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I've searched through the site but it seems nobody asked this.

Basically, my question is: When ordering a new 21.5" iMac, is it possible to choose a different graphics card other than the listed ones?

Now, online this is impossible (as far as I can see), but maybe I'm missing something? What about ordering it at some Apple Store and not online?

Please note that I'm aware that you cannot change your card after the purchasing. I'm asking whether it's possible when ordering the iMac.

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No you are correct there are no upgrade options available for the 21.5" iMacs (Mid-2011). Yes, you are stuck with what comes in each of the two 21.5" models available. Your eyes are not deceiving you on the iMac Specs, what you see is what you get no exceptions.

You graphics card options are:

  1. Buy the 21.5-inch: 2.5GHz model and get the AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 512MB
  2. Buy the 21.5-inch: 2.7GHz model and get the AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 512MB

According to MacWorld's article / review "21.5- and 27-inch iMacs (Mid 2011)"

Macworlds Graphics Card Compaison for imacs mid 2011

So in reality you have two options, and its all in which machine you buy. If all you want is a graphics boot, your going to have to pay the premium to upgrade all the other components too, unfortunately there is no way around it, other than letting apple know you want options, give them some feedback stating so.

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Currently with the 21.5" iMac, the only choice you have is between the base model with the 6750M, and the higher end configuration with the 6770M.

iMac's don't use standard PCIe expansion slot graphics cards like a desktop computer, but rather custom packages integrated onto the motherboard, like a laptop. This is necessary due to the space and thermal requirements of the iMac enclosure (as is the case for all Macs except the Mac Pro).

Apple typically chooses one or two GPUs per model for cost and supply chain purposes. In case of the current model iMac, the options are an Radeon 6750M in the low end 21.5", 6770M in the high end 21.5" and low end 27", and the 6970M in the high end 27" (with an optional upgrade to 2GB of graphics memory).

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  • So only the Mac Pro (and the 27" iMac up to a certain extent) is "customizable" in that sense?
    – Alenanno
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:57
  • Yes, I edited my answer to clarify what the current options are.
    – robmathers
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:59
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Yes. Looking at the iMac Tech Specs page, you can upgrade the graphics card ONLY on the top of the line 27" model. All others have only a single available card.

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  • Ah, ops, I meant the 21,5 inch sorry. Perhaps I should edit my question. You can change your answer accordingly (i.e. starting with No instead ahah).
    – Alenanno
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:56
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In a 21.5 Mid 2011 iMac the GPU is not integrated onto the motherboard but it's true that you can't upgrade the 6570M/6770M to 6970M because of internal space - the 6970M is half an inch bigger than the 6570M/6770M (heat sink also). So, if you have now a 6570M your only option to upgrade it is 6770M.

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