iMac (Early 2009)

Apple has updated the iMac with Nvidia graphics as a standard feature (the Early 2008 iMac used Radeon graphics, although there was an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS build-to-order option for the 24″ model). The low-end iMacs use the same Nvidia GeForce 9400M GPU found in current MacBooks and the new Mac mini, while the high-end iMacs use GeForce GT graphics. (ATI Radeon HD 4850 is a build-to-order option on the high-end iMacs.)

Early 2009 iMac

The March 2009 iMacs have four USB 2.0 ports (one more than before), FireWire 800 (but no longer 400), gigabit ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and an 8x SuperDrive – as well as a slim keyboard with two USB 2.0 ports. They support up to 8 GB of RAM and are the first iMacs to use SATA optical drives.

The 20″ iMac has 2 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, an 8x SuperDrive, Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics, and Apple’s aluminum keyboard and Mighty Mouse. 256 MB of system RAM is dedicated to video. The 24″ 2.66 GHz model includes 4 GB of RAM and a 640 GB hard drive.

The 2.93 GHz iMac replaces integrated 9400M graphics with discrete GeForce GT 120 graphics with 256 MB of dedicated VRAM; this can be replaced by Radeon HD 4850 on a build-to-order basis. The top-end 3.06 GHz iMac has a 1 TB hard drive and GT 130 graphics with 512 MB of VRAM.

The Early 2009 iMacs ship with OS X 10.5.6 Leopard, and they are compatible with OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

Although it is not officially supported, the Early 2009 iMac can run macOS Sierra using Colin Mistr’s Sierra Patch Tool. See our macOS Sierra page for more details and a link.

Note that 20″ aluminum iMacs use an 18-bit LCD, which can only display 262,144 colors, not the “millions” all other iMacs can display. This should be good enough for most users.

Intel-based Macs use a partitioning scheme known as GPT. Only Macintel models can boot from GPT hard drives. Both PowerPC and Intel Macs can boot from APM (Apple’s old partitioning scheme) hard drives, which is the format you must use to create a universal boot drive in Leopard. PowerPC Macs running any version of the Mac OS prior to 10.4.2 cannot mount GPT volumes. PowerPC Macs won’t let you install OS X to a USB drive or choose it as your startup volume, although there is a work around for that.


  • introduced 2009.03.03 at US$1,199 (20″ 2.66 GHz), US$1,499 (24″ 2.66 GHz), US$1,799 (2.93 GHz), and US$2,199 (3.06 GHz); replaced by Late 2009 iMac on 2009.10.20.
  • requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard through 10.11 El Capitan, macOS Sierra via patch tool – see macOS Sierra on Low End Macs. macOS 10.4 Mojave and later are not supported.
  • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility
    • Grand Central Dispatch is supported.
    • 64-bit operation is supported.
    • OpenCL is supported.
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility
    • AirPlay Mirroring is not supported.
    • AirDrop is supported.
    • Power Nap is not supported.
  • CPU: 2.66/2.93/3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Bus: 1066 MHz
  • Performance:
    • Geekbench 2, 32-bit: 4169 (3.06 GHz), 3994 (2.93 GHz), 3684 (2.66 GHz)
    • Geekbench 2, 64-bit: 4650 (3.06 GHz), 4441 (2.93 GHz), 4096 (2.66 GHz)
  • RAM: 2/4 GB, expandable to 8 GB using two 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Graphics, 2.66 GHz: Nvidia GeForce 9400M, used 256 MB of system RAM RAM, supports up to 1920 x 1200 external digital display, 2048 x 1536 analog display, and monitor spanning
  • Graphics, 2.93 GHz: Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 256 MB dedicated VRAM
  • Graphics, 3.06 GHz: Nvidia GeForce GT 130 with 512 MB dedicated VRAM
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4850 build-to-order option
  • Display:
    • 20″ 1680 x 1050 flat panel display (18-bit LCD)
    • 24″ 1920 x 1200 flat panel display
  • Video out: Mini DisplayPort, DVI and VGA with optional adapters
  • L2 cache: 6 MB shared cache on CPU
  • Hard drive bus: 3 Gbps SATA Rev. 2
  • Hard drive: 320/640 GB/1 TB 7200 rpm SATA drive
  • SuperDrive: writes DVD±R, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs at up to 8x speed, DVD-RW at up to 6x; dual layer at up to 4x; reads DVDs at up to 8x, writes CD-R discs at up to 24x, writes CD-RW discs at up to 16x, reads CDs at up to 24x
  • USB: 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • FireWire 400: none
  • FireWire 800: 1 port, 7 Watts
  • Modem: optional 56 kbps USB modem supports v.92
  • Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
  • AirPort Extreme: 802.11n
  • Bluetooth 2.1: included
  • IR receiver: supports Apple Remote (not included)
  • Microphone: internal
  • Power supply: 200W (20″), 248W (24″)
  • H x W x D (20″): 18.5 x 19.1 x 7.4 in/46.9 x 48.5 x 18.9 cm
  • H x W x D (24″): 20.5 x 22.4 x 8.1 in/52.0 x 56.9 x 20.7 cm
  • weight (20″): 20 lb/9.1 kg
  • weight (24″): 25.4 lb/11.4 kg
  • Part no.: MB417 (20″), MB418 (24″ 2.66 GHz), MB419 (2.93 GHz), MB420 (3.2 GHz)
  • Model identifier: iMac9,1

CPU Upgrades

  • none

Online Resources

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