You’re probably wondering when you missed the news about Apple and Hewlett Packard teaming up to create a MacBook nearly three times cheaper than the MacBook Pro. Well, fear not because you will find no such news. And while that may be disappointing, since I’m sure many of you would love to purchase an official MacBook for under $500, I’m here to tell you about HP’s unofficial MacBook. So roll up your sleeves and put your hacking caps on because I’m about to open a new chapter in your life. A chapter called Hackintosh.

What is a Hackintosh?

A Hackintosh is simply a PC running the Mac OS X operating system. Any non-Mac hardware, be it HP, Dell, etc. running OS X is considered a Hackintosh. The way this works is by using custom software created by members of the Hackintosh community to forge compatibility between non-Mac hardware and OS X.

Before We Begin

I must warn you, the Hackintosh process can be difficult and frustrating. The HP ProBook 4530s is the easiest OEM PC to configure, but a large and dedicated following makes finding support easy enough. The reason HP’s ProBook 4530s is the easiest is because its hardware is very similar to that of official MacBooks, meaning OS X will recognize the components and things will actually work.

You’ll need to know though that creating a Hackintosh does violate Apple’s End User License Agreement (EULA). But who reads those anyway? As long as you’re not attempting to sell PCs running OS X, there’s no need to worry about Apple’s SWAT team raiding you while you’re playing Angry Birds on the toilet.

Checklist

There are quite a few things you’ll need before we even start the hacking process.

  • An HP ProBook 4530s. The most important part, obviously. Be absolutely sure you have this model because the software and guides I’ll be referencing are tailored specifically for the 4530s.
  • Access to a computer already running Mac OS X. As a college student, finding someone with a MacBook shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • We’ll be installing the latest version of OS X, version 10.8 Mountain Lion. You will need to purchase and download a copy from the Mac App Store (the reason you’ll need access to a Mac or Hackintosh). The file will be named: “Install Mac OS X Mountain Lion.app“.
  • An account on tonymacx86.com. You’ll need this in order to download UniBeast, the software that allows us to install OS X on a PC and HP ProBook Installer, a post-installation utility that will install the necessary software for core features like audio, WiFi, and full resolution graphics to work under OS X.
  • A formattable 8GB or larger flash drive.

The Guide

Since there are plenty of guides out there with step-by-step instructions for installing OS X on the 4530s, there’s no reason to write one myself. RehabMan of tonymacx86′s forums has a great guide and as long as you follow it precisely and don’t try and be a crazy maverick, you’ll have a working $450 Hackintosh laptop with specs comparable to a $1200 MacBook Pro. If you run into problems, your best option is to take advantage of the large community by asking for help on tonymacx86′s forums.

Recommended Software

  • Caffeine: A nice little app to prevent your new HackBook from going to sleep. While sleep mode is supposed to be functional using the 4530s, I would install this anyway, as I’m a fan of keeping my computer from falling asleep on me while I’m away.
  • F.lux: Adjusts the brightness and color of your monitor throughout the day to save your eyes from strain.
  • iStat Menus: A great menubar app that allows you to keep up with the status of your new Hackintosh.
  • CleanMyMac: A simple app that saves your Hackintosh from junk files and cleans caches to keep your system running smooth. Also contains various other useful system utilities.
  • Prey: Will allow you to track and protect your new HackBook in the event of theft.