Model A1225 / Early 2009 / 2.66, 2.93, or 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor

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Can I run an iMac headless?

I have an early 2009 2.9GHz 24" iMac with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 512 MB that is real close to dying. If I can find a replacement, it will cost way too much for this old of an iMac. I'd still like to try and run OS X Server (10.11-max) and know the Mac mini can run headless when configured properly. If I disconnect the graphics card, will the iMac still start up? With it running OS X Server, I can remotely connect to it and use it as a media server or something else.


I just ordered a used late 2015 iMac to replace it before it doesn't work anymore. The screen starts fragmenting, gets real fragmented, then locks up.

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Try it, if it doesn't boot then there is obviously a problem. Set Automator to make a noise when it starts up and then remove the card and see if you hear the sound after a while.


I might try removing the card and see what happens but I was hoping someone has tried it before.


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I'd try a reflow of the GPU with a hot air gun. Or replace it.

  • NVIDIA GT120 (256Mb): part #661-4991
  • NVIDIA GT130 (512Mb): part #661-4990
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850 (512Mb): part #661-5135

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My question was whether I could run an iMac headless and while your answer gives me the part number for a replacement graphics card, it doesn't answer my question. I saw these parts in an ifixit guide for replacing the graphics card. I might try doing this, found the part at macpalace for $287 (doesn't say if it's new or used), but would rather run it without spending more money on it.


I've never gotten one to run without the display, that's why I told you how to fix it. I've had about a 70% success rate doing a reflow of the GPU.


Thank you for the information on actually trying to run it headless. I'll accept your answer but will continue to compare the iMac to a Mac mini server to see how it runs headless.


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The problem is within the graphics card so trying to use the system using an external display still won't work here - Sorry ;-{

You need to fix or replace the graphics card. I would follow Mayer's advice.

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I'm not trying to run the iMac with an external display, I'm trying to run it headless, which means without a display like most servers.


Sadly it's a bit of a chicken and egg problem ;-}

You need the display to configure the system (as in the case of a Mac mini) Once done you could then run the mini without the display. I have my mini setup this way.

I've never tried setting up an iMac in a display less config and it might not be possible even if you could gain access to the system remotely as the systems hardware was designed to be an intergraded system. The boot up process may not let you startup.

I'm not sure what you gain here? There are cheaper solutions to share a drive and off loading a compute intensive process to your iMac system would loose the graphics card function as in the case of rendering.


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