Since getting a Mac Book Pro for work, I’ve become quite the fan of OS X. As a unix/software guy, I really enjoy having the power of a BSD/Unix system readily available, without having to install some hack like cygwin. (I’m not knocking cygwin, it’s a really nice Windows add-on, but I prefer not to run Windows, in general.) I also like the OS X user interface, and lately, that it runs the very cool boxee media center software. So, I wanted to build a boxee box. My options were AppleTV, Mac Mini, or Hackintosh. The Mac Mini was more money than I wanted to spend for an untested solution. The AppleTV would probably be a good solution, especially now that it’s getting more testing from the boxee community, but I wasn’t sure about it. Finally, I thought that a Hackintosh would be a cool project, give me not just boxee but a full OS X system, and I could buy the parts for $235 from newegg. That’s a cheap computer, and especially a cheap Mac.
I went with an Intel D945GCLF2 motherboard. It’s a mini-ITX board with built in dual Atom 330 processors, the kind of CPU’s used in the new and inexpensive NetBook computers. It’s a very low power solution, but with the dual processors most of the research I did suggested it should do 720p HD content. It has a S/PDIF header for digital audio out, but requires an extra cable and I have yet to test it. VGA out is less preferable than DVI, but again, this is cheap, and my Samsung 46″ LCD has VGA-input, so it certainly works. Also, it’s limited to a single 2GB DIMM, so max out that RAM early. 🙂
I bought the following from newegg:
- D945GCLF2 motherboard – $80
- Any old PATA (SATA should work, too) DVD Burner – $25
- 2GB Kingston 240-pin DDR2 667 SDRAM – $21
- APEX MI-100 Black/Silver Mini-ITX Case w/ 250w PSU – $56
- 80GB Western Digital SATA Hard Drive – $37
- Shipping/Handling + rush processing – $15
Total cost: $234
Full disclosure: I later bought a cheap USB bluetooth dongle ($25) and Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (full retail, ouch) as that was the best wireless control solution, but any USB keyboard and mouse combo should work fine for normal usage.
INSTALL GUIDE FOR RETAIL OS X on D945GCLF2