My thoughts on converting my Hackintosh to OpenCore (and then to Big Sur!)

Raine

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
macOS
10.15.7
Mobo
Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
CPU
Core i5-8400
GPU
Radeon RX-570
#1
DISCLAIMER: I have zero affiliation with OpenCore or the makers of OpenCore.

It's been a while since I've updated anything here (considering the current global situation)... I hope everyone is being safe and doing well. Just wanted to share a story with my experiences so far with OpenCore. For those of you who don't know what OpenCore is, it's a bootloader similar to Clover, but it claims to be more secure, less bloat, and easier to upgrade. I thought I'd share my thoughts/experience so far with it here.

TLDR: As opposed to the Clover method, I was very surprised at how easy and less complex building an EFI for my Hackintosh was when using OpenCore, and it helped me easily install Big Sur 11.0.1 onto my Hackintosh!

Longer Version:
Recently with the official release of Apple's new MacOS Big Sur operating system I got curious again and started trying to figure out how to install Big Sur onto my "Hackintosh Deluxe" Z370n WiFi build, and it turns out that it's a whole new animal. The state of Clover compatibility with Big Sur right now is iffy, so I made the decision to take a look at using OpenCore instead.

I went at it from a "fresh build" approach - meaning, my starting point was my current Hackintosh build (hardware only, including the Radeon video card) with a fresh, empty SSD. Since day 1 of my build back in October of 2018 my Hackintosh relied on certain things that were unknown to me: use a pre-made EFI folder here, install some bootloader there, change some settings in a config.plist file made by someone else, etc. Not knowing everything about how my system would work (or not) was something that always bothered me. I was also not too thrilled at every MacOS point update, as every time Mojave and Catalina had an update, it would usually break something in the Clover EFI until someone figured out yet another patch to fix it.

So when Big Sur was near its release it gave me some motivation to try not just creating my own EFI, but doing so with a totally different method that I saw a lot of discussion about lately: OpenCore. in other words, I started with no trace of Clover, no pre-made EFI or copied EFI folders made by someone else, and no pre-made or copied "config.plist" files.

Fun fact: I first tried working with OpenCore back when the Big Sur Beta was available, but it was a huge hassle and I just pushed it aside. Now with the official Big Sur release available, I dove back into learning OpenCore and putting together my own EFI for my Hackintosh build to prep for Big Sur.

Well guess what? It was a pretty amazing learning experience.



About a month before Big Sur was released, I started with Dortania's OpenCore Install Guide - a valuable resource for anyone looking to try or convert to OpenCore. My main goal here was to try to convert my current Clover-based build to OpenCore first, since at the time it was the only way people were getting Big Sur Beta installations working. Dortania's guide is very thorough with explaining the steps on how to build an OpenCore USB installer from start to finish on your own, with lots of info depending on your machine hardware configuration. Luckily for me, the hardware I chose for my Hackintosh Deluxe did not have some odd issue or special circumstances involved. With the guide not only did I learn how to create my own MacOS USB installer, but I also learned how to create my own OpenCore EFI from scratch, with only the files I need, specifically for my machine and only my machine.

With my OpenCore EFI created, I first tested it on my current Hackintosh Deluxe. I changed nothing on my Hackintosh Deluxe settings; the only thing I did was remove the Clover EFI and replace it with my newly created OpenCore EFI. Sure enough, the first time I restarted my system (with the OpenCore EFI running things now) my Hackintosh Deluxe fired up to the desktop and everything was functioning just as it was while using Clover!

After 3 weeks using the OpenCore EFI as my system bootloader, the machine stayed stable and trouble-free. MacOS Catalina seemed to be working fine, Apple services seemed to be all working fine, my Radeon RX-570 seemed to be working just fine as well. It even went through a Catalina update (10.15.7) without a hitch! It was safe to say that so far, the OpenCore EFI I created was working just as well as Clover was, if not better.

Fast forward to about a week later, and MacOS Big Sur 11.0.1 was finally released to the public. Using the same guide that helped me build my OpenCore EFI, I created a Big Sur USB Installer with my OpenCore EFI as its bootloader. I even picked up a brand new SSD to test on, so that I could (hopefully successfully) install OpenCore and Big Sur onto the new, empty SSD, without disturbing my current "daily usage" Catalina installation. Without having to change a thing in my OpenCore config, I had the Big Sur USB installer running and after about 20 minutes I had this on my screen:



Not Done Yet
I have been testing this secondary Big Sur installation for over a week now and so far everything seems to be working. I haven't completely converted to using Big Sur as my primary OS yet (on my primary M.2 NVMe SSD)... I've been sorting through my notes and reorganizing the files and steps I took when learning to put together the OpenCore EFI. I might write a guide, not sure if it would even matter though since the already available OpenCore guide is excellent. So to those who are looking to get Big Sur onto their Hackintosh machines, don't limit yourself to just waiting for someone to make some pre-fab Clover install. Take a look at OpenCore and give it a try, because as far as I'm concerned right now - I might be done dealing with Clover and will stick to OpenCore from here on with my Hackintosh build :cool:

DISCLAIMER: I have zero affiliation with OpenCore or the makers of OpenCore.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 10, 2018
macOS
10.15.5
Mobo
GA-Z97X-UD5H
CPU
i7-4790K
GPU
Powercolor RX 580 8GB
#2
I know I posted elsewhere that I wouldn't be using Big Sur till it was a bit more mature. But I took the bait and updated one of the two NVME drives in my iMac 1 system to Big Sur last night.

I already used OpenCore 0.6.3 on my system, so I just ran the Apple Updater from my Catalina drive. This downloaded the 12GB Big Sur installer.

I then ran the installer, but instead of selecting the Catalina NVME drive I selected my Mojave NVME drive, as I have not used Mojave since early September.

The installation took some time, went through the normal reboots, with the macOS Installation partition being selected, later the Big Sur drive was selected correctly, after each reboot of the system.

The installer changed my main boot disk from Catalina 10.15.7 to the new Big Sur 11.0.1 drive. So OpenCore now automatically selects the Big Sur drive at boot.

Other than making a mistake of not removing the Adobe CS6 Master Collection applications prior to the update, it ran smoothly as any other Apple OS update. Everything works as it did in Mojave and Catalina.

I think it took me longer to remove the now totally obsolete Adobe CS6 applications than it did to install/update to Big Sur!
 
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Joined
Jul 4, 2020
macOS
10.15.5
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GigaByte Z490 Gaming X
CPU
i7 10700
GPU
Sapphire RX580
#3
I was stuck on El Capitan for many years as I had an older CPU. Changes to my Clover config were always minimal to none... so I am not that experienced with Clover Boot loader. I remember it was hard and most of the files were created by someone else back in the day (Asus P5E). Well it got me 14 years which is amazing I think.

With my new 10th Gen build, I did the EFI from scratch and found OpenCore to be a breeze. Documentation is well written. I have Catalina on my main NVMe and a 2nd NVMe that is for back up files. Currently a fresh install of Big Sur is running off an old Samsung HDD and it is very smooth (will make the change to the NVMe soon).

Only headache I had with my new build. As soon as I plugged in a 1TB backup drive from my old system to the new, I got the CLICK OF DEATH. It was about 12 years old. Luckily, I had about 98% of the files on another external drive. I have 2 other mechanical HDD from Samsung that are of approximate age, so I just use them for testing.
 

Raine

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
macOS
10.15.7
Mobo
Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
CPU
Core i5-8400
GPU
Radeon RX-570
#4
So a little update... I've delayed committing to wiping my main NVMe drive to do a clean, fresh install of Big Sur for a moment. Granted, I've already backed up all of my data from my current Catalina install, I've cloned my Catalina drive as a backup as well, and I've successfully installed Big Sur on my test SSD using OpenCore - so I am pretty much good to go. There's just one location-based situation I want to sort out first that I've discovered recently while testing: Location services is being weird on my machine now.

With the Big Sur test install I get "Unable to determine current location" in Maps, Find My, and Time Zone prefs. Weirdly - On the same machine using my current Catalina installtion, all 3 services work when I first boot up... but if I literally wait about 5 minutes (no rebooting, just letting the system sit there) then I try opening Maps, Find My, and Time Zone prefs again... they no longer can get a location.

I then ran the installer, but instead of selecting the Catalina NVME drive I selected my Mojave NVME drive, as I have not used Mojave since early September.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I read that as you let the Big Sur install with the original Mojave still in place? Or in other words, you didn't erase the drive in Disk Utility first, prior to installing Big Sur?

... so I am not that experienced with Clover Boot loader. I remember it was hard and most of the files were created by someone else back in the day
That's one of the things with Clover that bugged me the most - having to rely on someone else creating the files/patches and hoping they would work.

Creating my own USBMap was a good learning experience (and not as complicated as I was expecting TBH), then just recently working with OpenCore was pretty much as you described - a breeze. I think what made it as trouble-free as possible was how good the OpenCore guide was written.