Thursday, December 20, 2012

Project Blackintosh Stage 2: The Build

Almost finished with the build...

I disappeared for a week because my new hackintosh computer – a PC that runs OS X – took up all my time. I was obsessed! But now it's built, and I am thrilled with the performance. This was my first mackintosh build and only my second PC build. (I've worked with Macs all my life.) The build proved to be challenging. I found it fun though. I like working with my hands. The software side was frustrating, but in the end it all worked out. 

The Plan

I wanted a basic system that I could expand to kick-ass spec  in the future. Since I've never done a hackintosh before, I wanted to make sure that it worked before I invested lots of money into it. So first I made a working system for cheap. Then I will add a video card and water cooling. Later on, I will overclock.

Buying the parts

If you do the math, you'll discover that buying electronics is often cheaper if you make these gizmos travel halfway around the world from China to the US and then back to Asia. I can go on and on about our ridiculous taxes and the inefficiencies of retail. At the end of the day, it's cheaper to buy things in the States EVEN IF you pay the customs fees. No smuggling required. I love the world economy. 

I used the GCash AMEX service that works in tandem with My Shopping Box. At My Shopping Box, I chose the $6 per pound option. That means it takes 3-5 days to get from Amazon to My Shopping Box in Burbank California. Then it takes 13 days to get from My Shopping Box to your doorstep. You can choose different shipping options of course.

I bought all the parts except for power supply, casing, and processor in Amazon. (No reason for this.) I estimate buying from Amazon saved me 10-20% for each part.

Here's what I learned:

• Avoid buying big bulky things from Amazon. My Shopping Box charges by weight, but for large packages, it will charge by volume. When they charged by volume, my immense savings quickly disappeared.

• Amazon will ship your electronics box in another box and add some cushioning. That's why my motherboard came in a gigantic box.

• Amazon will often break up your order into separate shipments. So don't expect everything to arrive on the same day. Cost is the same though.

• Must have been the Christmas rush, but one shipment arrived a couple of days late.

• Local retail has taken a dive since I last built a PC. PC Express used to have everything you needed. Now, many of the parts I wanted were out of stock. This is not good. My build is not exotic. It's very middle of the road. Service in PC Express was alright though.

The Build

Hackintosh builds need a very specific set of components. (Of course you can always try something new, but good luck getting the part to work.) You can check this post for the parts I wanted to buy. Here are the parts I bought (I got most of them actually) and how I put it all together:

Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H
A lovely, very well thought out motherboard that is missing only Thunderbolt ports. A mobo with Thunderbolt is ridiculously expensive, and Thunderbolt accessories are few and far between, so I'm skipping them for now.

With the processor and CPU cooler attached

Intel Core i5 3570K
I was very nervous about the processor installation, but it turned out to be easy. The trickiest part was getting the built-in cooler on top. I almost bought thermal paste for it, but it turns out thermal paste comes pre-applied. How thoughtful.

This monstrosity is the CPU cooler

2x8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz DDR3
I placed the processor, the CPU cooler and the RAM in first. Some people like to put the motherboard in the case first. Different strokes. Make sure you install the sticks in different channels to enable dual channel.

San Disk 120GB SATA3
There are four slots for hard drives in the Corsair 300R and each slot comes with a tray. I just love these little trays that Corsair designed for the 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives. For the little drives, you'll have to remove one of the pegs so you can screw them in properly. The bigger drives don't need screws. Sweet.

Plug your SSD into the white (Intel) SATA socket not the grey (Marvell) socket. I had to fix that later on.

Power Supply
Corsair TX 650W modular
It's important to get the modular version if you want fewer cables in your case. It makes a big difference! My case has virtually unimpeded airflow (my CPU temp is currently 43º with the stock cooler).

Corsair 300R
The 400R which I wanted was out of stock in PC Express. They got restocked a week later, but by then, my hackintosh was built. The 300R saved me some money though. Cable management is really well thought out in this case. Everything is tucked away neatly. The 400R has rubber grommets in the holes to make everything look better, plus there's more space for the wires, but otherwise you don't lose much with the 300R compared to the 400R.

Extra Case Fans
2x 120mm Silverstone fans
With my savings from the case I brought some branded fans. They came with rubber screws which are painful and difficult to use. My thumbs are still sore, no joke. The fans are virtually silent once the rubber screws are installed though. The noisiest fan in my case is the Intel CPU cooler. Must replace that.

In total, I have one fan intake in front, another intake on the side, one rear exhaust, one top exhaust, and of course one CPU fan. That's close to optimal. And I still have three more fan slots.

Voila! The hackintosh is built! Fired it up and got to the BIOS screen. It's alive!

Next up: The installation.

Bonus: The little boy learned a new word: computer.


Bogey said...

TTWN, how much did it cost you to buy the parts of your Hackintosh and shipping (if you don't mind, please separate the two Parts: X. Shipping: Y. If you don't want to share the price of the parts, if possible shipping will do as I'm planning to buy an electronic item abroad. Just wanted to have a rough idea on how much will I pay for the shipping)?

Btw, I'm also a user of this GCASH-AMEX thing! Thanks to your blog! My first purchase was a Tretorn shoes whose price is cheaper in the US than the one being sold here and of course PSN goodies too! :D

The Third World Nerd said...

No problem. You can check online for the prices anyway, so it's no secret.

I bought 3 parts from Amazon. Will convert everything to pesos:
Sandisk SSD 120GB, P3,900
2 x 8GB Corsair 1600MHz DDR3 P2,750
Shipping for both: 1 pound = $6 = P246.66

Locally, Sandisk SSD is out of stock in PCX, but I haven't seen any SSD's going for less than P5,000. Maybe I didn't look hard enough? No Corsair either. But Kingston sells for P1,990 for 1x8GB. So P3,980 for 2 sticks. Super sulit so far.

I'd have had a similar percentage of savings on the Core i5 if I had bought it from Amazon. In retrospect, I should have. It costs P10,710 here. While it costs P8,836 from Amazon. Weighs less than a pound.

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H sold for P7,340
I was expecting 6 pounds = $36 = P1,480. But they charged me by volume. $57.50 = P2,363.

I couldn't find the UD5H locally so I can't compare. I did find the lower-end microATX UD3H, which was selling for P6,350. So baka nalugi ako dito. Not really sure.

The casing and power supply are both large and heavy, so I bought them both from PC Express. P4,230 and P5,090.

Grand total is P36,626. I hope this helps!

Bogey said...

Thanks TTWN! Mura na yan! :D