How To Build A Hackintosh Mac And Install OS X In Eight Easy Steps

Building a Hackintosh from scratch—that is, installing Mac OS X on non-Mac hardware—has never been easier, and the final product has never performed better. Here's how it works.

Note: This is our third and most recent Hackintosh build (here are the now-outdated first and second). This time, to make things really easy on you, we put together a video walkthrough of the entire process. You can watch the video in its entirety below, but we've also broken up the video next to the accompanying text in each step below.

The Full Step By Step In Video Form

NOTE: YouTube's being finicky about the privacy of these videos (they're public for some regions, still private for others), so our apologies if you can't see the video yet. You should be able to soon.

Background music by Pex "Mahoney" Tufvession.

What You'll Need

Before you get started building your Hackintosh, you will, of course, need a few supplies.

The Hardware

There's no such thing as a definitive Hackintosh build, and you can find plenty of hardware that will run OS X using this or a similar method, but we're not going to dive into every possible option here. Instead, I've put together a list of the hardware I'm using and that I can guarantee runs like a dream (or at least it does for me). Also, the installation process below is tailored to this hardware; you can still build a Hackintosh using other hardware, but this installation process may not work 100%.

Here's all the hardware I bought off Newegg for this Hackintosh build:

In all, the subtotal on Newegg for all that hardware is $US1,123.92; skip the SSD and the second set of RAM, and you've still got a solid machine for an even more reasonable $US828.92.

Once you've got all your hardware, you'll need to assemble your computer. Putting together the hardware for your Hackintosh is just like building any other computer from scratch. You mount the motherboard to your case, install your CPU, RAM, graphics card, storage and optical drive, and plug in all the necessary cables. It's always a good idea to read over your motherboard's instruction manual, but if you want a little more help, hit up our first-timer's guide to building a computer from scratch.

The only thing you need to know is that you shouldn't plug your SATA drives into the off-white SATA ports at the bottom of the board. All the rest should work fine.

The Software

On the software end of the spectrum, you'll need a few things. Apart from the obvious (the Snow Leopard install DVD), you'll need to download somes files that'll contain the tools that let you install OS X on your machine. The method I'm using to install OS X on our Hackintosh this time around is a new one by a guy called tonymacx86, and it's really great. I've added direct links to the downloads below, but all credit goes to tonymac for the dead-simple tools.

To make things really easy, you can download the whole shebang (minus the OS X combo update) via BitTorrent here.

I'd suggest downloading everything you need now, and putting MultiBeast, the Mac OS X Combo update, and the post-installation files on a thumb drive.

Install OS X On Your Hackintosh

At this point you should have assembled your PC, and have all the software you'll need install OS X on your Hackintosh. Now it's time for the fun—and easy—part. The process this time around is surprisingly simple, but I'll still walk you through the process step by step.

Step One: Burn iBoot to a Disc

Above I told you to download iBoot from tonymacx86. If you haven't already, unzip iBoot.zip and extract iBoot.iso. Now it's time to burn the file to a CD or DVD. (It's a small bootloader, so a CD will work just fine.)

In Windows: Insert a blank disc, right-click iBoot.iso, and click Burn disc image. Select your disc burner in the next Windows prompt, and hit Burn.

On OS X: Insert a blank disc, right-click iBoot.iso, and click Burn "iBoot.iso" to Disc.

Burning the disc shouldn't take more than a minute or so, and iBoot should be ready to go.

Step Two: Adjust Your BIOS

Now that you've got the iBoot disc ready, it's time to turn on your soon-to-be-Hackintosh and adjust the BIOS so your computer's OS X-friendly. So make sure you've plugged in a keyboard, monitor, and power, and fire it up.

Note: At the time of this guide, I'm using the latest BIOS for this motherboard: P7P55D-E-PRO-ASUS-1002.ROM.

When you get to the first boot screen, press the Delete key to open up your BIOS. Once inside, you'll need to make a few adjustments.

  1. On the first BIOS screen, arrow down to the entry labelled Storage Configuration, hit Enter, and change "Configure SATA as" to AHCI. Press Escape once.
  2. Next, arrow over to the Advanced tab, then arrow down to the section labelled Onboard Devices Configuration. Hit Enter, find the Marvell 9123 SATA Controller entry, and set it to AHCI. Press Escape.
  3. Now arrow over to the Power section and set Suspend Mode to S3 only.
  4. Finally, arrow over to the Boot tab, hit Enter on Boot Device Priority, and set your first boot device to boot first from your DVD drive, then set your second boot device as your primary hard drive.

Hit F10 to save your changes and exit the BIOS.

Step Three: Boot from iBoot into the Snow Leopard Install DVD

When your system restarts, put the iBoot disc you burned above into the DVD drive. Assuming you set everything correctly in your BIOS, iBoot should boot into the screen below.

When you get to this screen, eject your iBoot disc, insert the Snow Leopard install DVD, and press F5 on your keyboard. In few seconds, the iBoot disc in the centre should be replaced by a new disc labelled Mac OS X Install DVD. (If it doesn't right away, wait a few seconds and hit F5 again.) Once it does, hit Enter, and your computer will boot into the Snow Leopard installation wizard.

Step Four: Format Your Disk And Install OS X

After a minute or two of loading up, you should be looking at the Snow Leopard installation wizard. Select your language and continue. Before you get started with the installation, however, you'll need to format your hard drive so you can install OS X. So, from the file menu at the top of the screen, select Utilities -> Disk Utility.

Once Disk Utility loads, click on your hard drive in the sidebar and select the tab labelled Partition. Set the Volume Scheme drop-down to 1 Partition (unless you have a reason for wanting otherwise), name the volume whatever name you want, and set the Format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Now click the Options button and ensure that GUID Partition Table is selected as the partition scheme.

Now that everything's set, hit Apply. When you're prompted for confirmation, click Partition.

In twenty seconds or so, your drive should be formatted and you'll be ready to install OS X. Quit Disk Utility, and continue with the installer.

The installation is completely straightforward, so just follow along with the default settings. When the installation finishes (the time will vary—it always claims it'll take 30+ minutes, but is normally done in 10 to 20), you'll most likely see the Install Failed screen pictured below.

Don't panic! This is all part of the process. Just click restart, put iBoot back in the drive, and this time, when your computer restarts, iBoot's Chameleon bootloader will give you the option to boot into your new installation. Select it and hit Enter.

Step Five: Update But Don't Restart

The first time OS X loads, you'll see Snow Leopard's fancy welcome video. Once that's done, OS X will walk you through the setup wizard, during which you'll enter in your username, location, etc. Just follow along.

Once you're finished with the setup, you're finally at your new Hackintosh desktop. Since you probably want to use the most up-to-date release, you'll want to update your Hackintosh before adding the finishing touches.

At the time of this writing, 10.6.4 is the most current release, so if you didn't already download the update package above, grab the MacOSXUpdateCombo10.6.4 package from Apple, double-click on the DMG, and run the installer.

When the combo update finishes, you'll be prompted to reboot. Don't reboot your computer—at least not yet. You've got one thing you need to do first.

Step Six: Run the MultiBeast Package

Remember the MultiBeast download from tonymacx86 that we grabbed earlier and stored on a thumb drive (along with other post installation files)? It's time to use it.

So plug your thumb drive into your Hackintosh (or just re-download the files if you need to) and open MultiBeast. This tool will allow you to boot from your hard drive going forward, so you don't need to use iBoot every time you want to boot up OS X. On the Install MultiBeast screen, tick the checkboxes next to EasyBeast and System Utilities, then click Continue.

When the EasyBeast installation completes, eject the iBoot disc and restart your computer. Once you've rebooted, you've got one more step to go.

Step Seven: Copy Custom Kexts to Extra Folder, Manually Add Sound and Ethernet Kexts Using Kext Utility

Now it's time to use those other post-installation files you downloaded earlier. So dive into the folder named Post Install and open the folder named Extra/Extensions. In a separate Finder window, navigate to the /Extra/Extensions folder at the root of your drive (in Finder, you can just type Cmd+Shift+G, type /Extra/Extensions, and press Enter).

Now drag all the files from your thumb drive's Extra/Extensions folder into your hard drive's Extra/Extensions folder. Enter your password when prompted, and let Finder replace any files that already exist.

Finally, navigate back to the Post Install folder on your thumb drive. Inside you'll see three files: An app named Kext Utility and two kext files named VoodooHDA.kext and RealtekR1000SL.kext. Drag and drop VoodooHDA.kext onto Kext Utility (enter your password when prompted), and you'll see a window like the one above. Once it says Done, you can quit Kext Utility (click Cancel), and then this time drag and drop Realtek R1000SL.kext onto Kext Utility. (Basically this installs custom audio and ethernet extensions to your system so they work as you'd expect.)

Step Eight: Restart And Enjoy!

Now that you've updated and installed a few extensions customised to your hardware, you're ready to restart your computer, boot directly from your hard drive, and enjoy your new Hackintosh.

A Note On Performance And Other Loose Ends

I've been using this system for a couple of weeks now, and in all my testing, everything's been working like a charm. If you're interested in benchmarking, here's how my build fared on Xbench (spoiler: the total score was 303.38).

As I mentioned above, you don't need to buy a someone pricey SSD (a regular hard drive will work fine), but the system with the SSD is fast, especially on startup. I've added a handful of startup applications to my login items, including apps like Chrome. When my system boots, all of my startup applications are running before my desktop fades in from blue—it feels more like resuming from sleep than rebooting.

Another thing to note: About this Mac identifies the processor as i5, but it's a superficial issue. You could manually edit the text file that populates those fields, but I won't go into that here.

Finally, keep your iBoot disc handy, or bookmark tonymac's iBoot + MultiBeast post. In the event something does go flaky, you'll likely want that iBoot disc on hand for troubleshooting.

Huge thanks go out to my Hackintosh-helping pals Onetrack, stellorama, and Davide, to tonymacx86 for his great tools and work, to videographer extraordinaire Adam Dachis, and to the Hackintosh community.

Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker, loves to tinker, and can't bring himself to buy what he can build himself for less. You can find his work daily on Lifehacker, or follow @adampash on Twitter.


Comments

    AUD$1,226 price list going through Shopbot price comparing not including shipping from the various suppliers.

    For the core components, it breaks down to the following in Australia:

    * Motherboard - $202 (MSY)
    * Graphics - $85 (Shopbot)
    * CPU - $295 (Shopbot)
    * RAM - $109 x 2 (MSY)
    * HD - $89 (MSY)
    * DVD Writer - $25 (MSY)
    * Case & PSU - $220 (MSY)

    = AU$1134.

    I would assume we could substitute any components Apple offers in their BTO, such as the i7-870 2.93GHz for only $30 more than the i7-860 (offered on the iMac), as well as a more powerful graphics card such as the Radeon 5750 for $60 more? The kexts should be there with Snow Leopard I guess...

    Even with all this and a monitor, it's about half the price of an equivalently specced iMac.

    Would be nice to have someone here in Oz try it with a $299 (or $399) Hackintosh build. I'm still running a G4 Mac Mini that's plenty fast for the web browsing, (non HD :( ) movie watching and Pages/Keynote stuff I do on it, but with PowerPC support dead and new updates Intel only, it's time to upgrade. I don't need a speed demon, although HD playback would be nice.
    Anyone up for a challenge? A Mac Mini style replacement machine at bargain prices?

      Wouldn't it be fairly easy to munch on the case of a netbook and stuff it inside an old G4 Mac Mini? You could get sub $500 with a bit of tinkering.

      It would look like the unbeating heart of Frankenstein but would give you the jump from PPC to Intel. And a lot of people have put good time and effort and documentation into the process for some of the netbooks.

    How do you know which hardware works and which doesn't? Trial and error? :/

    I've been looking at doing this for a while. Although I've been looking to dual boot it on my Win 7 machine.

    I'd be interested to see a guide for that.

    Can you get a lower processor like (i3) to save a few bucks and still use this config?
    Thanks

    my system is intel i3 530 and asus p7h55m pro mobo.. but i don't see any marvell controller and iboot is not working well.. i just saw restart page....i have retail dvd..
    please help me..

    so i am building a hackintosh simalir to the build posted in the guide but i need a more powerful graphics card due to my 3d modeling and other apps what would be my best bet and still have compatability? plz help also would i have to get any different kexts to make it work properly?

    Hey guys, the iBoot disk works great, but when i insert my OS X 10.6 disk the installer (after it loads) tells me that OS X can not be installed on my pc..... i was wandering if this is because i am using the OS X disk that came with my mac book?

    one huge question. where the hell are we going to get the drivers to run on this hackintosh? lets say our graphics cards and audio drivers?

    This would be my first build, if I find the balls to just do it. My first question to anybody is after you buy everything do you still need cables to hook up the dvd or any thing else????? and what cables do you buy???

    Hey guys,

    so i've just ordered my New HP DV7t online and it will be arriving soon.

    CPU Intel Core i7-720QM
    2 500GB 7200RPM HDD SATAII
    8G Ram DDR3
    ATI Radean 5650 HD (1Gig ram)

    is it worth installing this Hackintosh setup and will it be compatible?

    Thanks guys

    I was wondering if I could build my hackintosh with 1155 chipset motherboard.

    This is a minor question, but will a Mac Keyboard and Magic Mouse work with this rig? I ordered the setup exactly as you have it listed and I would like these two peripherals to complete the look.

      All you need is Bluetooth to use the Apple keyboard/mouse. Mine works fine.

    Can you use a uefi motherboard and can you use sandy bridge particularly the i5 2500

    No Sandy Bridge support yet.
    I'm looking at it right now.

    can I upgrade the cpu with another I7 or I5?

    Can anybody recommend a good 2011 Hackintosh top-of-the-line motherboard, processor, memory, power supply, soundcard, video card, blue Ray drive?

    Or please send me your wish list with TigerDirect or newegg.

    Thanks

    hey guys, thanks for the tutorial, very detailed.
    however, got a problem. im trying to install snow leopard onto a dell inspirion mini and in the bios i dont have the option to change my hard drive from sata to achi.
    ive been researching online and ive found a few ways to do it through windows 7 once booted up (havent got around to trying them yet) does this mean my motherboard isnt compatible? when insert my copy of iboot it wont read and takes me back to my boot menu.
    any help or advice would be appreciated.

    Isn't it easier to get a mac mini for 699 USD?

    hey, I'm thinking about building a hackintosh, but I want to install on a real mac pro case, its that possible? I want to install similar pieces from this tutorial.

      you could but the problem would be airflow and the lack of it in the mac pro cases. the case is very specifically designed and so would require a significant amount of alteration including creating mounting areas on the case and you would also have to have your motherboard upsidedown due to macs opening on the other side compared to pcs. also would have to create an area for power supply to fit which way be a nightmare considering macs use a different format. would look very very messy might be better to buy a look alike from china.

        > due to macs opening on the other side compared to pcs
        Nope. My MacPro opens on the right side (when facing the front). Same as my Lian Li case.

    Anyone got a tip for creating a virtual machine of a hackintosh to run under Virtual Box?

    Can I install OS X MAVERICKS using this method ?? Or at least OS X MOUNTAIN LION !!

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