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The Ultimate Low Cost Big Sur Hackintosh - Core i5 Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF - LG 4K Monitor

trs96

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  2. Mac mini
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Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF with Core i5 CPU

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Components

Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF
Amazon - Newegg

LG 27" 4K Monitor
Amazon - Newegg

240 GB PNY SSD Drive
Amazon - Newegg

2 x 4GB Timetec DDR3 Ram Kit
Amazon (2 x 8GB kit also available)

Active DP to HDMI 2.0 Adapter

Amazon
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Active DP 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 Cable (6.6 ft.)
Amazon

Low Cost ($6.99) DP to HDMI Adapter (1080p only)
Amazon (buy from seller Ivanky Official)

Intel Core i5-4590
Amazon

PCI-e Wifi/BT card by Fenvi
Amazon - Newegg

9-Pin USB to Type A Male USB 2.0 (for BT data in the SFF)
Amazon

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Comments
2021 has given us some of the highest prices we've ever seen for components like graphics cards, CPUs and power supplies. The costs have gone very high due to factors out of our control. This guide will demonstrate how you can get a fully functioning Big Sur hackintosh for the least amount of time and money spent. The entry level 3020 SFF price on Amazon/Newegg is less than $150 as of today. Any SSD and/or ram upgrades you make are also very low cost. A Windows 10 Home or Pro license is included if you want to dual boot on your 3020.


This is one of the better choices for your first hackintosh system. You won't have to assemble anything other than possibly installing some ram and an SSD. The low price makes it within reach of everyone. Here in this community I still see people trying to hackintosh with really old hardware from the Intel Core 2 Duo era of 2006-2009. There is no reason to attempt using older Socket 775 Core 2 Duo systems with Big Sur. They don't have UEFI or support the SSE 4.2 instruction set. They are extremely slow and generally lackluster in performance.

Should you worry about buying Refurbished ?

I have bought these 3020 models refurbished and they've all been in like new condition. If you buy from Amazon or Newegg you've always got the 30 day return (or longer) option if it doesn't meet your expectations. Always check the ratings of the seller you are buying from. If they don't look good, find another seller. There are many choices.

How about an older Mac mini ?

Another low cost alternative is to buy a used 2012 or 2014 Mac mini. The 2012 won't support Big Sur, 4K/60Hz and the 2014 limits you to a dual core laptop CPU. The 2014 mini's ram is not upgradable and you only get 1 sata port.

These older minis still demand fairly high prices on the used market so a 3020 SFF is a much better value. For example, the average used price for a quad core i7 Mac mini is $300 plus. When you buy one of these quad core i5 3020 desktop PCs with an SSD, the general experience is that they are really fast. You'll get full compatibility of the hardware and you can use OpenCore bootloader with it's many advantages over Clover. Mine is nearly as quiet as a Mac mini and is so much more powerful and responsive. You also can add in cards via the PCIe slots in a 3020.

Dell Optiplex 7020/9020 SFF and Mini-Tower

The Dell OptiMac Golden Build Guide covers the 7020 and 9020 Optiplex models. Please refer to that for much of the background info you'll need to know. If you have a larger budget, I'd suggest you buy the SFF or MT version of the 7020/9020. That being said, the 3020 SFF can often be purchased at a lower cost and should perform as well as a 7020/9020 SFF with a Core i5. That is, if you are only using integrated HD4600 graphics and 8 or 16GB of ram.

This guide can be applied to the 3020 MT but the 7020/9020 MT is the better choice. It gives you multiple ram and graphics upgrade options and a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot that you don't get with a 3020 MT. The latter has only a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. Prices are moderately lower for the 3020 MT but you get less too.

Do not buy any "barebones" 3020s (without CPU/Ram/HDD) as they will end up costing more and will likely be in worse condition than a fully specced out 3020 that has the CPU and ram. The ones with the most dings/dents/scratches are those that end up in the "barebones" bin because it's harder to sell them at normal refurbished prices. If you don't care about the condition and already have DDR3 ram and an i5 Haswell CPU from a previous build, then a barebones might provide you some cost savings.

Purchasing your 3020 SFF Dell Optiplex and Accessories

  1. Buy the Core i5 version instead of the i3-4130, 4150 or 4160
  2. A 2 x 4GB ram kit is suggested (2 x 8GB will work too)
  3. An HDD is not necessary as you'll use an SSD as the boot drive
  4. Buy the linked DP to HDMI adapter if your monitor doesn't have DP input
  5. The VGA output is not supported, you can of course use it for Windows
  6. If your Dell has a 3.5" HDD installed you can use an Optical Drive Adapter Tray
Important Note 1: If you can't afford to upgrade to an SSD and must use the HDD that came with your Dell, make sure to upgrade to a minimum of 8GB of ram (2 x 4GB). This will help prevent writing to your hard disk's page file frequently. With only 4GB you'll be slowing your system down to a crawl. The 8GB ram kit is really important and not expensive. If the 2 x 8GB kit fits in your budget definitely go for that, it's a good long term investment.


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The most common Core i5 CPUs that come pre-installed are the i5-4570 and i5-4590. You can use any Haswell 4th gen i5 as they all have the HD4600 iGPU. This includes the lower clocked T and S variations of the Intel i5s. The T variants are underclocked down to 2.0 - 2.5 GHz and are intended for the 3020M/9020M Micro versions of the Dell Optiplex.

If you'd prefer to turn your 3020 SFF into a home server a lower clocked T CPU from Intel would make sense. It runs cooler and uses less power than an i5-4590 would. Have a look at the macOS server info in post #5 of this thread.

The i7-4770/90 will also work but those cost much more and are not needed for a general purpose hackintosh. Also avoid the i5 "K" versions as they offer no benefits over the non-K i5-4670 or i5-4690. Overclocking the CPU is not an option.

Core i5 CPU __________________ Base ____ Turbo

Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.59.38 AM.png
__
Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.58.51 AM.png


Best CPU choices for Big Sur: i5-4570, i5-4590, 15-4670, i5-4690

Avoid buying any 3020 SFF that comes with the i3-4130, i3-4150 or i3-4160. These are dual core CPUs with HD4400 graphics. They cost generally the same amount as the Haswell i5 versions. Even if they are discounted, it's best to avoid them. You could use one with a dedicated graphics card but the whole idea of this build is to keep costs down and stay on a budget. You can view the current pricing of these i3 models at newegg.com

Low Profile Graphics Card Choices
If you already have a 3020 SFF with i3-41x0 and HD4400 iGPU, then simply add in this GT 710 graphics card with HDMI output. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073GF2CL6/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

If you have a 4K monitor with DP input and want a low cost GPU then go with the Nvidia Quadro K600. Newegg.com has a very low price on these. https://www.newegg.com/p/1FT-0004-00384?

The only feasible current AMD choice is the VisionTek AMD RX560. These are high priced but will work if you want to game at 1080p with good framerates. A core i5-4590/4690 and 16GB of ram are suggested for any serious gaming.

Fitting a 4K 27" Monitor into your budget
The LG monitor in the Buyer's Guide above is selling for $280 at Amazon right now. So if you add $150 for the Dell 3020 SFF, that comes to about $430 for a 4K system with a display larger than the current 24" iMacs. Those start at $1300 for the base model. An $870 savings over buying a new iMac. Back in Early 2012 I built my first Sandy Bridge, Intel Core i3 Gigabyte hackintosh for well over $500 and that didn't even include a 1080p monitor !

Big Sur looks fantastic in 4K so if you can afford a new 27" LG monitor it is highly suggested that you buy one for $280 at Amazon. No more blurry pixelated text, clear images and vibrant color is what you'll get.

macOS Big Sur Install Step

Important Note 2: This guide uses the OpenCore Bootloader but does not teach you OpenCore. For all the fine details on OpenCore see the following:

https://dortania.github.io/OpenCore-Install-Guide/

 
Last edited:

trs96

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General Overview of this Guide

• Purchase a Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF with Core i5 CPU
• Perform Preliminary Steps before you begin
• Flash the Dell BIOS to A20
• Unlock CFG + Increase DVMT to 64MB
• Set for UEFI booting and enable Legacy Option ROMs
• Create Unique Serial Numbers and SMUUID
• Install Big Sur with a custom USB installer


Preparing Your Optiplex 3020 for the macOS Installation

1. Boot into Windows or Linux and test out your hardware functionality. You can also press the F5 key at boot up and run the built in Dell Diagnostics. This will tell you if your ram, HDD etc. are working normally. Note the CPU temps. If they get too high (over 80C) then you should replace the TIM on the CPU as stated in step #2.

Even if you never use Windows 10 and your Optiplex came with it, don't erase your HDD just yet. It will be extremely useful to you before macOS Big Sur is installed. Use it to easily flash/update the BIOS. Check out your hardware function with it. You will boot into BIOS -> System Information to find the Ethernet MAC address that you will apply to your OpenCore config.plist later in this guide.

2. Replace the CMOS battery and the thermal paste beneath the CPU heatsink - 3020 SFF disassembly video
The linked video from Dragon Systems shows spreading the paste with your finger. Only do that if wearing a nitrile glove. Otherwise, use the edge of a clean, expired credit card or something else that is plastic and flat.

When the CMOS battery tests out at below 3.0v on a multimeter it's time to change it. New ones should test at 3.2v or more. Make sure to test your new one as some online sellers have old stock that they dump off on you. I've had this happen once and I didn't expect it. It was new in package but still couldn't hold a charge in my Optiplex.

These Panasonic CR2032 batteries have always tested good: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00656235S/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Location of the CR2032 CMOS battery is on the front right corner of the motherboard.

Unplug your Dell 3020 and remove the optical drive and the HDD cage first. This is also the perfect time to change the CPU thermal paste and add a second DIMM of ram if you only have a single one installed. You want the ram to run in dual channel mode for the best macOS performance.

s-l1600.jpg


3. Remove dust from the fans and the CPU heatsink if the refurbisher didn't do this

4. Flash the BIOS and load defaults. Dell Optiplex 3020 BIOS A20

Dell BIOS Flash Update Guide
Dell Optiplex 3020 BIOS Flashing Guide
This mini-guide is for those that don't have Windows pre-installed on their 3020. If you do have Windows use that to flash the BIOS to A20. Simply double click the A20.EXE file on the desktop and let the process happen.

Dell BIOS Flash Update Method

1. Format a flash drive FAT32 and place the BIOS.exe file onto that. Insert the drive into a USB 2.0 port.
2. Power on the Dell and tap on the F12 key at the Dell logo splash screen.

Now you should see the following under Other Options. Highlight "BIOS Flash Update" and press return.

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3. Select the BIOS .exe file from the flash drive.

20210821_061827.jpg


Click on the three dots inside the small box to select the A20 BIOS file. There should be nothing else there to choose from. Do not select the entry that begins with ._ you want the first option that starts with O.

4. Click on the O3020A20.EXE file as shown below. Then proceed with the BIOS flash.

20210820_211354 (1).jpg


20210821_061827.jpg


Do not touch your keyboard or mouse during this time. Do not power off your computer or you will damage it to the extent you'll need to replace it. It's best to have a UPS providing backup power if possible.

5. Load defaults and set the BIOS for UEFI booting. See all default BIOS Settings HERE

First load defaults. The system will reboot. Enter BIOS again and set the Boot Mode to UEFI.
Leave Legacy Option Roms enabled if you are using iGPU HD4600 as your primary graphics.
Success using this guide requires that you update your BIOS. Don't skip this step.
Using a 4-5 year old 3020 BIOS version that came with your Dell is not an option.

5. Set the BIOS for UEFI booting and leave Legacy Option ROMs enabled if using iGPU.

There are some additional settings you'll want to change before you install Big Sur. The primary one involves removing the CFG lock. Others are highly recommended for the best results. If you have previously booted macOS with the Clover bootloader on this PC then clear/reset NVRAM first before making the following changes.

Changing the Dell OptiPlex 3020 Hidden BIOS/UEFI Settings (Do not use for the 3020M Micro PC)

1. Boot from a GPT partitioned USB flash drive with an OC EFI folder on the EFI partition of the drive. Attached below.

2. Next boot into ModGRUBShell.efi and there you will make the entries one at a time. Only enter setup_var and the exact values below after grub> and nothing else. A printable version of the offset changes is attached below.

3. Each time you enter the new offset you will see "--> GUID does not match expected GUID." This is normal and to be expected. You can proceed with the next change after that.

4. Here's an example of how your screen should look when increasing the DVMT pre-allocation to 64MB.

1629067877068.png


Disable CFG Lock
Code:
setup_var 0xD9E 0x0
Increase DVMT pre-allocation to 64MB
Code:
setup_var 0x263 0x2
Enable EHCI Handoff
Code:
setup_var 0x2 0x1
XHCI Enabled Mode
Code:
setup_var 0x144 0x1
Route EHCx ports to XHCI
Code:
setup_var 0x15A 0x2
Disable EHCx ports
Code:
setup_var 0x146 0x0

setup_var 0x147 0x0

Note that clearing CMOS by unplugging your Dell and removing the CR2032 battery will return all of these to the defaults. Make sure you've replaced the battery first. If you want to change back only specific offsets, you can do that too.

Default Offsets: Enable EHCI Handoff = 0x0 / XHCI Enabled Mode = 0x3 All others are 0x1

CREDITS: datasone for modGrubShell.efi - JimLee1996 for DVMT/CFG Lock BIOS research - zearp for the offset values for the EHCI and XHCI BIOS/UEFI settings
 

Attachments

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  • 3020 Hidden UEFI Settings.pdf.zip
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Last edited:

trs96

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Motherboard
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Mobile Phone
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Download Big Sur and Make the USB Installer
If you have a Mac or Hackintosh that you can use for the download, it's running at least High Sierra or newer, then download through the Mac App Store. You can install Catalina as well. Links to a gibMacOS guide are below.

These are the Mac models that will let you download Big Sur and create your USB installer. Whether you use a hackintosh or a Mac your SMBIOS (system definition) needs to meet these minimum specs to be eligible.

MacBook __ 2015 and Later MacBook Air __ 2013 and Later
MBPro _ Late 2013 and Later Mac Pro __ 2013 and Later
Mac mini __ 2014 and Later iMac __ 2014 and Later
iMac Pro __ 2017 and Later

If your Mac/Hack doesn't meet the requirements or you would like to download and install Catalina instead of Big Sur, watch the following videos about using gibMacOS.

Link to the gibMacOS script:
Download from here
Link to Catalina gibMacOS guide: Watch here


If you have no Mac or Hackintosh available to download with, follow the guide by feartech here:
There is also a Windows guide for USB creation: https://dortania.github.io/OpenCore...de/winblows-install.html#making-the-installer

  • If you use Windows or Linux you'll need to download the full 12GB+ version of Big Sur to create the installer​
  • You also have the option to make a Catalina installer first, install that, then upgrade to Big Sur later​

Prepare your USB Installer Drive

Insert your USB flash drive (16 or 32 GB) into your Mac/Hackintosh then format it Mac OS Extended Journaled and partition it GPT (GUID Partition Table) with the macOS Disk Utility app.

There is one critical step to remember when formatting your USB or other drives in Disk Utility. Always click View and then Show All Devices instead of leaving it at "Show Only Volumes" when using High Sierra, Mojave or Catalina as the host OS to make the installer.

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After you select the Parent name, click on the Erase tab and format the USB as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and GUID Partition map. After this completes, do not eject your flash drive.

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Now you can open up the Terminal and copy/paste the following code:

Code:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/USB --nointeraction

Press Enter/Return then enter your macOS password. It may take 20 to 30 minutes to create the installer, depending on the USB drive's write speed. Be patient.

Important: The next steps must be performed only on the Dell Optiplex
you will install macOS on.
You want to use the actual MAC address of your Dell. The SMUUID and MLB should also be made on the same machine.

Find the MAC address of your Optiplex's Realtek Ethernet

A MAC (Media Access Control) address is a number that identifies the network adapter(s) installed on your computer. The address is composed of up to 6 pairs of characters, separated by colons or in the Windows OS, dashes.
Remember to use the Ethernet MAC address of your Dell Optiplex 3020 you will install macOS to. At boot up tap on the F2 key to enter BIOS. Go To the Settings -> System Information tab and then scroll down to near the end. You'll see: LOM MAC Address

Find MAC Address.jpg

Write down all 12 letters/numbers but don't include the dashes.

Having this ROM value correct is important to get Apple's cloud connected services working. If you want to check it post macOS install, don't connect to the internet before you do this in macOS Big Sur. To get your Ethernet MAC address for the ROM value after Big Sur is installed, go to System Information -> Network -> Locations to find it. Copy/paste all 12 characters and then remove the 6 colons once it's pasted into your config.plist.

Now you'll use GenSMBIOS to generate serial numbers and your unique SMUUID.

The OC EFI folder is attached at the end of this post. Use the config.plist from that when you run GenSMBIOS.

To set your SMBIOS and generate unique Serials: https://github.com/corpnewt/GenSMBIOS

Use iMac15,1 as it works with iGPU only or with a dGPU and iGPU combination. iMacs older than Late 2014 15,1 are unsupported in Big Sur.

The following video demos GenSMBIOS.command but you can use GenSMBIOS.bat in the Windows environment to create your serials. It works the same way. Make sure to install Python 3 for Windows first. https://www.python.org/downloads/windows/

The Plist editor, ProperTree will also work in Windows. Open your plist with that to check Platform info -> Generic


Check with Apple's warranty support page to make sure no Mac already uses your new System Serial number before you commit to it. Here's what you should see if the serial you created is unique (Not associated with an Apple built Mac computer).
Screen Shot 2021-07-14 at 10.46.21 AM.png

We actually want to use an Invalid Serial. If the website informs you in red letters that the number isn't valid, then you are OKAY to use it.

GenSMBIOS will enter all the serials/SMUUID into the config.plist under Platform info -> Generic.

You will have to still open it manually enter the ROM (MAC Address) value and remove all the colons/dashes.
Use the PlistEditPro app to open your config.plist to add the ROM. https://fatcatsoftware.com/plisteditpro/

Entering Serials:ROM.png


Once the ROM is entered, save the .plist and then copy and paste the OpenCore EFI folder, to the EFI partition of your USB. If your EFI partition is not visible, you can use EFI mounter V3, Hackintool or EFI Agent to mount the EFI partition.
 

Attachments

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    System Info Tab.jpg
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  • OC EFI 3020 0.7.1.zip
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Last edited:

trs96

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Motherboard
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Graphics
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Mac
  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
Install macOS 11 Big Sur

This process is primarily the same as installing Catalina or previous versions though it will take longer. I don't suggest an unattended install. You can certainly take 10-15 minute breaks while it's happening. The monitor may go black at times due to the length of the install. Simply move your mouse around to get the display to come back.

Use DisplayPort Video Output
Apple no longer supports analog VGA connections on Macs. This is why you must connect to your monitor via DisplayPort. If you do connect to VGA the install will fail. You can use a DP to HDMI or DP to VGA adapter. Even doing that is not a guarantee it will work properly. DP to DP in on your monitor is the best choice of all.

VGA.jpg
Kernel Panics
It's possible that you'll have a few kernel panics before you reach the installer. If so, you'll want to edit your config.plist until you find the Quirk or other setting that is preventing you from booting. Each time you edit your config.plist, save it and then Reset NVRAM first before trying to boot from the USB again.

1626311403074.png

If you see the following verbose info when the verbose screen stops [EB LOG:EXITBS:START] then CFG has not been unlocked properly and you'll have to go back to the BIOS modding section and follow directions.

1626311486492.png

You will notice a longer pause of about 15-25 seconds at validate_root_image: line of the verbose output. This is normal and not a kernel panic. It should proceed if you just wait a little bit.

Once you reach the installer, remember to open up Disk Utility and format your SSD as APFS and use GUID Partition Table. If you install to a mechanical 3.5" HDD expect to have very slow boot times and sluggish performance once you're in macOS. It's tolerable but seems very slow if you are used to booting from an SSD drive.

1st Reboot
The progress bar will move across slowly. Then at some point when it says 12 minutes remaining, you'll notice an automatic reboot. This is supposed to happen, it's not a kernel panic or other problem. Let it reboot and you'll see another longer 29 minute progress bar time. Once that gets down to 6 minutes remaining, it will reboot again.

After 2nd/3rd Reboots
Now you'll see a lot more unfamiliar verbose output. This takes a longer time so be patient. There will be one more reboot and finally you'll get to the language selection screen. Remember that you shouldn't connect to the internet unless all your serials and ROM are already entered into your config.plist. You can always generate those now, then reboot and connect your ethernet cable. You will need to have GenSMBIOS, PlistEdit Pro and EFI agent already on your USB installer. Temporarily enable the internet connection to download MacSerial before generating the serial numbers or use another computer to download it.

After you've got Big Sur installed and booting with no problems you will want to remove both debug, keepsyms and -v from your config.plist to get faster boot times. To find your boot-args string for editing, NVRAM -> Add -> 7C436110-AB2A-4BBB-A880-FE41995C9F82 -> boot-args.

You can now copy and paste the EFI folder to your System drive's EFI partition. Then reboot. The USB is no longer needed to boot into Big Sur. Check that your Ethernet and Audio are working properly. Play some online videos to check graphics performance. Keep your USB installer handy in case you need it for emergency booting. Do not erase it as it's a valuable backup of your working EFI partition.
 
Last edited:

trs96

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  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
Mobile Phone
  1. Android
How to use your Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF
Now that the install is complete and you have everything working, you may be wondering what to use this for. The simple answer is to use it for everyday computing, general internet tasks. It's capable of that and a lot more. It can be the center of a macOS based home entertainment system. If you add in a LP Wifi/BT card like the Fenvi HB-1200 you can use the Wifi to Airplay content to any TV in your home. Use it for iTunes music streaming. Basic photo and video editing with Photos and iMovie will also work. 16GB of ram is suggested for this. It will do most anything the Apple 2014 Mac mini or base model 2018 mini can do but for a lot less money.

If you would like to turn this Big Sur hackintosh into a home server, you can do that as well. Apple does still sell the macOS Server app. It's 19.99 on the Mac App Store. Quinn from Snazzy labs has produced a detailed, step by step video guide you can watch and follow. The 3020 SFF models can accomodate very large 4TB+ HDDs so you'll have plenty of storage space for all your Macs and iDevices. So instead of paying Apple for extra iCloud storage try this option.



Another way you can save money is to use a 43" 4K Television as your monitor. Most people have a TV in their home. You can use it for double duty as your Optiplex's monitor and not have to pay $200 or more for a PC monitor. I'm getting 4K at 60 Hz on my 43" television when using only the HD4600 graphics. Make sure to buy an active 4K/60 rated DP to HDMI adapter that also supports HDMI 2.0. You can also get 8K/HDMI 2.1 rated HDMI cables at Amazon at really low prices, around ten dollars. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08DTK56SP/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
Screen Shot 2021-07-17 at 2.38.58 PM.png


Screen_Shot_2021-07-17_at_2_40_19_PM_2.jpg


If you don't have a TV yet and plan on buying one, make sure it supports Airplay. You can run it at 4K/60Hz for extra sharp images and text. In reality, it's hard to read text at 4K/60 so scaling is required. You'll need a DP adapter and HDMI cable that support these higher resolutions. Low cost generic adapters and HDMI cables will only support 1080p/60.

An excellent IPS 4K TV you can use is made by LG. Make sure to rename the HDMI input you connect to as "Computer" or "PC." Then you will enable Chroma 4:4:4 subsampling and text will look sharp and clear.


Screen Shot 2.jpg
Screen Shot 3.jpg


Use an 8K rated HDMI cable if possible for the sharpest text. The 8K HDMI cables support HDR10 but the DP 1.2 port on your Dell does not. Make sure to turn HDR off on your TV/Monitor to see an accurate image. I've attached a PNG image below so you can test whether your TV has Chroma 4:4:4 enabled or not.

4K 43" LG Television

1626343397317.png


4K 43" Hisense Roku Television


1626343599323.png


This Hisense model is one of the lowest cost 4K 43" TVs worth buying and supports Apple Airplay. The Roku smart TV features are also very user friendly. A great investment that will give you many years of service as a TV or CustoMac monitor.

Adding an Nvidia NVS 510 Graphics Card for multi-monitor support

If you will need two or three monitors in your setup, it's very easy to install this graphics card and use two, three or even four of the mini-DP outputs. The card runs on PCIe slot power and is very efficient.
Screen Shot.jpg

Nvidia NVS 510 Low Profile

Newegg has a low cost refurbished version NVS 510 Refurb.
Mini-DP to DP cables not included. Ask the seller about including a LP bracket.

Why buy a refurbished Dell business-class desktop computer?

The main reason for doing so is to save some money while still getting a high quality product. Dell’s business-class PCs are built to higher quality standards and offer greater functionality. When new they are very expensive and few individuals will ever decide on buying one. However, when being sold as recertified refurbished their price is very compelling and purchasing one starts to make sense.

Think about it. Why wouldn’t you buy a computer that is cheaper than the usual ones sold to consumers, has better quality, is quieter and will serve you equally if not longer? Possible excuse would be if you need the newest and most powerful hardware on the market. In this case, yes, you should definitely buy new. If you just need to do a certain job with minimum resources spent, you should definitely consider renewed devices.

What is the appeal of these older Dell Optiplex desktops ?

When you look at the current best sellers on Amazon.com you'll see that the #7 position is held by an Optiplex 9020 SFF. This inlcudes all towers on Amazon whether they are new or renewed. It stays in the top ten regularly and sells as well as many much more expensive new gaming PCs and the tenth gen based Dell 3880 desktop.

Screen Shot 2021-07-21 at 9.35.08 AM.png


The reason these still sell like this today is because they are well built, reliable and last a long time. You can easily upgrade them, all replacement parts are available online at reasonably low prices. The case is one of the most durable SFF cases I've ever seen in the past 25 years. It looks good and runs quietly. EPEAT Gold rated too.

If you look at the best sellers from #10 to #20 you'll see that six of these are Dell Optiplex desktops. The 3020 with Core i5 comes in at #16. It has the i5-4570 and 8GB of ram. It's the one from Amazon linked in the Buyer's Guide in post #1.
 

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trs96

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Dell Optiplex 3020 Mini-Tower

These tend to work as a Big Sur hackintosh mostly like the SFF models. You get some extra options that the SFF models don't offer. There is an internal USB header if you want to connect up the BT of a PCIe Wifi BT card.

Internal USB header.png

If you want to try this it's best to use the attached USBPorts kext because it sets the (blue) Internal header HS08 to 255. Replace the existing kext with this one in the OC kexts folder.

Discrete Graphics Cards: Any of the supported Nvidia Kepler Quadro cards like the K600 or NVS 510 work out of box with the Big Sur EFI. Nothing needs to be changed. If you are using the MT and an RX 560/70/80 you will need to disable Legacy Option ROMs in BIOS for them to work. I have not tested any AMD cards with the 3020 MT so please report here if you use them with success.

If you want to buy just the 3020 MT motherboard and install it in an ATX or mATX case you can do that.
https://www.newegg.com/p/1B4-0016-06FG8?Item=9SIA3ANDS12789

If so, it would be smart to buy an Optiplex 3020 MT adapter kit from Harbin Repairs on Ebay.

Here's a video review of the 3020 MT showing it's positives and some negatives that can help your decide whether you'd want to buy one for use as a hackintosh.

 

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trs96

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Just a quick note about the Ivanky 4K Active DP to HDMI adapter. The build quality of this is amazing. The ends are made of metal and the short cable is braided nylon and extremely strong. I've bought many adapters and this is the best in this price range. Cost is $12.99 on Amazon. Lower cost plastic adapters will often crack and fall apart over time. This will last a long time. Most adapters that claim to support 4K are HDMI 1.4a or b and can only do 30Hz. This is HDMI 2.0 and supports a 60Hz refresh rate. Worth the low price they are asking. Don't forget that you can also adapt a graphics card's DP output to HDMI 2.0 and connect to a 4K TV or PC monitor with HDMI 2.0.

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If you don't already have an HDMI 2.0 cable to connect to this adapter, for 2 dollars more you can buy this full length DP to HDMI cable. No adapter necessary.

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trs96

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Why you should always replace the Thermal Paste on your Refurb Dell
Was just stress testing my 3020 SFF ram and the i5-4590 CPU with the built in Dell hardware testing program. The CPU temp got up to 90C by the end of it. Removed the heatsink and found that the 7 year old TP was all dried out and scarcely covered the CPU to begin with. After cleaning the old off and applying Arctic MX-4, the max temp never got over 60C when stress testing. So make sure that you don't skip this step in the main guide.

If you don't want to mess with cleaning off thermal paste ever again, you can buy one of these thermal pads and place it on top of the cleaned up CPU IHS. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKVW18G/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Then if you ever upgrade and replace the CPU the IHS and CPU heatsink are still perfectly clean.


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trs96

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Here's an easy way to add two more SATA 3 ports to your 3020 SFF. Install it to your PCIe x1 slot. With this installed you can have more than two SSDs or still keep your optical drive if you have an HDD and SSD connected in your system.

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Why you should always replace the Thermal Paste on your Refurb Dell
Was just stress testing my 3020 SFF ram and the i5-4590 CPU with the built in Dell hardware testing program. The CPU temp got up to 90C by the end of it. Removed the heatsink and found that the 7 year old TP was all dried out and scarcely covered the CPU to begin with. After cleaning the old off and applying Arctic MX-4, the max temp never got over 60C when stress testing. So make sure that you don't skip this step in the main guide.


View attachment 527400 ____ View attachment 527401
Coincidentally, earlier this evening found the exact same thing on the 3020 that I just received. Also ran RAM and CPU testing and temps were nice 50C with new paste.
 
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