Picture of Make Your Own $300 Mac: A Mac Built From MacBook Parts

UPDATE (8/19/2010): You could probably do this a lot easier/quicker by just making an OS X USB drive by making a DMG of the OS X install disk and then restoring that image onto an 8 GB or larger USB drive, but this Instructable is just about how I did it.

Some of you may see "Build Your Own Mac" and think, "Oh, another Hackintosh. How quaint." and move on to another Instructable. Let me say this once: This is not a Hackintosh. This is a fully-functional Mac that you can build yourself for hardly any money, using used Macbook parts.

Benefits of building a DIY-intosh (that's what I call it) over a Hackintosh:
- No need to do any EFI or kernel hacks to get it working.
- (Relatively) easy to get working because there are no bootloaders or hacks to install)
- It can always use Apple's updates because it doesn't require modifying Mac OS in any way.
- Updates will never break the machine (unless Apple screws up big-time, which is highly unlikely).
- Extremely small form factor.
- Low-power (65W-90W PSU).
- Extremely low-cost.

My DIY-intosh's specs:
- 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
- 2GB RAM (667 MHz)
- 100 GB hard drive (7200 RPM)
- 802.11 b/g/n wifi
- Bluetooth

Now that you've been fully convinced that you want to build a Mac, you can proceed on to the first step!

To see my original worklog and all the high-resolution pictures and HD video on my blog, visit http://cyrozap.com/tag/diy-intosh/.

kbhasi4 years ago
Maybe adding the macbook internal battery would help because this things run faster with the battery inserted, because it acts as a 'power cache'...
sawyer244 years ago
Yo would this have all the new mac programs on it like garage band and i movie and would you ever consider selling me one for a reasonable price do to the fact that that i have no clue where to start on this? i have been lookin to get a cheap mac for a long time
If you get the latest update for your Mac, you will get the App Store program, where you can buy the iLife programs separately for less than $15.00 each. It's a real bargain for those of us who don't want ALL of the iLife apps. I guess Apple finally got a clue that over-priced software packages filled with a lot of unnecessary fluff just isn't something the average citizen will shell out big bucks for. But, hey, getting the new version of Garage Band for $14.99....THAT'S awesome.
cyrozap (author)  sawyer244 years ago
No, all this installs is the operating system. I already sold this one.

If you want a cheap Mac, I'd suggest buying one using your preferred auction/classifieds web site because this project is not for the faint of heart.
Freshbott24 years ago
This is awesome beyond words. I love how small it is.

If I did this I would ignore the wi-fi antennas, and most likely ignore bluetooth, it's just more room for error.

Also the battery connector and lid magnet parts were a bit brief, and the picture wasn't very clear. Other than that very clear and well explained.

Also wanna know, how would I do this using a new Macbook which doesn't have firewire? Can I do this through USB transfer?

Anyway, thank you so much for this amazing instructable. I hope to try it myself.
cyrozap (author)  Freshbott24 years ago
You will need an 8GB (or larger) USB drive and a second Mac with a CD drive. You need to restore the Install DVD to the USB drive using Disk Utility (Google it). After that, boot the DIY Mac with the USB drive and you're good to go.
Awesome, thanks again!
mikemaj4 years ago
If you attach an led to make a power light like said here, will it pulse while sleeping?
cyrozap (author)  mikemaj4 years ago
No, that requires the part that connects to the HDD connector (it contains the IR receiver and sleep light).
You don't need another mac to use as the DVD drive, just get a DVD drive, you can probably pick up a firewire DVD drive for ~30$ on craigslist or something
cyrozap (author)  rippinblaise5 years ago
You're probably right--I just used the second Mac because it was available for me to use and I didn't want to risk buying an incompatible DVD drive (OS X is picky about what drive is used to install it, I hear). I'm going to edit the Instructable to let people know about this. Thanks for the feedback!
andy707075 years ago
This looks like a good project since I am looking for a cheap mac, however, if I was to make one, I would need all the parts in the UK and I don't have another mac to install the operating system from. Can you send me a UK price/part list that would include a macbook motherboard, the ram, wifi antennae, hard drive, and everything needed to get it working without a mac (so all the usb ports and stuff, and also a CD/DVD drive. I will mount mine in a custom made aluminium case wish holes for the cd drive and ports at the back, power button and stuff so it looks nicer. I would ideally want to spend less than £250 but I don't mind spending more if I have to.
cyrozap (author)  andy707075 years ago
Search online for each part to buy; use ebay and other websites to find non-functional MacBooks to take the functional parts out of. For your Mac, you need: - MacBook logic board - MacBook ODD/SuperDrive - MacBook ODD/SuperDrive cable - SATA 2.5″ HDD - MacBook HDD cable - MacBook logic board fan and heat sink with temp sensors - MacBook sleep switch/battery connector - MacBook DC-DC port (the power connector) - MacBook power block - MacBook keyboard cable - MacBook Bluetooth card - MacBook Bluetooth card cable - MacBook WiFi card - WiFi antennas - 2GB DDR2 667 MHz laptop RAM (2 x 1GB or 1 x 2GB ) - Generic magnet to keep the sleep switch activated - Thermal paste for heat sink - 1 Mac with a firewire port - 2 power cables (one for the DIY-intosh, one for the MacBook I used) - 1 firewire cable - 1 mini-DVI to whatever cable (I used a mini-DVI to DVI cable ) - 1 USB keyboard - 1 USB mouse - 1 display - 1 Mac OS X 10.6 DVD - You'll probably spend a bit more than $300, as the optical drive is $75, and once you get near the price of a used Mac Mini, it's not worth it to build your own. I didn't want to spend $75 on a Mac disk drive, so I left it out and used my friend's MacBook as a firewire DVD drive. As I was curious, I saw a Mac Mini on ebay.co.uk with comparable specs to my DIY-intosh for around £275.00. Sorry for my lack of good advice for you; because you're in the UK, I don't know any good places to get parts! Use a search engine (like Google) to find places to get parts. Also, look around for good deals on parts.