2011 iMac Graphics Card Upgrade

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

  1. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    You and I are in the same boat. Same late 2012 iMac. Same GPU. I've done some research and I found that the only way to upgrade the GPU is to add an external thunderbolt chassis and install an nVidia card in that. Biggest downside besides the expense is the fact that it will not pass video back to your iMac. You'll have to add an external monitor. Right now, it's about a grand in outlay.

    So, for me, I'm to have to get to the point where I'm mad at my Mac on a regular basis to do this.
  2. stereo247 macrumors newbie


    Oct 9, 2014
    Hi All

    Newbie here. I fitted a "working" HD 6970m which I got off eBayinto my 2009 iMac. I can get it to show the initial boot screen but then the screen goes goes blank/white.

    I then tried booting and holding the "Alt" key and successfully get the different drive options. I can choose which ever. I can boot into windows (I hear the chime when I press the power button and the machine powers down). If I try any of the other drives including a Yosemite install USB eventually the boot fails and sometimes gives "boot disk not found" message.

    Does this mean the card is busted as per the latest Apple card swop deal on these or is there something else a-foot that I'm missing?

    I am running the Yosemite beta and machine is an i7. Thanks for any help.
  3. stereo247 macrumors newbie


    Oct 9, 2014
    Did you ever attempt this or get it to work?
  4. JustKay macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2013
    You should choose your fight, non Apple GPU plus BETA version, that's a lot of complexity.

    I would advice you to retrieve the iMac 2011 GPU firmware package from Apple website and to apply it manually using ATI Tools or something.

    The package comes as a dmg you will need to unpack it to retrieve the rom file. I did the same to flash my non Apple 6750m to an Apple 6770m.
  5. stereo247 macrumors newbie


    Oct 9, 2014
    Sorry if I wasn't clear but it was actually a card+heatsink pulled from a working iMac???

    Is it a dud card?
  6. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    Either bad card or you didn't get the heatsink in perfect contact and it is overheating.

    This is all assuming that you are 100% certain that the OS is a solid build and you weren't doing any kext mods or fiddle fiddling in the System folder recently in attempts to fix old one.

    Best would be to use FireWire disk mode (or an external) and boot from another drive.
  7. Astelith macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Anyone with the graphics card upgrade and Yosemite ? I'm going to retry with the 780m and Yosemite, if not working I think I sell everything for the new 5K iMac @ M295X
  8. Npalamidis macrumors newbie

    Jun 26, 2007
    Hello @Astelith,

    I've a Mid 2011 27" iMac that I fitted with one Nvidia GTX 780M 4GB and it worked perfectly in Mac OS 10.9.X the moment I upgraded to Mac OS 10.10 it stopped working. I can access my computer using screen Sharing and I notice that it shows "NVIDIA Chip Model 256 MB" and no Longer detects the card as "Nvidia GTX 780M" I've tried reinstalling the card and nothing. I also installed the CUDA drivers and the last build of the Nvidia Web Drivers and and so far nothing has worked.

    I'm also thiking in getting the new 27 5K imac and don't invest any money on this machine any more although it's a shame since I recently fitted a Samsung 850pro SSD and it was screaming fast.

    If someone has a clue on what could be happening with my card I will appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance.
  9. hyune83 macrumors member

    Sep 19, 2008
  10. Astelith macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    Hey ! Have you resolved the issue ? It's the card working again ?
    I think I'm going to retry, just in case :rolleyes:
  11. mac3lite macrumors newbie

    Oct 11, 2014
    My iMac12,1 Intel i5 QuadCore 2.5Ghz w/Radeon 6750m

    So I was trying to follow the upgrade you did as best I could and then research to see where I would start with mine, but this doesn't seem to be a very popular process.

    So I was wondering... I have a 2011 iMac12,1 QuadCore i5 w/Radeon 6750M (512mb) video card, and I only came across this posting because I was looking into what I could do to get the most out of the card in Windows.

    I've recently been doing some Gaming in Windows 7 64bit (i5 2.5Ghz QC, Radeon 6750m 512mb GPU, 500GB HDD w/16GB of RAM) - I was wondering where I could find detailed steps on upgrading the card on my system? As long as there's no soldering or whatever I am willing to give it a shot. I've attempted overclocking using ATI Tray Tools but I was unsure of how the voltage field worked.

    If you could point me in the right direction as to where I could find what cards I could upgrade too in my machine that's not crazy expensive? I'm sure there must be some type of compatibility data as to what can go into this machine?

    I am horrible at posting on forums, so I hope I gave the information needed in this reply to get the information I'm looking for if it's possible that is.

    Thanks again for your time!
    *A+ Certified 17+Yrs PC Tech - Only within the past 4 years have I been really involved with Apple/Mac Hardware, I still using Windows/Bootcamp once in a while but I have moved my primary OS to Mac OS X and only use Windows now when I have too or for Gaming.
  12. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    iMac upgrade in LA? PM me or post here.

    Still looking for someone trying to put a replacement or upgraded GPU in their iMac. Pretty sure we could create a working GTX 755,775 or 780 from a PC version. (All "m" versions on MXM board, could do gtx680m if someone finds the file)

    Pretty sure it could be made to run with boot screens, etc. We do not have the space or time to start ripping apart iMacs so needs to be someone who does.

    You would need to preferably be in LA area but could also possibly work if someone mailed us a PC version of one of those cards. Card would need to have a "SOIC-8" eeprom chip on it.

    Offering this as a FREE service for 1 or 2 people to learn from. If it doesn't work as intended we can return card to PC specs so you can re-sell. Keep in mind, removing and installing and making sure there is sufficient cooling is 100% up to you. We are just offering to take a PC version of an existing iMac card and convert it to iMac version with full boot screen and display support.

    In short, to do exactly what we do for Mac Pro cards. If there is a Mac repair facility in LA, that would be best. In a perfect world we would end up being able to create MANY different GPU cards for iMacs and could offer these ourselves or through another source. Note, only interested in working on Nvidia cards, no AMD.
  13. Astelith macrumors regular

    Oct 10, 2014
    The big problem is that we think Yosemite is not allowing it software level, you could try with a cheap gpu and then move to the big ones no ?
  14. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    I can tell you this, I looked at a PC GTX780m rom and the Mac one. First thing I noticed was their device id differed. Possible that Apple or NVIDIA removed the PC GTX780m device id from drivers.

    I know how to write, test, and develop iMac GPUs. I would love to offer them to the lucky folks who could use them. I just don't have the space or time. The last iMac I had apart was a G5 one. I discovered that Craigslist was crawling with them. All had bad power supplies. So I started buying the power supplies by the crate and buying up the iMacs and then reselling them running again. One day a visitor came by, stared around my place in shock. It had become a computer junkyard with half assembled iMacs everywhere. I can't do that again, hence looking for an iMac shop or afficionado in LA.

    I can tell you this, if you find a PC Card with same device id as Mac, I'm 90% certain I could make card work.
  15. marten-tulenan macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2010
    I can tell you this, if you find a PC Card with same device id as Mac, I'm 90% certain I could make card work.[/QUOTE]

    well i tried to put gtx 560m to iMac 27.. it boot with black screen but the system running ok. (shut it down with command + option + control + eject ) i don't have a clue to flash this card. if someone could help me step by step flasing this card, i would donate him. i just want to make this pc card running to replace imac amd graphic card that 1gb ram that fail to boot.
    i tried reflowing the gpu and it stand only couple months. and it happened again and reflowing didn't work. the gpu chip is amd 216-0811000. well i will buy this chip and replace the old one. but the gtx 560m did not work out of the box..in imac 27 2010 or 2011 mxm 3.0
  16. MacVidCards Suspended

    Nov 17, 2008
    Hollywood, CA
    yes, in the quote from me you are missing the point

    I need to start with cards that already exist in Mac world, and create one of those from a nearly identical PC one

    Then I will try ones that did NOT exist before

    The things I flash are not available on the web. I have to sit down, run tests, write various sections, flash, test, etc. This will be especially true for cards that didn't exist before.

    So, simple rule would be that for cards that already exist, I can probably make if the card has same device id. This would need to be mailed to me for me to flash eeprom.

    For cards that have never existed before, i would need to be in same city so I could have physical access to machine. Once I get a specific card working it will be possible to do that particular card in future for everyone.
  17. Render, Nov 28, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014

    Render macrumors newbie


    Nov 25, 2014
    Madrid, Spain
    Hi all. I’m an old visitor / new member of macrumors. I’ve been following this thread for a long time hoping to know something new about you guys, who are fighting in the same boat that I want to raise.
    I have a mid 2011 iMac 27” and I would love to fit it with one GTX780m.

    I did a lot of research but the truth is that there isn’t much information about flashing EFI bios in MXM cards, and seems clear to me that the scene lives here, in macrumors and also in netkas.

    I think our goal here is to rip current Apple EFI from an Apple card and flash to a PC card as it is.

    MacVidCards, you have deep knowledge in flashing and programming GPUs, can you tell us if it’s possible to flash iMac EFI bios to PC EEPROM cards. Does current PC ROMs have enough space to store Apple EFI? Are Apple EFI bigger than PC UEFI because of the boot screen data?

    DriveSlow, did you manage to flash yours? Also when you updated the vBIOS to get full speed in Windows, did you check the list of display adapters with “nvflash -a”? I’m a bit confused about where different controllers are and how to track them.
    If you have only one adapter and you save the whole rom, shouldn’t it contains both the BIOS and the EFI code? On the other hand, outside the world of flashing things, does your iMac is running Yosemite? I see that Npalamidis found problems with a beta version, Npalamidis, does the blank screen still happens with latest version of OS X?

    Please people, don’t let this thread die, MichaelDT, Astelith… everyone, please keep posting your findings and sharing your knowledge. Please!
  18. killerflux macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2014
    Evening all, just wanted to know if this is at all possible.
    Looking to upgrade my 2009 21.5 imac, and was wondering if you could simply swap a logic board over from the 2011 model?

  19. Render macrumors newbie


    Nov 25, 2014
    Madrid, Spain
    Npalamidis, I was reading about new Apple's security policy adopted on Yosemite for an unrelated issue (to enable TRIM over unsigned SSD), and I wonder if this could be the reason why your card doesn't work with it.
    There's a new security requirement called kext signing that checks if all the drivers in the system are unaltered by a third party and approved by Apple.

    Even if "standard" nvidia drivers should be considered a trusted source, I guess it won't be the same drivers as Apple use on OS X.
    As MacVidCards said, there's a device ID card difference between Apple's and PC ones, so I guess you had to install nvidia web drivers to recognize your PC card.

    Since you already have a Samsung 850 PRO I wonder if you already enabled TRIM with Trim Enabler on Yosemite. This tool disables kext signing so it can be a fast and easy way to do the test, just run it, let it do the magic and plug your 780m

  20. nanoant macrumors newbie


    Jan 15, 2015
    Krakow, Poland
    Dear fellow Mac disassemblers,

    Encouraged by posts of MichaelDT and GMacUser I decided to have a try and run GeForce 680M 4GB MXM 3.0b (I got one used for ~$270) on my own iMac 21.5" 2011.

    I managed to get it working in OSX, but the overall results are mediocre - far from perfect. So I wish to put some discouraging words here to spare you of some time, nerves and money.

    First of all my intention was to get the better GPU working in OSX, not Windows (via BootCamp). So well working card in Windows was not satisfactory. I didn't want to turn my iMac into some expensive Windows PC, didn't want to fiddle with BIOS modifications, custom fan control, etc. etc. The GPU boost on OSX was the ultimate goal.

    I do confirm several facts raised by my predecessors:

    1. built-in display does not turn in boot menu, well there is a boot screen, accepting keyboard and so, so you can work blind, but no display
    2. built-in display turns only upon first boot after resetting NVRAM (Cmd+Opt+P+R) once OSX loads up (what GMacUser calls working out of the box in OSX)
    3. once you change something or reboot often built-in display does not turn anymore in OSX (back to point 2)
    4. but external Thunderbolt/DisplayPort attached display always works (yet I want to use built-in display!)
    5. sometimes iMac refuses to start at all, like fans spin for fraction of a second then stop (reported by some other users). I suspect there may be some initial power strain or timing problem upon boot that prevents computer from booting. After few attempts of pressing power button it stands up.

    Now there are also several things that were not clear or not expressed here yet:
    1. even when build-in display turns on I get absolutely no possibility to control its brightness, screen stays in its full brightness, which is unacceptable, in System Preferences LCD brightness controls are GONE (but they are back when I switch back to old AMD GPU)
    2. card has really poor performance with its default BIOS (as GMacUser said it seems to throttle/clockdown all the time). I don't want to mod BIOS as it can likely lead to brick the card completely. Maybe it can work at full speed in Windows, but again I wanted it working well in OSX!

    Now several other things that differ from what GMacUser said:

    1. installing card will NOT fit over HDD, when HDD is in its original position, first you need to remove plastic separator, then take out bottom of HDD from its pin holders and push it towards back of iMac making room for a card, but this is NOT yet sufficient. You need to bend bottom right HDD holder (see attached photo) otherwise it will prevent card and whole MoBo to sit in its original position and put some extra tension that can damage it in long term.
    2. heat-sink attachment on GPU chip itself works well, but not for GPU memory chips, that may lead to memory overheat. Note that AMD card has memory only on one (GPU sink) side that make contact with heat-sink using white thermal pads, where NVIDIA GPU has memory chips on both sides of the card, so the half of chips get nowhere to transfer their heat, and some of the memory chips on "right" side are far from the heat-sink to get a contact too
    3. even clocked down, NVIDIA GPU emits much more heat than AMD and I believe iMac 21.5" inch internal layout is not good enough to handle that, unless you want ODD fan running at 4000 rpm
    4. when you use SSD lying below ODD (like me) it will block partially air conduct from ODD fan to GPU fan

    Altogether I've spent 2 days and had some good and bad moments with this. My conclusions are that GeForce 680M MXM in iMac 21.5" 2011 is barely working in OSX.

    This may be partially addressed by some BIOS modifications, but I don't see how we can address inability to control screen brightness, as there is no Mac BIOS for these particular model.

    Comments welcome.

    Attached Files:

  21. Verdenshersker macrumors member


    Oct 17, 2014
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    How new does it have to be?

    I have an iMac early 2008.
    2.8ghz core 2 duo
    4 GB ddr2 800 MHz
    ATI HD2600Pro 256 MB
    320 GB Hdd

    The machine has a yellow tint on the screen, so it might be a semi defect video card or a semi defect lcd.

    Can this video card even be upgraded?

    I see cheap mxm Nvidia cards on eBay... Gts250, 8800Gts, etc.

    Just let me know, I'll be happy to try

  22. Infectum macrumors newbie


    Feb 10, 2015
    I think, that this card will be working better.

    probably, you must to flash the bios too.

  23. kgian macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2011
    I have an 2011 21.5 imac with radeon 6750. I can get my hands on a radeon 6970 2gb from an imac 2011 27", complete with it's heatsink for around 200 euros. Can this card be physically used in the 21.5 imac, either with it's heatsink or the 21.5 heatsink?
  24. wavey macrumors newbie

    Feb 11, 2015
    Durham, UK
    My 2011 iMac 27" is currently in for repair. I didn't know of the problem with the graphics cards until mine started overheating some 3.5 years after purchase in the UK. Only then did I start looking on the internet and found Apple had acknowledged a problem. My symptom is that the iMac runs for about 90 mins from cold before locking up. Screen then goes black and won't display again until the whole thing cools down. It gets radiator-hot, hot enough to burn. Hopefully i'll get a free replacement.
  25. RobertArrington macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2015
    New Jersey
    Attempted the upgrade to a 780M on a 2011 27" tonight. Initially worked out of the box. Got a few restarts in. Did a couple benchmarks. Showed up correctly in the system profiler. Played Diablo 3 for a few minutes to test it out. However, after exiting D3 and going to restart to load Windows, it freezes after I click restart and the screen turns black with a tiny white square in the top left corner of the screen. Upon manually restarting with the power button, I can hear a chime and my peripherals light up but the display no longer turns on. I tried connecting an external display but no response. Only the first two diagnostic LEDs are on (which I think means it can't find a video card). What would you guys do to troubleshoot? I think I installed the heatsink correctly, but is there a chance I somehow fried the 780M?

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