with a Intel NUC like Ultra Compact Computer I got off eBay.

The parts I am using now:

  • Gigabyte Brix Pro (GB-BXi7-4770R r1.0)
    • Intel Core i7-4770R @ 3.90 GHz (which is used by some 2013 to 2015ish Macs)
    • Intel Iris Pro graphics 5200 (which powers the MacBookPro11,4)
  • I added:
    • 12GB SO-DIMM DDR3L RAM (will probably upgrade to 16GB)
    • 180GB Intel SSD (will probably go for a mSATA SSD and a 1TB HDD)
    • Behringer UMC22 (USB Audio Interface)

Having in mind that the parts I added were mostly spare parts, I ended up paying less than 350 for my mac build, if I had to buy DDR3L-RAM and a SSD it still would’ve been less than 500.

Will it run Crysis? Playing around with Benchmarks:

Geekbench

  • Single-Core Score: 4440
    • Comparable Macs:
    • iMac (21.5 inch Mid 2017) /w Core i5-7360U @ 2.3 GHz -> 4440
  • Multi-Core Score: 13926
    • Comparable Macs:
    • iMac (27-inch Retina Mid 2017) /w Intel Core i5-7500 @ 3.4 GHz (4 cores) -> 13798
    • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Late 2013) /w Intel Core i7-4960HQ @ 2.6 GHz (4 cores) -> 14100
    • iMac (27-inch Late 2013) /w Intel Core i7-4771 @ 3.5 GHz (4 cores) -> 13901
  • OpenCL Score: 26491
    • MacBook Pro (15-inch Retina Mid 2014) /w Iris Pro -> 27375

MacBook Pro 2017 vs. Hackintosh Build

Score Hackintosh MacBookPro14,1
Single-Core 4440 4593
Multi-Core 13926 9611
Compute (OpenCL) 26491 31886

MacBookPro14,1 Config:

  • Core i5-7360U 2,3 GHz
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
  • 16GB LPDDR3-2133