Radeon HD video downgrade for patched-Mojave compatibility

ad_agent

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 7, 2019
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Regarding the CTO 27" 2010 iMac with 2.93 GHz i7 processor, I attempted booting a machine of this model with a patched version of macOS 10.14 Mojave and succeeded, but true to warnings on the patch publisher's web page (dosdude1.com) video and other performance proved to be woefully inadequate. Apparently, neither that iMac's stock video card (ATI Radeon HD 5750) nor those of other 2010 iMacs (Radeon HD 5xxx series) can presently be made to work at all well with patched Mojave on unsupported Macs.

Reportedly, the 2011 iMacs with Radeon HD 6xxx series video cards also have this problem. However, the 2009s with Radeon HD 4xxx series video cards do not: They can run patched Mojave relatively problem-free.

Theoretically, a video card replacement might resolve this for me. The publisher says this himself in his instructional video for installing the patch (doing which to be clear he does not presently recommend for this model.)

In researching the practicalities of this, I have read that in general Nvidia MXM video cards can be considered for this upgrade. However, driver maintenance may be entailed, external power supply may be necessary (depending on card choice), and because these cards lack EFI a booting Mac's screen will remain dark until the login window presents.

Preferring friendlier options, I have researched further and learned that a 2009 or 2010 iMac's video card may be upgradable with a 2011's card. This makes me wonder: Can I do something like that but oppositely; that is, can I swap in the video card from a 2009 iMac for the card on my 2010 iMac?

Doing so would of course represent a downgrade in some degree. On the other hand, it could possibly have the special benefit of rendering my particular iMac patched-Mojave compatible.

Accordingly, I seek guidance. Has anyone thus downgraded their 2010 (or 2011) iMac’s video card or else confirmed the impossibility of so downgrading it?
 

TwoH

macrumors member
May 19, 2019
57
8
I have worked on a machine that is 2011 27" with a downgraded 2009 27" GPU before -- it is possible to downgrade at least a 2011 27" iMac w/ the 2009 GPU, and I would assume it would work for the 2010s too.
 

ad_agent

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Original poster
Aug 7, 2019
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I have 2 of those supposedly compatible 2009s. Mojave sucks on those, too — but not like it did on my 2010 or 2011 — Hoo boy!
Thanks, mikehalloran. Your experience goes far toward addressing the possibility in question.

I wasn't expecting a report like yours but only because I have an office full of 2010 and 2011 Mac minis running patched Mojave quite satisfactory on supposedly much slower Intel graphics hardware. Until now, I was reasoning that surely, an ATI Radeon HD 4xxx would handle the load better than any of those mini's cards!

Graham.
 

ad_agent

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 7, 2019
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I have worked on a machine that is 2011 27" with a downgraded 2009 27" GPU before -- it is possible to downgrade at least a 2011 27" iMac w/ the 2009 GPU, and I would assume it would work for the 2010s too.
Thanks, TwoH. I did not know what to expect in the way of reports like yours.

Another poster ventured (on another board here to remain unnamed) that such a downgrade could not be expected to work. However and to make clear that I in no wise question his reckoning, he wasn't claiming to have seen such a downgrade fail.

Could I ask you to describe the workload on what machine you reference. For comparison, we here (on the above mentioned CPUs) run administrative/accounting applications and various programs for 2D print or web graphics with just a smattering of AV work--nothing challenging for an average graphics card.

Also, how different was graphic performance when compared with that of the original card before it (presumably) failed? Did you notice anything?

Graham
 

TwoH

macrumors member
May 19, 2019
57
8
Thanks, TwoH. I did not know what to expect in the way of reports like yours.

Another poster ventured (on another board here to remain unnamed) that such a downgrade could not be expected to work. However and to make clear that I in no wise question his reckoning, he wasn't claiming to have seen such a downgrade fail.

Could I ask you to describe the workload on what machine you reference. For comparison, we here (on the above mentioned CPUs) run administrative/accounting applications and various programs for 2D print or web graphics with just a smattering of AV work--nothing challenging for an average graphics card.

Also, how different was graphic performance when compared with that of the original card before it (presumably) failed? Did you notice anything?

Graham
Hey, sorry it would have been about a year ago since I have seen that machine -- so sadly I can't really give any information on the workload the machine would've ran.
On a casual usage of the machine, nothing strikes out in my head of it feeling sluggish compared to the 6xxx cards in the 2011.

All I can really say is yeah, the 4xxx radeon cards will work in the 2011 iMac. Unsure on performance, especially comparable to the normal 6xxx cards. Sorry.
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
Mojave on the 2010–11 is useless, just as DosDude1 claims.

On the early 2009, yea it works but it’s like Leopard on my G4s... works isn’t good enough. I use my machines to make a living—they need to perform. No thanks. Word needs to be as fast as I type—and I do that one-handed (yes, really) so I don’t exactly burn up the keyboard. So, when I say that Mojave sucks on a 2009, it’s because I have to wait for the letters to catch up when I type. Completely unacceptable.

I’ve read that very long thread about trying to put one in a 2011 and make it work. Really? On a hobby machine, perhaps but for any actual work? Again, no thanks.

Now, you’d think that because I have two early 2009s, a 2010 and a 2011 and I work on Macs... Nope, not interested. Besides, once I’ve given Catalina a good workout, I’ll get my wife an iMac that runs it and that will replace her 2011, the last working Mac around here that can’t support it. A roundabout way of saying that, even if I could make it work, I’m not interested at all.

The Mini uses an Intel GPU. None of my clients have one so I have no experience. Great that the patch works for you on those but that doesn’t translate to the ATi.
 
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JacobHarvey

macrumors member
Apr 2, 2019
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Somewhere
I used DosDude's Mojave patcher on my ancient early 2009 Nvidia 9400M (integrated graphics with only 256MB shared memory!) 24" iMac and while obviously not suitable for proper work (e.g. photo-editing) it feels incredibly zippy for browsing the internet and typing word documents (with no lag typing or with animations - I have reduced transparency turned on).

It is still great as a secondary computer for light duties (e.g. word processing) and can still play 1080p youtube videos without dropped frames (as long as it is 30fps not 60fps), which is great.

I have it installed on an external SSD (which probably helps a lot with the system responsiveness) through Firewire 800 (not even using the internal SATA right now). The computer also has 8GB of DDR3 RAM instead of the 4GB it came with, which made a noticeable difference when using Chrome and other RAM gobblers.

Don't give up on these old Macs yet for everyday tasks! They've still got some life left in them thanks to people like DosDude and others. Though definitely search these forums and the rest of the internet to gather as much info as possible on people's experiences with the ATi HD4xxx GPUs (performance-wise) on Mojave before you decide to go ahead with a GPU downgrade for your 2010 iMac
 
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ad_agent

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 7, 2019
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Mojave on the 2010–11 is useless, just as DosDude1 claims.

On the early 2009, yea it works but it’s like Leopard on my G4s... works isn’t good enough. I use my machines to make a living—they need to perform. No thanks. Word needs to be as fast as I type—and I do that one-handed (yes, really) so I don’t exactly burn up the keyboard. So, when I say that Mojave sucks on a 2009, it’s because I have to wait for the letters to catch up when I type. Completely unacceptable.

I’ve read that very long thread about trying to put one in a 2011 and make it work. Really? On a hobby machine, perhaps but for any actual work? Again, no thanks.

Now, you’d think that because I have two early 2009s, a 2010 and a 2011 and I work on Macs... Nope, not interested. Besides, once I’ve given Catalina a good workout, I’ll get my wife an iMac that runs it and that will replace her 2011, the last working Mac around here that can’t support it. A roundabout way of saying that, even if I could make it work, I’m not interested at all.

The Mini uses an Intel GPU. None of my clients have one so I have no experience. Great that the patch works for you on those but that doesn’t translate to the ATi.

mikehalloran, I did not make it clear that patched Mojave runs smoothly on my Mid-2010 minis (2.66GHz 8GB SSD) but not especially quickly. I do not have them deployed: instead, I myself use them for coding in BBEdit and for Adobe web graphics while also having some of them perform small-office network services.


They are not broadly usable, but your Late 2009 iMac 9.1 model seems not even narrowly useful when booted from patched Mojave. I agree: the difference in graphics hardware could unexpectedly factor into this performance differential.


An iMac's architecture being in general more robust than a mini's, there has to be something to explain it. If even the 4xxx series Radeon HD video cards adversely affect patched Mojave performance (howsoever much less badly than 5xxx and 6xxx) it certainly would be relevant here.


What I'm left wondering is how the Late 2009 iMac 11.1 (i5 / i7) with its stock ATI Radeon HD 4850 video card would hold up under patched Mojave given max RAM and an SSD. This now becomes the focus of my inquiry.


Thanks for your help thinking this through.
 

ad_agent

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 7, 2019
5
0
I used DosDude's Mojave patcher on my ancient early 2009 Nvidia 9400M (integrated graphics with only 256MB shared memory!) 24" iMac and while obviously not suitable for proper work (e.g. photo-editing) it feels incredibly zippy for browsing the internet and typing word documents (with no lag typing or with animations - I have reduced transparency turned on).

It is still great as a secondary computer for light duties (e.g. word processing) and can still play 1080p youtube videos without dropped frames (as long as it is 30fps not 60fps), which is great.

I have it installed on an external SSD (which probably helps a lot with the system responsiveness) through Firewire 800 (not even using the internal SATA right now). The computer also has 8GB of DDR3 RAM instead of the 4GB it came with, which made a noticeable difference when using Chrome and other RAM gobblers.

Don't give up on these old Macs yet for everyday tasks! They've still got some life left in them thanks to people like DosDude and others. Though definitely search these forums and the rest of the internet to gather as much info as possible on people's experiences with the ATi HD4xxx GPUs (performance-wise) on Mojave before you decide to go ahead with a GPU downgrade for your 2010 iMac


JacobHarvey, thanks. Your account reinforces the tempting notion that patched Mojave delivers value, albeit mainly:

1) in limited-use scenarios;

2) on later-model unsupported machines;

3) given RAM at full capacity, system drive being an SSD, and contingent hardware requirement(s) being carefully fulfilled; and

4) given the taking of appropriate measures around software such as driver maintenance for an unsupported video card, adoption of a third-party utility for better fan control (loads being intrinsically closer to design limits on these definitively older systems), or a recommended setting tweak for aesthetics or efficiency, yours being to check the “reduce transparency” box in System Preferences/Accessibility/Display.


You offer encouragement but also recommend caution. Pursuantly, here are some further thoughts or observations.


In my case if downgrading the video card turns out to be indicated, it would seem obvious to choose the highest and best ATI Radeon HD 4xxx series card ever featured on a Mac. From what I can tell that was the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4850 Mac Edition (https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/mobility-radeon-hd-4850-mac-edition.c2249).


As for the overall likelihood of my specific downgrade, it's still in question. I haven't found a single report of an exactly matching downgrade.


TwoH's year-ago encounter with an iMac running patched Mojave does not mention any Mid-2010 iMac. Neither do results reported by poster "Wm G" on ifixit.com (https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/517410/iMac+pre+2012+Mojave+Support) specifically involve the model of iMac that I have.


However, they both are typical in that they mention a Mid-2011 27” iMac. That’s close.


Interchangeability of video cards from Mid-2010 and Mid-2011 27” iMacs is widely affirmed. Absent any report involving specifically the same model of iMac as mine, that could be something to go on.


A further factor could be the liberality of terms offered by online sellers of the 4850. Were I granted returnability merely on grounds of the downgrade not having worked, that might settle it for me.


Allow me if you will for a moment to revisit the stakes in this matter. A relevant thought offered by “Wm G” is that with the prospect of Apple no longer sourcing CPUs from Intel (https://www.tomshardware.com/news/apple-mac-arm-cpus-2020-intel,38668.html) one might do well meanwhile to minimize further investment in Intel hardware.


There being lots of ways to do that, patching Mojave (or maybe even Catalina!) on unsupported machines is no less one of them. It’s all about value.



Graham
 
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