Building A Mac

We have been struggling with our computers here for a little while. The last computer I purchased was back in January 30, 2007 –I can’t believe it has been so long. I bought an inexpensive Vista machine the first day the new operating system came out (a dual core AMD box from HP). Vista was much more interesting to look at than XP it has been a really long time since we had a new operating system to look at. Despite the eye candy Vista was a world of hurt with plenty of software issues and periodic non-booting drives. Oy. At some point I started using more high-end software as well such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and Handbrake. Unfortunately, the AMD box was not up to the challenge.

I started to hear whispers about Windows 7 running a lot better than Vista (even in the beta version). I decided to give it a try. As soon as the Windows 7 beta was available to the public I immediately installed a fresh copy on the AMD box and that resulted in a much more stable system. I was pretty happy for a time. A few more years passed and new versions of the photo software became available and expected more advanced hardware to go along with the upgrades. The slow computer became so bad that photo editing really became a burden. Taking photos of friends and family resulted in hours and hours spent post processing the photos, or really spent waiting for the software to catch up. Pain Pain Pain!

Around this time (about 1 year ago), I learned that my office was continuing to unload some old computers. They are on a 5-year retirement cycle and were just starting to recycle the first of their Core 2 Duo intel machines. Now there was nothing revolutionary about Core 2 Duo machines as they were old in their own right but it was a decent upgrade for me.

I hatched a plan to take one of the work boxes and take the good components from our old computer and make something that could get us a little farther down the road. So I pulled the hard drives from the old box, transfered the card reader, and found some hand-me-down ram from friends. The end result was a Core 2 Duo box, 4GB of ram, 3 TB of storage, and I also added a small solid state drive (SSD) for the lightroom libraries. It was a little odd but it worked and it was much better than what we had before. The SSD was amazing, a breath of fresh air, and I was pretty happy about it. 🙂

The Core 2 Duo Machine

A year down the road that computer started to break down. Between the frequent photo editing sessions, video encoding, and media streaming to the tv it was just getting clunky. To even have a chance at editing a photo all other applications needed to be shut down. No netflix, not itunes, no nothing could be going on at the same time. Ugh. Even under the best of circumstances certain tasks like using the adjustment brush in lightroom or having both lightroom and photoshop open were virtually impossible. Pain, Pain, Pain.

This led us to finally take the plunge and buy a new machine. However, more than $2000 for an iMac with the appropriate upgrades was not an option. I was also not interested in the laptop class processor in the Mac mini. That is when the idea of building a new computer came to mind. Better yet, building a mac. And that is just what I did. For the last few weeks I’ve been using our new mac pro and it is running great. 🙂

I used the guidance at TonyMacx86 to choose components, create a bootable Mavericks USB drive, and install OSX. Here is a list of the components I used for the mac pro.

  • GA-H87-D3H motherboard Link
  • Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz ram 16GB Link
  • Intel Core i5–4670 processor (this runs at 3.9 GHz) Link
  • Antec Neo ECO 520W Power Supply Link
  • LG Bluray Drive Link
  • Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus Case Link
  • Card Reader Link
  • Seagate SSD for lightroom libraries Link
  • OCZ SSD had already for osx Link
  • 1TB Caviar Black HD already had for photos
  • 2TB Caviar Green HD already had for music and movies
  • 160GB Caviar Black HD already hadfor os drive backup
  • Microsoft Natural Keyboard already had
  • Logitech m510 Bluetooth Mouse new
  • Altec Lansing Speaker System with Subwoofer already had
  • Two HP Monitors already had

Assembling the components was a lot of fun and it turned on without any issues. I got most of the bios settings correctly; however, I was really grateful for a neighbor willing to come help me get the last few settings right.

Here are a few screenshots of my system up and running (it thinks it is a 2008 Mac Pro).

Identification Launchpad Drives Monitors

Lightroom and photoshop are running as smooth as butter. I can encode HD video, edit in Lightroom, and watch a movie all at the same time. Nice!!! It is nice to have a very powerful machine. Thanks to the hackintosh tools that are available now I was able to make this happen and I’m so happy about it.

The following summarizes my feelings and reasons for doing this.

  • desire to have a Mac
  • desire to run desktop apps that work seamlessly with apps on my mobile devices.
  • lower cost for great components calculated as 800 dollars of new investment compared to a similarly equipped iMac for 2600.
  • desire to build a computer and understand what is going on.
  • desire to have a modern and fast computer.

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