Skylake 2016 Hackintosh

I’ve been waiting what feels like forever for Skylake systems to make the tonymac buyers guide. They finally seemed pretty stable, especially as more genuine Macs made the update to Skylake. I wanted a kind of middle-of-the-road setup to replace a 2006 white iMac I’ve been using from new. Being stuck on 10.7 was starting to cause me trouble, and the 3GB maximum RAM was a nightmare!

I bought most of the parts from the buyer’s guide links. The case I liked was temporarily out of stock here in the UK, so I tried the CIT Barricade instead. It’s a decent small tower, maybe even smaller than it looks online.

Overview

I’m happy to report that the system is now updated to macOS Sierra 10.12.2 & running well with sleep, audio, Wifi & ethernet all working. I’ve noticed a minor hassle that headphone sensing won’t work after a reboot, but I’ve not bothered tracking that down yet but it looks like CodecCommander should sort that out. There were a few snags along the way, which were unexpected after my last successful build. My previous hackintosh was a GA-Z77N-WIFI based system running Mavericks and needed very little modification to reach 100% functionality.

Sleep / Wake & System Definition

Sleep / wake is still causing problems when using the integrated Intel HD530 GPU, so I bought the cheapest NVIDIA GPU on the list. I’m usually happy enough with the built-in GPU, so don’t need anything fancy. Sleep / wake is much more important as this is a home system that won’t just be used by me. This was the first cause of trouble for me. After changing the system definition from default iMac14,2 to iMac17,1 for native Skylake power management & chipset support, I lost output to my screen. I used the USB installer to reboot and change the system definition back while I searched for a solution. The root cause seems to be something to do with the hacky way Apple runs Retina iMacs that disables output from the second GPU if two are installed. Fortunately there is a patch that prevents this behaviour, however-patching is needed after software updates. I’ve yet to try an alternative patch that looks like it may install into the Clover config and therefore survive updates.

CPU / Cooler

With the GPU problem solved I was able to switch to iMac 17,1 and get native Skylake CPU power management etc. This sorted sleep / wake, and also got the CPU power management running correctly, as noted by the fan getting loads quieter. A quick note about the cooler (fan) options for these new CPUs. They are pretty limited at the moment, especially in my space-limited case. Despite the awful reviews for noise, I decided to try the stock cooler that came with the CPU. It is every bit as bad as everyone says it is. I’ve not even checked the temperatures as the noise from it is already unbearable. I’m just about to replace it with a Gelid Siberian cooler instead. 

Gelid cooler is now installed & way quieter than the stock intel fan. It uses push-pin installation so there was no need to remove the motherboard. This improvement has now made the hackintosh quieter than the old iMac it has replaced.

Audio

Next problem was ALC892 audio. Both ALC892 & 100 series audio need to be checked in Multibeast for working audio. Not a big deal, but easy to overlook. Still yet to resolve headphone sensing after sleep, see note above.

USB

Although my front panel USB ports worked from the start, I didn’t think to check the ones on the back. I realised the block of 4 USB 3.0 ports didn’t work. I checked “raise max port limit” and “USBInjectAll.kext” in Multibeast. This fixed the rear USB ports, but caused a new problem. A few seconds after sleeping, the machine would wake itself back up again. Also instead of shutting down, the machine would reboot. Removing the USBInjectAll.kext fixed this problem. I guess I only needed the Raise max port option.

Ethernet

Ethernet problems next. During the initial Multibeast setup I chose the IntelMausiEthernet 2.2.0 driver as suggested in the forum. The ethernet board showed up in system profile, but I wasn’t within range of a wired connection. When I later went to use ethernet for the first time, the port would cycle between cable unplugged and replugged. Removing 2.2.0 and replacing it with IntelMausiEthernet 2.1.0 got things working normally.

WiFi / Airport

Keen for not just solid WiFi, but also Handoff, Continuity & Airdrop, I read that the best way forward is a genuine Apple Airport card +PCIe adapter. Fortunately some sellers on Amazon have combined these into a single package, complete with external antennas. This was a simple as the physical installation. The card showed up as a native Airport card without any need for configuration or anything. The Bluetooth chip needs a USB connection, and a clever cable was provided to run this from the spare front-panel USB header on the motherboard.

Done

Had I known about all of these niggles, I would have probably still built the system anyway. I’m putting this guide out, so anyone using similar kit can jump right in, without too much head scratching.

Parts List

Below are the parts I used. I’ve not linked them as I strongly suggest you instead use the tonymac buyers guide (link at the top) for current recommendations, and also to use his amazon referral links which support his site & continued work getting this stuff together.

Part Amazon UK URL
Intel i5 6400 Skylake 2.7GHz Quad Core 1151 Socket Processor https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B010T6CG7E/
[New Version] ABWB 802.11AC WI-FI With Bluetooth 4.0 PCI-Express (PCI-E) BCM943602CS https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MBP25UK/
Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB 2.5 inch SSD https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00P73B1E4/
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16 GB Kit (8 GB x 2) DDR4 2400 MT/s (PC4-19200) DIMM 288-Pin Memory – White https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0157ABYXO/
CiT Barricade USB3 Gaming Case with Interior Mesh Front https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00JKW3GDM/
GIGABYTE Intel LGA1151 H170 M-D3H HDMI Micro-ATX Motherboard https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002LFJ454/
AOC 25 inch IPS QHD 2560 x 1440 Monitor, https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00WK39NXK/
Corsair CP-9020076-UK Builder Series 550W CS550M ATX/EPS Semi-Modular 80 Plus Gold PSU https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00GN8VTVW/
EVGA NVIDIA GT 740 SC Graphics Card (2GB, 128 Bit, DDR3, HDMI, DVI-I DVI-D, PCI-E) https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00KO23Z0Q/

Old Vintage Eddie Merckx Racer Bottom Bracket Replacement

Eddie Merckx Racer
Eddie Merckx Racer

There’s not much info about these old bikes, so I thought this was worth a quick post.

The bike in question is an Eddie Merckx “Tour De France. ” Not sure how old, but it has friction shifters, 10 gears and is made of solid old steel.

After suffering with a wobbly bottom bracket (ooh er…), my mate John decided to replace the BB and solve the problem for good. We had heard that you can swap out the old bearings and races with a modern sealed unit and enjoy years of maintenance free cycling.

After a bit of searching, we found a Shimano BB with 68mm diameter, 127mm spindle length that we thought could do the job. It worked a treat, but there were a few things worth noting.

  • One side is reverse threaded so you turn it clockwise to undo it.
  • Be really careful with the threads as they could easily be trashed if you don’t line things up and screw carefully.
  • You will probably need a Shimano tool to tighten the new BB into place. It looks like a normal socket, but with deep ridges on the outside.
  • You may also need a “hub puller” tool to get the pedals off the spindles.

I will follow up soon with some photos of the hub puller and Shimano tool. Also maybe some links and model numbers. 🙂

Twenty Fourteen Single Post Page Secondary Menu Disappears

After ironing out some issues with my Twenty Fourteen Child Theme, I found another one. This one is not really a bug, as it is quite deliberate, but it was still a problem for my needs. When viewing a single post page, the secondary menu in the left sidebar is not visible. The menu is visible on other pages, and on the overall blog page. Again, I’m not sure why this was chosen behaviour, but there is a float left and negative margin that pushes the menu off the edge of the screen.

On line 3596 I changed the following:

#secondary {
 background-color: transparent;
 border: 0;
 clear: none;
 float: left;
 margin: 0 0 0 -100%;
 min-height: 100vh;
 width: 122px;
 }

To:

#secondary {
 background-color: transparent;
 border: 0;
 clear: none;
 position:absolute;
 min-height: 100vh;
 width: 122px;
 }

So far, this seems to have reinstated the menu, but I’ve yet to test this much yet. There is a chance it may cause trouble under certain conditions. I will see if it causes issues on a full-width page, and check the other media queries for knock-on issues.

Twentyfourteen Sidebar Bug

After updating to WordPress 3.8 I was keen to give the new Twenty Fourteen theme a try. I’ve been using a modified twenty eleven theme forever so thought a change would do me good! Within an hour I had changed the default green accent colour to match our company blue, made sure our contact-form plugins still worked, and got everything looking perfect on my testing site. My pointer hovered over the Publish button, but I decided to give it a quick check on the iPad. Just in case.

It looked great. The responsive layout was beautifully readable, and everything looked fresh and new. There was a slight, but game-stopping problem though.

The Content Sidebar Became Unclickable!

Some of the media queries that control the responsive layout had clashed and caused widgets within the content-sidebar to become unclickable at certain viewport sizes. In my case this was the contact form we have on every page, so losing the ability to fill the form is pretty bad news! I checked on the desktop version of Safari and found the same problem if I reduced the window to approximate iPad size. I couldn’t replicate the problem in Firefox at all.

For reference I was able to find the culprit. Two lines of CSS.

On line 3186 I changed width:100%; to width:66.66666666%;

On line 3192 I changed margin-right: 33.33333333%; to width:100%;

This fixed the unclickable problem, but caused a bit of overlap elsewhere with another media query so:

On line 3578 I changed:

margin-left: -29.04761904%;
width: 29.04761904%;

to:

margin-left: -25%;
width: 25%;

Remember that changing the live-version of the theme is a bad idea, as the changes can get overwritten by theme updates. I changed it in my child-theme instead.

I’m pretty sure this breaks a bunch of conventions that were used in the development of the theme (I hated changing the specific -29.04761904% to a generic -25%) , but it works for now, and that’s what matters. I couldn’t find the correct place to post theme-related bugs to WordPress, so have posted it here for posterity. I will probably have a look at fixing this more cleanly soon, as I suspect there is a quicker fix that I’m not seeing. Especially as this doesn’t seem a problem on Firefox. z-index maybe?

Avoiding Airport Taxi Scams

Foreign airports can be daunting, especially when you don’t speak the language. I have got some tips to make it as simple as possible, and avoid some common scams in the process.

  1. Research. Find out where to get the taxi from in advance. You don’t want to wander around looking vulnerable.
  2. If there are crowds of Taxis outside the airport shouting for business, they may not be official. Find the official taxi stand or office and get one from there. It may cost more, but it’s safe. We failed to follow this advice once and ended up paying six times the usual price. It could have easily been much worse.
  3. Know the price. Most hostels / hotels will tell you how much a taxi will cost from the airport. Allow for some variation for meter taxis and tolls, but it helps to have a guide price. For places without meter taxis get a price up front, but don’t pay until you get to your destination.
  4. If you book and pay for a taxi in advance from a hotel, make sure you get a receipt / voucher. In Vietnam a driver tried to demand more money even though we had paid in advance. Remember they have your luggage held hostage in the boot of their car.
  5. Don’t flash your cash about. Some countries are poor, so don’t show them your wallet full of cash. Most people are decent, but you never know. Keep some different notes in different pockets, then you can pull out just the amount you need, without waving loads of notes about.