How To Build An i5 2500k PC Mac-able


A few weeks ago, my son told me his computer died, the i7 920 I built many years ago, I know the motherboard died, not the CPU, but the cost of getting a new X58 1366 is almost the same as getting a new set of Sandy Bridge i5 2500k and H61 motherboard, therefore, I got the combo on sale at Micro Center for less than $200.

i5 2500k $179.

GA-H61MS2H Rev 1.3 $74.95 – $50. (combo) – $15 (rebate) = $9

I use 4GB memory sticks from the old i7 (6GB).

GA-H61MS2H The Motherboard

CPU i5 2500k DDR3 Memory Sticks

This is a mini-ATX motherboard, smaller than the full size one, the motherboard stand-offs are different.

brass stand-offs side bracket

The best is to install CPU, Heat sink and Memory Sticks before mounting the motherboard to the case.

remove the cpu cover CPU socket with pins

Place CPU in Socket close the cpu lock cover

Install memory sticks, make sure the key on the slots matched with the key on the sticks, press lightly to lock, if they don’t snap in lightly, don’t force them, something is wrong.

install memory memory sticks in

Now we can mount the motherboard inside the case and connect power cables to it. The recommended power supply is 500W which we have. Make sure the stand-offs fit the motherboard’s mounting holes and the back panel fit through the metal sleeve.

500W power supply     mount the motherboard

connectors fit metal panel     the back side

Tighten all the stand-off screws securing the motherboard to the case, connect power cables and 12V line (4pin yellow wires), connect front panel wires, USBs, Audio AC97, SATA drives and power.

power cables     front panel and SATA

Connect DVI cable from the motherboard to the LCD display, USB keyboard and mouse (PS2 if we have).

DVI connector     DVI white connector

Now, we can fire up the computer, the good thing about this motherboard is that it can load the old Windows 7 drive that we had with the i7 920, all we need is to put the driver CD in the CD drive and auto install all drivers and software, it works like a champ, flawless. The bios is F5 which F7 already came out, but we didn’t want to update something that works. Since the previous drive had Windows 7 in AHCI mode, we make sure the bios is set to AHCI or the Windows 7 won’t boot, and AHCI is ready for Mac LION OS X installation.

connection in the back     bios modification

AHCI setting     Gigabyte software

Gigabyte software     Gigabyte software

Now, we’re done with Windows 7, next is to install Mac OS X lion and Ubuntu Triple Boot on the old drive.

How fast and energy efficient is this computer running Windows 7 with only 4GB RAM 1333Mhz speed (these days 6-8GB is standard), it’s better to have 4GB dual channels than 6GB non dual channel, Windows 7 don’t use all 4GB for software running anyhow. Since 8GB dual channels  DDR3 now is under $30, it’s ok to get them, but I used my old ones 2x2GB.

I used Xvideo to convert my HD 1280×720 home videos to DVD for family members to see, compare this to the old i7 920, it has the same performance or better, but the power that it uses is amazing 40W vs 189W.

when idle     time rendered

Convert a 2 hr mkv movies to DVD.

mkv movie to dvd     31minutes for 2 hour movie

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