Power You need it
The processor is one of the most important components in many cases determining the speed of a given application. We use Intel processors, which are getting more and more efficient every year. Currently, these are the latest 12th and 13th generation processors, which means a up to 70% increase in performance compared to the older version.
If we are investing in a new computer, it is not worth returning to older generations of Intel processors. For typical “home” applications you can use quad-core Intel Core i3-13100 (13thGen). For more advanced work we can choose Intel Core i5-13400F processor (ten cores) or Intel Core i7-13700F (16 cores). All these processors belong to the “energy-efficient” – the TDP parameter does not exceed 65 W. They do not require efficient cooling or a relatively powerful power supply. For this reason, they are used in small mico ATX or mini ITX computers.
Particularly noteworthy are processors from “K” series, i.e. i5-13600K , i7-13700K or i9-13900K, whose parameters allow for higher clock rates and consequently additional performance increase. In this case, a very good CPU cooling and efficient power supply is required. These processors can be found in computers dedicated to advanced graphics, video and audio processing.
For some it may be a key element of the computer for others it is just an accessory used to display LCD screen. So, simplifying graphics cards can be divided into two groups. The first is the graphics integrated with the processor such as Intel UHD 630 or simple graphics like Nvidia GT 710 or Nvida Quadro NVS 510. Generally they are used to display screen, decoding 4K video material, etc. In any case, their computing performance is low, although properly support even several monitors or multimedia applications.
The second group are dedicated graphics cards on PCIe. They are characterized by high computing power (several or more times greater than UHD630). In some applications they can even support calculations very efficiently. And of course games – in this case, good graphics is the basis of successful play. Here we can choose Radeon RX 560 4 GB , Radeon RX 6600 or 6600 XT 8GB . Card recommended for apps such as FinalCutproX , DaVinciResolve and wherever there is the possibility of using GPU for rendering.
And so far our fastest graphics under MacOS are : Radeon RX 6800 XT 16 GB and Radeon RX 6900 XT 16 GB . Due to the dimensions and power consumption available only in “larger” computers. Recommended for professional applications where price is not a priority.
Ultra-fast M.2 SSD drives
Currently all our computers are equipped with ultra-fast PCIex4 NVME SSD. These drives are installed directly into the m.2 slot on the motherboard. They have speed from 3000 MB / s up to next Gen 8000 MB/s. which greatly accelerates the boot macOS and speed up work witt applications . The latest PCI Express version 4 motherboards also support m.2 drives with blistering speeds of up to 8000 MB/s.
Usually on the motherboard there are two ultra-fast m.2 slots, and sometimes even three. In addition, depending on the model of computer, we have several SATA 6 Gb/s slots where we can connect additional drives such as SSD and “traditional mechanical” HDD. The advantage of these mass storage devices is their relatively low price and large capacity. They can be used for “data storage” where speed is not the most important thing.
The size of the system disk depends on personal preferences, but the most optimal for the beginning is 500 GB or 1000 GB . Smaller capacities are already less profitable. Larger is always a risk that part of it will be unused. But this is not a Mac, where the drive is soldered to the mainboard. You can always replace it at any time with a larger one. Probably in two years or a year for the price of 500 GB we will buy 1 TB – it’s not a Mac you dont have to buy in stock.
Regarding yet which companies produce the best drives m2. We prefere Crucial drives because there are very fast and compatible with macOS. A little slower Adata but it has a better price.
Memory DDR4 / DDR5
The standard size of memory in our computers is 16 GB. Recently we hear from the Apple company that 8 GB is enough and 16 GB is already the ultimate. How is it really? Well 8 GB may be sufficient for most home applications. Even on 4 GB you can work. But the difference between 8 GB and 16 GB is about 50 $. In the Apple store upgrade from 8GB to 16 GB cost about 250$ … You already understand why it is not really worth buying a new computer with 8 GB of memory even if it will not be immediately used.
Professional applications may require more memory . Some of course and depending on the complexity of the project on which we work. That is, 3D rendering , video editing, graphics. Here it is better to have 32 GB and maybe even 64 GB. You need to monitor the system to know how much memory a particular application uses.
In Macstorm computers, the maximum memory, depending on the model, ranges from 32 GB to 128 GB.
In ITX-type constructions (small computers) we have only two memory slots, which means that they are filled as standard and there are no other slots to add memory. Here, for example, if there are two 2x8GB memory modules, then to expand the memory we have to remove them and use 2 x16 GB modules.
When the board is larger, i.e. micro ATX or ATX there are usually four memory slots. In this case we have two 2x8GB memory modules and we can add another two 2×8 GB memory modules to get a total of 32 GB. Expand to 64 GB, you need to replace all memory modules with 4×16 GB. The memory works in dual channel mode, which means that we should always fill the modules in pairs, otherwise we have a certain decrease in performance.
Newest DDR5 memory in real applications are a bit faster than DDR4 but more expensive.
An element of a computer which is usually treated as an addition rather than an important part of it. Meanwhile, it is the case or rather its size that defines the limits of our machine’s capabilities. Yes, the limits of possibilities, that is performance, expansion, etc. Cases can be divided into three types due to their size: ITX, microATX and ATX.
They differ in the dimensions of the motherboard that can be installed in the case. A small ITX case will only fit an ITX standard board. In micro ATX and ATX cases, you can install larger size motherboards. Mounting an ITX board in an ATX case is usually considered as a technical error and rightly so.
You can read about the differences between the motherboard types in another thread. ITX cases are usually used to build small computers with limited expandability and relatively less performance. Unfortunately, efficient cooling of the processor is limited. Nevertheless they are valued for their small size and sometimes it’s worth having a small case.
If we are going to use additional PCIe cards, add many HDD/SSD, use “K” series processors, top graphics cards then we should choose a bigger microATX or even ATX case. This will prevent situations when you have extra hardware, but … there is no space for it.
In Macstorm computers we use usually high quality cases . In addition to ergonomic design, they have quiet fans, sometimes soundproof mats, the possibility of mounting liquid cooling kits for the processor, etc. In general, the principle of proportionality applies here. Expensive workstation should be equipped with a high-end case For economic “budget” computers, these criteria may be different, but the choice of case should never be random.
A basic component of any computer. In the case of Macstorm, the board is already carefully selected both in terms of performance and compatibility with macOS. So we do not have to change anything here.
However, the only parameter you should pay attention to is the size of the motherboard; because it determines the possibilities of computer expansion. We have ITX, micro ATX and ATX motherboards of different sizes.
The ITX motherboard is the smallest possible and is mainly used to build small computers. An important thing is the number of memory slots – there are always two memory slots. That is, at the time of purchase, both slots are already occupied because the memory is always filled in pairs. To increase the memory in the future, you simply need to replace the memory modules with larger ones. The maximum amount of memory is limited because of the two slots to a maximum of 64 GB (in older models it was correspondingly less). Another important issue is the number of available PCI Express slots. On the ITX board we always have only one PCI Express x16 slot; usually already occupied by a graphics card. So we are unlikely to add other cards on PCIe. There is simply not enough space.
Micro ATX motherboard. Here we usually have four memory slots. Normally, two slots are occupied and the next two are free, so to add memory you only need to buy two additional memory modules. There is also an increase in the maximum amount of memory to a maximum of 128 GB. More PCI Express slots usually up to four. So we have, for example, 2x PCIe x16 and two PCIe x1. We can install a second graphics card.
And finally, the largest ATX motherboard. When it comes to memory it is the same as for micro ATX. The exceptions are boards with LGA 2066 socket as in Macstorm Infinity where the number of memory slots is eight but we fill them with four modules each. The maximum amount of available memory is 128 GB. The number of PCI Express slots increases to five, including the three fastest PCI Express x 16 slots, which means that three graphics cards can be installed. It is also worth noting that the top ATX boards (Macstorm VI) are equipped with three M2 slots for ultra-fast drives.
Multisystem - MacOS , Windows and Linux on one computer
Macstorm is a hardware on which you can run natively any system . And here, in contrast to the Mac we do not need a tool like “BootCamp”. We do not have to as on the latest Mac M1 use a breakneck emulation of the system Parallel or virtual machine. Just install Windows 11 or some Linux distribution preferably on a separate disk as on a PC.
If you want to have a working with full efficiency Windows or Linux do not play with programs that allow the operation of these systems under MacOS. Shematically in this case looks like this: computer-MacOS-Parallel- Windows. In fact, it should be like this: computer -Windows . Conclusion : in the first case will always be slower (and sometimes less compatible) because in the background running other systems / programs.
However, thanks to the bootloader is also possible to install additional Windows or Linux on a separate partition of the disk with the system Mac OS. However, we advise against this method. As you know each system has a specific filesystem such as HFS , EXT4 or mac APFS. And creating a hybrid disk containing several partitions with different file systems is not a completely safe solution. One drive and several systems can be recommended only when there is no possibility of adding a second drive.
Thunderbolt not always needed
Thunderbolt has always been associated with the Mac. You could say it’s sort of a symbol of the Mac. What is its status in 2021? First of all you need to know that Thunderbolt (now version 3) in the technical sense is a PCI Express x4 bus plus DisplayPort.
Relating this to our computers, most of them have a few faster slots PCIex8 , PCIex16 or at least one PCIex16 …
What we use Thunderbolt for ?. For example disk arrays. Do we need them in the era of ultra-fast NVME M.2 drives? They are not needed. We can also successfully make a software disk array using SSD or even HDD. Disk arrays made sense some …. two decades ago )
The second application is the external GPU or powerful graphics cards connected via TH adapter. But even our small ITX computers can use high performance graphics cards.
And finally various Thunderbolt audio interfaces . Bingo ! Well, here there is no way out because no one will change the expensive hardware. The Thunderbolt option is available as standard on Macstorm VI computers and is probably the best for macOS compatibility. For some models you can use additional TH cards on PCIe. So in summary. Thunderbolt makes sense if you are going to use a specific piece of hardware that is not available in another option. Otherwise, do not buy any TH devices – it does not make sense !
Ethernet , WiFi, BT
If you use the Internet over a cable then a 1 Gb Ethernet port is sufficient, and for the more demanding 2.5 Gb. Here the matter is simple: every Macstorm is equipped with at least one 1Gb Ethernet port. The situation looks different in the case of WiFi and Bluetooth. These devices can be divided into “ordinary” functioning as in Windows and “native” with MacOS.
In the first case, WiFi/BT works just like on Windows and some people will not notice any difference or need to have more native hardware. In the second case WiFi/BT allows you to use additional features typical for macOS such as Handoff, Airdrop. Unfortunately macOS is very picky in this case and using listed functions is available only for specific for Mac WiFi/BT chips.
Also using original Apple devices like magic mouse or trackpad requires native BlueTooth. For this reason most Macstorm computers come standard with a macOS native WiFi/BT card on exactly the same chip as in the Mac. For cheaper models you can order such a card additionally.
Without a good and customized power supply, there is no stable operation and all our efforts come to nothing. This is the least appreciated component of a computer. Macstorm power supplies are specially selected for power and other parameters .
So what should an ideal power supply offer? It should have the right power rating depending on the components in the computer. Many cheap power supplies differ significantly from what is written in their specifications. For example, if you buy a 500W power supply, it may actually have 300W… Without going into details, a decent power supply is not cheap. A special feature is …. weight. If you have some power supply at a mega low price, check how “light” it is, which means that something was saved. It is also not worth going overboard and buying some “monsters” with 1000 watts of power. For example, the 700W power supply in the Macstorm VI. The maximum load that can be achieved is… 400 to 450 watts. While there are quite a few good power supplies on the market, there is only one choice if you care about silence – BeQuiet.
The choice of CPU cooler depends on the TDP , performance, the case and if the CPU is overclocked. Basically, the case decides which CPU cooler to use. To be more precise, the height of the case.
For processors of the F no K series (TDP 65W and higher) we use air cooling or liquid cooling .
In workstations such as Macstorm VIII we successfully use only liquid cooling. It is worth adding that the purpose of liquid cooling is not, as some people think, the work culture or silence (the radiator also has to be cooled) but the maximum performance. This is achieved when the radiator fans work at maximum speed.
MacOS backup so You can sleep well
It is known that macOS is a very stable system and can work without any problems for years. On the other hand, you can never 100% exclude the possibility of hardware failure in the sense that the disk falls or that “we broke the system” by digging into system files. And here comes the need to have something like a system backup. MacOS offers us Time Machine and Recovery options. However, they all have a drawback: they only work if something else works. And this something is either the MacOS system or we must have access to Wifi or at least undamaged boot files. This cannot be ! In our computers, a copy of the system always works regardless of the circumstances.
That’s why every Macstorm has an alternative, fully functional copy of the system, which always works regardless of the conditions. You can recover the system to disk, but you can also work on it, because it is a second working system. In extreme cases, even if the system disk is dead, we can recover the system to another disk.
You can easily drink one cup of coffee, that’s how long it takes to recover the system. Without a services visit or wasting time on installation and configuration of the system.