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

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Will Ivy Bridge i7 3770 work in 2011 27" iMac

Wanting to upgrade existing 3.1 ghz i5 with new Ivy Bridge CPU. TDP of old CPU is 95 watts. New Ivy Bridge CPU TDP is 77 watts. Both use 1155 socket. Z68 chipset is supposed to support Ivy Bridge, minus USB 3.0. I know a 2700k Sandy Bridge CPU runs fine, though Apple does not officially carry it. Will the firmware allow this CPU to run or will it just not boot?

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Processor Upgrade Experiment Results

Knowing how the processor is mounted in a particular Mac only is half the battle. Determining whether or not a processor upgrade will function originally required experimentation by brave souls.

HardMac was able to successfully upgrade an iMac "Core i5" 2.66 27" (Late 2009) -- equipped by default with a 2.66 GHz "Core i5" I5-750 processor -- to a 2.93 GHz "Core i7" I7-870 processor. It is worth noting that this model also could be equipped with a 2.8 GHz "Core i7" I7-860 processor at the time of purchase via build-to-order configuration.

Although no details are provided, multiple third-party forum readers also reported that swapping the stock 3.2 GHz "Core i3" I3-550 processor in the iMac "Core i3" 3.2 27" (Mid-2010) with a 2.93 GHz "Core i7" I7-870 processor worked without a problem. By default, this model was available via build-to-order with a faster 3.6 GHz "Core i5" I5-680 processor.

However, there are limits to the processor upgrade options, as well. In response to a request for reader input, Jason Riley of Sydney, Australia kindly shared the results of his efforts to upgrade a iMac "Core i3" 3.06 21.5" (Mid-2010) with an LGA 1156-socketed 2.93 GHz "Core i7" (I7-870) processor. He discovered:

The new processor physically fits fine but the computer wont boot with the new chip. I tried swapping the CPUs back and forth a couple of times just in case I missed anything but each time the i7 CPU failed to boot.

I suggest there are one of three possibilities:

Apple have restricted the logicboard firmware to specific CPUs.

There is not enough power for the i7 (95W as opposed to 74W).

The logicboard requires the graphics capabilities of the FCLGA 1156 Socket chips.

Additional readers -- in particular the very helpful Andy Hucko of Bratislava, Slovakia -- were able to confirm that there are not logicboard firmware restrictions, and the above upgrade was restricted only by power, or specifically, the TDP (Thermal Design Power), which refers to the heat dissipation capability of a particular CPU cooling system.

Andy was able to successfully upgrade the entry-level iMac "Core i3" 3.06 21.5" (Mid-2010) with a 3.6 GHz "Core i5" (I5-680) processor, which is the fastest available CPU with the same TDP as the original processor in this model.

Processor Upgrade Summary

From the above experiments, one can safely conclude that thankfully there are not restrictions on processor upgrades in firmware for any of the Aluminum iMac models.

However, one only can upgrade the processor in an Aluminum iMac with a socket-compatible processor that has the same, or lower, TDP as the originally installed processor.

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Thank you very much for your very thorough contribution to my question. There was a lot of great information that I had not personally been able to find. Most of the upgrade concerns others have mentioned should not be problems, eg. TDP, socket, chipset compatibility, as Ivy bridge should be compatible in all these regards. However, I have also read that while the Z68 chipset contained in the imac is Ivy Bridge compatible, it may require a firmware update to do so. As you said, it is probably going to require a brave soul to finally answer this question in its entirety. Thanks again.

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I too have found your answer useful! However I am trying to upgrade my iMac 2011 processor from the factory Intel Core I5 2500S 65W to the Intel Core I7 3770K with 77W.

My question is will this upgrade be possible given that the iMac was capable of being upgraded (at time of Purchase) to an Intel Core I7 at 95W? Or is the mac stuck at the factory original it came with, 65W. If this is the case then I will have to Intel Core I7 3770S at 65W.

Also to Jay, how did the Ivy Bridge compatibility turn out on your iMac 2011?

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You should look up the TDP of each chip and if the value is equal or lower you should be OK. Wattage is not how chips are sized anymore.

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Chris, I never found a satisfactory answer to this question and eventually upgraded to a 2012 iMac. Sorry I can't be of more help.

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I have a late 2011 IMac which I upgraded to 16 gigs of ram and an Intel Core i7 2700K processor with a Samsung 512 830 SSD but every time I try to install Mountain Lion my imac keeps rebooting and suggestions?

Apparently any higher CPU reboots the Imac my combination of Samsung SSD 830 512 and the Intel Icore 7 2700k cpu where a mess to get to work lots of restarts and memory clearing had to take place in order to get the OSx to finally boot But I'm stuck with 10.7.5

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No I have tried the install with a intel 3770 k on my mid 2011 27 inch imac with samsung 830 sad the screen won't power on!! I'm back to my 2700k and mavrick but when I reboot mavrick running the 2700k CPU the computer give me error screen and to press any key to reboot so mavrick and 2700k CPU don't work either

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Jay will be eternally grateful.
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