Turning PC into Apple Macintosh: Hackintosh Computer
By David Ramsey
Even the most jaded Microsoft Windows fan will admit, grudgingly, to an occasional bout of “Mac curiosity”. Since Steve Jobs’ return in the late 1990s as part of Apple’s acquisition of NeXT, Apple’s trajectory has risen, and they currently sell several million Macs per quarter, representing (depending on whose analysis you read) about a 10% share of the domestic PC market and landing them in the top 5 computer companies in terms of U.S. sales. Their market capitalization current ranks them as the second largest company in the world, and they may overtake Exxon this year.
A “Hackintosh” is a computer that runs Apple’s OS X operating system on non-Apple hardware. This has been possible since Apple’s switch from IBM’s PowerPC processors to Intel processors a few years ago. Until recently, building a PC-based Mac was something done only by hard-core hackers and technophiles, but in the last few months, building a Hackintosh PC has become much easier. Benchmark Reviews looks at what it’s possible to do with PC hardware and the Mac Snow Leopard OS today, and the pros and cons of the building a Hackintosh computer system over purchasing a supported Apple Mac Pro.
Before we get started, I’d like to mention a few warnings and caveats:
This is not a detailed guide on building your own Hackintosh; it’s a description of my personal experience building one, and how the result compared with my existing Mac Pro. If you want to build your own Hackintosh, there are many comprehensive resources on the Web. I’ve found Insanely Mac to be very useful.
I won’t be arguing the relative merits of OS X vs. Windows, or other aspects of the Apple/Microsoft rivalry.
It’s gotten easier, but building a Hackintosh is not for everyone. At the very least you must be someone comfortable with building your own computers. Prior experience with Macs, especially at the software level, helps a lot.
No matter how much time, effort, and money you put into a Hackintosh, it’s not a Mac, and has drawbacks relative to the “real thing.”
(While Apple is routinely derided for its “proprietary” attitudes, Hackintoshes probably wouldn’t be possible without Darwin. Darwin represents the core operating system functionality under OS X, and Apple releases a new version of the Darwin source code under the Apple Public Source License with each major update of OS X. The current version of Darwin, 10.4.0, was released on June 15, 2010, to correspond with the OS X 10.6.4 upgrade. Darwin source code is an invaluable resource for those working in the Hackintosh trenches.)
That said, getting a Hackintosh going is kinda fun. This article describes my experience doing so, and the pros and cons of this approach.
Full disclosure: I worked for Apple in the late 1980s and am the author of “MacPaint 2.0”. I use Macs for all my serious work and consider PCs to be best suited for video games.
EDITORS NOTE: Benchmark Reviews has also published an updated Apple Hackintosh: Moving to Intel Sandy Bridge article, as well as our Budget Hackintosh PC Build Project, Hackintosh OS X Software Installation, and Hackintosh Performance Hardware Options.