Model A1312 / Mid 2010 / 3.2 GHz Core i3 or 2.8 & 3.6 GHz Core i5 or 2.93 GHz Core i7, ID iMac11,3

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CPU Upgrade Compatibility Check

Hey everyone - this question has kind of been answered on here already but have a couple of other questions. I have a mid 2010 iMac i3 that I am wanting to upgrade. I see there is i7 compatibility but is there a list of all supported CPUs for this machine? Also does anyone know if any of them are Sandy Bridge based? Reason I ask is that I have a new Apple TV and have read this is needed to support AirPlay. Not the end of the world if it's not supported, just in general time for an upgrade to this thing. Thanks in advance!

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To start with AirPlay is based on the model ID string not the CPU your system has so this system just won't work. Apple does this often throwing a tease to get you to buy a newer system. Some of it is hardware related other times it's what they have tested the feature with. Here you have limits based on the hardware besides the CPU.

As to what you can upgrade the CPU with you are mostly limited on what Apple sold the system with. Remember Intel also has changed the sockets so you can't drop just anything in.

OK, here's what you have: iMac 27" 3.2 GHz - i3-550. So I'f we lookup on Intel's CPU chart: i3-550 chip we can see what it has.

Now let's compare it to the iMac 27" 2.93GHz - i7-870. Here we find Intel offered two versions i7-870.

So we need to dig a little deeper here looking at the TDP value the i3 is listed at 73 Watts. So you need the use a i7 that is this or less. The first version is 95 Watts so it's to high the S version is still too high at 82 Watts. So we can' go with the i7 version of the chip.

So now let's look at the i5 versions. Here's the specs for the faster i5 iMac: iMac 27" 3.6 GHz - i5-680

And here is the Intel chip info: i5-680. Now looking at the TDP we see the value is the same 73 Watts and we can see the socket is the same: FCLGA1156. So this is your only option.

Now you'll need to decide is it enough to of a bang to upgrade weighing the risks and the costs.

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That was pretty thorough, thank you. When I look at the specs on Apple's site it shows they have an i7 option:

Is this something specific that would be unsupported in my machine?


Yes, they do have a i7 version system, but it uses a different power supply. Which is why we need to focus on the given chips TDP. Besides, I would rather get a faster clocking chip Vs than a quad core. Most client side apps are limited on how many threads they can concurrently run with.


Interesting point. So ultimately it sounds like it's not really worth it overall. Thanks for the feedback.


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