Psystar Open Computer

The Good Faster, more affordable, more upgradable Leopard OS X-based system than anything currently offered by Apple in this price range.

The Bad With limited software updates, you're effectively cut off from all future Apple products, at least for now; no Bluetooth or IR receiver; no iLife.

The Bottom Line Its hardware isn't made by Apple's design team, it will likely never work as a full member of the greater Apple ecosystem, and one ill-intended software update could turn it into a $750 brick. Get past all of that, and you'll find Psystar's OS X-based Open Computer a fast and otherwise compelling lower midrange desktop.

Editors' Rating
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Support 6.0
6.9 Overall

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Psystar Open Computer
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Design
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... ... ... ...

Review

Psystar Open Computer

Editor's note: Shortly after this review posted we tried out VMware to see if the Open Computer will support running Windows Vista on top of OS X. We can confirm that it does.

Psystar says its goal in selling its Open Computer, a non-Apple-made computer with the Leopard operating system as an option, is to give consumers more choice and better bang for the buck then we currently have from Apple. At least today, and with our $740 review configuration, it appears to be on to something. Let's be clear from the start, this is not an Apple system, and it lacks some of the polish and the features we're used to seeing in an OS X-based computer. And as iPhone early adopters can tell you, you're often just a software update away from crippled hardware if Apple decides it doesn't like what you're doing with its products. Still, after spending some time with this system we remain cautiously optimistic. Its raw performance is very strong for the price, and most of the core OS X functionality is there. As long as you understand the risks and the limitations going in, if you're looking for a basic, OS X-based desktop, the Open Computer will let you do most of the things you can do with a Mac Mini faster, and for less money.

From the Styrofoam peanuts inside the box to the standard midtowers desktop case, Psystar's Open Computer looks like a typical low-end Windows PC. When you turn it on, the first thing you see is the BIOS information, also like a Windows desktop. But after a few seconds the screen fades to white, with a light gray Apple logo in the middle, and after a brief loading period, Apple's Leopard OS X pops up on your desktop. We used an older Apple mouse and keyboard and were immediately able to start using the Open Computer like we would any typical Mac.

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Specs / Prices

  • Brand PsyStar Corporation
  • Type Core 2 Duo
  • Installed Size 4 GB
  • Capacity 250 GB
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