Hackintosh - CPU choice
  • Ben, I've been using a firmware hacked 2009 Mac Pro 12-core for about five years, and it's done okay with my 15-16 cameras running at 1080/15fps. However, I'm going to sell it while it's worth something. I can build a cheap hackintosh for $700 that will use far less power.

    My question:
    Is there any advantage to the 8th generation i5 over the 7th, in terms of hardware acceleration?
  • According to the datasheets for the 7th-generation vs. the 8th-generation "Core" processors, they have the same specifications in terms of hardware-accelerated video decoding, which is the ability to decode up to 16 simultaneous H.264/H.265 streams at up to 4K resolution (3840 × 2160). This is really outstanding performance, and allows SecuritySpy to process up to 16 cameras with virtually no CPU usage, allowing a high number of cameras to be used on a single Mac.

    However there are currently no production Macs with 8th-generation Core CPUs, so for guaranteed full compatibility with macOS it might be a good idea instead to use one of the CPUs that is already used by Apple - perhaps the i7-7700 or i7-7700K, which are currently used in the high-end iMacs and provide great performance.

    Avoid the Xeon processors, which don't have as powerful hardware-accelerated video processing capabilities.
  • Great advice, thank you. I didn't even think about 8th gen support. It's a bit frustrating that Apple is always late to adopt the new Intel line of processors. It seems they are moving away from the Desktop market, but that's off topic.

    It's mind boggling to me that I can buy a mid-level laptop with an i5-7200 CPU and it will support all of my streams. I have exactly 16 cameras and they are only 1080/15.

    Thanks Ben
  • I bought a HP Prebook 430 G5 (i5-7200U CPU, 8GB RAM, SSD), which is a pretty well supported system in the Hackintosh community. After install, I'm seeing 60% CPU utilization on 12 cameras at 1080p 15fps. However, that 60% is from a total of 400%... so really it's at 15%. Is that about what you'd expect from this configuration?
  • After I wrote this, I realized I actually had 4GB of memory in the machine, so I upgraded it to 8GB with some iMac memory I had sitting around. After installing and rebooting, CPU is down to 6.5%... never thought memory would have such a profound effect.

    It's crazy to me that my 2009 Mac Pro with dual 6-core 2.93GHz Xeons ran at 60% with 14 cameras. The 10-bit HEVC hardware acceleration in the 7th gen is well worth the upgrade.
  • Great to hear you are getting such good performance with your Hackintosh. 4GB is a bit on the low side for 12 cameras, so it's also good to hear the RAM upgrade made a significant difference.

    Yes, the video decoding hardware acceleration makes a big difference for SecuritySpy. 6.5% CPU usage is incredibly low!
  • Bigpal, if you're still around how has this HP Hackintosh worked over the last year?

    I'm considering doing a couple of later generation i5 hackintoshes for racking, and am looking for real world experiances.
  • Bigpal, I'm curious too. Any problems or limitations you've run into? Updates are always an issue with a Hackintosh. Any down time?
  • If anyone comes across this thread, I want to post an update. I apologize to those that posted, I didn't get a notification.

    The HP wasn't terrible for installing 10.14, and when I followed the guide for that machine, it worked pretty much as expected and I didn't see any problem with the machine. I thought it was too good to be true, and it really was.

    When I went to install the first update with 10.14.1, it failed, so I waited for 10.14.2, since I didn't need anything from 10.14.1. I tried 10.14.2, and it failed and I had no idea as to why. I played with it for a few hours, read a lot of discussions, and never got to the bottom of it. I updated kexts and tried a lot of different fixes before I gave up. I kept 10.14 until I decided I didn't have the time to do this every update, and bought a Mac Mini. I did this before with a desktop - I got the base OS installed and working (10.12?), and every update was a complete a** pain. Honestly, I probably won't try it again. If you wait long enough, guides will get posted for each update, but they don't happen quick. Since Catalina was such a horror show, that's an example of not being able to wait for updates that really are necessary to allow the OS to work as intended. At 10.15.2, it still doesn't work right, but that's for another discussion.

    So like you said, updates are a major issue, and each problem is specific to your machine and your configuration. So there's hundreds or thousands or permutations that may be available and only one of them can solve your problem, and chances are, it's not documented. Logging is not great, so it's trial and error. I replaced every kext and tried editing the config, serial, machine type, etc. You have to be really savvy to be able to take this on, and have lots of time and willingness to pull hair out. I'm a former developer and sysadmin, and I hit my limit.

    For the price of a refurbed Mac Mini i5 6-core, it wasn't worth the pain.
  • Very good point bigpal. If you’re going to use a hackintosh for a production machine, 1. There has to be a really good reason to justify it and 2. You ideally need to build your system using the full previous version of the macOS so that you don’t have to completely reinstall macOS for each point update. Which is the only reliable way to do it IMO. So right now you could use 10.14.5 or 6 or whatever they ended with before Catalina dropped. Assuming there is a reliable install process. Anyway, I’m going off topic. I’m considering a hackintosh SS server only because Apple doesn’t seem to make a machine powerful enough for my requirements - other than $50k Mac Pro. Lol
  • The Hackintosh community is growing stronger (and wiser), and I believe within a few years they will have better support for updates. Like you said, there's a huge gap between their desktop machines and their 50k professional solutions. You can build a phenomenal PC with serious HP for a fraction of a Mac Pro. I built a $300 HP laptop with hardware HEVC support (7th gen Intel) and pci express ssd that ate my 16 cameras at 5% CPU.

    I think the Hackintosh community should focus on a finite set of hardware configurations. One low-end laptop and desktop, one mid-tier of each, and one high-end of each. Six configurations that we know more about and are supported better - and you buy the hardware to match one of the configs before you build rather than trying to make a laptop sitting around your office run MacOS. Off topic, but that's an idea.

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