Upgrade iMac Intel Core i3 CPU to Core i7
An awesome member of our community made this guide. It is not managed by iFixit staff.
Upgraded my mid 2010 27 inch Apple iMac from a Core i3 3.2GHz (Dual core) upgraded to Core i7 2.93GHz (Quad core) processor.
- Author: EnglandGreen
- Time estimate: 30 minutes - 1 hour
- Difficulty: Moderate
Upgrade mid 2010 27 inch Apple iMac from a Core i3 3.2GHz (Dual core) to Core i7 2.93GHz (Quad core) processor.
I used this guide for disassembly and reassembly.
Also added a 3TB SATA drive and 32Gb of RAM to max out this system under Lion 10.7
- Update : Removed the 3Tb SATA drive and replaced with 512Gb SSD and upgraded to Mountain Lion 10.8
- If you upgrade or change the HD, you will need to buy HDDFanControl software to control the HDD fan which will run at full speed otherwise.
- April 2013 - 1 year later : This system has been absolutely ROCK SOLID with no crashes, no kernel panics and no freezes!
- April 2014 - 2 years later : now running OS X 10.9 Mavericks successfully with zero issues. System continues to be fast - but is starting to show its age compared to Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures! Newer apps are starting to creak at the seams & the beachball is now a fixture.
- April 2015 - 3 years later. Yosemite 10.10.3. Continuity works but Handoff does not (lacks built-in Bluetooth LE v4.0). Not as fast as my Haswell Macbook Pro or 2010 Xeon 12 proc Mac Pro, but still rock solid. With these simple mods, I have gained years of additional service out of this "obsolete" machine!
- May 2016 - 4 years later. Running El Capitan 10.11.5 . Only Handoff does not work (see above) but everything else is rock solid. New Notepad app rocks as does a stable version of Apple Mail (at last), and now that the abomination that was 'discoveryd' is dead and the tried and true 'mDNS-Responder' is back, networking is stellar once again. The system continues to amaze with its longevity.
Embed this guide
Choose a size and copy the code below to embed this guide as a small widget on your site / forum.
Start by gathering your parts, tools, anti-static strap and gloves (gloves are for glass & LCD)
Then remove LCD. iFixit has step-by-step- write-ups on how to do this.
Core i7 2.93GHz Quad Core processor, Arctic Silver thermal compound and iFixit + OWC tools
Processor is Intel Core i7 870 2.93GHz 8MB LGA 1156 Quad Core Processor 95W. I bought this CPU used on eBay.
Remove HD, Superdrive and motherboard. Follow the excellent iFixit guides to remove these items.
To remove motherboard (a little tricky), I followed this excellent guide - http://www.btobey.com/learn/imac-ssd-ins...
Not mentioned in the guide is that you have to remove the IR sitting in back of the front Apple logo before you can remove the motherboard.
Flip over motherboard, gently remove 4 x Torx 8 heatsink screws on the bottom (not the big Phillips screws on the top).
Please note : Warranty is void with this step.
Use Arctic Silver thermal compound remover and preparation solutions to get rid of factory compound.
Goodbye Core i3 and hello Core i7.
Note arrow on CPU (bottom left in picture). New CPU must be installed in the same orientation.
Apply Arctic Silver thermal compound with finger covered in plastic. Spread evenly on CPU only. Guide is here - How to Apply Thermal Paste
Reverse to reassemble. Enjoy the new speed demon!