On the Road

OSx86 Hackintosh and Pro Tools HD Chassis Build-out (Continued)

Continued from post: http://wp.me/p3caIR-1v

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Originally, I planned on building this Hackintosh in addition to an expansion chassis for Pro Tools HD cards, but I screwed that up pretty good.

So, the Pro Tools HD part of the equation did not work out as planned. However, I have built one hell of a Hackintosh after much toil and torment. Was it worth it? Yes. Although it took many hours and I made some expensive mistakes, I would say that the learning experience and few dollars saved was well worth it. Plus, this machine is customized exactly how I’d like it. S

What happened?

Well, I successfully installed OS X Lion a few months ago and was building the chassis for the Pro Tools HD cards when I made a fatal mistake. I accidentally placed one of the switches on my 2xPCI+2 x PCIe Expansion ATX Kit in the wrong position which routed power from the ATX power supply in the chassis to the Sabertooth X79 mobo on my Hackintosh. This caused my mobo and GIGABYTE ATI Radeon HD6870 to start smoking and become inoperative. I do not recommend the HD6870 anyway because it was very difficult to get it to cooperate with Lion and I ended up using kexts from Snow Leopard in order to get it to work. Also, if you are going with a newer LGA2011 mobo, note that they do not usually come with onboard VGA or video outputs so finding the most compatible graphics card is key.

Solution:

I was determined to use the Sabertooth X79 in my build because A) it’s badass (remember it’s being installed in a rackmount road case for mobile recording… this thing is TUF – when not set on fire), and B) pride. So, I ordered another one in addition to an NVIDIA GTX670 with 2GB of video RAM (works OOB on Hacks because ML contains the drivers for it). Yes, I opted to go to ML to take advantage of the expanded NVIDIA compatibility and 64-bit OS.

More problems:

Somehow my ML download was corrupted and I didn’t realize until about 10 hours of attempting the install using Unibeast, MyHack, and various other bootloader programs, using every bootflag known to man. For those who don’t know, you use bootflags to tell the bootloader (program that boots the main OS or OS installation to run in a modified mode. For example –v would tell the bootloader to run in verbose mode and display all of the background processes in text so you can attempt to solve any crashes on startup. Anyway, there are many detailed explanations of this online.

I eventually decided to retrace my steps and start from scratch, re-downloading ML 10.8.4 and installing it to an 8GB USB 2.0 thumb drive using Unibeast 2.0.1 . At this point, no extra hardware is installed. I have one 8GB RAM stick, PSU, GPU, CPU, cooling system, and one SSD installed. The bios (3009) is in it’s default state. This time, I almost get to the install menu. After a few different bootflag fixes. One issue with using an i7 6-core processor is the synchronization of time code (TSC) from ML. The other is the mobo’s PCI configuration differs from ML’s default. Also, Unibeast defaults to utilizing its own kexts (drivers) for graphics, which I do not need because of the native ML support for my card.

The solution to these issues:

To get into the installer, I used the following bootflags (exactly, without quotes and with the various spaces and capitalizations): “-v npci=0×2000 cpus=1 GraphicsEnabler=No”

“-v “ is verbose mode to see what errors occur during the boot.

“npci=0×2000” changes my PCI configuration so that my graphics card is recognized in its particular slot on this mobo.

“cpus=1” limits my CPU to one core in order to avoid TSC issues (will fix after install).

“GraphicsEnabler=No” tells Unibeast not to use its graphics drivers and to rely on the OS’s instead.

And what do you know… the freakin’ OS installs!

The first thing to do now is run Multibeast 5.4.1 for ML to install some much needed drivers and other required settings. I used the settings in the images below. Repaired permissions using ML’s Disk Utility app. Restart the computer.

This does not yet solve my bootflag issues, but does allow me to boot to my OS from my SSD rather than the USB boot drive (still using -v npci=0×2000 cpus=1 GraphicsEnabler=No).

Back in the OS, I used a program called Chameleon Wizard 4.2.2 to change some of the settings in the /Extra/org.chameleon.Boot.plist file (a file that installs with the Unibeast install and helps trick the OS into believing your Hack is a Mac). My settings are in the image below.

In order to sync my 6 CPU cores, I used an east to use program called Kext Beast to install a kext from my desktop called “VoodooTSCSync.kext 32/64” after I modified it for my system. To modify the kext, I right-clicked on the file and selected “show package contents” (twice) until I see a file called “info.plist,” which I opened with TextEdit. I looked for the following and changed the 7 to an 11:

<key>IOCPUNumber</key>

<integer>7</integer>

Change to:

<key>IOCPUNumber</key>

<integer>11</integer>

I have 6 real cores and 12 virtual cores on the i7 3930k and the IOCPU Numbers represent the number of cores, the first core starting at 0 and going to 11.

I repaired permissions again and reboot…. Everything works (except audio)!! I don’t need the onboard audio because I use professional digital audio interfaces for any audio needs and will install them later.

Tweaks to make the machine run better and expand functionality:

-        Install three more 8GB RAM cards

-        Install BD Reader/Writer

-        Install DVD Reader/Writer

-        Install second SSD and 1TB HDD

-        In bios I selected the OC Tuner, which automatically optimizes the CPU and other settings for overclocking. I now have all 6 cores boosted from 3.2GHz to 4.04GHz.

The OS now boots in under 30 seconds. Sweet!

I installed both Pro Tools 10 and 11 because I have various hardware/software that works with each version and the drivers seem to work for my HD 192 rig (PCI Audio) and Digi002 (Firewire audio).

My GeekBench, CineBench, and Activity Monitor screenshots are below. Decent so far. This thing doesn’t flinch and 72 mono (24-bit/48kHz) audio tracks in Pro Tools (Digi002), recoding with 5 plugins on each channel, uses about 1/8 of my processing power and the machine runs with 0 hesitation. I’m impressed.

 

Hardware:

-        Mobo: ASUS SABERTOOTH X79 – LGA2011 (bios 3009, default settings for install)

-        CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2 1 LGA 2011

-        Cooling: Antec Kuhler H2O 620 Liquid CPU Cooler System

-        GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX670 2048MB

-        Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32 GB DDR3 1600MHz

-        Optical Drives: LG WH12LS38K 12X Internal SATA Blu-Ray/DVD Burner  and LG Electronics 24X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW

-        OS Drive: Corsair Force 3 240 GB SATA 3 6.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive CSSD-F240GB3-BK

-        Media work drive: Mushkin Chronos 120 GB SATA 6.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (MKNSSDCR120GB)

-        Storage drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200 1 TB 7200RPM SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST1000DM003

-        Rackmount server chassis: Logisys 4801 All Black 4U Industrial Rackmount Cases CS4801BK Black

 

Software used:

-        OS: ML 10.8.4

-        Bootloader: Unibeast 2.0.1 (USB install) used “-v npci=0×2000 cpus=1 GraphicsEnabler=No”

-        Post install: Multibeast 5.4.1 (ML)

-        Post install: Kextbeast

-        Post install: Chameleon Wizard 4.2.2

-        Kexts: VoodooTSCSync.kext 32/64 (mod IOCPUNumber to 11)

-        CineBench

-        GeekBench

 

 

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