New Year, New Hackintosh

I’m going to do a quick write up of my new computer build for two reasons: 1) I want to have a record in case I ever screw something up and need to reinstall an operating system again; 2) I like to put this kind of information in a public forum in case someone in using similar hardware.

Of course, I wasn’t taking any notes when I was building or installing things, so this is mostly written from memory. I’ll try to fill in details if I remember them.

My Build

I ended up re-using hard drives (2x Crucial SSDs), my nVidia GTX 970 as well as a Corsair power supply. Peripherals were also re-used (USB keyboard and mouse, a USB soundcard, and USB headphones). Everything else was new – and it is all listed in this PC Part Picker list.

The quick rundown of the new gear: Intel Core i7-8700k, a Corsair H60 liquid cooler, Gigabyte Z370 HD3 motherboard, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a new NZXT H500 ATX Case.

The Goal

I wanted to upgrade my previous system and all the functionality it provided, because there was nothing wrong there except some outdated components. The goal was to have a dual boot Windows & MacOS machine: Windows for gaming, MacOS for music production.

Installation

I won’t bore you with the details of the build, but I will add that I must have been quite rusty, because it took me a while to get everything in the NZXT case. The positive spin is that I took extra time to do cable management, so everything looks great.

Since I reused my SSDs from my previous computer, I had some trouble doing a first boot. My bootloader (Clover) was still seeing the drives, but given most of the guts were new, it couldn’t properly boot into Windows or MacOS.

Luckily… if I used my UEFI drive selector and chose my Windows drive, it booted up just fine. Windows is very resilient, and it detected my new hardware, made the appropriate changes, and after the first restart, everything worked great. A few driver updates later and my gaming PC was back up and running.

MacOS on the other hand, is not as forgiving – probably because it expects to be installed on certain hardware dictated by Apple. After a few futile attempts to change my Clover configuration to allow me to boot into my existing Sierra installation, I gave up and wiped the drive to start fresh. It should be noted I had cloned my Sierra installation to another drive previously, so all my data was still intact.

To begin, I used the Unibeast USB drive tool from tonymacx86* to make myself a bootable High Sierra drive. I was able to do this from my wife’s macbook. Once the process was done (and it took a long time, so let it be) – I loaded up the USB stick with all the kernel extensions (kexts) and other tools I thought I may need, namely: Clover Configurator, and drivers for my wireless adapter.

At this point it should be noted I followed the excellent Vanilla install guide to ensure I did not miss anything, even though I had cheated a bit by using Unibeast. Booting and installation was painless after paying attention to the “Coffee Lake” section of that guide. I recommend using Clover Configurator to edit your config.plist files, its way easier than digging through text.

Post Installation

The install was painless, post install had some minor issues to work through. A big one was my USB 3.0 drives were not working. This was resolved through a few different kexts: RehabMan’s GenericUSBXHCI kext, as well as FakePCIID. My USB->SATA cable wasn’t working, meaning I wouldn’t be able to transfer data from my cloned SSD… this was resolved with the AHCI_Intel_Generic_SATA kext. If in down, use Multibeast* from tonymacx86 to get these items.

*It’s at this point I should address the elephant in the room. There are some folks on reddit and elsewhere that do not like tonymacx86 – i’m not certain why, as the custom kexts and patches that are contained in Multibeast seem to give proper credit. The only other complaint I’ve heard is that Multibeast puts kexts in weird places, but I have not found that to be true. IMO the tools are useful and have given me two working systems to date.

Since I have an nVidia card, I needed the latest version of the web drivers for macOS. Install was straightforward, but the drivers wouldn’t load at reboot. This was a simple fix: under “System Parameters” in the config.plist, there is a “NvidiaWeb” key that must be set to true. This is easy to do using Clover Configurator (just check the box). Now, on reboot my web drivers are loading, and I can use my second display.

I use a TP-Link Archer T4U for wireless connectivity; in the past I have had problems installing the drivers (so much so that I wrote a guide on how to do it for other users here). This time, everything installed great and it worked immediately after rebooting.

What else? iCloud / iMessage integration has been the only other setup piece that has given me trouble in the past (in fact on my old system, it never worked, then I got it working for about a week, then it stopped working again). This time, it was smooth as butter… just follow the “Idiots Guide to iMessage” to the letter.

Conclusion

As always, thanks to the hackintosh community, at least the ones I frequent: tonymacx86 & /r/hackintosh. If anyone is thinking of doing a similar hardware combination, I highly recommend it. I am on day four or five of my new system and its solid as can be.

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