Hi everyone - I'm considering undertaking my first home built system, and I was hoping to get some advice from the wisdom of these boards.
Just to set the stage, for the past several years, I've been using a Mac Pro at work, and I really appreciated the power of the platform...I'm a research scientist, so I was doing some heavy computation and number crunching. I am now looking to upgrade my home setup where I have an iMac for my daily use and an older Windows box running a small home server setup.
I've decided I'd like to approximate some of the power of the Mac Pro and also potentially move some of the server duties to a VM running on the new machine. However, I'd like to avoid spending $2000+ on a Mac Pro, so I'm exploring the home build Hackintosh approach.
I've started to do some research, and I have some starting ideas on the hardware that I want to use, but I also have a few questions, and I was hoping to solicit some input from those who are much wiser and more experienced with this sort of thing :-)...
First, here are my answers to the general new system questionnaire:
Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime in the next month or so
Budget Range: (e.g.: 600-800) I'd like to stay under $800 (after rebates), and of course, if I can do it cheaper that's the goal!
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Mac OS as host OS for primary usage - this includes websurfing, some media consumption (lots of music occasionally some video), occasional Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop usage, etc. In addition I was planning on keeping a Windows 7 VM running permanently to serve as a media server and also a host for a network printer/scanner. I will also have a Win 8 and maybe another Mac OS VM for doing some coding/development work (but this is basically hobby sort of usage)
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitors, speakers, NIC card
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I have a MicroCenter nearby for local access. Otherwise, I'll price shop among Newegg, TigerDirect, and Amazon.
So, here's the basic outline of what I have decided on:
Motherboard: GA-Z77-D3H (approx. $100) - seems like one of the most used motherboards for Hackintosh builds and it's reasonably priced RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600Mhz - probably a pair of Corsair sticks for approx. $80 Hard Drive: Plan on reusing a 1TB drive that I already own, but plan on buying a 120-128GB SSD for the primary drive.
Here are the outstanding questions that I was hoping to get some help figuring out:
Processor: Debating between an Core i5-3570K ($170 at MicroCenter) and a Core i7-3770K ($230 at MicroCenter). I was wondering how much it will matter. I'm not anticipating that I'll be doing any very heavy processor intensive activities - I'm not a gamer, and if I have to do heavy computation for work, the machine is provided by my client/employer. I'd love some opinions on whether it's worth spending the extra $60 for the Core i7.
Video Card: Since I'm not going to be gaming and doing seriously graphics intensive activities, can I just get away with using the onboard graphics or do I need a dedicated Video Card to run the two monitors?
Hard Drive: As far as the SSD, are the strong opinions about brand? I was considering going with a Samsung, SanDisk, or OCZ - please let me know if I should steer clear of any of these brands, or if one is any better than the others. I have no experience with SSDs, so I'm not sure how much brand matters...
Power Supply: I was figuring I'd be fine with a 450W power supply. I used one of the online calculators which told me that I would need a 280W power supply - I figured having a bit of head room wouldn't hurt...Does this make sense?
I greatly appreciate any opinions and recommendations. And please let me know if any of my assumptions/plans are just way off base.