As I have branched out artistically and learned more crafts, I have realized that in these times the most utilized and under valued tool in my toolbox is the computer. This has become even more apparent since I have been working on publishing all of my work and building websites. I know that while it is a great investment for something that is only a tool for secondary pursuits, it is something that I use in every trade. Also, now that I have moved to my cozy little corner of the world, in order to stay current as well as reach customers outside of my little area it is not just a toy but a downright necessity.
After doing some research and from years of personal experience I knew a couple of things, one was that I would kill a laptop in a matter of months and the other was that I was going to want something fast enough to run Photoshop while multitasking in other programs. Additionally I knew that Mac is the preferred computing platform of artists everywhere and that if I could afford the investment it would help me in the long run as far as frustrations with viruses and other headaches are concerned. Well, I certainly can not and could not afford even the lower end mac pro’s, so I started doing some research…. enter Hackintosh.
So the first thing that I found out was that it is possible to run a Mac operating system (OSX Lion in my case) on a PC. The second thing I figured out is that a computer is made up of like eight main components. So for the last year or so I have been hanging out and drooling over the work being done by my buddy Nick at wargasserspeedshop.com. After working on my own bike while watching others be built, snapping together 8 simple pieces didn’t seem like such a crazy undertaking. So I did some math… I already had a couple of spare parts from my recently deceased computer like a monitor and speakers and keyboard so out of the box I was going to save a couple of hundred bucks but this stuff can also be found at pawn shops or craigslist and doesn’t go out of usefulness quite as fast as the more technical components. On top of that, being that we were talking about building computers there is a huge online support community with people who have either already had the exact same problem or are knowledgeable enough to help. Then I started to do some research and found out that the CPU, the most expensive component was only in the $300 range which is a pretty penny, but when you think about it it also means that if you fuck something in your computer up then the max you will pay for a single piece of hardware is only to replace the CPU. This is where the learning curve starts to be offset by long term benefits. Who needs the geek squad when you built it yourself right?
Once I put pen to paper to figure everything out I was left with only one answer glaring me in the face…. I could buy a decent PC that I had no clue how to work and would probably eventually destroy for anywhere from $800-$1200. I could buy a Mac Pro that could probably stand up to my punishment for $3000-$5000 but it would be out of date in less than 5 years. OR… I could build a fully customizable PC with similar computing power to a $3000 mac, that I have fully intimate knowledge of and the capability to upgrade any single component at any time for about $1200 and some patience.
So, that’s what I did. I got a package deal from newegg.com and a couple of extra things and I was off to the races. I didn’t record my “unboxing” but you can find a lot of that crap all over online. Suffice it to say that I went slow and read the manuals, referenced tonymacx86.com when it got to setting up the operating system and 8 hours later had an Intel i7 2600k system running OSX Lion and was off to the races. I don’t really want to get in to my specific parts, because you really need to do the research on how to set up a system with your exactly specific parts. If this seems like something you are going to try doing, go to tonymacx86.com and check out the recommended builds. I know that I want to do full paintings in Photoshop but because I also like to multitask like crazy I just researched a good setup for Gaming or 3d modeling. I would like to eventually move on to some video editing so i tried to set myself up with the flexibility to do this later on. I got an alright graphics card for it, but the cool thing about doing it this way is that at some point down the line I can upgrade that if I feel like it.
So the final step was to “overclock” the system. It’s basically tuning up your computer in that you turn it up past its recommended capabilities. I had to make sure that I got an aftermarket CPU Fan so that I could keep the temperature of the processor down but that was no big deal to put in when I was putting it together in place of the stock one. Stock, the computer runs around 3.4 GHz and I’ve hear that you can get Sandy Bridge systems to run stable at 4.5 GHz you do it just right but I played it safe and set it up for 4.1 which should run stable and cool no problem but is also a noticeable difference between what it is and what it was before. My Geekbench score started at like 11,00 or something and this is where it is now. Without going into a bunch of detail, it is a program that tests the computer to tell how well everything is working together.
So, it does seem like a lot of work, but the benefits of a little bit of hands on do-it-yourself attitude can take you a long way here, and let’s face it, if you know me or read this, you’ve probably got a lot of that type of attitude. So, good luck, I highly recommend giving it a shot or at least doing the research to see if it will work for you. Thanks for dropping in, stay tuned….