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CustoMac Nano: Prebuilt Micro PC

tonymacx86

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#1
Extremely small form factor micro PC kits are gaining steam. Since the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) was launched, many users have started using them as HTPCs, and even full desktop replacements. Other PC manufacturers such as Gigabyte have brought out versions of these tiny devices over the past year or so.

Besides size, the big difference between one of these and a standard desktop, is that you get a head start in the building process. The case, CPU and motherboard comes prebuilt, and a small external power supply brick is included. There are Ivy Bridge and Haswell versions which utilize built-in Intel HD Graphics. The bottom panel comes off with 4 standard screws, and the only thing to add is a SSD and RAM. The downside is that most utilize mobile CPUs with lower performance than a standard desktop CPU. The power savings is immense though, the external brick tops out at around 100 watts.

60449-7.jpg

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to these little systems. In addition to the obvious lack of ports and expandability, they simply aren't as compatible as our standard CustoMac recommendations when running OS X. Therefore we don't recommend these systems for beginners. After some experimentation, we were able to get our test systems working well with only a few outstanding problems. As with latest non-Gigabyte 8-series systems, the UEFI BIOS does not boot "legacy mode" or GUID formatted drives with Chimera/Chameleon. For post-installation, as with most systems, HDMI audio requires extra effort and workarounds including kext patching and DSDT/SSDT edits. In most cases the included wifi and bluetooth is incompatible, requiring a replacement mini PCIe card for wifi, and a USB dongle for bluetooth. Also CPU and GPU power management may not be supported, and the system may require a patched kernel to boot OS X. -Correction: Latest BRIX BIOS Updates fix legacy booting and kernel issues, - link.

84385-interior-above-320gb-2-5-hdd-120gb-msata-ssd-8gb-ram.jpg

In the following tables we've listed some of the latest 4th generation Intel NUC and Gigabyte BRIX models. New to this generation of models is the addition of a standard 2.5" SSD adapter cord in addition to the mSATA slot. Therefore a dual drive situation can be achieved, and normal SSDs can be used instead of mSATA if preferable.


41oeyky7YUL.jpg 41KMETsfVaL.jpg
Intel NUC
The NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is a system manufactured directly by Intel. It is a reference design for the micro PC form factor. The i5 version uses the same upgraded Intel HD 5000 graphics as the MacBook Air.

Intel NUC D54250WYKH1
Intel Core i5-4250U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 5000
2.5" SSD slot
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Intel NUC D54250WYK
Intel Core i5-4250U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 5000
mSATA only
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Intel NUC D34010WYK1
Intel Core i3-4010U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 4400
mSATA only
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg



9319_big.jpg 9317_big.jpg
Gigabyte BRIX
The Gigabyte BRIX is a system built with the same basic design as the NUC. They are a bit more budget oriented, as they have the lower end Intel HD 4400 graphics. Please note that these have a stock UEFI, not the more optimal Gigabyte "DSDT-Free" motherboard UEFI. -Correction: Latest BRIX BIOS Updates fix legacy booting and kernel issues - link.


GB-BXi7-4500
Intel Core i7-4500U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 4400
128GB mSATA Solid State Drive Installed
2.5" SSD slot
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
GB-BXi5-4200
Intel Core i5-4200U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 4400
mSATA only
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
GB-BXi3-4010
Intel Core i3-4010U
Dual-Core Mobile CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel HD Graphics 4400
2.5" SSD slot
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg



9521_big.jpg 9552_big.jpg 9583_big.jpg 9585_big.jpg
Gigabyte BRIX Pro
A true desktop replacement featuring a Intel Haswell quad-core desktop CPU with Intel "Iris Pro" HD Graphics 5200. This is the same integrated GPU as used in the latest MacBook Pro. These hybrid desktop/mobile systems are brand new, and first generation models. We've tested the i5-4570R version, which runs a bit hot at stress levels, but well within tolerance levels. Nevertheless, both users and reviewers of these systems have complained about fan noise and heat generation. Please note that these have a stock UEFI, not the more optimal Gigabyte "DSDT-Free" motherboard UEFI. -Correction: Latest BRIX BIOS Updates fix legacy booting and kernel issues - link.
GA-BXi7-4770R
Intel Core i7-4770R
Quad-Core Desktop CPU with Hyperthreading
Intel "Iris Pro" HD Graphics 5200
2.5" SSD slot
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
GA-BXi5-4570R
Intel Core i5-4570R
Quad-Core Desktop CPU
Intel "Iris Pro" HD Graphics 5200
2.5" SSD slot
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg



Some Hardware Not Included
The following hardware is not included in the box- RAM and Solid State Drive (SSD or mSATA). The system will not run without extra hardware. The bundled wifi/bluetooth card is incompatible with OS X, but it is possible to swap out the half mini pcie card for a working model. For the best options, please check out Toleda's excellent documentation here.

RAM
8GB Corsair
SO-DIMM RAM (2x4)
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
16GB Corsair
SO-DIMM RAM (2x8)
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg


Solid State Drives
Mushkin mSATA
6Gb/s 120GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Mushkin mSATA
6Gb/s 240GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
SanDisk SATA
6Gb/s 120GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
SanDisk SATA
6Gb/s 240GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
SanDisk SATA
6Gb/s 480GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 EVO
6Gb/s SATA 120GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 EVO
6Gb/s SATA 250GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 EVO
6Gb/s SATA 500GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 EVO
6Gb/s SATA 750GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 EVO
6Gb/s SATA 1TB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 PRO
6Gb/s SATA 128GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 PRO
6Gb/s SATA 256GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
Samsung 840 PRO
6Gb/s SATA 512GB SSD
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg


USB Bluetooth
GMYLE Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter
(10.8+ Wakes from Sleep)
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
IOGear Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter
(10.8+ Wakes from Sleep)
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg
IOGear Bluetooth 2.1 Adapter
(10.6+ - No Wake from Sleep)
Amazon US
(CAN UK DE ES FR IT)
Newegg


If you end up building using one of these little guys, let us know by making post, guide, or just by simply reporting success in the comments. Have fun!

Related:
Building a CustoMac: Buyer's Guide

Guides:
How to Install OS X Mavericks using Clover
Setup Guide for Gigabyte BRIX and BRIX Pro using Clover
Installation Guide : Intel Haswell NUC Core i5 (D54250WYK)

Installation Guide For Using Clover on the Intel Haswell NUC

Albums:
tonymacx86's Album: BRIX Pro GB-BXi5-4570R Mini PC Running OS X (Haswell)
tonymacx86's Album: Gigabyte BRIX (Ivy Bridge)

iMac Mods using NUC:
Ersterhernd's NUCiMac G4
Ersterhernds iMac G5 (iSight 17) Project
Ersterhernds iMac G5 (iSight 20 A1145) Project
MacTester57's HemiMac G4
tonymacx86 Forum > iMac Mods

User Builds:
WonkeyDonkey's Intel Haswell NUC Build
[success] nab’s INTEL NUC DC3217IYE, i3-3217U
[Success] SynGatesFan200s Intel NUC DC3217BY
BerndVP Intel NUC DC3217IYE
Dell 2007FP "HackiMac" with Intel NUC DC3217IYE
Gigabyte BRIX i5-4200 Testing Thread - HD 4400 Working (Haswell)
Testing Thread: Gigabyte BRIX Mini PC Kit (Ivy Bridge)
 

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#2
I think a list of compatible Wireless Cards should be compiled and linked, along with that wonderful guide to mini PCIe AirPort. Great work on compiling this list, I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these little NUCs myself.
-IC
 
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#3
Article: CustoMac Nano: Prebuilt Micro PC

I think a list of compatible Wireless Cards should be compiled and linked, along with that wonderful guide to mini PCIe AirPort. Great work on compiling this list, I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these little NUCs myself.
-IC
One I can recommend is the slightly older Dell DW1510. Its wireless n, half height, no bluetooth. Has worked a dreaam OOB in every hackintosh Ive had since 10.6.8 and still going strong.

It doesnt have all the bells and whistles of the newer cards, but is solid and reliable.
 
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#5
Very cool the mac mini has competition and its cheaper as usual.
 
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#6
Article: CustoMac Nano: Prebuilt Micro PC

Very cool the mac mini has competition and its cheaper as usual.
Hmm, not sure about that. I got my Mac Mini late 2012 for $499 and it is fully loaded compared to the prebuilt micro PCs. In fact, I've noticed some of them are more expensive than a Mac Mini. Unless I'm missing something.
 
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#7
While I have debated buying a NUC or Brix, I just can't bring myself to buy one. Not only does a Mac Mini cost aprx. the same (once you factor in the ram and SSD needed for the NUC/Brix), but where is the 'FUN' in having everything pre-built/assembled?! :p
 
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#8
The real Mac mini is now certainly dead , if it ever comes out.
 
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#9
Article: CustoMac Nano: Prebuilt Micro PC

The real Mac mini is now certainly dead , if it ever comes out.
Do the math, can you build a CustoMac Nano complete with memory, storage, bluetooth, Wifi, and thunderbolt for less than a Mac Mini with the same processor.
 
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#10
Article: CustoMac Nano: Prebuilt Micro PC

Do the math, can you build a CustoMac Nano complete with memory, storage, bluetooth, Wifi, and thunderbolt for less than a Mac Mini with the same processor.
The Mac Mini does not have the latest processors and so is not really a great option right now. Having said that, I really do hope that Apple stick with the Mini and upgrade it.

PS Once set up properly (and running with Clover) I am actually loving tinkering with my Haswell NUC and have so far found it very reliable and a pleasure to use. Must admit I am now also intrigued by the new Pro Gigabyte brix….
 
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