Most modern motherboards often come with a very specific feature set. But there is so much variance that it often gets confusing when you are trying to choose one for a Hackintosh. They also come at a very different price point, making one wonder what difference it makes buying an expensive motherboard. The truth is that you don’t always have to if you are not going to be doing some heavy-duty computing on it.
But we have done the work for you and picked the top three boards that you can buy for your Hackintosh build. These boards are not low-end boards, but they come at a very budget-friendly price, except the first one. They give good value for your money and even then provide very high performance.
We will present our top three picks to you, but first, we would like to bring your attention to these buying essentials that we think every buyer should know about.
What We Considered Before Choosing the Products
1. General Compatibility
Before buying a motherboard for yourself, you must see if the hardware supports the OS or not. Different laptops have different specs and will perform differently with Hackintosh. Some can install a more powerful processor but lacks the provision for fast storage or RAM to run it effectively. On some rare occasions, the motherboard may not be compatible at all, and thus, motherboard compatibility can also be an issue. So make sure that you check the compatibility first before buying.
2. CPU Socket
Whatever CPU you intend to buy, make sure that your board corresponds to that chip. Manufacturers make motherboards for a very specific line of CPUs. For example, boards for Intel and AMD are different. They have different sockets that support CPUs based on their brand and architecture. For instance, you will find that companies like Gigabyte make boards for both Intel and AMD, but those boards have a completely different architecture. While the Intel 9th generation processors require an LGA 1155 socket and are not backward compatible, AMD processors will need a board with an AM4 socket.
3. CPU Type
To narrow down your options and have a more focused approach, the choice of CPU will tell you what kind of motherboard you should buy. Since motherboards are made for a specific line of CPUs, only a set of CPUs will work with a particular motherboard. For example, if you intend to buy the latest 10th generation processor, you will need the LGA 1200 socket. However, if you intend to go with the previous-gen CPUs, then the LGA 1155 socket will suit you. In fact, that will be the only socket you would want because none of them is backward compatible.
If you are going for a totally different processor like AMD, you will need a board that only supports AMD CPUs. AMD is a little bit lenient about filling the generation gap and has much better support for older CPUs on newer boards and newer CPUs on older boards. That is why these boards are the preferred choice among gamers. You can use the AM4 socket for all of its processors ranging from Athlons to the beefy Ryzen 9. If you are thinking about Intel, know that they tend to update their socket designs each year.
4. Board Form Factor
Boards come mainly in three sizes. The biggest full-sized boards are known as ATX, the medium-sized boards have a micro ATX form factor, and the smallest of them is the mini ATX. Don’t mind the terminologies because the mini is a smaller form factor than the micro in this world. So what does it mean to have a bigger form factor? The bigger the board is, the more input provisions you can have with it. For example, bigger boards will have more DIMM slots, more PCI slots, and more room to manage your motherboards. If you are planning to install a lot of SATA storage, a larger board can give you the option to have as many as six SATA ports. So you can easily install a couple of HDDs and some SSDs as well.
As you will be using a Hackintosh OS, it is important to check what kind of ports you will need for a true Hackintosh experience. The best way to check is the I/O area of the motherboard. But that is not all. You also need to check the onboard connectivity as well. Check for the USB headers and see what version of USB they support. Do you need extra storage? Look for a lot of SATA ports onboard. How about fast SSD storage? Do you need to connect a standard SSD through SATA or need high-speed NVMes? If so, you must have a board that natively supports the NVMe platform. NVMe board has onboard slots just like your DIMM slots.
There are a couple of useful I/O ports that you need to look out for: USB 3.1, Thunderbolt, USB Type-C, HDMI for video and audio, and standard USB ports for connectivity and USB peripherals.
6. RAM Slots
How much can one need? We would say four is just enough. Most of the boards with the ATX and micro ATX form factor have four DIMM slots. Unless you want to get super with boards that offer double the amount, you are better with just those. However, if you want to go with a maximum of 16 to 32 GB, you can just pick a motherboard with 2 DIMM slots.
7. Expansion Slots
These days, the only slot that you are going to need is the PCI-E. But these slots also have different variants. They come in various configurations: PCI-e x1, PCI-e x4, PCI-e x8, PCI-e x16. PCI-e x16 is mostly used for installing graphics cards, while others can be used to install things like expansion cards for storage, Wi-Fi adapters, and sound cards. This is especially useful if you want to use Hackintosh because most of the time, it won’t support your inbuilt Wi-Fi or sound chip, and you will have to install a universal adapter to make it work.
We don’t want to get more technical here because there are a limited number of PCI-e lanes on the motherboard, regardless of how many slots you have. This means that no matter how many slots you have on the motherboard, the motherboard can transfer only so much power between the lanes.
We need another article to tell you how it works and how it affects the performance, but the bottom line is that if the power limit exceeds the limit, the slots will try to compensate the power by reducing their power levels if they are operated simultaneously. Unless you are performing some real power-hungry tasks with five GPUs, which you will never do on a Hackintosh built for any good reason – you don’t have to worry about it.
This is something where you have to play smart. Motherboards can range anywhere from 50 to 1000 dollars. But it is unnecessary to spend all that much money and buy those premium boards just to build a Hackintosh. Those boards are intended for running high-end processors like Core X and Threadripper, which is total overkill for a Hackintosh. So, let’s see what you can get at different prices and then decide for yourself.
If you spend around a hundred dollars on a motherboard, then you can get an overclockable board. At least, that is the case with AMD boards. If you buy an Intel board, you are pretty much stuck with the stock speeds. If you want to see some other features on your board like Wi-Fi and Thunderbolt support, you might need to spend some extra bucks. Spending around hundred bucks can get you all of these, even on a low-end board. If you spend a bit more, you can have support for AMD’s higher-end chipsets and other features like Wi-Fi and RGB lighting onboard.
Add in a few more bucks, and you will start to enter the premium tier. You will start seeing more RAM slots, support for peripheral devices like M.2 and NVMe, and heat sinks on your chipsets for better VRM cooling. These boards provide many features like extreme overclocking, VRM tuning, voltage control, and much more.
Top 3 Best Motherboards for Hackintosh
This time around, the board that topped our list is no other than the Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming. Considering various options and beefy features, it is a suitable candidate to run Hackintosh without any problems. This, however, is by no means a cheap motherboard. It is designed for enthusiasts and is a perfect choice for those who want to dual boot their system with Windows and Hackintosh.
The hardware is based on the Z370 chipset, which means that it fully supports the 9th gen Core processors. If you are looking for a top tier performance, this is something you should consider. The socket that comes with it is the LGA 1155, and even though it uses the socket that previous-generation CPUs from Intel support, it is not compatible with them. But we understand since this is Intel’s thing.
- Comes with many bright features
- A great choice for dual booting
- Highly compatible with Hackintosh
- Supremely overclockable
- Setting it up is easy
- Very expensive
The memory it supports is the latest DDR4 overclockable to a full 4000 Mhz. This board does support overclocking, so cranking your memory and processor won’t be an issue.
Great PCB design
We also loved the PCB design. The grey and black combination increases the aesthetics, especially when you want to showcase your build. If you love RGB, you will be glad to know that it has onboard RGB to go well with your RGB fans. It also has a lot of fan headers, which you use to install as many fans as you would like.
The Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming has many gaming-related features, but that alone does not make it the best candidate for Hackintosh. It is the compatibility it offers with the Hackintosh. Almost all the things work without having to mess with the drivers and manual settings. We have seen many boards that were very powerful but lacked compatibility with the Hackintosh, making them pretty much useless for this purpose.
Easy To Set Up: The setup of this motherboard with Hackintosh is also very easy. There have also been a lot of tutorials regarding this board on how to set it up with the Hackintosh.
I prefer Asus boards because they have been reliable for me. Asus is known to manufacture high-quality boards, and their Maximum series from the Republic of Gamers line are some of the top-notch motherboards you can get right now. They look aesthetically pleasing and belong to the top tier.
As far as performance goes, you will not have any kind of issues because it has high power delivery, but how far it is compatible will be seen. For me, it has been one of my favorite boards, at least for gaming. So we tried to use it for dual-booting it with Hackintosh, and the results were pretty amazing.
If you ask us about one thing that we didn’t like about this board, then the answer will be purely objective because the answer is the price. For me, it is the best value for your money, considering how flexible it is.
- A great choice for both gamers and Hackintosh enthusiasts
- Splendidly overclockable
- Great looks
- Two M.2 slots
- Very easy to set up
- A little expensive
There is certainly a huge change in the design. The first thing you will notice is a drastic shift from the black and red color scheme, which we all just love, to a more greyish tone. It may take some people to get used to it. But considering that the case designs have also changed, this look will certainly blend in with new cases.
On this board, you can get all that you can wish for. It has USB Type-C and USB 3.0 ports. You also get onboard HDMI, a display port, and three Aurasyn RGB headers as well, so you have plenty of RGB to play with.
We are pleased to inform you that you just install Hackintosh, and that is pretty much it. All features run by default as they are intended. There are no compatibility issues yet. If you want a machine entirely dedicated to Hackintosh, then we will certainly recommend this board.
You are certainly not going to be gaming on a Hackintosh, but if you would like to try it out, this board certainly provides you with the opportunity to install high-end hardware to do that. With a perfectly paired CPU and GPU, you can also game on this board. It also has a high power delivery.
M.2 Storage: The board comes with the option to install M.2 drives, which is indeed welcoming. You don’t need to install big HDDs onto your system anymore. M.2s are the size of a DIMM and go directly into your motherboard, sitting flat on it and covered with a heatsink.
Asus is known to make super expensive boards, i.e., super high-end. People are of the view that Asus is not concerned about the lower end of the tier. That is just not true because this motherboard breaks the myth. It is low to the mid-range board by Asus and delivers a good enough performance for a budget build. The Strix series are already gamers’ favorite, and to make matters better, they have released a Strix on a budget.
This is from their Republic of Gamers lineup, and we just love it. It is beautiful with just the right size, and it is a beast. While this board is certainly a gamer’s favorite, it is also well suited to Hackintosh. In our testing, we didn’t experience any compatibility issues. We did have to install drivers, but that was just something with the Hackintosh itself, and it is not a big deal.
- A blend of appearance and performance
- A great choice for Hackintosh
- Comes with decent connectivity
- Four DIMM slots
- Very budget-friendly
- Onboard graphics do not work by default
- RAM needs to get fixed manually
Honestly speaking, this is one of the most beautiful boards you can come around with. If you want to showcase a gaming-cum-Hackintosh build, then this board is a perfect choice. We would say that it is a perfect blend of appearance and performance.
Asus has made sure that people on the lower end of the spectrum can also get the same performance on their budget builds. We never had an issue with the performance at any given time when we were testing this board. We paired it with the highest we can go, and we never had an issue with power delivery. That is because it has such good VRMs – one of the reasons why you would want to buy an Asus board.
Compatibility: Almost all the functions of work and hardware compatible. Two minuscule features didn’t work, though. We are still looking for a patch for that. Then, you have to work around with the onboard graphics. The support for that is somewhat broken, and we weren’t able to test it on older Hackintosh builds. We weren’t able to make the first and third slot work together in a dual channel for some very weird reasons. We are still looking for a patch, though. The driver does have a fix, but the RAM issue needs to be cured by configuring your config hack file. There is a separate tutorial on that.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Hackintosh reliable?
A Hackintosh might not be as reliable as a Windows PC or a Mac. That is because it is running on the hardware it was never intended to. That is why it is ridden with compatibility issues. It is not that the PC is not powerful enough for the Mac OS, but it is just how a Mac is built. The whole purpose is to enjoy the Macintosh feeling on custom hardware.
2. Does Hackintosh have many issues?
If you are running an OS on third party hardware, you already agree to get yourself into a wide range of issues. But developers are working on bringing the builds in coherence with the latest PC hardware. But some things just can’t work on a PC like they would on a Mac.
3. Is Hackintosh safe?
We already know that Hackintosh is not as reliable as an original Mac. Although most of the security features will work just the same, a Mac will always be reliable than third-party hardware running a Mac.
4. Does Hackintosh receive Apple updates?
A Hackintosh can receive updates, but it may cease to run because the updates will rewrite the hacks used to break the security.
In this article, we explained in detail what you can get at a particular price. We also clarified who needs those beefy motherboards. Additionally, we also described what kind of features you need to look out for if you want to build a Hackintosh system without burning a hole in your pocket.
We recommend that you go with the B550 boards because they have the best value and best price to performance factor. But if you want to save even more money than the B360 is a good option too. You also don’t necessarily need all those features. For example, you don’t need many slots when your board can only deliver so much power while your PCI-e lanes distribute the total power between them. While other motherboards will work just as fine, these motherboards give you the best value for your one and the best performance possible.