- Apr 17, 2013
- Classic Mac
- Mobile Phone
The Power Mac G5 is my favourite case design of all time. The bold, clean lines and rock solid construction place it more in the realm of an art piece than a computer case. I’ve owned and used G5s and Mac Pros on a daily basis for a number of years, so ever since I ditched the anodised aluminium of my Mac Pro for the minimalist plastic of the Bitfenix Phenom when I built my first Hackintosh last year, I couldn’t help but feel something was missing.
So in the summer of 2015 I began to design, plan and buy in components that would allow me to build a modern, powerful, Haswell based system inside this legendary case. The build process took place at the tail end of 2015, and five videos were uploaded to my YouTube channel that followed the process every step of the way. Therefore this thread alone isn’t going to go over every bit of the build process as I’ve already covered it all in the video series. It instead gives me the opportunity to go in to a little more detail on some of the build’s intricacies that I didn’t have time to cover when recording the videos. So in order to know exactly what’s happening I recommend following along with the videos.
Part 1: Plans & Components
Video Link: https://youtu.be/63ZFGbWdnZk
This was my final design. The main aim of the build was to keep the G5 looking as stock as possible inside & out. This involved retrofitting the power supply in to the original casing, wiring up the front panel, buying & modifying custom cables to the exact length they need to be, and reusing the G5’s original air flow design & inner structure. At this point I had already purchased my 2003 Power Mac G5, but I still wanted to use the cleaner fan assemblies & heatsink cover from a 2005 G5, so I ended up buying a beaten up & unrepairable 2005 G5 solely for the shelf.
- Stripped dual 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 in mint condition
- The Laser Hive’s dual 92mm Micro-ATX kit
- Gigabyte GA-H81M-DS2V Micro-ATX socket 1150 motherboard
- Intel Core i5 4570S quad 2.9GHz
- Zalman FX70 passive cooler
- 8GB (2x 4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 Micron memory
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 660 2GB GDDR5 OC graphics card
- Atheros AR9280 802.11b/g/n wireless card (in PCIe adapter)
- 1x 128GB 6Gb/s Toshiba SSD + 2x 500GB 3Gb/s Seagate HDD
- LG M-Disc SATA DVD burner
- Corsair CX500M 80-Plus Bronze Certified PSU
- 4x Arctic F9 92mm fans (CPU intake/exhaust)
- 2x Gelid Silent 6 60mm fans (PSU intake)
- 1x Arctic F8 80mm fan (PCI intake)
The majority of my time prior to building was spent scouring the internet for a boxed Power Mac G5 in mint condition. I specifically needed one in its original packaging to avoid the risk of receiving the machine with damaged feet. And after weeks of searching - a dual 1.8GHz G5 popped up on eBay. It was listed as untested/for spares which helped me nab it for just £40 shipped. The machine turned out to work perfectly, which is a bit of a bummer as stripping down a museum-condition machine is never ideal, but sentiment aside - it was the perfect candidate for my Hackintosh.
With regards to motherboard mounting I decided to play it safe and go with The Laser Hive’s 92mm Micro-ATX conversion kit. To keep everything as close to stock as possible I could’ve glued my own standoffs to the case & used extension cables for the I/O, but I wanted complete access to all of the ports on my motherboard, so going with David’s excellent kit was the best compromise.
Another big aim of this build was to keep everything very cool & very quiet. For the cooler I went with the FX70 as it’s 1) designed to cool up to a 95W CPU without a fan, and 2) It was the closest thing I found dimensions wise to the G5’s original heatsink. With everything installed there is hardly a millimetre to spare. And even though the FX70 is capable of cooling without a fan, I decided to run four Arctic F9s at 5V in the original fan assemblies to act as intake/exhaust.
For the power supply I decided to go with the Corsair CX500M. I went with the CX500M as I know the CX series PSUs require next-to-no airflow & still manage to stay cool, which is key in this case as it’s going to be sitting in a long enclosure with no direct exhaust. It’s also a very compact & modular unit, which will make cable management & installation much less of an issue. The 2 Gelid Silent 6 fans are going to sit where the G5’s original PSU fans used to & like the Arctics will run at 5V. This should provide enough airflow to keep the PSU cool.
Part 2: Case Modding
Video Link: https://youtu.be/4vVjkaYBr4U
The case modding was the part that I was most nervous about cocking up. I had this beautifully kept G5 in my possession and I was about to hack it up & take a Dremel to it. Luckily though, it all turned out looking about as perfect as I could’ve possibly hoped. The only words of wisdom I can offer here is make sure you’re using high quality tools. Echoing what I said in the video I skimped out and bought a cheap Dremel off eBay and paid the price heavily. I ended up going through around 50 cutting wheels all in and was stuck in front of my G5 for a good SIX HOURS working on the case. However, with the correct equipment and a level head it’s a pretty easy job all things considered.
Wiring up the front panel turned to be a very simple job in the end as I plug my headphones in to the 3.5mm jack on my speaker system, and don’t use FireWire at all these days. So all I needed to get going was the power button, power LED and USB. I’ve put together a diagram showing exactly where each wire goes if anybody needs a hand doing the same thing in future. To clear up a lot of confusion I see in other threads regarding the front panel, the diagram is looking DOWN on to the connector (as you would see it IRL plugged in to the logic board).
To be honest with you prior to actually stripping the G5 down I didn’t have a clue how I was going to mount the 2005 G5’s shelf in the 2003 G5. After disassembling the G5 I found that the 2 stand-offs on either end didn’t line up, but fortunately the 2 that holds the PCI lane divider in (and a lot of the shelf’s weight) did line up. After cutting a small chunk out of the right side of the shelf (to avoid any chance of the shelf shorting the motherboard) I repositioned the standoff ever so slightly. This meant that I could now secure the right hand side of the shelf in to one of the motherboard’s standoffs. Simple enough. The left hand side was a bit more of a ball ache though. The left hand side’s standoff was a good inch above where the shelf ended, and was every so slightly off to the left. So after a few minutes of blankly staring at the inside of my G5 I decided I was going to have fashion up some sort of plate that runs from the standoff to the shelf. Then I had a brainwave. I figured out that the holes in the material that we cut out the back of the G5 earlier lined up perfectly with both the standoff and the shelf! So after cutting out a piece of the left over aluminium, I screwed a nut & bolt in to the shelf, offered the shelf up to the G5 and threaded a screw in to the standoff. Et voilà! The 2005 G5 inner structure was now fully secured in my 2003 G5. And it looks 100% stock.
Part 3: Building
Video Link: https://youtu.be/Jo08YmjueDA
This was the part where I could finally start appreciating the fruits of my labour. There’s not much I can add here honestly as all of the hard work was done modifying the case, so the actual build process was (for the most part) like any other. The motherboard slotted in perfectly. The optical drive & hard drives slotted in just as they would in a standard G5, and the painstakingly positioned power supply cables were totally spot on so there is no slack whatsoever. The drive cables were measured up and bought in specifically for this build so I could get it looking as tidy as possible on the inside. The only cable that is strikingly visible when removing the door is the ugly 6 pin GPU power cable, but as the GPU is one of the first components that I plan on replacing I’ll just make sure I buy a card with rear mounted power next time round. On the whole though, this thing looks ten times better than what I was realistically expecting to end up with, and I’m totally chuffed with the finished product.
Part 4: OS X El Capitan Install
Video Link: https://youtu.be/gMXv_Ct3IcY
As I had already built a Haswell hackintosh on the H81 chipset last year, and as (aside from the switch to Clover) an El Capitan install isn’t too far removed from a Yosemite install, I pretty much knew exactly where I was going this time round. I did hit one bewildering hiccup though.
After grabbing my MacBook Pro & formatting my USB stick I began to plod through the UniBeast installer. I formatted my USB stick correctly, chose El Capitan when prompted, and naturally chose UEFI boot mode when prompted, as the H81-DS2V is a UEFI motherboard. However, after an hour of head scratching & swearing at my USB stick, the machine refused to boot. So after switching every possible setting in my BIOS on & off 20 times I decided - on the off chance of off chances - to go through the UniBeast setup again, only this time choosing Legacy Boot Mode. And to my surprise, that fixed all of my issues! After booting in to my legacy El Capitan installer the G5 flew through the install perfectly. To this day I cannot for the life of me figure out why my UEFI motherboard refused to boot in to the UEFI version of Clover, especially when I managed to boot the exact same USB stick without an issue on my H81N motherboard. But at the end of the day the Legacy version works just as well, so I’m perfectly content.
Part 5: Performance & The Finished Product
Video Link: https://youtu.be/zkPiFYPAGIg
After finishing all of the work I could finally begin to mess around and push my newly built G5 to its limits. The push-pull configuration with the beastly Zalman cooler turned out to be a fantastic idea for the CPU, with temperatures idling at sub 25°C and topping out at 45°C when pegged at 100%. The GPU also stays nice and cool with plenty of room to breathe in the isolated PCI section, although I do feel that a reference cooler would be better suited to this machine given where air is being directed elsewhere. The PSU stays remarkably cool in its enclosure at the bottom of the system, which surprised me somewhat given the only airflow its getting is via 2 puny little 60mm fans running ~1000rpm. So all in all I am extremely happy with the thermals of the machine. One of my absolute top aims was to build a near silent system with seriously impressive temperatures, and I think I’ve done just that.
In terms of performance I’m equally impressed. To some of you rocking a 6700K with Titans in SLI this G5 may seem like a bit of a weakling, but to me this is by far the quickest system I have ever used. It handles my Final Cut Pro rendering & Python calculations like an utter beast, the SSD virtually maxes out the SATA III bus which makes nipping through OS X a joy, and gaming on the 660 is still a very enjoyable experience. The 4570S & 660 compliment each other brilliantly, and with no clear bottlenecking found in any game I’ve tested thus far, I’ve yet to find a game that has come even close to bringing this machine to its knees.
High-Res Flickr Gallery: https://flic.kr/s/aHsktgTneu
So that’s my G5. I am beyond happy with how the whole process has turned out. I’m chuffed with the video series and I hope that this thread has helped fill in any gaps that the videos left out. My hackintosh has turned out exactly how I envisioned it, and I’ve honestly really surprised myself at how well I managed to stick to my uncompromising & originally intimidating plan.
I have no immediate plans to build another hackintosh in the near future, and as this system is going to be with me for years to come I doubt that’ll change any time soon, but I’ve always wanted to build something crazy inside a G4 Cube case, so watch this space!