Hackintosh: Installing macOS on Standard Intel Hardware in 2018
Thumbnail image on this article thanks to u/hkntshr on Reddit, since his looks pretty and mine’s a mess.
So for a couple months I’ve been running Linux as my primary OS on both my laptop and my desktop. Honestly, it works better than I thought it would. I previously wrote about the install itself, my reasons for the install, and even provided a guide on how to install it on the Razer Blade 15 (2018) specifically. I have to say, I’ve had no issues with stability, driver support, and even gaming with Steam. Almost half of my Steam library is supported under Linux, with even more games supported now that Steam has announced a supported compatibility layer for games that are Windows-only.
I jump around between OS’ a lot, and every couple years I jump around between phone OS’ as well. I’m a geek, it’s what I do. I belong to no camp, yet I love all the camps (each for their own reasons). I do own a 2018 MacBook Pro 15, which I now use every day. I still have the Razer Blade 15, which I recently switched back to Windows 10, almost exclusively for playing games. My home desktop I don’t use quite as often as the MacBook (which gets used 9 hours a day, 5 days a week for work), typically only for content consumption and as a tool to support messing with other computers or hobbies (Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, photography, etc.). Tonight I thought “Hey… Hackintoshes are still a thing. I wonder if I can get macOS running on this thing?”
I tried this once before, and it wasn’t a great experience. Granted, that was probably 7 years ago, and Hackintosh support and ease of install has vastly improved since then. The machine that I’m attempting to install macOS on now wasn’t built specifically as a Hackintosh, but the hardware in it was “close enough” to the “supported” hardware lists over at hackintosh.com, so I thought it’d be fun attempt getting everything up and working.
Here’s what I’m working with
- Aorus Z270X Gaming 5 motherboard
- Intel Core i7 7700K at 4.2Ghz
- 32GB of 3122Mhz DDR4 RAM
- Samsung 960 NVME SSD (512GB)
- nVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB)
- Thermaltake 750W PSU
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 USB audio device
The biggest problem I thought I’d have is the nVIDIA GPU. It’s a well known fact that nVIDIA drivers aren’t the best under macOS, and that support for ATI cards is native from Apple and very stable. The rendering engine that powers macOS’ UI is designed for ATI hardware. UI performance with nVIDIA hardware isn’t supposed to be that great, at least according to what I’ve read, but installing the latest macOS CUDA drivers from nVIDIA has shown me something very different, and the UI has been extremely snappy with no graphical artifacts.
The remainder of the hardware is pretty standard in terms of what is included on a modern Macintosh, aside from the onboard audio. I’m using an external audio interface that I know is macOS compatible, and I have onboard audio disabled in the BIOS, so I wasn’t to worried about that.
Now that the install is complete and is up and working, I’m impressed with what “just worked.” My Killer E2500 Gigabit NIC worked out of the box with no special drivers. The NI Komplete Audio 6 works fine with no drivers, and all inputs and outputs are recognized by the OS. The only onboard component that System Report doesn’t correctly report is Thunderbolt 3. It says “no drivers installed,” so I’m not sure if I need a special driver for that or not, but I don’t use it so it’s not a big deal to me personally. It is a standard Intel TB3 AIC device though, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get working.
Installation was fairly easy. I followed this guide. I have access to Mojave Beta (I’m running it on my MacBook), but I wanted stability on this desktop so I thought I’d stay with the latest mainstream version of macOS High Sierra. Creating the bootable USB drive to install macOS on a Hackintosh does require creation on an actual Mac, but the guide does a good job of walking you through it step by step.
I only ran in to a couple issues with the guide, which weren’t due to incorrect instructions, but lack of completeness. When formatting the USB drive to prep as the macOS installation device, and when prepping the previously Windows-formatted NVME drive as a target drive for system install, both drives need to be formatted with a GUID partition table (GPT). By default, using Disk Utility under macOS doesn’t give you this option. If the “Partition” button is greyed out when you select the disk device, that means it’s not formatted with a GPT. Luckily, you can easily do that from Terminal with this command:
diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk0 1 GPT HFS+ Label R
where “disk0” is the disk you’re formatting and “Label” is whatever volume label you set for the disk. If the USB drive is not formatted in this way, creation of the USB installer with UniBeast will fail. If the target installation drive for macOS isn’t formatted correctly, that install will fail as well.
After following the rest of the guide, including the installation of the nVIDIA drivers, I was able to run at full resolution with full transparency effects at full speed, and everything seems to work well, including the ability to download apps that I’ve previously purchased from the App Store.
The only thing I had to do a quick online search to fix was iMessage. Upon trying to log in to iMessage I got an error message. Using these couple of commands, followed by a reboot, fixed it right up:
rm -rf /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/NetworkInterfaces.plist rm -rf /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/preferences.plist
I can’t say how stable this build will be, given the fact that I’ve only been running it for 2 hours, but so far it seems to be very stable and everything seems to work well. I might do some research to see if I can’t get the Thunderbolt port to show up, even though I have nothing to test with it. I also plan on installing Steam for macOS to see if I can’t get some games up and running and test stability and performance with those. I’m fairly excited that this has (so far) worked out as well as it has. Admittedly this is much easier than the last time I tried it, some 7 or 8 years ago.
If Apple made a modular desktop again, like they used to with the old modular dual G5 and dual Intel Xeon models of the late ’00’s and early ’10s, I’d probably pick one up. I do love macOS, and I’m glad I’ve got an alternative option to running a powerful, modular Hackintosh. Even though I’ve owned iMacs in the past, I’m not a fan of how hard it is to upgrade the new ones, and even less of a fan of how limited upgrade options are. The forever-ago updated Mac Pros are just as bad. Apple needs to listen to what its professional customers have been asking for years and make another modular tower.
Until then, I’ll stick with my much loved MacBook Pro for the road, and my Hackintosh for the desk at home.