Hackintosh will die soon, and that’s good

Hackintosh computer with multiple monitors running macOS.
Syafiq Adnan / Shutterstock.com

Hackintosh has gained some popularity as fans of macOS and its software have been impressed by Apple’s hardware price and performance issues. With the advent of Apple Silicon, those days are now numbered, but this may actually be good news!

What is Hackintosh?

A Hackintosh is simply a non-Apple computer that runs Apple’s macOS operating system and associated applications. It allows anyone with the right third-party computer to access everything macOS brings to the table without paying Apple for their PC.

While Apple briefly licensed its operating system to third-party computer makers during the time Steve Jobs was not at the company, today macOS is only legally available on Apple computers. Notwithstanding, those looking to save money or just lovers of messing things up have kept the Hackintosh community alive and thriving.

How to kill Apple Silicon Hackintosh

MacBook M1.
Nanin / Shutterstock.com

Hackintoshes only work because Apple moved their computers from IBM’s PowerPC architecture to Intel processors back in 2006. This means that Apple computers run the same CPU code as any “Wintel” computer. This is why it was possible to run Microsoft Windows on Macs using solutions like Boot Camp.

This arrangement has been going on for about 15 years, but Intel has struggled with accessing smaller CPU processes, lower heat, and lower power consumption. These are all key areas of Apple when it comes to its thin and light laptop business. By the late 2010s, Intel Macbooks were notorious for throttling performance, heat, and noise. At the same time, Apple’s internal mobile chips found in the iPad and iPhone were gaining performance with each generation, while remaining cool, quiet, and fanless.

Looking back, it seems inevitable that Apple will decide to shift its entire line of computing to its own hardware, now referred to as the Apple Silicon. The Apple M1 chip, which was the first example of an Apple Silicon in a Mac, has been met with rave reviews, and even the more impressive variants of the M1 have already made their way into the hands of customers.

For Hackintosh fans, this presents a problem. Apple Silicon is basically incompatible with Intel or AMD CPUs. This is why Apple had to create Rosetta 2, a compiler system that converts applications intended for Intel Macs so that they can run (somewhat slower) on Apple Silicon systems. This is a temporary gap until developers can create genuine Apple Silicon versions of their software.

Currently, macOS exists as an Intel compatible version and an Apple Silicon version. Apple is known for having a long support cycle for its hardware, but when the day comes when the latest Intel Mac releases stop receiving updates, the Hackintosh era will really come to an end.

Apple has fixed Hackintoshes address issues

Most of the reasons for Hackintosh computers are no longer relevant in the first place.

Many people turn to Hackintosh as a solution to use the software they need because Apple based Intel systems offer very little performance for the money. The whole point of Apple Silicon is to address major weaknesses in Intel Macs.

Apple Silicon PCs don’t overheat, are fast, have a long battery life, and deliver much higher performance per dollar than their Intel predecessors. Apple now owns a whole line of MacBooks and desktops that use its own Apple Silicon chips.

The new base model M1 MacBook Air costs the same as the Intel that came before it, but the performance difference can be measured in multiples rather than double-digit percentages.

Apple now has a strong representation in the sub-$1,000 PC lineup with devices like the M1 MacBook Air and M1 Mac Mini. The M1 iMac starts at $1,300 but includes a built-in display.

These three computers work in one form or another, which is undoubtedly better than any average user needs.

We expect Apple Silicon to continue to deliver significant performance gains from one generation to the next, with costs remaining stable.

Hackintosh experience has never been perfect

While creating a Hackintosh may mean having a better Intel Mac to use with your macOS software, it has never been an easy path. Creating a Hackintosh is not an easy or simple process. Apple certainly had no reason to make it easy, and even if you’ve run a Hackintosh, keeping it that way can be a delicate dance.

So the Hackintosh experience is a far cry from what it’s like to use macOS on the devices it was expressly designed for. You never have to worry about something as mundane as having the right WiFi controller or an update that turns your PC into a heavyweight, until a group of volunteers figure out a way to make everything work again.

It’s undeniable that Hackintoshes are brilliant, rebellious, and geeky tasty, but they served their purpose for now. We’d never say that a time for a similar solution will never appear again, but for now, we can thank the dedicated Hackintoshers for their service and close this chapter in Apple’s history.

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