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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  • Curtis Judd

    There are definitely cost advantages to going the Hackintosh route for a 4k editing rig, but there are some downsides. I’ve had a Hackintosh I’ve been using for 1080 and 4k editing and grading for almost 2 years. It has served me well but there have been issues that one should take into consideration. (For the record, I recently bought a 5k iMac due to some of these limitations). The main issue I had was that I chose to go the route of a motherboard that could support a 6 core i7 CPU (ASUS x79 Sabertooth). This means no Thunderbolt support on this particular board, and USB 3.0 support has been very unreliable at best. Also, with Yosemite, Apple made some changes so that you need to be very particular about which SSD drives you put in the system (to work around TRIM issues). It is all do-able if you do your homework, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time staying up on all the changes, researching work-arounds, etc. I’m not suggesting that a Hackintosh is not a good idea, only that you will need to invest some time and effort in keeping it up and running. If you’re producing professionally, that can be a little nerve wracking to find yourself without a working edit rig because Apple pushed an update to the OS.

    • Lutz Leonhardt

      Which SSD did you pick up finally?

      • Guest

        I went with the Other World Computing Mercury Pro Extreme Pro 6G. The nice thing about these drives is that they don’t require TRIM support from the OS.

        • Lutz Leonhardt

          thank you for the information.

      • Curtis Judd

        I went with the Other World Computing Mercury Extreme Pro 6G. The nice thing about these drives is that they don’t require TRIM support from the OS.

        • Doug King

          Hi Curtis, Based in Zimbabwe, very new to the Hackintosh world always been Mac user, still sourcing what are my best options for a Video Editing power house. I came across your post about TRIM support not needed for the Extreme Pro 6G.. excuse my ignorance what is TRIM?? Any other advise you can give would be appreciated. Even a list of what you think is best. Thanks..!

  • Brad

    Or just use windows 8 and throw in whatever hardware you want.

    • But then you would be using… Windows 8.

      • Brad

        What many Mac OS fans forget when judging Windows OS is that they can’t compare their experience unless it’s also run on a £1-2k machine.
        They both have their perks and flaws, but you will get a more powerful machine for your money if you completely ditch the Mac trappings.

        • Powerful, maybe. More headaches? I would say yes.

          FYI, I run both an iMac and a Win 8 system (custom built). It’s a big difference between the two. I may have a more powerful computer in the latter, but also more security updates (and that’s just by using Windows’ built-in security!), more restarts (after some of those updates have been installed) and the GUI from somewhere around the neighborhood of Hades.

          OS X is smooth and logical. Win 8 doesn’t know what it wants to be (tablet? phone? desktop?). And I can swear some icons are left behind from Windows 95 – or perhaps even 3.11. No big deal, but when you have used the shiny things from Apple for a couple of years, you tend to notice such things (and get annoyed by them).

          I am now thinking of upgrading to a newer and more powerful system for my video editing, having started in the 4K world a while ago. It might be a Windows PC system of some kind (probably custom built, again), but only for the price tag. For everything else, I really don’t want to use Windows. I hope the next version, logically named Windows 10, is better.

          • Don Mick

            keep in mind, PC looses the ability to export as Apple ProRes (not to say it cannot playback, edit)

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  • Don Mick

    hurray! native pro res for all 😛

  • Singleton Makin

    Hey All! I am also looking to build a 4,5,6K editing system, and I am wondering if anyone can add in the idea of using NAND FLASH RAM like the MAC TOWER or Black Ice Buckets have installed? I see SSD above in these builds, but that is just a given. I would consider a RAID EXTERNAL for MEDIA. And keep the internal just for SYSTEM. unless I am missing the point? I guess not having Thunderbolt does make this an issue of having external anything. But beside the point ….my question is about TIMELINE RESPONSE in apps like SMOKE and ADOBE and AVID and RESOLVE? Doesn’t the 1TB of NAND FLASH RAM installed on these systems really make the system run like a FLAME? or am I dreaming? Also people below speak about OS systems….LINUX is a great OS just for VIDEO EDITING….you can build a PRIVATE system just for RESOLVE or SMOKE and FLAME and or NUKE I think…..but I am thinking away from FCPX no no no…..not using that thing……or are there people actually cutting 4K with FCPX?
    LINUX RED HAT is what I hear you need to run AUTODESK, but in my opinion…..just get RESOLVE and FUSION running on your systems and you have all you need. RESOLVE will REPLACE AVID and FCP…..and FUSION is AFTER EFFECTS x10

    • Singleton Makin

      oh and no subscription….like AVID, AUTODESK, and ADOBE are doing…..BLACKMAGIC DESIGN gives you the free software when you buy the camera or get the version le for free……its crazy…….its the best software on the market and its being given away…..kind of like 35mm motion picture film packages……8-)_

  • Pablus

    I have a CPU with the following motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-GAMING5 and 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5-4670K processor. As I have a TV monitor PHILIPS 50PUK6809 4K. With windows I have no problem. But with OS X Yosemite, the screen remains black. You could recommend some GPU with which to solve this problem?

  • Dipen

    What about the wifi & bluetooth? Did you use USB one or PCI card?