2011 iMac Graphics Card Upgrade

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MichaelDT, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. cmantia8141 macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2017
    Hey guys,
    Just wanted to share my SUCCESS story on upgrading my mid-2011 21.5" IMAC. Just a little background, grew up a PC guy and learned young how to get inside and do basic-ish upgrades. My imac has been solid since I traded in the PC for it, but was intrigued to find these forums detailing how to upgrade the GPU. After reading as much as I could, I decided to take the plunge and found a 2GB nvidia 765m from a dell/alienware laptop (which I read are most compatible with our imacs). Got inside the imac, then realized I had to do all 50(!) steps of the ifixit guide to even access the card. Rolled up my sleeves, swapped out cards and jimmy rigged the heatsink to the 765m with some zip ties. Everything seemed to go back together well-enough (lots of things to plug/unplug, but almost everything has only 1 place it can go, use the positioning of the plugs to guide about where they're supposed to be seated). Powered it on; black screen. Checked the backlighting with a flashlight; nothing. Opened it up to check diagnostic LED's; 2 of 4 were lit, the 3rd of course being the GPU communicating to the logic board. I had NOT pre-installed nvidia web drivers prior to opening the imac up, which I would call a mistake. I reinstalled the radeon, got online and installed the web drivers, found on nvidia, specifically for my OS (10.12.5 sierra). I can't say I'm 100% sure that I correctly seated the GPU the first time, and an internet query does not definitively say whether or not the 3rd led could be due to JUST a mechanical connection OR if it could be due to incorrect software drivers. I can say that the 2nd time I installed the new card, I made sure that it was seated the best it could be (click, middle guide fully in slot). The stock heatsink that came with the imac does not seat fully onto the new card, so I ziptied it sluggly in place. After everything was reassembled (for the 4-5th time), I booted her up; chime on bootup, black screen though. I stepped away for a minute, came back to a normal-appearing desktop login. The card is a HUGE performance improvement over the stock radeon, and at $89 on amazon, HARD to beat.

    TL;DR - The 765m works on the mid-2011 21.5 IMAC. Make sure card is seated properly on logic board and ensure that you have downloaded the appropriate web drivers from nvidia (the one that correlates to your version of OS), and TAKE YOUR TIME when you're inside your mac; remember, they don't intend on you getting in there too much. You CAN do it though. You need 2 torx head bits and that should do it. NO flashing of the card necessary, also I couldn't find a flash for 765m, anyway.

    Finally, THANK YOU dudes of the macrumor forum for giving me the knowledge and willingness to undertake this project. A lot of fun, a good learning experience, and a huge upgrade for my system.
  2. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    those that have succesfully installed a Quadro k3000M.. wich webdriver did you use cause i cant seem to find any for this card ?
    --- Post Merged, Aug 17, 2017 ---

    wich web driver did you use cause there are no webdriver for your card on nvidia page ?

  3. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017

    I got a dead graphic in my imac and installed a new gtx 780m but how do i install it when i cant see anything on the screen and when i dont have imac gpu to actualy do it with ?
  4. igorekogirok macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2017
    @Fl0r!an, @Synchro3, @MichaelDT, @MacVidCards, @mhafeez, anybody, guys help. Tell me what i must to do. Where to read what to watch. I re-read all the threads, but I got confused. The native video card died. Put 680 from Dell. The dark screen and in the description wrote: nvidia chip model 256.When my card was dead I took the system disk from my Macbook 2009 (where the 256 nvidia on board???) and put into imac, and imac drive put to my macbook so i can to work with. But I have already updated from El capitan to Sierra on imac and nothing has changed. The web driver is instaled. If I need to turn off the sip, I can put the system disk back on the MacBook and disable sip. When i start cuda-z - imac rebooting. Please help .. a week already digging myself. Sorry for my english, i'm from Ukraine. imac - it's my primary working horse... without i loose my money and i have 3 children...please help...

    Attached Files:

  5. WaferGuy macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2017
    1st of all, I would like to thank rivermandan to summarize the situation in this subject above!

    My mid-2011 27" iMac (A1312) has black screen problem. I've been researching for a solution over a week now. I don't know what is the root cause for HD6970 (die code 216-0811000) to fail. It seems like it is not a good idea to stick with HD6970.

    Going the NVIDIA route has its own minor issues (no bootscreen, no brightness control, etc).

    As I was about to throw the towel, I bumped into a site where someone tried swapping the 0811000 chip with 0798006 (HD6870). He needed to custom build a ROM to trick the Device ID. He reported a success in early July 2017.

    I've found the chip 0798006 for about USD50 a piece. My next challenge is to source a shop which can do BGA soldering for me...!
  6. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    maybe you should try flashing the card with a different bios.
  7. vkd, Aug 28, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017

    vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    I am on the Nvidia.com site now and see they have
    then they have

    Can someone please confirm what is the thing with CUDA? Is it the latest thing from Nvidia, like the direction all their drivers are heading nowadays? If we just download the CUDA software and install it, that'll be enough to make the GPU be detected and run, right?

    I am looking at putting a 765m in, like cmantia8141 above confirms will work. I suppose either of these drivers will work but the CUDA has a later release date on it so I'd be inclined to go for that but want to confirm with you experts first.

    Just install the GeForce driver, more info at tonymacx86.com
  8. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    i just installed a k3000M in my imac 2011 mid and the mac keeps trying to turn on but never starts it shuts off again.

    so i can confirm that not all k3000M works with imac.
  9. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    just installed a dell Nvidia gtx880m and i cant seem to get any other then a black screen.

    ive installed the nvidia webdriver is there anything i need to do else ?

  10. kar0sh1 macrumors newbie


    Sep 10, 2017
    Did you ever get this sorted? I've installed a 770M in my iMac 2010 and it's booting but with a black screen. Completely new to this whole process so any guidance is appreciated.
  11. Zeitkind macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    If you have a black screen, the card has a wrong internal connection (DP&LVDS etc.). This can sometimes be fixed with a modded BIOS (modify DCB table), but some cards would also need a physical modification or are not suitable at all. MXM cards are not that well defined as normal PCIe cards with obvious physical external connections. If you never played with flashing BIOS or SMD soldering, you can't do anything about this problem. If you then have a signal on your internal display, you need a suitable OS X driver.
  12. wiruzdk, Sep 11, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017

    wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    later today il try a dell alienware gtx765m to see if that works cant seem to get dell 880m to work
  13. kar0sh1 macrumors newbie


    Sep 10, 2017
    So what would your workflow be, first step search for a different/modded BIOS then attempt to flash to the GPU? What are the main factors that effect compatibility? I'm an engineer and have a full suite of equipment so if I know the steps I can make modifications to the GPU if necessary, but a link to a tutorial or similar resource would be very helpful.
  14. GoodWheaties macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2015
    No I never did get the 770M to work with the internal screen. I assumed it was the wrong VBIOS or something. I ended up just heating the original card again.
  15. kar0sh1 macrumors newbie


    Sep 10, 2017
    Ah thanks for that, saved me a lot of time - I was going to reattempt booting into Safe Mode, installing NVIDIA Web Driver etc..

    There seemed to be a lot of contradictory info on the 770M, with it being mentioned it had a similar chipset to a supported card, but if I'd done my research properly before purchasing I would've picked something else.

    I've noticed a lot higher a level of success/mentions of the 780M and the 880M, so my conclusion is they are a much safer bet. Is that a valid assumption?
  16. Zeitkind macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    MXM cards are often custom made for laptops etc., so it depends on what laptop it was supposed to work with and what's inside this laptop. Most cards have "just" different setting for the outputs in their BIOS and may be modified to some degree, others may also need soldering. A MXM card for a HP laptop prob. won't work in a Dell etc., though they have the same GPU and even the same model name. Not to mention MXM cards with and without EFI support and all the other problems..
  17. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    you cant be sure by anyway at all just tried a dell 880m in my imac 2011 and i is not supported.. black screen after nvidia webdriver installed. i can confirm its a no go only some cards work.
  18. Zeitkind macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    I can confirm almost no cards work without modification. Reason: Apple uses eDP for the display, most laptops use LVDS. So almost all cards that were build for laptops have wrong display routing in their vBIOS.
  19. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    sure but wich bios should i flash my 880m with ?
  20. mhafeez macrumors regular


    Oct 30, 2013
    Has anybody tried ATI Radeon M290X MXM card? Theoretically it might works with Sierra.
  21. Zeitkind macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    This depends on your card, there is no this-is-the-only-right-BIOS. You can try to correct the DCB table for your card and use PC-tools to re-sign the vBIOS and flash it (you will need DOS or Windows running..) and see, if you get a picture with the NVidia web drivers installed.
    At the moment, there is no foolproof solution, in fact, there is no real solution for all those broken iMacs. The "right" card needs the correct EFI, the correct DCB entries and should be available for a decent price and in decent amounts. There is no such card. Not on eBay, not in China.
    So - you can either try to re-vive your broken card with a reflow oven or hack a suitable PC-card with some luck. Reflowing those broken cards may work for some time, but they sure will completely break some time. On eBay, you will only find reflowed cards that may or may not work for some weeks or months, there are NO new cards (or GPU chips) left anywhere. A broken GPU in those 2011 iMacs is - more or less - a dead end until someone manages to hack a card that is still in production or at least available as new spare part (eg. from Dell, HP, Lenovo..).
  22. wiruzdk macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2017
    im a professional it guy i have my own buisness and my own rework station but im not gonna rework any card or put any new chip on or buy from ebay.... im not that stupid i just whant to figure out a way to get a new GPU to work in the damn imac its inzane as hard it is to have it wroking have 3 fine working 2011 machines standing wich just need a damn gpu
  23. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    You'd be better off asking on tonymacx86 or similar
  24. Zeitkind macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2017
    Best option: Read the NVidia docs and try to puzzle out a working DCB table, resign the vBIOS with the PC tools around and flash it. If there is no EFI - you won't get a picture during boot, but you may be able to get a picture once the NVidia driver kicks in. And yes, it's a pita with those iMacs. If you get the card working - be glad and share what you found. There is some more info in this thread and on netkas forum about the DCB table and how it should look for an iMac.
    If there was an easy solution - quite sure folks like MacVidCards would already offer a solution..
    Hint: You can try to read the signals on the DP-cable with a decent oscilloscope. I tried to hack a LVDS extension cable to that pins and connect an external display to have at least a picture for installing Windows and flashing, but did not have the time to finish.
    The DCB table can be found starting at offset 0x36 of the vBIOS, eg:
    0x36: 4C 85 --> table starts at offset 0x854C with normally 40 1B 10 08..
    If your vBIOS also has an EFI header, the offset may be different, look for the "real" start of the BIOS and add 0x36 then.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 18, 2017 ---
    Nope. The vBIOS we need is only for iMac hardware (eDP-signal to eDP-panel). Most PC-laptops use LVDS internally and so the vBIOS doesn't have to be modified. On the hackintosh side, you have an already working hardware connection (LVDS-signal to LVDS-panel), but not the right drivers (GPU ID not listed in the kernel GPU drivers etc.).
    Not sure about other all-in-one-PCs like those from Lenovo. If they have MXM and also use an eDP-connection, those cards may work out-of-the-box, but the MXM cards on eBay are almost all from normal laptops and have therefor a wrong DCB table.
  25. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    Yeah, I should have cited netkas.org but couldn't think of the name properly yesterday.

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