iMac Intel 27" EMC 2309 or 2374 Graphics Card Replacement

Member-Contributed Guide

Member-Contributed Guide

An awesome member of our community made this guide. It is not managed by iFixit staff.

Despite Apple's claim that this machine is not upgradable you can install serveral options to enhance your machine. The most daring one is to exchange your Radeon 4 series card with the latest Radeon 6 series from the 2011 iMac model, which I describe

  • Author: teut986
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

If you are using the iMac 27" late 2009 or 2010 model for games you might want to upgrade your graphics card to the 6 series of the last 2011 model.

For any other reason this upgrade is not recomended as the power gain is only noticable in games.

Image #1

Edit Step 1 Display  ¶ 

  • Remove the eight T10 Torx screws securing the LCD to the outer case.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Carefully lay the iMac stand-side down on a flat surface.

  • Due to tight tolerances, you will have to use a thin hooked tool to lift the display out of the outer case. As seen in the third picture, we made one out of a bent paperclip.

  • Use a thin hooked tool to lift one side of the top edge of the display by its steel outer frame.

  • After lifting the top edge of the display on one side, hold it out of the outer case while you use a hooked tool to lift the other side.

  • Do not lift the top edge of the display out of the outer case too far, as several short ribbon cables still connect the two components.

Image #1

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • Using your fingers, carefully pull the vertical sync cable out of its socket on the LED driver board near the top left corner of your iMac.

    • Be sure to pull the connector parallel to the LED driver board, straight out of its socket.

Image #1

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Squeeze the two display data cable connector arms together to unlock it from its socket on the logic board.

  • Pull the display data cable connector away from its socket on the logic board.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Rotate the display out of the outer case enough to disconnect the LED backlight power cable from the LED driver board. wisdom here.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Lift the display for enough clearance to disconnect the LCD thermal sensor cable connector from its socket on the logic board.

  • If your fan is spinning full speed after completion, check this connection or the hard drive's thermal sensor cable.

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • Carefully pull the display toward the top edge of your iMac and lift it out of the outer case.

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Edit Step 8 Graphics Card  ¶ 

  • Remove the display as described on ifixit

  • Be extra careful with the display cables, I broke mine

  • You need to remove the temperature sensor cable from the HDD to remove the card

  • Remember the position of this cable! ifixit tip: it must later be reinstalled closest to the SATA connector and the black cable need to point up, towards the LCD

Image #1

Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Now remove these 3 screws from the graphics card brezel seen in the left image

  • Locate the large heatsink from the graphics card, which should be right above your DvD drive

  • Remove the single screw there holding it in place

  • Carefully remove the graphics card temperature sensor cable from underneath the motherboard

  • Remember the position as you need to plugin the new one here as well

Image #1

Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Slowly and carefully pull the graphicscard away from the motherboard

  • Make sure the metal brezel of the card doesn't scratch the motherboard

  • You should be able to remove it easily and when you removed the temperature sensor cable you have it safely in your hand

Image #1

Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Remove the metal brezel from the graphics card. Only a couple of screws hold it in place

  • Store away your graphics card safely in case you need it again or want to reinsert it

  • The second image shows both the 4 and 6 series side by side. A little differenc ein height makes some extra work necessary (see next step)

No image

Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • You will need to remove the DVD drive in order to remove the plastic piece mentioned in the next step. The drive is held in by 4 Torx screws, once those are removed, the drive can be lifted and swung out of the way without removing any cables.

Image #1

Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • As the 6 series is slightly higher we need to make a little space on the plastic holder which is beneath the card

  • Remove the plastic part which is shown on the 2nd picture by removing one screw and carefully pull it from the aluminium case

  • Its fastended with tape, so don't worry, you can't break anything

  • Some wiggling and navigating it from the cables and you should have it in your hands

  • You see the rectangular space where the large cable goes through. Use a saw or other tool to make it about 5mm wider and 2-3mm deeper

  • The third image shows the final result we want to achieve

  • The primary reason for thi step is the heatpipe of the 6 series which takes more space

  • Note: this is ONLY necessary on the late 2009 model, 2010 models already got enough room!

Image #1

Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Apply the metal brezel to the new 6 series graphis card. Make sure its aligned properly

  • Now insert the 6 series graphics card carefully.

  • Make sure you don't damage the upper side of the mother board when reinserting

  • When in place fix it by the 3 screws

  • Reinsert the temperatur sensor cable. You need fine hands or a good tool to do so. Be patient with this step

Image #1

Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • Reassemble the LCD display as explained on ifixit.

  • No other work needs to be done. As you removed the power cable the SMC should reset, which is the chip configuring your hardware

  • If all goes well you should be greeted with a welcome screen and "about this mac" should show the image to the left

  • Note: I also replaced the DvD drive with a 256GB SSD which can be done easily during the installation process

  • Last tip: if you remove the DvD drive for a SSD make a minimal bootcamp partition and install windows on it. It will save you a lot of trouble if you ever need one. Believe me, simply do it, installing bootcamp with no DvD drive is a pain.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the iMac Intel 27" EMC 2309 and 2374 device page.

Required Tools

Heavy-Duty Suction Cups (Pair)

$14.95 · 50+ In stock

TR9 Torx Security Screwdriver

$4.95 · 9 In stock

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Comments Comments are onturn off

works perfectly ;-) just be slow and precised

franckmichotey, · Reply

Did you know you can add an additional SSD drive WITHOUT needing to remove your Optical drive? It installs vertically just to the right of your HDD. I just performed this upgrade last weekend. I believe you can do this to 2009 and up models.

bistroengine, · Reply

Regretfully Not on the iMac late 2009, because the motherboard has only 2 SATA ports, not 3 like the 2010 and later models...

Andrea Turriziani,

Just a question: with this mod, are you able to use Airplay Mirroring in Mountain Lion? Since the inhability to use it on these macs is GPU-related, virtually with this Graphic card you may be able to enable it... Let me know please!!

Andrea Turriziani, · Reply

I read somewhere that AirPlay mirroring uses a technology on the processor called Intel Quick Sync Video, ant it is present only in the 3rd+ generation of Intel Core ix processors. So if this is true it explains why some Macs do not have AirPlay mirroring and why you do not get AirPlay Mirroring after updating the graphics card.

ivanfacil,

If your system didn't support Airplay before the upgrade it won't do it after the upgrade - I think. I never tried but I doubt it works.

teut986, · Reply

I think the same... But don't know, maybe the system recognize the updated graphic card and unlocks airplay... Someone that have tried this mod, can confirm please?

Andrea Turriziani,

This looks like a great upgrade for a late 2009 iMac - but what about swapping the logic board at the same time, with an i7 board from either 2009 or 2011? Has anyone successfully done this upgrade?

Jamie Lodberg, · Reply

Done perfectly on my friend's 27" mid 2010. (5670 out 6970 in)

Do you know if 6770m is also compatible? (I've another Imac 27" with burnt 5670 and owner want replace with 6770m).

Antonio, · Reply

I just did this upgrade on my iMac using a 6770 and it was easy. I didn't need to make any modifications to anything. The 6770 and heat sink fit the existing mounting bracket perfectly.

kbwell,

Worked on my EMC2309. Premiere Pro lets me use the Mercury Playback Engine now.

stuartjporteous, · Reply

Rendered a file in Premiere after upgrading - back of the case is almost too hot to touch now.

stuartjporteous,

You said it was super hot??? You installed the iMac 2011 Radeon 6970 2GB graphics card??? I am thinking about doing this so I can use Premiere and After Effects. Would you recommend it? Did you end up using this for video editing?

Travis,

I installed the iMac 2011 Radeon 6970 1GB graphics card. It's hotter than the old card and I can hear the fan working, but not too much. No crashes, nice and stable. Yes, I ended up using this for video editing: Premiere and After Effects - the Mercury Playback Engine uses it. Recommended upgrade.

stuartjporteous,

i already have an mid 2011 imac, and im wondering if i could still upgrade the gpu to a newer one and what my options are like which amd cards work and will any nvidia cards work?

Freddie Wright, · Reply

Is it possible to upgrade EMC 2309 with 2GB Graphic Card? It is not recommended by WeLoveMacs.com, but I really want to try it. Anyone has done it?

31150, · Reply

Done on a 2010 i5 2.8. I also did the following improvements while in there:

- i5 2.8 -> i7 2.93

- installed extra SSD

- RAM 4Gb -> 16Gb

What i found:

The 6970 2Gb emits 250W of heat compared to 85W of the original 5750 (in my machine).

Since the ODD fan cooles the GPU heat sink but the sensor used to control the fan is the ODD temp sensor, the card will get REALLY HOT (97.5°C tops) and fall back into power safe mode to conserve energy and cool down.

What i did:

I put the SSD in between the original HDD and the Optical Drive so it doesnt block air flow from the ODD fan to the GPU heat sink.

I applied new thermal compound to the card. Old one was really thick and not well spread.

I installed, and HIGHLY RECOMMEND this programm (both in windows 7 and OS X): Macs Fan Control

It lets you set the sensor, the base temp and the top temp for all three fans individually. Set the ODD fan to use the GPU heat sink as temp source and set temps to min:35 max:70. I'm getting a max of 78° which is fine for the card.

Bam, problem solved.

jes ta, · Reply

Above TDP are for standard cards. iMacs have the mobility version.

Radeon 5750m emits 25W, 6970m emits 75W.

Still three times as much.

jes ta,

I have a late 2009 imac 27" model, and found that my graphics card is bad so. My question is since this thread hasn't Ben updated to this year. Where is the best place to purchase a graphics and what is the best recommended card to get now?

Tdog, · Reply

I have one that was used briefly, until my HD crapped out too. Should still be fine, if you are interested. Otherwise I found it through EBay, I can PM you the seller.

Milw,

This sounds amazing!

Just to confirm though, is the heat problem for any model including the EMC 2374? So did the author have to change fan settings and thermal and apply thermal compound? Or is it only for the 2010 i5 2.8 only that needs this?

The EMC 2374 has an ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB. I'm not sure about its emittance.

Gato, · Reply

This cable is very small and fiddley to remove if you don't have much in the way of finger nails. The cables are very thin and fragile.

James York, · Reply

It took me a bit of work to remove this cable, it was a hassle actually. What worked for me, without any tools, was to use your index and middle fingers' nails and pull it. That worked better than the index and thumb. Took me like 15 minutes, more than what it should take.

thefinalzeta, · Reply

This connection is very fragile, and many people have broken the display connector on the logic board. You need to carefully pull the connector out, and when putting it back together, you need to carefully push the connector back in.

pmah, · Reply

i did break mine. do you know where to buy that component?

Cris, · Reply

You need to squeeze the connector top to unlatch, then pull it parallel to the LED backlight board.

Charlie, · Reply

the increase in heat emission is 85W -> 250W! use Macs Fan Control to speed up your fans and while you're at it, replace thermal compound on the card.

jes ta, · Reply

Had to do this on a 2010 i5, not enough room otherwise!

- removed 2x3mm piece on the left corner of the gap

- made the gap 4-5mm deeper

jes ta, · Reply

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