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Mojave on GigaByte Z390 M Gaming with i9 9900K – Initial Success

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Aug 9, 2011
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Motherboard
Gigabyte Z390 M
CPU
i9 9900K
Graphics
Radeon Rx580
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. Power Mac
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
Although I’ve built CustoMac’s before, this latest build was extremely difficult to get working. It must have taken me nearly eighty attempts over a couple of weeks before a stable Mojave installation occurred. I actually had a system running a couple of times, only to watch it seeming self-descruct during the final configuration. There were numerous times when I sat, staring at a thousand dollar pile of non-functional hardware, and wondered if it would ever work. If not for incredible patience, it would have been very easy to give up. Don’t – there is light at the end of a possibly very long tunnel.

I’m writing this thread in hopes of informing others about my most glaring errors, and how they were corrected or bypassed. Hopefully, your builds will proceed much more smoothly as a result. Knowing what I know now, I could likely get it all built in less than a few hours. As they say, “hindsight is always 20/20.”

First, let me thank all of you who have written about your successes, issues and solutions. Invariably, most of my problems were well documented in other thread posts and could have been avoided if I had only known about the problem issues in advance. In this post I’ll attempt so summarize the most glaring problems in one list.

[Background]
This installation of Mojave is being performed on an existing CustoMac that resides in an Apple MacPro alloy case. My version is a ~2006 case [BTW: a 2009 case is MUCH better], complete with original fans, covers and cables. The system has a Apple Cinema display, and Apple keyboard, Apple mouse, and Apple Bluetooth. The only significant deviation from a stock Mac is the aftermarket motherboard. A separate write-up on the case mod has been written; time permitting; I’ll upload the results.

The reason for mentioning the case is that it affects the hardware choice. Although the case is large, you can’t simply drop in a full sized ATX motherboard without doing some serious case trimming. To avoid that effort, a micro-ATX form-factor motherboard was used. You lose a couple of PCI connectors and some other interface items, but the motherboard will fit fairly easily in the available space.

To improve the prospects for compatibility, hardware options were selected from the Buyer’s Guide. My hope was that this would reduce the amount configuration work needed to get OSX running. My prior system was ASUS based, but during an upgrade to High Sierra I found that my NVidia 970 wasn’t compatible. During the switch to a RX580 I managed to break my MB. One night it was working, the next morning it was broken. OK, time to upgrade.

[Equipment]
Here’s what I’m running:

MB: Gigabyte Z390 M Gaming – BIOS reflashed to Rev. F (latest)
CPU: Intel i9 9900K – eight core CPU with Hyperthreading
Memory: 32 GB Ballistik Sport – DDR4 – 3200
GPU: Radeon RX580 Sapphire Pulse
SSD: 1TB Samsung 860 EVO V-NAND (SATA SGb/s)
SSD: 500 GB Samsung 970 EVOplus (NVMe M.2) reflashed to Ver 3.0 <- Don’t buy the ‘Plus’ version – see below
Temporary air-cooled CPU heatsink that likely needs an upgrade
PSU: Generic Mid-tier 500W 80plus bronze <– May upgrade to a better power supply unit

Old Radeon video card: On occasion there were initialization issues with the RX 580. Usually this results in the display going black during startup, even though the OS is actually running. I happen to have an older Radeon HD 6870 Sapphire lying around, and remarkably it will run Mojave. There were many times when swapping in the older Sapphire card allowed the display to be visible, which permitted configuration changes to be seen. Once software changes were made, the RX 580 could be reinstalled.

There were ten major issues that resulted in a difficult build. They are listed in the order that you’d likely run into them. Hopefully, this list can help others to save some time and frustration with this hardware setup.

[ #1*** Important ***Configuring the Gigabyte Z390M Gaming MB BIOS]

Prior to installing Mojave the BIOS needs to be configured correctly. My system uses the settings that were posted by [jbarnette]. Although other options were testing with, they almost always had negative consequences. As an example, one minor change resulted in a system that ran so slow that it took a full 10 minutes just to get Clover to boot. In the end, the original BIOS settings from [jbarnett] were the ones that worked for me. Thank you!


My motherboard came with BIOS revision D. In an attempt to resolve hardware errors, the BIOS level was reflashed to version F. This involved downloading new software from Gigabyte, creating a bootable USB, and following the instructions for reflashing the MB. I don’t know if this step was mandatory, but I wanted to eliminate all known issues that might cause hardware problems.
Initially I tried to install just using the built-in Intel graphics. Others claim this works but for me it always let to failure. After installing the RX580 and turning off Intel graphics, the system installed correctly.

My memory is faster than the stock speed setting for this motherboard. To get the best performance, I used the M.I.T. / Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P) -> Profile 1. This resulted in the memory being recognized at its full speed.

[ #2 *** Important ***Formatting the USB 2.0 install drive]

Start with a clean new 16 GB USB 2.0 drive.
Although a simple step, correctly setting up a bootable USB installer proved to be one of the problematic. Failure to get this step right can result in problems that can show up much later in the install process.

It seems that not all USB drives behave the same. During installation, I found that different drives produced different results. It seemed that my version 3.0 USB drives always seemed to have installation problems. Eventually I purchased a clean 16 GB USB 2.0 drive. Don’t get a USB drive that is larger than 32 GB. If you do, you’ll need to partition it to a smaller size.

From a working Mac, plug in your new 16 GB USB drive. Navigate into Applications/Utilities and start the Disk Utility application.
After Disk Utility starts, go to the View menu and ensure that ‘Show All Devices’ is enabled (command 2). This will display both the physical devices and logical drives. The physical USB device will often contain a vendor name that can’t be changed. The logical drives can be created/erased and may be renamed. Both can be erased, but you need to erase from the physical drive level to ensure that the correct partition map scheme is selected. If a logical drive is mounted and in use, it may not be possible to select the physical drive until the child logical drives are un-mounted or are otherwise not in use.
Follow these steps within Disk Utility:
  • Enable ‘Show All Devices’
  • Erase or un-mount logical drives on your 16 GB USB 2.0 drive.
  • Now select the physical USB drive and erase it (use GUID Partition Map scheme)
The last step brings up an option pane that will allow you to set the GUID partition scheme and also select an initial volume name. Choose a simple name like ‘USB’. Just pick a name that you’ll easily recognize since the drive will be renamed during the UniBeast install-disk creation process.

A USB that is incorrectly erased or has hidden partitions may fail during initialization in UniBeast. The other issue is that an incorrectly formatted drive may actually pass the UniBeast disk generation process, but then fail to become a bootable drive.

[ #3*** Important ***Use a v2.0 USB port – don’t use a 3.x port]

This may be the most important piece of advice for installing Mojave onto the Z390M.
Plugging your Mojave install USB into a USB 2.0 port solves all sorts of issues. Unfortunately, all of the rear backplane motherboard ports on the Gigabyte Z390 M are either 3.0 or 3.1 ports. Installation seems to work with these ports, but strange and unpredictable issues show up during the installer process. The quick solution is to use a 2.0 port via a third party cable. These USB ports are available on the motherboard edge as a 2x6 DIN connector.
  • Buy a USB 2.0 motherboard-to-case cable/plug combo
  • Plug your USB Mojave Installer drive into the version 2.0 USB port
With this one small change, all sorts of strange install issues vanished.

[ #4 Configure your BIOS default to boot the USB Mojave install disk]

Any errors can lead to system restarts. Prior to going through this process, it’s handy to configure your BIOS to always use the USB as the default drive unless you specify otherwise.

[ #5 970 EVOPlus NVMe is incompatible – Needs to be reflashed/formatted before use]

When you first boot the Mojave install USB, Clover will begin and scan your machine for UEFI start disks. This startup scan can fail if there are unformatted NVMe drives, or if you have prior Mojave installations that are incomplete.
In my case, the 970 NVMe drive was not formatted, and its presence attached to the motherboard causes a startup failure. Removal of the NVMe drive allowed the problem to go away. If you want to install onto the 970 EVOplus, it may be necessary for first format the drive. In my case, the problem was sidestepped by removing the drive and using a SATA connected 860 SSD that was already formatted.
If you get a 970 NVMe drive, get either the 970 EVO or the 970 EVO Pro. Avoid the 970 EVO Plus. I was able to eventually get this drive to work by reflashing it with software downloaded from Samsung’s website. The document Samsung NVM Express Driver v3.0provides details on the version reflash. Updating requires you to download special software, copy it as a disk image to an available USB drive, then reboot your machine using the USB drive and follow onscreen instructions for reflashing your 970 EVOPlus NVMe. All things considered it’s a relatively straightforward process, but you need to be comfortable using command line instructions for building a disk image.

NVMe note: The 970 EVOPlus chips run hot to the touch with even moderate use. Purchase and install a M.2 heatsink for this device and ensure that you have good airflow over it.

[ #6 Prior OS installs or partial OS installs can conflict]

In addition to the NVMe drive causing install issues, prior installations can also cause problems. This is especially true if an install began, but terminated during the early stages of preparing the target disk. It’s best if your target drive is clean and has been formatted as an HFS+ Journaled drive. The installation procedure will make required changes if you are running on a SSD. Let it do the work against a clean disk that doesn’t have existing hidden EFI partitions. You can format your target disk using the same approach that was used for erasing and formatting your USB install disk. If you have done this step in advance, you won’t need to repeat it when you get to the initial Mojave install screen.

(#7 - #10: To be continued)
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
7
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z390 M
CPU
i9 9900K
Graphics
Radeon Rx580
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. Power Mac
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
[ #7 *** Important ***Configure Clover startup options]

Prior to selecting the Mojave USB drive, it’s good to hit the spacebar and set some of the options. First, enable the ‘Verbose’ mode so you can get some hints as to what was happing just before any errors occur. This is a great way to identify possible work-around solutions for issues that might arise. Set the disable KASLR (slide=0) option to help with memory allocation problems. Also disable system compatibility checking by adding a parameter option:
  • Enable Verbose
  • Disable KASLR (Slide=0)
  • Define parameters: ‘dart=0 –no_compat_check’
Once Mojave is installed, only the parameters need to be defined, the first two options are just used during the installation.

[ #8 Memory allocation errors – Possible restarts]

In an ideal installation process, you’d start running on the USB installer, and then at some future time the compute would need to reboot and you’d finish by starting on your target disk. In reality, it’s possible that your system may hit an error, which causes it to reboot early. In this case, you want to reboot the external USB drive and select the ‘pre-install partition’ and let the install process continue. Often a minor memory allocation conflict can be resolved simply by trying a second time. The installer appears to recognize it’s prior work and quickly skips over it, picking up where it left off. Often what fails the first time will succeed on a subsequent attempt. At some point, a reboot will occur and you’ll want to select the Mojave partition to finish the installation. If it appears that you’re well into the stall process, then it’s a good bet that you can select the Mojave partition as the final install step. If this doesn’t work, try again using an earlier install partition that is visible when you reboot from your USB drive using Clover.

[ #9 Creating an initial temporary account]

On the home stretch of installing Mojave, you will be asked to create a new user account. You might be temped to use a previous account, but it’ll likely be much easier to create a simple ‘test’ account that will be used to set up your system. I have an existing account on an external drive that was removed during the installation process. I didn’t want to accidentally damage this disk, so to be extra safe it was physically disconnected prior to reformatting target install drives.
Once your test account is created and options like MultiBeast have been run, it’s an easy process to reconnect your old drive and run the Migration Assistant application. Select your old account and let the software port all of the data and applications.

[ #10 *** Important ***Post install – MultiBeast options]

To get my system running, I skipped over signing into the cloud or enabling error reporting. To my surprise, networking was working by default. Improper selection of post installation drivers can really set back your system. Using MultiBeast Ver. 11.3.0-4 the following settings are allowing the system to function:

Quick Start: Clover UEFI Boot Mode
Drivers: FakeSMC
Drivers: FakeSMC Plugins (optional)
Drivers: FakeSMC HWMonitor Application (optional)
Drivers: IntelMausiEthernet v2.4.0
Bootloader: Clover UEFI Boot Mode
Customize: MacPro 6,1

Selecting iMac 14,2 also seems to be a stable configuration but but Mojave was unable to open .jpg files. Other iMac settings, like iMac 19,2, resulted in a blank screen during RX 580 video initialization. Switching to MacPro 6,1 appears to work best.

[Performance]

CPU
Performance was measured using Cinebench R15. Prior CPU performance was measured on a i7 2600K (4 core Hyperthread-enabled) running at 3.4 GHz. The new machine is an i9 9900K (8 core Hyperthread-enabled) running at 3.6 GHz. The latter will turbo boost up to nearly 5.0 GHz. Both machines were compared without using overclocking.

i7 2600K CPU Score: ~600
i9 9900K CPU Score: 2,054

The i9 delivers a Geekbench single core score of 4,936, and a multi-core score of 35,138.

SSD/NVMe
NVMe performance is ridiculously fast. Measurements were taken using the Disk Speed Test Application that can be downloaded from the App Store.
My 860 EVO SSD turns in a solid 500 MB/s over a 6Gb/s SATA connection. Read speeds are slightly faster than write speeds.
In comparison, the 970 EVOPlus over an M.2 interface rockets past its SATA sibling. Read scores are nearly 3000 MB/s, with write scores trailing at 2860 MB/s. That’s roughly a 6x improvement in throughput.
The one downside of this performance is that the M.2 drive runs hot. The chips are warm to the touch during modest operation. Installing a M.2 heatsink on your drive is recommended
  • i9 9900K CPU is reporting very hot during stress testing but the CPU heatsink is cool to the touch
  • USB 3.0 ports aren’t accelerated – other’s have solved this so it shouldn’t be hard to fix
  • Installing Bluetooth module – should just plug it in and try it… but not a high priority
  • Custom cable extensions – a new motherboard requires cable changes – more work.
 
Last edited:

pastrychef

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Joined
May 29, 2013
Messages
17,519
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z390 M Gaming
CPU
i9-9900K OC'd @ 5.0GHz
Graphics
Vega 56 (Bios flashed to 64)
Mac
  1. MacBook
  2. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. iBook
  2. Power Mac
  3. PowerBook
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
I feel you. I had a heckuva time getting my Z390 M Gaming working reliably too. It has taken me approx 3 weeks to finally get everything working including Thunderbolt and I'm currently testing for 24/7 stability of my overclocks.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
7
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z390 M
CPU
i9 9900K
Graphics
Radeon Rx580
Mac
  1. Mac Pro
Classic Mac
  1. Power Mac
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
9900K Blazing hot update - FIXED For Now

My prior posts mentioned temperature issues. That's an understatement. My 9900K CPU trigger alarms under heavy load.

After setting the temperature alarm in BIOS to 80 dec. C, the alarms would sound while running the CPU score in Cinebench 15. With 8 cores running, the test completes in something like 10 seconds. After installing the optional HWMonitor application, the temperatures were being recorded as hitting 90+ deg. C after just a few seconds under full load. A few seconds after that, some of the cores were reaching 98+C. Then the test would finish and the temps would drop down in just a second or two into the 30-40 range.

My system isn't set up for overclocking, so my first thought was to look at the heatsink. It's a low cost air cooled device with three heat pipes and a good sized fan. This worked well for an older i7 chip, and was pressed into service while other cooling options were considered.

The heatsink was pulled, and the white thermal paste and its distribution looked good. A second application using IC Diamond 7 was used for the reinstall. The older stuff was easy to apply. The new version is like a dry stiff paste made of course sand. Seconds after applying to the CPU, it seemed like it was drying into a hard rock. The heatsink was quickly installed and screwed down. After testing, it may well be that this new paste works better, but my 9900K was still hitting 99 deg in just a short period of time on full load.

It seemed strange that the system would cool down just as quickly as it heated up. I suspected the chip and/or the temperature monitoring system. Use of Prime95 also showed higher temps (65+), but the CPU didn't seem to be running at full load like it was under CB.

I read online that 'under volting' the CPU might help, but changing its voltage from 1.200 v to anything lower wouldn't allow the system to boot up. An online Gigabyte doc regarding overclocking mentioned that the i9 just runs hot. This last notation led me back to the Intel support site, looking for maximum Thermal junction cutoff temperatures.

After re-reading the i9 specifications, it stood out that the recommended memory speed for the 9900K was PC-2400. I remembered that my memory was PC-3200, and the memory profile in the Gigabyte 390 M had to be set to XMP1 (Extreme Memory Profile 1) in order for the faster memory speed to work (just setting the speed to a faster setting caused the system to fail).

I turned off XMP and set the memory speed to PC-2400. You can see the top temperature during a run of Cinebench 15.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 1.19.51 PM.png


Now the peak temperature is about 62C. Prior to the change, the temperature graph looked identical, but the top value was at about 100C. The other odd item is that the performance barely changed with the slower memory speed. Running at PC-2400 instead of PC-3200 only reduced the Cinebench CPU score by 0.5%.

As as test, I went back and turned on memory profile XMP1, but left the memory speed at PC-2400. No change, same results.

Then the memory speed was advanced to PC-3200. I was expected to see higher temps, but now the system is running fine. I did get my 0.5% speed boost, but that's not much to admire.

So it would seem that there was just some strange issue with the Gigabyte 390 M board or it's BIOS. Toggling the memory profile from XMP1 back to default seems to have cured the extreme temperature issue.
 
Joined
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Messages
1
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z390M Gaming
CPU
i9-9900K
Graphics
Vega 56
Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
Thank you for this thread. I have the same hardware (even including the PC-3000 RAM!). I was able to get a booting system following these directions with Unibeast & Multibeast. It did reboot about 6 times during the installation and it looked like nothing was changing but somehow, as you said, it was making progress. Once installed I could not get sleep/wake to work and I had kernel panics on shutdown. This eventually led me down a rabbit hole trying to understand ACPI and why @jbarnette's build is using OsxAptioFix2Drv-free2000.efi but @pastrychef seems so to be worried about using it in other threads.

Git Repo: https://github.com/acidanthera/AptioFixPkg/releases
OsxAptioFix2Drv-free2000.efi is a testing fork of AptioFixPkg and the developer strongly encourages us not to use what they he compiled. AptioFixPkg had its final release in July 2019 and the developer has moved it into OpenCore where development continues. If you have one of these Z390 motherboards and want the latest and greatest PCI config and power management, you now really have to look at the OpenCore bootloader.

I was able to re-do my setup with OpenCore. I installed Catalina and only had expected reboots during the install. Sleep/Wake work perfectly out of the box. Everything else (iCloud, Sound, Vega56 graphics) work as expected. It is a much steeper learning curve but its worth it for those with newer hardware.
 
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