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alanpro Level 1 (0 points)

I have a late-2009 iMac 27" with a Radeon HD 4850 - 512 mb.


Would it be possible to upgrade the graphics card to the ATI Radeon HD 5670 Video Card 512MB GDDR3?


Also, my iMac has 8gbs of ram, where can the ram sticks be purchased and can Apple replace it?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.7), iMac 27" late 2009 model
  • den.thed Level 7 (25,980 points)

    Hi Alan


    While it is possible to replace the Graphic's chip in some models, it varies from model to model because many are soldered directly onto the logic board. Plus even if it were possible to replace/upgrade your model 1) it would have to be the same chip configuration and 2) Apple does not provide the firmware for upgrading.


    The 2 most highly recommended third party RAM vendors are OWC and Crucial.





  • alanpro Level 1 (0 points)



    I purchased 16 gbs from OWC.


    As for the video card, OWC has the 5750 in stock. Given that the description states it's compatible for the late 2009 27" models, the chip config should match right?


    Can you  please also elaborate on the firmware you mentioned? I supposed I would only need to replace the card and install the given drivers.



  • Edward Boghosian Level 4 (1,395 points)

    The video card of the iMacs cannot be upgraded.  What you see is what you get.  Of course, you or someone else can take it apart, unsolder the chip, and resolder the newer one but there is still no guarantee it will work.  How much faith do you have in yourself or the other person that the job will be successful?  If you have the extended warranty, it will be voided.   As far as ram is concerned, you can do it yourself.   Apple describes how to.   Why do you want to upgrade the video card?   If it's for your work, then you bought the wrong computer. 

  • jaysonfromnull Level 1 (10 points)

    As the previous person mentioned. The imac's contents are onboard. What onboard means is that is soldered or attached to the unit in a manner where is not user upgradable.

  • den.thed Level 7 (25,980 points)

    Because it is not supported by Apple, the best answer I can give is to contact OWC support and ask before purchasing or upgrading.

  • Peter Elespuru Level 1 (10 points)

    Actually, the posts that state it can't be done are WRONG! And it does NOT require

    any soldering or chip removal for the 27" iMacs.


    I have the exact same late 2009 27" iMac, and upgraded it to the part from

    OWC the you pointed out previously, this one:



    You'll be voiding your warranty certainly, but unless you have Apple care you're already

    past Apple's 1yr anyway...


    It is absolutely possible, and works great. You do not need to touch any firmware, and OS X

    already has the drivers for this board. It's entirely a hardware process to upgrade it, i.e. open

    the iMac and replace the board and you're done.


    The process of upgrading it isn't particularly trivial, but it is absolutely possible, I've been using

    the upgraded 5750 1GB board since last Fall (~October) without a single problem in my 27"


    High level summary of steps, (there are better more detailed instructions a few places online like iFixit)


    (1) remove display cover panel

    (2) remove display itself, look online for the details this part can be dicey

    (3) disconnect all cables from logic board, tape back near where they came from to get them out of the way and make them easy to reconnect

    (4) remove RAM (makes it easier to remove logic board from housing)

    (5) unscrew and remove logic board (which has MXM slotted video board attached to it)

    (6) set logic board flat on a static safe area

    (7) unscrew MXM video board heat sink screws that connect it to logic board, and disconnect it from the logic board

    (8) plug in the upgrade/replacement video board

    (9) put everything back together

    (10) enjoy your faster video card


    If you haven't taken your iMac apart before, expect to spend ~90min if you're careful about everything.

    If you have, it can be done in ~30-45min.


    A couple additional tips, one above was the removing RAM makes it easier to remove the logic board, another

    is that when you reinsert the logic board, have a USB cable or similar handy to plug into the back to help

    align the logic board when you re-seat it. The last tip is the one about taping the wires back just above where

    they get plugged in. I didn't do this the first time through, and one fell down and didn't get plugged back in on

    re-assembly. I had to disassemble the whole thing again to dig it out and plug it back in...



  • alanpro Level 1 (0 points)

    Outstanding reply! Is the the improvement noticeable?

  • Peter Elespuru Level 1 (10 points)

    It's noticeable for things that require more GPU horsepower, but for day to day usage, not really.


    Since the new iMacs were just announced (the ones with thunderbolt), I'd personally wait to see if

    OWC puts up some of the 6970M 2GB boards at some point in the next couple months, or even

    some of the lower end parts from these newest iMacs.


    It's still the exact same daughter board based on the tear downs from iFixit and others, so should work unless the older logic board won't support them for some reason. OWC will say which iMacs they're compatible with if/when they list them for sale.

  • Edward Boghosian Level 4 (1,395 points)



                You're going to spend $400 for a new graphics "board" and do it yourself and the graphics board has only 90 day warranty.  Good luck and let us know how it works out.

  • liadesign Level 1 (0 points)

    Tell me is it possible to install on 2009 27 inch Imac ATI Radeon 6970 2 GB of RAM? 03386#ht_2083wt_1413

  • insanovision Level 1 (0 points)

    So does anyone know where I can pick one of these up, the link listed is out of stock, I chatte with someone there today and they said they are not going to restock this part.

  • jason_brown Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey Peter,

    I have a late 2009 iMac with ati radeon hd 4670 and looking to alot of heavy rendering in c4d would  your solution work for the late 2009 imac?


    I want to upgrade so i dont have to upgrade again for years.

  • insanovision Level 1 (0 points)

    I asked one of my nerd friends at work and explained what I had and what I wanted to do...they said I wouldnt really even notice the in the words of someone else that posted... looks like we just got the wrong computer for the job...


    save your pennies and upgrade or sell your soul to apple and take out a line of credit.


    and for that price tag, its a total joke...


    But I guess the joke is on us.

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