Ivy Bridge Hackintosh - Build Update

I know it's been a couple weeks since my last Hackintosh update and I apologize. There are a couple of reasons for this, for one I've been busy and secondly I'm in a bit of a waiting period which I'll explain. For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the saga, I recommend you check out the first two installments in the series.

Building My New Ivy Bridge Hackintosh Workstation

Ivy Bridge Hackintosh Update

So, since the last time we met, I've gone and bought all the parts I mentioned.  The Intel 3770k CPU and Gigabyte Z77-UD5H Motherboard. For a cooler I went with a very reasonable $35 CoolerMaster tower cooler and it's stock fan which is surprisingly quiet when it all comes together.

Once all the parts were delivered I spent an hour putting the whole thing together.  Overall it was one of the easier builds I've ever done. In fact, once I had it all together and everything plugged in it looked too clean and empty, so much so that I had a terrible feeling that I had forgotten something important, but apparently I just did a good job in planning and building so everything went smoothly.

First boot was with a single stick of ram (still 8GB) in there to make sure nothing blows up. Plugged in a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and prayed as I pressed the power button on the case. Fans spun up, and the bios logo lit up the screen.  Pressed delete to get into the new uEFI bios and set everything up.  Everything was going swimmingly. To test and make sure everything was working correctly I intended to install Windows 7 and do some stress testing, but I kept getting errors while installing from the DVD which I'll admit, scared me a bit.  Only the next day did I figure out that there was a pretty nasty smudge on the disc that I didn't notice which was causing read errors.  Whoops.  With that fixed, I booted up Win7, installed updates and drivers and proceeded to run Prime95 while overclocking the CPU a bit. I've currently got it at 4.3GHz at stock voltage, which is just fine for me right now.

With everything tested it was time to install MacOS.  The thing is that there are as of yet no Macs which use this latest series of processors, which means that MacOS doens't know what to do with it and thus just barfs if you try to install.  So MacMan over at TonyMacx86.com did a neat little trick.  You see, MacOS is based upon an open source UNIX kernel called Darwin. As part of there using it, the source code for the kernel has to be kept public, so MacMan went over and modified the kernel to recognize the Ivy Bridge CPUs and allow MacOS to install. Bridgehelper as it's called gets it to install and run, but you can't use any power management features or some of the chipset specific features such as USB3 just yet. It's a temporary fix until Apple comes out with Ivy Bridge iMac and MacBook Pros in the next few weeks, at which point I'd imagine it'll take all of a couple of days for the high priests over there to get everything happening smoothly.

So, until then I just don't trust the new machine as my daily driver, mostly because I know I'm going to have to wipe off and reinstall everything in a matter of days, so I figure I'll just hold off. However I can make a few observations. First is that this thing is FAST, as in really fast.  Even in it's slightly cobbled together state it boot in like 15 seconds from dead stop.  Also, I put in two 2TB green drives and bonded them together as a software RAID-0 as my main photo storage which will be backed-up every couple of hours for security sake.  I haven't gotten to work off of them yet, but using the BlackMagic Disk Speed Test available for free in the App Store I was getting over 200MB/s at the beginning of the disk.  Even with my 2.2GB library on there, I was still getting 160MB/s or more. This is much better than single drives and should significantly help the disk bottleneck.  This faster storage subsystem plus Photoshop CS6's background saving should speed up my workflow significantly.

There you have it.  Not quite there yet, but well beyond where I was last time.  Next update should be in a couple weeks when Apple puts out some Ivy Bridge machines.  There are rumors that this is going to happen at WWDC in early June along with the early release of Mountain Lion.  I guess we'll have to see.  Exciting stuff.