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How to Build a Hackintosh: Part 3

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Gift

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In the previous tutorials I showed you how to choose components for a Hackintosh and how to assemble them. In this, the third and final tutorial, I’ll show you how to complete the all important final step—installing OS X. 

I am using tonymacx86’s popular UniBeast method for Intel-based computers. This is just one of the methods available so feel free to explore the others developed by the Hackintosh community.

The motherboard you’ve chosen determines a lot of the settings and configuration you have to do to get OS X to work on your computer. If you have chosen the same motherboard as me, the Gigabyte Z87MX-D3H, you can follow along more or less exactly.

Other Gigabyte motherboards will have similar settings; following this tutorial will require you to think about what you are doing but you shouldn’t have any problems. 

If you have gone with a totally different motherboard, the broad steps will remain the same but the specific settings, especially when configuring the BIOS and setting everything up with MultiBeast, will not. 

Again, this tutorial will still prove useful to you, however, you will just have to think about what each step is doing and work out how it applies to your set up, rather than treat this tutorial as gospel.

Requirements

To benefit fully from this tutorial, you will need:

  • To have read my previous tutorials on choosing Hackintosh compatible components and assembling a Hackintosh
  • Access to a Mac running OS X 10.6.8, Snow Leopard, or later
  • An 8GB or greater USB key
  • The working computer with an Intel CPU and, preferably, a Gigabyte motherboard, that you built following the second tutorial
  • A USB keyboard

Creating a Bootable USB Drive With UniBeast

On a Mac running Snow Leopard or later, download the Mavericks installer from the Mac App Store. This is a five-gigabyte download so, unless you have very fast internet, leave it to download overnight.

On the Mac that you’ve downloaded the Mavericks installer, download a copy of UniBeast from tonymacx86. You’ll need to create an account to do it.

For UniBeast to work, the USB key needs to be formatted correctly. 

  • Connect the USB drive to the Mac and open Disk Utility
  • Select the USB drive from the left column and navigate to the Partition tab
  • Name the drive anything you’d like, select Mac Os Extended (Journaled) for the Format and 1 Partition for the Partition Layout
  • Under Options select Master Boot Record. Click Apply to accept the changes and then Partition to format the drive
disk utility hackintosh setup
Configuring the USB key with Disk Utility.

Run UniBeast. There is no need to copy it to the Applications folder—if all goes well you won’t need to use it again. Follow the prompts on screen until you are asked to Select a Destination. Choose the USB drive you've just configured and click Continue

unibeast setup hackintosh

Check Mac App Store Mavericks - 10.9 and click Continue again. Allow UniBeast to run—it should take 15 or 20 minutes for it to configure the USB drive.

Configuring the BIOS Settings

Connect the USB keyboard and boot the Hackintosh. Hold down Delete to enter the BIOS configuration. If you are using a non-Gigabyte motherboard, you may need to press a different key. If in doubt, consult your motherboard’s manual. You need to make the following changes:

  • In the Standard tab on the Home screen set SATA Mode Selection to AHCI.
  • In the BIOS Features tab set Fast Boot to Disabled.
  • Finally, in the Peripherals tab’s Device Config tab, set XHCI Mode to Smart Auto, XHCI Hand-off to Enabled and, if you are using a graphics card, disable Internal Graphics.

Press F2 to enter the BIOS’s UEFI Mode. Navigate to the BIOS Features tab and set Boot Option #1 to your SSD; you will get two options for it, one will be UEFI: [Drive Type], the other will be P[#]: [Drive Type] where [#] is the port number the drive is connected to. Select the P[#] option.

Press Escape and then select Save and Exit.

Installing OS X

Connect the USB key to the Hackintosh and restart it. Press F12 when you see the BIOS startup screen. This lets you select the Boot Device. Again, if you’re using a non-Gigabyte motherboard the exact key may be different. Choose USB-HDD. The next screen is the Chimera Boot Screen; select USB and press Return.

At this point you should be into more familiar territory—the Apple logo will appear on screen and, after a few moments, the OS X Installer will start. Select a language and then open Disk Utility from the Utilities menu in the menubar. 

  • Select the SSD drive from the left column and navigate to the Partition tab. 
  • Name the drive anything you’d like, something like OS X is preferable
  • Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the Format and 1 Partition for the Partition Layout
  • Under Options select GUID Partition Method
  • Click Apply to accept the changes and then Partition to format the drive.

Tip: Depending on your screen settings you may not be able to see the menubar. If you don’t, change your monitor’s resolution until you do. This took half an hour and several restarts for me to discover.

On the Install OS X screen, click Continue and then select the newly formatted hard drive as the location to install Mavericks. Leave the installer run, and once it’s done, OS X will start.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed OS X on non-Apple hardware. Though things are not yet fully configured. The system as it is now will be highly unstable with many features not working properly.

Getting (Almost) Everything Working With MultiBeast

As referenced in the first tutorial, there are some features that may not work on a Hackintosh. HDMI Audio is a particularly common one that often requires editing the DSDT files that control the motherboard. 

You may also encounter problems with some Apple software features such as viewing iTunes movies (hat tip to commenter Brandon Butler). There are often fixes available for these specific problems and I can provide some recommendations later on for how to find them.

Another piece of software from tonymacx86, MultiBeast, fixes most issues and is the easiest way to quickly get a stable and functioning Hackintosh. Download a copy of MultiBeast and open it on the Hackintosh. You will likely need to download it on the other Mac and copy it across with a USB key.

If you have gone with the same Hackintosh build as me, or even just the same motherboard, you can use my preconfigured set up. Download and unarchive the attached configuration file, Tuts_MultiBeast_Config.mb.zip

  • Select Load from the menubar and navigate to the recently downloaded file. 
  • Select it and then choose Build and then Install.

 After MultiBeast has run, restart the Hackintosh and your system should be stable with working ethernet and non-HDMI audio.

If you have a different set up, you need to find a Hackintosh community member’s configuration files for a similar set up or select your own choices in MultiBeast. You’ll need to make the following modifications at a minimum:

  • If you are using a Gigabyte motherboard, select DSDT Free from the Quick Start tab. If not, look around the resources I suggested and see what other users are using.
  • In the Drivers tab, select your motherboard’s audio controller from the list in the Audio option. You can find what audio controller your motherboard uses in its manual.
mulitbeast audio set up
Setting up audio controllers with MultiBeast.
  • Similarly, you’ll need to select your motherboard’s network controller from the Network option
  • If you used the same Samsung SSD I did, you need to enable the 10.9.x TRIM Patch in the Disk option. If you went with the Sandisk SSD I recommend, you don’t

Click Build then Install and let MultiBeast configure the machine. Restart the Hackintosh and you should now have a stable computer.

multibeast configuration
My Hackintosh's MuliBeast configuration.

Final Steps

The Hackintosh is now almost complete. All that remains to do is to configure the storage hard drive and create a clone of the stable system.

Using, the now familiar, Disk Utility format the large hard drive as Mac OS Journaled (Extended).

Now that your Hackintosh is running, it is good practice to create a copy of the system that you can return to if things go awry. I have written a tutorial on using SuperDuper! to do just this.

Migrating Your Data

Once OS X is running, it is time to make the Hackintosh yours. The simplest way is to migrate all your files and applications using Migration Assistant. Ensure both your old Mac and new Hackintosh are on the same network and run Migration Assistant from the Utilities subfolder in Applications on both devices. Follow the prompts on screen and leave Migration Assistant run for as long as it need—this will likely be a few hours.

Tip: You can also use a Time Machine backup instead of the other Mac.

Former Tuts+ editor Josh Johnson disagrees with my take on Migration Assistant. He’s written an entire tutorial on migrating your data mainly focussed on other methods. For a few other options check out what he’s written.

Trouble Shooting

My Hackintosh runs great—if you’ve followed this tutorial, yours should too—however, because of their nature, they will never be as stable as an official Apple Mac.

Most problems can be sorted with by restarting the computer. If you start to experience odd behaviour, just turn the Mac off and on again. If it is totally frozen you’ll to do this using the power button.

If the problem persists, it may not be a Hackintosh problem, but a Mac problem. My fellow Tuts+ authors, Jordan and Ian, have put together some great tutorials on fixing common Mac problems and what to do if your Mac won’t turn on. The majority of what they recommend is equally applicable to Hackintoshes.

If the problem still continues, use the resources I recommended in the first tutorial, the tonymacx86.com forums and the OSx86 project’s InsanelyMac forums, as well as less specific sites like Google and StackOverflow to see if anyone has encountered a similar problem. 

Most common Hackintosh problems have fixes available for them. They will often involve patching the files that control your motherboard or kernel extensions.

Finally, if the system is too unstable, you can either reinstall OS X using your UniBeast USB, or restore from a clone of the system when it was working properly.

Conclusion

This concludes this Hackintosh series. In the previous two tutorials of the series, I showed you how to pick parts for a Hackintosh and how to assemble them to make a working computer.

In this tutorial I’ve taken you through the final steps in setting up a Hackintosh: the installation of OS X. I’ve shown how to use UniBeast, the BIOS and MultiBeast to install and set up the operating system.

If you’ve any questions about Hackintoshes please ask me in the comments. I’ll do my best to help.

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