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Mac Mini-esque Mini-ITX build

Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#1
So I have decided to make the jump into building a hackintosh seeing as the new Mac Mini's will not meet my needs (cost-wise) and my mid-2011 iMac is quickly failing (more and more graphical artifacting showing the graphics card is dying). With the fact that it is a mid-2011 iMac, that means it is not compatible with Mojave and thus has served me well but is time to be replaced.

This will be a slow build as I am purchasing parts as I get funds available or find deals. The main purpose of this build will be mainly for daily computing, document creation, internet items (bill paying, forums, youtube, etc.) and then the occasional rare video editing or photo editing via things like lightroom, photoshop light, etc. Those last items are on a vary rare occasion and the system will not be used for gaming as if I game that is dedicated to my Xbox One.

Current items bought for the system... I am going for SFF close to the size of the Mac Mini...
- Case - Wesena ITX4 v3 purchased from perfect home theater (nice case with plenty of room for upgrades if needed)
- Mobo - Gigabyte B360n WiFi was purchased on sale from Amazon
- RAM - Crucial Ballistix LT 8gb stick purchased through Amazon on cyber week sale for $45! (if prices drop again I will grab another 8gb stick)
- HDD - Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SSD purchased on cyber week for sale for $100

Rest of the build will all depend on what is on sale when... I have been running a quad core processor for years just fine and so I am debating on whether I want to spend the extra money (about $100+ difference) to move up to a Core i5 8400 or just go with the Core i3 8100. From there I will install a Noctua L9i processor fan as I want this system to be quiet and will go with a PicoPSU 160w psu.

I will be going for a Vanilla install on this but my current system only let's be download the last High Sierra build (can't get around the system check to download Mojave) so I will end up having to upgrade to Mojave once installed and running. From there I was hoping that I could do a "restore" of my last backup from my previous machine but I am still researching if that is a possibility and how to go about that process.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#2
Guess this is considered a "compatibility" post instead of a "user build" but whatever.
Hoping for some good deals after the holiday so that I can pick up a few things extra like the processor (whichever ends up being on sale). From what I can find the onboard INTEL networking chip should not be an issue as I plan to have the hackintosh hardwired to my switch that is on the same desk, so no need for wireless other than for the bluetooth. Have a newer apple bluetooth board but when plugged in (charges via the USB cord now instead of replaceable batteries) it has always seemed to function like a wired keyboard.

Monitor will probably end up being a 2k 24" Acer monitor but again, depends on what deals are available when I go to purchase and really 2k is not necessary, really a good IPS based 1080p display would work just fine.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#3
Well ended up sending back the Gigabyte B360 board. After doing some more digging I found out that it has Intel's new CNVi integrated wireless chip. This new chip is a logic board chip instead of an add-on chip that runs in a dedicated M.2 slot, like many of the boards today. If you read deep into the Bluetooth/WiFi thread you will find the info on the CNVi chip and that the only way to get around it is to install a special M.2 Type M adapter that will then power an M.2 Type E Broadcom chip that is used on many of the other builds. The M.2 chip that is held under the antenna shield on the board is simply an antenna board, nothing more and the wireless for LAN/Bluetooth is actually integrated into the motherboard, thus not making it EASILY replaceable (see workaround), or at least that is what I understand.

So the board is going back with an ASRock Z370M-itx/ac board to replace it coming in the mail. Will be grabbing a Core i5 8400 as they have dropped below $200 on Amazon in the next couple days.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#4
Ended up grabbing a core i5 8400 this evening off eBay when they had a 15% off everything coupon. Purchased from Newegg through eBay bringing shipped cost to $177 to my door! While this is a bit more than I was hoping to spend as I was originally planning on doing an i3 8100, I couldn’t pass up the price and the fact that it natively supports the UHD630 better than the i3. This will be a nice future-proofish machine for me (seeing as I have been running in a dual-core core i3 for about 7yrs now).
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#5
So my ASRock board got delivered over the weekend, now just waiting on the processor to get here.
Also pulled the trigger on a Lenovo DW1560 chip to replace the one in the ASRock board in hopes of getting the WiFi/BT working first thing and then also picked up a Noctua L9i cpu fan.
At this point that really only leaves me with having to pick up the monitor and psu/brick. Was kinda hoping to be able to grab a HDplex pico psu but they seem to be out of stock with no ETA on when they will be available again. I may pick up the HDPlex down the road just to have a more robust PSU if I decide to add a dedicated gpu at some point (as I plan to run the internal graphics for the time being).

Anyways, once I gather everything I will take some pics as well as pics of the disassembly of the boards WiFi chip housing to replace the installed chip with the Broadcom.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#6
Well found a deal on eBay for the mini-box PicoPSU 160XT and a 240w dell PA9e adapter for less than $100 to my door for both (actually $87 for both). So that is the last of the build outside of the monitor. That I am trying to decide on as I would really like to vesa mount the monitor to help clean up the desk space.
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#7
Alright so the build has commenced, just waiting on the power supply (ended up not realizing that I bought the compatible power brick for the HDPlex 400w and then bought the PicoPsu 160, so that is going back and HDPlex is on its way) and monitor to get here.
Found a smoking deal on an Acer-K272HUL-Dbmidpx 27" IPS display through Newegg ($216 shipped to my door) that has gotten great reviews, be careful when looking for this as the EBmidpx looks the exact same but is a TN Panel.

Anyways, here is specs for final build...
- Mobo - ASRock Z370m-itx/ac [$120 amazon]
- RAM - Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8gb [$49 amazon]
- WiFi/BT - Lenovo Broadcom BCM94352Z [$13 ebay]
- SSD - Samsung EVO860 1tb [$128 amazon]
- CPU - Intel Core i5 8400 [$185 newegg]
- Cooler - Noctua L9i [$40 amazon]
- Case - Wesena ITX4 v3 [$97 perfect home theater]
- PSU - HDPlex 400w [$95 hdplex]
- PSU Brick - Dell PA-9E 240w [$37 ebay]
- Monitor - Acer K272HUL 27" IPS [$216 newegg]
Total: $883
(shipping included in prices, most were free shipping)
 
Joined
Dec 20, 2018
Messages
14
#9
And I have to say that swapping the WiFi chip was stupid simple. I figured it was going to be a lot harder but honestly there are two screws underneath the board that hold the cover to the board, which the antenna connections are attached to. From there, you literally just pull up to disconnect the card from the m.2 slot and the entire assembly comes out.
Once the assembly is out, there is one screw on the front holding a small swivel door to one side, remove screw and it takes a little effort to pull the door off. Underneath that is the card with one screw holding it to the assembly. The antenna disconnect easily and then you just do everything in reverse order. Was literally a 10 minute job and plugged right back into the slot and screwed down. Only caveat is that the antenna connections on the card are in a different location so the wires connecting the card to the coax mounts may get in the way. For me though I am not planning on using the antenna as my router and switch are right behind the machine so it will have a hardline connected.

I actually hardwired (Cat5E) my entire home about 2yrs ago and that was the best thing I could have done for connectivity. Now all stationary items; computers, AppleTVs, consoles, etc., are hardwired into the switch and the only things on the wireless are phones, iPads and the wife's laptop. I have clocked download speeds of over 100mbps on the console in the last week and that has been pretty consistent lately.

This little machine will end up dessimating my old mid-2011 iMac (base 21.5" model) in just about every aspect. And then when the time comes to add a discrete video card (thinking either RX560 or Radeon Pro WX3100) I will have more than enough wattage and horsepower to get things moving. This will be mainly a standard internet usage machine with the occasional photo editing session or video editing session.
 
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