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TheCrunchyDragon

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2019
8
0
Gallifrey
Hi y'all,

Recently acquired a 27" mid-2010 iMac(Model A1312, EMC 2390), been planning some upgrades. So far I've got it running OSX 10.12 Sierra, but would like to push it a little bit more. I've got plans to upgrade the CPU, add an SSD, and increase the RAM. The one thing that keeps bugging me is the graphics card though.

I've done some research and found that it takes an MXM 3.0b card, and began to wonder what the most modern GPU I could actually install is. My main concern is TDP, OSX support for 10.13+ is a close second. Price isn't a problem at the moment as I'm still in the planning stages.

Thanks in advance, and have a good one.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
The Late 2009 - Mid 2011 27" iMacs are very interesting Macs.

-One of the few Macs with upgradable GPUs
-Has Target Display Mode
-Has 3 SATA ports* 2010-2011, *two SATAIII, and one SATAII on the Mid 2011
-relatively easy to open and work on
-Easily upgradable RAM, up to 32GB
-Can run High Sierra, and still gets security updates.
-Has a hot running HDD without adequate cooling
-The only iMac (I am pretty sure) that have have a bootable internal SSD SW RAID0, using three drives.


I love these Macs.

As for upgrading the GPUs, IIRC, any GPU that came with a particular iMac release is plug and play. I am pretty sure I have read about using other iMac GPUs using some hacks, but never seriously looked into it.

Of course the 2GB 6970M from the BTO option of the Mid 2011 iMac is the best one that came in these iMacs, but it is still expensive and rare. Probably due to them being BTO only, and the fact that so many GPUs fail in these iMacs due to heat.


A friend gave me a Mid 2011 27" iMac that he pulled from a dumpster. It didn't work.

The HDD was failing and the OS was corrupt, but I got it working, and it ended up being a top of the line iMac from that year with all the BTO options including the best GPU.

The GPU was failing, and eventually the iMac wouldn't boot up.

I looked into getting a replacement GPU, but the 2GB 6970M was so hard to find and several hundred dollars.

I ended up baking the GPU in the oven, and it got it working.

It is a fast and beautiful iMac now. I have since gave it back to the friend that gave it to me, but if I kept it, I would have messed around with it more, probably do at least a 2-drive RAID0, maybe 3.

*Edit, update with more accurate info
 
Last edited:

TheCrunchyDragon

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2019
8
0
Gallifrey
The Late 2009 - Mid 2011 27" iMacs are very interesting Macs.

-One of the few Macs with upgradable GPUs
-Has Target Display Mode
-Has 3 SATA ports, two III and one II
-relatively easy to open and work on
-Easily upgradable RAM, up to 32GB
-Can run High Sierra, and still gets security updates.
-Has a hot running HDD without adequate cooling
-The only iMac (I am pretty sure) that have have a bootable internal SSD SW RAID0, using three drives.


I love these Macs.

As for upgrading the GPUs, IIRC, any GPU that came with a particular iMac release is plug and play. I am pretty sure I have read about using other iMac GPUs using some hacks, but never seriously looked into it.

Of course the 2GB 6970M from the BTO option of the Mid 2011 iMac is the best one that came in these iMacs, but it is still expensive and rare. Probably due to them being BTO only, and the fact that so many GPUs fail in these iMacs due to heat.


A friend gave me a Mid 2011 27" iMac that he pulled from a dumpster. It didn't work.

The HDD was failing and the OS was corrupt, but I got it working, and it ended up being a top of the line iMac from that year with all the BTO options including the best GPU.

The GPU was failing, and eventually the iMac wouldn't boot up.

I looked into getting a replacement GPU, but the 2GB 6970M was so hard to find and several hundred dollars.

I ended up baking the GPU in the oven, and it got it working.

It is a fast and beautiful iMac now. I have since gave it back to the friend that gave it to me, but if I kept it, I would have messed around with it more, probably do at least a 2-drive RAID0, maybe 3.
This iMac is fully functioning, but I'd like a more modern GPU so I can eventually run Mojave and higher on it. I'm entertaining the idea of seeing if I can install something like an RX 480M, assuming thermal design allows for it.

This isn't a very well-documented topic on the internet though, so it's proving to be a bit difficult.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
As for upgrading the GPUs, IIRC, any GPU that came with a particular iMac release is plug and play.

I looked it up, and the two GPUs that came with the Mid-2010 27" iMacs are:
512MB ATI Radeon HD 5670
1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750

If you have the 5670, the 5750 should be plug and play.
 

TheCrunchyDragon

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2019
8
0
Gallifrey
I looked it up, and the two GPUs that came with the Mid-2010 27" iMacs are:
512MB ATI Radeon HD 5670
1GB ATI Radeon HD 5750

If you have the 5670, the 5750 should be plug and play.
It has the HD 5670 currently, but everything past OSX 10.13 High Sierra dropped support for the 5xxx and 6xxx Radeon cards.

I'm also looking for a performance increase as well as future OSX support, hence me looking specifically for something within the last 4-5 years.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
This iMac is fully functioning, but I'd like a more modern GPU so I can eventually run Mojave and higher on it.
Yeah, any of the GPUs that came with these iMacs will not be natively compatible with Mojave.

I never have done it, but I read about getting older Macs to run Mojave with some hacks.
 

TheCrunchyDragon

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2019
8
0
Gallifrey
Yeah, any of the GPUs that came with these iMacs will not be natively compatible with Mojave.

I never have done it, but I read about getting older Macs to run Mojave with some hacks.
I've read that as well, I think one would have to disable the dGPU and run on the Intel iGPU which loses support for things like Metal.
 

passatgt

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2011
372
198
[automerge]1577374381[/automerge]
So you can upgrade the CPU, max out the ram(16 or 32gb, i'm not 100% sure), upgrade the gpu to something like a 780m. You can also swap the airport card to support handoff, continuity etc... Installing 2 SSDs. Its sata2, but possible to run in Raid0, so it can be fast(but this one is really tricky especially with mojave or catalina). You can use Catalina Patcher after the gpu upgrade to install the latest MacOS.
 
Last edited:

vertical smile

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
This isn't a very well-documented topic on the internet though, so it's proving to be a bit difficult.

I would bet that getting a modern GPU in these iMacs would be similar to making a Hackintosh, and would have some of the problems that come with making a Hackintosh.

I personally wouldn't do it with my Main Mac, but if this is what you want to do, I wish you luck.

Check out this link:


This appears to have tips for getting metal-capable GPUs in Late 2009 - Mid 2011 iMacs, and how to boot in Mojave and Catalina.
 
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macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
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-Has 3 SATA ports, two III and one II
Installing 2 SSDs. Its sata2, but possible to run in Raid0
I looked it up to just to make sure, the Mid 2010 and Mid 2011 have three SATA ports, all SATA II on the 2010. For the Mid 2011, it has two SATA III and one SATA II for the optical drive.

So, it is capable to have a 3-drive internal RAID0 on the Mid 2010 and Mid 2011 with close to 1000MBps speeds.
 

passatgt

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2011
372
198
I looked it up to just to make sure, the Mid 2010 and Mid 2011 have three SATA ports, all SATA II on the 2010. For the Mid 2011, it has two SATA III and one SATA II for the optical drive.

So, it is capable to have a 3-drive internal RAID0 on the Mid 2010 and Mid 2011 with close to 1000MBps speeds.

Yes, but sadly its a nightmare to set it up. I did it on a 21.5" 2010 iMac but only worked on High Sierra. You need APFS for later and it won't let you boot MacOS from a raid0 drive. Its possible, but you need to clone the drive, convert it to Raid0 and then clone it back with Carbon Copy Cloner. But it will break on a software update. So its not worth the hassle.
 

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macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
Yes, but sadly its a nightmare to set it up.
Do you mean a software RAID?

I personally don't think it is hard at all, depending on what equipment you have available.

Actually, I set one up a few months ago while experimenting with something, and it only took a few minutes.

I can't remember the thread, but someone was curious about external drives and how fast they can be on old Macs. I experimented and saw that it was possible to make a SW RAID0 with two different interfaces, in this case it was one SSD over Thunderbolt1, and USB3 on the other.

It was possible, but the point was that it was really quick to set up the RAID0, and it literally only took minutes.

but only worked on High Sierra.
This is true, but still might be worth it for people that want speed for their boot drive and only plan on staying on HS.

Its possible, but you need to clone the drive, convert it to Raid0 and then clone it back with Carbon Copy Cloner.
Super easy, and I have done it many times without issue.


But it will break on a software update.
Is this only with HS? I have ran RAID0 boot drives on other Macs and did SW updates without issue, but I have not tried it with HS.

Maybe I will when I get home just to check it out.

Or.... Do you mean that it will break when trying to install Mojave?
 

passatgt

macrumors 6502
Jun 16, 2011
372
198
Do you mean a software RAID?

I personally don't think it is hard at all, depending on what equipment you have available.

Actually, I set one up a few months ago while experimenting with something, and it only took a few minutes.

I can't remember the thread, but someone was curious about external drives and how fast they can be on old Macs. I experimented and saw that it was possible to make a SW RAID0 with two different interfaces, in this case it was one SSD over Thunderbolt1, and USB3 on the other.

It was possible, but the point was that it was really quick to set up the RAID0, and it literally only took minutes.


This is true, but still might be worth it for people that want speed for their boot drive and only plan on staying on HS.


Super easy, and I have done it many times without issue.



Is this only with HS? I have ran RAID0 boot drives on other Macs and did SW updates without issue, but I have not tried it with HS.

Maybe I will when I get home just to check it out.

Or.... Do you mean that it will break when trying to install Mojave?


If you are running for example Mojave with Raid0 and you have a software update, it won't install, or if it does, it will mess up your boot drive. With the Mojave patcher tool you can boot from a HFS+ partition, but as far as i know, this is not possible with Catalina, which only works with APFS(where Raid0 is not working)
 

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macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
5,330
6,192
If you are running for exampel Mojave with Raid0 and you have a software update, it won't install, or if it does, it will mess up your boot drive.
Oh, you mean in Mojave.

I thought you were referring to using a RAID0 as a boot drive in general.

I haven't messed around with Mojave at all, and do not plan on upgrading the OS on any of my Macs beyond HS unless I have to.

But,

Maybe I will experiment with it this weekend.

So, it sounds like Mojave will run on a RAID boot drive, but breaks as soon as it gets updated, which deters people from using it.

What if a cloned single drive in APFS was used as a secondary drive to a RAID0 boot drive and only booted up to do the security updates. The newly updated APFS is then cloned back onto the RAID0.


If it worked, I guess that would lead to this:
So its not worth the hassle.
You are probably correct that it might not be worth the effort to most people.

It would be some extra work, but if one needed/wanted the extra speed it could be worth it.


That said, if one plans on sticking with High Sierra or earlier, then they do not need to worry about all this, and it is a one time deal cloning onto a RAID0 and the updates work fine.
 

TheCrunchyDragon

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2019
8
0
Gallifrey
I would bet that getting a modern GPU in these iMacs would be similar to making a Hackintosh, and would have some of the problems that come with making a Hackintosh.

I personally wouldn't do it with my Main Mac, but if this is what you want to do, I wish you luck.

Check out this link:


This appears to have tips for getting metal-capable GPUs in Late 2009 - Mid 2011 iMacs, and how to boot in Mojave and Catalina.
I'll definitely give that a try. I'm currently thinking about sourcing an R9 M290X since I've heard Nvidia cards can be buggy in newer OSX versions, but I'll look around for a GTX 860M in the meantime.
 
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