macOS Mojave on a 2009 HP Laptop – The Return of the World’s Worst “Hackintosh”

You may remember that I installed macOS Sierra on my 2009 HP Pavillion dv6-2000t as referenced by this blog post: https://thestackunderflowblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/installing-macos-sierra-on-a-2009-hp-pavilion-laptop/. Since then I had to reinstall Windows 10 for use as a Plex server for a while. A few months later I was able to grab an old SFF Dell desktop with a 3rd gen i5 to take over Plex duties, leading my HP to retirement yet again. At this point I figured I should just recycle the computer since I don’t really have much use for it, until earlier this week. I decided to dig it up to give it one more shot at life, with one more shot at a working macOS install.

My Sierra install was pretty smooth except for one jarring issue: lack of proper CPU management. I don’t think I was getting the full performance out of the first gen Core i7-720QM inside of macOS and I never could figure out why. Actually, I am still not sure if I’m getting the full performance in Mojave but so far it seems faster than my Sierra install so I’ll mark that as a win in my book. Now you might ask, why not Catalina instead of Mojave? Simply put I just couldn’t get the Catalina installer to boot, so maybe my hardware is just too old. I actually like Mojave better since it has less of the annoyances that were introduced in Catalina. Overall the install process was pretty similar, with one headache this time being graphics. With my Sierra install I just used the NvidiaInjector in Clover to inject the native macOS NVIDIA drivers since I have a GeForce 2xx graphics card. Now, I thought this *should* have worked in Mojave despite the end of NVIDIA driver support in High Sierra, but there is one catch: only Web Drivers stopped working after HS, the built-in native ones for GeForce 2xx-6xx should still work. Despite this, I was still struggling to get it to work only to realize that the microarchitecture of the 200 series chipset doesn’t support Metal which is now the default graphics layer used by the macOS window server. Yet somehow, through some wonky patched drivers, I have some graphics acceleration working in Mojave with my GeForce GT 230M, at least enough to run the laptop display at its native resolution.

Honestly, I am shocked this system works at all. It is using incredibly outdated hardware and yet here I am, typing this blog post up on an 11 year computer running Apple’s second to most recent Mac operating system. Here is my. baseline benchmark for my primary workload, cross-compiling apps with Xamarin in Visual Studio for Mac. The test consists of a freshly created blank Xamarin Forms app targeting Android API v28 and iOS SDK 11.1. Here are the results:

HP Pavillion dv6-2000 (i7-720QM, 4 GB RAM, macOS 10.14.6)02:44.58
2018 15″ MacBook Pro (i7-8750H, 16GB RAM, macOS 10.15.3)00:17.74
Blank Xamarin Forms app compile times

The worlds worst Hackintosh takes almost 3 minutes to compile a blank Xamarin app compared to just under 18 seconds on a 2018 15″ MacBook Pro with a Core i7. Of course, we do have more cores at a higher clock speed, but there are clearly improvements to microarchitecture here as well. You would hope there would be such a divide, considering there is a 9 year age gap between these two machines.

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