Wednesday, February 26, 2014


For good measures, and luck, Apple published the OS-X 10.9.2 update lately. Since I was installing the new machine, I did the update right away, no backups done.
A simple manual edit (vi is my friend) changed a line in
and resulted in the fact that "about this Mac" => "more info..." shows a black trash can.
Actually, I am happy with a result of this nature, although I still appreciate the option to add more hardware to my trash can.

A Whole New Dimension

So, the build is done, and I am actually quite happy with it!

Parts that made it into my new workstation so far:
  • Gigabyte GA-Z87-HD3
  • Intel Xeon E3-1240v3
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • 2 x 8GB Mushkin Stealth DDR3 (1600MHz)
  • Crucial M500 240GB SSD
  • Asus GT640 silent
  • Fractal Design Define R4
  • BeQuiet Pure Power L8 630W
  • Seagate Barracuda 1TB
  • TP-LINK WDN-4800
  • Logitech K400r
The board allows me to add 2 more modules of RAM, with 16GB, I got plenty for the time being.
This is my first ever build using an SSD as a boot drive. And yes, this adds a new dimension, however, I expected a shorter boot time. When the system is up, starting applications from the SSD is quick and deserves 5 stars.

Home directories are on a regular hard drive. For convenience and the low price, I went for an SG Barracuda 1TB, nothing special though. I consider adding a Western Digital black drive to replace the SG 1TB, so that the SG will be available for internal backups/mirroring.

If it is not speed, what is the new dimension, you may want to ask... It is noise, in particular the lack thereof!
The entire build was focused on the lowest noise parts possible, not compromising at performance too much.
And so far, the result is very pleasing. A really silent system showing good performance.

Although I am happy with the performance of the passively cooled Asus GT640, I regret to not have invested additional €10 for getting the Intel Xeon E3-1245v3 with internal graphics.

OS-X 10.9.1 runs like a charm. The system boots right away, using "GraphicsEnabler=No".

Wanna build a Hackintosh yourself? I can only recommend the components mentioned above, with the consideration of the alternative CPU having the iGPU enabled.

Update May 9th 2015:
The system runs on Yosemite for quite a while now. Up to 10.10.2, the GT640 did a great job. No problems fooling 10.10.2 the computer was a MacPro6,1.

However, the card failed when I tried to update to 10.10.3.
So, I took the plunge and got myself a new graphics card, actively cooled actually:
  • MSI GT740 (2GB)
To my surprise, this card is actually really quiet, something I was not expecting.
However, under 10.10.3, is seems that the MacPro6,1 identity does not work any longer. I changed the definition to iMac13,1, which works fine so far.

Update May 10th 2015:
Although the MSI was not as noisy as I feared, I gave the ASUS GT640 quiet another go. And, fair enough, with the right identity, i.e. iMac 13,1, it works perfectly.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Stuff Dropped In

Yep, I did it, I ordered some parts to build my new "production" rig with.
The Fractal Design R4 looks awesome!  It seem so big, but yet it is not...
Not much to say about the motherboard, CPU (E3-1240v3) or memory. Will pick up an after-market cooler tomorrow. Potentially the Noctua I was writing about earlier. Total overkill, however, quiet is king in this build.
Already I removed the optical drive from my present main rig (i5-3570K)... it will be more useful in the future build.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Small Change of the Plan

Building a higher end workstation, why actually not using an ATX-mobo in place of an mATX?
Right, the case would be a little larger.

So, the decision, concerning the mobo, is to go for a GA-Z87-HD3. The advantage, very obviously, is having a lot of expansion possibilities.

The idea of using Fractal Design's DEFINE mini hast to be ditched consequently. However, the "DEFINE mini" is just the smallest of the "DEFINE" silent computing cases. Here, the decision is to obtain a DEFINE R4. Since Apple decided "black" was the new "white" (cf. new Mac pro), the choice is obvious, in particular since the black DEFINE R4 looks the best of the bunch.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Plans for a new Build

note to myself: you want to keep those parts in mind for the next build
  • Intel Xeon E3-1240 v3
  • NVidia GT 640 (ASUS passive?)
  • fractal design - DEFINE mini
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • Gigabyte GA-H87M-D3H
It should be a quiet PC able to run as a Hackintosh. More powerful than an i7-4770.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pimping the Wimp a Mite

Yeah well, onboard HD2500 graphics did not really do it for me. Even with the tricks mentioned before, i.e. to watch youtube using Chrome, all together, it was a little sluggish at the end.

So, I decided to put the Wimp in another case, in order to allow for a graphics card to be installed.

A Linux PC, based on an AMD E350 APU, which I used rarely, lived in a Thermaltake Element Q case. Although this PC actually needed the PCI-E slot for a network card, I decided to take it apart anyways.

Now, the HackWimp lives in an Element Q.

Looking you a graphics card, I found a passively cooled ASUS GeForce 8400. This card, which worked for Mountain Lion, refused to work with Mavericks... something I observed with other versions of OS-X.

Next trial: an original NVIDIA GeForce 8400, which always did a great job. And yes, it did! But this card has got very noisy active cooling.

Last try, a GeForce 8400 of a different brand, which I recently used for other purposes. Actively cooled, somewhat noisy, but not too bad. This card played plain dead!

The decision was to exchange the cooling setups of the two actively cooled cards.

Now I am running a genuine NVIDIA GeForce 8400 with 256MB RAM and tolerable active cooling.
This card allow for 1080p video to be displayed full-screen, which the HackWimp was not able to do before.
The choice of browser stopped playing a role, I am hence back to firefox...

Added bonus: the Wimp can now be hooked up via VGA, allowing for monitors w/o HDMI or DVI.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

YouTube on the Wimp

You can imagine that playing streaming video on a computer having a weak CPU, which also serves as a GPU, can create some head-scratch. And of course it did to me.

Here is what I could collect by doing some research on search engines and fora.

Add some support to the HD2500 (the GPU inside the G1610):
That's the hard part.

However, with this working, youtube still wont play video on neither Safari nor Firefox, which both make use of Adobe's Flashplayer.

And here is the solution to the problem: Google's Chrome Browser. Chrome has got builtin support for streaming video. And indeed, with Chrome, the Wimp (G1610 Hackintosh) is able to play youtube content.
And yes, also in full-screen, but forget about full-screen again... not enough compute power in this computer!

Wi-Fi for the Wimp

In the last post, I wrote about a Hackintosh running on an upper end motherboard (Gigabyte Z77N-WiFi) with a lower end CPU (Intel Celeron G1610). To my surprise, despite a relatively long boot-time, the system is really usable.

However, the intention to set this computer up in a place rather remote from my ethernet, some option for wireless-LAN needed to be considered.

Of course, the Z77N-WiFi offers a MiniPCI Express slot, in which, conveniently enough, a WiFi/Bluetooth card is placed, hence the name of the board. Interestingly, only half the WiFi-card is natively supported by OS-X, namely the Bluetooth part.
There are a some MiniPCI-E modules available, which enjoy full native support, however, those don't offer BT!

In my i5-3570k box, I actually replaced the MiniPCI-E card, in order to arrive at native support. For Bluetooth on the other hand, I had to resort to a USB-device, which I had laying around anyway.

Now it fell all down to the question if I would order another MiniPCI-E WiFi card and a BT device, or, if I should hang on to the module supplied with the mobo and find a USB-solution for WiFi.

You feel it coming, I guess, yes, I had a USB-WiFi device in one of my drawers. The device is somewhat older, a Sweex LW303. And of course, there is not OS-X support for this adapter.
Or is there?

The LW303 employs a Ralink RT2870 chipset, which is good news! Some quick searching reveals that there is a OS-X 10.9 driver available for this particular chipset.
Have a look:
And yes, the Beartender looks very promising itself!

The driver worked OOB with the LW303. Not sure if the numbers match up in terms of bandwidth, but this is what Mavericks believes to see:

802.11 n WLAN:

  Product ID:    0x0302
  Vendor ID:    0x177f
  Version:     1.01
  Serial Number:    1.0
  Speed:    Up to 480 Mb/sec
  Manufacturer:    Ralink
  Location ID:    0x14400000 / 1
  Current Available (mA):    500
  Current Required (mA):    450
  BSD Name:    en3

480 Mb/sec seems a bit fast for a device of which the manufacturer thinks it able to operate at 300 Mb/sec.

A minor detail to note: I put the adapter in a USB3 port, the one just below the PS2-port.

Independently of that mismatch, the USB WiFi-adapter works fine in this ultra low power PC!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MacWimp - Low Power Hackintosh

The cheapest Hackintosh I ever built!

Running Zentyal for my small private network was a great deal for some time. Nothing to be said against Zentyal, however, I might a used a different platform for running it on.
What platform? Well, that was a GA-Z77N-WiFi running an Intel Celeron G1610 dual core processor. The MoBo is a total overkill to a G1610, which cannot be overclocked, and so is a G1610 to a very small network "enterprise" server. Actually, the CPU was bored most of the time anyway.

So, is there any better use for the CPU and the MoBo?

Yep! It seems that folks have successfully installed OS-X on that particular platform. Although I never built the system for OS-X, now that it was unemployed for some time, it might as well serve as a simple Hackintosh workstation!

The hardware involved:
  • Intel Celeron G1610
  • GigaByte Z77N-WiFi
  • Corsair 2x4GB DDR3 (1333MHz)
  • Seagate Momentus 2.5" 160GB
  • Cool Master Elite 100 
  • Logitech K400r
  • Philips 236V4
Actually, I had the HDD wafting about in my "junk box", it came from some computer, I can't even remember (honestly!).
The RAM I got for cheap from a superstore...

  • You may see that the case actually wont allow for a graphics card, hence, the internal HD2500 GPU has to be used.

Not playing, I went using OS-X 10.9.1 straight away. Booting it, using "fail safe" (-x) worked OOB. However, after running MultiBeast 6.1, things were not working out so well. The system booted, but only with the "-x" option.
At the end, I got this weakling to run with information you can find on google searching for "G1610 HD2500 GraphicsEnabler IGPEnabler Hackintosh".

Finally, I got the whole thing booting regularly with
  • Internal Graphics Memory set to 32MB (bios)
  • inserted a device properties entry into /Extra/org.Chameleon.boot.plist
  • removed AppleIntelHD4000Graphics.kext from /System/Libraby/Extensions
  • computer type set to MacMini6,2
Since I had to play a little to get thing running, there may be some more parameters, which I lost track of, to get the things flowing.

To make live easy to you, this is the content of my /Extra/org.chameleon.Boot.plist:
        <key>Kernel Flags</key>
        <string> -v</string>
        <key>Legacy Logo</key>
        <key>Graphics Mode</key>
        <key>device-properties</key>  <string>7f0000000100000001000000730000000200000002010c00d041030a000000000101060000027fff04002c0000004100410050004c002c00690067002d0070006c006100740066006f0072006d002d00690064000000080000000b006601140000006800640061002d0067006600780000000d0000006f6e626f6172642d31</string>

So far, I am happy with the behavior of the box. Actually, TM backup to my server just went through fine.