What should I test before I buy a used hackintosh?
January 6, 2017 5:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering buying a used hackintosh. I'll have the opportunity to test the system briefly before making my decision, and I was wondering what I could do to look for potential issues

I'm thinking things like :
- Running a benchmark
- Booting in Diagnostics Mode (Can I do that on a hackintosh?)
- Any other tools that can run in a few minutes and basically tell me: this machine is all right

Thank you for your recommendations
posted by motdiem2 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Hackintoshes can have a wide range of problems based upon whether the hardware components have drivers on the Mac side and based upon which version of Mac OS they have installed. They also can be tinkery if you choose to update the OS in the future and lose functionality you currently have. Some things that often are trouble are sound drivers, built in wifi, built in ethernet, USB ports, and apparently it's often difficult (but not impossible) to get iMessage working on non-Apple hardware.

You could ask the seller if it's a "Golden Build" (one in which everything works) but also I would get the hardware specs (motherboard make and model, etc) in advance and check them on the tonymacx86.com website/forums for known issues for each piece of hardware.
posted by bluecore at 6:38 AM on January 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Some of the things that can be a little tricky to set up on a Hackintosh or which can break after a system update include:

- Sound. Check to see if what you need (analog, digital output, front and back headphone ports, microphone, etc.) works.
- Ethernet/Wifi. Check to see if you what you need works.
- Any sort of iOS/macOS integration like Continuity and iMessages. I don't even use this stuff with my regular Mac, so I don't know much about this.
- Sleep/wake up.

Ask what sort of steps you would have to take to restore the above things if they break after a system update. For instance, on my last Q6600-era Hackintosh, I'd lose sound after every system update, but all I had to do to restore it was to re-install one kext and reboot.

Ask if they built it following a particular thread from Tonymacx86.com or wherever. If they did, that's usually the best place to ask for help.

Ask if they used any non-standard video cards or processors.

Finally, I'd recommend getting an extra hard drive and making an exact clone of the boot drive with Carbon Copy Cloner and verifying that you can boot the clone. Half the time when I tinkered around with the boot settings or other low level stuff, I'd render the whole thing unbootable. Being able to open up the case, switching hard drives, and repairing the borked hard drive via an external case, was a lifesaver.

This might sound a little tinkery, but I ran a Hackintosh as my only computer for five years and I was very happy with it.
posted by alidarbac at 6:56 AM on January 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

If it is running the latest version of macOS (10.12 - Sierra) and all the above-mentioned items are working, then that also gives an indication of how easy the upgrade path will be. If, in contrast, it is stuck on a much older version, that might indicate difficulties the owner has had with upgrading.

For me the priority would be:
- wifi
- graphics card (correct resolution)
- sound
- sleep/resume functionality
- bluetooth (if applicable)

When I was running a hackintosh I kept a bootable usb with a folder containing text files with upgrade notes, links and relevant drivers and utilities that would be useful during upgrades. Ask if the seller has anything resources like this.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 7:36 PM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for your advice. It turned out to be a build based on a Tonymacx86, and was recently updated to the latest Sierra update without a hitch. alidarbac, asking about a particular thread was very good advice, as I now know where to look before upgrading to new releases.
posted by motdiem2 at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2017

« Older Ideas for small low-salt snacks/meals?   |   Best Text-to-Speech with Voices? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.