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When an Intel Core 2 Duo X7900 just isn't fast enough: upgrading an iMac to a Penryn CPU

by Tarinder Sandhu on 18 January 2008, 15:10

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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It's Penryn-powered - kind of

We're on the last leg of the adventure now.

With the holding screws removed, the PCB needed to be prised out of position. It cannot be removed completely, however, due to the graphics card's heatsinks, so it's helpful to have someone else hold a portion of the PCB for you.

We kept prising and the PCB gave a little, and that's all we needed. We pulled upwards to gain the first glimpse of the mobile CPU.

Here we go. Like practically all mobile CPU sockets, removing the processor requires one turn of the screw-head. It then pops out and you can install the shiny, new Penryn model.

Here we have the 65nm Merom on the right and a 45nm Q-Spec (qualification) 2.8GHz Penryn (X9000) on the left. Time for a quick change, right?

After fitting the new CPU and making sure that we retraced the steps carefully, therefore working back to the stage where the TFT was removed from the PCB, we didn't have to go all the way back to the original build.

Here is a similar picture to the one on page three, just before the screen was removed. We remembered to attach the three cables that we talked about earlier.

Now was the time to grab those rosary beads, say a prayer or seven, and hope that everything boots up fine. If not, and there may be a multitude of reasons as to why not, we would have gone back and changed the CPU to the original.

Our experiment has worked - kind of. The unlocked-multiplier nature of the Q-Spec X9000 mobile processor means that Mac OSX sees it as a 400MHz CPU, rather than the 2.8GHz it is. We can clearly see that the 6MiB of L2 cache has been correctly identified, however.

Confirming the lowly clock-speed was the built-in benchmark, coming in way below the original Merom 2.4GHz's numbers.

We'll revisit this experiment once we get our hands on an S-Spec (shipping) processor, to see if it can run full-speed in the 965-Express motherboard.

We know that Penryn-based iMacs are coming soon and our foray into upgrading a present model to an X9000 ultimately resulted in failure. Stay tuned when we re-do it with an S-Spec.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on our adventure in the

HEXUS Forums :: 21 Comments

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:o nutz!
now THAT'S a HEXUS style article from heaven….and it brings good echoes of days gone by, when every other thing we did was a mod/overclock/tweak etc


Great great read :)
Upgrade your life Dave, upgrade your life…

Dont you just hate it when that happens!
Must be the EFI/BIOS not recognising the chip properly, right?

Or is the unlocked nature of the chip confusing the board such that it manages to pick the lowest multiplier?