June 9, 2012

The Difference Between Unibeast, myHack, and Kakewalk

LAST UPDATED: December 22, 2012

Unibeast is by far the most popular installation software for Hackintoshes, but alternatives like myHack and Kakewalk have their own followings, respectively. However, it is not completely clear what the difference between these three tools is. Forums that support myHack and Kakewalk specifically avoid talking about Unibeast, while forums that support Unibeast specifically avoid talking about myHack and Kakewalk.

To answer this question once and for all, I've put together a comparison of these three pieces of Hackintosh software. For each app, I summarize its feature set, and then compare its capabilities to the other two apps. The results may surprise you.

Features: Like it or not, tonymacx86's Unibeast is now the quintessential app for installing Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion on a PC. It writes the official Mac OS X installer onto a USB drive, and then modifies it so that it can boot on a normal PC. The app is so straightforward that there are almost no options to choose during the setup.

Comparison: Unibeast is about the most basic tool you could possibly use for installing Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. And for most people, that's enough. However, since Unibeast has essentially set the standard for all other Hackintosh installer apps, this means that alternatives like myHack and Kakewalk are specifically designed to be better than Unibeast. For instance, myHack includes the MBR patch by default, so that you can install Mac OS X on a hard drive that was formatted by Windows. If you want to include the MBR patch in Unibeast, you have to add it manually. And Unibeast looks plain crappy when you compare it to Kakewalk, which simplifies the Hackintoshing process immensely (though there are some caveats to using Kakewalk as well).

Strangely enough, Unibeast is the only app out of the three that can use Apple's Mac OS X Lion thumb drive to create an installer USB drive for your PC. Very few people actually use the thumb drive, due to its high price ($70), but this is worth keeping in mind. On a sidenote, the official installation method for Unibeast requires you to format your USB drive correctly by yourself, before actually running Unibeast. This is an odd omission, since both myHack and Kakewalk will format your USB drive for you. Though formatting your own USB drive is super easy, this extra step is still worth mentioning.

RELATED: How to install Lion, How to install Lion on a MBR partitionHow to install Mountain LionHow to install Mountain Lion on a MBR partition

Features: myHack is the definite underdog on this list. Like Unibeast and Kakewalk, it can write the official Mac OS X Lion or Mountain Lion installers onto a USB drive, and then modify it so that it can boot on a normal PC. Interestingly, besides working with the Lion and Mountain Lion installer apps, myHack also supports Mac OS X Snow Leopard. 

One of the main differences is that myHack will apply the MBR patch by default. This way, the installer USB drive will be able to install Mac OS X on a hard drive that was formatted by Windows beforehand

However, the Mac OS X installation process is where myHack really differentiates itself-- myHack lets you install Hackintosh-specific kexts and configuration files straight from the OS X installer. These are only generic kexts, so your Hackintosh won't work with full functionality after the initial installation of OS X, but it's better than nothing. Afterwards, myHack will run myFix, a tool that clears out kext caches and fixes the boot0 error for hard drives with 4086-byte sectors. Finally, myHack will automatically delete any kext files that are known to cause problems for Hackintoshes.

Comparison: myHack has quite a few more features than Unibeast, so it's a shame that this tool still isn't as popular as it could be. It is the only installer app that applies the MBR patch, fixes the boot0 error, and deletes problematic kexts.

The main reason that myHack hasn't really caught on is because it isn't much better than Unibeast. The extra features that myHack offers are nice, but chances are, you probably don't need any of them.

P.S. If you don't like how myHack only installs generic kexts in the Mac OS X installer, you are actually allowed to install your own "custom" folder of kexts instead. This makes the app somewhat similar to Kakewalk, and (to a lesser extent) tonymacx86's Multibeast tool. However, for most people, it'll simply to easier to use Kakewalk or Multibeast instead.

RELATED: The Easy Way to Install Mountain Lion on your PC

Features: The name "Kakewalk" is a truth; this app really does make installing Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion a cakewalk. If you have a compatible motherboard and graphics card, Kakewalk makes sure that the Hackintoshing process is almost hands-free for you. It basically works in two parts. First, Kakewalk modifies the official Mac OS X installer, and writes it onto a USB drive. You can then use this Kakewalk USB drive to run the Mac OS X installer on a PC.

Secondly, once you install Mac OS X with your Kakewalk USB drive, Kakewalk will install a bunch of Hackintosh-specific kexts and configuration files in the background. This will enable your Hackintosh to work with full functionality, immediately after the initial installation of OS X. No post-installation required.

Comparison: When you use Unibeast or myHack to install Mac OS X, you have to do a lot of extra work to enable things like sound, ethernet, sleep, and the ability to boot from the hard drive. (This is usually accomplished with Multibeast.) Kakewalk does all of this for you, by installing the appropriate kexts and configuration files for your Hackintosh beforehand. This way, everything works out of the box! If your computer is supported, there's really no reason not to use Kakewalk. Just use it.

The catch is that Kakewalk only supports a very small number of motherboards (barely 30). Meanwhile, both Unibeast and myHack will work with pretty much any motherboard made for Intel processors in the last 3 years. Additionally, like Unibeast, Kakewalk doesn't apply the MBR patch. If you need the MBR patch, to install Mac OS X on a hard drive formatted in Windows, you'll have to apply the patch yourself (the patching process is the exact same as it is for Unibeast).

RELATED: The Easy Guide to Installing Lion With Kakewalk

If you're looking for a good, all-round Mac OS X installer for your Hackintosh, go with myHack. It does everything that Unibeast does, and then some.

If your hardware is supported by Kakewalk, then go with Kakewalk; Unibeast and myHack look rudimentary in comparison. Kakewalk removes the post-installation step in setting up a Hackintosh altogether. You can't beat it.

In that case, where does Unibeast come in? It has to be the most popular Hackintoshing tool for a reason, right? Yes, but not necessarily for the reason that you think. Though tonymacx86's Unibeast tool seems primitive in comparison to its alternatives, to this day, there's still no credible alternative to tonymacx86's second tool, Multibeast. When people download Multibeast, they usually download Unibeast as well, for the sake of convenience. Alternatives like myHack don't even come into the equation. After all, Unibeast isn't really a "bad" tool. Its feature set is already enough for most people, and if you don't have any problems with Unibeast right now, there's no real reason to change your alliances anytime soon.