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Building a Budget Haswell Build: How Low Can You Go?

tonymacx86

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I keep seeing the same post over and over again in Buying Advice. It's how can I go even more budget. There are places that you don't want to cheap out, such as the CPU. There are other places, such as the motherboard that you might be able to skimp out if you have specific usage cases.

1. If you use few drives
2. If you have no need for more than 16GB RAM
3. If you use few peripherals

When choosing a motherboard, it’s important to note the chipset. Each year Intel releases a few alternate versions of the consumer chipset in order to cater to different budgets and usages.

The budget H81 chipset has a few big limitations vs. Z87 and H87. First it has 2 slots for a maximum of 16GB of RAM. Second it only has 4 SATA ports, 2 SATA 3gbps and 2 SATA 6gbps. Certain variants of the H81 chipset have support for legacy connectors such as COM, LPT. The B85 chipset motherboards mainly have 2 RAM slots, but double to 4 SATA 6gbps and 2 SATA 2gbps ports. These chipsets both have less USB ports as well.

The mainstream H87 and Z87 chipsets have 6 SATA 6gbps ports. Z87 has more durability and full support for overclocking both unlocked CPUs and the RAM.

Mainstream Chipsets

H87 - 6 SATA 6gbps, 32GB RAM support, Crossfire/SLI support
Z87 - 6 SATA 6gbps, 32GB RAM support, Support for Overclocking

Budget Chipsets
B85 4 SATA 6gbps, 2 SATA 3gbps, 32GB/16GB RAM support (depends on model)
H81 2 SATA 6gbps, 2 SATA 3gbps, 16GB RAM support

Specialty Chipsets
Q85/Q87- support for Intel vPRO technology​

Even if you fall into these categories, know that by saving some money now you're limiting future expandability of the motherboard. Hence, our recommendation for 8-series motherboards is to choose H87/Z87. These are going to be the most future proof. You can find a selection in the latest Buyer's Guide.

For fun, we spec'd out the following "CheapoMac" build on the latest Haswell and 8-series bits. This is not a recommended build, however you may be able to save up to $200 by cheaping out on the motherboard, case, and ram.

Core i3-4330 Newegg
GA-H81M-HD3 Newegg
500GB HDD Newegg
Rosewill mATX Tower + 450w PSU
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Crucial Ballistix Sport
4GB DDR3 1600mhz
Newegg


Unbelievably this build comes out to about $350 as of the time of this posting.

You may ask, why not go with a cheaper CPU? The answer is, the lower end CPU graphics don't work in OS X; you need to buy a graphics card in addition to the above components if you use a Haswell CPU without Intel HD 4600 integrated graphics. We priced out using the cheapest $60 Pentium CPU and a $30 graphics card. When the dust settles, you can shave about $60 off of the price, making the CheapoMac less than $300. However, you get an inferior graphics solution such as the Fermi-based NVIDIA GeForce 610. In the end, using the integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics with the low end Core i3-4330 is the best bang for the buck.

Can you spec out an even cheaper compatible Haswell Build? Post your build here. :)

poor-monopoly-guy-285x280.gif
 
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You can get a little cheaper by buying a motherboard from a different manufacturer, but the work required to get a "native" OS X install goes through the roof; or the quality of the board decreases. It's better to spend the extra ~$15.

I had a fully functional Hackintosh using an MSI board at one point; but power management had to be hacked into both AICPM.kext and the DSDT for it to work, and the speed-stepping states were pretty unstable.
 
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We shouldn't forget about the upcoming Haswell-Celerons, the G1820 and G1830. These would/will decrease the price also.

Let's hope for "H81N" by Gigabyte and then we would have Budget CustoMac Mini builds. :)

EDIT:

It exists!:eek:
 

trs96

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Very funny, creative name for this build "CheapoMac" Gotta love it.

I would choose the Fractal Core 1000 for $29.99 AR at Newegg right now.
For the PSU get a Corsair CX-430 or CX-500 from Newegg as well.
They often have a 15-20 dollar rebate that lowers the price to $19.99 to $29.99 range.

Link to the Fractal Core 1000 at Newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352032

If you look at the mini-itx motherboards like the Z87n and H87n-wifi models they too only
have two sata3 and two sata2 and are limited to 16GB of ram. The advantage of the H81m-HD3
is that you get display port a few extra PCI slots and PCIe x1 for a wifi card like the TP-Link
WDN4800 and you still have the option to add a graphics card in the x16 slot. :thumbup: Best part
of all is that you get all this for about 60 dollars less than the mini-itx boards by Gigabyte.
 

WonkeyDonkey

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We shouldn't forget about the upcoming Haswell-Celerons, the G1820 and G1830. These would/will decrease the price also.

Let's hope for "H81N" by Gigabyte and then we would have Budget CustoMac Mini builds. :)

EDIT:

It exists!:eek:
Thats not a half bad spec all considered ! All the basics seem well covered.

Edit : Except for the front panel connector placement :crazy:
 
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This is not a recommended build (...)
It's not recommended because it has very limited features and it's not future-proof, but this configuration with i3-4330 and GA-H81M-HD3 is going to work without any problems and additional modifications, just vanilla UniBeast instalation, right? If that's true, I'll make my first hackintosh :headbang: I already have Samsung 840 EVO SSD, case, RAM, and PSU, so all I need a cheap CPU and MB that won't give me any problems during instalation and day-to-day usage.
 
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So is it really worth spending about what $300-$400 on a Hackintosh? or Just go out and buy a mac mini with an i5 for a little over that price? You can even get a second hand mac mini i5 for $400. I think that is the stress free & cheapest way to go. I'm debating selling all my parts on ebay, and get an i5 mac mini and use it as a quiet small server...

Since, I already got a motherboard fail (ga-p37a $50-60), my $100 ga-z77x-ud3h is not that bad, but sometimes acts up and looses the back usb in the boot logo. (can't figure that one out).
Added a cheap o' PSU (cheap $35~)
I paid $125 for my i5-2500 (wish I've gotten the 'k').
$65 for a Radeon HD 6670 1gb, running great in Mavericks (Just add GraphicsEnabler=Yes and you're all set!)
I paid well over $80 on 16gb ram.
Got a really unattractive BIG "middle" tower for m/ATX $39.
Over $80 in extras such as (DVD drive, usb3/sd Card reader, fans, heat sinks)
Total well over $500 (almost $600).
I can't justify spending about $600, and still have the pain of having or waiting for things to break. Or fear of updating/upgrading OSX.
I mainly do this cause I like OSX! My work and hobbies need OSX. And I thought I was really going to save a lot more by going OSX86. But in reality, I wasn't really saving that much.

In the NovaBench marks,

My hackintosh:
Mac OS X 10.9.0
Intel Core i5 @ 3300 MHz
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 6xxx (but technically it’s 6670)

16384 MB System RAM (Score: 223)
- RAM Speed: 9129 MB/s

CPU Tests (Score: 478)
- Floating Point Operations/Second: 135871344
- Integer Operations/Second: 314628640
- MD5 Hashes Calculated/Second: 1234230

Graphics Tests (Score: 210)
- 3D Frames Per Second: 717

Hardware Tests (Score: 30)
- Primary Partition Capacity: 111 GB
- Drive Write Speed: 112 MB/s

TOTAL BENCH MARK: 941 (not bad I supposed)


And my MacBook Air (MacBookAir6,2)
Mac OS X 10.9.0
Intel Core i5 @ 1300 MHz
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics 5000

8192 MB System RAM (Score: 172)
- RAM Speed: 7233 MB/s

CPU Tests (Score: 366)
- Floating Point Operations/Second: 118247392
- Integer Operations/Second: 218864160
- MD5 Hashes Calculated/Second: 909821

Graphics Tests (Score: 45)
- 3D Frames Per Second: 104

Hardware Tests (Score: 45)
- Primary Partition Capacity: 112 GB
- Drive Write Speed: 195 MB/s

NOVABENCH TOTAL SCORE: a respectable 628

941 vs 628. In text, my hackintosh kicks my MacBooks butt. But in real life, I haven't had any problems or freezes with my macbook. It actually feels zippier (specially with iPhoto, for some reason it's allergic to my Hackintosh), and of course NO FREEZES!

What do you guys think???
 

WonkeyDonkey

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So is it really worth spending about what $300-$400 on a Hackintosh? or Just go out and buy a mac mini with an i5 for a little over that price? You can even get a second hand mac mini i5 for $400. I think that is the stress free & cheapest way to go. I'm debating selling all my parts on ebay, and get an i5 mac mini and use it as a quiet small server...

Since, I already got a motherboard fail (ga-p37a $50-60), my $100 ga-z77x-ud3h is not that bad, but sometimes acts up and looses the back usb in the boot logo. (can't figure that one out).
Added a cheap o' PSU (cheap $35~)
I paid $125 for my i5-2500 (wish I've gotten the 'k').
$65 for a Radeon HD 6670 1gb, running great in Mavericks (Just add GraphicsEnabler=Yes and you're all set!)
I paid well over $80 on 16gb ram.
Got a really unattractive BIG "middle" tower for m/ATX $39.
Over $80 in extras such as (DVD drive, usb3/sd Card reader, fans, heat sinks)
Total well over $500 (almost $600).
I can't justify spending about $600, and still have the pain of having or waiting for things to break. Or fear of updating/upgrading OSX.
I mainly do this cause I like OSX! My work and hobbies need OSX. And I thought I was really going to save a lot more by going OSX86. But in reality, I wasn't really saving that much.

In the NovaBench marks,

My hackintosh:
Mac OS X 10.9.0
Intel Core i5 @ 3300 MHz
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 6xxx (but technically it’s 6670)

16384 MB System RAM (Score: 223)
- RAM Speed: 9129 MB/s

CPU Tests (Score: 478)
- Floating Point Operations/Second: 135871344
- Integer Operations/Second: 314628640
- MD5 Hashes Calculated/Second: 1234230

Graphics Tests (Score: 210)
- 3D Frames Per Second: 717

Hardware Tests (Score: 30)
- Primary Partition Capacity: 111 GB
- Drive Write Speed: 112 MB/s

TOTAL BENCH MARK: 941 (not bad I supposed)


And my MacBook Air (MacBookAir6,2)
Mac OS X 10.9.0
Intel Core i5 @ 1300 MHz
Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics 5000

8192 MB System RAM (Score: 172)
- RAM Speed: 7233 MB/s

CPU Tests (Score: 366)
- Floating Point Operations/Second: 118247392
- Integer Operations/Second: 218864160
- MD5 Hashes Calculated/Second: 909821

Graphics Tests (Score: 45)
- 3D Frames Per Second: 104

Hardware Tests (Score: 45)
- Primary Partition Capacity: 112 GB
- Drive Write Speed: 195 MB/s

NOVABENCH TOTAL SCORE: a respectable 628

941 vs 628. In text, my hackintosh kicks my MacBooks butt. But in real life, I haven't had any problems or freezes with my macbook. It actually feels zippier (specially with iPhoto, for some reason it's allergic to my Hackintosh), and of course NO FREEZES!

What do you guys think???
You make a very valid point here. My mid 2011 Mac Mini is still a decent performer too.

Plus the new Mac Minis are due out very soon as well. Lets see what they bring!
 
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You make a very valid point here. My mid 2011 Mac Mini is still a decent performer too.

Plus the new Mac Minis are due out very soon as well. Lets see what they bring!
I built my first Hackintosh so that I could properly coach an older friend of mine who had moved to a late 2012 i5 Mac Mini. I really like the small form factor of the Mini, but there was the extra cost of upgrading its memory to 8GB, because the standard 4GB doesn't really cut it if you're going to use a virtual machine, and the fact that the 1 TB hard disk is a 5400RPM drive. The Mini's performance is decent, but does not hold a candle to either my i3 3225 or i3 4340 PowerMacs which are, for all practical purposes, Mac Minis in a large form factor because they use HD 4000 or HD 4600 graphics. The Mac Mini had a Geekbench2 score of around 6600 whereas my i3 3225 is 8625 and my i3 4340 is 10,164. So not only is the budget Hackintosh faster in benchmarks, it is noticeably faster in actual use too.

My two cents worth. :D

Tom

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