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THE MAC HACK
We show you how to install and run OS X Lion on your ordinary PC
There are a lot of things that Apple gets right, but pricing is not one of them. This is a company that’s made a fortune by defying conventional wisdom, so it’s hard not to admire it and its products despite their occasional quirks and shortcomings. Apple’s appeal has grown from a long history of understanding what users are really doing with their computers and devices, and knowing how to create things that people will desire. It’s all about the experience—their goal is to make you feel delight and wonderment from the time you walk into a shop till you take your new device out of its box and switch it on for the first time. Everything that Apple does, from the iron-clad secrecy it maintains around upcoming products to the theatricality of its unveilings, is designed to further that experience. Once the association with joy has been made in buyers’ minds, they’re hooked.
Mac OS X has a lot of appeal: the graphics are rich, security is higher than Windows, it’s generally easier for beginners to get used to, and there’s some excellent software available for creative professionals. For most people though, just the “coolness” factor and thrill of getting it working without spending money on Apple hardware are reason enough to try.
This is the “reality distortion field” effect that dozens of other companies have tried to emulate over the years, to varying degrees of success. Just like everyone else, Apple has had to adapt to a changing world, one in which everything is mass produced in China, there are only two or three manufacturers of each kind of high-end component, and it costs too much to try and do things on your own. Today, it’s possible to take a small chunk of that Apple experience and use it on your own, outside the confines of the expensive ecosystem built specifically for it. The enjoyment won’t be the same, but the whole point is to expand users’ options and give them the choice.
We’re referring, of course, to running Mac OS X on any ordinary PC, something that the Cupertino giant does not like, endorse or acknowledge in any way. Apple’s desktop OS is finely tuned to work with its own hardware, software and online services: an entire ecosystem. This has the disadvantage of limiting your choices (and budget range) when it comes to buying a new computer, but it has the advantage of eliminating the thousands of variables that tend to make Windows machines slow or unstable. Apple has never expressly allowed other brands to sell machines with OS X preinstalled, so you’ll never find a Mac bogged down with “bloatware” added on by third-party manufacturers, and you won’t have to go hunting for a printer driver when you need one, because it’s already built in.
Be warned, running OS X is a tricky proposition and it’s not endorsed by Apple in any way. You’ll be contravening their end-user license agreement and will not have access to any help or support from them. You also won’t have a Mac-specific keyboard, mouse or trackpad, which will make several shortcuts and gestures impossible to use. This process is not recommended for casual users, or anyone who isn’t familiar with the internal workings of a PC. You run the risk of erasing your hard drive and losing whatever’s on it, so make sure you have backups. Moreover, obtaining a legal copy of Lion, the latest version of OS X, is entirely your responsibility.
The Hackintosh Process
Installing an operating system on hardware not originally designed for it is a tricky process. Apple is famous for building experiences around tightly integrated hardware and software, so problems are bound to crop up when trying to run OS X on unfamiliar components. It’s not impossible to run OS X on commodity PC hardware, but this isn’t a project to undertake if you’re not 100 percent comfortable with your computer’s inner workings.
As of now, OS X Lion is a bit more difficult to get running than previous versions, Leopard and Snow Leopard. Methods of running these older versions have existed for years now, and a vibrant developer community online is constantly making new drivers available to extend compatibility with all kinds of hardware. With Lion only recently released, the driver database is understandably small, and it’s quite likely that you’ll run into compatibility issu4es and other odd problems. The most frustrating issue we faced was with an incompatible USB keyboard, which caused all sorts of input errors!
Before beginning any experiment, we must emphasize the importance of backing up everything on your computer. Make a list of all hardware and drivers and search online for known problems. Then, if you’re sure you understand all the risks and liabilities, you’re ready to proceed.
Once you have downloaded Lion and have all the files ready, you can start the process.
Copy the Lion installation file (InstallESD.dmg) and Kakewalk to the desktop of the Macintosh. Run the Kakewalk utility, and on the main screen, click on ‘Install to a USB stick’.
On the next screen, select the location of the Lion DMG file and choose the USB stick as the destination. Make sure you choose the correct destination (the USB stick), or you’ll end up installing it to the Mac you’re working on. When you’re sure, click the ‘Create’ button.
The Kakewalk utility will do the necessary work in the background. It involves formatting the USB stick, mounting the Lion DMG image, copying the installer files and packages to the USB stick and a lot more. All this is done in the background and may take a while depending on the speed of the pen drive. Your USB stick will also be renamed to ‘Kakewalk’.
After the process is complete, the utility will ask you to start the Kakewalk installation. Click OK to continue and the next screen will ask you to choose your motherboard model number. The exact version is preferable, but a close variant will also do. Make sure you have an Internet connection as Kakewalk will need to download the necessary drivers from its repository. If your motherboard is not listed, you’ll have to choose the closest match. Then carefully select your destination as the USB drive (now renamed as Kakewalk). Click on ‘Start Installation’. After completion, you can safely eject the USB stick and return the Macintosh to its owner, unscathed.
Now plug the USB stick into your PC and turn it on. Go to the BIOS where a few changes need to be made. Change the boot priority to USB HDD. Next, make sure you make the following changes if you have the options in your BIOS: HPET: Enable (64-bit), ACPI Suspend type: S3 (STR) and Hard drive: AHCI enabled. Save and close the BIOS settings. Restart the PC and boot from the USB stick.
When you boot from the USB stick, you will be greeted by Kakewalk’s EFI bootloader. Select the USB stick (Kakewalk) on your screen and press [Enter].
WARNING: The target hard drive will be reformatted and all data on it will be lost. If possible, install Lion on a new, blank hard drive.
After a long process during which you’ll see lines of text characters scrolling continuously, you will land at the Lion installation screen. If you have not reached here, it’s possible that a compatibility issue has been discovered. Note the error lines displayed on screen and search the Internet for a specific solution. You should find specific help on the various forums dedicated to OS X fans. For example, the error ‘DSMOS has arrived’ means that the video card is not compatible.
Follow the steps shown on screen till you arrive at the screen which asks you to choose the destination disk to install the OS to. At this screen, click on ‘Utilities’ and then ‘Disk Utility’. This will start the partition manager for Mac OS X
Using Disk Utility, click on your target hard drive in the left pane and then click on ‘Partition’ on the right pane. From the Volume Scheme, select ‘1 Partition’ and in the ‘Options’ below, select ‘GUID Partition Table’. Then in the Volume Information, type a name for the partition, select the format type as ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and leave the rest untouched. Finally, click on ‘Apply’ and proceed to format the drive. Once done, exit Disk Utility and proceed with the installation of the OS. The installation will take around 30 minutes, at the end of which your computer will reboot. Leave the USB stick plugged in, as there is no bootloader yet.
This time, when the system boots again, choose to boot from the hard drive instead of the USB stick. Once booted, you should be welcomed to the next steps of the installation. Continue with all the necessary details that are asked on the screen.
Once done, you should arrive at the default Lion desktop. Congratulations, your installation has been successful! But you have still got to install the bootloader to your hard drive so that it can boot up on its own.
Locate your USB stick in the OS X Finder and open it. You will find the application ‘Kakewalk’—double-click and run the utility. Click on the icon that reads ‘Install to Computer’.
This screen will highlight the motherboard model you chose while making the USB stick on the Macintosh. You cannot change anything here, so simply click on ‘Start Installation’. After a few minutes, you will be asked to reboot the machine. Now your bootloader is installed on your system and you can safely boot your PC from the hard drive. Mac OS X Lion is ready to go!
Installing drivers is the biggest headache, but you can do it in a few steps. First, using MultiBeast, you can install basic drivers for audio, network, graphics, and system components. Copy the Multibeast utility to your new desktop and run it. Follow the steps till you reach the ‘Installation Type’ screen. From the drop down list, carefully choose the drivers of your motherboard and graphics card by referring to their respective user manuals. If you are not sure of any of the drivers, simply don’t select it, or else you will cause errors known as Kernel panic, and might need to reinstall Lion all over again. When the process is complete, you’ll need to reboot the PC.
Additional drivers that are not available through Multibeast can be downloaded and installed separately using the KextBeast utility. The drivers are usually in the form of .KEXT files and need to be inserted into certain folders and their permissions set to a particular level. KextBeast does it for you automatically. All you need to do is copy the KEXT files and the KextBeast utility to the desktop and run the utility. It will automatically search for the drivers on the desktop and install them.
The Switcher’s Guide to Lion
1. The dock
Somewhat like your Windows taskbar and Start menu rolled into one, the Dock is where shortcuts to all your favorite applications live. Just like in Windows 7, icons in the Dock might represent programs that are running (indicated by a glowing dock, though this can be turned off) or simply ones that are there for quick access. The right hand side of the dock shows individual program windows that are currently minimized. You’ll also find pinned folders here: Trash, the recycle bin equivalent; Documents, where the files you create are saved by default; and Downloads, a central place for downloaded files, as the name suggests.
2. Program behavior
Here’s where things get very different from Windows. Programs can run even when no windows are open. What that means is that a browser or image viewer, for example, doesn’t stop running when you close all open web pages or images, but you won’t see an “empty” program window either. You can manually quit each program that isn’t required anymore, or let Lion decide when it needs to free up resources. Take a look at the menu bar that’s always on the top of your screen—the name of the running program will be visible, even if no windows are open. New in Lion, most programs will open exactly the way you left them when they were last closed, including any open documents, web pages or other work in progress. For privacy or convenience, you can disable this behavior in ‘System Preferences’.
For reasons unknown, OS X has never allowed windows to be maximized to fill your screen. Instead, the “traffic light” controls in the top left corner let you “zoom” a window till its content fits on screen. New to Lion, a Full Screen mode acts somewhat like maximizing a program, but this doesn’t just affect a window’s size, it can change its look completely.
3. The keyboard
Say goodbye to [Ctrl] and [Alt], you now have to learn to deal with [Control], [Cmd] and [Option]. ([Cmd] maps to the [Win] key on most PC keyboards). Use [Cmd]+[C] or [Z] to copy or undo, but you’ll have to hold down [Option] to select multiple items in a list. If it takes too long to get used to the new keyboard positions, you can remap keys via the ‘Keyboard’ panel in ‘System Preferences’.
4. The Finder
Where Windows has Explorer, OS X has the Finder, the only difference being that a lot more is hidden from the user. You can’t usually browse through protected parts of the hard drive, and as of Lion, top-level folders and hard drives themselves aren’t visible by default. This makes things simpler for beginners, who can simply save documents to ‘Documents’ and find downloads in ‘Downloads’, but it takes time for advanced users to accustomed. Views are also different: iTunes users will recognize Cover Flow, and the multi-column view is handy when digging through deeply nested folders.
5. Spaces and Mission Control
OS X Lion takes virtual desktops mainstream—you can organize your windows across multiple “Spaces”, just like multiple invisible monitors arranged side to side for visual reference. Switch between Spaces with a two-fingered trackpad swipe, or [Control]+/. Mission Control ([F3] or two-fingered double-tap) lets you see a zoomed-out view of all your Spaces and the programs currently running in each. You can force programs to run only within their own Space, and any app in fullscreen mode is counted as its own Space. Bonus: each Space can have its own background wallpaper.
6. iOS carryovers
All the new features that headlined Lion’s release were in some way inspired by the iPhone and iPad user experience. The first one you’ll notice is “natural scrolling”, exactly the opposite of what we’re used to. Instead of dragging a scrollbar down, you pull a page’s contents up. Text autocorrects itself just like on an iPhone, so beware of the sometimes overenthusiastic substitutions. The entire OS can shut down and resume exactly as you left it, with apps open and documents running. Documents are automatically saved as you work, rendering the ‘Save as…’ command redundant.
7. Time Machine and Versions
Since most people only realize the importance of backups when it’s too late, Apple has tried to make the process as easy as possible. Time Machine is a one-click solution; set it up and you can pull out backups at any time. With Lion, you can also track revisions to individual files and documents. Click the document name a program’s title bar to browse through previous Versions of a document and rescue elements in them that you’ve since deleted, even if you didn’t save different copies as you went along. Lion will save a copy as often as every minute. After two weeks, files are “locked”, and you’ll be prompted when edits will change the current version of a file.
8. Built-in programs
Apart from the well-known iTunes jukebox and Safari web browser, Mac OS X comes with a cool email client and built-in apps for contacts and calendaring. These now look a lot like their iPad counterparts, and are just as capable. If you need to find some additional software, you can now browse through the Mac App Store and buy or download anything that’s available. Every new Mac also comes with iLife, a suite of programs including iPhoto for photo management and basic edits, iMovie, a fun video editing tool, and Garage Band, which pretty much anyone can use to learn and create music.
9. Other cool things
OS X has some of the best accessibility features for disabled users. Check them out via the ‘System Preferences’. There are also built-in parental controls, voice commands and encryption options. There are loads of commands to tweak the interface, known as “defaults write” commands that you can type into the Terminal. Search online for dozens of options, such as changing the look of your dock, or enabling new animations. The Automator is a powerful, but little-known utility for creating scripts to automate repetitive tasks. And Airdrop, in the Finder, is a brilliantly easy way to share files between two Macs via Wi-Fi. Hit [Cmd]+[Space] at any point to bring up Spotlight, the system-wide search tool that finds files, programs, settings, help, and now even dictionary definitions. OS X even has built in spelling, grammar and Wikipedia functions—almost any selectable text can be looked up.
10. Things that behave badly
Lion can’t run programs written for older, non-Intel CPUs. You shouldn’t encounter any such programs today, except in very specialized cases. Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 runs fine, but 2004 won’t work at all. Initial users have also reported trouble with several Adobe apps including Flash Player and most of the Creative Suite products. Users with Time Machine backups on external drives might be out of luck due to new requirements that older drives don’t yet support. Most of these problems will be fixed by updates from the respective vendors, but it’s a good idea to search online for potential pitfalls before installing Lion.
Have you ever listened to a song and wished that you could remove the vocals? The art of eliminating the human voice from music tracks is notoriously difficult to do – but it can be done. It isn’t always possible to totally remove voice from a song because of varying factors, such as compression, stereo image separation, frequency spectrum, etc. However, with some experimentation, good quality audio, and a little bit of luck, you can achieve satisfactory results.
If you use the Winamp software media player for playing your music collection, then AnalogX Vocal Remover can be installed in your plugins folder to remove vocals. Once installed, simply go to Options > Preferences > DSP/effect to choose the plugin. The interface is very easy to use as there’s just a slider bar to control the amount of audio processing.
As well as being a good audio editor, Wavosaur can also be used to remove vocals from songs. Once you have imported your audio file into Wavosaur, you can use the Voice Remover tool to automatically process the file. As with all voice removal software, the results you get will depend on various factors such as the type of music, how compressed it is, and the quality of the audio source.
Center Pan Remover is a Nyquist plugin for the very popular Audacity audio editor. This plugin works best on audio files where the vocals are near to the center of the stereo field. Center Pan Remover automates the process of splitting the stereo image and track inversion. Simply copy the plugin into the Audacity plugins folder to see the option in Audacity’s effects menu.
Karaoke Anything is an audio player that does a decent job of removing vocals from music tracks. It can be used for MP3 files or entire audio CDs. The interface is user-friendly and you can use a slider bar to control the amount of audio processing. Unfortunately Karaoke Anything isn’t capable of saving what you hear. However, if you want a basic audio player for MP3 files and audio CDs that can remove vocals, then Karaoke Anything is a good tool to keep in your digital audio toolbox.
One of the best and probably the most awesome Windows XP ever released now on its 7th Edition!
Silent Unattended and Very Fast Installation. CD Key is inserted automatically during installation. And you can update the OS without any problem.
Note: Never install a ANY new OS over a previous one, always clean and wipe the hard disk where the OS is installed before installing a new OS – This is SOP!
Download Hirens BootCD, burn it to a disc and boot your PC or laptop from it. Choose Partitioning Tools to wipe and clean your hard disk clean for a fresh, clean and error-free installation.
PhotoTune – Photoshop-plugin for color correction of digital images and the correction of portraits. PhotoTune makes it possible to adjust the color of human skin, picture clarity, color saturation, color and more.
The plugin works in three modes: image processing with people, image processing without the people and professional advanced mode.
In normal mode (not professional) plug-in works as a single-step wizard, where all parameters are set automatically and you need only select the desired option from the results of the two images. There is also a small set of built-in presets and it is possible to save settings for future use.
PhotoTune – Color Correction without the Curve. Optimized tone and color in just a few clicks with PhotoTune. Great color, it’s not as hard as you think. If you can compare images side-by-side and pick the best one than you can easily color correct and enhance your images with PhotoTune 3. PhotoTune 3 optimizes the dynamic range using eye-fidelity technology.
Additionally, PhotoTune 3 improves the color and sharpness of your image without the need to know how to use levels or curves in Photoshop. If you photograph people, you can also tune your images by clicking on skin tones to guarantee accurate skin color. Pro users get access to all the controls for tone, color and sharpening. Better images are just a few clicks away with PhotoTune 3.
– NEW! Dynamic range enhancement using eye-fidelity technology remaps the tones in your image to look more natural, the way your eye sees it.
– Get perfect tone and color for your photos in seconds.
– Wizard walks you through the process of enhancing your image in as few as two steps.
– SkinTune color corrects portrait images in one click, just like using a gray card but for skin.
– NEW! Automatic Correction
– Improved Wizard
– NEW! Pro Controls
– Intuitive Black and White Conversions
– Skin Color Control
– Smart Filter
– NEW! Lightroom / Aperlure Integration
– NEW! Recently Used Presets
– NEW! onOne Panel
What `new in v3.0.3:
– Improved performance and stability
– Defect correction
– Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 (current maintenance releases)
– Pentium 4 or equivelent with SSE3
– 2GB RAM (4GB recommended)
– 200 MB Hard Disc Space
– OpenGL 2.0 capable video card with 128MB VRAM running at 1024×768 (1280×1024 or higher recommended)
– Adobe Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5
– Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 (Lightroom integration requires a full version of Photoshop)
– Internet connection for activation, auto updates and video tutorials
– Adobe Flash player 10
– DVD drive for installation from disc
– Administrator privileges to install and uninstall
– Microsoft. NET 3.5 framework (installed automatically if missing)
Note: it is highly recommended that you have the most up-to-date driver for your video card installed to take advantage of the power of OpenGL which is needed for PhotoTune 3.
Developer: onOne Software
Platform: Windows All
Language: only English
Mobile Master is a Cell phone and handset manager for Windows and synchronizes with a few mouse clicks your contacts and appointments between the handset and your computer. Edit and synchronize calendar entries (appointments and tasks). Send, read, archive SMS Note: the SMS Servant is included in the Mobile Master installation but requires an extra license. Logo-Editor, modify ring tone. Copy Station for transmitting your address book easily from one phone to the other. Mobile Master Agent: reach always the important functions easily and start
e.g. Mobile Master automatically as soon as your mobile phone is connected to the PC.
• One click synchronization solution for your mobile phone, edit all you phones data with the computer. Synchronization of contacts and the calendar, Many filter possibilities, AddIns for Outlook, Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop and Thunderbird
• Mobile Master synchronizes or just copies all data with/to your mobile phone.
Synchronize with: Outlook, Lotus Notes, Novell Groupwise, Palm Desktop, Thunderbird, Tobit David, Eudora, The Bat, Outlook Express, Googlecalendar, Windows contacts and calendar, iTunes
• new cell phone: Mobile Master copies the phone/address book from your old to your new one regardless the manufacturer of the phones new phone number, appointment or note: type it in with your PC and send it easily to the cell phone.
• Many import and export filters, e.g. one click to export to excel or open office. Can import e.g. vcf file with more than one contact and that has unicode format
• Connection with the phone: serial or USB cable, infrared or Bluetooth, up to COM Port 300 supported.
– Mobile Master is a handset manager to edit manually or synchronize automatically or on demand
– Quick area for quick and easy access to the main functions
– Comfortable editing of the phone book, calendar and note items
– easy to use user interface
– Setup Wizard for easy configuring
– Copy files, >music, photos
– SMS send, archive
– Copy the address book, calendar from one phone to another
– At least one update per month for the phones and devices
– Copy play lists from iTunes and WinAmp to the phone
Runs on /Synchronizes via: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000
Changes in Version 7.5.6 Build 3160 (18.12.2009):
* New Features:
o Done modifications for Novell Groupwise 8.0.1
o Done modifications for Lotus Notes 8.0.2
o Done modifications for Nokia PC Suite 184.108.40.206
* Mobile Master Forensic:
o For files now the creation, last modification and last access date and time is retrieved (if possible)
o MD5 checksums can now be calculated
Fixed bugs/solved problems:
o SMS Servant Outlook AddIn: fixed crash with Outlook 2000
o Samsung phones:
– now the call lists of some more devices can be read.
– Fixed the field lenghts for some devices
Chipset: Intel P55;
Memory: DDR3-1333 (16 GB Max);
SATA: 6 ports by Intel P55,
4 ports by two JMicron JMB322 controllers and 2xeSATA,
USB: 14 (4 via on-board headers);
Expansion slots: 3x PCIe x16, 2x PCIe x1 and 2x PCI;
LAN: Dual gigabit.
Contact MSI computer India Pvt Ltd
MSI has come out with some good high-end boards in the past, like the Intel X58-based Eclipse Plus, which was SLI-ready and came with a discrete X-Fi sound card, and the quad-CrossFireX-ready 790FX-GD70. MSI’s current focus is on their Big Bang series of super-high end motherboards targeted at enthusiasts and gamers. The latest addition to the series is the Big Bang-Fuzion, which has loads of interesting features to offer, the most interesting of them being cross-vendor multi-GPU support courtesy Lucid Hydra 200 chip.
The motherboard is built around the Intel P55 chipset and supports Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs that come in the socket LGA 1156 package. The chipset supports up to 16 GB DDR3 memory and offers six SATA 3 Gb/s ports and 12 USB 2.0 ports. In addition to this, there are two pairs of SATA 3 Gb/s ports, each supported by a JMicron JMP322 controller. Instead, MSI should have added support for SATA 6 Gb/s. We were surprised to find even USB 3.0 ports missing from the feature set, which are nowadays common to nearly all high-end and many mainstream motherboards.
The rear panel is quite elaborate; there are 10 USB ports (two USB/eSATA combo ports), dual gigabit Ethernet ports, PS/2 ports, a FireWire port, and a connector for the bundled overclocking device called OC Dashboard. It serves two purposes. Firstly, it displays the initialization status of the subsystems during POST, which helps in diagnosing faulty hardware or inappropriate BIOS settings. The debug codes and detailed instructions for using the OC Dashboard are given in a separate user guide. Secondly, you can overclock the CPU and memory and tweak the voltages (CPU, memory and chipset) from Windows. The values are displayed on the device’s OLED screen. You can also use CPU-Z to check the effective CPU and memory speeds. A small array of connectors and four dip switches are present near the RAM slots. The connectors are designed to check the voltages using a multimeter, and the dip switches boost the voltages (CPU, CPU_VTT, memory and chipset) and increase the voltage adjustment range in the BIOS.
MSI has also bundled a utility called MSI Control Center that displays system information and lets you overclock by simply dragging sliders for various parameters. Additionally, there are three overclocking presets – cooling, cinema and gaming. To make overclocking easy, the board features an automatic overclocking mechanism called OC Genie, which comprises a switch and an OC processor. On activating the switch, the OC processor calculates the optimum overclocked speeds and voltages and applies the values in the BIOS. OC Genie overclocked the Intel Core i7-870 from 2.93 GHz to 4.0 GHz without any issues. The package includes separate user guides for MSI Control Center, OC Genie and Overclocking.
Lucid Hydra 200
The MSI Big Bang-Fuzion is the first motherboard to support cross-vendor multi-GPU configurations using the Lucid Hydra 200 chip. It works in conjunction with the CPU and functions as a load-balancer between two or three GPUs. It fetches DirectX API calls, divides and assigns workload between the GPUs, and combines the final output to be displayed on the monitor.
Lucid Hydra works in three modes:
N-mode: Up to three Nvidia G90/G200 cards
A-mode: Up to three Radeon HD 4000/5000 series cards
X-mode: One/two supported Nvidia cards and one/two supported ATI cards.
To configure cards in Hydra, you first have to install graphics drivers for your cards, then install the Lucid Hydra driver, and activate Hydra from the control panel that resides in the system tray.
It sounds simple, but you’ll need to keep these points in mind:
The graphics cards configured in Hydra need to be more or less equally powerful. For example, Radeon HD 5850 + GeForce GTX 285 or GeForce 9600 GT + Radeon HD 5670. You won’t see any scaling with one powerful and one weak GPU. We tried using a GT 240 with a Radeon HD 5850, and the overall performance dropped slightly.
You’ll need Windows Vista or 7 to use Hydra. The X-mode works only under Windows 7, and not under Windows Vista.
For games to works smoothly, the driver needs to have game profiles. Profiles for newer games are included in newer driver releases. The latest driver (version 1.5.107) currently lists 102 games.
Hydra doesn’t work with the latest Nvidia Fermi series or dual-GPU cards, such as the GTX 295, Radeon HD 5970 and HD 4870 X2.
Graphics cards in two-way setup run in x16 mode each, and cards in three-way setup run in x8 mode.
Not all games run in all modes. In fact relatively few scale well in X-mode, so check the Lucid website before spending money on a Hydra setup.
Thumbs up to MSI for being the first to implement Lucid Hydra. It gives you the freedom to configure multi-GPU setups using graphics cards of your choice and it also provides an excellent upgrade path. If you have an older graphics card that’s discontinued and you want to upgrade at a low cost, you can buy one modern midrange graphics card, configure the two in Hydra, and you’re all set. We really liked the incredible feature set of this motherboard and the bundled contents, which includes a discrete PCIe x1 soundcard (QuantumWave), overclocking device and an eSATA bracket, but the lack of USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s support was disappointing.
On the whole however, the package and performance completely justify the price tag. In fact, this board offers a lot more than some of the other high-end ones that are more expensive.