27" iMac.. Change graphics card?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by picky88, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. picky88 macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi there, new to the forums and to Mac.

    I have up till now always bought cheap budget PC's... and had all the usual problems. I am considering one of the new iMacs, but I'm wondering if the graphics card can be changed? I do alot of rendering, and a quadro fx graphics card from Nvidia is the way to go. They make a mac version for the Mac Pro, so the software/drivers situation is covered, but with the specs that the IMac has now I'm wondering if I can fit a quadro fx graphics card in the iMac? if you look here http://gizmodo.com/5388225/ifixit-imac-review-gallery//gallery/1 you can see a small seperate board, which I assume is the graphics card seperate from the mainboard. Are there any better photos that ive missed?
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #2
    Basically no. It's not a standard PCIe card. It's an MXM card. And it has to be one with an Apple BIOS on it at that.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    It can be changed but that's not for average Joe. Also iMac uses mobile GPUs and OS X and firmware limits the possible GPUs a lot. So, generally it's not possible and not worth it because there are like 5 possible GPUs you can use
     
  4. picky88 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Well I am quite good with computer hardware, and they do make MXM versions of the quadro fx cards for PC based laptops, but without the correct bios or drivers I guess its a dead end. A few more questions on the iMac though:

    I notice on the apple store you can only have 4, 8 or 16GB of RAM. why not anything inbetween? I would like to go for 6GB or so, and upgrade to 8GB+ later on when needed. Is there any reason why I cant add one 2GB ram module bought elsewhere to bring it to 6GB?

    Also, what is the current education discount for a university student?
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #5
    Yes, you can add one 2GB or 2x1GB if you want. If Apple would offer all possible RAM configurations, it would be too much hassle and nobody would really buy other than 8GB or 16GB.
     
  6. Buzz Bumble Guest

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    #6
    Go to your country's Apple online webstore and there's an option to switch to the Education store, then you can see the educaional prices for everything: hardware and software (although some things don't actually have an educational price).
     
  7. Goldie009 macrumors member

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    #7
    You maaay find that you have to log in from your educational institutions network. In Glasgow University you have to be logged in to their wireless network before you can see the educational store and associated prices.
     
  8. Buzz Bumble Guest

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    #8
    You're right. The UK Education store does say:
    *Note: You can only use our University (HE) or College (FE) stores when connected via your campus network. If you are off campus you can still order by calling 0800 072 1154.​
    You could try the bottom "Schools" option, but I don't know how different the pricing is.
     
  9. TDHXXX macrumors regular

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    #9
    Do you think it will be possible for a Genius to upgrade the GPU at a later date?
     
  10. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    #10
    no.

    and i dont think anyone will be able to update the GPU, regardless of whats been posted in this thread
     
  11. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #11
    Possible? Yes. Will they (will Apple sell the cards and allow them to do it). No.
     
  12. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #12
    If they do, it will be a prices only a select few would pay (AKA expensive).
     
  13. picky88 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Ive looked into this a little bit. It would be great if it was possible to upgrade the graphics card, as to me it looks like the weakest point of the new imac spec. A quadro fx card, even a lower end one, would transform it into a real monster of a cad design computer...

    The Quadro FX4800 (very high end and expensive) is mac compatible, only its PCI-e so will only physically fit in a Mac pro. But the mac drivers are free to download.

    One of nividias notebook range of graphics cards will physically fit, but the bios will be incompatible and the drivers are not available for mac. What if I booted into windows, with the windows drivers installed? would the mac still reject the graphics card at boot time? What has to be done with the bios of a graphics card to make it accepted in a mac? Ive heard that you can fit a non mac approved graphics card into a Mac Pro, and this situation is not far different from that.

    Please share your thoughts. Im sure this can be done!
     
  14. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #14
    The card is upgradable, good luck finding any compatible upgrade though! A mac-proprietary slot is used. Nothing else in the computer market uses it.

    The iMac will never see a quadro card.
     
  15. neilw macrumors regular

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    #15
    I do not recall reading of a single instance of this having been done successfully. I personally would not invest upwards of $2K for a quad-equipped iMac based on the assumption that this operation will succeed.

    If you really need the Quadro, you're gonna need to go Mac Pro, which starts at $2149 on the refurb store right now.

    Seriously, this is not like Hackintoshing, which requires some effort but is well documented, proven, and non-destructive.
     
  16. picky88 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    that is dissapointing. I suppose I dont really need the quadro card, but I would have fitted one if it was not too complicated. but as neilw pointed out its a risky thing to attempt on such an expensive piece of equipment!

    I wont need this computer until I start uni in september, I wonder if SSD and or better installed graphics will have come to the 27 imac by then? usb 3.0 maybe aswell?? what would be the best time to buy between now and september?
     
  17. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #17
    There will certainly be a revision between now and next September. The best time to buy will be next year sometime (unless you need the machine now).
     
  18. peskaa macrumors 68020

    peskaa

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    #18
    Basically, buy a Mac Pro. If you can't stretch to an '09 model, buy a second-hand '08 Octo (I'm selling mine actually). You can then add in a proper Quadro card and not have these problems.

    Basically, iMacs are not designed for upgrades.
     
  19. UKmacnut macrumors newbie

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    #19
    It is a shame Apple doesn't offer Quadro FX in the iMac range, as they are plenty powerful enough. I am just about OK with the 256 MB ATI card in my iMac.... I do renderings and CAD work. I sure wish I could swap it for a Quadro FX for smoother CAD work. I am tempted to try it with an iMac that boots as Windows only.
     
  20. 300D macrumors 65816

    300D

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    #20
    Its a GOOD thing they don't offer it! The Quadro is no better in performance than most any other high-end card on the market that costs $1000 less. The only advantage the Quadro has is the huge buffer RAM and 3D display support.
     
  21. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #21
    I agree, it's just an overpriced GPU. Isn't it only good in 3D editing and other high-end professional work?
     
  22. neonkru macrumors regular

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    #22
    "Well I am quite good with computer hardware"
     
  23. zeigerpuppy macrumors member

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    Oct 2, 2009
    #23
    It could probably be done

    Considering the success of replacing video cards on the insanelymac forum, I would suggest that you give it a try.
    The 4850 in the iMac is not a bad card but for intensive 3D work at high resolutions, it may be nice to have more onboard memory.
    There are two methods of using generic video cards, this should work for the laptop style cards too.
    1) reflash bios - can work fine if there is a mac bios version of the card or someone has kindly made one
    2) injection technique - replaces a kext file at startup and injects the correct driver, works for most hardware but you mnay be the first to try this with an iMac, it may fail but shouldn't damage anything.
    You'll also get plenty of help on the insanely mac forum.

    I suggest that if you're willing to spend the time with the install and a bit of tweaking there's probably a 50/50 chance this will work. Buy the card second hand on ebay and it's likely you'll sell it back at the sam eprice, so no loss apart from your time.

    Also, don't believe the people who say you'll blow up your mac or cause a cataclysm by opening it up... it's just a computer folks, go slow, don't bend pins and everything will be just fine! Voiding warranty is only an issue if you tamper with something that is irreversible, considering that the graphics board is in a standard socket, I can't see how anyone would be able to tell that you did anything (maybe from heatsink glue??).

    Anyway, if you're willing to try, many people will be thankful to hear your progress, good luck.
     
  24. picky88 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
    If you look at some benchmarks online, the quadro cards tend to do better than traditional gaming cards at 3d rendering, cad design etc.... just as playing games on a quadro card gives poor frame rates. Im not into computer games much, and im hoping to start a product design course, so for me personally, a quadro card is more suitable than a gaming one.

    Im sure one of the MXM cards could be made to work with the imac, but all things considered. Ive decided to build my own desktop PC instead, because upgrading is so much less hassle, and significantly cheaper than a mac pro. For me, the significant extra cost of a mac pro is hard to justify.

    Good luck to anyone who tries the MXM card swap, it would make an interesting blog to read!
     
  25. selfdisplaced macrumors member

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    Jun 22, 2009
    #25
    i was wondering this too. i watched a teardown of an iMac on youtube, and it showed that you can easily seperate the graphics card from the rest of whatever it's attached to (logic board). It would be nice if down the road I could get the 1GB graphics card in my 27".

    could i take it to a third party and maybe see if there is someway to order the graphics card to say the one in there is "broken"?

    either way, wouldn't think of doing until at least 3 years, when applecare runs out ;-)
     

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