Hackintosh part 6
After yesterday’s post I had a working 10.5.1 system with my applications and home folder copied from a backup drive. Everything looked to be where it should when I logged in so I started the testing.
The first app I tried was iMovie 08. I know it’s had a lot of flack from the iMovie HD purists, but I find it a lot easier and quicker to use than the last version. So what if it doesn’t have themes? The speed of editing means I don’t put off making the holiday videos due to the time it takes. The biggest issue was running iMovie 08 on my Macbook. Even maxed out with 2Gb of memory the editing process wasn’t smooth. It’s fine with standard video from a miniDV camcorder, but I treated myself to a Sanyo Xacti HD2 last year before a holiday in Florida. The camera was light and easy to carry around all day and took 7 megapixel photo’s and 720p HD video (that’s 1280×720). The Macbook hardware just struggled to handle that resolution of video. Playback had lots of stuttering and spinning beach ball delays.
Most of this can probably be put down to the Macbook’s integrated graphics. It’s a common problem with an external monitor plugged into the macbook. At 1280×800 the built in display runs fairly smooth, but when I use the external 20 inch monitor at 1680×1050 it all gets a bit jerky. Spaces gets choppy with more than a couple of apps open and dashboard stutters. It’s not surprising when you consider the external display is asking the integrated graphics to handle over 70% more pixels than usual.
So how did the hackintosh handle iMovie? Like it was editing a low resolution video from the early nineties. Playback, cross fades and effects were smooth and iStat menu’s four processor graphs barely moved above zero. The backlog of holiday videos shouldn’t take too long to clear with this sort of responsiveness. I tried iPhoto next and this was the same. Actions like opening a photo for editing that took a few seconds on the Macbook were down to less than a second.
VMware was next up and initially gave an error message when trying to start a windows XP virtual machine, which I suspect was down to having been moved from the Macbook. This was version 1.1, so I upgraded to 1.1.1 and the fault was fixed. Virtual machines launch a lot quicker, no doubt due to the fast samsung 7200rpm drive and four processors. I had Windows XP running full screen on one desktop and switched between that and the other three Mac desktops using a press of my centre mouse button. I will install Ubuntu Linux at some point and try having that on another desktop, but I expect it will be just as smooth. It’s amazing how much difference a 256Mb PCI express graphics card can make. I know Macbooks are built to a price but I would gladly pay another £50 for a decent graphics chip instead of the underpowered integrated offering.
There’s an interesting thing to mention while talking about graphics cards. The original 512Mb Jetway 7300GT card cost £32. The Sparkle passive 7300GT with 256Mb was £35 from a local store. Apple charge £100 for their 7300GT card. That does have two DVI connectors rather than one DVI and one VGA like the card I bought, but £100? Looks like it’s not just Apple’s memory that’s grossly overpriced.
A trial of Adobe Photoshop CS3 launched in a fraction of the time the Macbook had taken and filters were very fast. Another delight was Google Earth. My VideoPC had run this super smooth at 1680×1050 with two 2.4Ghz Intel Xeon’s and a 6600GT. The Macbook was tolerable on the built in display and sluggish at 1680×1050. The new Mac just flies with this app. The Vegas Strip is always a good test of a graphics card if you show all the 3D hotels and turn all the content on. Of the other items I wanted to test I haven’t had a chance to test Garageband with the audio input of the hackintosh so that’s next as well as a bit of overclocking to see just how good these Core 2 Quad’s are.