iMac 27" Mid 2011 Upgrade

Hi all,

I am planning on going through the process of upgrading the iMac my daughter currently uses.
It suits her needs pretty well, but due to the GPU not supporting the Metal graphics engine, it is limited to MacOS 10.13.x (High Sierra). Unfortunately, most apps on the App Store aren’'t supported anymore.

So after seeing this post on the Mac Rumors forum, I intend to give it a shot.

This should allow me to run a much more modern version of MacOS. Potentially even Ventura. I am going to combine this with a couple other upgrades.
It already has the Core i7 2600 CPU, 16gb RAM and a 500gb SSD. The CPU is the top spec this iMac can support, but they are interchangeable, so if someone has a Core i5 model, they can upgrade that too.
For the upgrades I have ordered an AMD WX7100 GPU, a 1TB SSD, and a new wireless card that will give WIFI AC and Bluetooth 4.
The wireless card will allow for functionality like Airplay and the like to work hopefully.
I have had to order a bunch of adapters, cables, and other bits and pieces to make this work.

Just thought i’d share my plans as maybe someone else is interested in giving it a shot also if they have an old iMac sitting around that could do with a boost.


How much is this going to cost you just out of interest?

Anyway, good luck with it. Let us know how you go.

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So far I would say about $150 without including the GPU and SSD.
That includes adapter cards, the wireless card ($43), antenna extensions, thermal compound, double sided adhesive, cables.
SSD was $139 - Samsung 870 Evo 1TB
GPU was about $360 from eBay. This is because I went for the WX7100 which is similar to the GPU in the Mac Pro (better than the base option). There are a lot of cheaper GPU options that are a big jump over the original GPU’s.

So about $650 all up. To bring the iMac up to modern standards with the exception of the CPU it isn’t too bad (the Core i7 isn’t too shabby though). Obviously similar to a mac mini in price. But then I would need monitor, webcam/mic, probably speakers too. And it would be the base spec (8gb RAM, 256gb SSD).
If I didn’t already have the iMac with the specs it has, it wouldn’t make much sense to go and source one to upgrade. I also have some extra’s like an Elgato thunderbolt dock which gives it a few USB 3 ports too.

It’s hard to justify spending this amount on a 12 year old mac. But it should allow it to be useful for several more years. It’s also partially because it seems like a fun project. It’s great that i’ll be able to keep something running for years rather than send it to the trash heap.


I’d be interested to hear how you go. I have the same Mac running High Sierra and I bought an M1 Mac Mini for an instant speed hit using peripherals I already had. The problem with the latest Macs is they don’t like bare-metal backups. I’d be much more comfortable swapping the HD in my High Sierra machine with Clonezilla but because I have a Mac Mini as well I don’t see the point. But it’s probably about time I cracked it open anyway and see how much dust has accumulated in there. If it’s easy enough to swap those components out you’ve mentioned and all goes well, I’d be interested in how you go.

(And now for something completely different. The deleted message above is due to me trying to compose this using a Logitech keyboard paired to my new Galaxy Tab A8. I have a few bluetooth keyboards lying around and the two Logitech ones don’t work. So I grabbed the keyboard from my 2011 Mac and VOILA!)

Will definitely share some updates. All the parts have arrived, so just need to find a day with nothing on where I can mess around with it.

Seeing as you have the same iMac. If your Mac Mini is an M1 model, there is a kick-starter that is creating a neat product that allows you to strip the internals of the iMac and mount an M1 logic board inside it. Comes with a new logic board, cables and more to connect everything up. Would also be a really neat project. Doesn’t solve your backup issue with the Mini though.

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I have a cheap Logitech bluetooth keyboard & it’s crap. I’m thinking of getting a Satechi one.

I reckon I have seen someone on YouTube do this already a while ago…

I will do more of a write up later on, but have got the GPU installed and flashed and have got Monterey up and running. Metal support is active with the new GPU. How this old Mac can grab current apps and my daughter will be able to do things like use Apple Arcade games as well.
Have one more part on the way in order to upgrade the WIFI and BT to more modern versions. That will allow things like Handoff and Airplay to work. Will also give a nice little speed boost to the WIFI.
Not a particularly easy process, but would not classify as being super difficult either. The hardware side was relatively easy (if you’ve ever taken apart an iMac before). There was a bit of work in understanding the process of flashing the GPU and getting Monterey booted and working correctly. Glad I went through it though.

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Well done!!!

Thanks mate.

Was a lot of screwing around. A lot of the information is out there but not necessarily all in the same place. Some useful details are buried in page 400 of an 800 page forum thread for example. However this is the kind of project I enjoy. And this iMac served me well for many years, so knowing it won’t become e-waste for a while longer is a great feeling.

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Would love to read a write up @DogKnight! :exploding_head: