Possibility of replacing iMac GPU?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by LOLZpersonok, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. LOLZpersonok macrumors 6502a

    LOLZpersonok

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    Calgary, Canada
    #1
    I have a late 2006 20" iMac, with, as you might guess, toasted graphics. The computer still works, but it is in its early stages of dying due to a bad graphics processor. It has the ATi X1600 processor which is known for its problems.

    The computer will occasionally freeze, reboot or shut down for no apparent reason and there are occasional graphical anomalies which have become a bit more frequent since I bought it for $200.

    This is what I want to know: Is it at all possible to replace the GPU with a different one? I know it is a soldered processor, rather than the slotted GPU that can be found on the 24", but removing it shouldn't be an issue, unless Apple did some strange work on it.

    If it can be desoldered without any issue, can a different GPU be resoldered in place of the original? If not, is there a way to flash/modify the iMac firmware to make it work? If it wouldn't work at all, can I put in a new ATi X1600 GPU?

    Would reflowing the GPU work to solve issues? I know that this issue is heat aggravated, so using smcFanControl helps, but it won't help forever.

    I would like some answers so I don't end up permanently destroying the computer. I also don't want to replace the logic board all together because it isn't worth it.

    Now, here's another idea. Would I be able to put in regular PC hardware (such as from a laptop) into the body of the iMac and use it as a Hackintosh in a case? I'm well aware that the hardware would have to be very specific for this, and may not even be feasible, but I would like to discuss it.
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    You would need a hot air rework station to remove and replace the GPU chip. You would only be able to replace it with another of the exact same model. Reflowing the GPU will likely not correct any problems with it. While it may be possible to put a laptop's internals in an iMac's body, it would be very difficult to fit everything in there and not have it overheat.
     
  3. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    #3
    Even if you had the tools to reflow and replace the GPU with a different model, the EFI and the OS X drivers would have to be re-engineered to accommodate the nonstandard configuration. You'd basically have a Hackintosh.

    The expense to make it all work would probably be better spent on a logic board replacement, or maybe even a new Mac.
     
  4. LOLZpersonok thread starter macrumors 6502a

    LOLZpersonok

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    #4
    What's that?

    Could you explain this with a little more depth? Are there specific ways of getting air over the board? Sorry if I sound rude, I'm trying not to.
     
  5. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

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    #5
    If you're asking that question, then yeah, you're not really gonna be able to replace the GPU on your own.



    Well, you can have a look for yourself at what the logic board looks like in a 2006 iMac:

    [​IMG]

    This is NOT a standard configuration for a "stock" logic board you'd get for a custom-built PC. The fans are custom components as well., and their placements, too are not "industry standard." By their very definition, iMacs are unique and not "standard" by comparison to a run of the mill PC build from components. You'd have a lot of work, with no guarantee that it'll come out successful, in getting a hackintosh logic board to work in this housing.
     
  6. LOLZpersonok thread starter macrumors 6502a

    LOLZpersonok

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    Calgary, Canada
    #6
    So my guess its that it isn't even worth it? I don't have any money, and what money I can get my hands on is not going to be a lot. It's just that when I bought the computer, I had a job, but I quit that job (It sucked. I was at Sobeys, which now makes me realize why that particular location has a poor reputation as an employer) so I have no source of income anymore. I don't know what to do with this computer anymore. I won't use it any more, I want to keep it at least functional.

    ----------

    I understand that it is a completely custom logic board. As a matter of fact, I had a look at several iFixit articles just after I posted this thread, so I see how complex this thing is. I don't think that I'd want to undertake a task like this, even if I did have the budget.
     
  7. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #7
    A hot air rework station is basically a turbocharged hairdryer, but much more expensive and specialized. Beyond that, you would have to source one, know how to use it, and find a GPU chip of the same model to replace the failing one with. It sadly isn't a very cost effective thing to do and has a high chance of permanently damaging the logicboard, unless one knows exactly what one is doing.
     
  8. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

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    #8


    I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but it wouldn't be worth it to try replacing the GPU only, even with a similar model let alone a different one.

    You MIGHT want to look around and see if a used logic board is for sale by a third party (that's tested and is working) and then try the replacement on your own. But of course that has its expense and risks too.

    Alternately, the Mac might still have value for its parts, and it could be sold as-is, parts-only. Then you could have the cash while you're looking for a new job, or maybe save up towards getting something else.
     
  9. LOLZpersonok thread starter macrumors 6502a

    LOLZpersonok

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    #9
    I was considering selling it for parts, but I don't feel that it is worth a lot, even though it does still work. I probably wouldn't get more than (or even near) $100 out of it.

    I wouldn't have bought it in the first place if I had known about this issue these models have with the graphics processor. I really wish I had known. But unfortunately we can't turn back time. Oh well.
     
  10. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #10
    Per this thread, sometimes a DIY home reflow will do the trick. I think it'd be worth a try in your case at least.

    8 minutes at 200 degrees in a toaster oven apparently did the trick.
     
  11. LOLZpersonok thread starter macrumors 6502a

    LOLZpersonok

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    #11
    I think I will consider something like this. I can't take the GPU off, this one is soldered. It reminds me of a video that BBishoppcm on YouTube did where he baked the logic board of a faulty Power Mac G5 and solved whatever was wrong with it. Do you think I could pull off the same thing with my iMac?
     
  12. BlackBirdTech macrumors newbie

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    Apr 23, 2014
    #12
    Hahahahaha! No.

    Unless NVIDIA (or AMD) wants to give you a new chip to solder on to the mobo, and you can somehow remove the old GPU, NO, you will not be able to replace the GPU.
     
  13. oldhifi, Apr 23, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014

    oldhifi macrumors 6502a

    oldhifi

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  14. slapple macrumors 6502

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    Jul 25, 2008
    #14
    It looks like it is possible to replace a GPU with a different GPU. I found this ebay listing that offers to repair 2011 Macbook Pros:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/APPLE-MACBO...329?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c3d51bd41

    All of the 2011 Macbook Pros come with AMD GPUs, but in that listing it says:

    "INSTALL A BRAND NEW UPDATED NVIDIA GPU WHICH SUPERSEDES OLDER MODELS."

    I'm assuming he means he'll replace the 2011 AMD GPU with the Nvidia GPU that came with the 2012 Macbook Pros. Let me know if this seller is wrong, because I'm thinking about having him repair my 2011 MBP.
     
  15. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #15
    It isn't a newer model GPU chip that gets installed on those. It's the same one, but a revision newer that doesn't contain the flaw that caused the OEM one to fail.
     
  16. slapple macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Based on what I've heard about this 2011 GPU problem, there isn't a newer revision of the GPU that fixes the problem. I think it's a combination of bad soldering and too much heat.
     
  17. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #17
    If that is true, then the problem will return in a few years as only the same model GPU can be put on it.
     

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