Hackintoshes are great (except when they are not)

I have been using a hackintosh for over two years now and it’s been an interesting experience. A hackintosh is a PC that has been “hacked” to run Mac. It has two important pros over real Macs – performance and price. I made my first build back in 2012 and it took about two months of extra spare time to iron out all the issues. However, once I sorted everything out, the machine worked like a charm and I used it as my main OS for everyday tasks. It was especially handy as I began to enter the field of music composition, with beginner’s tools like GarageBand and, eventually, professional tools like Logic Pro. However, last summer, I realized that in order to use better sample libraries, I would have to upgrade my motherboard. Due to how (relatively) old my processor was, it was impossible to find a board and instead I had to upgrade both parts. I thought things would go as smoothly as the first build. However, I encountered a few new problems.

The first issue was graphics. My old trustly Nvidia 9800GT graphics card, for whatever reason, decided to fail as soon as I put in the computer. Due to the lack of support in Mac with integrated graphics and VGA ports, I stopped using the computer for the next few months as I tried to earn money for a different graphics card. Finally, I got one of EVGA’s nicer 4GB 960s, threw it in, installed the drivers, and thought I would be fine.

Alas, I would not have such luck. Mac would nearly finish starting up but as soon as the window server initializes, there was a 50% chance the system would crash, reboot, and be forced to try again (the window server is the process that handles screen rendering, it basically talks to the graphics card). This continued on for a long time as I struggled to understand and locate the cause of such an untrackable issue. Finally, 3 months later, while trying to upgrade to El Capitan to see if that would fix anything, I unplugged my VGA monitor but kept my HDMI monitor in. Suddenly, it stopped crashing. After months of frustration, it came down to the same issue the Intel graphics would face – Mac no longer supports analog monitor connections.

The cleaning process I underwent as I moved to El Capitan ironed out a few minor issues too. But one that still remains is sleep. While the computer can go to sleep without issue, it wakes up to a black screen or just resets.

What is the point of this? Hell, I don’t know. I guess hackintoshes are hard, I try to solve problems through software when it may just be a hardware issue, and sleep probably wouldn’t be an issue if I just rebuilt the computer instead of migrating. But it is genuinely satisfying and rewarding to have built one and there is a sort of “first-world anarchy” silliness about it.

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