If there is one word that wouldn’t be suitable to describe the iMac or any other Apple’s computer, it would be cheap. Then again, for those who want a bite out of Apple’s processing power without breaking the bank, building a Hackintosh is still a viable (and much cheaper) alternative, especially when working on a shoe-string budget.
That’s exactly what Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs did recently with his extremely affordable Hackintosh system that cost him just $350 to build. In a nutshell, the goal of this project was to push the envelope and see how low one can go in terms of price to put together a decent entry-level Hackintosh computer that could actually be used for 4K video editing in FCP X.
The heart of this dirt-cheap Hackintosh build is an Intel Kaby Lake i3-7100 processor running on a Gigabyte H110m mATX motherboard. While the i3 platform is not exactly the best bang-for-your-buck processor, the marginally better performance than the Pentium line of CPUs (plus hyperthreading) would be enough to justify the cost in this case.
In addition to the CPU and motherboard, 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 memory was used alongside a 120GB Kingston SSD. Unfortunately, the price for memory and SSDs are not at a point where it’s easy to get your hands on the items for a low price, so those components were the most costly in the assembly. Nonetheless, they were essential in trying to maximize the performance of the system as a whole.
Lastly, to round out the build, Nelson used a Seasonic 520W 80 Plus Bronze PSU to power the system, housing everything in a modest, though basic chassis: the Rosewell Ranger M which does include two fans pre-installed and actually was selling for less than $20 at the time.
You might’ve also noticed that the computer lacks a dedicated GPU. Buying one would bump up the cost of the build significantly, which was the main reason behind Nelson’s decision to leave the system run solely on the Intel integrated graphics.
So, how well does this machine hold up against other Apple computers? Geekbench Single-Core tests show that the Hackintosh performed better than the baseline 13” MacBook Pro and especially the Mac Mini, even though it wasn’t able to surpass the power in the iMac line of computers.
Multi-core scores revealed a slightly different story as the machine managed to outperform only the obsolete Mac Mini in this particular case. Nevertheless, Nelson decided to edit some videos on the computer and found that editing/playback/timeline performance was more than adequate and worked rather well. When it came time to rendering, however, the High Sierra Hackintosh resulted in long render times in FCP X.
Don’t get me wrong, though. As the single-core scores from Geekbench 4 imply, the $350 Hackintosh would be more than capable of handling some basic daily tasks in the editing bay, no doubt about it.
When it comes to more serious video editing or color grading work, however, this machine is definitely not up to the standards of a basic editing rig. But hey, it costs only $350! We can’t ask for more, right? So, if you are just starting out and you want to do some basic video editing, this High Sierra Hackintosh seems to be a pretty decent option to go ahead with.