Creating a new Hackintosh for Photoshop and AfterEffects

Oct 30, 2016
Hi everyone,

First off, thanks for checking out this message, and thanks for being a part of this community.

Like so many longtime Apple users, I’ve grown increasingly depressed over the last few years of product launches coming out of Cupertino (or, in the case of the Mac Pro desktop, the total lack of product launches coming out of Cupertino). As my current Mac system continues to age (despite my best attempts to upgrade it over the years), I’m exploring the possibility of building my own Hackintosh.

Before I go asking for advice, a bit about my situation: I’m a freelance animator, and I work with both Photoshop (to create large layered 2D artwork elements) and After Effects (to animate those large layered 2D artwork elements, oftentimes in 3D space).

Whenever I save up enough money, I take time off from commercial jobs to create a personal film, which is what I’m doing now — I’m in the middle of making a new short animated project (still grinding away on the artwork in Photoshop, but will be transitioning to animating in After Effects at the beginning of next year).

Although I’ve used PCs while freelancing at other studios in the past, for my own home studio, I prefer working in OS X, so the new system will be geared towards kicking ass in Photoshop and After Effects.

I’d be replacing my current Mac desktop:

Mac Pro (Mid 2010) with 2 x 2.66 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processor
64 GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 TI 6144 MB


Apple LED Cinema Display (2560x1440)
Apple Cinema HD Display (1920x1200)

Internal SSDs:

3 x 960 GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSDs
2 x 1 TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO SSDs

(These SSDs partitioned so my system software, applications, current projects, and scratch disks for Photoshop & After Effects are all on SSDs)

Internal hard drives:

2 x 2 TB Hitachi HDS722020ALA330

External hard drives:

9 TB OWC ElitePro Qx2 (RAID array connected to computer via eSATA)
Lots more various Mac-formatted external hard drives from over the years (a mix of eSATA, Firewire, and USB drives)


For those that have made it this far (apologies for the long message!), I’m curious if there’s a current system up in the “Golden Build” forum that I’d be able to copy that would make for a great AfterEffects/Photoshop machine, or if anyone has advice and reference for building a machine geared towards digital design and animation, I’d love to hear it.

I’d like to explore re-using the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 TI 6144 MB graphics card that’s currently in my Mac, and perhaps seeing if it’s possible to continue to use the SSDs I have in my Mac (I suspect it will be easier to reuse the Samsung EVOs than the OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSDs.)

My 9 TB OWC ElitePro Qx2 drive array has never been entirely reliable (I’ve had to replace the various drives inside 3 different times, this unit is just really prone to failure), so I will most likely be purchasing a new drive array to replace it once my new computer is built (Thunderbolt drive array, perhaps? The faster the better, as I wind up working with huge Quicktime files and huge backups).

I would also be purchasing 2 new 4K or 5K displays to replace my current monitors. (I like keeping 1 monitor for my workspace, and 1 monitor for menus and palettes when I’m working in Photoshop & After Effects)

Budget: $8000 - $10,000

Thanks so much for reading, and of course I’m happy to answer any questions!