bitdoctor's MiniMacPro Build: intel Core i7-3770 - Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI - HD 4000 - 16 GB - 256 GB

Discussion in 'Golden Builds' started by bitdoctor, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. bitdoctor

    bitdoctor

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i7-3770
    Graphics:
    HD 4000
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Classic
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Jan 5, 2013 at 8:25 AM #1
    bitdoctor

    bitdoctor

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i7-3770
    Graphics:
    HD 4000
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Classic
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    bitdoctor's MiniMacPro Build: intel Core i7-3770 - Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI - HD 4000 - 16 GB - 256 GB SSD



    [​IMG]


    Components

    Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge CPU (LGA 1155, 3.4 GHz, 8 MB Cache, HD 4000 Intel Integrated Graphics
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007SZ0EHE/

    Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI (Mini-ITX, DDR3, SATA III, 2 x USB 3.0, 8 x USB 2.0, DVI, 2 x HDMI, 2 x GbE LAN)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009JDTWVC/

    Corsair 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) CML16GX3M2A1600C10 DDR3 1600 MHz Vengeance Unbuffered RAM
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007TG8QRW/

    Samsung 830 Series 2.5" 256 GB SATA III SSD
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0077CR66A/

    Antec ISK110-VESA Mini-ITX Case with 90 Watt External Power Adapter
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0064LWISQ/

    Kingston 8 GB USB 2.0 Data Traveler
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004TS1J18/

    Atheros AR5BHB92 Half-Mini PCI-E Wireless Card
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/140591171891

    Already Owned

    Samsung SyncMaster 2333SWPLUS
    http://www.samsung.com/au/support/model/LS23CMZKFVA/XY

    Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0009ZBRS0/

    Microsoft Optical Mouse (Blue)
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000068MP2/

    Apple Mac OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/os-x-mountain-lion/id537386512


    Comments

    Background

    The parts for this system were purchased and the system assembled in November 2012. The exception being the wireless card ordered on eBay (Hong Kong) that only arrived two days ago, due to an apparent hold up of international mail from Hong Kong. Hence the final system and write-up is only now complete.

    This MiniMacPro was my first attempt at building a CustoMac and was to replace my main workhorse: a dated MacBook Pro (Early 2008 Model). The MacBook Pro spent 90% of its life docked to an external keyboard, mouse and screen, battery removed and power connected. I'm not a huge fan air conditioning, thus operating temperatures and humidity in tropical northern Australia can be high (one reason I prefer to remove the battery when it's not required). Recent Apple "innovations" in the MacBook Pro line don't allow for battery removal.

    The build's main requirements can be summarised by:

    • low power consumption
    • small size for portability
    • maximum performance

    I recently invested in a solar energy system, a dual grid-connect and off-grid system. Thus, low power consumption was a key requirement. Indirectly replacing a notebook, portability was also an important factor: i.e. something that could occasionally be taken to another office, a friend's house. Finally, performance to comfortably run applications like Office, Photoshop, Xcode, MPLABX, VirtualBox etc. was the final requirement.

    Before embarking on this custom build, I considered the latest Mac mini that had only just been released. While it turned out to be hard to source, like the recent MacBook Pro's there were several other recent Apple "innovations" that I did not like on these systems. Finally, cost per performance and the thrill and novelty to build a CustoMac tipped the scales to start the build (I've previously only built Windows and Linux workstations and server systems).


    Components

    The system components follow, quite closely, the recommended CustoMac Mini 2012 shopping list, with only minor exceptions.

    The first deviation is the Antec ISK110-VESA case, which was chosen due to its ultra compact size and very low power consumption, featuring a 90 Watt external power adapter. It ships with both a desktop stand and a VESA mount that can be attached to the back of a computer screen. This Antec case was the smallest and lowest powered case that I could source.

    The intel Core i7-3770 (consuming 77 Watt of power) with the GA-H77N-WIFI board were a good match. I did not consider over-clocking (in which case the intel i7-3770k and GA-Z77N-WIFI would have been the choice) due to the low power and heat requirements. Additionally, the chosen intel i7-3770 and GA-H77N-WIFI also support VT-x and VT-d (the intel i7-3770k and GA-Z77N-WIFI only support VT-x) meaning that if the system were in the future decommissioned from serving as a Mac (i.e. if this build was to fail as a CustoMac), it could potentially serve as an excellent virtualisation platform.

    With cloud storage and my own personal Synology NAS, excessive storage capacity was not required in this build and a smaller yet faster solid state disk was picked instead. Samsung SSD's are used in the official Mac mini 2012 and MacBook Pro 2012 lineups and this disk was chosen due its increased performance over conventional HDD's. The Samsung 830 Series SSD was readily available in November 2012. Today, I would also consider the revised model Samsung 840 Series SSD.

    On 9. November 2012 the bill of materials came to AUD 818.00 (ex. shipping) from my local Umart Online plus AUD 4.39 (ex. shipping) for the wireless card from eBay.


    Media Preparation

    Following the excellent Guide and with UniBeast Mountain Lion 1.5.3 and my old MacBook Pro at hand, media preparation proved to be straight forward. The default UniBeast values were chosen (no Legacy USB Support and no Laptop Support). As mentioned in the UniBeast instructions, the estimated install time was grossly incorrect, actually taking approx. 50 minutes on the old MacBook Pro.


    Assembly

    Assembling the parts was fun, yet fairly tight when you're used to working with much larger server cases.

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Parts

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Case

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Assembly (Top and Bottom)

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Assembled System

    The GA-H77N-WIFI Micro-ITX system board fits neatly inside the Antec ISK110-VESA case, which includes just enough space for the standard CPU cooler. The case has no other system fans. Its top (or side) cover is basically an open mesh though, so a conventional desk fan placed in front of the case could add plenty of external ventilation if the system temperature were to get too high. As previously noted, the 90 Watt external power adapter relocates this potential heat source outside the case, while the chosen intel Core i7-3770 has a max TDP of 77 Watt.

    The Samsung SSD was installed underneath the system board, which includes sufficient space for two 2.5" disks. All cables could be routed around the case chassis. Two of the four Antec ISK110-VESA case USB 2.0 slots were connected.


    Installation

    Pressing F7 in the BIOS loads the optimized defaults. The system information was recorded as Model Name: H77N-WIFI, IOS Version: F2, BIOS Date: 08/23/2012 and BIOS ID: 8A31AG0K being the newest BIOS at the time. The following BIOS settings were checked and/or changed:

    Peripherals
    • xHCI Mode = AUTO (default)
    • XHCI Hand-off = Enabled (default)
    • EHCI Hand-off = Enabled (default was Disabled)
    Power Management
    • High Precision Event Timer = Enabled (default)
    BIOS Features
    • Intel Virtualization Technology = Enabled (default was Disabled)
    • VT-d = Disabled (default was Enabled)

    It is worth commenting on the VT-d setting that was enabled by default in this GA-H77N-WIFI board (but which is not available on the GA-Z77N-WIFI version). During the initial Mountain Lion installation I forgot to disable this VT-d setting. The installation completed without error and booted into Mountain Lion flawlessly. After installing MultiBeast and removing the boot media, the system would no longer boot. Setting this VT-d to Disabled fixes this issue.

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Success! About This Mac

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Success! First Desktop

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: MultiBeast v5.2.1 Configuration

    Since the original installation using MultiBeast 5.1.3 I've updated to the current version 5.2.1 shown in the screenshot. I chose the DSDT installation (with DSDT-GA-H77N-WIFI-F2.aml) to support HDMI Audio and added the FakeSMC Plugins to support reading the system board sensors (temperature, fan speed etc.) and PS/2 support (for compatibility and convenience when away from home).


    Adding the Wireless Card

    The GA-H77N-WIFI system board ships with the Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 card installed in its half-mini PCI-E slot. As noted by many posts on this forum, while this wireless card includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions, it is not fully supported in Mountain Lion and by default just Bluetooth is operational. The solution is to replace the Intel wireless card with an Atheros AR5BHB92 type card, a popular forum solution being the Dell card available "used" from eBay for USD 11.94. For approx. the same (delivered) cost I chose the "new" DW1515 card from eBay out of Hong Kong.

    On the first power-up after finally installing the long awaited (8 weeks later) wireless card, the BIOS initiated a reset. Reloading the optimized defaults with the previously noted changes, the system booted as normal. Wi-Fi was immediately available. It was not necessary to install any further drivers. With a Command + Left Click the now dysfunctional Bluetooth icon could be dragged off the menu bar.


    Performance

    I'm very satisfied with the performance of this new MiniMacPro. Needless to say, the performance gain over the old MacBook Pro (Early 2008 model) is incredible. Boot time is under 10 seconds while Apps like Office and even Photoshop CS4 (a long time loading on the old MacBook Pro) open in just seconds. Following are some more objective performance results from Geekbench and Blackmagic Disk Speed.

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Geekbench 2: 32-bit Score
    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/1491397

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Geekbench 2: 64-bit Score
    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/1491389

    [​IMG]
    MiniMacPro 2012: Blackmagic Design Disk Speed Test

    The obtained Geekbench scores blow the majority of current iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini benchmarks out of the water and even compete with many Mac Pro's: at a fraction of the cost.

    Compared to other CustoMac's with similar hardware though, it is surprising to see the score at under 14,000.


    Testing

    After using and testing the new MiniMacPro for the past 6 weeks, all Mountain Lion 10.8.2 functions appear to be fully operational. Mountain Lion ran stable, and no panics or crashes were experienced.

    • USB 2.0: 4 x Rear (Board) and 2 x Front (Case) all working
    • USB 3.0: 2 x Rear (Board) all working, tested with LaCie P'9220 External HDD
    • DVI: Working and connected to Samsung Display
    • HDMI: 2 x Rear (Board) all working (incl. Audio), tested with Panasonic Plasma HDTV
    • LAN: 2 x Rear (Board) all working (see note below)
    • Wi-Fi: Working
    • Audio: Front and Rear working, tested Speaker Out and Mic In (tested with Skype and QuickTime Broadcaster)
    • PS/2: Working, tested with Gigabyte KM-5000 PS/2 keyboard


    Improvements

    There appears to be an issue with connecting LAN cables after booting, or making changes to the LAN interface such as changing from DHCP to Static. This typically requires a reboot. It's a minor annoyance, since the system boots extremely quickly.


    Thank You

    Thanks to tonymacx86 and all the contributors at this forum. What a fantastic resource and user group. The guides and software enabled a trouble free build, even for a first time CustoMac builder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2016
  2. PJALM

    PJALM

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
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    CPU:
    2x Intel Xeon E5-2683 v3
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    Sapphire AMD FirePro W9100
    Jan 5, 2013 at 9:03 AM #2
    PJALM

    PJALM

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
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    CPU:
    2x Intel Xeon E5-2683 v3
    Graphics:
    Sapphire AMD FirePro W9100
    Nice Build :D

    Its a shame VT-d isn't working since the i7-3770 has it and i7-3770k doesn't, it really helps if u use VMs.
     
  3. ahhyes

    ahhyes

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    MBA
    CPU:
    i5
    Graphics:
    HD4000
    Jan 18, 2013 at 1:33 PM #3
    ahhyes

    ahhyes

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    MBA
    CPU:
    i5
    Graphics:
    HD4000
    Thanks for posting this build - particularly the pictures. I've considered that case for a while but every review said it was so cramped. It looks snug but manageable.

    Might give it a shot but with the 3225 i3.
     
  4. jmpa

    jmpa

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2012
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    389
    Mobo:
    GA-H170N
    CPU:
    i7 6700
    Graphics:
    GTX 950
    Mac:
    Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Power Mac, PowerBook
    Mobile Phone:
    Android
    Jan 18, 2013 at 5:55 PM #4
    jmpa

    jmpa

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
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    CPU:
    i7 6700
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    GTX 950
    Mac:
    Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Power Mac, PowerBook
    Mobile Phone:
    Android
    Great build and nice description. I enjoyed it.

    But 90w psu with a intel Core i7-3770!! Incredible... Before build mine all people said 150watts psu wouldn't be enought for i5 3570k, so I bought i3 3225. But your system proves even a i7 is possible...
     
  5. macwannabe

    macwannabe

    Joined:
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    own
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    i3 3240
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    intergrated
    Jan 19, 2013 at 10:16 PM #5
    macwannabe

    macwannabe

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    Love these builds (mini hackintosh) and have just built on a tight budget one using a Shuttle DS61 and a i3 3225 and have to say this has made me a little jelouse myne looks a lot cheaper!

    As with the 77watt cpu does this get a little warm, mine is 55w and the unit gets very hot to the touch even though I think with the 90watt power block you can have 65watt safely?

    Great job, who needs a huge tower sitting in there room when you can get results like this!
     
  6. goggenb

    goggenb

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
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    Mobo:
    HackPro
    CPU:
    i7-3770k
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    ASUS GeForce GTX 680 2GB PhysX CUDA
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    MacBook Pro
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    Android
    Jan 19, 2013 at 10:36 PM #6
    goggenb

    goggenb

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    Mobo:
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    CPU:
    i7-3770k
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    ASUS GeForce GTX 680 2GB PhysX CUDA
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    Android
    Great build! I have a similar build with same motherboard but i3 processor, sitting in a huge noisy case.. How is the noise and temperatures in your case? As it is only CPU fan I would guess it's pretty quiet? :thumbup:
     
  7. DBP

    DBP

    Joined:
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    Jan 19, 2013 at 11:17 PM #7
    DBP

    DBP

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    Noice!

    I notice About This Mac mentions 1333 MHz RAM, which is borne out by the GeekBench result. As you have 1600 MHz RAM, make sure you set the multiplier properly in the BIOS (it defaults to 1333 MHz) or select XMP Profile1. That should give you a free boost in performance. GB 64-bit Memory Bandwidth will probably climb above 8000, and it may bring your overall result above 14k.
     
  8. bitdoctor

    bitdoctor

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i7-3770
    Graphics:
    HD 4000
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Classic
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Jan 22, 2013 at 11:03 AM #8
    bitdoctor

    bitdoctor

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Messages:
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    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i7-3770
    Graphics:
    HD 4000
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    Classic
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Thanks for the comments.

    I totally agree about VT-d, which has now been around for some time. Both hardware and software support is still less than one might expect.

    The case does fit everything neatly, just the cables are a bit tight around the edges.

    Another case I quite like is the very slim, silver Lian Li PC-Q05 using a non-standard CPU cooler, but they proved to be unavailable in Australia (and possibly elsewhere).

    So far, temperatures appear to be fine, even in summer without running an AC :) During the hotter days (30+ deg C) I placed a small desk fan in front of the case.

    The top of the upright case feels warm but not hot. Idle temperatures (CPU Cores, Heatsink) are typically in the 35 to 45 deg C range. Under some load (e.g. running Geekbench) temperatures sporadically peak between 60 to 70 deg C. (The i7-3770 Tcase temperature is quoted at 67.4 deg C).

    With just the CPU fan, the system is very quiet.

    Thanks DBP for pointing out the memory setting, which I totally missed. As suggested, setting the BIOS for 1600 MHz bumped the Geekbench 2 64-Bit Memory bandwidth to 8,163 and overall Score to 14,071. I'll update the post with images and links later.
     
  9. maro77a

    maro77a

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i5 3570k
    Graphics:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 2GB
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    Android
    Jan 23, 2013 at 2:56 PM #9
    maro77a

    maro77a

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    Mobo:
    GA-H77N-WIFI
    CPU:
    i5 3570k
    Graphics:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 2GB
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    Android
    First of all, great build! I was just wondering if you have bluetooth working with the wifi card that you replaced? And are you using any antennas?
    Thanks for all the help!
    Cheers!
     
  10. Huberer

    Huberer

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    Mobo:
    Asrock B75M-ITX
    CPU:
    Intel i7-3770s
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    HD4000
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    MacBook Air
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    iOS
    Jan 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM #10
    Huberer

    Huberer

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    Mobo:
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    MacBook Air
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    You build looks great. Just one question: Does sleep work?
     

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