- Jul 31, 2012
- HD4600 / RX 570
- Mobile Phone
Dell Optiplex 3020 SFF with Core i5 CPUComponents
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
Active DP 1.2 to HDMI 2.0 Cable (6.6 ft.)
Low Cost ($6.99) DP to HDMI Adapter (1080p only)
Amazon (buy from seller Ivanky Official)
Intel Core i5-4590
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)
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
- Buy the Core i5 version instead of the i3-4130, 4150 or 4160
- A 2 x 4GB ram kit is suggested (2 x 8GB will work too)
- An HDD is not necessary as you'll use an SSD as the boot drive
- Buy the linked DP to HDMI adapter if your monitor doesn't have DP input
- The VGA output is not supported, you can of course use it for Windows
- If your Dell has a 3.5" HDD installed you can use an Optical Drive Adapter Tray
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
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: