Can I upgrade the graphics card on my iMac?

I have a 21.5-inch iMac, 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM,1TB Serial ATA Drive and a ATI Radeon HD 4670 256MB graphics card. I was wondering if I can upgrade the graphics card to a more powerful one, maybe to the ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB. And if so, are there step by step instructions on how to do it?

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Just a guess, but since the 4850 is not a build to order option on the 21.5" iMac, chances are the 4670 is not the same card as that in the 27" iMac. I personally would not be willing to risk the cash on trying one, but if I had access to a 27" iMac with the card I would give the swap a try. This upgrade may not be thermally compatible as well, otherwise I would think Apple would have made it an option. After all, if it just boiled down to fitting the better card in there, Apple would be all over the additional profits they could make off of it. In the case of the GeForce 9400M, it is part of the chipset for the computer. It shares RAM for itself, but when you install another card like a 4670, the 9400M is disabled, freeing up the RAM. The 21.5" iMac with 4670 graphics still has 9400M graphics inside, it is just not used. I would like to see someone pull their 4670 card to verify the 9400M kicks in and takes its place.

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I have not located anything on upgrading the video card on this machine. I would upgrade to the maximum RAM 8GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x2GB. I couldn't see the specs on the hard drive on Apples site but a 7200 rpm hard drive would help and a solid state drive would do even better. I edited this to get in line with bac.

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hey mayer - the lower end 21.5" model has the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card which DOES use shared memory, however Pablo said his machine already has the ATI Radeon HD 4670 - this card has a dedicated 256MB of graphics memory, it is NOT shared with main memory

by bac

Thanks bac I did not realize it would only share memory with the low end card. Do you know why it doesn't share?

by mayer

For whatever reason, the high end Radeon card is a separate component, and the low end Nvidia is integrated onto the logic board. Kind of strange to me....

by Ben Eisenman

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Anyone ever figure out if you can use the 27 inch late 2009 model iMac graphics card in a 21.5 inch late 2009 iMac? I wanna upgrade my graphics card bad.

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Correction: the max RAM on this model is 16GB and the HD is already at 7200 rpm.

I'm also interested in whether 21.5 and 27" users can swap their 4670 for the 4850, since they are removable. As far as I know, this hasn't been done yet, but may be theoretically possible as the OS will recognize the card. As we know, there is no way for the NVIDIA users to swap in a card.

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I'm curious about this to, since the GPU is a swappable card it should theoretically work, getting a 4850 will be the only problem or iFixit will make it possible ;) Love to see someone trying this!

With the processor upgrade and this one, you can make a though iMac that almost is equal to the i5/i7 model!

For the CPU upgrade, see this thread, here we talk about upgrading from a dual-core to a quad-core.

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No its not possible. The GPU they are using in the Intel iMacs is actually the mobile variant. run a check on windows with the hardware identifier.

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Oke guys, I'm hete to share that I joined this experiment and also excecute it. I got the 4760 in my iMac late 2009 21,5-inch, which is broken, only my second screen works and instant crash with Windows/DOS boot. I ordered a 5760 from the new generation iMac with the hope this works well, that generation (i3) also haves a 4670 as cheapest choice. I expect the card in 2 weeks and when I have time I also will swap those cards, I will report it here when it's done, working or not :)

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hey thomas,

did it work ?

thanks for sharing!

best

martin

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I'm going to assume since Thomas never responded, that it worked and he never had a problem again. I I ordered the 5760, because it was an option on my generation iMac, and Mac anywhere shoes them having the same chipset. My only concern is with the heat and power requirements. I have the mid 2010 iMac, generation 11,2 with 4760, 3.06ghz dual and r4 gigs of ram. Since I've got it open, I'm going to replace the VRAM battery and upgrade my memory by adding 2 4 gb memory sticks for a total of 12 gb. I'm going to leave the 500 gig hard drive.

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Thomas Meijer or Dave Wu, did either of you have luck with this? I have a late 2009 imac with the integrated NVIDIA Geforce 9400.

I'd love to put in a Radeon 4670 or even better go straight to the 5760..... let me know what either of you guys figured out! It'd save my life :)

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I bought my 5670 on Gainsaver and it did not work for me at all. I can't verify whether it was a faulty GPU or that it just wasn't compatible. There was no boot chime or anything, I even tried a new power supply. I ended up ordering another radeon 4670 and it ended up working fine... for a few days. then it kind of crapped out on me. I can still boot and I think it actually loads up fine, because when I hit the volume, I could hear the clicks! I'm hoping I just !@#$%^ up the display connector from disconnecting and reconnecting so many times. I ordered the part, but the only place I could find it was some guy in china, so I've been waiting on it for a week or two now. If it doesn't work, I've about had it with this thing, and will probably end up just backing up the harddrive and parting it out.

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Pablo will be eternally grateful.

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