Mac Clone Maker Psystar Offers 'Virtually Silent' Machines

The systems integrator continues to defy Apple's no-cloning rule, upgrading its Leopard-based knockoffs and ramping up production capabilities.
Florida-based systems integrator Psystar is continuing to defy Apple's no-cloning rule by selling Leopard-based knockoffs, and now it's upgrading the machines.

In an e-mail to customers Wednesday, the company noted that its Mac clones are now shipping on an improved metal chassis. Psystar claims its new V2 box is "virtually silent," is of a "sturdier steel construction," and is "tool-less to boot!"

Psystar is also ramping up its production capabilities and is now offering an order-to-build time of just four days. "At Psystar, we know time is of the essence," the company said.

Earlier this month, Psystar released a software service pack for its Mac clones that includes multiple bug fixes -- some of which address problems inherent in Apple's software.

The fixes address a range of troubles, from glitches in Apple's Time Machine backup feature to quirks in the Keyboard Viewer and Character Palette entries in Leopard's system preferences menu.

The patch collection comes preinstalled in Psystar Mac clones shipped as of Monday, the company said. Patches can also be downloaded individually from Psystar's Web site.

By offering a full menu of support, Psystar appears to be daring Apple to attempt to enforce provisions in the Leopard license agreement that forbid third-party installations and sales. Apple has not taken any legal action against Psystar to date. Not publicly, at least.

Despite the legal questions, Psystar appears intent on expanding its line of products and services.

Last month, the company introduced a system called OpenPro. It's a beefed-up version of its Open Computer Mac clone. The company claims it will ship with a choice of preinstalled operating systems, including Ubuntu Linux 8.04, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or Apple's Leopard, which is also known as Mac OS X 10.5.

Ubuntu is free. Vista or XP costs an extra $150, while Leopard costs an additional $155, according to Psystar.

Psystar claims its Mac clones cost about one-quarter of what Apple-branded systems go for. The company maintains that Apple marks up the cost of the hardware on which its operating systems ride by as much as 80%.

One version of Psystar's Open Computer features Apple's Leopard operating system ported onto generic PC hardware that includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor at 2.66 GHz, a 250-GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card.

The system is priced at $804.99. A similar Apple-branded computer could cost more than $2,000.