In the recent series of tutorials I showed you How to Build a Hackintosh—a non-Apple PC that runs OS X. A major part of building a Hackintosh is finding, buying and assembling the components yourself. There was one site I used while building my own Hackintosh to ensure I got the best deals on parts: PCPartPicker.
There are plenty of retailers who sell computer parts—from the big stores like Amazon or Newegg, to smaller niche sites. Most of these sites sell the same components but often at different prices.
The price differences can be quite considerable: $50 or more on high end components. The prices also change frequently; last week’s cheapest retailer might not be same this week.
Finding the best deals yourself is a tedious task involving hundreds of browser tabs with your results good for a few days at most. PCPartPicker does this, and more, for you. Not only does it help you get the best prices, it also checks for any compatibility issues with your chosen parts and makes sure the power supply is up for the task of running the computer.
In this tutorial I’ll show you the process of building your first Part List on PCPartPicker.
Visit the PCPartPicker site and create an account. Once you’ve done that, log in and click System Build in the menu along the top of the site. PCPartPicker creates a template for you to fill in with parts of your choosing.
Tip: If you are unsure what any part does, refer back to the first Hackintosh tutorial.
So that you get accurate prices, including an approximation of shipping charges, you need to set the country you want your retailers in. In the top right there’s a dropdown and you can choose for PCPartPicker to use retailers from the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Italy and the US.
If you don’t live in those countries, pick the one that’ll give you the best shipping rates—I’m in Ireland so I always choose the UK.
Go through each component and select the part you have picked for the Hackintosh. For the parts I picked, suggestions on other parts that work and how to find compatible parts, check out the first Hackintosh tutorial.
PCPartPicker displays the cheapest price for each component by default, as well as its rating and important specifications. Click on a part’s name to find out more about it including at what price different retailers sell it. Click Add to add the component to your Part List.
Tip: You can get PCPartPicker to filter by almost anything including compatibility with the already selected parts, merchant, rating and price-to-performance ratio.
If you select two parts that are incompatible, PCPartPicker will display a warning at the top of the Part List. At the bottom of the list, it displays more specific information as to what components aren’t compatible and why. This makes it really easy to build a computer you know will work.
Once you’ve created a parts list, it is a good idea to save it so you can come back to it. Click Save As in the top right and save it as a new parts list.
Getting the Best Deal
Below the parts list, there is the Part List Price History graph. It shows the total cost of the chosen components overtime. Each component is given a colour so you can see what contribution it is making to the total cost of the Hackintosh and how much its price has changed over time.
With this graph you can make more informed decisions about when it’s a good time to start buying parts. If, for some reason, there’s been a sudden spike in RAM costs, this graph will show it.
While the main parts list shows the cheapest price, if you are buying nine components from seven different sites, the hassle of organising all the different shipments and store accounts may not be worth the savings.
Click on the Price Breakdown By Merchant tab to see what each retailer sells all the components that you’ve chosen at. PCPartPicker also tells you how much more than the lowest price each component is.
For my Hackintosh build, there were a few components that were between one and five euro more expensive to buy on Amazon than on some of the other sites. I ordered most of those parts from Amazon anyway—it was worth the fifteen euro more to get free Prime shipping and have everything arrive in two deliveries.
Buying the Parts
Unfortunately, PCPartPicker does not have a way to bulk add all the components in the parts list to the shopping cart. Instead, you have to click on the Buy button for each item. When you do, you are taken to the part’s page on the cheapest retailer or, if you are on the Price Breakdown By Merchant tab, of the relevant retailer. There you can add the items to the shopping cart and check out as normal.
Sharing Your Builds
There is a community around building your own computer. There are many forums dedicated to sharing builds and part lists. The Hackintosh community is no different. PCPartPicker offers a few ways to share your parts list with others.
Every parts list has a unique link you can share (here’s the parts list for my Hackintosh. You can find this in the Permalink box above your own parts list.
Another option is to export the parts list as text you can embed in your website or forum posts. Click on the Export/Markup button in the top right and choose what format you want to export it in and what retailers you want to include.
There’s also social media buttons which you can use to post your build to your Twitter or Facebook accounts.
In this tutorial I’ve shown you how to use PCPartPicker to find the best place to buy components for your Hackintosh; and also how it can help you find any power or compatibility issues. You can use PCPartPicker for any other computers you’re trying to build as well: perhaps a Steam Machine like that built by my colleague, Dylan.