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Model A1311 / Late 2011 / 3.1 GHz Core i3 processor / Education only model

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What cpu can I upgrade my iMac to?

Hello, i have a late 21.5inch 2011 imac wich has a dual core intel core i3 at 3ghz i was also wondering what graphics card i can upgrade it to. I also bought this imac from a auction at my school district. got it for $100

Update (03/04/2019)

I have a Education imac that i got for $100 at a school auction. the emc is 2496EDU

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What's your EMC number?

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Here's your systems specs: 21.5" iMac 3.1 GHz i3 (Late 2011)

And here's a bit more on whats difference between the Edu model form the other 2011 21.5" systems What are all the differences between the education-only "Late 2011" Aluminum iMac and the regular "Mid-2011" Aluminum iMac models?

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Quoted from EveryMac

Specifically, Intel reports that the applicable Core i3 processors each support an FCLGA 1156 socket and the applicable Core i5 processor supports an LGA 1156 socket. It isn't entirely clear how, or if, the FCLGA 1156 socket that the Core i3 supports is different from the LGA 1156 socket that the Core i5 supports, but it is believed that the sockets are the same and just the Core i3 "package" is different.

For the "Sandy Bridge"-powered "Mid-2011" iMac models -- the stock configurations of which are the iMac "Core i5" 2.5 21.5""Core i5" 2.7 21.5""Core i5" 2.7 27" and "Core i5" 3.1 27" -- Intel reports that all have an LGA 1155 socket (also referred to as an "H2 socket"). The custom-configured models -- the iMac "Core i7" 2.8 21.5" and "Core i7" 3.4 27" -- as well as the education-only iMac "Core i3" 2.1 21.5" (Late 2011) likewise all have the same LGA 1155 (H2) socket.

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.

The now defunct 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.

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FYI: FCLGA is the full abbreviation of LGA. It stands for Flip-Chip Land Grid Array. LGA is the exact same thing, it just doesn't specify Flip-Chip.

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I’m a bit confused you talk about upgrading your CPU in the title and you also talk about upgrading the graphics card in your question.

Before you go down this path consider the costs if you upgrade this system as well as how long you are hoping it will last and the limits of the MacOS that is supported on it.

OK, here we go into the deep end of the pool!

I would encourage you to do each change out one at a time so you don’t waste efforts trying to diagnose when something doesn’t go right.

I would start off upgrading the CPU, follow this guide iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 CPU Replacement The best CPU this system supports is a Intel Core i7-2600S

Don’t forget getting a good thermal paste like Arctic Silver Thermal Paste and the cleaner Arctic Silver ArctiClean

Once you know its working you can then dive into replacing the GPU board. These are your choices:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6750M, 512 MB - P/N 661-5944
  • AMD Radeon HD 6770M, 512 MB - P/N 661-5945

Your systems internal space, power supply, and it’s cooling limits your choices.

Here’s the guide to replace it iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 GPU Card Replacement

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Arctic Silver Thermal Paste

$8.99

crwdns2886500:0Arctic Silver ArctiCleancrwdne2886500:0

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Arctic Silver ArctiClean

$9.99

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iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 CPU Replacement

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3 - 5 hours

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iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2428 GPU Card Replacement

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3 - 4 hours

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Dan, your idea about replacing cpu I3 550 wth I 7 2600s is very interesting for me. So I like to ask you or any one who successfully pull this one?

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As you can see here: Intel Core i7, i5, & i3 Desktop Processor Series Datasheet there is only the TDP and power that you need to worry about. So you do need to 2600S i7 for it to work. You could also just go to an i5 instead.

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