*** Update 2012-12-09, I’ve since updated it to Mountain Lion 10.8 with Unibeast/Multibeast method.
After selling my beloved Macbook last year, I kinda miss it. I loved using iMovie to edit video clips. OS X is just too nice of an OS to miss out on. Don’t get me wrong my career revolves around Windows, but when I come home, it’s nice to use an OS that just works.
I got my first Mac back in 2006 and loved it ever since. However, it was getting a bit dated and I wanted to get something faster. I sold it and was hoping to get an iMac 27″. However, looking at the price made me think twice. Prior to owning my Macbook, I toyed with Tiger 10.4 on my Acer 15.4″ notebook. I had to do a lot of voodoo to get it working and sometimes it didn’t work right. Lots of kernel panics and grey screens of death. However it did give me an appreciation of OS X. That’s why I bought a Macbook.
Fast forward 4 years later, I’m back at it but this time using Snow Leopard 10.6. I must say, it’s a lot easier to get OS X on a PC today. Granted you have the right hardware, it’s a piece of cake. That’s why I’m writing this post. To show you it’s super easy and cheap. Basically about $600, and that includes a 26″ LCD monitor too!
I did some research on what kind of hardware is needed to make a successful Mac clone. Basically it boils down to 2 things. A motherboard and a video card. Everything else, it doesn’t matter. If you get a motherboard with a supported network card, audio chipset, etc, it’ll all work. Same thing with the video card. With this configuration, everything worked out of the box. No witchcraft of loading .kext’s or editing files. Just create USB stick, run Kakewalk, and install like normal. I’ve read a lot of tutorials and all of them were very complicated and I wanted to document this for myself in the future and also for others looking to build their own Macs.
So here is the recipe:
Gigabyte G41M-ES2L (v1.1) motherboard – $55
– Realtek ALC888B audio, Realtek RTL8111C/D(L) LAN
Asus 8400GS Silent video card – $25
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 – $150
4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM – $40
WD 1TB 7200RPM HDD – $75
Generic ATX PSU and case – $20
DealExtreme Bluetooth USB dongle – $2
USB external sound (if you have issues getting sound to work) – $2
25.5″ Asus VW266H monitor – $235
Most of this stuff I have already from an old PC I had lying around. All I bought was the motherboard and video card.
Other things you need:
8GB USB flash drive
Snow Leopard install disc or DMG image
To make this happen I had another Macbook to do this. So sorry but my instructions will require a Mac to make a Mac 🙂 There are methods to use Kakewalk and a boot ISO with the original Mac OS X install disc. But I didn’t use that method.
First thing we are going to do is get Snow Leopard onto the USB stick. Even on a real Mac, I prefer installing from USB stick since it’s faster.
We’re going to use Disk Utility which is part of OS X. Stick your 8GB drive into your Mac, select it and choose “Partition”, pick “1 Partition” Volume Scheme.
Click “Options” and choose “GUID Partition Table”
Click “Apply” and then “Erase”
Now mount your Mac OS Install DVD disc or image, Click Restore with your USB stick is selected, drag it over to the “Source” field.
Drag your newly formated USB stick to the Destination field and hit “Restore”.
After that we need to run modify the installation with Kakewalk so it’s more friendly to our hardware. The video card works out of the box so nothing needs to be done to that. On Kakewalk, click install, select the G41M-ES2L motherboard, pick the USB flash drive you just created and you’re done. All that is left is installing Snow Leopard. This is a really simple install. Click the images below to see them in detail.
Here are some settings you should change in your BIOS.
Then it’s just a matter of booting from the USB stick and installing OS X on your HDD. Kakewalk works with other motherboards too but my experience with the G41M-ES2L has been a joy. Everything just works.
I’m not going to go through the details of installing OS X since there are other guides for this online. When you’re done, you have a Mac Pro according to System Profiler.
I built a Mac Pro for a fraction of the cost. Everything works including my $2 usb bluetooth adapter and Time Machine. It displays beautifully at 1920×1200 resolution with OpenCL, QE, and CI working marvellously. I know it doesn’t look like a Mac on the outside but it’s the insides that count right? 🙂 If you still have an itching to use Windows you can dual boot or run Sun VirtualBox (my favourite!)
Everything works just like a real Mac. I should know cause I use to use one for years. Also my significant other has a unibody Macbook. My Windows 7 notebook will have to take the back seat now.
If I had the money I would run out and buy a 27″ iMac. However, for 1/4 the cost of a real Mac why not? This will get my Mac fix until I get a real nice classy iMac.