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Desktop for Editing: Hackintosh?


jasonmillard81
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Hey all,

 

I have been trying to figure out what Mac desktop I was going to purchase and remembered plenty of successful people have built Hackintosh's.  My knowledge on such topics are limited and was curious if anyone had suggestions, even for prebuilt machines or distributors.  To get a decent iMac it would cost easily over $2k.

 

Thanks

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at the risk of starting a war, I'll be the first to say that Macs are worth the $2k. I still wonder at filmmakers who are wiling to spend thousands on gear, but when it comes to desktop computers and storage, they don't want to spend a penny. What's the point of owning a great camera if editing is a chore, and you're watching your videos on a sub-par screen? Sorry, I know that doesn't answer your question...

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Fair response.  I would not that I am a public school teacher and do this for my students and don't own thousands of dollars in gear.  The prospect of running a system that would cost me around $1200 but would cost over $2200 from Apple is obviously enticing.

 

I may just go for either the 21.5" or 27"  iMac.  I am not sure if I should get the 27" so I can upgrade the ram and HD myself through watching videos or just max out a 21.5".

 

Any input on the most cost efficient way to get a decent mac system configured would be highly appreciated!

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I would get the 27" if you get an iMac at all. It only takes seconds to upgrade the RAM on the 27" iMac. There is a little door near the power outlet. I don't think the 21" is upgradeable, though I could be wrong. So, are you planning to spend this money out of pocket, or is the school pitching in?

 

[edit] I'm a teacher myself, and working with crap equipment, such as when I want to show a video in class using the school's garbage projector, it's a nightmare. Half the time the equipment doesn't work at all. I'm not so sure, in fact, I am sure, I'd never spend that kind of money for my students, as much as I love them. Maybe you should consider something else after all.

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I don't think an iMac is worth it.

 

Can you replace the RAM? Apple will do it. (Assuming you buy now before the refresh. The 2014 model has its RAM soldered on.)

Can you add more HDD space? Not internally without voiding the warranty.

Can you add in a GPU? Nope.

Can you upgrade to a higher resolution monitor when prices fall bellow 300? You can plug one in.

 

 

To it's strength, Final Cut Pro is only $300. That is definitely a huge advantage for the Mac. But you don't need to own an iMac to reap that benefit.

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I would recommend a hackintosh, if you are willing to spend a little extra time to set everything up.  When I graduated two years ago I needed to upgrade from my laptop.  A mac pro was definitely out of budget so the only option was an iMac.  I took the leap and spent about $800 of parts.  I got my build from http://www.tonymacx86.com/section/295-customac.html and the people on the forum even helped me through the build.  There were a few small problems along the way but within a week I had an $800 machine that would have been $2500 through Apple.  I've had it for over 2 years now and not a single problem yet, it really has been an amazing machine.  I can edit RAW and 4k video extremely well.  Building a hackintosh isn't for everyone but I was very satisfied after I got it up and running.  I had never built a PC before this but there are so many helpful resources on tonymacx86 that it made the process fairly simple.  At the same time, you have to realize the risk involved.  I inspired two of my friends to build hackintoshes after they saw mine.  One was extremely successful, the other not so much.  He couldn't get OSX to run and was left with a Windows PC (always a last resort).  I'm not sure if he screwed something up or didn't buy the right parts, but if you use the guide on tonymac the compatible parts have all been tested in successful builds.

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 I still wonder at filmmakers who are wiling to spend thousands on gear, but when it comes to desktop computers and storage, they don't want to spend a penny.

 

I haven't spent "thousands" on gear and I don't think shaving $500-$1,000 off the price of a desktop equates to not "spending a penny."  I refused to buy a $1,000 bmpcc.  But I did order it for $500.  Does that make me a bad person?  The thing is someone may want to spend iMac money but also want to have plenty of hard drive bays.  Those people shouldn't be forced to buy a mac pro... which has issues of its own.

 

 

  I got my build from http://www.tonymacx86.com/section/295-customac.html and the people on the forum even helped me through the build.

 

I think the hardware guide is useful at tony mac.  I don't like a lot of their automated tools though.  Some are good.  A couple more good resources are as follows:

 

http://lifehacker.com/the-always-up-to-date-guide-to-building-a-hackintosh-o-5841604

 

http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/

 

Insanelymac is a very good forum.  Asking about hackintoshes there will yield better answers than asking here.  They are very antiTonymax though so don't ask abou those tools over there or you will be modded.  You've been warned.

 

I made a hackintosh out of a big box store desktop.  If you do a custom build from the ground up you will meet with more success.  The key is to buy compatible components.  If you do that by following guides and other people's experiences you will have an easier time with more success.

 

I don't know what the state of the art is these days but a good USB audio solution is something you should consider for your hackintosh.  Onboard audio can be finiky and USB is cleaner anyway.

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Why not just a Windows machine? You will have more hardware choices and it will be simpler i suppose..
My advices:
- don't use Administrator account. Create restricted user for everyday work (you will have much more stable and secure system)
- don't install any software you don't trust.

The hardware:
Latest generation core i5 CPU (desktop CPU-s are much faster than mobile CPU-s. i5 desktop is like i7 mobile)

- get the cheapest from:

http://ark.intel.com/pl/products/family/75024/4th-Generation-Intel-Core-i5-Processors#@Desktop

1x16GB RAM (leave other banks for later upgrade)
Cheap motherboard and case (best would be ATX format, but if You like smaller cases: micro-ATX)
Well known brand (not no-name) but not expensive PSU
SSD Drive (note that bigger capacity means usually also faster speed, but you will be ok with 128GB+)
The best GPU you have the money for

(optional) If you use software like DaVinci Resolve, You would need second GPU just for UI (cheap card mounted in PCI-Express x1 slot)

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Current Windows (7 and 8) is very stable operating system. Not as pretty as MacOS, but perfectly usable, especially if you will have editing software turned on 90% of the time (so there will be no difference). Don't know why people are so afraid of Windows. I have seen many Windows machines working without any problem for many years (especially Windows XP, 7 and current 8 also looks ok).

 

Just remember to use account WITHOUT administrative rights! This is the main reason why people have instable and vulnerable to viruses Windowses. They just use it in a wrong way.

In other operating systems (Linux, MacOS) this is the default user account type (restricted). In Windows it's easier to do a mistake and use inproper account type.

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Most platform-independant software will run faster on a PC.

 

So imo the decision for a genuine Mac or Hackintosh means FCP X.

 

But FCP X changes fast and evolves with the OSX version. It's not advisable not to update and upgrade both. It's not like, 'I don't need Windows 8, I'll stay with 7'.

A lot of things then won't work sooner or later (but rather sooner).

 

I have no personal experience with a Hackintosh, but I assume there would be issues with drivers, components and so forth, and you'd be probably months behind and need to spent quite some time on overhauling the system. The worst part was when everything seemed to work fine, but you only later found out that it didn't.

 

There are bugs in the official Apple updates! As owner of original hardware all you have to do is wait (usually a month) until an all-clear is given on the sites with the bug reports.

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I have determined that the headache of running a Hackintosh is not worth it and appreciate the opinions.  I could never migrate back to Windows for so many reasons.  I had spent 10+ years on PCs and 5 years on macs...it is no comparison as far as hardware/software integration superiority the winner is Mac (for me at least).  I currently switched to an android phone due to the larger screen as I read a lot on my phone...boy I cannot wait for the iPhone 6...again the functionality of basic usage is far superior.

 

I was contemplating buying used but fear the unknown.  I get an edu discount and a $100 app card to buy from apple so I may just bite the bullet pay a bit more but have the safety of knowing what I am getting and with a sweet warranty.

 

I think i'll go stock 27" iMac so I can upgrade the HD and RAM on my own using easy-to-do video footage on youtube.

 

Any other suggestions/reactions?

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I have determined that the headache of running a Hackintosh is not worth it and appreciate the opinions.  I could never migrate back to Windows for so many reasons.  I had spent 10+ years on PCs and 5 years on macs...it is no comparison as far as hardware/software integration superiority the winner is Mac (for me at least).  I currently switched to an android phone due to the larger screen as I read a lot on my phone...boy I cannot wait for the iPhone 6...again the functionality of basic usage is far superior.

 

I was contemplating buying used but fear the unknown.  I get an edu discount and a $100 app card to buy from apple so I may just bite the bullet pay a bit more but have the safety of knowing what I am getting and with a sweet warranty.

 

I think i'll go stock 27" iMac so I can upgrade the HD and RAM on my own using easy-to-do video footage on youtube.

 

Any other suggestions/reactions?

 

Try also Windows Phone - very user friendly.

 

If you have experience with Windows 7-8, you know what you're doing. If not - It's different usability than Windows 3.11, NT, 2000, Vista, and other..

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I think you'll regret buying an iMac... I have a decent i7-4930k based PC and I sometimes wish it ran faster.

 

Can you get someone to help you with the hackintosh build? it'll run so much faster than an equivalently priced iMac.

 

Besides, now seems like a really bad time to buy a mac/pc with a built in screen... we're just on the cusp of 4k monitors in the mainstream (even Apple is rumoured to be releasing a 4k screen later this year). Better to build a hackintosh and then you can upgrade the screen at a later date, if necessary.

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The fear with Hackintosh as I have read more and more is the fact that it will take someone like myself days to build and install the proper boots etc. (which I am not informed on) then after all that reading etc. I cannot just update my apps and OS anytime I want for fear that it will force certain components to stop working.  It seems more of a tinkering thing for people well-versed in such hardware/software integration, but for a guy like me who just wants to be able to work on it I am not sure it makes sense.  If you have evidence or places you can point me to read further to counter my perspective please do as I would rather get a higher performing machine for a third of the cost trust me.  I cannot bring myself to work on a PC/Windows machine again and enjoy the simplicity and finesse of OSX systems.

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I'm not a computer expert, but I don't think CPUs today are the bottleneck in editing. It's more prudent to invest in extra RAM and storage. With the proper drive connected to the thunderbolt 1 port, you can get read and write speeds of over 800MB/s. The iMac monitor is beautiful. And the iMac is incidentally a work of art in itself. It is regrettable that Apple is bent on preventing user upgrades, but adding RAM to the current 27" takes just seconds, no tools required.

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Depends on software. RAM is always important. GPU is extremely important if software can use it (like in DaVinci Resolve it's most important). CPU sometimes (can be bottleneck if poor).

- the difference between mobile and desktop GPU is big.

- iMac's GPU choice is poor.

- iMac is probably restricted to 16GB (and 32GB - 27inch) of RAM [ http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5908 ].

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I've just been through this same decision making process as my 2011 MacBook Pro just can't cope with video editing, particularly as I am doing more greens screen stuff lately.

 

So I looked at these options in depth:

 

1. Buy a refurb top of the range MacBook Pro - approx £1800

 

2. Buy a refurb top of the range iMac - approx £1700, then upgrade the RAM later

 

3. Buy a serious Hackintosh from a UK PC builder - approx £1100

 

4. Buy a refurb Dell M3800 laptop workstation with QHD screen, with Win8 or Win7 - approx £1300

 

5. Buy a high power Dell desktop on special with Win 8 or Win 7- £1100

 

 

Although I love the MBP, I just could not invest so much in a machine that could not be upgraded in the future and may need to be replaced if we move to RAW or 4K

 

We don't need another screen so it seemed crazy buying an iMac. Also worked about it being near end of life and cannot upgrade the video card so poor future upgrade and project capability potential.

 

Seriously considered a Hackintosh and found a keen local PC builder, but this machine is business critical and we cannot afford time and effort in sorting out future compatibility issues. Time = money so the Hackintosh is a risk not worth taking.

 

Dell m3800 is a great laptop, but screen resolution issues with Adobe products and lack of future upgradeability deterred me. Also I think a desktop is a better platform for editing than a laptop.

 

So I decided on a high spec Dell desktop which cost £1100 incl VAT & Delivery  with these specs:

 

i7-4790 processor

32Gb RAM

256 Gb SSD

3 TB HDD

AMD R9 270 2Gb RAM

Win 8.1

 

I like Apple products and use FCP X so this was a difficult decision as it will mean transitioning to Premiere CC, but we now have an editing platform that is scaleable and future proof for 4K and RAW, even if we have to upgrade the graphics card in a year or two.

 

The only problem is not having Thunderbolt connectivity, which I am thinking about.

 

Chris

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