Model A1312 / Mid 2011 / 2.7 & 3.1 GHz Core i5 or 3.4 GHz Core i7 Processor

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What GPU's are compatible with iMac 27" 2011?

I have an iMac 27" mid-2011 with a semi-dead 6970M, 1gb GPU - I only got the system to boot by disabling the GPU kernel extensions(moving /System/Library/Extensions/AMD* to a backup location = weird and slow graphics, but better than just a gray screen) and Apple has refused to fix the problem because it's more than four years old - even though it's a recognized issue.

So, I need a new card.

  • Are all MXM 3.0 B cards compatible or does the card need Apple firmware?
  • Would a 6970M card for a Dell Alienware laptop or another card with the same chip as one of the iMac 2011 models work?
  • Where can I get a card that works? (<400$)

I've see a lot of questions and answers that dance around these questions but none that actually answers them specifically so ANY help will be greatly appreciated.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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try to reflux or reflow the gpu

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reflux or reflow is not working you need a new chip

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Hi all! Same story with my late 2011 imac and the 2Gb 6970M. Took it to an Apple service and told me it had to be replaced, about 800euros. Talked to Apple who refused to replace it through the program according to, first, it was bought in 2011 (more than 4 years ago) and later a superior told me that my imac was from an specific production line that had not the problem and thus not fitting the replacement prog. Though (sigh) my card is dead and I find no reasonable replacement in ebay or similar. Took it to a non official service to do the reballing but it didn't work, it was deformed and not fitting anymore.

Shall you get together to do something with apple or a change.org or something, please let me know! From Spain

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I can find a $400 HD6970m 109-C29657-10 part for your replacement. Let me know if you need it.

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  • ''Are all MXM 3.0 B cards compatible or does the card need Apple firmware?"
  • "Would a 6970M card for a Dell Alienware laptop or another card with the same chip as one of the iMac 2011 models work?'

I found out Apple uses special firmware and for a card to work it needs an EFI flash with Apple firmware.

A card without Apple firmware will simply result in a black screen.

A friend of mine did suggest I could remove the BIOS/EFI-chip from the original board and reflow it onto a cheaper card - but that will probably be too complicated for a lot of people and I already had a new card on the way.

Cards that already have Apple firmware (pulled from iMacs) are interchangeable though - I upgraded from the 1GB 6970M to the 2GB version.

  • "Where can I get a card that works? (<400$)"

You can get a working card on Ebay or Aliexpress - any MXM 3.0 card pulled from an iMac should be fine. I paid ~300$.

Lastly, as @mayer pointed out, if you have an iMac 27" Mid 2011 with issues, the GPU is most likely the cause and Apple will fix it if it's no older than four years, because it's a recognized issue.

Apple refused to fix this one because it was sold in 2011 but if you want to fight Apple, maybe that'll work too - I chose to fix it myself instead.

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Thank you. I had these exact same questions and was equally frustrated with all the dancing around with no real answer to any of the questions. Thank you for posting this.

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Anders - This is an update. 7/24/16 I have now obtained a hot air re-work gun. I'm having a 70% success rate reflowing these chips now. Sorry i did not have this answer at the time you posted your question.

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Has any consulted a lawyer to discuss a class action lawsuit against Apple? Seems they should have contacted affected owners and scheduled replacements instead of just waiting for cards to did and then only replace if within four years. I am having same issue now and they already have had my iMac twice already to replace other components.

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Without the apple BIOS flash, would the system just show a dark background just during the boot sequence (i.e. not boot into the customary gray background with the Apple logo) or does the system not work entirely even after completing the boot sequence? Thank you.

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Without the flash you will lose any of the grey boot screens (apple logo, progress bar, etc) the monitor will not turn on until you reach the desktop (or installer if installing a new os). On macOS Sierra you also need to modify a kext in the system/library/extensions folder. But that's a lot easier than it sounds. I can post more specifics about the kext if you need. Also oddly enough, you lose the brightness control for the built in display, it stays at full brightness.

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Most Helpful Answer

Check this out FIRST before you spend any money:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203787

iMac (27-inch): AMD Radeon 6970M Video Card Replacement Program

Apple has determined that some AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards used in 27-inch iMac computers with 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processors may fail, causing the computer’s display to appear distorted, white or blue with vertical lines, or to turn black. iMac computers with affected video cards were sold between May 2011 and October 2012.

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"...Apple has refused to fix problem because it's more than four years old - even though it's a recognized issue."

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Try again. Force the issue up the food chain. Even write a letter to Tim.

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Anders - You down voted me for trying to help you?

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Yes, I did. I appreaciate you trying to help - but as to the question "Was this answer helpful?" the answer is clearly no. Copy-pasting a paragraph from Apple support that answers neither of the questions at hand - is not helpful.

I've undone the downvote - someone coming here with a completely different question might find it helpful.

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Anders - the answer was specific to your machine and the problem it's having and a possible solution. It's a known issue by knowledgeable technicians. The only reason it did not resolve your issue is because of Apple's corporate greed and their refusal to do the right thing. Your argument or comment that I that I cut and pasted it is inane. What is germane is that I knew about, knew here to look and find it and got it to you. Now you can either suck it up or do what both Dan and I suggest, go fight for repair! Go up the ladder, force Apple to do what is right. There was Class Action Law suit on this.

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Most nvidia GPUs will work if you install the web drivers. Take a look at this... https://www.ifixit.com/Story/18646/Succe...

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@moohaha = Jason, that's great that you found a solution! As it was answer I changed this from a comment to an answer. The only problem I see is the price tag I saw of $2400 for that chip. Apple has now declared this a legacy machine due to its age. ASPs are being told that parts and service for it are no longer available. Thanks for posting you story.

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Your very welcome! Note that you will lose your boot screen (grey startup screens) and your brightness controls (system stays at full brightness). As for price, yeah not cheep but I was going for speed :-). I think I paid 400 on eBay for it.

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To make a non-apple provided Nvidia graphics card work in macOS Sierra you need to do the following…

Start the computer in safe mode by holding shift.

Get your BoardID by running this command in terminal

echo "<result>$(ioreg -rd1 -c IOPlatformExpertDevice | awk -F'["|"]' '/board-id/{print $4}')</result>"

Open the AppleGraphicsControl Kext using this command

sudo nano /System/Library/Extensions/AppleGraphicsControl.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleGraphicsDevicePolicy.kext/Contents/Info.plist

Use the arrow keys to go down until you see <key>ConfigMap</key> followed by a bunch of keys and strings.

LOOK FOR YOUR BOARD ID…

IF IT IS LISTED: Change the string to <string>none</string>

IF IT IS NOT LISTED: Add it in the same format as the ones listed.

Save the file by pressing Ctrl+O, then enter.

Exit by pressing Ctrl+X

Rebuild the kernel cache using the following two commands:

sudo kextcache -system-prelinked-kernel

AND

sudo kextcache -system-caches

Have Fun!

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Thx Jason, very precise response

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Jason, are those instructions for before or after GPU replacement? I swapped out my GPU and now have a black screen. Cannot start up in safe mode. How do I access the display to run those commands in terminal?

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Interesting.....

My iMac from the same series went in just last week because the 2Gb card died. Apple Store was very good and said even though it's outside the replacement program dates (it was purchased in Aug 2011), they would cover the cost. It's taking a little longer than their usual timeframes for repair waiting for the part, but at least I'm not out of pocket for the repair (about the same cost as the lowest end iMac). Mind you, our consumer protection laws in Australia are very good and given it was a known issue to this model Apple may not want to test the laws with a denial to repair.

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Mark, can you provide me with your email? If Apple fixed your iMac after the 4 year period and you have it on paper, maybe i can persuade Apple service in Greece to fix mine as well. Mine was purchased in December 2011.

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Make it fast as the program will expire at the end of the month!

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im having mine fixed with same problem, was purchased summer 2012, apple should take care, but the imac has to go thru some test to see if that particular machine and the problem that it is presenting fits in their replecement program, ive been lucky 3 times, 2 macbook pro and now this imac 27 mis 2011. Any certified apple provider should run these test and verify, and I live in the Dominican Republic, all from here and free of cost, in the states should be smoother.

Waldo

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I think I'm in the same boat here. I was thinking of fitting a Radeon 6970M into a 2009 iMac.

My questions are:

Can I use a Windows Laptop (alienware etc) 6970M GPU card and reflow the firmware/EFI chip from an existing 6970m 1gb.

What are the model numbers of the Windows LapTop cards (e,g. 1GB & 2gb versions)?

What is the name of the GPU chipset used on the iMac 6970M? This is incase I were to have a new GPU chip reflowed to the existing video card i have.

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Best to create a new question here with your systems details.

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Did work ? I'm going to do that tomorrow

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It works :) the only bad thing is that the fan is working at full speed even if the card is cold

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did you connect the sensor? If it can't read the info fan will go crazy.

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I'm in the same boat. *Just got this 2011 iMac 27" and the video card is bad.

Apple will not repair free, $576 @ local Apple store. I called APPL corporate, they guy looked into it and said "no". I even emailed tcook@apple.com and asked for an exception. I believe it's *worth repairing, but I'll also want to add an SSD while the work is done. Still searching for a local repair service... Ugh.

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Had mine replaced last week for free. It's the second time it has gone, both times the cards lasted for exactly 2 years and 9 months before failing. Apple initially said no to me in store and were going to charge £500+ until I gave a consumer law argument that the product was sold by apple defective, and then replaced with the same defective part (hence it has failed again). That argument worked for me in the UK, but expires after 6 years so it won't work again! It also only applies where the product was bought from apple direct, as consumer law responsibility applies to point of sale.

I know I've been lucky but it is still not nice to know I have 2 years and 9 months to go now before my iMac (which is otherwise perfect) dies again, and presumably at that point it will be declared vintage and parts unavailable.

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Same $@$* here in Hungary. Apple don't care about customers even they paid a lot to buy the flagship of Apple. It's a shame, in this big company. VW, Toyota etc... called back all the cars, which they put wrong spares. Apple just give 4 extra years, even they proudly says, they know they put wrong sparepart to their most expensive product.

I don't know even why any lawyer doesn't see the business in this easy possibility to get a lot of money from Apple??? :) They &&^&@@ up us easily with a lot of money...

Is there anybody, who bought used Video board to fix it? I sent mine to repair to a specialist company to greece to reballing, but it wasn't help. They tried two times, but finally sent it back with the money. I found lot of used cards on different market sites, but i don't know, how will they work, how long... I don't trust Apple anymore. Now I have an 27" Imac I7 8Gb Ram and cant't use. The complete, used, same, working Imac is 6-7-800 Euros, and used card is 300 euros..

Is there somebody with used card experience?

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Sorry you've had such a hard time ;-{

We have 20 of these all are working flawlessly in an office environment! Yes, we had a few which needed a new GPU card and we did managed to get them covered under warranty, sadly Apple has ended the extension now.

The people who have multiple failures tend to be pushing it beyond what it was designed to do. Often I hear about people running some very heavy graphics gaming on this system. This series is just not able to handle the higher heat it creates. I would recommend you monitor your thermal sensors via a good app like: TG Pro and you can use the Turbo function to enhance the fans cooling a bit. Just don't over heat the system.

As for using a used board it can be a bit of a crapshoot as you don't know if its about the fail for the same reasons yours did.

As to re-balling the GPU chip to use better solder thats an option but the underlying issue still remains overshooting the thermal window of the system.

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Think of it this way you wouldn't take street car to the race track to run a long race high speed rase as the car would fall apart for overheating. While it could handle a short run of high speed its just not designed to sustain that.

Computers are like this, often we fail to realize how hard we are pushing them until they fail and then blame the maker and everyone else instead of being careful we don't over do it. Some of the blame is also the companies that sell us these great games but fail to list how hot your system will get when playing them and the risk of overheating your system with extended play.

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Hi Dan. Interesting that you feel that those with multiple failures are down to pushing machines too hard. I've had mine since 2011, and don't use it for gaming. It just runs a plex media server in the background and I use it for regular work. Yet it has still failed twice. What I really couldn't believe is that both cards lasted the same amount of time, almost to the day! I'm resigned now to using it for a couple of years and then selling it on for whatever I can get at that point. Chances of an economical repair in another two years and 8 months (clock ticking :-)) are slim I feel! It's just not good enough from apple to knowingly replace a part with one is going to have the same issue. Whole batch should have been recalled and replaced with another model. Or they could at least have offered a trade in.

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Dave W - Sorry to hear you got a double whammy. I guess we were just lucky.

I do think the AMD Radeon 6970M Video Card tends to run hot and the lead free solder used was just not able to handle the heat. So one could argue AMD messed up and one could also say Apple screwed up by not building in better cooling in the system. While I did focus on the user side a bit in my answer in the comment it still the root issue for many failures across all systems.

We addressed the cooling side of the issue in our iMac's by using TG Pro in turbo mode to push the cooling sooner so the thermal threshold of the solder breaking down is not hit as often or for so long. That maybe your answer as well.

Remember we have a bit of 'Ying-Yang' between the hardware and the software. Back then (2010-11) the hardware was still trying to catch up with the software. During the next 4-5 years the software just eclipsed what the hardware was designed to do (i.e. gaming). Even image & video editing was pushing things.

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It was not until late part of 2012 did the GPU's get to a point of catching up and as you know today the CPU designs have been focused on their power and heat. Sadly, dedicated GPU's are just now catching up with the CPU's using less power and heat.

If you look back in the trade rags you'll see it was Apple who pushed Intel into addressing the power & heat of their CPU's as Apple was struggling designing the slim systems of the iMac's with the more powerful CPU's & GPU's. Even still the iMacs are not heavy duty gaming machines, they are a mid tier system.

If you want a heavy duty gaming system I would have said the Mac Pro would have been my choice a few years ago. Now we are waiting for the Mac Pro upgrade hopefully it shows up this year. We really need better onboard graphics and video output. The dual AMD FirePro D700 systems are starting to show their age and just can't push 8K (4320p) which is now the benchmark.

Surprising! The CPU's are not whats holding the system back. While I would still love to see more powerful CPU's the hardware design limits what can be used until Intel offers lower power & heat version of CPU's which are coming this fall in the Xeon family.

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My iMac (i7, mid2011 gpu with 2Gb) just died this week. I brought it back to my Apple reseller for repair and hè suggested me to provide the original purchase note, because Apple sometimes because of consumer laws decides to repair this without charging costs. I have had many pc's before I got this iMac and never had a dead GPU.

PS my iMac was part of the series that could have defective GPU's, but I never traded in my iMac since I had no problems. I agree with some of you that Apple should have proactively recalled those iMacs and replaced the GPU's.

Lets see what happens with my repair request..

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Update: my GPU died indeed and I got it repaired for free by Apple based on the European consumer laws ! :-)

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I'm really glad to hear, your apple fixed by the law, but hearing this, is giving me another $@$* think. How can it be, some apple store/service do this for the customer and some others f@ked up us??? This is really mess and disgusting at Apple! Shame, shame, shame...

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Hi Niek, same problem here. Where do you live? Country/city?

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mine just took a dump today, out of nowhere, and now Im stuck with 2 tracks to mix without a computer to do so! I can't believe after reading in so many places, now apple just doesn't give a &&^&!

in cars, it doesn't matter how many years passed, if there's a bad airbag or seatbelt they replace it, apple should do the same! its very frustrating!

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I've repaired a couple of Mac's by removing the videocard, stripping it from all thermal-fluid, plastic etc. Put in in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius , and putting it back (using new thermal pasta). This will let the soldier melt a little bit so any short-circuits don't appear anymore causing the GPU to work again.

it's difficult and time-consuming but it beats replacing a GPU for a lot of $ (or € in my case :)

And some PC laptops have the exact same problems with the GPU. Sometimes the thermal pasta or copper heatsink won't be doing it's job right causing the GPU to get real hot and fail eventually. A lose connection with one of the chips is mostly the case (also from using environmental friendly soldier)..

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Anders will be eternally grateful.
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