Build a DIY Mac for Gaming

Fellow Macworld contributor Kirk McElhearn recently built a mini Hackintosh; that is, a generic PC styled like a Mac mini, on which he installed and ran macOS. This is a road I’ve gone down myself, way back in 2008, when I built my Frankenmac. As Kirk was building a relatively low-end Mac clone, and as Apple has ignored the high-end Mac Pro for so many years, I thought it’d be interesting to build a new high-end Frankenmac.

Why build a Hackintosh?

My current machine is a late 2014 5K iMac, and while it works well for most tasks, it really suffers when I pursue my avocation: Flying the X-Plane flight simulator. Frame rates can vary from decent to slow, and the iMac’s fan ramps up nearly as soon as I launch the simulator. In the end, the simulator is what really drove my desire to build a new Frankenmac: I wanted a machine that could run X-Plane really well, without a screaming loud fan, and hopefully be used as my iMac replacement (at least until the “new new” Mac Pro is released).

The key to this project was Nvidia’s announcement of Pascal drivers for the Mac. This meant that I could put in a leading-edge video card—one of the GeForce GTX 10 series cards. These cards will easily outperform (in games, at least) anything in any Mac that Apple currently ships.

I won’t provide as much detail as did Kirk, but here are the components I used.


ga z170x ud3Gigabyte

Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard

Like Kirk, I went with Gigabyte for the motherboard; for me, a GA-Z170X-UD3 ($130 on Amazon). My motherboard doesn’t have Wi-Fi, but I added it with the Fenvi 802.11AC Desktop Wifi Card ($70 on Amazon). This card is favored with Hackintosh builders, as it supposedly supports Handoff and Continuity without any troubles.


I chose an Intel Core i7 6700K 4.0GHZ CPU ($300 on Amazon). This is basically the fastest desktop-class CPU that’s fully supported in a Hackintosh.


I ordered 32GB of RAM, given it’s relatively inexpensive and I didn’t want to worry about swap files.


Kirk used onboard video, but in my case, that wouldn’t cut it for X-Plane. I chose the Gigabyte GeForce GTX GV-N1080 ($550 on Amazon). This was the most expensive single item in my build, surpassing even the CPU in cost. But it’s a wicked-fast card that will run circles (in gaming) around anything Apple ships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *