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GPU Tinkering for 2010 iMac

JustTinkering

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2020
5
0
Conneticut
Hello all,

I recently acquired (for free) a 2010 iMac that wasn't operational. I got the OS running again, but it was all but unusable. So I upgraded the ram from 4 to 8 GB, added in an SSD in addition to the original HDD and ODD, replaced the thermal paste on the GPU and CPU, and upgraded the CPU from the i5 to the i7-870. All said and done, the computer cost me about $85-90.

So that mostly brought things up to today's standards for general computing purposes. It can edit a 4k video decently, but the SATA II connection to the SSD is both a bit of a bummer and bottleneck. Besides that, the main weakspot is the GPU: the ATI Radeon HD 5670.

I searched the forums here and found GPU upgrades for a 2011 iMac (link below) and wondered if there were such a forum for 2010 iMac's. I know that there are some significant difference between the two, so I know that I can't just pretend like this post applies to my 2010 iMac just the same.


There was also a forum for overclocking a 2010 iMac, and that was interesting. The issue for me is that they were running windows and not Mac OS. To my knowledge, there is no way possible to overclock the GPU or CPU while using Mac OS on a Mac (because you can't overclock in Mac OS, and you can't overclock in the efi "bios" either. And if you do overclock while using bootcamp, then it only applies while you are using bootcamp -- correct??). If anybody knows different, let me know.

Ifixit (along with others) recommend the ATI Radeon 6970 2GB that came in the 2011 iMac. That would probably be enough to scratch this GPU itch of mine, but at $300, I'm not interested.

So what do I want? Well, I want to know any way to improve upon my current GPU: flash a different vbios, upgrade to a better (and compatible) GPU, overclock it somehow, etc.

And if there is already a thread that addresses these issues, then a redirection would be appreciated.

Thanks!

EDIT: I would also like to add that I have seen on YouTube that the GTX 765m can be made to work on the 2010 imac. Does that hold true for the 770m? Because that is the card that I am most interested in. It is 3.4 times as good as the stock GPU, and I can get it for $50 on e-bay if I catch it just right. Secondly, will it allow me to run Catalina?
 
Last edited:

Kcetech1

macrumors regular
Nov 24, 2016
242
108
Alberta Canada
Ahhh one of my favorite old machines.

1: forget overclocking unless your staying in windows, and you fire in some extra cooling ( gets pretty toasty )

2: to bump the GPU speed you will need to find a faster COMPATABLE replacement GPU card, and they are getting harder to find and to be honest, the 6970 is a pretty weak mobile GPU so I would not even call it worth it anymore. unless you need that extra little bump. ( if it could take the 7970m then we could have some fun )

I would say your bump in RAM and your SSD upgrade were your best options and youve done them.
 
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herrdude

macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2009
274
176
Montreal
Hello all,

I recently acquired (for free) a 2010 iMac that wasn't operational. I got the OS running again, but it was all but unusable. So I upgraded the ram from 4 to 8 GB, added in an SSD in addition to the original HDD and ODD, replaced the thermal paste on the GPU and CPU, and upgraded the CPU from the i5 to the i7-870. All said and done, the computer cost me about $85-90.

So that mostly brought things up to today's standards for general computing purposes. It can edit a 4k video decently, but the SATA II connection to the SSD is both a bit of a bummer and bottleneck. Besides that, the main weakspot is the GPU: the ATI Radeon HD 5670.

I searched the forums here and found GPU upgrades for a 2011 iMac (link below) and wondered if there were such a forum for 2010 iMac's. I know that there are some significant difference between the two, so I know that I can't just pretend like this post applies to my 2010 iMac just the same.


There was also a forum for overclocking a 2010 iMac, and that was interesting. The issue for me is that they were running windows and not Mac OS. To my knowledge, there is no way possible to overclock the GPU or CPU while using Mac OS on a Mac (because you can't overclock in Mac OS, and you can't overclock in the efi "bios" either. And if you do overclock while using bootcamp, then it only applies while you are using bootcamp -- correct??). If anybody knows different, let me know.

Ifixit (along with others) recommend the ATI Radeon 6970 2GB that came in the 2011 iMac. That would probably be enough to scratch this GPU itch of mine, but at $300, I'm not interested.

So what do I want? Well, I want to know any way to improve upon my current GPU: flash a different vbios, upgrade to a better (and compatible) GPU, overclock it somehow, etc.

And if there is already a thread that addresses these issues, then a redirection would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Ask and you shall receive: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/2011-imac-graphics-card-upgrade.1596614/

Forget installing a 6970 as those cards are defective. Go for K1100m or K2100m. Plus you will get Catalina which you won't get with 6970.
 
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JustTinkering

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2020
5
0
Conneticut

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JustTinkering

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2020
5
0
Conneticut
Lots of the posters there have used that thread for 2009 and 2010 iMacs as well. Go forth young man.
That is most excellent news. Thank you!
[automerge]1592366253[/automerge]
Lots of the posters there have used that thread for 2009 and 2010 iMacs as well. Go forth young man.
Do you happen to know if I would be able to run Catalina on the gtx 770m??
 
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herrdude

macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2009
274
176
Montreal
That is most excellent news. Thank you!
[automerge]1592366253[/automerge]

Do you happen to know if I would be able to run Catalina on the gtx 770m??
Catalina will run on all the cards in the first post. That being said, I remember that the heat sink is two pipes for 2010 and the higher end cards like the 770m need the three pipe heat sink, and most likely some modifications so the card doesn't short out on the heat sink.

 
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JustTinkering

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2020
5
0
Conneticut
You're right, my gpu only has two heat pipes. Is the card physically different from the 765m? because these guys did the swap successfully on a 2010 imac with the 765m:


Also, I removed the ODD because i wanted the benefit of better cooling capabilities, I run the program Macs Fan Control to monitor temps and control fan speeds, and I have a fan set up behind the iMac to remove the heat off of the aluminum case.
 
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herrdude

macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2009
274
176
Montreal
They both have the same footprint so it might work. Also, bear in mind that both cards do not have native brightness control (that means they will always be on the brightest setting). K2100m and K1100m are the easiest cards to install.
 
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r6mile

macrumors 6502a
Feb 3, 2010
979
466
London, UK
I very recently put in a K2100m in my 2010 27" iMac (see full specs below). It was quite easy (though I had some issues with the size of the M2 screws required to replace the original ones, if you don't want to drill anything). Keep in mind though that I think Catalina breaks Target Display Mode; this may not be relevant to you but it was a dealbreaker for me, hence why I've stuck to High Sierra.
 
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JustTinkering

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 16, 2020
5
0
Conneticut
Since it is an aging machine, I will want to keep that target display mode as an option given how good the screen is. I don't have a bunch of tech, so this beats my old monitor by a mile.
I also dual boot with Pop!_OS, which will continue to run like a breeze on here long long after firefox and every other application says that my High Sierra OS is too outdated to use their application.
 
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