Minihack’s Build: Haswell i5-4250U NUC BOXD54250WYKH1


Intel NUC BOXD54250WYKH1

8GB Crucial RAM

Apple OS X Mavericks @ Mac Apps Store

Wifi/BT Card BCM943225HMB

Crucial M500 CT120M500SSD3 120GB 2.5 mSATA/SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Toshiba 2.5-Inch 1TB 5400 RPM SATA2/SATA 3.0 GB/s 8MB Notebook Hard Drive MQ01ABD100


The motivation for this build was to make a small up to date system that can sit by the TV. I also was looking for a suitable system to transplant into a Mac Mini case, but that is another story ( Haswell Mac Mini ).

I decided to do this user build write up as there are a couple of guides out there to the Haswell NUC, notably the excellent Wonkey Donkey guide and the Clover guide (which is not a full installation guide), but my build went in a slightly different direction that I wanted to detail as a standalone build log. I believe the basic " Standard Installation" steps outlined here are the quickest way to install a fully operational system to the NUC and that the benefits of using Clover on this board also make it a very 'robust" build which is easier to update.

The "Fusion Drive" section is of course not a necessary part of the build, but is a standalone upgrade that I decided to do to make use of the drives I have here and of the space available.

Standard Installation
The method I recommend for this Haswell is a mixed Unibeast and Clover method.
You need access to a real Mac or working Hack with the Mavericks Installation Application on it in the Applications folder and a 8 or more GB USB drive.

Format the USB drive (the 16GB drive shown as USB in the shots below) as follows:

Making sure it is formatted to the GUID partition table in the Options tab.

Then download the latest UniBeast Installer

…target it on the USB drive and let it do it’s thing.

When that is done, fetch the latest Clover installer from here:

And fire that up

Use the above settings and then once the EFI volume mounts at the end, open it and go to EFI/EFI/CLOVER and replace the config.plist with the one in my attachments folder. Similarly replace the “kexts” folder with the one attached and the “ACPI” folder.

[Note:The config plist will make your Haswell NUC appear to be a MacBookAir 6,2 and the files SSDT and SSDT-1 (credit: Toleda and to Pike R Alpha for the power management SSDT) will configure power management, graphics, HDMI audio and some cosmetic stuff correctly for you. There is also another SSDT-2 in there for the wifi/BT card I referenced in the components list (credit: toleda)].

There is no Kernel patching needed etc as that is all taken care of in the plist.

Before finishing your set up, drag your Clover Install package into the USB drive along with the Haswell NUC essentials pack. Then eject the USB stick and go to your NUC.

Fire up your NUC and set it to boot from the USB stick. Note: Bios default settings just need a small adjust - make sure Vt-d is UNTICKED in bios and make sure that in the boot configuration screen UEFI booting is ticked AS WELL AS Legacy Booting (this is a small glitch in the NUC UEFI).

You should be able to boot from the USB stick straight to the installer. I have set the plist to give “Verbose” output so you will be able to monitor what is happening during boot.

Once the graphics of the Mavericks installer appear go to Utilities/Disk Utility to format your chosen internal drive - mSATA or Hard Drive/SSD correctly and name it “Macintosh HD” before returning to the install process and then carry on with the install.

Once installation has occurred the NUC will reboot and you can then select your Macintosh HD as the volume to boot.

Once your new hack is configured and you are at the desktop then drag the Clover installer and the Haswell NUC essentials pack to the desktop.

Install Clover to the Macintosh HD drive (make sure the Clover installer is targeting your internal drive and NOT the USB drive) and, as before, substitute the config.plist, ACPI and Kexts folders with the ones I have provided. You will also find in the NUC essentials pack a copy of the latest HWMonitor application - drag this to your applications folder and it will provide you with a good monitoring program for checking temperatures etc.**

One final thing now is to configure the audio. If you only want HDMI/DP audio then this should aIready work (because of the patches in the Clover config.plist) and you can stop here. If however you need an analogue output from the headphone jack then you need to install an injector kext as follows.

The injection method leaves AppleHDA.kext untouched (well, okay the boot loader patches the internal "binary" on the fly) and uses an injector kext to change values within the kext to suit our codec. To make the injector you will find a folder inside the "Haswell NUC essentials" pack called "PatchingAppleHDA" - inside there I have put a small ReadMe file which explains the simple process. This seems to work excellently and credit for the methodology goes to Pike R Alpha and RehabMan.

Here are some useful add ons that will help you with Clover changes and to maintain your system:

1.Clover Configurator - helps set up and change the config.plist in a logical fashion and this app is regularly updated to include new features as Clover itself changes. Note that it is not 100% intuitive and that to open your existing plist you need to click on "import" and then to save changes you click on "export". Use this application to make your own serial number for your Hack by: (a) Using it to mount your EFI Partition; (b) Importing the settings from your config.plist; (c) Opening the "SMBIOS" tab (d) using the "magic wand" icon to select a unique set of identifiers and serial number for your machine; (e) export the configuration to save it in place of your previous settings [note: in the default config.plist I have not included a serial number but instead marked that field with "GETYOUROWN"...and Clover configurator is a good way for you to do that!!]

2. Carbon Copy Cloner - my favourite backup app for making sure my system always boots. It is a small amount to buy the full version and that is great as it does incremental changes (saving time when cloning) and also has a great Recovery Partition maintenance feature.

Fusion Drive - with dual boot and recovery partition

This is a run through of how to make the most of a small mSATA and a cheap larger capacity mechanical drive in the NUC, it takes you through creating a dual boot Fusion Drive and also includes the steps for making an OS X recovery partition.

Before Making a Fusion Drive

Before starting: I assume you have a working install either on your mSATA or Hard Drive already - I do NOT recommend jumping in straight to Fusion without first having ensured you have a working NUC system.

On your working install get the latest Clover revision upgrade and check it is working fine. Then use Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) to Clone it to a USB Hard Drive. CCC will offer to make a Recovery Partition on the USB drive - DO IT!
After cloning, install the new Clover revision to the USB drive (and make sure you have the same EFI folder settings in the USB Clone as on your working Install).
Boot from the USB drive and ensure it is working correctly.
Mount your EFI partition if it is not already- I recommend using Clover Configurator to short cut all these actions...and copy your working EFI folder to the desktop of your USB drive so it is always there for you in the steps to come.

Making the New FD:

Note that both your internal NUC drives will be erased during the FD creation process.
The following assumes you are using an mSATA drive and a Hard Drive on the Haswell NUC and that you are now booting from your USB bootable drive..

1. First step - partitioning your hard drive for dual boot.

Open Disk Utility.

Select the mechanical Hard Drive.

Click the Partition tab. Choose 2 Partitions click “Options” and select GUID. Set the first partition as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and name “HD” choose something that is one word as it makes it a little easier in terminal operations later by not having to use special characters to represent name spaces in the command line).

If you are going to be installing Windows alongside OS X then set the first partition's size to the size you want your Macintosh partition to be and set the second partition to Free Space; OR
If you are going to be installing a second OS X partition - e.g. as a test partition - alongside your main OS X install then just set the first and second partition sizes as normal and call your second partition HD2.

Select mSATA

Partition your mSATA drive as a single Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition with GUID scheme and name it mSATA.

2. In this step you are going to make a recovery partition for OS X.

Using CCC open it,go up to the bar and select "Window" and from the drop down menu then open “Disk Centre”.

Highlight “HD” in the left hand pane of Disk Center and then Click “Recovery HD” and go ahead and create a Recovery Partition on HD - this is one of the handy features of CCC!

Do not bother with cloning as this is NOT needed at this time, just leave it at that.

After quitting CCC, mount the EFI partition of mSATA using Clover Configurator (first confirm whether mSATA is disk0 or disk1 in diskutility and then mount either disk0s1 - probable - or disk1s1 as appropriate) and when the EFI partition mounts, copy over your known working EFI folder to replace the one in mSATA and then shut down. Alternatively - if you do not want to use Clover Configurator - you could simply use the Clover installer package to do a fresh install of Clover to the mSATA drive (and then once the installer mounts the EFI partition at the end you can drag across the config.plist, kexts and ACPI folders etc as you would for the "Standard Installation" method described earlier).

3A. If you are intending to install Windows on your second partition then: (a) Shut down your Haswell NUC. (b) Open up the case and remove the mSATA drive - yes, I mean it!!! (c) plug in your Windows 8 USB stick installer and start up the machine - it will automatically start from the installer.
When you get to the install options make sure you go for a Custom install and then go to the advanced settings and choose to install on the Free Space you left earlier.
The installer should automatically then format this area and do everything it needs - including all the usual restarting etc.
Once you are happy with Windows and have it all set up then shut down, power off and unplug and re-insert your mSATA, close up the NUC
3B. If you are intending to use HD2 for a second OS X install then just go to step 4 (no need to take apart your NUC).

4. On reboot make sure to press F2 on start up to then go into Boot options and set your mSATA as first boot drive. This will verify that the bootloader is working fine and then once in the Clover menu select USB again.

5. Finally we get to create the fusion....

In terminal type:
diskutil cs create Fusion mSATA HD
The above command creates “Fusion” from the partitions mSATA and HD.
Terminal does its stuff and outputs a long UUID number at the end - select and copy this long UUID string.
You now need to make a mountable volume. In Terminal type:
diskutil cs createVolume <FG UUID> jhfs+ MacintoshHD 100%
(Note: replace <FG UUID> by pasting in the long UUID string you copied above).

After completion of the operation you should see now both a new mounted volume called MacintoshHD alongside "HD2" OR (if you installed Windows) alongside “Untitled”.

Installing OS X to your Fusion Drive -
Simply use CCC now to Clone your OS X to MacintoshHD.

7. Finishing up:
If you installed Windows alongside OS X then you are now done. If you took the other route to leave HD2 as an OS X formatted partition then you can now go ahead and use that partition as desired. Also, now all the messing around with terminal is finished you can simply right click on "MacintoshHD" and rename is "Macintosh HD" or whatever else you want if you prefer that!

DISCLAIMER:The above procedures are by no means the only way to do what I did, they simply happen to be my preferred way. I am happy to help and advise, but if you lose data, this is not my fault (!). Please always keep a bootable copy of your install on USB so that if (when) things go wrong you can get back to where you started. Good luck!

**HWMonitor is part of Hwsensors package that you can get an update from here: please note that the normal installation package installs FakeSMC.kext and any needed plugins [ACPISensors.kext, GPUSensors.kext, LPCSensors.kext, CPUSensors.kext] to system/library/extensions. I prefer to put all of these kexts into efi/clover/kexts/10.9 and that is why I have for the Haswell NUC essentials folder included the necessary components as individual elements. In future, if you update HWsensors using an HWsensors package file, please remember to re-locate the kexts to the Efi/clover/kexts/10.9 folder.

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  1. Thanks for the detailed write-up. Will it also work with the i3 version of the NUC? Also, will it work with Yosemite?