Upgrade 2012 iMac Airport/Bluetooth card to get 802.11ac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Fried Chicken, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    I’ve read reports of people successfully upgrading their 2012 iMac airport/Bluetooth cards to take advantage of 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

    I just got upgraded to gigabit internet, something I want to take advantage of.

    I see two options. The inelegant one is to get a usb dongle like this one:

    However the much more elegant solution IMO is to upgrade the airport card in the iMac with something like this:

    I’ve heard mixed reports of Bluetooth not working under Mac, or WiFi antenna incompatibility. The latter I have a hard time believing as 802.11ac sits on the same 5GHz as 802.11n.
    The Bluetooth compatibility issue I’ve read mixed reports on.

    Does the listed airport card was in the 2013 iMac. Do newer iMacs have even faster cards? Are they all compatible?
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Forget about "elegance".

    Fastest, cheapest, easiest way:
    Get a dongle and plug it in.
  3. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley

    You say that you now have gigabit Ethernet. Does this mean that your wireless router supports 802.11ac? If not, you'll need to get one that does.

    My son-in-law was on the development team for that standard. The day after Apple released the Time Capsule and Airport towers, that department ceased to exist and everyone on the team was assigned elsewhere.
  4. Fried Chicken thread starter macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    I currently have a Netgear R7000 which supports AC. Unfortunately the WAN --> LAN speed is only around 400mbps, and I will need to extend the 5GHz throughout the whole house somehow. As such I will be upgrading the browser.

    The question remains on the reliability of upgrading the Airport/Bluetooth card, especially since I do plan on opening up my machine at some point.
  5. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Can't say about this card and iMac, but I successfully did same upgrade on my Early 2013 MacBook Pro 15".
    Works to this day. As added bonus I also got the "unlock with Apple Watch" feature, which is also officially not there on 2013 MBP.
  6. Fried Chicken thread starter macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    That’s awesome.

    There is little information on the 2012 iMac, however I did see this:

    Saying that they’re having bluetooth issues (as well as noobs who don’t believe in upgrading)
  7. priitv8, Jun 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019

    priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    That guy seems to have used a MacBook Pro card (BCM94360CSAX. It is exactly the card I've installed).
    Here's the story: https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View...802.11ac+AirPort+Card+on+my+RMBP+15+(mid2012)

    That's why the form factor doesn't match (uses adaptor card), antenna connectors and counts do not match (uses adaptor cables).
    So I would do it following exactly the same logic I did with my MBP - get original Apple card, from similar but later iMac.
    The best would be to find out the designation of the card your current iMac uses and look it up on internet - size, form, connectors etc.
    If you are unable to do that, then you should open up the iMac and look inside.

    PS Found my pics!
    Before and after:
    thumb_PVA7_DSC1913_1024.jpg thumb_PVA7_DSC1925_1024.jpg
    The card I bought:
    thumb_PVA7_DSC1907_1024.jpg thumb_PVA7_DSC1907_1024.jpg

    Attached Files:

  8. Fried Chicken thread starter macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    Wow good catch! Then I’m definitely upgrading myself. I think the 2013-2017 iMacs used the same card, and the 2019 iMac has one upgraded from that, unfortunately it’s unavailable.

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7 June 11, 2019