Can’t Afford a Mac? Why Not Build your Own “Hackintosh?”

Computer enthusiasts have been building their own PCs for decades, but in the past these machines were incapable of running the Macintosh operating systems (OS X). The upside was that you could build a super-powerful computer for a fraction of what it would cost from a retailer; the only downside was you had to suffer the horror that is Windows. Either that, or learn Linux. What computer geeks have really been desperate for, though, is the ability to build their own mac, and now that dream is a reality.

You see, a while back, Apple switched to Intel as their provider for all their processors, which in a nut shell means that OS X can now be run on non-Apple products. Now, if you want a Mac but can’t afford one from the Apple store, all you have to do is head on over to Newegg, Amazon, or any other computer hardware retailer, and buy the (unassembled) parts yourself and put them together.

Wait a Second, Isn’t Building a Computer Really Hard?

No, not really. I know, we all want to proudly say, “I built my own computer” so that our friends and family think we’re a super-genius, but the fact is, it’s just not that hard to do. Let me break it down for you like this: designing/engineering ¬†computer parts: very hard; manufacturing said computer parts: best left to robots; assembling computer parts: extremely easy.

All you have to do is assemble the parts. It’s not like you’re actually making them. In fact, build is probably a misnomer. Perhaps, assemble your own Mac would be a more accurate phrasing. Once you’ve bought the casing and all the other components, it’s just a matter of plugging them together correctly (you can’t mess this up since the plugs will only fit the properly matching parts).

The only challenging part is installing the OS, which is still just a process, but thankfully other kind people on the internet have put together guides for this, so you can just follow the steps as easily as you would follow a recipe. The guides also recommend the hardware you need, and where to buy it for the best deal; although, I’d still recommend shopping around and prices comparing because the price of cpu components changes like the weather.

Guides to Building a Hackintosh

Lifehacker has an excellent guide on their site that is continuously updated, and also has many links to other guides that have already been built and tested.

A Word of Warning

Before you think, “This is great! I can build souped-up Macs for cheap and then sell ’em to other people for full price and get rich!”, you should slow down. That would be a serious violation of Apples terms of service and would most likely land you in a heap of trouble. At the very least, your operation would get shutdown before it ever got off the ground. Even though you can install Apple software on non-Apple products, Apple doesn’t want you to. So, if you are going to do this, limit it to personal use.

Well, there you have it. For about the cost of a new Mac Mini ¬†— $599 – $799 depending on number of cores and processing power — you could build something that’s comparable in power to a brand new iMac, which would run you between $1,299 and $1,499. If you really want to get ambitious with this concept, you could build your own Hack Pro for about 2/3 the cost as the real deal.