Replace Graphics Card on old iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by evangw, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. evangw macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #1
    I have an old 2009 27'' iMac that seems to have a bad graphics card — anyone know how to get these fixed? Apple only takes computers < 5 years old, and the local retailers where I live also only service computers up to 6 years of age. The local retailer also said that if my computer was a little newer and within their service possibilities, they would have charged $600-$800 to replace a broken video card—HA.

    Replacement video cards for the 27'' iMac seem way too expensive ( e.g. $319 for the cheapest, worst card: https://www.amazon.com/Apple-2-66GHz-Video-Radeon-256MB/dp/B00CMNC1ZA ) considering that the computer is worth maybe $550 when it's in good working order.

    Is there any way to get this fixed for a reasonable price and effort? Like are there some alternative video cards I could put in it besides the three that were normally shipped with the 2009 iMac?

    I would not mind fixing it myself (I've already bought a replacement) as I'd rather the computer work than be dumped into a trash heap, but I'm absolutely not willing to spend an absurd $350+ (inc taxes and S&H) on a 7 year old video card. I could maybe sell it for parts — the computer also boots and works but only in Single User Mode or as an external T-bold display— but I'd be lucky to even get $100 for it (I cannot practically use eBay or Amazon Marketplace in the country where I am).
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    You might be surprised how much you'll get for parts, but to be honest there is no good reason to fix it, even if you do it yourself it'll cost a fair amount in time money and effort not to mention that you may just not get it to work.

    At 7 years old that's just not worth the effort, even the best video card that will work with it is worse than many modern integrated efforts from Intel.
     
  3. evangw thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #3
    Thanks for the reply. I looked around a little more and couldn't find any better solutions. I wiped the HD, reinstalled OS 10 on it, and got it working with the kexts for the graphics card disabled. So, it runs like garbage* but maybe someone will have a niche use for it or want it for parts. It'd probably work fine as a media server.

    *actually it's OK for everything except web browsing, where the page refreshes every time you move the mouse. Maybe there's some browser that works in with the video card disabled/in safe mode, but I tried a few and they were all awful. I'm actually surprised the graphics card is even necessary to quickly render a webpage like MacRumors...
     
  4. elf69 macrumors 65816

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #4
  5. evangw thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #5
    Yeah, that price is a lot better than Amazon! Unfortunately my country doesn't have eBay and most sellers don't ship internationally, or if they do they charge like $50. But still... who is paying £150 + S&H to buy a 7 year old graphics card? You can buy a brand new AMD RX 460 with 4 GB RAM for £135, which I'd estimate is 1 million times faster. I mean they won't fit in the same computer, but still, shouldn't those old graphics cards be like $15, tops? Is there really a non-trivial market for people like me looking to repair quite old computers for half the cost of a new one? It'd be like if a 20 year old used car that never got its oil changed or service done cost 1/2 the price of a brand new one..

    I'm not disappointed in the survival of the card though. The computer always ran quite hot (typical 40-45°C case temperature web browsing), and if I ever played a game on it or did batch editing in Photoshop, it was hot as a furnace (top of the monitor was too hot to even touch for more than a second; ~65°C). I didn't play a lot of games on it though, and none in the past 3-4 years. I don't know if I got a lemon or if all 2009 iMacs were like that. I don't recall the 24'' I had before that being so hot and the case of my new 2015 iMac room temperature during normal use.
     
  6. elf69 macrumors 65816

    elf69

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Location:
    Cornwall UK
    #6
    Do you have a company who can reflow or even better reball the card?

    We do reflows at my work but this is temp fix.

    Reball is almost like new.
    GeForce cards are known to fail, have 4 laptops here at work with ailed cards, overheat.

    If can reball it (still expensive) use best heat paste possible to prolong it's life.

    I hate throw old tech.
    Love my 2007 imac but bought refurb with 12 months warranty think still got 7 months left of it.
     
  7. evangw thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    #7
    Kind of an old thread, but in case anyone else came across this problem and googled this thread, I fixed it based on following exactly this YouTube video. It requires taking apart the computer and then baking (literally in the oven) the video card.



    It took me about 2 hours and cost about $15, and let me sell the computer for $350. You will need to buy heatsink glue, e.g. arctic silver, along with thermal pads, because when you take apart the video card to bake it in the oven, it will destroy the original heatpads and glue (which you need to carefully remove, I used acetone). The computer worked fine afterwards, good as new. I used packing tape to pull the screen off the iMac, it was surprisingly easy to do.

    If you're doing this to fix the computer and keep it, it would be trivial, and recommended, to update your harddrive to something modern while you're at it.

    Also, maybe obvious, but make sure to label all the wires when you disconnect them with little pieces of tape that you write on with sharpie or something.
     

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