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June 10, 2013

Dell XPS 8500: The Pre Built Hackintosh Of 2013

Last year, we published an article examining the Dell XPS 8300, one of the few prebuilt computers in the retail market that had been confirmed to work Mac OS X. Since then, however, the XPS 8300 has been superseded by newer computers, with faster processors and updated graphics cards. Instead of the XPS 8300, we now have its successor to work with: the XPS 8500.

Dell XPS 8500 ($800+)
What You Get: The XPS 8500 is essentially an exact copy of its Hackintosh-friendly predecessor, the XPS 8300. Like its predecessor, the XPS 8500 is one of the few prebuilt computers in the retail market that works almost entirely with Mac OS X. And unlike most "prebuilts", the XPS 8500 uses an Intel Core processor from the relatively new Ivy Bridge generation (Ivy Bridge processors have model numbers in the 3000's, like the i7-3770).

Beyond the processor, the XPS 8300 includes a DVD/Bluray drive, 8 to 12 GB of RAM, and a 7200 RPM hard drive. Some models of the XPS 8500 also have a WiFi adapter. Every model of the XPS 8500 includes a separate graphics card, but the specific card that you get depends on which model you purchase (more on this in the next section). Like most prebuilt computers, the XPS 8500 comes in a relatively small mid-tower case. This makes it more portable, but also makes it a pain to upgrade with new parts.

The main difference between the XPS 8500 and 8300 is that it's much cheaper to turn the XPS 8500 into a Hackintosh. The only models of the old XPS 8300 that worked with Mac OS X cost $1600+, as a result of incompatible graphics cards in the cheaper models. In the case of the new XPS 8500, however, even relatively cheap mid-end models have Hackintosh-compatible graphics cards. Many of the sub-$1000 models of the XPS 8500 come with a NVIDIA GT 640 graphics card, which works out of the box with Mac OS X. Some of the cheaper models of the XPS 8500 come with a Radeon HD 7570 graphics card, which is incompatible with Mac OS X, but you can just use the integrated HD 4000 graphics on the computer's Intel i7-3770 processor instead. The only models that don't work with Mac OS X whatsoever are the very cheapest (sub-$800) models that use an incompatible GT 620 and a i5-3550P processor (which doesn't have any integrated graphics).

Hackintosh Compatibility: Most of the features on the XPS 8500 work with OS X Mountain Lion, including booting from the hard drive, ethernet, sound, and graphics (assuming you bought the right model). You can usually update Mountain Lion without a problem. Sleep mode, Bluetooth, and USB 3.0 also work, though these three features tend to be relatively unreliable. The only part of the XPS 8500 that is completely incompatible is the WiFi adapter. If you need WiFi, you'll have to purchase a separate WiFi adapter.

Unfortunately, there aren't any comprehensive guides on setting up Mac OS X on the XPS 8500; this is the main reason why we haven't officially recommended the XPS 8500 until now. Leonowski from tonymacx86 has provided a rudimentary guide on the initial Mac OS X installation, but it's not up to date on certain parts of the process (especially the part about installing VoodooHDA, which is no longer necessary). We'll try to summarize the installation process right now: you can install OS X Mountain Lion on the XPS 8500 normally through the Unibeast method. From there, install the following options in Multibeast:

That should get everything up and running, more or less. The exact setup process may vary depending on your particular model of the XPS 8500. If you have the model that uses an incompatible Radeon HD 7570 graphics card, you will have to use your computer's integrated graphics instead (essentially steps 1-7 of leonowski's guide). You can do this by plugging your monitor into the HDMI port of your motherboard. If you have the model that uses a Radeon HD 7770 graphics card, you will have to do the same thing, and then follow the steps in this guide to enabling the Radeon 7000 series to get your computer fully working later.

The XPS 8500 has only been confirmed to work with OS X Mountain Lion. While Lion will likely also work, you probably won't be able to install Mac OS X Snow Leopard, since the XPS 8500 uses an Ivy Bridge processor. While it's technically possible to install Snow Leopard on an Ivy Bridge processor, the support is experimental and always will be.

NOTE: The motherboard of the XPS 8500 uses UEFI. Mac OS X does not yet support UEFI, so you may have to enter the BIOS of your XPS 8500 and turn off "UEFI mode" and "Secure boot" for the installation process to start properly.

SOURCE: Guide: Dell XPS 8500 [tonymacx86]