The Build

I finally got around to building a new workstation which I hope should be future-proof for the next 10 years, at least. It’s actually not yet complete, as I plan to upgrade the RAM to 96GB. I went with 32GB in the mean time since the Crucial kit I went with was dirt-cheap during the 2023 Black Friday sales. I am happy with the outcome so far though.


CPUIntel Core i7-14700K 3.4GHz
MotherboardASRock Z790M-ITX WiFi
RAM32GB (2 x 16GB) Crucial Pro RAM @ 5600MT/s
GPUPowerColor AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT 16GB
Storage1x WD_BLACK SN850X 2TB (Windows drive)
1x WD_BLACK SN850X 1TB (macOS drive)

This also happens to be my first small form factor (SFF) build, and it was surprisingly fairly straightforward, even with the tricky cable management. I opted for the Lian Li Dan A4-H2O case, which is a sleek 11L SFF case. Still get decent CPU and GPU temperatures with air cooling, although the case supports AIOs with liquid cooling. For some reason, I just can’t get comfortable with the thought of any liquid in the same vicinity as expensive computer components. The CPU and GPU temperatures are pretty decent, ~60ºC and ~76ºC respectively when gaming at 1080p (spent the latter part of December playing through Phantom Liberty).

Although I successfully got macOS running on my 5+-year old AMD machine, I was unable to run the Android emulator in macOS, which I need for streamlining my development work and productivity. That was probably the major factor which motivated me to switch to Intel. I’m currently running macOS Sonoma 14.2.1 with no headaches, and it’s smooth as butter. I’ve published the OpenCore EFI on Github for anyone interested.

Expired English

I took the IELTS exam a couple of years ago as part of my plans to apply for the Canadian Express Entry programme, and the results are about to expire. It is a weird concept that I have to re-take an exam to demonstrate my competence with a language that I have been speaking since I was born. Of course, it’s the same fee for admission, which is also just as frustrating. Then again, it is something that I have to do.

I’ve also spent the past few weeks trying to decide if I should just build a new desktop computer altogether (since my AMD Ryzen 7 2700 build is over 6 years old now), or build a separate Hackintosh machine. I managed to create a cheap build that’s a spec-to-spec match for the M2 Pro Mac mini which comes in at just about $850. A fully decked out desktop replacement that I liked would’ve been about $1600 (just $400 over my initial theory-crafted Hackintosh build). I could’ve pulled the trigger on that, but Intel’s next gen processors (Meteor Lake and Arrow Lake) which are around the corner will be using a new socket platform: LGA1851, instead of LGA1700. It doesn’t seem like a great idea to splurge on a new machine when there is no viable future upgrade path. And I do need Intel, so that I can run the Android simulator on the Hackintosh build. Virtualisation software do not like AMD processors in this scenario, unfortunately.

With my desktop replacement plans pushed further into the future, here’s the final cheap Hackintosh build I’ve arrived at. I already own a 1000W PSU back from my short-lived crypto mining days, and I purchased a RX 6600 just recently for my AMD build, for full graphics acceleration support. It can be $120 – $150 cheaper if I opt to go with DDR4 memory, but I think I like it this way. Sidenote: Why are DDR5 motherboards so goddamn expensive?!

PCPartPicker Part List

CPUIntel Core i7-13700 2.1 GHz 16-Core Processor $349.99 @ Amazon
CPU CoolerDeepcool AK400 ZERO DARK 66.47 CFM CPU Cooler $39.99 @ Amazon
MotherboardASRock Z790M-ITX WIFI Mini ITX LGA1700 Motherboard $209.99 @ Newegg
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws S5 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR5-6000 CL36 Memory $99.99 @ Amazon
StorageWestern Digital Black SN850X 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive $84.99 @ Amazon
CaseMagniumGear Neo-G Mini V2 Mini ITX Tower Case $54.99 @ Newegg

Revisiting Hackintosh

Oh look, Mr. Inconsistent Blog Poster is back. But let’s not have that conversation right now. I know I’ve promised several times to post more regularly, but I am clearly a disappointment to myself. Just to get a few life updates out of the way: I am currently unemployed, looking for work. I learned French, up to the B2 level and I’m planning to take either the TEF or TCF exam soon. And I completed a 3-year university program with BCS in 2 years. I also created a buymeacoffee profile, but for sandwiches, so if you’d like to support the content creation journey which I’m about to re-embark upon, it’ll be much appreciated. Cool? Cool.

Alright, I need to replace my late 2012 Mac mini. I’ve gone back to doing some React Native development recently (existing codebase, not by choice, but there’s money to be made), especially targeting iOS devices, and the mini just doesn’t cut it anymore. I had heard good things about the M2 Pro processor, and I was considering a replacement Mac mini, but the prices for the configuration are just too goddamn high! I initially thought that the 2012 mini was at the end of life due to the fact that I needed to run XCode 14.2, which only works on the official macOS releases that run on Apple Silicon. However, I was able to actually upgrade from Catalina to Big Sur (using Patched Sur), and then from Big Sur to Monterey (using OpenCore). The bad news is everything runs quite slowly, but I had a lightbulb moment!

The late 2012 Mac mini is a machine with an Intel CPU, which means if I could get the latest release of Apple running on that, then I should be able to get it working on other Intel machines as well. The bigger surprise? I was actually able to get Monterey 12.6.4 running on my AMD build (considering I haven’t purchased Intel for over 6 years now). The spec sheet: Ryzen 2700 with 32GB of DDR4 RAM, ASRock B450M Pro4 motherboard, NVIDIA Geforce RTX 2060 graphics and a spare 500GB Crucial MX500 SSD I had lying around. It actually worked (EFI here if you’re interested), but there’s no hardware acceleration due to the fact that NVIDIA GPU support has been dropped from macOS, so I have to manage until I can afford to purchase an AMD graphics card, which isn’t available locally. The plan is to get a cheap 5500XT which allegedly works great. Thing were looking good, then I decided to try out running an Android emulator, only to be greeted with a nasty error that virtualisation isn’t working, although I have SVM enabled in the BIOS. Turns out I need an Intel CPU to be able to get this to work.

The ideal Mac mini M2 Pro configuration that I was aiming for cost $2,199.

  • M2 Pro 12-Core CPU | 19-Core GPU
  • 32GB Unified RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) | Bluetooth 5.3
  • I/O: 4 x Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 ports, 1x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, 1x HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port

I put together an Intel build on pcpartpicker matching spec for spec, including discrete graphics which practically costs half, and performs way better with the benchmark scores available online. Look, I get that inflation is crazy all over the world right now, but this Apple tax is just something else! And there’s no way I’m willing to pay anything close to that.

CPUIntel Core i7-13700KF 3.4 GHz 16-Core Processor $391.96 @ Amazon
CPU CoolerDeepcool AK400 ZERO DARK 66.47 CFM CPU Cooler $39.99 @ Amazon
MotherboardASRock Z690M-ITX/ax Mini ITX LGA1700 Motherboard $139.99 @ Newegg
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws V 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-4000 CL18 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
StorageWestern Digital Black SN850X 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive $94.99 @ Amazon
Video CardMSI RX 6600 XT MECH 2X 8G OC Radeon RX 6600 XT 8 GB Video Card $259.99 @ Newegg
CaseFractal Design Torrent Nano Mini ITX Tower Case $99.98 @ Newegg
Power SupplyCorsair RM750e 750 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply $99.99 @ Amazon
PCPartPicker Part List

I’ve been growing wary of tinkering (looking at you, Linux) and building software from source as I have become older because things that just work make life easier, but I’m excited to get back into this once again considering what can be achieved. Thanks Apple!