Posted by: skyshab | January 9, 2009

HackBox Media Server

Just put the finishing touches on my Hackintosh Media Server.


I’ve been working on it for a few weeks, and it’s finally up and running.

mediaserver2The server only cost $400 to build. I ordered everything new from Newegg, and it arrived at my doorstep within 48 hours! I didn’t even pay for extra shipping. Gotta love Newegg!

Here’s the majority of the parts:


I also put in a laptop hard drive that I had laying around, a couple of fans, and some random cables that I had to order once I figured out the logistics of the build.

Heres the specs:

Mobo: Intel D945GCLF2 1.6Ghz Dual core atom CPU

Case: APEX MI-008  Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case w/ a  250W Power Supply

Memory: One 2Gb stick of PC2 5300 DDR2 667 SDRAM

Hdds: Two 1Tb Samsung Spinpoint 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drives,

and an 80 Gb SATA laptop drive leftover after a MacBook Pro hdd upgrade.

Here is a link to a Newegg wish list that has most of what you need. I actually ordered the SATA/IDE converter and the 3.5″ hdd to 5.25″ optical drive slot brackets from Amazon, because it was cheaper for me since I have Amazon Prime. I also used a short SATA cable that I had laying around.

HackBox Media Server Wish List

Here it is next to my Mac Mini for size comparison:


Not exactly as tiny as a Mac Mini, but not as monstrous as the mid sized pc that it replaced. Plus, a Mini is limited to 500Gb of storage max, while my server has 2.08Tb of capacity, with the potential to contain much more.

I wound up installing OS X and all the Applications on the laptop drive, leaving the Tb drives for storing media. I basically use one of the drives for media, and the other as backup. I have the app SuperDuper! do scheduled backups, only adding any new files to the backup drive.

Speaking of drives… the way this case was set up, there was a 3.5″ hdd slot on the side of the case…smack dab in between the side ventilation holes and the cpu and northbridge, the hottest part of the mobo. Very bad design. I moved the two Tb drives to the floppy drive slot, which was designed to also hold a 3.5″ hdd, and the 5.25″ optical drive slot, which was accomplished with a set of adapter brackets. This freed up that space by the side vent. But where to put the 2.5″ hdd?

Time to put all those hours of watching MacGyver to use. There was a little free space on the side of the case, oposite the side with the ventilation. I took my cue from the original design, but moved it where it wouldnt block the air flow. Now I just needed a piece of sheet metal to mount the drive to. Scouring Lowe’s hardware store, even the smallest piece of sheet metal was more than I wanted to spend. I started wandering around the store, hoping to stumble on something that would work for under three bucks with a minimal of cutting. Eureka! A fire extinguisher sign. Just what I needed.


I bent a 90 degree angle on the bottom, and drilled a hole in the bottom of the case to mount it to.

Here is a close up:


Now, this thing was running a little bit hotter than I liked it; idling at around 54 degrees Celcius. I removed the heatsinks from the CPU and northbridge, and replaced the stock thermal tape with some Arctic Silver 5. I also changed the northbridge fan, as the one that came with the board sounded like there was a miniature Harley climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro inside the case. I did some measuring, and it turned out that the case was exactly 120 mm top to bottom. So I picked up the quietest fan I could find on Newegg for a reasonable price, and it popped right into the original hdd slot.

server-fanProbably overkill, but it seems to help, and its very quiet. In fact, the server doesn’t make any more noise than the Western Digital MyBook that this thing is replacing. It now idles at 44 degrees, still hotter than I’d like, but 10 degrees cooler than it ran stock.

This mobo only has 2 SATA ports, so I had to get a SATA-to-IDE adapter. I also cut half of the IDE power cables coming off of the PSU to keep the clutter down inside the case. That’s whats wrapped up in that red electrical tape.


I also got a round IDE cable, to prevent blocking the airflow inside the case. (thats the bright green cable you can see in there)


Then, I put my custom vinyl hackintosh sticker on the case,


and put the case cover back on.




Now, for the brain! [evil mad scientist laughter]

I did a boot-132 retail Leopard install on the 2.5″ hdd. I kinda followed iSynapse’s guide on InsanelyMac. I used the kexts from his package, but I had to change around the steps a little to get it to work for me. It took a few trys, but I finally got it installed, and eveything seems to be working good. Doing an OSX86 install is getting easier and easier, thanks to the tools, guides, tips, and other resources that PCWiz and Weaksauce12 are putting out. Thanks guys!



  1. Have you tried running Plex on this?

    • Yes, sorta. I put Plex on there so I could run Plex Media Server. However, I found that PMS wasn’t doing much for me at the moment, so now I just have Plex on my Mac-Mini pointed to the sources on the media server. I did play a few SD m4v files on it when I first built it, and it seemed to do just fine. I don’t think it would handle 720p very well though.

  2. Aargh-a-Knot

    This is really cool as this setup is dual Core Atom.
    I really appreciate the your info here.

    I’m thinking of buying one as soon as newegg has the stock on the Intel D945GCLF2 mobo.

    Is your Audio working with Leopard?
    Did you have to load any special driver? If yes, where did you find it?

    Thanks in advance.

  3. How did you measure the temperature on OS X on this board?
    I use something called “Temperature Monitor” but it only senses the s.m.a.r.t. hard drive temp.

    • Hello. I use the BIOS to measure idling temps, as there is no reliable way to measure within OS X on a Hackintosh, at least that I’m aware of. On my Mac Mini I use SMC Fan Control and iStat. I wish these were Hackintosh friendly, but alas…

  4. Marty…
    Thanks for your appreciation.
    Stereo sound is working, but no 5.1. I just used the azalia audio kext that is included in iSynapse’s package. (see the last part of the post for the link)

    Good luck with your build, if you decide to go with this board.

  5. The fire sign hack was a nice touch. Case looks cool too, especially the hackintosh symbol. I might try a case like that, right now I just keep everything in a see-through storage box…

  6. Any chance you’ve tested sound output to the SPDIF header? I haven’t found anyone that has yet.

  7. Have you heard of anyone getting a graphics card working with this set up too?
    I was thinking specifically for adding an HDMI port.

  8. I see that you have used boot-132 on this build. I am thinking now of finding a reason to gut my old gateway to install a new mobo, CPU, SATA DVD and video card. I’d really like to do something as easy as the efi x solution but without spending the cash on the efi x. Has your experience with boot 132 been pretty good so far? I get the feeling that efi x is a dongle with boot 132 and some Kexts. I’d imagine that I should be able to find a 132 package for many of their compatible boards online. So once you are using efi x or 132, does it really work so well you can use updates from apple. Wonder if snow leopard will work? I would sacrifice exotic hardware to have a vanilla mini tower that runs faster than an iMac at a third the price of entry!

  9. speed wise how does the hackintosh compare to the Mac Mini?

    • Depends on how you are measuring ‘speed’…

  10. I was referring to general usability excluding DVD ripping and movie encoding. Did the motherboard have a max memory limit?


    • This box is no speed-demon… It’s great for web-surfing, torrent downloads, and media storage, but even the Mac-mini is going to benchmark much higher. I definitely wouldn’t want to do any processor intensive tasks on here… Which is why I built a quad-core Hackintosh for stuff like that.

      For the same amount of money you could build a pretty fast little computer that would trump the Mini. This build was configured to be a media server, so more of my dollars went into HDD space than performance hardware like the CPU etc.

      This board had a max of 2GB ram, one slot…which is more than it really needs for what I’m using it for.

  11. Hey, great write up! I managed to get an almost exact server up and running myself using the info you posted here and isynapse’s guide (your posts were very helpful in the thread).
    I am just getting to the file sharing parts and I am having real trouble getting any of my other computers to connect via afp. I have both a macbook and an ibook and it’s just not working on either. I can connect and share the screen no problem though. Did you run into any sorts of problems like this on the file sharing side of things?

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