The Hackintosh is back; say hello to projectQ

The Hackintosh is back; say hello to projectQ

Summary: After some fits and starts in 2008 and 2009 by Psystar and some cheap Dell netbooks, the low-cost hackintosh may be coming soon to a screen near you.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
The Hackintosh is back, say Hello to projectQ - Jason O'Grady

In April 2008 a Florida company called Psystar arrived on the Mac scene with a desktop hackintosh called OpenMac, a $399 Mac-compatible tower built from generic PC components (naturally, I had to have one.)

Even though Apple released the original MacBook Air in January 2008, it was expensive and not small enough for some users. Enter the $400 DIY Apple netbook built atop a Dell mini 9. (Naturally, I had to build my own.) In April 2009 Dell cut the price of entry in half when it released the ultimate Hackintosh surrogate, the $200 Vostro A90.

While frankenMacs were a big hit with budget Mac crowd, a backlash ensued when netbook performance was found to be dismal and playing cat-and-mouse with Apple became more of a hassle than most were willing to put up with. Then in January, 2010 the arrival of $500 iPad was probably the final nail in the hackintosh coffin.

Or was it?

A thread on the Insanely Mac Forum mentions that a new motherboard from QUO Computer could signal the revival of the desktop hackintosh. According to the thread the board supports most Macintosh features (including Ethernet, Thunderbolt, Ivy Bridge, CPU and GPU) out-of-box. The projectQ (a.k.a. the QUO Z77MX All OS) motherboard includes an impressive array of ports, including:

  • FireWire 400 and 800
  • Thunderbolt
  • DVI
  • HDMI
  • USB 3.0 and USB 2.0
projectQ ports look impressive - Jason O'Grady


Additional details from a poster claiming to be one of the board's developers:

  • This board will require minimal (to none on future) user input for OS (X) boot, AOS stands for ALL OS, so is not just a board for hackint0sh, we are developing it for Windows and Linux too.
  • It will feature built in UEFI Open Boot Loader and as a future plan built in Chameleon for legacy boot, more info and details later.
  • Built in components: Intel 82574L LAN, Intel USB 3.0, TI FW800 2x ports on board and x1 FW400 on back, HD4000 Graphics(require CPU support), ALC892 Audio Codec, and 2x Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt ports all this in Micro ATX form factor.
  • All built in components works OOTB with our custom firmware (exception is audio).

Other items of interest about the projectQ mobo:

  • According to a post by iztech, projectQ is the first board to support FireWire 800 (1394b), Intel 82574L LAN and ALC892 Audio Codec.
  • It will allow you to boot installesd, chameleon, and fakesmc and do a complete OS X installation without anything else. 
  • It has the same Texas Instruments chip as in MacPro (Texas Instruments XIO2213A/B/XIO2221 IEEE-1394b OHCI Controller - Cheetah Express)
  • open-source BIOS

According to the company's FaceBook page, the QUO Computer website will be updated in "the weeks to come" with a configurator and a pre-order form for the projectQ motherboard. During the introduction period the Z77MX-QUO-AOS will be available for pre-order for $219 and builders will be able to purchase bulk packs of 10 at $199 per.

Count me in.

For more background on the hackintosh, I recommend this post on AnandTech.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • Thus begins..

    The worldwide roll-out of OSX activation. Oh, and the inevitable issue-sidestep (heh, new dance move?) from SO many OSX fans over the years criticizing another company for such 'drastic' measures.
    • What are you talking about?

      You do realize don't you that this is not being put out or sanctioned by Apple right?
  • Note to author...

    Very minor grammatical error in sentence: "Even though Apple release the original MacBook Air in January 2008..."

    No cynicism intended. Just a friendly note. Good, informative article none-the-less.
  • Good to see that Apple will not hardware lock anymore

    I ever tried hackintosh, and it is quite nice to help me on learning the OS itself. Right now with supported hardware, it will be better to find out more.
    • I bet Apple is preparing warming their (Legal) Ion Cannon...

      ... anyone want to bet how long it will take to apple to show their teeths?
      • Yeah

        That's one angle I am watching: at what point is it worth Apple's time and money to shut down the hackintosh market?
      • Marketing is the name of the game

        it looks like QuoComputers is positioning their product just right. They are just saying that it can run OSX out of the box.

        Phystar was shipping computers that were pre-installed with Leopard. The end user licensing agreement for Leopard states that the licence allows you to install, use and run one copy of the OS on a single Apple-labeled computer, operative words being Apple-labeled. According to ComputerWorld (which cites a Miami-based lawyer’s blog) Apple’s legal team are pursuing Psystar’s violation of the Leopard EULA." (,5903.html)

        Phystar went head on at Apple with naming it's products the "Open iMac" and "Open Mac Pro". I think QuoComputers marketing tactic seems a bit more reserved.
  • Watching this

    I have been planning on making my own hackintosh this coming Summer. Will be watching this MB to see how it pans out.
  • Cool

    Let it be!
  • Nice for home, but ...

    ... I can't imagine any real businesses bothering to use Hackintoshes, given that there'd be no support from Apple or third-parties.

    Still, for personal use, unless Apple blocks installation (which I wouldn't be surprised by) it'd be interesting to put one together.
    • The warranty

      Actually I do use one of these in a corporate environment (granted it is mainly used by me). The warranty you get from building your own unit usually extends beyond what Apple offers, with some components getting lifetime warranty. Not to mention putting one together was a breeze once you get OS X compatible hardware, especially the GPU.
      Another + point for getting a Hackintosh
      Sim Cheh
    • Zombie Compression Nodes

      In the world of post-production this could provide places with some cheap render farm nodes to use with Apple's Compressor.
  • Interesting

    Apple will, of course, have to respond, but I'm not sure they could really do much about it (since the manufacturer would not be reselling or preloading OSX). Someone could even sell machines using the board preloaded with FreeBSD, leaving it up to the customer to install OSX, if desired.
    John L. Ries
    • Unless, of course...

      ...there's a way for Apple to invoke the DMCA (which should be repealed).
      John L. Ries
  • This sounds similar to EFi-X

    They also touted a computer that would boot multiple OSes. By the looks of this one, it won't be cheap but should beat the Mini by a good margin. In the end, people that want hackintoshes are already doing so. Apple doesn't have much to worry about.
    Mac Hosehead
  • The hardware compatibility is the big key

    This MB matches up with Apple hardware nicely. It should reduce a lot of the constant fiddling that was required in order to keep a hackintosh running everything smoothly. The fact that they are not selling OS X with the MB will help them avoid the wrath of the Death Star. Plus, Apple should keep in mind that hackintoshes often convince people to buy the real thing later. I used one of the EPiX devices to try OS X one one of my machines before I bought a real Mac. It impressed me with how easy it was to use MIDI input devices with their software. I still use it for music.
  • Wow...

    Wow! That is one seriously ugly mother board... Looks like they all come with bult-in ESD...

    It's the perfect gift for the dork/nerd who is cheep and enjoys fixing a constantly breaking PC.

    And for the record... I'm not looking forward to the hackintosh pics with the fat nerd in leotards coming back.
    • It doesn't sound like you have ever looked in a computer

      If someone wants to run O/SX more power to them. I couldn't bother to get stuck with a restrictive system. I want to be able to run what ever I choose, not only this drive or that video card. I like the high end cards and OverClocked boards and CPUs. Oh they did say that you could overclock this board, why can't you do that on a Mac?
    • Another scared Apple stock owner

      'Count me in' too: This "any OS" philosophy and open firmware is really a positive trend. It will provide the public with a greater range of choices when purchasing software, and will permit student coders on a tight budget to do a lot more cross-platform development work. Sure would like to see a cheap laptop with the same kind of functionality. Maybe this will convince PC manufacturers to pay more attention to the needs of the consumer.
      beau parisi
  • Ugly board - beautiful OS!

    Somebody on here work for Apple? I'm an Apple veteran. I love the idea of this! An affordable Apple!