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Model A1311 / Mid 2010 / 3.06 & 3.2 GHz Core i3 or 3.6 GHz Core i5 Processor

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Upgrading CPU from i3 3.06 Ghz to i5/i7-S version 82W


I want to give my iMac i3 an upgrade to i5 or i7 processor.

I've red some posts of some people who tried several combinations.

Some combinations worked, some didn't.

The CPU's that didn't work were the CPU's with a TDP of 95W.

The i5 CPU's that have been tried out and worked were the CPU's with a TDP of 73W. My big question is; There are several CPU's with a TDP of 82W like the i5 750S/i7 860S/i7 870S.

Will those CPU's work? I can't find any information on the web with these specific CPU's....

The TDP is ±9W higher then the standard i3..


Risposto! View the answer Anch'io ho questo problema

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Soluzione Prescelta

Apple has used so many different CPU's in their systems I doubt anyone has a listing what works in which logic board. A better way to do this is to get down to your CPU in your system and make note of the part numbers, then go to Intel's web site and look it up. Once you know the CPU series you can select a different chip within it.

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I don't think you understand me right.

The thing i'm doubting about is the power consumption of the cpu.

The power supply in the iMac 21.5 inch is 205W.

I've red some experiences of people that tried some 95W cpu's that failed to boot, because of the higher TDP.

The 73W cpu's actually did work. (for exampe, upgrading to an i5 680)

The big question is: Will the 82W cpu's work?

I need to know it from someone who has experience with that specific replacement

There is no CPU restriction on certain models or something.

It's just the power-consumption issue


No, I understood your focus is the chips TDP value. You still need to work it out the way I explained here. Locate your exact systems CPU in Intels' lists it will tell you the TDP of what you have now and within this series the other chips that can be used that meet the TDP value window (+/-) the system was designed to support.


The problem is that I don't know if the iMac is limited to 73W CPU's.

Maybe it can take more than 73W but less then 95W

I already saw a list of cpu's that have the same TDP but I want to know that if I exceed the 73W, the machine will work with the new cpu.

waiting for someone with this experience.

Thanks for you answer though


Snappaz, I think you are mixing things up a bit. TDP is not the same as power usage. It is the measure of heat dissipation in terms of wattage. "maximum amount of power the cooling system in a computer is required to dissipate"


Old Turkey,

Thanks for your answer.

I know, but more heat dissipation of the cpu means in the most cases more power consumption... (If i look on some benchmarks, the 95W TDP cpu's also consume almost 20W more power than the 73W Cpu's.

If i look on this website and the differences I see that the i7 consumes less power, I will take the gamble and place an i7 cpu.


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The i7 870 has TDP of 95W but thats irrelevant the power consumption is of 121W and the 21.5 imac doesn't have the juice for that.

But ! the i7 870S (wich is the low-power variant) has the TDP of 82W and squeezes 66.63W from the power source. Bingo ! We have a winner.

I can confirm it works, i have the 21.5 mid-2010 imac with the i3 550 (dual core) now housing the quad i7 870S (2.66GHz turbo boost up to 3.6GHz, 8MB L3 cache). 4K video was a no go with i3 now plays smooth on i7, everything is blazing fast and I haven't even upgraded to SSD yet. the only thing I did notice is that in System Report I had 5.86GT/s Processor Interconnect Speed now its 4.8GT/s.

Did a lap on cpu before mounting in socket, reports 41 degrees Celsius on all cores never went past 60 in full load. The i3 had 44-46 on average use and difference of 1-1.5 degrees between cores.

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Good answer! Thanks for taking the time to document it here.


Hi David I'm Gerard, any idea where I could find one of those cpu's for sale ? I'm not having much luck in tracking one down... Thanks for the great piece of information.


Gerard - Sadly, you maybe fighting an uphill battle to find the CPU ;-[

Intel had long since stopped making them. You'll need to get the Intel part number from the link I posted above, then see what you can find on the internet. You might also want to try some of the Apple dedicated parts houses.


Hi @zeerocool

Thanks a LOT for your answer. It gave me hope that I can upgrade my beat-up iMac to an i7 model.

Sadly, the 870S you used is now discontinued and I cannot buy it.

I will be really grateful if you can recommend another current model that would fit my machine?

I have the low-end 21.5" iMac mid-2010 with an i3-540 (3.06 GHZ) processor.

Thanks in advance.


@khalrez - I've tried get one for someone else who wanted one I was unable to find the needed CPU and I sourced far & wide. Sadly, thats the only i7 chip that will work in this system.

Sorry no substitutes possible. Intel has changed things so nothing else is possible.


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You can use the L3426 Xeon in the 2010 iMac !It has a lower power consumption 45w and gives 50% increase in multi core performance.

Shows as i3 1.86ghz in system profiler but can boost 1 core to 3.2ghz or 2 cores to 3.06ghz when needed.

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Can you post a geekbench score? I was able to get a 870s(its not arrived yet), would be interesting to compare the two.


I think I might have a 3470 around, if I do I'll try it and see what happens.


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Snappaz sarà eternamente grato.
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