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Starting out - what system for a (savvy) newb?

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Z370 Aorus Gaming 7
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i7-8700K
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RX 580
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  2. MacBook Air
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  4. Mac Pro
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Hi guys - I'm new at this, but fairly tech-savvy and comfortable editing config files etc. My last hackintosh was a Dell Mini laptop, I haven't built one from scratch before but I am excited about trying.

I'm looking to replace my 2012 i7 iMac with something more up to date. Goals are to have a fast system for photo editing and media handling that can support a lot of external drives and devices. I will also use this machine as a home media server. I do not do any computer gaming (I have consoles for that), nor do I care much about booting into Windows. I would like to have Thunderbolt support if at all possible. (TB3 is fine/good I don't need legacy support)

I've been looking at the Buyer's guide but I am a little confused about the differences/benefits of the customac mini deluxe/mATX/Budget ATX builds. I don't really care a lot about the physical size of the machine, though smaller would be nice. I don't expect to need a lot of expandability other than adding drives/ssds.

I'd like to keep the system price under about $1200 if I can, but there's some wiggle room.
 
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Joined
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44
Motherboard
ASUS Prime H310T/CSM
CPU
i5-8400
Graphics
UHD 630
Mac
  1. MacBook Air
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  1. Android
Hi,
I would say that the major difference between CustoMac Mini Deluxe, mATX, and budget ATX is the size of the motherboard. If youy noticed, all the recommended core components are the same (other than the addition of discrete graphics). I take it that you computer will often run PS and Final Cut Pro and require frequent access to large datas (e.g. footages and large PSD files); these mean that you need a good CPU, lots of memory, a (large enough) NMVe SSD as storage (since that will speed up read/write tremendously), and probably a discrete graphics card (especially if you will deal with 3D or VR medisa). Apple recommends AMD Radeon RX 580 in Final Cut Pro's spec page.
If you don't care about the size of your computer, then it should be the best to build a full-size ATX motherboard in a Mid-Tower; motherboard vendors like to put their best specs (say, Thunderbolt support) on their full-size or extended ATX boards, and a Full Tower case is usually to big for most users.
So, a quick BOM will contain i7-8700K ($350), good cooler (2- or 3-fan water cooling or beefy air cooling) (set aside $100 to $200), 16G+ 2666MHz+ DDR4 RAM ($150+), 500G+ M.2 NVMe SSD ($200+), Z370 Thunderbolt-enabled mobo ($200~), Radeon RX580($300-$500), Thunderbolt extension card($60~), 650W+ PSU($100?), and a case of your choice. That comes to a total of around $1600; you still can trim off a bit as the price estimate here is very, very coarse. If you want, you can also ditch the discrete graphics and save $300+ (since you can now use a cheaper PSU at around 400W); or use cheaper CPU and cooling if you don't want to overclock.
On your budget and requirement, you can try to follow these Golden Build examples -- BoomR's "Power UP", w/thunderbolt; and HackaShaq's 2018 Mac Pro Replacement -- which, excluding the peripherals and the candy, should cost you just around $1500 and give you several Thunderbolt ports (both 2 and 3) and some overclock headroom.
I like Sour Patch Kids though.

Hope these helps!
 
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Joined
Jul 7, 2018
Messages
45
Motherboard
Z370 Aorus Gaming 7
CPU
i7-8700K
Graphics
RX 580
Mac
  1. iMac
  2. MacBook Air
  3. MacBook Pro
  4. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
That's a huge help, thank you. I have a few more questions - is there a big advantage to the "K" CPU vs the regular one? $50 isn't a whole lot of difference, but if I can save some money here and there it will help. I don't really plan on overclocking unless it's really easy and safe. Likewise, could I start out with onboard gfx and add a Radeon or whatever later on? I deal with a lot of photos, but no 3d or video editing, that said my current iMac has a pretty good graphics card and I want this to feel like a big step up.

I was hoping that if I got the non-K cpu I might not need much in the way of cooling, which would trim $100-$150 off the bottom line, but I can probably scrape together a little more cash if it's going to make a big difference :)

I will take a look at those golden builds you mentioned, thank you very much!
 
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
44
Motherboard
ASUS Prime H310T/CSM
CPU
i5-8400
Graphics
UHD 630
Mac
  1. MacBook Air
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
is there a big advantage to the "K" CPU vs the regular one?
OK, I am not the overclock expert, but I will try to give you all the information that I know. Everyone, please point out any errors.

Intel, being the infamous "paste factory" (at least among Chinese builders), lock all their CPUs expect K-series from overclocking. If you don't overclock, i7-8700 is only a bit slower than i7-8700K. In fact, Have you ever heard of "Turbo Boost"? That is basically short bursts of automatic, mild overclocking, induced only if there is demand; that keeps the hardware safe and stable and is usually enough for novice users. You will see a big difference between K and non-K CPUs only if you overclock and you rig constantly need that boosted performance.

The problem with overclocking is that every single CPU is a bit different: you might get one that runs happily at 5GHz with ease; you might get one that get cranky just at 4.5GHz and can't go further (unless you are fine frying it in a year or a half); and in the worst case scenario, you might even get one that fries on the first try (and if you ask about warranties? They're not applicable). Overclocking also requires some messing with the BIOS and being careful with cooling (there's a reason why some die-hard overclockers will try to do sub-zero Celsius cooling); it's more of an enthusiasts' field, especially as you climb up the frequency ladder. That said, mild, persistent overclocking (say, to 4.5 GHz) should still be within reach of novice users.
could I start out with onboard gfx and add a Radeon or whatever later on?
Yes! You will setup your Hackintosh with intel UHD 630 graphics for now; you can find corresponding guide on the forum. If you use one or two 4K displays (or less res) and do not use graphics-intensive features (like 3D or VR), the integrated graphics will happily do its job of mapping the pixel to the right place. If you want more than that (usually gaming, rendering, 3D jobs, large amount of calculations, etc.), you will most likely need a discrete graphics card.
When it comes to time to drop in the puppy, it might take you some time to change your configs (in case if you mess up, backup first), but it should not be too hard (hack, RX580 might even be out-of-box compatible!).

With non-K CPUs and no discrete graphics card, you can trim off about $400 ($300+ for the gfx, $50 for non-K, and probably about $50 for cheaper thermal solution). If you want to keep your rig future-proof, you will still need a 650W+ PSU.
 
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trs96

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Do I need a Bluetooth card or will the mobo have it built in?
You'll have to check the specs on the manufacturers website. Many of the mini-ITX boards have built in wifi/BT cards. Most of the larger mATX or ATX don't. The mini PCI-e combo cards made by Broadcom that have been used in real Macs are your best bet. They will require an adapter that is compatible when you use a PCIe x1 slot.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2018
Messages
45
Motherboard
Z370 Aorus Gaming 7
CPU
i7-8700K
Graphics
RX 580
Mac
  1. iMac
  2. MacBook Air
  3. MacBook Pro
  4. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
How does something like this sound:

Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075LC78QK/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Crucial MX500 1TB M.2 drive https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0784SY515/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Corsair RM650x Power Supply https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079H6111J/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Corsair Carbide case https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006I2H0YS/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Ballistix Sport LT 16GB RAM https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UFF7Y4A/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Alpine Ridge TB card https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0722SV69N/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
i7 8700K https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07598VZR8/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Thermaltake Slim X3 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003WOL4UG/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

I guess I need to find a Bluetooth card too. I'd plan on adding the Graphics card down the road. Do I need more/better cooling if I'm not overclocking?

Is there a reason to choose one case over another aside from aesthetics? (I don't love the look of the Carbide, but I like the price and I don't need flashy lights or anything.)
 
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
44
Motherboard
ASUS Prime H310T/CSM
CPU
i5-8400
Graphics
UHD 630
Mac
  1. MacBook Air
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Crucial MX500 1TB M.2 drive
Note one: that M.2 drive is a SATA M.2; its speed is similar to that of HDDs. NVMe SSDs at 512G usually cost $200, and common choices include Samsung 960 EVO, intel SSD, and (probably) WD balck NVMe SSD(gen.2). Again, NVMe offers exceptional speed boost over SATA SDDs and HDDs, but the price is about double compare to SATA SSDs.
Thermaltake Slim X3
Note two: Thermaltake Slim X3 is NOT enough for K-series CPU. It's for slim builds that sacrifice performance for small footprints. Not entirely sure why it is in the budget ATX recommendation list...You will either need double/triple fan water cooling or some of these air cooling monsters: Noctua NH-D15, Cooler Master V8 GTS, or Be Quiet! Dark Rock series.
Ooh I take it back, I like flashy - would this case work?
That, my friend, is a sub-zero cool case. Actually, other than acoustics, there isn't any other major factor to a case other than size and aesthetics. Yes, Phantom 410 should work just fine. The CPU cooler clearance is 170mm, which is enough for almost everything. The case comes with 3 fans.
I guess I need to find a Bluetooth card too.
Try this card: it combines WiFi and Bluetooth in one PCIe x1 card at a decent price. If you don't need WiFi, you can save a bit by buying a USB dongle instead.

Everything else should be future-proof and powerful enough for overclocking.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2018
Messages
45
Motherboard
Z370 Aorus Gaming 7
CPU
i7-8700K
Graphics
RX 580
Mac
  1. iMac
  2. MacBook Air
  3. MacBook Pro
  4. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
Thanks so much for your help. I ended up getting more or less the same as the HackaShaq build, but with a liquid cooler and no discrete graphics. I don't want a 500gb drive, it seems like it would fill up really fast, so I went with a 2tb 2.5" ssd for now, I'll add nvme when the prices come down a bit. I'm excited for it all to arrive Saturday
 
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