So here we are about a month after I first wrote about building a new Hackintosh workstation based upon Intel’s new Ivy Bridge CPU and Z77 chipset. Well the motherboards and CPUs have now been released and I’m ordering the rest of my parts today so I thought I’d give you an update.
Up til now I’ve purcharsed the Fractal Design R3 case, 32GB of Mushkin Black RAM, a 240GB Intel 520 SSD, and a 750W Seasonic Power Supply. And here to the left what that looks like without the important parts. Not all that exciting, but pretty sexy, right? Those are 8 sleds over on the right there for hard drives. Yum. Basically it’s sitting there waiting for the real brains.
I’m not going to go through every detail again, just the stuff that’s changed since the last writing, so go back and check that post out to get up to speed.
CPU - Intel 3770K
As I had planned, I’m ordering the top-of-the-line unlocked CPU so I can do a little overclocking. So far is seems like the reviews are good but not amazing. Mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t seem like people can overclock Ivy Bridge quite as much as the last generation Sandy Bridge. People are not sure exactly as to why. Whether it has to do with the smaller die being a smaller area to try to pull heat from, or the new 3D transistors not being able to dissipate the heat, I’m not sure. The conclusion seems to be that you should clock it as high as possible on stock voltage, but don’t bother trying to push higher by giving it more juice. That said, since you get about a 10% boost in performance at the same clock speed due to improvements they’ve made to the logic, I’m ok if I only get to 4.5GHz (which feels a little crazy just to type). Either way, it’ll be a nice jump up from my 3.2GHz overclocked i7-920.
Motherboard – Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H
I know, long name right? Well Gigabyte motherboards have always been a favorite for the Hackintosh community. They’re well-built relatively inexpensive boards which tend to be easier for the nerd-kings to make work with Mac OS. This is their current top-of-the-line model but without the built in bluetooth and wifi which I don’t need. Better power systems that the lesser boards, and with built-in Firewire 400 I need for my external M-audio interface and Intel gigabit ethernet. Also, extra SATA ports for more hard drives and more USB3 connections. The only thing it doesn’t have feature-wise is Thunderbolt. Apparently boards with built in Thunderbolt are coming next month, but I’m impatient, and honestly I don’t know that I need it right now. I use a DVI based display and prefer internal storage as a general rule. And if I need external, USB3 is plenty fast that a single drive can’t saturate it and a hard drive dock costs $30 instead of $300.
Perhaps the best part about the new Gigabyte motherboards is that it seems that they’re compatible with Mac OS power management out of the box. Which means no need for a DSDT file or anything. Sleep and Wake and Speedstep just work. Which is very exciting. That’s the one thing my currently Asus based machine doesn’t do well. I tend to shutdown at night and restart in the morning. It would be nice to be able to reliably put the machine to sleep.
Video – Zotac GT440 1GB
So it turns out that my genius plan of using the onboard Intel 4000 video was a fools errand. Both because the performance is pretty ‘eh’ and also that the DVI output on most of the Z77 motherboards are not Dual-Link which means they can’t push the full resolution of my 30″ NEC display. There are adapters that will do it but they cost about $100, which is more than a nice upgraded GPU would be. So in the end I’m ordering a discreet GPU to go with the new machine. I can’t stand the fan on the Gigabyte 5770 I’ve got now, so I’m grabbing the fastest fanless card for under $100 bucks. Which at the moment is the Zotac Nvidia Gt 440 with a gig of RAM. Should be fine for my purposes and dead quiet which is the goal.
The only other place I’ve had thoughts is on the main spinning hard drive storage. I mentioned last time that I was considering finding a RAID-5 card and using 3 drives as my main array. I’ve heard some horror stories and have yet to find an economical solution, so I think what I’m going to do is create a software RAID-0 across a couple of drives and have automated backups run every few hours in the background so I don’t lose everything in case on of the drives goes down. That should give me a pretty immediate doubling of disk performance while loading and saving images. Still cooking on this one. If anyone has any advice, I’m all ears.
I think that’s about it for now. More to come in a few days when I start to build this thing.