When Apple announced the new Retina MacBook Pro I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Thin, light and powerful plus there’s that amazing “Retina” screen. What more could someone ask for at $2,799?
Well in my case, I ask for twice the RAM (16GB) for an additional $200. Then there’s the processor which is fabulous at 2.6GHz but I’d always wonder how much faster my video would render with that extra 100MHz so another $250. The stock hard drive is a hefty 512GB SSD, which was enough for me since once my video/photo is edited, it all goes back onto my Drobo. Since it is 100% non-user repairable, I have to add AppleCare, $350.
The total, after tax, is now $3,911.83. Luckily I have a situation where I can get it for about $700-1,000 less, especially if I drop the CPU to 2.6GHz. That’s still a lot of cash and in the end, is the Retina MacBook Pro the best option?
As a photographer and videographer who travels as much as I do, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to justify this beautiful machine. Currently I’m running my life through either a three-year old MacBook Pro or a three-year old 24″ iMac. When I got these computers they were absolutely top-of-the-line. These days, however, editing 1080p video is a chore. Exporting a just a three minute HD video takes hours in Compressor. This is no good. Additionally the AppleCare has expired on both machines and my MacBook Pro keeps getting kernel panics. Clearly it’s time to look at upgrading machines.
Around the same time Apple announced their new MacBook Pro, I stumbled upon this great article from Lifehacker explaining how building a Hackintosh might be a wise move.
In the Lifehacker article, they outlined three levels of an Apple Mac Pro Hackintosh clones at three price and performance levels. Below is the list of components I adopted from their high-end performance machine. Through some tiny changes and creative shopping I managed to drop the price another $400. The total cost for my machine would be $1,611. That’s $6,088 less than Apple’s.
|Power Supply||Corsair||Professional Series 650 Watt||$120|
|Processor||Intel||Core i7 3770K 3.5GHz||$320|
|CPU Fan||Thermaltake||Frio Over-clocking CPU Heat-sink||$52|
|Video Card||EVGA||GeForce GTX 570 HD 2560MB||$320|
|RAM||Corsair||Vengeance 16GB DDR3 1600MHz 2×8||$101|
|Hard drive||Western Digital||2TB Caviar Black 7200 RPM||$163|
|Hard drive||OCZ||Vertex 4 256GB SSD||$210|
|Optical drive||Sony||Optiarc 24x DVD-RW SATA||$22|
*Price above are updated as I check them, other prices in post will vary
With an investment that is roughly half that of the Retina MacBook Pro, I could have a computer that has approximately twice the performance. No, my Hackintosh will not be portable. It’s really meant to replace my aging iMac. With a computer as powerful as this Hackintosh, I could likely get away with either keeping my current MacBook Pro. Later I could pick up a base model MacBook Air for around $1,000 for use while traveling.
When I posted this idea on Twitter I immediately got hit with one of two responses. They were essentially variations of the following:
- Yes! I’m going to do the same thing! / Yes! I did the same thing and I love it!
- No! You will regret it, it will be so unstable and slow!
I did a lot of research in regards to the parts above and supposedly, if you follow tonymacx86′s guides with hardware selection (I did) and it’s put together in the right order (I will) you’re pretty much guaranteed a flawless system that is ready for Mountain Lion.
Considering the cost/performance ratio, it seems like a no-brainer. I can even up the RAM to 32GB for only $300 more and (according to Geekbench scores) get a pretty significant performance boost.Done
So what do you think? Should I build my own Hackintosh and save a ton of money, even if I add on a MacBook Air to replace my ailing MacBook Pro? Or should I just bite the bullet and buy the new Retina MacBook Pro? I’m torn.
If you think I should build my own computer, do you have any component suggestions that would improve on my system above? The one thing that is missing that I can think of is Thunderbolt.
However, from what I read the Ivy Bridge processor and motherboard I’ve selected should have Thunderbolt PCI add-on in the not too distant future. Nope, that won’t be happening. The motherboard would need to support it from the ground up.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, the closest to this Hackintosh in the form of an iMac will cost $3,349. Of course it also comes with that fabulous 27″ screen. I currently have a spare 24″ IPS monitor that I’d put with this Hackintosh. With the money I’d save, I could easily add one of Apple’s displays.
UPDATE 1: The components keep getting cheaper, the case has dropped by $25 in the last 48 hours. At the rate that SSD and RAM prices have been dropping recently, this computer might be $100-200 cheaper by the time I make it, if I go this route.
UPDATE 2: A helpful user from the tonymacx86 forums recommended the Sony Optiarc optical drive, apparently the other might have an issue with allowing the computer to go to sleep. He also suggested I do 2×8 GB RAM so if I want to beef it up to 32 GB later, I wouldn’t have to totally re-buy my RAM. All in all, this brought the total up $21 but a little extra future-proofing (and issue resolving) is well worth it. The CPU heat-sink adds $39, can’t believe I forgot it!
He also corrected me that there is no way to add Thunderbolt to this, or almost any, motherboard. It has to support it natively or has to have been designed from the get-go for the add-on.
UPDATE 3: Another forum member suggested the smart decision to significantly increase processing power for only $29 more. I also went from the more expensive and nominally more powerful Dominator RAM back to Vengeance saving $65 so the new, super powerful video card costs me nothing more! Some how it is now cheaper than ever.
UPDATE 4: (Oct 14,2012) Updated prices, priced dropped by $103.