Why Nvidia’s upcoming Pascal drivers matter: The Hackintosh

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I’m currently in the process of building a new Hackintosh rig for 2017, so imagine how surprised and happy I was to hear that Nvidia is working on beta drivers for its GPUs with the latest Pascal architecture. Up until today, I had just settled on being relegated to a Radeon RX 480, or a Maxwell-era Nvidia card.

Not having Pascal drivers for the Mac certainly didn’t diminish the Hackintosh community, but it was significantly limiting in both options and creativity.

With today’s announcement, the Hackintosh just got exponentially more appealing. Nvidia’s announcement is positive for a variety of reasons: there’s the prospect of using an eGPU setup with a MacBook Pro, along with future prospects of Nvidia cards powering future Mac Pro hardware.

But on the immediate horizon, the announcement is most promising for Hackintosh builders. With this in mind, I wanted to share the build that I’m currently working on in this first part of a multi part series.

The best wireless keyboard for the Mac?

The great thing about today’s announcement is that, as I mentioned in our previous post, Nvidia’s beta web drivers promise to bring compatibility to all cards featuring Pascal architecture, not just the latest and greatest Titan Xp. This means that all 10-series cards: The Geforce GTX 1050, 1060, 1070, 1080, and all of its variants, will gain Mac support.

The $1200 Titan Xp is the fastest of all cards mentioned, but in my opinion, the $699 GTX 1080 Ti is the best buy if you’re in search of absurd power at a somewhat reasonable price point.

One of my goals for my upcoming Hackintosh build, besides the obvious raw power, was to have a relatively quiet rig. Hence, I decided on a Corsair Carbide Series 330R case, which includes built-in sound-dampening material. This case is large, and has plenty of room for a large GPU, and plenty of additional components. It’s not what I would describe as being pretty, but it’s a work machine that will sit on the floor.

Here’s a list of the rest of my parts for my build:

Some notes:

I was prepared to use a Radeon RX 480 for this build, but with today’s revelations, I opted for the GTX 1080 Ti. I was also planning on using the Silverstone 520W Fanless Power Supply for an even quieter rig, but it didn’t meet the power needs of the 1080 Ti and limited my overclocking abilities. I decided to play it safe and opt for EVGA’s 750W PSU.

The last note is that, while I heavily considered an NVMe boot drive, I’m holding off for now. I already have four SanDisk Ultra II 960 GB SSDs, and plan on waiting until prices drop further on NVMe drives before going that route. NVMe is definitely in the cards, though.

All in all, this seems like it’s gearing up to be a very powerful Hackintosh, and it will also fare nicely as a 4K gaming rig. As a side note, the motherboard I chose features Thunderbolt 3, so I’m looking forward to seeing if I can make it work with the LG UltraFine Display, though I’m definitely not holding my breath.

I’ll be back with a follow-up post once the parts arrive and I start building out my rig. I’m hoping to have it finished within the next week or so. Of course, a lot depends on the timing of Nvidia’s beta drivers, but I still have the RX 480 as a solid backup.

Nvidia’s announcement today might not have been made with Hackintosh users in mind, but it has definitely placed a lot more optimism in the minds of the community, and I can almost feel the excitement bubbling forth from Twitter and the various Hackintosh-related message boards on the web.

What are your thoughts on Nvidia’s announcement? Would you entertain the thought of building a powerful Hackintosh in light of Pascal support coming to Mac? Or would you rather wait to see what Apple is offering with its upcoming iMac Pro and Mac Pro hardware? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the matter.

Our previous Hackintosh build

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