USB dongle lets PCs run Mac OS X without software hacks

— 5:07 PM on September 25, 2008

Ever since Apple announced its switch to Intel processors and released an x86 version of its operating system to developers, hackers have managed to get able Mac OS X running on white-box PCs. After all, Macs are little more than PCs at the hardware level—they just use a customized Extensible Firmware Interface instead of a BIOS.

Running OS X on PCs typically involves using software patches of dubious legality, but Gizmodo blogger Matt Buchanan has been testing out a much more elegant alternative: EFI-X. In essence, the EFI-X USB dongle includes the firmware necessary to install a retail-boxed version of Mac OS X. There are catches, of course. You can only use a handful of processors, motherboards, graphics cards, Wi-Fi adapters, and sound cards. And right now, EFI-X supports neither AMD processors nor most AMD graphics cards.

Still, according to Buchanan, EFI-X really does what it says on the box. "The best way to put it is this: I've got a Mac Pro now," he says. Benchmark results suggest performance is peppy, and Buchanan claims he was able to use the OS X auto-updater to install Mac OS X 10.5.5 without a hitch—he even has a video to prove it. The only major downsides Buchanan bemoans are the spotty hardware support, the fact that the dongle can prolong boot times, and the price tag: $169. Considering the markup on Apple hardware, though, that may not be too bad a deal.

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Top contributors
1. BIF - $340 2. Ryu Connor - $250 3. mbutrovich - $250
4. YetAnotherGeek2 - $200 5. End User - $150 6. Captain Ned - $100
7. Anonymous Gerbil - $100 8. Bill Door - $100 9. ericfulmer - $100
10. dkanter - $100
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