Info Before you buy: Hackintosh vs. Mac Workstation

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Firstly, if you want a Mac, buy one. I know it deems obvious now, but if you want a Mac you should buy one before you regret it.

It might seem tempting for you to go out there and make your own Hackintosh. OSX86 has come a long way since the bad old days; my latest installation of OSX86 installed automatically found and configured all my kexts properly. Unlike previous releases, the Ethernet, audio out and general OS use was pretty good.

The question then, that begs to be answered is "How reliable is a Hackintosh?".

Allow me to begin with a good summation by Dave Giraud from Ars:
Some on Twitter said the new Mac Pro reminded them of the old SGI desktops, and this highlights Apple's similar market and strengths when compared with the Mac Pro. People don't buy Mac Pros because they are cheap or because they are marginally nicer looking than a Dell or HP workstation, they buy them because they are fast, they run OS X, and they are stable. Every time I review a Mac Pro, I have to remind the trolls that a video editing suite cannot go down and that the money lost in a day of down time would far outweigh the money you would save by nickel-and-diming your way to a cheaper machine. Therefore, custom hardware with tailored software is far more valuable because it's guaranteed to work better.

As much as I like my home-built Linux workstation and its Windows 7 gaming partition, it has little issues. In Linux, if it wakes up properly, the Wacom tablet has to be plugged in again. In Windows, the fans spin up and down like a guy catching his breath—all day long. That's still better than what you get with a Hackintosh, in my experience. It's for the same reason that Autodesk's Smoke high-end video application used to be sold only with a custom HP workstation—you get better stability with a system designed to run a particular set of software with reduced variables. Apple has effectively doubled down on creating objects of desire that, ostensibly, work exceptionally well and let you work uninterrupted on extremely demanding work.

Users thinking about a Hackintosh should really consider how much damage downtime can do to them before committing to a Hackintosh build. How will a broken Hackintosh build cost you in terms of contracts? deadlines? school essay papers? How is your backup system? How much work will you lose if your computer died, right now?

Hackintosh relies on emulating the EFI found exclusively on Macs to boot. This is a custom bootloader designed to load something was designed to object furiously. Remember, Hackintosh support is performed entirely by volunteers on the internet, so your driver (kext) support is limited to whatever they want to support. Differing levels of support exist even among kexts. A particular graphics card might be supported well for 2D, but crashes whenever 3D applications are launched etc. If you have ever tried Linux out of the box a decade ago, that's basically where OSX86 is in terms of compatibility. Hackintoshing is much easier for a desktop workstation. Wireless support is flaky at best.

If you are intent on making a Hackintosh, check a Hackintosh build guide. You will want to buy a Gigabyte motherboard and an Intel CPU. Those are the best supported.

What about updates?

Updates are a hard one. From experience, unless you actually know what you're doing an update direct from Apple will stop your Hackintosh from booting. I recommend waiting until your Hackintosh distro releases updates and installing them via the ISO.

What's your experience?

Personally on the Hackintosh I'm using right now, I'm running a Pentium e2200, Gigabyte G41-COMBO and a HD 5770. The outstanding problems I have with it are:
-No working audio input (mic) for Skype
-Unable to shutdown as it just causes a white screen
-Unable to reliably boot (sometimes just doesn't... sometimes has a monitor test-like artifacting)
-App store doesn't actually work (fix is here)
-Random application crashes, hangs and general instability
-Unable to sleep (crash)
-3D anything will crash the program (despite HD 5770 kext)

That's why I have my Mac Mini for getting work done. I don't particularly trust my Hackintosh with anything more than surfing the web and streaming music.
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