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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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Can I upgrade my processor to i3-6320? Can I upgrade other things?

Title says it all. I have a 2010 21.5" EMC 2389 iMac intel i3 550 3.2ghz with 8gb of ram and a 2tb hdd. I'm trying to upgrade a little bit for better image processing and gaming. My mac has started to slow down over the years. I still have plenty of space left on my hdd (over a tb left).

Specifically, the upgrades i'm hoping to make are:

1.) upgrade processor from i3 550 to i3 6320

2.) upgrade processor from raedon hd 5670 to hd 5970

3.) upgrade from 8gb of ram to either 12 or 16.

4.) if the community has good things to say about hybrid ssd/hdd drives then i'd like to upgrade to the 2tb ssd hybrid sold on the ifixit site.

Please give thoughts and tell me if all of these upgrades CAN be done (I have someone with the experience to handle this) If all of these cannot be done, could you please work with me to help me find the best options for me and my computer?

Thanks in advance,


Отвечено! View the answer У меня та же проблема

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Выбранное решение

Here's the specs of your current CPU: Intel 3.2 GHz Core i3 (I3-550

The best you can put in are these CPUs: Intel 3.6 GHz Core i5 (I5-680)

Here is the IFIXIT guide to switch it: iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 CPU Replacement.

This is not an easy job! Are you sure you're up to it?

While you will gain some performance you might want to look at upping the RAM to 8 or 12 GB. I would also look at putting in a SSD replacing your optical drive and set it up as your startup disk. Here is the IFIXIT guide to install it: Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 Dual Hard Drive.

Both of these upgrades will give you a better bang for the buck than the CPU upgrade!

Update (03/12/2016)

The i7 CPU chip won't work in your system as the TDP is too high. For reference heres the specs: Intel 2.93 GHz Core i7 (i7-870)

Update (03/13/2016)

Theres more than just TDP to worry about. The socket needs to support the chip and the FSB clock needs to match. Lastly the systems BIOS (EFI) needs to recognize it within the series. So you'll need to stick with the chips Apple has used which is the ones I've pointed you to.

Unless you are doing something that requires more RAM 12 GB should be enough.

I'm not recommending you swap out your HD for a SSD that would be expensive if you went with a 2TB SSD!

The trick here is a dual drive setup replacing the optical drive for a SSD (review the guide I pointed out) Here we are using a smaller SSD (256/512 MB) for the boot drive. It will hold the OS and your Apps (leaving 1/3 of the rest of the drive empty for virtual RAM and any application paging. This is what will get you the performance bang you're looking for for a lot less expense. Depending on your OS you can also create a Fusion Drive.

If your current HD is getting tired then I would get a SSHD (hybrid drive) to replace it as it offers a faster alternative than a standard HD.

iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 CPU Изображение


iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 CPU Replacement



3 - 4 hours

iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 Dual Drive Изображение


Installing iMac Intel 21.5" EMC 2389 Dual Drive



1 - 2 hours

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If you decide to do the hard drive upgrade talk to us first as there are temperature sensor issues with different drives and different solutions.


Hi there. As it turns out I realized that an i7 is excessive anyway.

1.) So I can put in a first gen i5, Can I put in a later generation i3? like the i3 6320? idk what all to check for but the TPD if only 51W as opposed to the 73 the my current one uses.

I have a freind who loves to build computers, and I would mostly rely on him for all of the stuff that i'm "not up for"

2.) I definitely plan on putting in more ram. I have 8 now, would it be worth it to upgrade to 16 or do you think 12 would be fine?

Lastly i definitely won't be upgrading to a SSD because I have a 2 tb hard drive and $$$ you know, but if you know anything about hybrids I would love to have some more information on those.


!6 GB is the max this system was designed to support. No one has tested 32 GB of RAM in this series. Frankly, the types of apps that can use this much RAM also tend to need more CPU power than what this series can offer. You also need to consider what else the system has within it.


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Наиболее полезный ответ

Well stated question for a late Saturday night.

Let me address the hard drive issue first, you have several questions here and I may go to sleep before addressing them. The 2010 iMac used a Apple proprietary hard drive with special heat sensors. There are three different sensors for the three major brands of hard drives, Using the wrong drive or matching with the wrong sensor will cause the fans to run away and burn up the hard dive. OWC offers a fix for the drives without the custom sensor port, but it's about $40.

The Apple Hard drive sensors are:

Apple Part #'s

  • 922-9215 - Hitachi
  • 922-9216 - Seagate
  • 922-9622 - Western digital

I do like the Seagate SSHD drives, I've had one failure in the last 100 drives I've installed and it was bad from the git-go.

Here's the info on the OWC solution: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIDIM...

RAM Upgrade:

  • RAM Type: PC3-10600 DDR3 Min. RAM Speed: 1333 MHz
  • Details: Supports 1333 MHz PC3-10600 DDR3 SO-DIMMs (204-pin).
  • Standard RAM: 4 GB Maximum RAM: 16 GB

Details: By default, 4 GB of RAM is installed as two 2 GB SO-DIMM modules. Two slots free.

To max out use 4X4 to get to 16.

Better is to just add 2 - 4 MB sticks and take it to 12MB. Just my opinion.

CPU Info:

The iMac "Core i5" 3.6 21.5-Inch (Mid-2010) technically is a "configure-to-order" configuration of the iMac "Core i3" 3.2 21.5-Inch (Mid-2010), The iMac "Core i5" 3.6 21.5-Inch Aluminum (Mid-2010) is powered by a dual core 3.6 GHz Intel "Core i5" I5-680 (Clarkdale) processor with a dedicated 256k level 2 cache for each core and a 4 MB shared level 3 cache. In lieu of a system bus, it has a "Direct Media Interface" (DMI) that "connects between the processor and chipset" at 2.5 GT/s.

That's all I will give you for tonight as It's past my bed time and they don't pay me for overtime. In fact they don't pay me at all, I'm just a volunteer here.

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I replaced a failed WD HDD with an SSD. The temperature sensor can be replaced with a 2N3904 transistor; base and collector to the black wire, emitter to the grey wire. For the WD cable the base can be soldered to the collector pin and cropped, the resulting 2-pin device plugs straight into the connector.


martin, I would love to see pictures of how this is done.


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Этот ответ изначально был на другой вопрос.

This is an old thread, but just for an update, there are two i7 options for the mid 2010 iMac with the LGA1156 socket. The i7-860S and i7-870S both work!

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This is not correct!

This system can only support a Intel i5 - 3.6 GHz Core i5 (I5-680)

You need to stick with a Lynnfield generation of CPU's as the micro code held in the systems firmware will only support it.

The Intel i7 - 2.93 GHz Core i7 (I7-870) is a 95 Watt TDP CPU. Your systems power supply and cooling can only support 73 Watt TDP CPU's.

There is no i7-860S & i7-870S CPU's at all! Intel created in 2010 a new series (Sandy Bridge) for Apple for their 2011 models:

● Intel i5 - 2.5 GHz Core i5 (I5-2400S)

● Intel i5- 2.7 GHz Core i5 (I5-2500S)

● Intel i7 - 2.8 GHz Core i7 (I7-2600S)

These are the first S CPU's Intel created that Apple used.


@miron-k - Both of these are 82 Watts TDP !! While less than 95 Watt I7-870 I referenced . Apple never offered these in their systems as they are just too hot and the needed graphics services which are not present in these chips (likely why the TDP is lower!)


Your quotes:

"There is no i7-860S & i7-870S CPU's at all!" – wrong

"the needed graphics services which are not present in these chips" – Nope. 2010 Imac doesn't use CPU's graphic cores and never does.

You are right about TDP – iMac with 860s or 870s will definitely run hotter. But based on experience of some users these CPUs will work in 21.5 imac (instead of 860 and 870, which is 95 W)


The iMac's 'require' the intergraded graphics to support OS-X/macOS the chips they use all supply them.


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Этот ответ изначально был на другой вопрос.

Conflicting information here! So if I have an original i3 21.5 mid 2010 iMac can I upgrade to an i7? And it will work minus heat issues? And if so can I also upgrade to 32 gigs of ram or is that motherboard based?

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You need to stick with a Lynnfield Series generation of CPU's as the micro code held in the systems firmware will only support it.

The Intel i7 - 2.93 GHz Core i7 (I7-870) is a 95 Watt TDP CPU. Your systems power supply and cooling can only support 73 Watt TDP CPU's. Which is why the i7 is not an option.

Now will it even work? Yes, but you are stressing your system! As such it will have a m cut shorter life span. I think getting a newer model would be a better investment than trying to boost this system this far. How about finding a 2011 21.5" Intel i7 2.8 GHz Core i7 (I7-2600S) system. It offers a better power supply and cooling and supports 32 GB of RAM (tested).

As far as RAM technically no one has tested using the newer 8 GB SO-DIMMs in this 21.5" series to 32 GB. 16 GB really all you should need in the system as its not able to support the i7


Xeon L3426 also works good with iMac 2010 21.5 and allows to use up to 32gb of RAM.


But I as developer have an issue while using Docker for mac, VMware and other virtualization apps (except virtual box), because L3426 is from 2009 and although it supports virtualization, it still lacks some of the features that are necessary for Apple Hypervisor framework to work. But if you don't use these apps, don't bother yourself.

So if you don't use virtualization apps, pros of L3426 would be: support up to 32gb of RAM, 8 Threads (4 cores), low TDP (45W). If you need a virtualization, go for i5-760


@danj Well I got this system for free so I figured I might as well make the most of it. I ended up ordering an i7-860S (which does have a slightly smaller TDP than the non s variant), 16 gigs of ram, and an SSD. The only thing that I am worried about is the hard drive temp sensor because the SSD doesn't have any solution for that. The other direction I was thinking about going with that is just to get spare drive where the cd drive use to be and keep the original HDD as spare storage. I use Macs Fan Control so I'm pretty sure I can control the HDD fan if it just pins to max speed, but still worried non-the-less.


@miron-k The L3426 is very tempting indeed. I don't virtualize anything but I would possibly boot windows through boot camp in the future. Would that have any implications by choosing the L3426?


@nickosouras - The Intel® Xeon® Processor L3426 does not offer the needed graphics engine the iMac's need (as its a server CPU not a workstation).

For reference note the 'Processor Graphics' section here Intel Core i5-680 Processor

The 860S & 870S chips don't offer the needed graphics services as well! Intel Core i7-870S Processor would be the better match. And you are still using a hotter chip than what the system was designed to support! Still not a workable solution.

I'm not worried about the HDD or your SSD temps. I'm more worried about your CPU's temps as well as over stretching the power supply!


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Этот ответ изначально был на другой вопрос.

I have an iMac 2010 21.5 screen with an i3-540 processor, 12GB ram memory, Ati Radeon HD4670 and macOS High Sierra.

I upgraded my CPU to i5-660 3.33Ghz, same TDP, socket, etc. My iMac started fine but everything worked slower, I cannot watch youtube without dropping frames, the same on ZOOM.

I run Geekbench 5 and here are the results

i3-540 Single core 511, Multi core 1122

i5-660 Single core 226, Multi core 519

What did I do wrong?

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It might be because ot the turbo boost support in the i5 the system might not be able to properly handle it,or it could be security instructions of the chip as the i5 has a more extended protocol that the OS might not be able to handle properly besides that it could also be the system thermal throtteling I am experiencing performance drops due to heat related issues as well and I am working with the base model with the i3-540 too


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