Mac Setups: The Hackintosh of a Student & Programmer

May 3, 2014 - 14 Comments

Hackintosh Mac desk setup

This weeks featured Mac setup comes from Andrew T., a student and programmer. As for the setup itself, it’s a bit unorthodox… because it’s a Hackintosh! For those who are less familiar with the concept of a Hackintosh, it’s an unofficial and unsupported Mac built using traditional PC components that runs OS X. Aside from the primary Mac being not an official Macintosh, there’s a handful of Apple devices to go along with the mix. Let’s jump in and learn a bit more this setup!

What hardware is in your current desk setup?

  • The Hackintosh
  • MacBook 13″ – 2010 model
    • Baseline 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo
    • 2GB RAM
    • 250GB HDD
    • Nvidia GeForce 320M GPU
    • The MacBook is provided by my school. They will be giving me a newer MacBook next year (yay), but I have no idea which model we will be getting (it could be either a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro Retina, or a normal MacBook Pro (if Apple doesn’t discontinue them))
  • “The New iPad” (yes that iPad, the 3rd gen one)- 32GB WiFi – It’s actually the family iPad, though I bring it downstairs from time to time because its awesome
  • iPhone 4S – 16GB – Funny story, this was actually given to me by a friend, completely shattered and not turning on. He said if I could fix it I could keep it. I fixed it, so I’m keeping it!
  • iPod touch 5th generation – 32GB – (not pictured, it was used to take the photos shown here which is why they’re a bit blurry, sorry about that!). Bought this about a month after it came out. I still use it from time to time, but most of the time I have to plug it in because its always dead when I go to use it.
  • Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 Keyboard & Mouse – Works pretty well, all the hotkeys work in OS X as well which is nice.
  • Plantronics RIG Stereo Headset with Mixer – I got this as a birthday present this year. More on how that works later.
  • Dell 19 inch display. 1280×1024. Works well, colours are very nice. If I had money (I’m 14), I’d buy a 1080p or 1440p version of this in a heartbeat.
  • LG 19 inch display. 1440×900. This monitor works pretty well too, but the colours aren’t as good as the dell and theres no cable management at all on it 😢
  • WD My World II NAS – It has got 2 1TB drives in RAID 1, and my family has no idea why it works still. Its been knocked around heaps (actually knocked it while taking the photos even) and somehow we managed to get an iTunes library on there that only works in one computer and often just goes nope, don’t want to work for you today. I’ve had enough of this NAS, but my dad won’t buy a new one or let me build one.
  • NetCommWireless router – This thing, is the one thing in my setup that needs to be replaced more than the NAS. Drops out constantly (although that may be because of my horrible ISP, not going into detail with that) and the reception is horrible. And no, it can’t be moved, with my house’s current wiring.
  • WD Elements external 1TB drive – I use this for Time Machine backups

Hackintosh - opened sideview

What do you use your Apple gear for? Why did you choose this setup?

I do pretty much anything on this setup, be it programming in any language (I know a fair few, and love learning more), school work, or video editing. Other than that, just basic grandma tasks, like web browsing, music, email, reading iBooks etc. I’m a bit of a “power user” too, I do like to use the Terminal and delving deep into the OS to fix problems (which I run into often because its a Hackintosh) I don’t do video editing on the MacBook though, obviously.

As for why I chose the setup? Well, the MacBook was given to me. No choice with that one, but I’ll take it! The hackintosh on the other hand, well I wanted something that would be in my price range, a fun project (I can afford to do that because the computer isn’t mission critical), and I just really wanted to build a computer (I’ve done it a few times before, and it gives you this “itch” (Portal 2 reference)). Also because expandability. I can upgrade this whenever I want. I do plan on building another non-hackintosh PC soon, when I have a job, and I also plan to get a “real” Mac setup too.

As for the Plantronics Rig – I chose this because of the mixer thing. It allows me to control volume, EQ levels etc on the fly, and I can hook up my phone to it and listen to both at the same time. It really is awesome.

Full Hackintosh & MacBook desk setup

What apps do you use most often?

I use a tonne of apps daily, depending on what I’m doing that day. Most of my time is spent in Safari being unproductive on Reddit, but when I’m doing things, I’ll use anything that gets the job done. My favourite apps (not including built in ones):

  • Xcode – A must have for any app development
  • Final Cut X Suite – I use this for video editing. Don’t ask why I have the number 2 on my App store icon.
  • Office for Mac 2011. I only use this when using iWork isn’t the right tool for the job.
  • OneNote. My favourite note taking app, the moment I saw that it was released on Mac I downloaded it instantly. Definitely recommended
  • Skype – Communication with most of my friends
  • Twitter. Just works. I don’t need any of the fancy features in some of the other apps available.
  • Steam – Games. I normally boot into windows for my games though.
  • Adobe CS6 Suite – I use these apps daily, I use Photoshop for editing photos when needed, Dreamweaver for websites, Flash for animations (actually just because I had to do an assignment using it for my school’s computer course), Premiere for video editing when Final Cut isn’t the right tool for the job, etc etc.
  • Adobe CS4 (unavailable) – Provided by my school, only used for when my school REQUIRES me to use that version to do something. Annoying, but I can live with it.
  • OneDrive – My preferred cloud storage service, simply because it just works as advertised, I get more storage than most other services and I can access my files in even more places than the rest of the services (Even Windows Phone if I ever need to)
  • F.lux. Warms colours at night. I don’t notice it because I’ve used it for so long. Thats a good thing though.
  • iStat Menus. I use this CONSTANTLY. I can always have my system activity right at my fingertips, which is awesome. I originally bought it because my laptop burnt my hand one day at school and I needed to find out how hot it was running.
  • Skala Preview – Used for previewing images from Photoshop on my iPhone, iPod or iPad, live as I edit with the accompanying Skala View app.

Any Apple tips you feel like sharing?

Don’t just rely on iCloud. If you ever need to access your files on a non-Apple platform, you can’t. And if you ever need to access your calendar on a non-Apple platform, you can’t. Same applies for everything iCloud lets you do. I really can’t recommend OneDrive enough for cloud storage, even though it is a Microsoft service.

Do you have a great Mac & Apple setup you want to share with OSXDaily? Answer a few questions about your setup and what you use it for, attach a couple of good pictures, and send it all over to us at osxdailycom@gmail.com !

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14 Comments

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  1. sam says:

    I’ve always liked the idea of a Hackintosh since they’re 1/2 to 1/3 the price of a ‘real’ Mac, but seems like such a pain to maintain updates to OS X. But the idea of being able to run real games like Crysis and Skyrim on the same machine as a Mac… drool :P Maybe some day.

  2. Michael says:

    Ever hear of iCloud.com ?? Or the iCloud control panel for windows ?? Contacts, calendars, notes, emails, word processing documents from Pages, spreadsheets from Numbers etc., all available everywhere I go!
    Sure, it doesn’t suit everybody, but it’s a good solution for a lot of people (both experienced and inexperienced users).

    • Andrew T says:

      I do use iCloud.com a bit, but it doesn’t work on everything (like Android/Windows Phone, or even Safari on iOS). I’m away from most of my setup more than I am with it, and sometimes its more convenient to use a friend’s laptop or something to get to my email than it is to get my phone out.

    • Pete says:

      Yes but what he says is true, don’t rely *only* on iCloud. Use iCloud for all that you use it for, but if you want your documents and stuff from elsewhere, everywhere, anywhere, across platform, there are real solutions: DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, etc.

      Great setup by the way! I would have been thrilled to have this at 14!!

  3. Bruce. Mitchell says:

    Awesome. Impressive. Well written. Almost makes me wish I were young again and could learn all this stuff. Although I’ve never been a techie, he makes it sound so much fun!

    • Andrew T says:

      Thanks! I appreciate the feedback!
      You can never be too old to learn, all it takes is some spare time and (in the case of the hackintosh), sometimes a small amount of money to get started. You could build a small Core i3 testbench and use that to fiddle around with the Hackintosh thing for as little as $400.

  4. Cleyton Joseph says:

    Hi,

    I wanna know about the tutorial you used to have a complete install.

    The reason is that I have the same motherboard you mentioned but my GC is a GeForce GTX550Ti. To be able to install the OSX did you used your GC as primary video output? or you installed it apart? HDMI works out of the box?

    I tried to install OSX with no luck, both Lion/M.Lion and Mavericks, as I have a MBA and can grab the OSX versions by the app store and save locally to my external HD. The problem is something got stuck at some part of the process.

    Can you help me with it? I’ve already followed some tutorials but maybe you have something different that can help me with the install.

    Thanks!

  5. Sam says:

    So he’s a student programmer but he’s blatantly pirating Apple software. What’s his excuse, because he’s poor? Did he consider that someday his work will be pirated? Apparently he hasn’t gotten to the ethics part of his education.

    I realize that piracy happens all the time, but people who’s livelihood depends on intellectual property rights should be the ones setting the example, not promoting it.

    • Massa choosits says:

      OS X Mavericks is free, how do you pirate free software? Or are you morally opposed to the concept of building your own computer and not handing over a 50% profit margin to a megacap multinational corporation?

      • Valentino says:

        You are right, OS X Mavericks is free but to Apple machines. And may I ask where you get this 50% profit margin (a mac mini is $600 and according the the builder a starting rig would cost $400).
        Personally I would gladly spend a bit more money and get a true apple device. Apple stands for a lot more then a quality product. They take their environmental responsibilities very seriously. An apple computer will use less power than a hackintosh and all new OS versions are included as well as their “office” product range. Try getting that free from Microsoft.

        With all that said, I used to be a pc builder, that is a nice rig and very cleanly done. Kudos

  6. Dude says:

    For being a techie I can’t believe he’s using crappy dell monitors.

    • Show stopper says:

      Relax buddy he’s 14, what kind of disposable income did you have at 14 to have top of the line computer equipment? Or are you offering to buy some new monitors for him?

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