The right PC laptop to install OSX on?
May 2, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find the right PC laptop to install OSX on?

My five year old Macbook Pro is starting to die and I think it is time to get a new laptop.

I want OSX but I cannot afford a new Mac.

My initial searching has turned up a number of laptops that can run OSX but can't use wifi, or do not support USB, or can't use the camera etc.

What sub-$800, non-Apple laptop would you recommend that will be able to run a fully functional OSX install?

I'm willing to put some effort into it, but I want to feel confident that at the end of the day, I will succeed.

Other criteria: 15" screen or larger, must be able to run CS5 and CIV4.
posted by keeo to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just save your money. Really. You're not going to be happy with a sub $800 PC running [somehow] OSX after spending five years on a Macbook Pro.
posted by Murray M at 7:10 PM on May 2, 2011

The search term you need is "hackintosh" and IIRC, the answer to your question is a specific Dell which unfortunately they don't make any more.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:12 PM on May 2, 2011

Buy a gently-used Mac.

Hackintoshes are fine as tinkering projects -- and they do tend to need ongoing tinkering -- but they're really not machines for daily use, especially on the laptop side, where you don't have the option of swapping out components.
posted by holgate at 9:16 PM on May 2, 2011

Response by poster: I really do not want to buy a Mac, for more reasons than just money (but feel free to send me some to start a macbook-fund with!).

I was hoping someone could suggest a laptop with hardware that is either OSX compatible natively, or has readily available drivers or easy to implement software hacks.
posted by keeo at 9:33 PM on May 2, 2011

Running a Hackintosh is not as easy or neat a project as you might think, because there isn't one laptop with all the right compatible bits and pieces. Even hardcore techies find it non-trivial. Unless you're willing to make compromises, you're really just better off finding a refurbished or used MacBook or MacBook Pro.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 PM on May 2, 2011

I've had a hackintosh, and I've hated my hackintosh. The beauty of Apple is the fact that it just works. When you start running custom software that has to be altered in some way for each update, you lose that, and in doing so, you lose your Apple.

If your computer is 5 years old, don't buy a new one. Sell it and buy one that is 2 years old. If you can snag a Core 2 Duo, you should be able to get another 18 to 24 months out of that one. Maybe even more considering you've been able to hold out this long on your current laptop. And when you can go and upgrade the RAM.
posted by darkgroove at 10:03 PM on May 2, 2011

If you value your time, don't hackintosh.

You need to have loads of the time on your hands to actually install hackintosh for the first time (also factor in the time spent on each update you need to Google on how to work around, actually finding the kexts that (hopefully 100%) work with your unique hardware and drivers and all the other BS).

If you got that much time, you might as well get a part time job at McDonald's for a few weeks to cover the difference in price of a new Macbook Pro.

Or you know, if your willing to give Windows another shot, Windows 7 is actually pretty nice on modern hardware.

I got sucked into the whole osx86 thing a few years ago on my Core 2 Duo desktop machine, buying new video cards and spent countless hours Googling and reinstalling and hunting drivers.

I was never happy because it was always something that wasn't working perfect, like I could never sleep the machine or updating OSX was a royal pain, I could never get quartz extreme to work, or sometimes it couldn't find my time machine volume. YMWV with the right hardware from the get go, but do buy carefully and like Ian from Jurassic Park said "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should".
posted by glenno86 at 2:32 AM on May 3, 2011

keeo: "suggest a laptop with hardware that is [...] OSX compatible natively"

This would be an Apple computer. For $800 you can pick one up used off of Craigslist, most likely.

Also keep in mind that you can't legally run OS X on anything other than an Apple machine; it violates the Terms of Service in the OS install. If you want something Apple-like but don't want a Mac, you are either going to be stuck with a hackintosh that doesn't work well (if at all) or an Ubuntu machine that works really well but won't run some of the software you want.

My MBP is fairly old too. Upgrades are expensive. Parts (more memory, bigger HD, etc.) are less expensive. See if you can limp along by updating some of the components until you can afford to buy the machine you want.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2011

Hackintoshing is no longer time-consuming. Last year I (a tech-minded person but not a hardware expert, who had not touched a Windows machine for years) did it in a few hours with a $300 Dell 700v. That Dell model has been an outstanding solution for my family but it's not for you (we were looking for portability and low weight). I just wanted to make the point that there's no particular difficulty and a hackintosh is certainly not a machine that "doesn't work well (if at all)."
posted by kalapierson at 3:59 PM on May 9, 2011

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