Dell Vostro (aka Darth Mini 9) available for $200; makes a fine hackintosh

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Above you’ll see my Runcore 64GB SSD drive sitting in front of my Dell Mini 9. The Runcore cost me $220—just $30 less than I paid for my Mini 9.

Now Dell is selling its business black version of the Mini 9, the Vostro A90, for just $200. Slap in a bigger SSD (the Runcore tends to benchmark the fastest, but I only went with 64GB because the 32GB were in deep backorder) and 2GB of RAM, and you’ve got yourself a fine little Hackintosh for around $500. And you can do it for far less if you go with a more modest SSD.

One bonus to the Runcore, though, of any size: Along with snappy performance, the Runcores come with a micro-USB port, making it possible to plug it in to your Mac, boot from any install disk (even the crippled ones that come with your Mac), and install OS X directly onto the SSD. Put it in the Mini 9, boot from a Linux sysloader on a USB flash drive, and run the DellEFI driver installer once you’re in OS X. Easy peasy. It took me about three hours to do it—two of which were spent mucking around trying to get OS X to boot with the flash drive because I tried to get fancy with newer versions and didn’t use the one suggested in the instructions.

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11 Responses to Dell Vostro (aka Darth Mini 9) available for $200; makes a fine hackintosh

  1. Kyle Armbruster says:

    I ordered a Mini9 the day after the post in Feb. about how easy it is to Hackintosh them.

    I’m still waiting for the computer. It will be over 3 months when I finally get it, if the latest delivery estimate is to be believed.

    The others have all been lies…

  2. strider_mt2k says:

    It is a good looker, that Vostro.

    Huge as they may be, I copied a couple DVD ISOs to my Mini 9 and found that VLC plays them with zero difficulty.
    I also have little trouble over my home wireless network.

    Huge Mini 9 fan here. If mine broke irreparably I’d grab another in a heartbeat.

  3. tsteele999 says:

    I thought I had read that the ram on these was proprietary or at least hard to upgrade. Does it have one slot or two?

  4. zuzu says:

    One bonus to the Runcore, though, of any size: Along with snappy performance, the Runcores come with a micro-USB port, making it possible to plug it in to your Mac, boot from any install disk (even the crippled ones that come with your Mac), and install OS X directly onto the SSD. Put it in the Mini 9, boot from a Linux sysloader on a USB flash drive, and run the DellEFI driver installer once you’re in OS X. Easy peasy.

    Exactly!

    Ok, so the Vostro A90 is just a Mini 9 with the webcam and bluetooth included, for $50 less? Sold!

  5. KurtMac says:

    Then I’m glad I ordered mine yesterday, now that the initial impulse purchase remorse has worn off. Not sure if I’m gonna Hackintosh it, but it should prove to be useful when I’m out in the field observing with my telescope, instead of fumbling around with dozens of star charts I can just fire up the Stellarium planetarium software instead.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have created this step by step tutorial for anyone who are interested to install Mac OS X on DELL Mini 9. Instructions are also written specifically for owners who have only a 8GB SSD, does not have any external DVD drive and also do not have a Mac at home. All you need is the original OS X DVD, a Windows PC, 2 USB thumb drive and of course your DELL Mini 9. For any other owners with more than 8GB SSD, you can skip some steps
    Check it out here: http://www.squidoo.com/dellmini9_osX

  7. strider_mt2k says:

    The The Mini 9 has one RAM slot and is upgradable to up to 2GB.

    It’s the other crappy Minis you’re thinking of.

  8. KurtMac says:

    To further that point, I’ve read (and will find out when mine arrives) that the custom Ubuntu kernel Dell uses has a RAM limit of 1GB, so you’ll have to recompile your own version to get the full 2GB if you install it.

  9. zuzu says:

    Dammit! Dell updated their order site today so that you must get 1GB memory and 16GB SSD, instead of 512MB memory and 8GB SSD, for a price of $250 instead of $200.

    Obviously if you’re going to upgrade to a 2GB SO-DIMM and a 64GB Runcore SSD, this is just Dell’s way of charging you 25% more for the same thing. (Dell did this before with the Mini 9 too; it was on sale for $200 then went up to ever $250 since.)

    Dell must really not want to sell for less than $250.

  10. zuzu says:

    Dammit! Dell updated their order site today so that you must get 1GB memory and 16GB SSD, instead of 512MB memory and 8GB SSD, for a price of $250 instead of $200.

    Now Dell has raised the price again to $300!!!

    I know the “economic stimulus” is creating massive inflation, but this is ridiculous. Computer prices never go up, thanks to Moore’s Law.

    Is this Dell Hell, or what?

  11. cecilhayduke says:

    @KURTMAC – no need to go compiling things. Install the current Ubuntu (9.04) per the instructions at http://www.ubuntumini.com/ via a USB drive and install the netbook remix packages per the same site. It will look and run much better than the Dell supplied OS and you’ll have a USB drive to use as a rescue disk. 9.04 boots faster, connects to the wireless network much faster and looks better than both the Dell Ubuntu my mini came with and the 8.10 that I installed myself.

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