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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Hackintosh on Dell Optiplex 960 with Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT

Recently, I bought a GoPro Hero HD2 camera which I have used to gather some 1080 footage... unfortunately the extremely long in the tooth early 2008 MacBook Pro I'm typing this on struggles to edit it. I really need to upgrade it - only only one USB works, and intermittently at that - and the audio has its good and bad days - however I can work around those issues with the odd NVRAM reset to fix the USB ( hold down the power button for 5 seconds when the machine is off and the battery removed) and some bluetooth headphones solves the audio issues - so no need to upgrade just yet.

I tried Windows Live Movie Maker on a fairly grunty Dell optiplex 960 with 8 Gig RAM- but that POS software kept crashing every time I rendered my video, and anyway it only supports Microsofts proprietary WMV format.

Since I know how to use iMovie and I didn't want to learn anything else, I thought I would see if I could install OSX lion 10.7.3. I had already managed to run it in a VM, but the video driver for the VM didn't support Quartz Extreme, which is required to run iMovie.

Anyway, after several days I managed to get it all working for the following configuration with my Nvidia GeForce 8600GT card, so if anyone else wants to give it a try here a few tips that might save you the several days of pain I went through.

* Make sure your bios is in AHCI mode

* I used the iATKOS L2 installer DVD - which hangs during boot on an Optiplex 960. So I removed my HDD, put it in an Optiplex 755 which managed to boot and install the OS. I then swapped the disk back into my Optiplex 960 which successfully booted. I then ran software update, and downloaded the 10.7.3 Combo update standalone to bring the machine up to 10.7.3. There are other ways to install OSX, which involve using a USB key to boot the machine and a retail copy of the OSX lion DVD

* I now had OSX with no network, sound and only basic graphics

* using MultiBeast I was able to install the kernel extensions (kexts) to get the network card working. I used the AppleIntelE1000e network driver, which is packaged with Multibeast.

* I couldn't find any drivers to support the onboard sound hardware ADI 198x Integrated HD Audio.
Luckily I had an old soundblaster live card lying around and was able to install the awesome kx project audio drivers by Eugene Garilov. Unfortunately the audio inputs don't work, but I was pretty stoked that my 12 year old soundcard has a new lease on life in my hackintosh!

Getting the video working was the biggest pain.

Some suggestions I found by trawling the forums such as adding the GraphicsEnabler=Yes setting in the org.chameleon.boot.plist file that is used by the boot loader did NOT work. Neither did hardcoding some magic EFI string distilled from the video cards ROM.

What finally worked was installing NVEnabler64.kext. All the forum posts seem to assume you know how to install kexts... kext utility is what you need to do this. Just drag the kext file onto kext utility and it does all the magic, copying the files and repairing permissions. I found it only worked if it was in System/Libaries/Extensions... not Extras/Extensions as mentioned in a few forum posts.

And voila... you now have a working Hackintosh.

If you are thinking of trying this then and or are great resources. Good luck!


  1. I have a Dell Optiplex 960, also, and I'm thinking of giving this a shot. I have an nVidia card that Avid requires and I can install that later, I suppose. The 960 has a Radeon 3400 in it now.

    Any suggestions or comments?

  2. suck it and see!

    im pretty sure the reason I couldn't initially install on a 960 was my AHCI settings. once it is up and running its sweet... might take a little while to get there tho...

  3. suck it and see!

    im pretty sure the reason I couldn't initially install on a 960 was my AHCI settings. once it is up and running its sweet... might take a little while to get there tho...

  4. Hey:

    I got Mountain Lion installed and updated on my Optiplex 960. Network works, but I'm using an ATI 3400 video card with default drivers. Pretty wonky, but it works.

    The Optiplex 960 doesn't offer a power cable and plug for a video card - how did you get your Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT to work without this?

    If I can't get a video card that's compatible with OS X 10.8 that DOESN't require a power cable, I'm screwed.

    Any help?


  5. my GeForce 8600 card didn't require a power cable, it just plugged in to the slot.

  6. I owe you a coffee, a drink, or dinner, or something.

    You got a Soundblaster card to work with the kx project drivers? I wonder if they work with an Audigy 2 card I have.

    Thanks again.

  7. Those drivers DO work with an Audigy 2 card. I just installed them and I now have sound.

    Is this your card, exactly?

    Thanks again.

  8. not quite, mines a gigabyte GeForce 8600 GT NX86

  9. Hey, Paul:

    How are you? Have you updated your Dell 960 to 10.8.3 yet? Any problems?

    I tried it and it broke the installation. Everything was fine until I ran the update, and I had a black screen after the two initial Apple startup screens.

    I noticed an error message (upper left corner) immediately prior to the black screen:

    header read size 200
    incorrect image signature

    FWIW: I have the latest nVidia driver installed for this card and OS combination. (downloaded from the nVidia site.)

    I have since wiped the drive and reinstalled the OS, installed the graphics driver, the iTunes and Java update but NOT the OS 10.8.3 update. The machine is now running fine and is stable, but I need some help with installing this update.

    I'll keep researching for a fix to this problem after the update. Otherwise, I may just stick with OS 10.8.2.


    1. Hi Tom,

      I made the mistake of trying the 10.8.3 upgrade and had the same trouble as you.

      I have since wiped the disk and managed to get 10.7.2 installed. What method did you use to install 10.8.x? I can't remember what I did to install it


  10. finally tried the 10.8.3 update. Installed the combo update - which seemed to go well until I rebooted. It gets stuck on the grey boot screen with the apple logo... and never manages to load the OS.

  11. Thanks Paul I find your blog and mow my 960 star to work in OSX

  12. what version if Mac OS did you manage to install?