- Jul 11, 2012
- GA Z68XP-UD3
- i7 3770
- GT 210
- Mobile Phone
Darkthing#1 - Z68XP-UD3 + i3 2100 + EVGA GT 210
- Dual boot MAV/SL - Silent
(June 2018: there's now a Darkthing#2, which is a laptop... )
- Dual boot MAV/SL - Silent
(June 2018: there's now a Darkthing#2, which is a laptop... )
March 2021 note
My built has evolved to the point I should rewrite all that follows...
Across those happy eight years, I came from having a working Chimera driven triple-boot MacOS (10.9, 10.8, 10.6) on the same HD to presently booting MacOS 10.11 on an SSD with Clover, while still having various system partitions for experiments (10.13 and 10.14) or for running old Pro Tools 10 (10.9).
• I've soon bought a 24" 16:10 LG display — but I've only quite recently discovered that I could now ditch the DVi>VGA adapter and still have dual monitor (DVI + VGA) with no issue (don't know if it's the OS or after updating the BIOS to UEFI or after switching to Clover...)
• 3 years ago, I had to replace the PSU because of a design flaw (a blob of solder that cracked, but I wasn't able to fix it reliably); I nevertheless bought the same brand... but a cheaper model.
• I've not switched to 10.13 or 10.14 yet, because of software issues (mainly Pro Tools 10 not running at all, there) and also because IF Apple cures bugs between 10.x and 10.x+1 it brings brand new bugs and restrictions too!
• I've replaced the Sandy i3 by an Ivy i7-3770 and, a few months ago, my dying Sandisk SSD by a Samsung.
My upgrades plans are: switch to 10.14 at some point and (perhaps) try an NVMe drive with a PCIe adapter.
Am I happy with this old build? Yes! Of course, I wouldn't mind a little speed boost, but all in all, it's still the best "Mac" I've ever had!
CPU: Intel i3 2100
Intel - Core i3 2100 / 3,1 GHz - LGA1155 Socket - L3 3 Mo - Box: Amazon.fr
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3
Gigabyte - Z68XP-UD3 - Carte mère Intel (Rev 1.3): Amazon.fr
RAM: Crucial 8GB Kit (4GBx2)
Case: Lian Li PC-K59 Lancool
PSU: Be quiet! Pure Power L8 Gold ATX 430W
GFX: EVGA GeForce GT210 Fanless 512MB PCI-Express 16x
HD: Seagate Barracuda interne SATA III 7200 tours/min 1 To
- Apple Keyboard from my old iMac G5
- Kensington (old) Expert Mouse (I can't live without it! )
- 20" 5:4 Samsung pivot monitor (waiting to buy a 24" 16:10)
Operating System: Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
Mac OS X version 10.8 Lion
Mac App Store - OS X Mountain Lion
My first build.
A very classic one, but the interest is probably more on the procedure I was obliged to take to install the systems, as I wasn't able to use the iBoot procedure described in the wonderful Tonymac's guides... (probably due to my USB burner)
I wanted the cheapest yet reliable build to replace that damned iMac early 2008 with the dreaded NVidia 8800GS I stupidly bought on eBay 10 months ago.
I needed a silent build for my comfort and sound recording activities.
I've longly hesitated between a Z77+Ivy build and a Z68+Sandy, but the first one meant diving in the unknown and abandoning my PPC apps.
Actually, I first bought a Z68P-DS3 that Amazon advertised as a Rev 1.0 but wasn't, so I had no audio, probably because of the VIA chipset (Thanks to Toleda for helping me diagnose the problem! ). I exchanged it.
Let me thank also iJanny and venerable Stork for their precious advices, even if in the end I've made a blend of everything and made my own choices.
I've carefully chosen every part, based on advices, reviews and warranty period.
- PSU and GFX: quiet and 3 years warranty (I've bought a 512MB GFX card instead of 1GB, 'cause someone wrote it was the only OOB choice, but as it is detected by the system as a 1Gb, I'm not sure that was absolutely true...)
- case: good reviews
Silence! Silence, everybody!
- CPU Fan: I wanted to see if the CPU stock fan was that noisy, as many people say, before buying another one, but really I have never had a Mac that silent, even my latest iMacs!
- case: I'm sure I can run this thing without a single fan running, but in prevision of global warming , I plugged only the rear fan on the slowest fan connector — I've found the speed in the BIOS — it's absolutely silent and doesn't need more cooling as I won't run any heavy video app or game.
N.B.: there was still a low frequency rumble due to a resonance in the wooden floor, but putting the case on heavy foam pads cancelled it.
What's not working
This one is easy as quite everything is working, be it in SL or ML!
(audio, sleep, wake, QE/CI...)
- I have dual monitors OOB with HDMI+VGA or DVI>VGA+VGA (a little more tricky), but no way to have HDMI+DVI>VGA (I have no DVI monitor, so I couldn't try HDMI+DVI)
- I have only a small glitch with the onboard FW400 which fills the console with errors after wake, so I disabled it in the BIOS, as I won't use it often.
- Another small glitch is with the VGA port of the GFX card in SL, it works perfectly, but the calibration doesn't apply to it (though it does with DVi>VGA adapter), same thing with Shades (dimming pref pane). => it's surely due to the drivers in SL (even the updated ones), 'cause it works normally in ML
I first tried iBoot, but it was absolutely impossible to get to the red apple of iBoot using my USB burner...
As I still had my iMac, I had disk images I carefully saved of clean SL and ML system partitions which I restored on my new HD partitions.
(while I was doing my tests, I know now that I'm more experienced, that I could have used Unibeast typing GraphicsEnabler=No, but at that time I only got a black screen... hence the need of updating NVidia drivers in SL)
Here's the best procedure I've found, after numerous trials (that works for SL as for ML!):
1) restore system disk image using Disk Utility
2) [install updated NVidia drivers 2.1.0 while in Root] only needed for SL
3) start with Unibeast USB key
4) run Multibeast with the userDSDT found in the DSDT database (my BIOS is the F10) copied on the desktop (some say you have to rename it but it's not needed) and the settings below
5) DON'T REMOVE Unibeast USB key BEFORE YOU'RE DONE!!! or you'll get an error message at next boot (I haven't found a fix for it)
6) Shut down and then remove Unibeast
7) restart and re-run Multibeast to install Ethernet driver
N.B.: you can install the Ethernet driver at the first pass, but as it will reboot through the Unibeast key, you'll have to shut down after that to put off the key. Both ways work, it's up to you.
Multibeast settings in SL:
- System Utilities
- Audio/.../ALC8xxHDA+AppleHDA Rollback
- Miscellaneous/FakeSMC + FakeSMC Plugins/Motherboard (NVidia plugin is useless)
- Customization/.../PCI Root ID Fix + PCI Configuration Fix
Multibeast settings in ML :
- Audio/.../With DSDT/ALC889
- Miscellaneous/FakeSMC + FakeSMC Plugins
- Customization/.../PCI Root ID Fix + Verbose Boot
- Customization/.../iMac 12,2 (for sleep to work!)
=> if something goes wrong, check the content of FakeSMC as it looks like when you install it twice, the second install clears the first!
EDIT 04-2014: strange enough, I changed system definition to MacPro 3.1 to avoid all the "Sound Assertion" lines in the Console, as I've read in some thread, and sleep works!
Note about this restoration technique I've used
- I've been obliged to use it, but it is also very convenient when you want to have multiple partitions (i.e. one for SL, the second for ML and maybe others for trial purposes or to run dedicated apps such as ProTools that like a clean system, not risking to freak out your system with your daily tasks and kamikaze freeware trials )
- the same applies if you've already installed your system and you screwed up everything, it's a lot faster than reinstalling everything from scratch — and amazingly fast with SATA3 disks!
• about dual boot 10.6/10.8
- it has been quite easy to have both systems installed on the same disk. I think it would have been more logic to put 10.8 on the first user partition and 10.6 on the second, but as I finally kept using 10.6 as my main system, I've left it that way.
- in this particular configuration, I've discovered you need /Extra folder on both systems but the settings in 10.6 have to be somehow compatible with 10.8. So I had to add
- when Chimera 2.0.1 was available, I installed it blindly, but I was lucky that it was a good move!
- Before those two steps, I had some KP when restarting form ML into SL, but now everything is smooth on both systems.
- if you don't need SL, install ML using the classic Unibeast way
- I've found a few other procedures that work, I may detail them in another post or thread
- most of the problems I had were due to the absence of the settings necessary to the GFX card: don't skip any step, some settings are indispensable, you can check your org.chameleon.Boot.plist (maybe invisible?) for those flags: npci=0x2000 PCIRootUID=1 (SL) ; npci=0x3000 PCIRootUID=1 (ML)
EDIT 11-2013: actually, npci=0x3000 works for both, allowing you to have a compatible org.chameleon.Boot.plist (but more on that below! ).
EDIT 04-2014: with 10.8.5, npci=0x3000 is not needed any more, and breaks the audio!
- updated NVIDIA drivers are indispensable in SL!!! But you should be able to boot typing GraphicsEnabler=No or setting it in your org.chameleon.Boot.plist
- restoring a 10.6.7 image didn't work for me, no matter what I've tried, but updating it to 10.6.8 through my old iMac worked, so I suppose it's indispensable updating to 10.6.8 before reboot when you use the classic iBoot way.
- as I own both licenses for the systems I use, I think it's not a problem saying I was even able to clone my working partitions on my faulty iMac and multibeasted them when I was sure of my settings. In that way, I had not to reinstall every possible app — of course, it's a lot better to reinstall from scratch, and I'll surely do it when I get time (I'm also still evaluating the possibility to get rid of SL, but I still have apps that haven't been updated for ML yet), so DON'T DO IT, except if you're sure of what you're doing.
EDIT 11-2013: for the first time in my life I've used Migration Assistant in 10.9 and it worked very well, I suppose you can have that approach too in 10.8...
Now, it's getting late, I wish you all a nice 2013 full of wonderful builds and will soon come back and edit this, when I notice I've forgotten something important!
• I've been able to slightly OC, even if you can't get much out of that CPU, a 7% (3.3GHz) gain is all you can expect (upping the Vcore at 1.165V is enough)... but even such a little OC made the stock fan noisier enough for me to turn back to stock frequency (the 7% gain isn't worth buying a silent fan, IMHO... ) — though the temperature was not more than 50°C during heavy tests.
• USB3: I've installed the MB drivers, but I only have USB2 devices, so I can't say much except that the speeds are not recognized properly in SL (in ML yes) and My MBox2 audio interface switches on and seems recognized by the system but not by ProTools, if I connect it to the USB3 ports (same thing in ML). Unfortunately, it may crash the computer or give problems at wake (be it with keyboard or Expert Mouse connected to it), so in the end I won't be using much those ports.
• USB2: I've discovered there are two busses on that mobo (or is it the DSDT?), and they're not working the same, in some situation; on one bus my MBox will work correctly and on the other one the MIDI ports are not recognized! My Expert Mouse is conflicting with the MBox, so I have to have them on separate busses. In ML, the USB drivers die if you tinker too much with the different ports! (no more keyboard or mouse but still running and pilotable via screen sharing) So once I've found where to put my conflicting devices I won't move them!
• The graphic card handles every situation (my screen is rotated 270° or 180° and I watch films that way without any problem — Temperature Monitor says it's used at 70% of its capacity, in the most demanding tests I've made).
Money, money, money...
I realize that I haven't mentioned the overall cost of the build : 475€ (613$)
So, the goal is achieved on that matter too, as the cheapest Mac Mini is 150€ (194$) more with half the memory, half the HD space, a slower processor (even if an i5) and other limitations (to me) due to newer technologies!
• 10.9: everything works, audio and sleep! I used the same settings as for 10.8 and at first I had all working on a fresh install.
Then, Migration Assistant did all the dirty job for me, very well, to import apps and users. Strange enough, after that step, I had to use npci=0x4000 to have sleep working (npci=0x3000 works but is known to kill the audio output). As I started having BIOS problems, someone suggested to use the AppleRTC patch (see System in MB 6.0) — but I had to reset my BIOS to "optimized default". Now everything works quite ok. Just the time to replace or throw away incompatible extensions or apps...
One thing to notice is that starting up, putting to sleep and waking up are a lot slower than with SL, but apart from that all works fine (not better, but surely not worse! — Safari and Mail are smoother, let's say a little bit better ).
EDIT of the EDIT: ahem! In the end, all is working without any npci setting BUT with darkwake=0! No more CMOS error after AppleRTC patch (be sure to use MB 6.x as it enables it by default).
=> Conclusion: the benchmark is about the same than in SL (though Activity Monitor shows a little more footprint for apps in 10.9 — probably not optimized for the OS), but there is still no amazing benefit for me to switch completely to 10.9, though the overall impression is pleasant. [I think this platform is rather optimized for 10.6 — which is the same thing I've experienced on Macs for years: it's useless to put a too recent OS, performance wise (i.e. my iMac G5 runs better with Tiger though I installed Leopard, mainly for the sake of QuickLook — and I've refrained to install 10.5 on my Mini G4! ).]
EDIT: I leave the above statement, but if you can live without incompatible apps and colours ( ), 10.9 is a perfectly viable option on this board.
Anyway, I suppose that if you're still to build your system and have no need for SL, you'll probably look in the Z77's direction with 10.9, by now...
• about dual boot 10.6/10.9
Let's face the truth Chameleon/Chimera system was not meant to run 2 different OSX versions on the same disk! ... but you can manage!
Now that I know better about how it works, I'm quite sure that whatever partition your OS is on, it will run the boot file and /Extra folder of the first user partition, then the /Extra folder of the OS partition.
[This recent article confirms it]
While it was possible to have a compatible org.chameleon.Boot.plist between 10.6 and 10.8, it is not as easy with 10.9: if you set npci=0x3000, you will have sleep/wake on both but no audio on 10.9; with npci=0x2000, npci=0x4000 or no ncpi setting, one will start and the other won't...
=> Conclusion: I finally managed to have my dual boot working, swapping the systems: 10.9 first, 10.6 second (because my 10.6 needs npci=0x2000 or npci=0x3000 to boot, and it's the only different setting, so you just need to put the right /Extra folder on 10.9's partition (with no npci setting at all), and another one on 10.6's partition with the settings mentioned in this build.
EDIT: I forgot an important, thing! You have to add to the 10.6 flags
otherwise it won't start (while it was Yes, in my 10.6/10.8 dual boot configuration with 10.6 first!).
P.S.: there are plenty of methods to do all this but you can perfectly succeed, using the official Tonymac's guides!