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Retail Mac vs. the Hackentosh

EDITORS NOTE: Techtronic has been replaced by Not Just Gaming (http://notjustgaming.com). NJG features all of the great posts from Techtrionic, as well as articles, blogs, social profiles, forums, downloads, videos, and more!

While becoming deeply admiring Mac more and more, I have also become more and more curious to as how much an OEM Mac system would cost, which would make my Hackentosh experience a laughing piece of the past.

I had in mind that it would be so cool to have official drivers for my audio, video, net, and USB the first time I run OS X. It would be cool to benefit from the officially supported updates. It would be nice to run Leopard instead of Tiger.

All my thoughts on this issue have dropped. Upon investigating the prices for an OEM Mac (the complete system, not stand alone operating system), I have decided that yes: I would actually rather have a Hackentosh.

Why? Because I can probably do more with hacked drivers and unsupported hardware than I could with an officially manufactured Mac. With an OEM Mac, we are able to run Windows XP and Vista via Boot Camp emulation, however we are not able to install them as their own fully functioning operating systems. And the most important reason: I can build myself a more powerful system capable of Hackentosh for less than half the price it would cost for a powerful Mac.

Here are the details. There are only 6 classes of Mac systems currently sold (excluding the Hackentosh efforts). The 3 desktops are

  • Mac Mini (a very limited, non-upgradable box set)
  • Mac Pro (the monster performer desktop that cost too much)
  • iMac (the one piece system; again very limited and non-upgradable)

The Mac Mini is neat as it is built for TV display, very similar to the Windows Media Center models manufacturers flopped to deliver several years ago. The most powerful Mac Mini is nifty but weak only supporting a max speed of 2 GHz (Intel Duo), 2 GB of memory, and 1 x 160 GB hard drive. This little box (no mouse, no keyboard, no monitor, does include remote control) will cost you $1024 + tax + shipping and handling. The included graphics chip is only an Intel GMA 950 with 64 MB of memory…. that will never play a game and there are no PCI-E or AGP slots for future upgrading. So I do not suggest Apple’s affordable solution.

For $2000 the iMac has everything (hard drive, dvd drive, memory) built in to the monitor. This also means there is no option for future upgrades. The graphics are better for all multimedia tasks and gaming as they are powered by an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128 MB of memory. My opinion: you are stuck with what you have (and lost a lot of money in the process).

The Mac Pro would be a tasty, jet fueled, graphic pumping, performance driven system if I didn’t feel like I smacked a brick wall reading the price. Here is how bad the cheapest solution will rape your bank account:

  • Mac Pro Custom for $2299.00 (the CHEAPEST one)
  • One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (quad-core) Processor
  • 2GB (2 x 1GB) Memory
  • 320GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB (Two dual-link DVI) Graphics
  • 16x double-layer SuperDrive that burns both CDs and DVD
  • Keyboard, Mouse, Mac OS X Leopard

After sight shopping, I have decided is is both nicer and cheaper to buy an Apple Mac OS X replacement keyboard for $39.95 and build my own Hackentosh…. Then again I can just continue to use my own keyboard that has my custom made stickers on the keys to remind me what the commands are and save a few more dollars 🙂

Resourceful Software v1.0

Dealing with computers I get asked what the best software is pretty often. Well, seriously most of it is legally free software or software that DID NOT come packaged with Windows. Here are some quality recommendations.

Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is an alternative to Internet Explorer. Major advantages to Firefox include Tabbed Browsing (years before Internet Explorer 7), Spell Checking, Search Suggestions, integrated RSS feed reading, Phishing Protection, Secure password manager, and more. Even better is the ability to add over 2000 add-ons for the browser all free of charge. I will write an article about the best Firefox extensions soon.

Anti-virus: AVG / Anti-spy: Spybot

There are tons of Anti-THIS and Anti-THAT applications to choose from. Unfortunately, many of these “anti” programs are problematic themselves, bringing viruses, adware, spyware, and malware with them. Put your trust in AVG for Anti-Virus and Spybot for Adware and Spyware prevention: You will be pleased with the high level of security and your system performance utilizing these choices over Norton or McAffee.

Best Audio and Video: Winamp / Quiktime Alternative / Real Alternative

Winamp plays MP3s, streaming internet radio (http://shoutcast.com), and various video formats (divx, wma, xvid, avi, more) with good quality and very little system resource. Quiktime Alternative is for those of us that do not own an iPod or Quik subscription service, or simply do not wish to have iTunes. It enables us to watch QuikTime files without installing the official cluttered QuikTime media player. Real alternative plays Real media files without the need for the official cluttered player with Real Media guide that makes the official program a poor performer..

Clean Windows: CCleaner

CCleaner will clean Windows of temporary files and other clutter, like traces of history and usage. It also comes with an integrated registry cleaner to fix problems that Windows may be having. Keeping Windows clean with CCleaner will help it run both better and faster.

Defrag: Diskeeper Lite

After many various versions of Windows, one thing has definitely been neglected for improvement: Windows Defrag. Defragging will make your hard drive live longer and read faster causing Windows to run better. Try Diskeeper to speed Windows up.

Acrobat Alternative: Cool PDF Reader

It is wise to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed just to read PDF files but it is terrible for system performance, security vulnerabilities, and upgrades. Cool PDF will read PDF files much quicker and just as well.

Microsoft Office alternative: OxygenOffice Professional

OxygenOffice is a great free alternative to the costly Microsoft Office suite (valued at $500). OOP will read and write Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and Powerpoint formats. Few of the extras you get with OxygenOffice Professional: Clip Art (currently more than 2,900 objects), Templates, Samples, and Fonts (more than 90 fonts).

More to Come 🙂