Is a Hackintosh Good Enough For Real-Time 4K Editing?

Many people are wondering if it’s still worth investing (a lot of) money in an iMac or a Mac Pro these days or if it’s just better to build a Hackintosh PC running OSX for half of the price instead? In the first place, some would argue there are many valid reasons why Apple products cost so much. Their build quality is simply astounding along with the slick design, powerful software and hardware performance. Apple provides excellent overall technical support and customer service as well.

You’d often hear Mac users say – “it just works!”, a statement often met with nervous grins from the PC crowd… On the other hand, going the Hackintosh route gives you some undeniable advantages as well. In the first place, you can change any of the hardware components any time you decide to upgrade your system without the necessity to go to the nearest Apple store and to buy a brand new system. Regarding customization, you have limitless options and the price in unbeatable.


For instance, you can add more RAM and hard drives, change motherboard, CPU, GPU, power supply, even the case if you want to. If you’re considering to upgrade your monitor or video card down the road, you can do this easily with a Hackintosh. Unfortunately, you don’t have this option with an iMac.

In the following video, Mike Gentilini from explains why he decided to build a Hackintosh video editing system instead of buying the latest 5K Retina iMac.

In general, depending on the motherboard you choose for your Hackintosh, the chances are that you will have more external connectivity options compared to the regular iMac or Mac Pro. Besides the USB 3 and Thunderbolt ports, you can get a motherboard with eSATA ports which are a great feature demanded by many video editors. Unfortunately, this option isn’t available on the latest iMac and Mac Pro.

Furthermore, with the release of Yosemite OSX, it’s now even easier than before to install a fully functional operating system compared to the installation of the older OSX versions such as Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Lion, Snow Leopard, etc. There are still some tweaks you’ll have to make along the way depending on the different hardware components you choose to buy, yet it’s a lot easier to build a stable Hackintosh system than it was in the past.

Here is a comparison chart of  Mike’s Hackintosh system vs. the new iMac 5K Retina:


These are the components of the suggested Hackintosh system (the price tags are approximate):

Hardware Component
1 CPU Intel i7 Quad 4.4 GHz
2 CPU Cooler Enermax Twister
3 Memory Crucial Ballistix Tactical 32GB Kit
4 Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD7
5 Storage Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SATA III
6 Graphics Geforce GTX 760 w/2GB
7 Power Supply Corsair HX850i (850 Watt)
8 Monitor ASUS PB287Q 28”
9 Case NZXT Technologies H440 Mid Tower
Grand Total:  

Mike can edit 4K video in real-time in full resolution without any problems, and he is very pleased with the results with his Hackintosh. Further, he also can playback even 6K resolution at full res in Premiere Pro CC.

Depending on which GPU accelerated codec he uses, he can not only monitor the gorgeous 4K footage on his 4K Asus monitor, but he can also export 4K in almost real-time. Considering the money you should pay and the efficient functionality ones gets, going the Hackintosh route is a worth considering option.


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