Description

Background

I'm the proud owner of one of the last 'real' Mac Pros, also known as a 5,1. I've modded it several times over the last 10 years, and it still mostly keeps pace. However, it was getting long in the tooth, and I didn't want to put more money into a decade-old computer. Seeing the current Apple lineup made me weep for the halcyon days where professionals were considered in Apple's hardware roadmap. What was I to do?

Welcome to Hackintosh

I still vastly prefer MacOS to the competition. Despite Windows getting better, it still doesn't work the way I think, and I have a huge legacy of scripts and UNIX knowledge from which to draw. I read a lot about Hackintoshes, and their issues, but the landscape is fairly mature, and there are many 'Golden Builds' (a selection of parts and kernel extensions that behave perfectly according to the OS) from which to crib. This is my journey.

I do literally everything with my main machine, so the parts had to be robust, and fast. I record and produce live audio, cut and conform video, compile and run code, and even find time to play games, and listen to music. I chose parts that will give me some headroom, but also keep the relative dB fairly low. Much of the more expensive gear I was able to leverage from my 'real' Mac Pro (video card, SSDs). As this was my first build, I didn't want to muck about with water cooling. I figure that's something I could do down the road, if I find the system is getting too hot.

So with this build, everything works in MacOS: sleep, audio, networking, iCloud stuff, Handoff. I also have another disk with Windows 10 on it, which I mostly use as an arcade. I can also swap gear whenever something better comes along. Wins all 'round.

Part Reviews

CPU

I'm going from a Xeon W with 6 cores, 12 threads, @ 3.33GHz. I needed something that spanked it in single and multicore, at a reasonable price and worked solidly in MacOS. The K processors, despite being 'consumer' grade, seem to be more robust than the non-K varieties, so I felt I could run it at 100% for a day or more without sweating. Fingers crossed.

CPU Cooler

I didn't want to muck about with water cooling, so I went with what seems to be the only option to cool the K processor, even if it's mildly overclocked. It works! The only thing that bothers me is one of the lobes seems to droop ever so slightly (you may be able to see it in the pictures). Everything is torqued down appropriately, so I don't know what's up.

Motherboard

I got this specific board as it was the one that was in a Golden Build I based my build off of. No complaints. Everything works. The BIOS is a little weird, and I don't seem to have access to some things I thought I would through it, but I don't care too much.

Memory

Solid RAM. I got the faster 14 timing. I'm not sure it would really matter, but I had the budget, and I figured it would probably give me a little flexibility should I do any overclocking. One annoying quirk, the LEDs go back into 'unicorn vomit' mode if I boot from a full shutdown. Also, the LEDs can only be addressed in Windows, which is a bit of a PITA for me, as I'm mostly in MacOS. Would RAM again.

Storage

This is my Windows drive I use primarily as an arcade. It's a SATA SSD, so it's never going to get any better than the bus will allow. Solid and reliable though! I ported this over from my prior Mac Pro, and reformatted it.

Storage

This drive contained my boot drive from my old computer. I'm keeping it around as a legacy/cache/secondary storage. It's fast. It's cheap. What more could you ask for in a SATA form factor?

Storage

This thing is bonkers fast, and it's not even the fastest they make. It is however, compatible with MacOS, whereas I've seen the "Pro" variants have some trouble in some circumstances.

Video Card

I had this in my Mac Pro. It's not flashed with a Mac EFI, so I was able to port it without too much trouble. With the 1080Ti still being bonkers expensive, I thought I would hold on to this for awhile.

Case

I really like this tower. It's not overly huge, and has fairly good cable management. Note this is the non 'i' version, so it doesn't have the built-in LEDs. I heard nightmare stories about their controller, and I did a hard-pass. It's quiet, and cool. The built-in fans are quiet, although not as quiet as the Noctuas. I'll eventually swap them. Also, there is an annoying defect in the case where the top panel meets the front. The left side has an annoying bend, lifting it up from flush.

Case Fan

So quiet, and so… not brown. 5 stars. Would blow again.

Custom

The NH-D15 is not a handsome heatsink from the top. This takes care of everything.

Comments

  • 7 months ago
  • 3 points

what macOS version did you put on it?

GTX 980ti as far as I know can only support up to High Sierra 10.13.6 No Nvidia drivers for Mojave so it's limited there

but then the newer i9-9900k CPU I believe I have only seen reports of it working on Mojave 10.14+ there are no real macs shipping with HS and an i9-9900k

with that said, those two components sound incompatible for running macOS taking into consideration everything I have researched on tonymac. I have put together a build with same MOBO and CPU but that combo I thought only leaves the option of Mojave with No way to use High Sierra

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Because I need CUDA, and Mojave is still kinda trash in terms of bugs I've encountered on my other (Apple HW) machines, I am sticking with High Sierra. The i9 CPU has no problem in 10.13.6, as there were Coffee Lake CPUs from that era — The architecture is baked into the OS from I believe 10.13.3 onward. I do know you can't use 'vanilla' Sierra with a Coffee Lake CPU. If however, you want to run Mojave, you must get an AMD card, unless you have access to the non-public NVIDIA drivers.

FWIW, I don't believe there are any macs at all with a 9900k processor, but there are several running Coffee Lake chips, which is what really matters in terms of architecture.

The reality is that one day I'll probably be forced into running either Linux or Windows, and have a VM with some flavour of MacOS on it for my legacy 'happy apps' (BBEdit, OmniGraffle, etc) if Apple doesn't get over itself regarding NVIDIA. I simply have work to be done, and can't do it efficiently with AMD cards.

Also, one quirk: I didn't update the boot drive to APFS (which happens automatically on HS install on an SSD), as I wanted to be able to have more direct control over files and free space (ex: you can't really force-purge 'purgeable data'), and the ability for 3rd party tools to retrieve files from the drive, should that become necessary (I have a fairly robust backup system, but this is another layer of protection).

*edit: I mentioned NVIDIA and mojave when I meant AMD. I've corrected the above text.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

it's alot easier to run macOS app on linux then trying to run a VM of the entire macOS. what build were you emulating if you don't mind me asking, and did you just copy your old macOS and change some of the old identifying numbers and plugged it all up? I really want to get a good hackintosh build going, and im thinking of copying your exact setup. Now with Mojave using my MBP and razer X eGPU things have definitally gotten better support, so thats a plus for mojave in my book. ( btw I majored in creative spelling) ;)

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I started with a 'Vanilla' base https://hackintosh.gitbook.io/-r-hackintosh-vanilla-desktop-guide/, but then took cues from cmer. They posted their guide on github: https://github.com/cmer/gigabyte-z390-aorus-master-hackintosh I had to experiment a bit, as I was going on High Sierra rather than Mojave, and cmer was rolling with an AMD card. I also got some help from the Hackintosher community.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

If the heatsink bothers you that much, you may be able to RMA it. I'm not sure whether they would do it, but Noctua has some of the best warranty in the industry. Even their fans have a 6 year warranty. Great build, looks awesome.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

It doesn't bother me aesthetically. I'm just wondering if the sheer weight is making it droop, which would probably have a catastrophic effect on the mobo should it collapse. It's properly installed (correct braces, going the right way, etc), but as this is my first rodeo, I'm a wee nervous.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

Stellar hackintosh!

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

I'm really digging it so far.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Gigabyte Z390 AORUS MASTER ATX LGA1151 + i9 9900 + 32GB CORSAIR + 1070TI GIGABYTE GRAPHIC CARD, is it good for Hackintosh?

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Cheers!

It's been a fun experiment. Getting the software working nicely was a bit of a PITA, but now that it's all sorted, it's fairly smooth.