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What's the newest processor I can fit in this thing?

I got a used 21.5” 4K 2017 iMac recently, and I popped it open and stuck 32 GB of RAM and an SSD in it. Now I’m wondering - can I upgrade the 3.6GHz Quad Core i7 “Kaby Lake” CPU? It’s a 7th gen and, if possible, I’d like to upgrade it to maybe an 8th or 9th gen i7 with more cores. Which CPUs are possible to upgrade to? I’m running Mojave.

This is one of the processors that interests me: https://www.newegg.com/core-i7-8th-gen-i...

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What SSD did you put in a SATA drive or PCIe/NVMe blade?

If you can put in a 512 GB or 1 TB (large images & video editing) PCIe/NVMe blade drive and set it up as your boot drive holding your app's. Leave the rest of the drive empty! Use your SATA drive SSHD or SSD for your work drive. This is the best config you can do internally.

This might not be possible if your system doesn't have the connector on the logic board. Consider getting an external Thunderbolt 3 RAID'ed SSD drive as your boot drive. that will be faster than your SATA port.


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You cannot install anything newer than a 7th-generation CPU in this model. 8th and 9th generation processors require a Z370 chipset but the logic board in this iMac is a Z170.

Additionally, the TDP of the newer processors is higher than what Apple supports, and typically the EFI on Apple boards locks the device to specific CPUs, so even if they were technically compatible they would most likely not be on Apple’s EFI “whitelist” anyhow.

The best CPU upgrade you’re able to get on this machine is an i7-7700K (I believe you have an i7-7700 currently). The base clock on the 7700K is higher than the 7700, but honestly it’s probably not going to make a huge difference day-to-day (especially with Apple’s lackluster cooling solution). That being said the i7-7700 looks to be going for $200-$250 on eBay and the i7-7700K is around $250-$300, so if you can get a decent deal on buying and selling both and you want to go through a CPU replacement it might be a good deal. No more cores though :(

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