- Sep 30, 2018
- Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
- Core i5-8400
- Radeon RX-570
READER NOTE: This build began in September of 2018. The final build and all updates are listed at the end of this post.
I. The Plan
This build was meant to allow me to switch to MacOS and replace my aging Shuttle XPC SG41J1 Windows PC, which is very outdated (circa 2010). I had 3 criteria when planning the build:
1. Outperform the current “middle” 2018 Mac Mini
2. Be the same size as my Shuttle XPC, or smaller
3. Try to keep the budget under the “middle” Mac Mini’s price of $699
Aside from the common programs a typical user would use (Web Browsing, Email) I also use Microsoft Office and Adobe CC. Multimedia involves just Plex Media Player, though ideally this build would hopefully be capable of also running iMovie for some light video editing (post-production editing of action camera and 360 footage). Currently I do not plan to use this machine for any gaming, thus my initial build did not include a discreet video card.
With the current “middle” level Mac Mini (2018) coming in at $699, that was my starting target. The fun part was looking for the right component combination to get what I was trying to achieve.
II. The Part List
I actually spent about a month researching, changing component lists, checking compatibility, etc. and in the end when I was ready to begin I ended up with the following component list:
Main Component List:
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z370n WiFi Mini-ITX, $129
Processor: Intel Core i5-8400 Coffee Lake 6-core, 2.8 GHz, $176
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport LT (1x8GB) 2400 PC4-19200, $75
Main Hard Drive: Samsung NVMe M.2 970 EVO 250GB SSD, $80
Case: Silverstone SG13B Mini-ITX Cube, $44
Power Supply: EVGA 450B3 80+ Bronze, Fully Modular, 450w, $43
Quiet CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9I Low-Profile CPU Cooler, $39
Secondary Hard Drive: Samsung SATA-III 860 EVO 250GB SSD, $46
WiFi/Bluetooth Airport Card: OEM Apple BCM94360CS2, $6
Key A/E Module Adaptor: BCM to NGFF M.2 Socket Adaptor, $10
Keyboard: Logitech K750 Wireless Solar for Mac (black), $48
Things I Already Have:
Monitor: Old Viewsonic VA2431 24” Widescreen LCD (already have)
- Monitor replaced with a new 24" IPS Display, see post #136
Mouse: Logitech M510 Wireless (already have)
Alternate Mouse: Apple Magic Mouse 2 (already have)
Case Fan: Arctic F12 PWM 120mm Silent (already have)
MAIN BUILD: $547
INITIAL BUILD, TOTAL SPENT: $696*
*Please note that your pricing may differ; the links above are to Amazon.com but I bought some items local, and some items were on sale at the time of purchase.
III. Build Notes
It has been approx. 10 years since my last computer build, and I had never built a Hackintosh until now. However, putting all of the components together into the Silverstone case was a breeze – anyone who’s built a PC before won’t have any trouble here, it’s the same process as building a Windows machine. Some build pics below:
Crucial 8gb DDR4 RAM
Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSD
Motherboard installed and all cables plugged in
Lots of space for air to move around
IV. Upgrading WiFi + Bluetooth Using an OEM Apple Module
Speaking of the WiFi/Bluetooth card, those not aware should know that the on-board Intel WiFi card doesn’t work with MacOS (none of them do). Since I wanted full Apple functionality including Airdrop, Handoff/Continuity, iMessage, Facetime, Maps, etc. so I went with the proven combo of an OEM Apple WiFi/Bluetooth Airport module + the appropriate module adapter to install it into the Z370n.
If anyone found the idea of swapping the Intel WiFi card with an Apple Airport module a little intimidating, let me tell you – it’s not. All you need to do the swap is a small Phillips screwdriver – no soldering, no cutting wires, it’s all simple. Instead of repeating the steps here, this thread from r/hackintosh on Reddit explains the process, I’ll also add some of my photos for reference:
Apple Airport module and adapter on the left
Module adapter and Airport Module installed into the bracket
Completed Apple Airport module installed into motherboard
V. BIOS Info and Settings
It was time to get the software side of things going. Of course, the first step was to configure the BIOS correctly. Before that, I first hopped onto my laptop and downloaded the current firmware for the Z370N WiFi (version F5) from the Gigabyte Website to update the motherboard BIOS. Next, I followed STEP 6 of Hackintosher’s 4k HTPC Build post, including the extra steps for integrated GPU and specified boot device. My BIOS setting changes are as follows (BIOS page -> Menu Item = Value):
DO THIS FIRST!!!! Save & Exit -> Load Optimized Defaults
M.I.T. -> Advanced Memory Settings -> Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P.) = Profile1
System -> System Date = *Set the correct date*
System -> System Time = *Set the correct time, 24-hour format*
BIOS -> Fast Boot = Disabled
BIOS -> LAN PXE Boot Option ROM = Disabled
BIOS -> Storage Boot Option Control = UEFI
Peripherals -> Initial Display Output = IGFX
Peripherals -> Trusted Computing -> Security Device Support = Disabled
Peripherals -> Network Stack Configuration -> Network Stack = Disabled
Peripherals -> USB Configuration -> Legacy USB Support = Auto
Peripherals -> USB Configuration -> XHCI Hand-off = Enabled
Chipset -> Vt-d = Disabled
Chipset -> Integrated Graphics = Enabled
Chipset -> DVMT Pre-Allocated = 128M
Chipset -> Wake on LAN Enable = Disabled
Chipset -> IOAPIC 24-119 Entries = Enabled
Save & Exit -> Save & Exit Setup
VI. Mojave 10.14.0 USB Installer w/Clover Bootloader
I decided that I was going to do a “vanilla” install of Mojave, meaning keeping macOS untouched and doing all the modifications outside of the actual operating system. For the next steps I used my MacBook Pro laptop to create the necessary USB installer for my new Hackintosh.
To create my Mojave USB Installer, I skipped the Terminal method and instead used a free and popular app called InstallDiskCreator. I’ve used this before to make OS X/MacOS installers with excellent results, so I did the same for my Hackintosh build. Using InstallDiskCreator is pretty self-explanatory, so once the USB installer was done, it was time to modify the installer for Hackintosh use.
I used CloverConfigurator to install the Clover EFI Bootloader (Clover_v2.4k_r4586) then followed Hackintosher's “Part 2: Configuring EFI Partition for a Mojave Hackintosh” from this page. Scroll down a bit and there’s an option on that page to use Hackintosher’s preconfigured Mojave EFI folder; since this was my first ever Hackintosh build I went with the preconfigured folder as a starting point.
The last things I did before actually starting the Mojave installation was to make one modification to the Clover “config.plist” file and update all the kext files to the latest versions. After mounting the USB Installer’s EFI partition and opening “config.plist” I made the following change (CloverConfigurator page -> Item = Value):
Acpi -> DSDT -> Fixes = Select “FixShutdown”
Next, I made sure I had the most up to date kexts. The list of kexts I’m running is below, and all of them are placed in the EFI -> CLOVER -> kexts -> Other directory to preserve the vanilla installation:
AppleALC.kext (version 1.3.5)
CodecCommander.kext (version 2.71)
FakeSMC.kext (version 6.26-357-gceb835ea.1800)
IntelGraphicsFixup.kext (version 1.2.7)
IntelMausiEthernet.kext (version 2.4.1d1)
Lilu.kext (version 1.3.4)
SmallTreeIntel82576.kext (version 1.0)
USBInjectAll.kext (version 0.6.7)
WhateverGreen.kext (version 1.2.6)
XHCI-300-series-injector.kext (version 0.5.0)
With the USB installer modded and ready, I restarted the build and Mojave started installing =)
VII. Post-Installation Modifications
Vanilla installation of Mojave 10.14.0 was successful; at this point I made some more “under the hood” changes to customize and complete my installation:
Copying the EFI Partition from the USB Flash Drive to MacOS Main SSD Drive
In order to have the Hackintosh boot up on its own (without requiring the USB installer flash drive plugged in), I had to copy the contents of the USB flash drive's EFI Partition to my MacOS' main SSD drive's EFI Partition by following Step 5 of Hackintosher's Mojave Walkthrough here.
No explanation needed how to do this, it’s in System Preferences.
Customize/Modify Clover Boot Menu
First, I installed the “Mojave” Clover theme from here; I did not use any theme manager, I simply copied the Mojave theme folder into my EFI folder, then specified the theme and other options in my config.plist using Clover Configurator (CloverConfigurator page -> Item = Value):
Boot -> Default Boot Volume = Hackintosh [the name of my boot SSD]
Boot -> Timeout = 5 [ second delay before automatically booting into SSD]
Gui -> Theme = Mojave
Gui -> Screen Resolution = 1920x1080
Gui -> Hide Volume = Preboot
Gui -> Hide Volume = Recovery
Saved my config changes, restarted the computer, and my Clover boot screen looks like this now:
Customize “About This Mac” Window
To get the right info showing in the “About This Mac” window, I followed some of the steps from this page to customize my computer model and CPU name to the correct one. The steps show instructions for High Sierra, but I found that they also work the same in Mojave EXCEPT for the system logo change; I haven’t found anyone who’s successfully changed the system logo image in Mojave yet (EDIT: system logo modified, see post #14 below.)
VIII. How It Performs
I also ran some popular benchmarks to see where my build stands vs. the “baseline” $699 Mac Mini and other, more expensive systems:
GeekBench4 testing gave me a Single-Core score of 4997 – which blows away the Mac Mini’s score of 3402, and likewise Multi-Core score of 18905 easily bests the dual-core Mac Mini’s score of only 6468!
I wasn’t expecting much out of this test since I was using the on-board Intel 630 graphics, and the Cinebench R15 results showed, as my build could only get up to 32-fps. But since this wasn’t built for gaming, this is perfectly fine with me.
BlackMagic Disk Speed Test
I wanted to see how fast the SSD drives were, so I also ran the BlackMagic Disk Speed Test (from the App Store). The 860 EVO SATA-III speeds were (as expected) fast enough, but I was amazed at how much faster the 970 EVO NVMe SSD was… Holy Cow!
IX. What Works, What Doesn’t
Back to the desktop, it was time to see if it all the hardware and apps work:
What Works 100%: Pretty much everything...
- Rear HDMI ports x2
- Rear Mini DisplayPort (see updates, below)
- Rear ethernet ports x2
- Rear USB-C port
- Rear USB 3.0 ports x6
- Front panel USB 3.0 ports x2
- Rear panel microphone input and speaker output (3.5mm jack)
- Front panel microphone input and headphone output (3.5mm jack)
- WiFi and Bluetooth (required card change, “Build Notes”)
- iCloud sync
- Facetime (see updates, below)
- Apple Music
- Maps w/Location
- Find My Mac
- Night Shift
What Doesn’t Work:
As seen in the above list, almost all of the features of MacOS are working perfectly (Yay!). However there is only one obscure feature that doesn’t:
iTunes DRM (Video only): For testing, I tried playing a DRM protected movie in iTunes (movie was purchased in iTunes) but it did not play. This however is fine with me as I watch all of my DRM-protected videos on my AppleTV and 4k LED. From what I've read this is common with all Hackintosh builds so it doesn't bother me.
Facetime: I rarely use Facetime, so I never thought about buying a webcam for my build, so this was not tested. I added a webcam and FaceTime is working out of the box; see post #73.
Displayport: For testing purposes only, I tried using a Displayport to DVI cable just to see if it worked; The Apple logo would show, the Clover boot menu would show, but once it got to the login screen the signal on my monitor would cut to black screen (HDMI monitor was fine). After switching to a new IPS monitor with a Mini DisplayPort plug, I can confirm that the Mini DisplayPort is also working 100%; see post #136.
X. Future Upgrades, Final Thoughts
As far as possible future upgrades go, there’s only 4 items that I would upgrade when the time comes:
1. Monitor: My current monitor is a very old but reliable 24” Viewsonic, it does full 1080 HD but if I want to move up to 4k, obviously it’ll have to be replaced. I upgraded to a new 24" 1080p IPS LED monitor; see post #136.
2. Memory: I have an extra memory slot where I could double the system RAM up to 16GB if I feel like I need it.
3. Discreet Video Card: I specifically chose a motherboard, case, and power supply that had “room” to allow me the future option of installing a full-length GPU into the machine if needed. Right now I would probably go with an AMD Radeon RX-560.
Just to cover all the bases, I used the Power Supply Calculator on the Coolermaster website to see that my current build is drawing approx. 164-watts (@90% TDP, always on 24/7) - so I’m not even using half of my EVGA power supply’s 450-watt rated output. If I were to add the second stick of RAM and the video card listed above, the calculated power draw would go up to approx. 243-watts, so I would still be good when it comes to supplying enough power after an upgrade.
So there we have it. I’m very happy with my system build so far. I’ve actually been using my build for the last 2 weeks now, and it has been stable and trouble-free as far as I can tell. Of course it’s not 100% perfect yet, there’s the iTunes DRM issue and the non-functioning Displayport I mentioned earlier that might be resolved in the future, but I’m not exactly in a hurry to figure it out since I don’t use the features (but I guess it would be nice to know they’re working.)
What helped a lot was the numerous guides and resources available online to help people like me build their own Hackintosh; especially Hackintosher.com and r/hackintosh.
Thank you for reading if you made it all the way to the end.
Feel free to comment or ask questions, I will help if I can, but please - do not ask me to upload my EFI folder; do the work for your own machine, it's not that difficult at all if you take your time and follow the steps =)
XI. Build Updates
The following is a running list of any changes I've made since the original 10/03/18 build:
11/09/18: Updated to 10.14.1, see post #11, #14.
01/02/19: Updated to 10.14.2, see post #35.
02/04/19: Updated to 10.14.3, see post #43-44.
02/19/19: Added dedicated USB 2.0, see post #71.
02/23/19: Added Logitech C310 webcam, FaceTime works, see post #73.
02/27/19: Created USBMap.kext for USB 3.0 at full speed, see post #79.
04/02/19: Updated to 10.14.4, see post #108.
05/16/19: Updated to 10.14.5, see post #117.
07/09/19: Mini DisplayPort works, see post #136.
07/22/19: Updated to 10.14.6, see post #142.
10/07/19: Updated to MacOS Catalina 10.15
11/14/19: Installed XFX Radeon RX-570 RS XXX Edition 8GB graphics card
Currently on MacOS Catalina 10.15.4.
**There will be no further build-specific updates to this thread since I am now using Catalina.