Chop up an iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Nicholas Mosher, Nov 21, 2007.

  1. Nicholas Mosher macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #1
    Can someone give me some insight into whether or not the following would be possible?

    1. Buy an $1150 iMac (Student Discount).
    2. Remove internals (Power supply, Motherboard/RAM/CPU/HDD/Superdrive Unit).
    3. Replace GPU with ATI X1900XT (Used in the Mac Pro).
    4. Reinstall in homemade case/purchased case.
    5. Hook up to dual displays.

    Would there be a driver issue for the new GPU?
    Is there a specific Mac version of the ATI X1900XT?

    I've built my own PC's before, and I'm curious if this method would get me my screen-less iMac with dual screen capability and nice GPU? It would also save me about $1000 from purchasing a Mac Pro and equipment I really don't need.
     
  2. Eric Lewis macrumors 68020

    Eric Lewis

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    Feb 4, 2007
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    CANADA? eh?
    #2
    the imac doesnt have a easily removed graphics card...like the macpro
     
  3. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Massachusetts
    #3
    Well it's an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT (in the base iMac). This is a separate card that is placed into a slot right? I would be using my own case, so the whole aluminum iMac frame/stand/screen would be set aside (maybe made into a kitchen TV down the road once I learn more about how to fudge that sort of thing).

    I'm curious if the X1900XT would fit the "Motherboard" of the iMac when not constrained by the iMac case, and whether or not there would be software issues (such as the driver).

    That would let me use two of my own displays and have a nice GPU.
     
  4. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Nov 1, 2007
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    Massachusetts
    #4
    Does anyone know if the HD 2400 XT can be popped out and replaced with the X1900 XT? Physical room due to the iMac case will not be an issue (internals will be in my own case).

    If it is physically swappable, will I need a special Mac version of the X1900 XT, and will the iMac hardware be able to handle it properly?

    Since the X1900 XT is used in the Mac Pro, Leopard should have the proper drivers correct? Are there any special configurations I will need to make to swap drivers, or will OS-X automatically detect the X1900 XT and retrieve the proper driver from the disc?

    I would really like to do this if it would work.
     
  5. R.Youden macrumors 68020

    R.Youden

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    Apr 1, 2005
    #5
    The imac graphics card is soldered to the logic board and is pretty much impossible to replace. I have the X1900XT in my MacPro and these is no way that thing would fit an iMac, unless it was the Tardis imac!
     
  6. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Massachusetts
    #6
    I wasn't planning on putting the X1900 XT in the iMac case, I was planning on making my own case and putting the iMac internals in a larger box.

    Bad news on the soldering of the GPU...
    I wish I could take a look at the connection between the GPU and the MOBO... if it's something I could heat up and disconnect, then solder the X1900 XT on.

    It would save me about $1000, as I really don't need dual Xeons, space for four drives, and RAM expandability to 16GB.
     
  7. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #7
    iMac's GPU is soldered into the motherboard - no way to take it out.

    Even if it wasn't, I would recommend doing that "modification" because, well, the risk of failure is very high, the iMac's case is not user-openable and you would have no warranty + you also pay for the screen you won't use. Also, Mac version of X1900 is much more expensive than PC version and there is no guarantee it would work with anything else than a Mac Pro.

    Why bother?
     
  8. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    Jul 11, 2003
  9. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Nov 1, 2007
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    #9
    I've been looking around for some photos of the new iMac internals.
    I'm wondering if the HD 2400 XT has the same motherboard interface as the X1900 XT, and whether or not the soldering is something I can duplicate by hand. If it's just a a few pins that are soldered I'm sure I could do it myself. Then there is the question of getting the correct driver.

    rdowns > I'm thinking it through now before doing.
     
  10. MikeTheC Guest

    MikeTheC

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    Apr 26, 2004
    Location:
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    #10
    Yeah, my TARDIS has plenty of room for graphics card expansion. And it's something I've always been pretty pleased about. Sadly, though, ever since Gallifrey Motors was destroyed in a Dalek attack during the War, it's been pretty much impossible to obtain compatible graphics card replacements for it.
     
  11. MacinDoc macrumors 68020

    MacinDoc

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    The Great White North
    #11
    It might be less risky to get a refurb 24" 2.16GHz iMac. The previous generation of 24" iMac used an MXM slot for the GPU, so it can theoretically be removed without damaging the MB. Of course, it would still void the warranty, and there would still be the issue of drivers, so you would likely have to stick to a GPU supported in other Mac models.
     
  12. jellomizer macrumors 6502

    jellomizer

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    Upstate NY
    #12
    Too bad Apple doesn't sell Mac Motherboards With/Without CPU's so you can make your own Mac. It would be like Apple going back to its roots. There will probably be a clause that they cann't resell the Custom Mac. But that would probably save people wasting their money and braking good system in hope to get a marginal benefit for a minor upgrade.
     
  13. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #13
    The iMac is actually a notebook with and MXM style notebook GPU card.

    While the interface is there, the hack for a full 100+W desktop GPU card will likely be a PIA.

    Easier to buy a refurb Mac Pro.
     
  14. dannewell15 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    #14
    well this seems like a cool idea even if its not likely to work. to the OP, if you do got through with your plan post pics. :D
     
  15. Squonk macrumors 65816

    Squonk

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    #15
    I like the spirit of the OP'ers idea. Build your own mini tower. It doesn't sound promising to upgrade the video though... And that would be a bummer to "discard" a 20" flat panel...

    Keep the good ideas coming...
     
  16. Killyp macrumors 68040

    Killyp

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    Jun 14, 2006
    #16
    Lol good luck :p

    I'm guessing you've never seen inside an iMac in real life? It's pretty manic inside, it's definitely not a project I'd want to embark on...
     
  17. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Nov 1, 2007
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    Massachusetts
    #17
    I would definitely need more info/photos on the iMac internals before doing this. Since the Mac Pro runs the X1900 XT, I'm assuming that OS-X includes the driver for this. The big question is whether or not Apple has soldered the GPU to the MOBO to the point that trying to remove it would destroy the board. That, and whether or not the two cards have the same interface.

    As mentioned above, I'm really just after the motherboard. Whether or not I can "Harvest" the board without destroying it is the real question. The CPU, RAM, HDD, Optical Drive, Power Supply, KB&M, and copy of Leopard are along for the ride.

    I'm also curious if all the new iMacs share the same MOBO.

    EDIT:
    I'm also curious about trying to replace the HD2400 XT driver with the X1900 XT driver. I wonder if Leopard will automatically detect the change and swap drivers, or if it will require something more nitty-gritty.
     
  18. Ember Whimsy macrumors newbie

    Ember Whimsy

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    Aug 26, 2007
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #18
    My boyfriend opened up my new iMac that I got in August - though it's one of the Core 2 duo white ones, not the new silver. He did find someone who did it before and had posted a graphical report of it online, he noted a few mistakes that person made so he didn't make the same ones. It was a lot of hard work for him, he had to be VERY VERY careful and it took many hours.

    He replaced the CPU and the memory, but that's it. The graphics card was irreplaceable. And he's good. So if he couldn't do it, I don't think anyone else could -unless- the new ones are different. We don't know. XD

    Hope that helps.
     
  19. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    .. London ..
    #19
  20. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

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    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #20
    On the MOBO photo above, there is a circular hole in the board which has a fan in it in the photo below. I'm curious if this is the fan for the GPU. Taking the computer apart is the easy part - It's just screws/clips/etc.

    What I'm really interested in is how well the GPU is soldered into place. If it's just a few contact points swapping would be a cinch (so long as the X1900 XT interfaces with the MOBO in the same way).

    [​IMG]
     
  21. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #21
    If you're still keen, find an independent apple repair shop near you, and pop over and have a chat with them.

    They might be able to show you some internals and you can inspect where the GPU is on the mobo.

    They'll probably tell you that you're crazy tho. And I agree. The card you're taking about, you need to find it in a laptop socket model, which I don't think exists.

    Furthermore, the only mac video BIOS for that card is for the desktop model. You'll need to find a nonexistient mac laptop video BIOS for that card, then if you do find it, you need to flash it over from the PC bios, and don't ask me how you can do that without a PCI interface.

    There's a lot more to it than just hardware issues. The laptop version of the card will have different chips on, which need to be dealt with by the card BIOS.

    If you were a rich man, I'd say try it, but it'd be easier to buy a mac pro. As you can't afford a mac pro, you can't afford to lose your money on buggering up this iMac.

    The only reason for doing this would be to play games, and as you're short of money, you're better off working or studying, not playing games.

    You do know you can plug an external monitor into any iMac? You can have 2 screens no problem. 2x 24'' screens is enough for most people.
     
  22. Nicholas Mosher thread starter macrumors member

    Nicholas Mosher

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #22
    Hmmm... I didn't know that MOBO was a laptop MOBO, I thought it was simply a custom desktop unit. That would most-likely eliminate the X1900 XT as an option.

    I can afford a Mac Pro, but it just doesn't make sense for me to spend that much money if I don't require dual-Xeons, and RAM/HDD expandability on the level of the Mac Pro. I love OS-X and the Apple applications I use, so I would like to stick with that platform. But at the same time I would also like to use a 30" screen (or two) that I can spread my apps out on, and I prefer the form-factor of separate tower/screens.

    Just received an eMail that my trial Boot Camp is being shut-down at the end of the year if I don't buy Leopard too.

    I dunno. I guess I'll just hold on to my cash (except for that iPhone that I'm thinking of buying this weekend - he he).
     
  23. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #23
    Given your description, it really does sound like an older Mac Pro would be the closest to what you're looking for. Either that or a hackintosh, though I don't really support those in practice even if the concept is cool.
    For what it's worth, if I'm reading that email right I think that you'll probably still be able to dual boot with your existing (albeit "unsupported") install, you just won't be able to set up a new BootCamp partition since the software that does it will have expired.

    I'm liking Leopard, personally, but if you want to stay with Tiger there's also the option of getting a Parallels or Fusion license and running a VM, depending on what exactly you're doing with Windows.
     
  24. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
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    Location:
    .. London ..
    #24
    You can buy a refurb mac pro with full apple care from the Apple store for the same price as a new iMac. Check the refurb store early, 7.30am or 8am for the best offers, as they run out quickly, and check it over a couple of weeks so you see what kind of variety they have.

    Seems that would be best as you want flexibility and expandability, without needing top-end power.
     

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