I was raised on DOS, worked through the whole evolution of Windows up to XP, tinkered with Linux and final discovered OS/X - now there is no looking back...
However, much as I love my powerbook, with it's 1ghz G4 it's just too slow for what I demand of it. The most demanding stuff I do is Final Cut Pro rendering, video compression and DVD authoring. My machine is a drag and I tend to multitask alot. I feel it's time to upgrade although I've usual only upgraded when my machine dies.
Of course I'd love to replace my G4 with a macbook pro with a intel core2 duo, but I can't justify the cost of another laptop when I know I've mostly used it as a desktop these last few years so at first I thought I'd look at a desktop. I looked at second hand G5 power macs thinking they'd be cheap as everyone switched to intel but they are definitely not cheap (well, I could have had a 1.8ghz G5 for 260 quid but it only had 512mb ram and those single CPU's are pretty shit compared to today's intels).
Of course what I'd like would be a fully loaded power mac pro with dual quad cores etc etc but that's out of the question so now that osx runs on PC architecture I've got the option of building my own 'mac', or hackintosh as they have become know. So now my goal is to build a PC that will compare with the Core2Duo macs in terms of performance and stability but at a fraction of the cost.
I want to buy only second hand parts where possible as although often new parts will often be cheaper, I prefer to buy second hand for ethical reasons. I'm looking at kit rejected by top end gamers on their endless upgrade path so this will not be the fastest PC I could build if I was buying new but nether-the-less it will be a major upgrade compared to my G4.
My priority here was not speed, features or future expandability but a 100% certainty that it would work under osx as I am not interested in building a windows machine. There are two invaluable sites to get advice for this task http://wiki.osx86project.org and http://forum.insanelymac.com/. The wiki has lists of hardware known to work with the hacked osx86 so I looked on ebay for a secondhand motherboard with socket LGA775 capable of running Core2Duo cpu's and then I checked the wiki to see if any of the available models had been tried and found compatible.
I found the Elitegroup 945GZT-M (V1.0) Motherboard and paid 20.50 pounds included postage. It's certainly not the best motherboard out there - it's got the Intel 945 chipset which is showing it's age. Front side bus speed is 800 MHz and won't take quad core processors. Additionally, it's only got two memory slots maxing out at just 2 Gb! However, all the onboard stuff runs under osx and that's what I'm interested in...
"LAN Works, on board video works, sound works with skippyretards HD Audio drivers, SATA Will work as well. Installed with Mac OS X 10.4.8 [JaS AMD-Intel-SSE2-SSE3 with PPF1 & PPF2 and everything worked out of the box except the audio which was very easy to install. Also the upgrade to 10.4.9.."
Onboard graphics is the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, nothing special but I'm not after a games machine. The Integrated Audio is the Realtek ALC883, whatever that is.
Next I need cpu and memory that would work with that chipset.
The motherboard will only handle 2 GB of DDR2 ram and no faster than 533mhz so, again, expansion wise it's a dead end. I want to max it out so there is no point in getting 512 mb sticks even though they are dirt cheap. I'm expecting to pay 16 quid for a 1gb stick of used DDR2 ram, including postage.
Just got one for 13.50 inc p&p Crucial memory - 1 GB - DIMM 240-pin - DDR II SDRAM 667 MHz (PC2-5300) Non-ECC Unbuffered
I planned to get just 1gb initially but upgrade to 2gb when I'm sure it's all running ok under osx. but oops.. bought another already 12.50 inc p&p it's PC4200 533 MHZ so fine for the board (used by this guy I think http://forum.insanelymac.com/index.php?showtopic=53952&hl=945GZT-M) but perhaps might not be too great if I manage to overclock.
Total on memory 26 pounds for 2gb. Total system cost now 46 pounds including the mobo.
The whole CPU market seems VERY complicated these days and it's very hard to judge performance by anything in the model name so resorted to cpu benchmarking charts (like this one http://www.cpubenchmark.net/) in order to get an idea of what was what. This is dangerous as you tend to get tempted by everything at the top of the chart (until you see the cost).
It has to be an intel processor as the AMD X2 don't fit this type of socket. Had I done more research before buying the motherboard I might have go the AMD route as the processors are quite a bit cheaper. As it is, I have to go with Intel but that's ok, that's what I wanted - an Intel Mac.
It would seem that the Core 2 Duo E6600, E6400 or E6300 probably will not work in this motherboard as they all use 1066MHz bus speeds so it looks likewhat I am after is the E4*** series which uses 800mhz FSB and less L2 cache (2mb)
The E4300 clocks in at 2x 1.8 GHz (one just went for 45 +p&p on ebay) then there is the E4400 2 2.0 Ghz or the E4500 running at 2.2 GHz (missed ebay buy now £49.99 new which was a bargain)
Apparently, depending on your use, there is not much difference between the E6*** and the E4*** in terms of performance anyway http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/cpu/intel-c2d-e4400.html and there are interesting over clocking possibilities http://xtreview.com/review184.htm
Sadly, the motherboard I've bought is shit for overclocking but will apparently manage to knock out 2.3 ghz from the E4300 rather than the stock 1.8qhz so can't complain too much. (http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N82E16813135046)
"The 945GZT-M is a nice cheap board with good compatibility with OS X. I wish I'd gone for something a little better though as the overclocking capabilities are pretty poor. I've taken a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo up to 2.16GHz but other boards have got the same CPU up to over 3.0GHz." - http://forum.insanelymac.com/index.php?showtopic=55067
There are another couple of options, the Pentium D and the E21xx series. The later is new, cheap cut down core2 duo, while the former is ancient Pentium 4 technology bodged into over clocked hot running dual core format. The Pentium D#s seem to be quite plentiful used on ebay as people upgrade and they are certainly cheaper than core2 duo stuff but despite their much higher clock rates, their performance does not compare with c2d. Nether-the-less, if they cost half the price, they are definitely an option to consider.
E2140 new from ebuyer 42 pounds
Pentium D 925 3GHz £45
E2160 Pentium Dual Core 2x1.8Ghz 800FSB 47 pounds
E2180 2GHz 53 pounds
E4300 / E4400 / E4500 al ~75 pounds on ebuyer
Just purchased second hand E4300 (1.8ghz dual core) for 46 pounds inc p&p which is more than I wanted to pay but seems the best buy at present.
Total system cost now ~100 pounds including fancy cpu cooler (see below)
Case, power and cooling
I'm not going to overclock (much) so I could probably get away with the stock heatsink. However, I got carried away and perhaps stupidly purchased a snazzy thermo electric heat pipe cooling system which looks very cool but is probably a waste of money on this system. That said, it was only 8 pounds and since my processor didn't come with a heatsink and fan then I'd have spent close to that on a stock one anyway.
I will need a decent size PSU, 450 watts minimum. I've now bought a 550w Q-tech PSU for 12.50
As for the case, originally I was all excited about the idea of building it into an old G4 tower case but since I don't have one and it looks hard work anyway I have gone off the idea. Instead I am now keen to build it into a flight case so that it is lugable. I've also decided to build a LCD monitor into the case so that it can be a complete unit. This would make a great machine for VJing which is something I would like to get into doing.
The total cost with the PSU now comes to 113.50
Hard drive and other essentials
I've also chosen to attempt to build an LCD monitor into the lid of the flight case. Rather than getting a convential LCD monitor I've purchased a LCD controller card which will allow me to use a screen from one of my various broken laptops. This will be much thinner than a desktop LCD monitor and significantly lighter. The board was only 25 quid - hope it works.
Keyboard and mouse obviously I also have available. However, I've chosen to buy a wireless keyboard and mouse as I've decided to build the computer into a flight case and it will simplify construction if I have less wires and connections to worry about.
I'm going to start with an 80GB ATA IDE drive I have available (unless I see a dirt cheap SATA).
I will need a firewire PCI card as it's not on the board - preferably FW800 as I have two external drives that use it but they seem very pricy so it will probably be a normal one for a fiver.
Which torrent do I need? I would prefer to go direct to 10.5
JaS 10.4.8 SSE2/3 for Intel & AMD http://forum.insanelymac.com/index.php?showtopic=55067&hl=945GZT-M
Patching and tweaks
"No solution there for audio in - we've tried it without success. My latest plan is to try a USB sound stick as an alternative to the onboard audio (waiting now for it to arrive via ebay). I will post an update once I've tested it out. I'm not so bothered about audio in but want to find a solution to the problem of having garbled sound following wake from sleep if I have overclocked."
I'm looking for performance on par with the top of the range dual G5 (EOL), and exceeding the entry level dual core intel macs. Now I have purchased the E4300 cpu and expect to be able to overclock it to 2.16ghz or 2.2 ghz I can see that the performace should indeed meet that goal.
Powerbook G4 1ghz = 572 (my laptop, probably worth 400-450 quid if i sold it on ebay)
PowerBook G4 1.67 GHz = 880 (my flatmates laptop)
PowerPC G5 1.8 GHz = 1089 (saw one of these go for 250 quid on ebay!)
PowerPC Dual G4 1.42 GHz = 1165
Hackintosh Pentium 4 3.60GHz = 1926 (this is identical mobo to mine but with old style Pentium 4)
Hackintosh Pentium D 3.00GHz = 2118 (pick up these processors in a new PC for around 160+)
Hackintosh Intel E2140 1.6 = 2129 (mobo, memory & cpu combo 130 quid)
PowerPC Dual G5 2.7 GHz = 2269 (tonnes of money for one of these babies)
Hackintosh Pentium D 3.20GHz = 2358
MacBook Core 2 Duo 1.83 GHz = 2391
MacBook Pro Core Duo 2.16 GHz = 2645 (about 750-850 pounds second hand)
Hackintosh Core2Duo E4300 @ 1.80GHz = 3111 - 3500 (what I'm building - http://browse.geekbench.ca/geekbench2/performance/4415/6)
Hackintosh Pentium Dual Core E2180 @ 2.00GHz = 3273
PowerPC Quad G5 2.5 GHz = 3298 (top of the range EOL power mac fetching 1,650 pounds on ebay)
Hackintosh Core2Duo E4400 2.00GHz = 4182 (the E4300 overclocked can reach this speed)
Hackintosh Core2Duo E6300 1.86GHz =
Hackintosh Core2Duo E6400 2.13GHz =
Hackintosh Core2Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz = 5852 - 6173 (my motherboard can't use this cpu)
Mac Pro (8-core) Dual Quad-Core Xeons 3.00 GHz = 8626 (silly money - ~3,000 pounds)
Core 2 Duo E6700 | 2.66 GHz | 1066 MHz | 4 MB | $316
Core 2 Duo E6600 | 2.4 GHz | 1066 MHz | 4 MB | $224
Core 2 Duo E6420 | 2.13 GHz | 1066 MHz | 4 MB | $183
Core 2 Duo E6400 | 2.13 GHz | 1066 MHz | 2 MB | $183
Core 2 Duo E6320 | 1.86 GHz | 1066 MHz | 4 MB | $163
Core 2 Duo E6300 | 1.86 GHz | 1066 MHz | 2 MB | $163
Core 2 Duo E4400 | 2.0 GHz | 800 MHz | 2 MB | $133
Core 2 Duo E4300 | 1.8 GHz | 800 MHz |2 MB| $113
Pentium D 935 | 3.2 GHz | 800 MHz | 2 x 2 MB | $84
Pentium D 925 | 3.0 GHz| 800 MHz | 2 x 2 MB | $74
SATA 160 GB 36 pounds new
SATA 250 GB 44 pounds new
SATA 500 GB 62 - 70 pounds new
Asus P5VD2-MX SE Micro ATX Motherboard
+ Intel Core 2 Duo E2140 (2x1.6GHz) - Skt LGA775
+ 2GB Corsair 667MHz DDR2 (2 x 1GB Sticks)
= 117.50 plus p&p new, no case, psu, drives etc
Intel Core2 Duo 1.86GHz Processor E6300
+ 1024MB DDR2
+ 160GB Hard Drive
+ nVidia GeForce 7300SE 256MB graphics card
+ 8 in 1 multi-media card reader
+ DVD±RW Dual Layer Drive
+ TV tuner
+ ATX case and PSU
= 164 inc p&p second hand
My hackintosh so far
+ Core2Duo E4300 1.8ghz CPU 46
+ motherboard 20.50
+ 2GB DDR2 memory 26
+ heatsink and fan 8.50
+ 550 ATX PSU 12.50
= 113.50 pounds inc