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Old 06-15-2012, 02:42 PM
jeremyroberts jeremyroberts is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 3,020
Default Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

There have been many reports about successful hackintosh builds, and I want to share my story, hoping it will help the community, just as others have helped me. This is going to be a VERY long post, as there is lots to share.

My story begins with an HD3 system in a G5/2.7DP with 8GB ram. The G5 was stuck at PT 8.01cs2 (HD). To survive, I enlisted (2) slave computers - both underpowered, and both were running VEPro, and hosting VST and AU virtual instruments. Each slave had 3GB ram. I was able to work, but it required some thought -- multiple slaves. I also had Gigastudio running on the WinXP slave -- and that machine was tired. BUT everything worked, my library was well organized and productive, and I made some pretty impressive sounding records. But I was jumping through hoops and any failure of any machine would be catastrophic for my productivity.

I passed on the "opportunity" to buy all new (or trade up) PCI(x) HD cards for PCIe at every opportunity. Why spend $6000 for a card exchange just to have to buy a new $5000 computer? Yeah, I know many of you did just that. Or some put their PCI(x) cards into a $2000 magma chassis. And then bought a $5000 macPro. I can buy a Macpro for less you say? Not configured how I would want it...

I was going to wait for the next-gen protools hardware from Avid. That was a choice I made 4 years ago. Didn't expect to have to wait 4 years. AES 2011 --- Avid announces HDX!!! Yeah. And then I learned that my TDM plugin investment was at least a year away from working in DSP -- "so run in native" -- so I will pay $7000 for a crossgrade to HDX + a new MacPro (by this point we are looking at $6k for a 12-core mac) and I still am a year from really using my system. It didn't taste right.

WHY can't I simply build a PC and use PT10HD on a Win7 machine? Others have done this? But I am a mac guy, and I want integration. I want iCloud and iTunes and Appstore and besides, as a guy who has both Win and Mac, if something breaks in macOS, I can usually fix it. I do not have those skills in Windows world. So why not build a hackinotsh with PCI slots?

There are very few motherboards (mobo) that will work with Protools HD PCI cards note: everyone calls them PCI-X -- they are NOT PCI-X cards -- they are long, very long (more on that later) but electronically, they are "simply" PCI. The last section of pins are unused -- there for support or to look pretty, but not connected to anything. You CAN use HD cards in standard PCI slots. HOWEVER -- this is the big however, the Protools community discovered that PCI must be "native" to the chipset of the mobo. So that means you MUST use a mobo from a very short list.

Hackintosh sounds terribly scary! I'm not a hacker. And I don't want to be caught in a pants-down situation -- I'm a professional! But how tricky is it, really? The hackintosh community appears to have thousands and thousands of people. It must be working for these guys.

The deciding factor was a bunch of issues all coming together at about the same time:

1. UniBeast/Multibeast from the Tonymacx86.com community. This is a tool to install OSX 10.7.4 installer (latest build) onto a USB flash drive, with the "bootlaoder" called Chimera (which you really don't need to know anything about to do this). The ability to "simply" install 10.7.4 directly, without updates or command line was the most important element;

2. ProTools HD 10.2 was officially supported in 10.7.4;

3. Many users were reporting success with the JetWay JNAF92-Q67 -- a mobo with 4 PCI slots that were NATIVE (not bridged), accepts an i7 2600k CPU, up to 32 gb ram, and most importantly, the HD cards fit on the mobo without having to destroy/modify the cards or the heatsinks. The moment people speak of pulling out the Dremel, I run. I wasn't gonna have any of that.

So I made the decision to build this "beast".

There are many threads and many posts from some key players -- but most of the builders assume you can spec and build a PC! Mac guys have been spoiled since day one. Apple decides which case, power supply, and every other element in the box. Unless you know why you want to spec a specific part, how do you know? Speccing the parts was as much a challenge as putting it together - and to some degree, the MOST IMPORTANT step in the process. "Measure twice, cut once", right?

I knew I wanted the JetWay JNAF92-Q67. Easy. i7 2600k. Easy. Now what?

A hackintosh build for protools HD cards will have the following:

1. case
2. power supply
3. mobo/processor
4. cooler for the CPU
5. GPU (video card)
6. RAM
7. System drive
8. Optical drive
9. Recording drive(s)
10. Sample library drives (if you use VI)
11. backup drive(s)
12. Firewire card
13. eSATA - SATA ports (PCIe card?)

and all necessary wire to connect the dots.

1. The Case. My first big mistake. I failed to consider the HD cards were 12.375 inches long. VERY few mid-tower cases have room for ProTools HD cards. So I originally bought a well reviewed case: Fractal Design Define R3 http://www.silentpcreview.com/fractal-r3
-- but the HD cards simply will not fit. Removing the drive bays was NOT going to be an option for me.

read this:

The MacPro aluminum case is a BRILLIANT design. Quiet. Cool. Sturdy. Clean look. But it does have it's limitations... so the bar is set high. I decided that my build was NOT going to be silent, rather, very, very quiet -- and that opened up many alternatives.

I chose the Antec P280 Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case. $120

I couldn't be happier!!! Huge case. Lots of room for everything. 13"+ from card rail to the hard drive bay. And it's quiet. As in MacPro quiet. I have the fans at the slow speed.

2. Power Supply. I wanted a power supply with a modular design. I was always annoyed with extra wire that was simply not connected anywhere. I also wanted a relatively quiet model form a reliable manufacturer - and at least 600w. There are "silent" PSUs, and you can spend much more... I think I found a reasonable balance with the SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W $90

Here's an article worth reading:

3. Motherboard. If you want up to 4 PCI slots, this is the one.

JetWay JNAF92-Q67 LGA 1155 Intel Q67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s ATX Intel Motherboard $200

There is a NEW mobo from Jetway that supports the IvyBridge chip and has USB 3, but until the TonyMac UniBeast and MultiBeast support it, it's not on my radar.

The CPU that works with this mobo is the Intel 2600k. i7, 3.4 ghz. $300

4. CPU cooler. Yeah, you need it. Not to keep the CPU cool, but more to replace the NOISY fan that comes stock from Intel. I didn't do enough research here, but the little research I did pointed me to a very good and almost silent cooler that is quite difficult to install. I bought the ZALMAN CNPS8900 Quiet 110mm Ultra Quiet Slim CPU Cooler $45

But it is a challenge to install...

5. Video Card (GPU). This is the most difficult part to spec, since there are VERY few quiet cards that are compatible with the Jetway and 10.7. -- the problem is many GPUs use the space in the next PCIe slot for the GPU heatsink and fan to live. That is, the card is a double-wide. If you have no intention of using the x4 PCIe card, then you have many options -- but I am using all the slots. So I needed a card that could drive 2 DVI monitors at 2560x1600, and only use 1 slot. And not have a loud fan. I chose:

EVGA GeForce GT 520 1024MB DDR3 $50

PLEASE READ this very important post at TonyMac about compatible GPUs:

6. RAM -- it's so freaking cheap now. $200 for 32GB. Just get 32gb. I bought a "low profile" chip that allows the CPU cooler to clear. I would avoid the ram with "memory cooling heatsinks" since it will probably get in the way of your CPU cooler. I bought GeIL Black Dragon 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10660) $200 - and it came with a free 32GB USB flash as well.

7. System Drive. RUN, do not walk, and get this mSATA SSD. 120gb. If you haven't done an SSD system drive yet, now is your opportunity. I am booting to Lion in about 4 seconds. mSATA is incredibly cool - it mounts on the motherboard UNDER your PCI cards. I chose the latest and greatest mSATA - and I would get this part again in a heartbeat! Mushkin Enhanced Atlas Series MKNSSDAT120GB-DX mSATA 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $145

8. Optical drive. CDs are not dead yet. I bought a PLEXTOR Internal DVD Super Multi 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model PX-L890SA LightScribe Support. You can get a less expensive part -- but I have been using Plextor for 20 years. Habit. $38

9. Recording drives. This is your business... but you now have SATA II and SATA III ports -- but come back to this after we go over the SATA ports...

10. Sample library drives. You want SSDs and you want the newest, fastest, SATA III (6gbs).

11. Backup drives. Don't not put these in.

12. FireWire card. NOT for production - but for file transfer. I found the SYBA Low Profile PCI-Express 1394B/A Firewire Card Model SD-PEX30009 works great "OOB" - out of the box. An important distinction for hackintosh builders. If you can get an OOB vs. not, et the OOB. $28

13. eSATA and SATA card. I have yet to spec this for my rig, but that's my project for next week.

OK -- I have my parts. Now What?

You need a few more things:

1. You must OWN your copy of mac OSX Lion. Buy it from the App store, and download the LATEST version (10.7.4) as a new installer file. Just because you already have a lion 10.7.1 installer - that's not going to help you. Download 10.7.4 fresh, but don't allow it to launch. Just download it.

2. You need (2) USB flash drives. Get 8gb or larger. They cost $6 each at Microcenter.

3. Prepare your "UniBeast" - this is the magic tool to install Lion on your build.

Just RTFM and do what it says.

4. Download MultiBeast and put it on the same USB as the Lion install

At this point, you should watch a few videos:

5. You probably should download and prepare a DOS boot USB with the flash utility for your mobo BIOS. Ah -- the scary part! I'ma mac guy - what do I know about BIOS? Well, you need to know that you have to change a few settings to make this work. And you need the latest firmware on your mobo -- so download the BIOS from Jetway and a boot USB from a dozen places on the net and flash your mobo.

NOW -- Put Humpty together.

GO SLOW. Be careful. RTFM.

DO NOT put your protools cards in yet. But it's ok to install the ram.

Don't install your mechanical drives. Do this slowly and systematically.

When you are ready to power-up, you will need to adjust your BIOS at first boot -- now is probably the time to verify the BIOS version, flash it if needed, and then adjust some BIOS settings...

Bios settings

Advanced Menu
PCI PME Wakeup S3
CPU Configuration, Hyper Threading---> Disable
All Com ports, Parallel port, CIR Controller---> Disable
SATA Mode---> AHCI Mode (SUPER important!)
Chipset Menu
Initiate Graphics Adapter PEG/IGD

You can't really mess this up, since you can always RESET BIOS to default.

Time to load Lion onto your mSATA system drive?

BOOT from the USB flash (UniBeast)

Follow the guide...

Did I say RTFM and do EXACTLY what UniBeast instructions say?

Then run MultiBeast and install network tools kext. Choose the hnak's AppleIntelE1000e Ethernet. Install it. You're now good to go.

There are a few details that you will quickly pick up. BUT ------

When you are done, you will spend less than $1200 for a box that will run PT HD 10.2 in Lion 10.7.4 and you can use your HD cards.

The $1200 does not include recording drives or sample storage -- for me, this was about preserving value in the HD cards while waiting for AAX dsp plugs. Would I build a hackintosh for PCIe cards? Not sure. And obviously, a new 12-core is a much faster machine. Can we hackintosh a dual-CPU mobo? Maybe. But it would not be nearly the cost benefit of the single CPU i7 PCI - built to use the HD cards we already own.

I delivered a track today that would have been suicidal on the older rig. 90+ voices @ 88.2k. 20+ VSL instruments (VEPRo 5). Used about 20gb of ram. And the machine never went past 50% CPU. ProTools OTOH was complaining all the way. PTHD is not built for 90 voices at 88.2k. But HDX is, right? OK, bring on PT11 and I'll turn this box into a server. But for now, I have a STABLE, rock solid and quiet box. And I feel like I received VALUE for my investment. I would do this again.

Yes, you can do it too!

next post: eSATA/SATA and SSD drives - coming soon (but I need input speccing the right card).
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Old 06-15-2012, 05:09 PM
Willard Willard is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 145
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

Excellent post. Not something I need to undertake at this point, but I have squirreled away these instructions should the circumstances arise. I'm sure your guide will buy someone much needed breathing space while they figure which way to go.

Nicely done!!


Pro Tools Ultimate | Mac Studio M1 Max (64 GB) | Ventura 13.6.3 | Clarett+ 2Pre

Pro Tools HD 9.0.6 | HD6 PCIx | Mac Pro5,1 (mid 2010) Westmere 3.33 GHz Hexacore (32 GB) | Lion 10.7.5 | Magma PE6R4-I | 192 i/o |

Pro Tools HD 9.0.6 | HD3 PCIe | MacPro5,1 (mid 2010) Westmere 3.33 GHz Hexacore (32 GB) | Lion 10.7.5 | Apogee Rosetta 200 | C|24

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Old 06-15-2012, 05:44 PM
CME CME is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ardmore OK
Posts: 3,207

I put together my own hack. I used the "older" socket 1366. On a popular windows board. The gigabyte x58a-ud3r. Fun machine. Stable and a lot more power than my MacBook pro. Found a dual CPU ivy bridge board today. Put together the core parts (in a shopping cart, didn't buy) and had a 12-core for less than a "new" Mac Pro. May build something similar next year when prices drop even more.

Asus z9pe-d8 was the board. Just in case someone is feeling adventurous.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Dell T5810. Harrison Mixbus 32C. Haven't used PT since 2015 and never been happier.
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Old 06-15-2012, 06:41 PM
Jeff D. Jeff D. is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Southern CA
Posts: 813
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

Thanks Jeremy. I'm in the same situation as you are... I've considered getting HD Native as a stopgap, but Apple didn't release significantly updated MacPro this week so that's out. I don't want to get a 2 year old system w/o modern USB3 and TB to run an (apparently) obsolete PCI slot.

I think I'll do the same thing until HDX is ready for primetime and there's a Thunderbolt HDX so that I can take it to remote recordings too.
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:16 PM
AREED AREED is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: California
Posts: 147
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

I was in the same boat. Old G5, HD2 PCI. I was not interested in spending a ton of money on new mac and cards. I also was interested in going native.
I myself am not a computer builder so I needed some help. I found a guy in Davis, Ca that specializes in Hackintosh builds. (PM me if you want his contact info)
This is the build we went with to house my HD2 PCI
i7-2600 3.4GHz Quad-Core
16GB DDR3-1333Mhz (4x4GB)
ASUS P8Z68-V LX Motherboard
HD6450 1GB DDR3 Video Card
Dual Layer DVD/CD Burner 22x
FW Ports: 2x FW800 + 1x FW400
OS Drive
Recording Drive
Rosewill RSV-L4000 4U Chassis
Mac OS 10.6.8, ProTools HD2 10.2
I have been working with it for about 4 months with no problems. Very solid. A giant step up from the old G5. Saved alot of $$$$$ as well.
2018 MacMini i7, 10.15
PT 23.9 HDN, 2x192 i/o
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:26 AM
Drew Mazurek's Avatar
Drew Mazurek Drew Mazurek is offline
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 11,630
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

I tried this and couldn't get past a USB driver issue that wouldn't let the iLok authorize PT. I was bummed and gave in. Glad to see success stories.

Mixing and Mastering click here to get started.
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:37 AM
jeremyroberts jeremyroberts is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 3,020
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

couldn't get past a USB driver issue that wouldn't let the iLok authorize PT. I was bummed and gave in.

Sounds like you were trying this before UniBeast and EasyBeast and MultiBeast tools?

I give 100% of the success of this project to the guys who made the UniBeast/MultiBeast/EasyBeast tools at TonyMacx86. Without these bootloaders and configuration tools, B and C-level geeks like me don't have a chance. Of course the A-geek can "simply" edit files... but I'm not at that level. I can RTFM and follow the instructions. I hate to say it, but it was very, very easy to do... the hardest part for me was attaching the heatsink/cooler fan unit to the processor -- and that was an exercise in patience.

My goal was to not spend $10000 to salvage my HD cards, yet get a year or more of productivity. Mission Accomplished!
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:57 AM
jeremyroberts jeremyroberts is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 3,020
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

A few other notes:

1. I eliminated my GigaStudio WinXP slave in the process here... but I still have substantial Giga library. My solution:

G-Player $149

Works nicely in VEPro. Also has a 32-bit "solo" standalone plug for a quick and dirty instance of a single .gig (in protools or VEpro).

I KNOW that Kontakt and other tools can convert .gig library, but who has time for that? And auditioning? Having to convert every patch just to audition? No thanks. $149 and an entire era of samples are preserved and brought back to full peformance. The ONLY thing missing here is reading .gsp files (performance full loads). The developer of G-player told me that .gsp was in his plans.

2. Multiple monitors. My GPU supports DVI @ 2560x1600, and has a 2nd DVI port -- not sure about the resolution though. The mobo has a DVI port and VGA. I think we can get onboard video working for a 2nd and/or 3rd display.

3. Onboard audio. I was told to forget about it. So the solution is to get a USB to optical/line out solution. Users in TonyMac forum have made this suggestion.

4. My ancient (1998?) Wacom USB tablet still works, but the driver doesn't stay loaded on restarts... I think it's time to look at a new tablet. It's given me many years of service and the drivers for the Graphire are not approved beyond OS 10.4 -- so running it on OS 10.7.4 is a bit of a stretch.

5. I'm gonna add another Accel card!
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Old 06-16-2012, 07:24 AM
jeremyroberts jeremyroberts is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 3,020
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

If anyone is ready this, one installation tip:

Get the PDF files / installation docs for the mobo, cpu, pwr supply and cooler heatsink. If you can read 4pt type, you probably can live without the PDFs -- but for the rest of us, the 4pt type is essentially unreadable. BLOWING UP the PDF to 400% or more really helps identifying the mobo headers (the connectors that you will attach case components such as fans and USB and power switches).

Having a computer close by with a net connection during this process is invaluable.
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:00 AM
jihel's Avatar
jihel jihel is offline
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Région Centre - France
Posts: 16
Default Re: Hackintosh - Salvage your HD PCI cards - You Can Do It Too!

Hi Jeremy,
Thanks for this "remarquable" article with all the informations and links.

Why Lion 10.7.4 ? A personal choice ?

I prefer the Snow Leo 10.6.8 configuration of Areed; I find Snow Leo more stable than Lion for Pro Tools 10 (but it's only my opinion).
Mac Mini Server (mid 2011) Core i7Quad - OSX 10.11.4
Pro Tools 12.6
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