ProjectQ, the $799 Mac Pro replacement

ProjectQ, the $799 Mac Pro replacement

Summary: The Hackintosh is a rare species of Mac endangered by Steve Jobs and only seen in the wild every decade or so. Here's the details on how to get a cheap, fast Mac – from a vendor outside of Cupertino.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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[Update: A Kickstarter project has been launched to take orders.]

In early February, I wrote about projectQ, a new motherboard that could be the computer to end all computers. It's the first motherboard (and computer) that promises to let you boot any operating system that you like (including OS X).

quo-aos-red-ogrady
Picture of a red Quo tower, capable of booting OS X.
(Image: Jason O'Grady)

Quo Computer told me that the first of its long-awaited projectQ motherboard will be available to order tomorrow beginning at 12 noon PT.

The Z77MX-QUO-AOS motherboard will run any operating system you choose (including OS X) and the hardware specs are impressive.

The motherboard is based on the Intel Z77 platform and supports most Macintosh features including Ethernet, Thunderbolt, Ivy Bridge, CPU, and GPU out of the box. The AOS (ie "any OS") motherboard includes an impressive array of ports, including:

  • FireWire 400 and 800

  • Thunderbolt

  • DVI

  • HDMI

  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0

According to Quo, a complete tower computer will start at $799, packing a lot more bang for your buck than you'll get from a Mac mini. Here are a few things that the AOS has over a Mac mini:

  • 3-monitor capable (without adapters)

  • 8GB of RAM (upgradeable to 32GB)

  • 1TB hard drive

  • Optical drive

  • Desktop processor (the Mac mini is mobile processor)

  • Quad core running 3.5 (stock can be overclocked)

Heck, the AOS might be the Mac Pro upgrade many have been waiting for, especially when you consider its expandability:

  • You can add a video card

  • You can add more drives

  • You can liquid cool it

  • You can overclock the CPU

  • You can upgrade the CPU.

For more details, read my post from February, follow myQuo on Twitter, and look for a Kickstarter project on this page on Monday, March 4, beginning at 12 noon ET.

I can't wait to get my mitts on one.

Update 1: I hear that Kickstarter pricing will be $219 (including US shipping) for the first 100 backers, then $239 after that. Retail will be $249. The first units are supposed to ship in May.

Update 2: The press release is out.

Update 3: The Kickstarter project is now live.

Update 4: The KS project has been updated with a new pledge level called "THE NEW COLLECTOR" which costs you $869 (which is $799, plus shipping). Back the project already!

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72 comments
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  • waste of money

    There are already systems that can do this.

    My H77-DS3H based system is presently a quad core Hackintosh and I pretty much have all the same specs as you listed.
    slickjim
    • lol H77

      you are comparing H77 to Z77 without thunderbolt, FW lol
      Deltaluv
      • Is that your only complaint?

        If it makes you feel better, the Z77 boards have dropped as well and had I have waited 3 Months I would have had a Z77 with thunderbolt.

        However, considering that I am saving money by building my own, what makes you think I would spend the asking price of a thunderbolt monitor?

        Another thing? I disable on board video so it is irrelevant.
        slickjim
    • HaHaHa

      Pretty much isn't quite the same as having it all. And this should get round the hassle of VM versions that nearly work and nearly have sound. Great scott... if this works it'll be tremendous!
      johnmckay
  • Superb looks like an awesome Board

    $219 is a great price, with thunderbolt and FW 400 and 800
    Deltaluv
    • It's hard to imagine

      anyone that would care at all about TB and FW even looking at something like this. Personally, I can't even imagine a potential use for either one of them. I'm sure someone does, but 98% of people will never use either one of them. I think I've had one MB that bothered to put a FW port on the backplane.
      stano360
      • FW800 and thunderbolt

        Audio Professionals and producers, they're gonna go nuts for this. The vast majority of decent low-latency external audio cards out there with a lot of inputs and outputs like you need in a studio, are still Firewire ones. The next move for high-end stuff looks to be thunderbolt. I believe the video editing industry is in a similar situation - being able to boot any OS also means dual-booting OSX and windows needn't cost an arm and a leg by buying a prohibitively costly Mac Pro unit.
        That said, thunderbolt incorporates the firewire protocol anyway via an adapter so it does seem an odd combination. Either way it's handy for audio guys to have all that stuff.
        Josh Danby
        • About those audio professionals

          Speaking AS one, I can say that audio pros demand uptime and compatibility more than price. A couple of thousand dollars saved on a box will disappear (along with future prospects) if the engineer has to explain why he's rebooting so often. I think most of us will gladly wait another few months to see what Apple has to offer.
          MC_z
          • Well yes, but..

            ..isn't this precisely what this product aims to address? I'm pretty damn sure if (and yes admittedly for now it IS an if) it works then people aren't going to complain that they get compatibility AND price into the bargain. Also it's all fair and well for large studios who can afford to piss money away but as nice as the view is from their lofty high horses, there's still quite a lot of smaller studios out there to whom the 2 grand extra you end up paying for a mac pro of the same spec is money that could be spent on better mics or monitors. Personally I prefer windows as it has far better low-latency performance, but having a PC that can boot up OSX if someone wanders in with a Logic project they want mixing or something would be handy. Besides, even without OSX even considered this motherboard is still quite nice for anyone building a DAW.
            Josh Danby
        • Get a used real McCoy, a Mac Pro.

          My 5-year-old 2008 Mac Pro with two 4 core Xeon processors will run rings around any hackintosh. Anyone who depends on a powerful computer like this to make a living, would not want to futz around with some nonstandard box that will croak every time Apple updates their operating system. Anyone who has an extremely tight budget, could look for used ones on eBay. I have seen some offered for less than $1000. Unlike most other computers, Apple systems hold their value better and last longer because they are built better.
          arminw
          • Really?

            If it's a 5-year old Mac Pro it only has two Xeon E5462 CPUs which are hardly going to "run rings around" a modern day i7 system.

            As for Apple's being "built better", I have a Mac Pro with a burnt out motherboard and a 2012 iMac with faulty USB ports and hard drive that makes me wonder if that's true anymore...
            MCGrant
          • he's just another grumpy Apple stock owner

            You're absolutely right about Macs: I really got burned when my logic board failed one week out of warranty, and the price of a replacement board was about the same as a whole new machine (which was vastly overpriced to begin with). Only when I searched for replacement parts did I notice the horror stories of other Mac owners. Apple is not extraordinarily bad, but the quality and the service is not commensurate with the price. And when they break, you're typically screwed, unless you can afford a new machine. I'm just not going to gamble on another Apple box that is not upgradeable or repairable in any meaningful and affordable way. From an environmental and ethical perspective, Apple is not a good corporate citizen.
            beau parisi
          • Get a used MacPro (8 core)

            Look, a 4year old (8) core Mac Pro will not run rings around an a single i7 (Mac or Pc) .. I should know, I have all at our studios. The Xeons where not built for speed, but for long stable life.. Having said that, the i7 (4 core/8 threads-hyperthreading) is built for both speed and long life.. We use Hacks in the studio all the time, and they perform just as good , if not better than stock Apple machines. We will be building a lot of Quos machines this year.. And save some $$$ , while getting Blazzing speed..
            jjdpro
      • So you are one of those people stano360?

        One of those that believes if they don't have a use for something that there couldn't possibly be a reason anybody else could. Guess what, the world does not revolve around you and what you want/need.
        non-biased
    • $219

      When it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

      I wouldn't waste your money on this.

      This is just like those dumb Ginzu Knife sets you see on late night TV for $29. But wait, there's more!
      RichDavis1
      • It's a Specialized Gigabyte Board..

        It's a Specialized Gigabyte Board..The same that are used in Apple machines..
        jjdpro
  • Deep irony

    How wonderfully ironic to see DOG promoting a WINTEL like PC configuration choice.

    When-oh-when will the likes of DOG and BOTT realise how much APPL and MSFT are holding customers back?

    OSX locked down for 'stability' ...
    ... WINDOWS 8 locked down for 'security' ...
    ... my arse!
    jacksonjohn
    • The irony is

      That by them doing so they will become more secure than your precious Linux - and THAT is what scares you being as how Linux has a small share of the market and the only thing going for it is the security of the platform... oh how's that hole coming? The one that's been open for a couple of years now?
      athynz
      • Linux market share

        I use Linux. I'm happy with it. All I want is an experience without unnecessary obstacles such as websites that require IE. Market share doesn't really concern me.
        chakr
        • ..websites that require IE ???

          I can't remember the last time I saw a website that required IE. It's YEARS, at least.
          bluebeard66