Description

This is my primary workstation and the computer I use most often, for web browsing, photo editing, and basically everything except movie watching (HTPC), gaming, and video encoding (gaming PC). For a variety of reasons, macOS is my productivity operating system of choice, and due to the lack of reasonably priced and configurable options when it comes to Mac desktops, I've long been intrigued by the idea of the "hackintosh", or running OS X on standard PC hardware. I decided to build one in a small form factor using the SilverStone FT-03 Mini case, whose design and aesthetic I fell in love with from the moment I first saw a picture of it. These choices, the case particularly (as anyone who's ever built a system with it will know), places some major limitations on component choices.

Case - SilverStone FT03B-MINI

I've been a fan of SilverStone's high-end cases since when the company was formed, as they were the spiritual successors to the old CoolerMaster ATCS all-aluminum cases which I also liked. And the FT03 Mini may be the most interesting and attractive case they've ever made. Aesthetically it's an evolution of the FT03 (the mATX version), but the removal of the fan mesh makes it much cleaner. As a rotated mITX case, it's far from being the easiest to build in, and indeed, even though I consider myself a very experienced PC builder, the first time I put a system together took several hours and involved multiple instances of realizing something and taking it apart to reassemble. It was all worth it though, as it's still the most attractive computer case I've seen, at least for non-Macs (I will always love the G4 Cube).

Power Supply - SilverStone ST45SF-G

The FT-03 Mini requires a SFX power supply. At the time I built the system, there were only two 450W options readily available within the US, both from SilverStone. I opted for the modular 80 PLUS Gold version as I thought it would make for better cable management. This turned out to really not be the case, as the modular connectors are quite stiff and somewhat gets in the way. Additionally, the PSU is not particularly quiet, which caused me to replace the stock PSU fan with a NoiseBlocker 80x15mm.

Processor - Intel Core i7 4770K

While it's possible to get OS X up and running on a variety of hardware, the easiest and most reliable is a combination of a modern Intel CPU and Gigabyte motherboard. I originally actually had a Core i3 3225, but I found performance lacking for some of my frequent tasks (such as file compression/decompression). Luckily, I was able to get the i7 4770K for a very good price ($200) from a Micro Center sale. I de-lid the processor and replaced the stock TIM with Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra despite not intending to overclock it (other than turning on max turbo clocks for all cores) to improve thermal performance, as the stock TIM on Haswell is known to be rather poor.

Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-Z87N-WIFI Rev. 2.0

Though I generally prefer ASUS motherboards due to their UEFI implementation, I wanted this system to work with minimal fuss so it was going to be Gigabyte. They often have a ton of (often only slightly) different models in their lineup, but with the mini-ITX requirement, the choice is easy - there was only a single Z87 model. There are however two revisions of that model, with the primary difference being an updated BT / WiFi module that supports 802.11ac on Rev. 2.0. But as that module does not work (for WiFi) under OS X (and I wouldn't be using WiFi anyway), it didn't particularly matter, though I did buy the Rev. 2.0.

Memory - Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP DDR3-1600 16GB (2 x 8GB)

A mini-ITX board will only have 2 DIMM slots, so the decision to go for a 2x8GB kit was easy. The Crucial VLP (Very Low Profile) kit was the perfect choice due to the small size and low voltage (1.35V). The latter should actually give it good headroom to run at higher frequencies with higher voltage, but it's unnecessary in this case.

Storage - Samsung 850 EVO 1TB / HGST Deskstar 4TB

Use of an SSD for the OS drive was a requirement, and an excellent Black Friday sale on the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB lead to it replacing an old 830 256GB, with the 850 EVO representing more or less the best combination of performance and reliability. A HGST 4TB is used for mass storage, because performance is not terribly important in that regard. The case includes a drive bracket for installing a slim-line optical drive and 3.5" HDD, but using it precludes the use of the CLC setup I have. The drive however fits perfectly in the case internal frame, so I just leave it there.

Cooling - Corsair H75, Corsair Air Series SP120 Quiet Edition x 2

Due to the location of the PSU within the case, there is very little space for a CPU cooler, which means options for a air-cooler is severely limited. As such, I opted for a 120mm radiator CLC. The H75 replaced an H60 that failed, and was picked due to the radiator thickness. The 2 SP120 QEs picked due to their excellent performance for the noise level. The use of 2 fans in push-pull for the radiator is a little bit tricky in that it prevents the case's included bottom fan filter from being installed normally, but it's not a hard issue to get around.

Graphics - nVidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Founders Edition

The need for more VRAM (used for Photoshop with GPU acceleration) lead me to replace an old GTX 750 Ti with the 1060 6GB once Pascal drivers became available. The Founders Edition was picked due to the high quality reference blower cooler, which works much better than open-air coolers in the FT03 Mini.

Displays - Philips BDM4065UC, ASUS PA248Q, Dell U2412M

You can never have too many monitors. Since I originally built this system, I've gone from a dual-monitor setup with the two 24" 1920 x 1200 displays to adding a 27" 2560 x 1440 for a triple-monitor setup to then replacing the 27" with the 40" 3840 x 2160 and flanking it with the 24"s in portrait mode. With most 4K monitors, some DPI scaling is required, but it's completely unnecessary at this size. It's still a higher PPI than the 24" screens, but the difference is small enough that it doesn't create problems in use. The main downside to the 40" is that the stock stand offers no adjustment options whatsoever, so I had to mount it on a monitor arm, of which there are quite limited options for ones that support a 40" screen - I ended up with an Ergotron LX HD.

Audio - Schiit Modi 2 Uber DAC -> Schiit Magni 3 Amp -> Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250Ω / JBL LSR305 Studio Monitors

Rather than dealing with the onboard audio (which is an area that can lead to issues on a hackintosh), I simply chose to bypass it altogether and use an USB DAC. The Schiit Modi + Magni combo (popularly known as the Schiit Stack) is a reasonably cheap and high quality DAC/Amp combo for driving both the headphones and the active studio monitor speakers.

Keyboard - Leopold FC980C (Topre 45g)

After buying and trying way too many mechanical keyboards, I've decided on the 90% layout that features both the arrow cluster and the numpad as my personal one-true-layout. It's quite rare though, and this is the only Topre option as far as I know. It's not cheap, but it's very high quality, and I love it.

Mouse - Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum

I've long been a fan of Logitech's high-end right-handed wired mice dating back to the MX500, and have owned most of them. The G502 marks the biggest departure in design, and aesthetically it may be a little suspect with the LED lighting, but thankfully that can be disabled. In terms of functionality, the 3rd thumb button location is vastly improved over the G500/G500S, and the scroll wheel is much more solid and removes any chance of accidentally registering a wheel tilt when middle clicking. The optional weight modules are also better balanced, and the sensor is top-notch. Altogether, it's the best mouse I've ever used, and I have it on both of my home desktops.

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Comments

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Where the hell is the mobo? xD honestly though nice build i like hackintosh and small … REALLY small builds +1

  • 57 months ago
  • 3 points

Haha, yeah, with this case you basically have no access to anything on the motherboard once the PSU is installed. I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I've had to remove the PSU for one reason or another.

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, how hard was it to install the radiator? Was it worth it?

  • 49 months ago
  • 1 point

The H60 in stock configuration (a single fan) is quite easy to install. Using two fans in a push-pull config required a bit more work in replacing the stock bottom 140mm intake fan with a 120mm high static pressure fan.

And it's absolutely worth it, because the case is so cramped that there simply is no way you can put a decent to high performance air cooler in it.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

How's editing going

  • 21 months ago
  • 1 point

can i see your images after installing gtx 1060 please upload or send images to ashu123ind@gmail.com please i want to see , Thanks advance