Some of you may recall from previous blog entries that I’ve had a particular fascination with the world of “Hackintoshing.” What is it, you ask? Essentially, it’s finding ways to “hack” Apple’s OS X operating system onto generic PC hardware. It isn’t necessarily an easy thing to accomplish, and therefore a successful hackintoshing carries with it some geek cred. But while the process of making a hackintosh is certainly an enjoyable technical challenge to tackle, for me the prospect of getting a hackintosh up and running is far more pragmatic in nature.
I’ve gone into detail before many, many, many, many times before, so I’ll spare you the details on how to build a hackintosh. Suffice it to say that the process can be relatively painless as long as you select parts for your computer that already have native support in OS X (which is sometimes hard to accomplish). The problem with a hackintosh, of course, is that since it is by nature unsupported by Apple or any of the hardware manufacturers, it can sometimes be tricky to get the operating system to properly recognize and utilize the hardware you place it on. So why bother with the hassle and why not just buy a real Mac?
$$$$$$. The amount of computer processing power you get for your dollar is rather low when you buy a Mac. I know, the fanboys out there will disagree, but Apple doesn’t tend to have the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of performance or even the latest hardware available. For example, the brand-new MacBook Air is running on a Core 2 Duo that is over two years into obsolescence (the Core i-Series processors have long since replaced the aging Core 2 Duo). Coupled with the sad state of dedicated graphics cards on the Mac (rarely does Apple include anything newer than year-old revisions of dedicated graphics hardware), it can sometimes be very frustrating to use a real Mac for serious computational tasks while on a budget.
Of course, the flip side of owning a real Mac is unmatched industrial design, high-quality builds, seamlessly compatible hardware, and an aesthetic appeal unrivaled in the computer business (no, the HP Envy doesn’t count). But for someone (i.e. me) who isn’t terribly concerned about the appearance or unibody construction of a desktop computer sitting under my desk, a real Mac is kinda overkill for the kinds of work I like using OS X for (mostly video editing and podcast creation in Garageband).
So in spite of my on-again, off-again relationship with hackintoshing, I decided to build another one. This time around, I kept it as a separate system from my main desktop, and for good reason. When I tried to do both on the same machine, complications arose from trying to keep the hacked EFI bootROM working alongside my regular Windows install. And trying to match the hardware compatibility requirements of OS X with the desire to keep my main desktop as a gaming-capable system was always a trade-off. Now that each is a separate system, I can upgrade my main desktop to any configuration I want while still keeping the hackintosh as a stable build.
So how long will my current hackintoshing interest last? Who knows. But I’m sure it will always remain on my radar for cost reasons . . . until I can afford (and justify) buying a “real” Mac.