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macOS 11 Big Sur on Unsupported Macs Thread

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The first post of this thread is a WikiPost and can be edited by anyone with the appropiate permissions. Your edits will be public.

dosdude1

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Feb 16, 2012
2,458
6,436
This thread will be used to discuss advancements in getting macOS 11.0 Big Sur running on unsupported Macs.

---
Compatibility List:

  • 2015 and later MacBook
    • MacBook8,1
    • MacBook9,1
    • MacBook10,1
  • 2013 and later MacBook Air
    • MacBookAir6,x
    • MacBookAir7,x
    • MacBookAir8,x
    • MacBookAir9,1
  • Late 2013 and later MacBook Pro
    • MacBookPro11,x
    • MacBookPro12,1
    • MacBookPro13,x
    • MacBookPro14,x
    • MacBookPro15,x
    • MacBookPro16,x
  • 2014 and later iMac
    • iMac14,4
    • iMac15,1
    • iMac16,x
    • iMac17,1
    • iMac18,x
    • iMac19,x
  • 2017 and later iMac Pro
    • iMacPro1,1
  • 2014 and later Mac mini
    • Macmini7,1
    • Macmini8,1
  • 2013 and later Mac Pro
    • MacPro6,1
    • MacPro7,1

- These Macs so far are capable of running Big Sur properly, but WiFi is not yet fully stable (except on iMac14,x, i.e. Late 2013 iMacs), and (at least on iMac14,x) Fusion Drive performance is significantly slower than on previous macOS releases. See FAQ for more information.

  • 2012 and Early 2013 MacBook Pro
    • MacBookPro9,x
    • MacBookPro10,x
  • 2012 MacBook Air
    • MacBookAir5,x
  • 2012 and 2013 iMac
    • iMac13,x
    • iMac14,x
  • 2012 Mac mini
    • Macmini6,x

- These Macs so far can boot Big Sur, but do not currently feature graphical acceleration support and, as with most 2012-2013 Macs, WiFi is not fully stable yet. See FAQ for more information.

* Not officially supported in macOS Catalina, but are fully capable of running both Catalina and Big Sur with a Metal-compatible GPU and upgraded WiFi/BT card.
  • Early-2008 or newer Mac Pro, iMac, or MacBook Pro:
    • MacPro3,1 *
    • MacPro4,1 *
    • MacPro5,1 *
    • iMac8,1
    • iMac9,1
    • iMac10,x
    • iMac11,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs were almost unusable when running Catalina and will be under Big Sur as well. The Radeon HD 4xxx series GPU will not have graphics acceleration with Big Sur!) *
    • iMac12,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs were almost unusable when running Catalina and will be under Big Sur as well.) *
    • MacBookPro4,1
    • MacBookPro5,x
    • MacBookPro6,x
    • MacBookPro7,x
    • MacBookPro8,x
  • Late-2008 or newer MacBook Air or Aluminum Unibody MacBook:
    • MacBookAir2,1
    • MacBookAir3,x
    • MacBookAir4,x
    • MacBook5,1
  • Early-2009 or newer Mac Mini or white MacBook:
    • Macmini3,1
    • Macmini4,1
    • Macmini5,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 6xxx series GPUs were almost unusable when running Catalina and will be under Big Sur as well.)
    • MacBook5,2
    • MacBook6,1
    • MacBook7,1
  • Early-2008 or newer Xserve:
    • Xserve2,1 *
    • Xserve3,1 *

  • 2006-2007 Mac Pros, iMacs, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis:
    • MacPro1,1
    • MacPro2,1
    • iMac4,1
    • iMac5,x
    • iMac6,1
    • iMac7,1
    • MacBookPro1,1
    • MacBookPro2,1
    • MacBookPro3,1
    • Macmini1,1
    • Macmini2,1
  • — The 2007 iMac 7,1 is compatible with Catalina and potentially Big Sur if the CPU is upgraded to a Penryn-based Core 2 Duo, such as a T9300.

  • 2006-2008 MacBooks:
    • MacBook1,1
    • MacBook2,1
    • MacBook3,1
    • MacBook4,1 (as with Mojave and Catalina, we'll be on our own here, but Big Sur will be running on this machine!)
  • 2008 MacBook Air (MacBookAir 1,1)
  • All PowerPC-based Macs
  • All 68k-based Macs

The current consensus is to install Big Sur on systems offering a Metal capable GPU only. These cards offer graphics acceleration. Big Sur will be almost unusable without graphics acceleration.

You can install a Metal GPU in MacPro systems and some iMac Late 2009 to Mid 2011 systems.

You can install Big Sur on such systems, but currently it is not possible to get graphics acceleration when running Big Sur on a system with:

Pre-Metal AMD video cards (Radeon HD 6xxx, 5xxx, 4xxx series and older without acceleration.)
Pre-Metal Nvidia video cards (GeForce 5xx series and older without acceleration, GeForce 3xx Series and older, i.e. 8600M(GT)/8800M(GT), 9400M/9600M(GT), 320M/330M)
Pre-Metal Intel video cards (Intel HD Graphics 3000 and Intel HD Graphics Arrandale)

Big Sur will be almost unusable without graphics acceleration.
---

FAQ:

Q: Why did Apple drop support for my perfectly capable Mac?
A:
Only Apple can give a definite answer to this. However there is evidence that it is based upon the CPUs being used in the now-unsupported Macs, which was the case last year with the Mac Pro 4,1/5,1. Intel decided to stop releasing firmware security fixes for Ivy Bridge and previous-generation CPUs. While they are technically compatible and supported in Big Sur, Apple has decided it is not worth the risk to continue supporting CPUs that have permanently unpatched security holes, putting users at risk. Also, terrible Fusion Drive performance under Big Sur on Late 2013 iMacs may be the reason Apple dropped support for that model.

While this is also not confirmed, another possibility could be that some of the excluded Macs feature WiFi chips that are no longer deemed fit for the next major release. This decision could be based on the previously mentioned security issues as well. The presence of graphics drivers for some of these newly unsupported Macs in Big Sur Beta 1 suggests this.

Q: What does unsupported mean for my old Mac?
A:
This means Apple locks you out from running the stock installer of Big Sur and as important to mention, you cannot get OTA upgrades via Softwareupdate in the Systems Preference.

Q: So will my now unsupported Mac get macOS 11.0 Big Sur?
A:
If your Mac had official support in macOS Catalina, they will likely be able to be patched to run Big Sur with minimal issues. As of writing, only WiFi appears to be unstable, and even then, not for all users.
If your Mac was unsupported before the release of macOS Catalina, support remains to be seen as graphics acceleration may not be feasible at this time. (OpenGL is deprecated but actually still supported for now in Big Sur, as mentioned in Apple's own developer documentation. However, there are other reasons why providing non-Metal graphics acceleration on Big Sur is proving to be very difficult.)

Q: I see that my (2011 or earlier) unsupported Mac does not have "graphics acceleration" under Big Sur. How much performance loss does this cause?
A:
For example, minimizing a Safari window takes well under a second on a 2012 MacBook Pro with accelerated graphics, versus 14 seconds on an Early 2011 13" MacBook Pro (2.3GHz Intel Core i5) or 25 seconds on a Late 2009 MacBook (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo). During these multi-second delays, the entire user interface can freeze up. So when one app causes a graphics processing delay, it can occupy the entire computer and prevent switching to another app. Video playback is still generally fluid on 2011 Macs with 2nd generation Intel Core processors, but videos are almost slide shows if you have a Core 2 Duo. Overall, a small number of users of these Macs may have a serious need for Big Sur and may be able to endure the slowdowns, but most users will find unaccelerated graphics performance to be simply unacceptable.

Q: When will my unsupported Mac receive macOS 11.0 Big Sur? / ETA when?
A:
This is a community driven effort to try and restore support for various unsupported Macs. Community members are working as hard as they can, often in their spare time, to try and add back stable support for these Macs. Based upon changes in macOS Big Sur, it may be possible some Macs that were previously patchable in Mojave, Catalina, and other previous releases of macOS may not be patchable under Big Sur. Please do not harass the patch developers to go faster, release the patcher, etc. Please do not clog up the thread with useless posts asking if your specific Mac will be patchable. Big Sur has been just released and is still subject to change. Rest assured, the dedicated community of developers working on these patches are doing everything that they can to re-add support for as many Macs as possible.

A: Check the table containing current download links. Please do not assume that all links will be valid all time in future! Apple may pull these downloads from their servers.

ReleaseVersionDownload Linkcomment
11.0120B2029download hereinitial release
11.0120B2050download hereminor fixes
11.120C69download hereupdate 1

Create the USB installer following this guide.

Q: How to create an USB installer after downloading the InstallAssistant package??
A:
Create the USB installer following this official Apple guide.

Q: Where/how can I download a patcher tool?
A:
Currently we have here more than as single known options:
  1. micropatcher - First on this list to install Big Sur on selected machines is the @Barry K. Nathan micro patcher tool. Installing need some preparations and following the instructions step by step. Using this patcher you can also easily add your own extensions after patching following this doc. Please study the docs before you press the download button!
  2. Big Mac by StarPlayrX is another patcher worth considering if you have a Mac Pro. For 2008 Mac Pros (MacPro3,1) in particular, Big Mac is clearly a better option than this patcher (at least for now).
  3. BigSurFixes by @jackluke is the next option. This patcher allows booting of the Big Sur (Beta) installer on a wider range of older systems without graphics acceleration.
  4. OpenCore Legacy Patcher by @khronokernel is a completely different approach based on OpenCore. Detailed information is available from his announcement on this thread and his GitHub download page.
  5. Patched Sur by @BenSova is a really nice polished GUI frontend, currently not another patcher. The patching is based on the first real patching option listed here, the @Barry K. Nathan patcher. The GUI makes it more comfortable to follow the process. It supports Catalina 10.15.0 and later and so can only be used to update starting from Catalina!
  6. iMac micropatcher - forked of the 0.5.1 release of the @Barry K. Nathan micropatcher you will find here all necessary extensions needed to install and run Big Sur on the iMac Late 2009 to Mid 2011 modded with an Metal GPU as described in this thread. This patcher is an enhancement of and can be used as a fully replacement and it is still under development (dev-v0.5.4).
  7. MicropatcherAutomator - this is another frontend using the micropatcher backend created by @Barry K. Nathan. The GUI makes it more comfortable to create the USB installer and follow the installation and patch process. It supports macOS 10.11 and later to create a bootable installer.
Please remember it is highly suggested that you have a backup in place before installing new system software on your main devices, overwriting any stable releases.

Please remember it is highly suggested that you have a backup of your Macs firmware. You can use @dosdude1 (legacy) software called romtool (password of the software archive is rom) to save and store it externally. Getting a corrupted firmware can cause serious head aches.

Unsupported software can cause irreparable hardware damage or irrecoverable data loss and should be used at one's own risk.

Q: Where/how can I download the @dosdude1 Big Sur patcher tool?
A:
@dosdude1 commented recently directly on this topic. There will be no such patcher for Big Sur available. Please do not clutter the thread asking for it again and again.

Q: Using the patchers listed above I have issues! How to post my problems?
A:
Please first add a signature to your account describing your hardware setup. It will be added automatically to each of your posts. Please describe what you did and what you experienced. Add screen shots of your Mac using
Hold CMD+Shift+3 for whole screen capture of CMD+Shift+4 for capturing selection. Do not post blurred photos. Be specific and be precise, be sharp!

For legal purposes, the only official way to obtain a copy of macOS Big Sur at this time is to register with the Apple Developer program ($99/year) or, for the public beta, the Apple Beta Software Program (free). Please remember it is highly suggested that you do not install beta software on your main devices, overwriting any stable releases. Beta software can cause irreparable hardware damage or irrecoverable data loss and should be used at one's own risk.

Apple and all patch developers are not responsible for any potential damage or data loss caused by using pre-release software or unofficial support patches. Please use at your own risk.
 
Last edited:

LegoNickD

macrumors member
Jul 12, 2018
49
63
Really hoping my 2012 Unibody MBP is supported but that's unlikely. Guess I'll join the unsupported club!
Its rumored that all Catalina supported devices will get Big Sur. Just too bad that the switch to arm will likely doom Intel Macs like how the ppc to intel transition doomed Macs like the PowerMac G5.
 
Comment

19SK91

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2014
337
641
Really hoping my 2012 Unibody MBP is supported but that's unlikely. Guess I'll join the unsupported club!

Unfortunately not, my iMac isn't supported either.

These are supported Macs:

MacBook
2015 and later

MacBook Air
2013 and later

MacBook Pro
Late 2013 and later

Mac mini
2014 and later

iMac
2014 and later

iMac Pro
2017 and later
(all models)

Mac Pro
2013 and later
 
Comment

julianfairfax

macrumors 65816
Jun 11, 2018
1,391
1,710
Supported Macs
1592852243303.png
 
Comment

Macbugsur

macrumors newbie
Jun 22, 2020
1
1
This thread will be used to discuss advancements in getting macOS 11 Big Sur running on unsupported Macs.
Hi There (dosd
This thread will be used to discuss advancements in getting macOS 11 Big Sur running on unsupported Macs.
hi there (Dosdude1) please remove the code screen with 5 second countdown at boot on apfs volume on unsupported mac please give me ways to remove it
 
Comment

julianfairfax

macrumors 65816
Jun 11, 2018
1,391
1,710
Do "iPad Air 2" and "mini 4" get iPadOS 14 ?

But reading that list I doubt, even if 2012 Mac having a Metal GPU should get with few efforts "Big Sur", I guess.
Yes they do. iOS 14 will support the iPhone 6s and later. iPadOS 14 will support the iPad Air 2 and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 4 and later. You should join our Discord, we discussed WWDC live and it's a quick way to distribute info to a lot of users!
 
Comment

TheSkywalker77

macrumors demi-goddess
Sep 9, 2017
2,731
2,395
Unfortunately not, my iMac isn't supported either.

These are supported Macs:

MacBook
2015 and later

MacBook Air
2013 and later

MacBook Pro
Late 2013 and later

Mac mini
2014 and later

iMac
2014 and later

iMac Pro
2017 and later
(all models)

Mac Pro
2013 and later
Damn, oh well. This will be an adventure!
 
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redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
7,663
7,518
Unfortunately not, my iMac isn't supported either.

These are supported Macs:

MacBook
2015 and later

MacBook Air
2013 and later

MacBook Pro
Late 2013 and later

Mac mini
2014 and later

iMac
2014 and later

iMac Pro
2017 and later
(all models)

Mac Pro
2013 and later
Ugh. Dropping the 2012 Mac mini and leaving the 2014. That just seems cruel.

MacOS support is completely arbitrary at this point. I miss when there was some kind of reason to justify dropping the older models.
 
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