Imac 27 Base Model (GPU upgrade to 6970M)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by heystevephan, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. heystevephan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #1
    Hi everyone,
    Ive been lurking on macrumors for quite sometime.

    I recently purchased the imac 27 inch 2011 base model (2.7ghz with 6770 512MB Vram) thinking that I wasn't going to game much on the computer.

    But now I really want to play some games and I don't think the 6770M is cutting it.

    Ive read numerous posts about the impossibility of upgrading the GPU but is it possible to upgrade the 6770M with the 6970M since its comes standard in the higher up model? Would it fit?

    I was thinking of buying this
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATI-Mobility-Radeon-HD-6970m-GPU-MXM-3-0-Type-B-/120805690462?pt=PCC_Video_TV_Cards&hash=item1c20948c5e

    Its not soldered on right? And should be identical to the 6770M. It would be easily be replaced right?

    Also would I be okay in terms of warranty if I ever need to put the 6770M back. Its still under the applecare warranty.
     
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #2
    if your purchase can be returned for an upgrade you would be better off doing it that way. I have not seen any info on the upgrade no photos no docs no one claims to have done it.
     
  3. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #3
    yeah I tried to do that, but I can't. Is it not worth the trouble?
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #4
    Are you proficient enough to do it yourself without sweating? I recently replaced the HDD on my 2007 iMac with an SSD. It was easy for me, but I build several computers in the 90s and early 00s, though it still took a good hour to do the swap on the iMac.
    Maybe it would be just easier to sell your current iMac and then buy the model with the 2 GB GPU.
     
  5. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #5
    Yeah I had my fair share of building computers. I just wanted to know if it could be done easily. I wish I had pictures of the 27 base vs the 27 higher end.

    from what i see here (http://applecomponents.com/items/661-5968_card-video-amd-radeon-hd-6970m-1gb/0000005112?pn=3&cmp=0194&per_page=30 and

    http://applecomponents.com/items/661-5967_card-video-amd-radeon-hd-6770m-512mb/0000005111?pn=3&cmp=0194&per_page=30
    They look different completely different..

    ----------

    this is the only thing i can go off of sadly...http://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/71385/iMac+mid+2011+GPU+intercompatibility
     
  6. philipma1957, Dec 26, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #6
    those parts look the same just upside down. i found a teardown for you.

    I believe you can do it but only if you have good tools hands eyes.

    http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iMac-Intel-27-Inch-Teardown/1236/1


    newer teardown below


    http://blog.macsales.com/9995-2011-imac-unboxing-teardown



    i found the 2011 teardown!!!


    lots of photos (100+)


    http://www.techrepublic.com/photos/...e-imac-2011/6237041?tag=content;siu-container

    look at 70 to 90 most of what you need is in those photos
     
  7. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    Location:
    ladner cdn
    #7
    "UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the GPU is not on a proprietary daughter card as we first suspected, but on what appears to be an MXM (Mobile PCI Express Module) form factor card. Originally developed by NVIDIA, this form factor is also used in a number of larger Windows laptops to allow the GPU to be swapped for different parts. However, availability of MXM-based GPUs seems scarce, mostly relegating the MXM card to a repairman's convenience. Furthermore, GPUs destined for iMacs typically use incompatible firmware compared to parts used in Windows laptops, though evidence in recent Snow Leopard and Lion releases suggests Mac OS X can now support standard firmware AMD Radeon GPUs."

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2011/05/newest-imacs-have-removable-gpu-ambient-light-sensor.ars
     
  8. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #8
    Good luck replacing the drive on a new one ;). They added that stupid temperature sensor crap.

    There's one thing I don't understand here. Whenever I read about imac gpu problems, people mention Apple replacing the logic board. Why would they replace a whole logic board if the gpu is interchangeable?
     
  9. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #9
    I just need to change the card right. The heatsinks should be the same right?
    Has anyone ever attempted this. It doesnt seem that hard of a task.
     
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #10
    well based on available info it looks like a simple swap, but there is no online how to.

    soooo if you do it take a boat load of photos and post.

    I can give you some advice. I do mac mini's since 2006. Plus a few other mods and upgrades. have a second computer with the photos from the tech link I gave.

    Really take lots of photos of the inside setup this way putting it back together you can look at your photos.

    If it works it is a nice upgrade. If it does not work it looks like you can put the old one back in .

    Personally I would not do it. I did a lot of upgrades but the iMac is costly mac minis are not that costly.
     
  11. eddjedi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    #11
    I'm pretty sure that not only do you need the right card, you also need one with Apple firmware. That's certainly true with Mac Pros - you either have to spend 300% more on the same card with Apple firmware, or be ballsy enough (and have the right kit) to flash the card yourself.

    So IMO it's very unlikely a PC GPU will plug straight in and work, even if it does fit.
     
  12. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #12
    Good luck, looking at the tear down (and my experience tearing open my MB Pros) it will be fun if you are used to looking at the insides of computers :)

    Look at this site: http://www.mxm-upgrade.com/

    It may help you. Let me know how it works out - I've been looking at purchasing a PC for gaming on the side and if you can get the iMac running with a 6970M - I will reconsider my choice :)

    Cheers!
     
  13. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #13
    Any video card gurus out there know the difference? Is there really a difference between a PC HD 6870M (MXM) vs a mac HD 6870M shouldnt they just be the same.
     
  14. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #14
    Contact the MXM place I linked above and iFixit and ask - they may know if your iMac can handle standard firmware. Apparently the new ATI cards work on macs with standard firmware. It could be that as more companies adopt UEFI firmware for their systems, expansion card become more compatible - It's work asking.
     
  15. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #15
    alright ive contacted them, hope the respond soon. Thanks alot for your help guys.
     
  16. cperry2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2011
    #16
    Very interested in seeing how this goes - I have a base 27" arriving in the morning, and while it's not critical, I agree it would be very nice to switch up the graphics card later on.

    I'm also betting I will be fine without high end games, as I have a 360 for that, and that suffices for me. This machine will be for sample-heavy Logic stuff and photo editing. But it would be nice to know I can give my investment some life in the graphics department later on.

    Looking forward to watching this thread as it progresses.
     
  17. Somian macrumors member

    Somian

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    #17
    Since you'll also void your warranty with that and your mac isn't that old, i'd recommend you to simply get a new one with the specs you want and sell the old one. Won't be much more expensive (new mac minus old used mac vs upgrade video card and possible warranty issues) and it's easier :)
     
  18. panzer06 macrumors 68030

    panzer06

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Kilrath
    #18
    I agree with this. Sell and replace is a much better option. For what you'll pay trying to find a Apple firmware MXM card you'll be much better off getting a new iMac.

    Cheers,
     
  19. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

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    Dec 27, 2011
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    Washington, DC
    #19
    Updates?

    Any update on how this is going? Inquiring minds wanna know :D
     
  20. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #20
    AFter emailing the mxm upgrade guys. He told me that it he doesnt know for sure if it will fit. My conclusion is to find cards that are from apple. Maybe I can find a graphics card that is parted out.

    I also called an apple service provider. Asking them if it could be done. They said it could be done but its 399 for the part (they would order from apple) and 100 for the service..

    SO 500+ for a new graphics card.. I would feel much better if they did it but I really think that I can do it myself for like 300. Hopefully someone will part out the new imac.

    I really made a mistake when I bought the base model.
     
  21. gagaliya macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    #21
    It's not the physical installation that's difficult, anyone with a screwdriver can do it. The problem is what happens afterwards, the graphic card is almost guaranteed to require apple firmware to work, you can of course try it without it, then flash the card with apple firmware then try again.

    This is the advantage of complete hardware/software lockdown apple has over PC and their ability to charge premium price for the same piece of hardware...

    I am surprised there are no tech websites with guides and info on any of this, it should be all over the place! maybe afraid of legal action by apple?

    either way it's not the worst way to waste $400, try it out, if it doesnt work you can switch it back to the old card, if it works, make a post, then you are the new hero here :)

    ----------

    ask the apple service provider if you can buy the video card yourself and pay them to install it, if they say no, then try to ask why. Basically try to find out if the card must have apple firmware or any card will work. If the latter, then get a 6990M :eek:
     
  22. heystevephan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    #22
    This is what the guy from mxm-upgrade said

    "Unfortunately, the vBios is likely to be different. If you can get a copy of the iMac version of the video bios then I can put it on it our 6970 cards. Improves chances; still no guarantee though..."

    SO yeah I think im stuck with buying just the apple part.
     
  23. sundragon, Jan 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012

    sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #23
    Sorry to hear that :( You should be able to purchase the part by itself and save $100 installation - Have you checked to see how much your existing mxm card is worth? You can try selling the existing graphics card online to recoup some of the cost.

    Alternatively - selling the iMac and buying the next model may also work.

    Finally - What I've considered (you may call it blasphemy, LOL) building a gaming pc (I've done this for the last 15 years) - Can be done for about $600 if you look online at Tom's Hardware and Anandtech. I know it's another system but it allows you to maximize on game playing.
     
  24. panzer06 macrumors 68030

    panzer06

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    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Kilrath
    #24
    Exactly why I bought my Alienware. Still portable enough to carry but way more powerful for games.

    Cheers,
     
  25. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

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    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #25
    laptop or desktop?
     

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