My ATI card of my Late 2009 iMac also failed, but in my opinion, it could be because I didn't take care of the temperature. In your case, maybe the graphic card was defective. Anyway, I have seen here lots of users complaining about graphic problems with iMacs, so maybe the graphic card of a iMac isn't the best and it often fails
There seems to me a big correlation with the newer Aluminum style iMacs' less than stellar system cooling and premature failure of the iMac's vital components. The CD/DVD Super drive seems, usually, the first thing to fail. This failure maybe part heat related and the fact that it is mounted in an iMac in a less than optimal vertical, upright position.
The GPU is, usually, the next chip to fail ( I believe under higher temps). The last heat related component failure Is either the CPU or the entire logic board.
Any or all of these seem to happen within the first five years of operation.
Because of the iMac's seemingly higher internal temps, there is a basic slow roasting effect on components over a 3-5 year period of time.
I agree with you, there shouldn't be catastrophic component failures In a Mac after only 3-5 years of,operation.
Especially given the premium price we Mac users pay.
What frosts my biscuits, is that there are very experienced used here who will tell you these temps are either normal or within whatever numerical spec Apple has assigned as normal operating temps and that there is no reason to be concerned. They will tell you just to install an iMac temperature monitor to just monitor temps, but wil not offer a solution, like software internal fan speed controls to try a mitigate some of the excessive internal temps.
I call B.S. on this!
There is a big reason to be concerned and to be forewarned about the heat issues so some action or proactive action can be taken as a prevention to this issue.
I Believe the heat issues are more common in the newer 2009- mid 2012 iMac aluminum models because they all share basically the same identical design.
I Bought my 2009, 27 inch screen iMac used and wasn't aware of the excessive internal heat issues until I ran mine for awhile. Not knowing how the previous user used this iMac, I have taken the necessary precautions and I even run a small, but effective desk top fan cooling the iMac from the backside.
I Feel your pain.
It's not right that as loyal users and users that pay a premium for our Macs that something like this can occur within so short a period of time. I have older Macs that have faired much better over a much longer period of time.
No solution - just a me too post I'm afarid.
Our iMac "Core 2 Duo" 3.06 27-Inch (Late 2009) seems to have a problem such that when it starts up, the grey start up screen gets to the end of the spinning pinwheel, then the screen jumps to the left and puts a small fuzzy rectangle at the bottom right of the screen and everything freezes.
It will, however, start in safe mode.
I think its safe to say that the graphics card is failing.
An independent dealer here in the UK has said that parts are not readily available at the moment.
Typically, the 3 year warranty expired last November.
I think MichelPM has a point regarding temps, so I will take note of that when I get it repaired, but we shall see what the geniuses say next week.
This happened to me- late 2009 iMac i7 Radeon HD 4850 video card.
It originally happened in 2013 and Apple pretty much rebuilt my iMac over- new card, new display, new HD and new CD/DVD..
It worked great until a couple months ago when I update to the newer OS and now can only use it in SAFE mode.
It's a shame such a great machine is almost useless with just a bad card.
I'm about to purchase a new video card online and attempt to replace.
If not I'll be getting a new one