2011 iMac Graphics Card Upgrade

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

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  1. goodcore macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2013
    GMacUser, Thanks a lot for your work. I wanna attempt that on my 27' iMac with 780M.
    Also, there's big different between 780 and 680?
  2. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    I'd be curious to know if anyone succeeds on a 27". I did buy a 680M off ebay last year, but the machine would not boot with the card. No idea if it was a firmware problem, bad card, or incompatibility, since I don't have a PC laptop with a compatible slot.

    My understanding is the 680M and 780M are very similar - maybe just slight frequency differences.

  3. omvs, Apr 2, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014

    omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    (removed content - somehow i posted to the wrong thread)
  4. GMacUser, Apr 4, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2014

    GMacUser macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2014
    I actually read your thread during my research. It sounds like having a second monitor or windows would have probably allowed you to troubleshoot your black screen. More often than not I have only the second hdmi display working while the iMac display refuses to turn on. Selecting Mac OSX from Windows and shutting down is the only way to 100% guarantee the iMac internal display will turn on.

    In terms of upgrading your iMac, the only discernible difference between the 780M and 680M is that the 780M is twice the price. A 780m would be a great candidate for a EFI flash, however. If you managed to dump the ROM from a 2013 iMac with a 780M you could potentially get a fully supported bug free graphics upgrade.

    However if you're looking at spending $850 on a top of the line card today consider that you're gonna hit a wall with your CPU upgrade possibilities.... as nobody has been able to successfully upgrade to an Ivy Bridge with these iMacs.

    If you do a lot of different types of gaming you're going to feel the limit of these locked Sandy bridge CPU's ( I already feel it with my i7 2600S while running dolphin, except when setting affinity to force turbo boost)

    In fact, most 680Ms on eBay are still priced around $650. Had I not found one for $360 I would not have proceeded with this upgrade. It was already seemed slightly irrational in terms of power per dollar considering it is a 2012 mobile card...

    Look at it this way... the jump from my Radeon HD 6750m (512mb gram) and a 680M (4gb gram) in inexplicable. It's night and day, its a whole new world, its amazing. Super worth it in terms if the amount of games I can now play at MAX settings. I am confident I have greatly extended the gaming life of my iMac.

    The jump from a 680M to a 780m is less noticeable... less worth it to be honest.

    The 780M is a hell of a card, but if I was planning on spending that much money on a graphics card I would be worried about it being bottlenecked by future games. I would rather build a "hackintosh" with an i5 - 4670K ($230) with like two 770's ($850) or something. Its wayyy more bang for your buck.

    Or honestly just sell your 2011 iMac add the graphics card budget and get the newer model. Just my two cents.

    tl;dr If you have the money for that kind of (mobile) GPU don't waste it on a risky iMac upgrade, build a much more powerful pc/hackintosh instead.
  5. mariner69 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2014
    Dear Michael, I'm attempting the same upgrade you did... Please , advise is appreciated.... I bought the Clevo gtx 680 and somewhere around I read that it is a straight installation... Can you confirm that? I mean, I'm not talking about the phisical installation , but the software one... I can't find the place anymore but overthere they were saying that osx 10.9.2 has built in drivers to read any Nvidia hardware... Apart than that, do you have any suggestion?
    I still didn't receive the card so I'm colletting as much information as possible... Thanks for your help!
  6. mariner69 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2014
    Hi GmacUser! Pls confirm that the 680m worked straight on on OSX?
    Thanks for your advice!
  7. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008

    Never thought of doing this...... now the upgrade bug is calling!
  8. mariner69 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2014
    :D Hi! Thanks for your support!!! :) you are right, the upgrade bug hit me few days ago after successfully completing the ssd dual drive upgrade!!! I was scaried but after holding my breath a while I did it and I'm now double satisfied... For the operation itself and for the performance my imac is now granting me... So here comes the bug!!! Blue ray to replace superdrive, up to 32 gb Ram 4tb internal drive and what was missing? You are right, the video card!!! It is supposed to be here the day after tomorrow... I hope that before then gmacuser and michaelDT will join again the discussion to bring in their experience... I will keep you posted nevertheless on progress ... Wish me luck and cross your fingers for me pls! :) as mine will be veeeery busy! :)
  9. mariner69 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2014

    So I did it.... today.... imac won't boot with the 680m installed... chime ok and then black screen...no possibility to log in with a remote desktop... card fits perfectly though, same size.
    Installation process is not particularly difficult so i'm willing to see if I find a workaround and try again with the install in a few days...
    Does anybody think that installing the nvidia drivers could solve the issue?
    Thanks for advice!
  10. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    I never even got a chime on mine so I can't be certain, but my understanding is 10.9.* would support that card of out the box - I suspect recent 10.8.* versions would as well.

    You could try running safe mode and/or plug in a external monitor...
  11. mariner69 macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2014
    I'm on mavericks and about support , yes , I also read the same thing ( that's why I bought it!!! :) )...

    Btw... I had not only one chime, but multiples as the Imac was keeping on rebooting... I attach some photos just for curious fellows ...In the first you see the comparison between the two cards and on the second you see the gtx sitting in place...

    the good news is that now I'm pretty confident with imacs tear down!!!! ;D

    Attached Files:

  12. ArthurWellsley macrumors member


    Feb 9, 2011
    2009 imac

    I have an older imac.
    It is Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU E8435 @ 3.06 GHz
    Installed Memory (RAM) 4.00GB
    the video card is

    Nvidia GeForce GT 130

    I would like to improve the graphics performance in boot camp while playing windows games.

    Any advice as to the best route?
  13. darkalala macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2014

    I see that the OP has a i7 2600 (not s) in your iMac 21.5 "

    this can be?

    because I got an offer from a i7 2600 for $ 150, while the i7 2600s I get over $300

    Will it happen something if I will get the 2600?

    (sorry for my bad english)
  14. Wreckie macrumors regular

    May 9, 2011
    GMacUser, How much did you pay for your 680M?
  15. JustKay macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2013
    I screwed up, I ordered a GTX 675m instead of a 675mx.

    Any chance to get my iMac 2011 to boot even with black screen nor using Windows ?

  16. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    Hi there, to be honest, you can't game well on either a Core 2 Duo or the old Nvidia card. I know this may sound a bit silly, but just get a new iMac (either the 21.5" with the Nvidia Geforce GT 750m w/ 1Gb of GDDR5 VRAM, or one of the 27" iMac's...).
  17. JustKay macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2013
    It will works for 10.6 and 10.7
    In 10.8 and superior you have to remove a kext file to prevent the CPU Sensor to load.

    Unfortunately I can remember the exact name, something like AppleCPUsensor.kext ...

    I have put back my I5 2500S back because the performance boost doesn't worth the annoyment.


    Tested, the iMac power on, fans run for a couple of second and stop immediately. Screen doesn't light.

    I think it's just the EEPROM doing some kind of GPU UEFI support check that naturally failed because the 675m is Fermi (noUEFI) instead of 675mx which is Kepler (UEFI).

    As anyone reported a nVidia Kepler upgrade on iMac 2011 with something else than a 680m which is still pricy?
  18. Chewy14 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2014
    Hello, very interesting thread. I hope you guys will update again.

    I have a 27" mid 2011 with the 6970M.
    First of all is it worth upgrading ? I'm thinking about an upgrade for less than 400$.
    What would be my best choice in terms of price/performance/compatibility ? Is the GTX 775M an option ?
    Since the latest iMac have it built-in can I expect a perfect integration ?
    Where is the best place to order (eBay ? - I live in Switzerland).

  19. jblagden macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2013
    It's not possible yet, but maybe soon

    It is not yet possible to use an external graphics card, at least not affordably nor without having to boot into Windows, but with Thunderbolt-aware drivers which would also allow hot-plugging, it may one day be possible. In fact Village Tronic and Silverstone are each working on affordable eGPU enclosures, which I hope they’ll be able to begin selling this year, especially since they’ve been working on them for a year or so and many people(myself included) really want an affordable eGPU enclosure. The other problem besides drivers is that Intel doesn't want this sort of thing to be affordable. Although, i have made a petition, to try to get them to give Silverstone and Village Tronic the licenses they need: https://www.change.org/petitions/int...gpu-enclosures
  20. shunn macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2014
    My 4850 has just packed up in my imac 27 EMC2309 and i am able to get my hands on a 6770 but its from a imac 21.It is being sold without the heatsink.Will this fit in the 27 inch imac?
  21. dinath macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2014
  22. dinath macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2014
    i think that it is possible(i'm not 100% sure)
  23. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2010
  24. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Given that the 770M uses 40W more than a 6750M, does the PSU have enough headroom? I am thinking about upgrading my daughter's 2011 to a new GPU and deciding if it will cope with a 770M or if a 765M would be better. The i5-2400S might bottleneck with a 770M anyhow. Too bad the 3570S or the 3770S can't be used as then there would be no bottleneck worries. Excellent work to those who attempted this. The 2011 is truly the last upgradeable iMac.
  25. DriveSlow macrumors newbie

    Aug 3, 2014
    Hey guys, i'm reading this forum for a while but i never had the need to register, since now. Because you all did a great job I think there's someone who can help me.

    Today i upgraded my iMac 2010 model from:

    Core i5-680 => Core i7-880
    2TB Fusion Drive => 3TB Fusion Drive
    Radeon HD 6970M (upgraded from 5750) => Geforce GTX 780M

    I followed the guides from iFixit and this thread. Everything was running very well. I installed my backup from my Time Machine without any issues. Okay, i lost my initial boot screen, but I knew that and that's okay. Somehow I missed stuff like putting the CPU temperature sensor back to the logic board, so I have to disassemble my iMac to push it in.

    But now the monitor stays black. The startup sound appears but then… nothing is showing up. It do before my disassemble. I knew that the login screen is there, because if I type something and press, I can hear the beep of enter the wrong password. When I type the correct password my Mac goes on.

    Btw: No problems with my old graphics card.

    Do anyone have a tip for me?
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