Are the i5 and i7 processors upgradeable?

urbanmacUser

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 9, 2008
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If I purchase an i5 or i7 iMac in a years time could the processor be swapped for a faster i5 or i7.

I know the iMac take part looks hard but it can be done so can the processor be popped out and replaced?
 

nicroma

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2009
504
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Midwest, USA
I'm not positive but I think I read that the faster i7 CPUs use a different socket than the i7 model the iMac comes with.
 

300D

macrumors 65816
May 2, 2009
1,284
0
Tulsa
The CPU will be upgradable. Its actually upgradable right now, to the 2.93ghz Lynnfield i7.

As time passes, faster processors, and possibly 6 core versions, will be released by Intel.
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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Should work as long as it is in the LGA 1156 family that will fit the P55 board, right? I am assuming the i7-870 will run too hot to be in the iMac, so really the only option would be the i7-860 for now?
 

TheBearman

macrumors 6502
May 23, 2008
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Cary, NC
Should work as long as it is in the LGA 1156 family that will fit the P55 board, right? I am assuming the i7-870 will run too hot to be in the iMac, so really the only option would be the i7-860 for now?
The 860 and 870 have the same temp specs. The difference is about $225, which I expect is the reason it isn't an option. To be honest is .13mhz really worth that much?
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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The 860 and 870 have the same temp specs. The difference is about $225, which I expect is the reason it isn't an option. To be honest is .13mhz really worth that much?
Maybe not if one goes with the i7 860 off the bat. But if you go with the i5 and later want some more ooomph, the i7 870 might be a good option. Just noticed on Intel.com that the i7 860, i7 870, and the i5 750 are all rated at 95W. Good to know.

How wise of an idea is it to save the difference in price now and get the i5 as I am thinking? Then save that money for a SSD. Then when the i7 870 drops in price, put that in to replace the i5 (assuming that Apple hasn't made this impossible).
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
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Indianapolis
The CPU will be upgradable. Its actually upgradable right now, to the 2.93ghz Lynnfield i7.

As time passes, faster processors, and possibly 6 core versions, will be released by Intel.
Gulftown appears to be limited to LGA 1366.
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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So what are the odds that the user will be able to upgrade their own CPU in the future and that Apple hasn't lock that CPU under lock and key? I am thinking 60/40 in favor of Apple not letting the user replace it.
 

Eidorian

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Mar 23, 2005
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So what are the odds that the user will be able to upgrade their own CPU in the future and that Apple hasn't lock that CPU under lock and key? I am thinking 60/40 in favor of Apple not letting the user replace it.
Could you be more specific? I can ramble off plenty but I'd rather not if you can narrow it down.
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
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Sorry, be more specific about what?
There are plenty of steps before you have a working reassembled iMac (Lynnfield)

Do you want to open up your Mac? Can you successfully reassemble it? The cost of the Core i7 870. Does the firmware support it? Can the hardware cool it under normal use?
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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There are plenty of steps before you have a working reassembled iMac (Lynnfield)

Do you want to open up your Mac? Can you successfully reassemble it? The cost of the Core i7 870. Does the firmware support it? Can the hardware cool it under normal use?
I don't think opening and putting everything back together will be a problem. The biggest issue for me would be whether Apple would have had the CPU glued down and whether the firmware would support it. The i7 870 "should be" fine temp wise since it is rated the same as the i7 860 and the i5 750.
 

Eidorian

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Mar 23, 2005
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I don't think opening and putting everything back together will be a problem. The biggest issue for me would be whether Apple would have had the CPU glued down and whether the firmware would support it. The i7 870 "should be" fine temp wise since it is rated the same as the i7 860 and the i5 750.
All signs point to this being yet another socketed iMac.
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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That is quite true of desktop chips compared to mobile ones.
I guess I will have to wait and see once these ship and someone like iFixit does a tear down of a quad core. Then we will know for sure, unless someone on here has some inside info?
 

300D

macrumors 65816
May 2, 2009
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Tulsa
Gulftown appears to be limited to LGA 1366.
Key words here: "As time passes, faster processors, and possibly 6 core versions, will be released by Intel."

I believe the primary reason this iMac has socketed CPUs is due to how new they are. The Lynnfield CPUs were just released, the specs alone were only announced in June, thats why the i5/i7 models are being delayed to November. Apple can have all the components in line and ready to go; they just have to pop in the CPU, slap it together and send it off.

Soldered/glued CPU's are usually added the same time the rest of the logicboard is populated. Since the i5/i7 models share many of the same components with the C2D models, it wouldn't make much sense to have a separate manufacturing processes for each. Having the C2d socketed as well allows them to share the assembly line and "trained" workers.
 

300D

macrumors 65816
May 2, 2009
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6-cores isn't something coming to LGA 1156.
Oh, you work at Intel and you're privy to confidential development information? Me neither.

Just because it doesn't exist right now doesn't mean there isn't something in the pipelines.

Are you expecting the next revision to have soldered processors then?
After what they did to the Mini, I wouldn't be surprised.
 

Eidorian

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Mar 23, 2005
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Oh, you work at Intel and you're privy to confidential development information? Me neither.

Just because it doesn't exist right now doesn't mean there isn't something in the pipelines.
I have to dig up the article again but there's something in those additional 210 pins on LGA 1366 that allows Gulftown but not a derivation on LGA 1156.
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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If it is really true that the quads will be socketed, I think the best route for me to go is get the i5 750 and then in the future upgrade the CPU to the i7 870 instead of the i7 860. I will then see a larger increase in performance going from the 750 to the 870, than the 860 to the 870 and save some money in the process. First things first is save up for a SSD. :D
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,085
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Indianapolis
If it is really true that the quads will be socketed, I think the best route for me to go is get the i5 750 and then in the future upgrade the CPU to the i7 870 instead of the i7 860. I will then see a larger increase in performance going from the 750 to the 870, than the 860 to the 870 and save some money in the process. First things first is save up for a SSD. :D
Rumor is that with the Core i7-930 coming out in Q1 2010, the the prices for Lynnfield based processors will see their first drop.
 

53x12

macrumors 68000
Feb 16, 2009
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6-cores isn't something coming to LGA 1156. There's a limitation in the interface.
Yeah that is what I was thinking as well. Even if they did come out with a 6 core CPU for the LGA 1156, not sure there would be enough airflow in an iMac to keep it happy. I think the 6 cores are best reserved for the MacPro.
 

Anonymous Freak

macrumors 603
Dec 12, 2002
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Gulftown, i5 upgradeability, sockets.

Alright, I did work at Intel, up until immediately before Lynnfield came out. (My last task was preparing a bunch of Intel DP55KG boards to send out to the press for Lynnfield reviews.)

Gulftown (according to public roadmaps) is the six core processor scheduled for early next year for socket 1366. The socket is not a limiting factor. It's purely a marketing choice to keep the higher-end socket higher-end. The lower-end socket 1156 will not be getting 6-core processors to keep differentiation.

Socket 1156 presently has four-core "Core i5" and "Core i7" processors available, the processors code-named Lynnfield. In the future, dual-core Core i5 and Core i3 will be available for that socket; including some with onboard graphics. (Motherboards for onboard graphics are not out yet, since the current processors don't support the onboard graphics.) Right now, this socket is limited to 95 W parts. Any future processor would likely also be a 95 W (or less) part. Numbers of cores has nothing directly to do with max power draw; Intel could make a slower-speed, higher-core-count chip easily. They've done it before. (For example, they have a socket 1156 Xeon that has four cores, but only draws 45 W. They do this by limiting the maximum quad-core speed. Using "Turbo Boost", the single-core speed is as fast as the 95 W parts.)

Eventually, a 'process improvement' (from 45 nm to 32 nm) will happen to these parts; with the onboard-graphics version coming first, and the four-core discrete parts coming later.

As to the upgradeability of the iMac; we won't know if they are socketed until they are delivered and someone takes it apart; but the very first Intel iMac used a socketed Core Duo; and was fully upgradeable to the later Core 2 Duo just fine. So short of soldering the processor down like they did later, Apple will likely do nothing to limit the upgradability. If the processor is socketed (as expected, since the just-released low-end Core 2 iMac is,) then you can safely buy the Core i5 version, knowing you can later upgrade to a socket 1156 Core i7. (Either the currently-available 860 or 870; or a future-available faster model.)
 
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