Installing Windows Vista 64-bit on an iMac

I am surprised to discover that 64-bit Windows Vista is not supported on the latest iMacs. The hardware to support it is all there and it even runs on the Mac Pros and MacBook Pros so I would have thought the same would apply to the iMac, but alas this is not the case. There is one very big reason to use the 64-bit version over 32-bit: memory. The 32-bit version of Windows Vista supports a maximum of 4GB of RAM but it will not fully utilize it. Mark Russinovich from Sysinternals explains the reason for this on his blog. Basically, with a 512MB Video card that would leave me with 3.5GB of usable RAM at most.

After quite a bit of research and trial and error I was finally able to get 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate running on my iMac. So, without further ado, here’s how.

Getting the drivers

You can go ahead and partition your hard drive with the Boot Camp Assistant and perform the installation normally. The trouble comes after you have booted into Windows and are trying to install the drivers. The iMac installation DVD does not come with 64-bit drivers so you will need to obtain them from a Mac Pro disc. Fortunately, someone has already uploaded these to rapidshare: Part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. You will also need to download the Network Controller drivers for Windows Vista x64 (64-bit) from Marvell. Extract the Boot Camp Drivers and burn the contents along with the Network drivers to a CD/DVD (flash drive will work too).

Installing the drivers

First, install the Boot Camp Software by running BootCamp64, located in the Drivers > Apple folder. News, install the network adapter driver you downloaded from Marvell. Finally, wire up so that you can access the internet and run the Apple software update program to get the Boot Camp 2.1 drivers.

If your iMac was similar to mine all that’s left is the wireless network adapter. Surprisingly, Windows can find and install that one for you—just wire up, head to device manager, and Update Driver Software. Once everything is taken care of you can run the Windows Experience test to activate the aero glass theme.

Other notes (and problems)

Cutting edge video drivers—while I found the drivers on the Mac Pro disc satisfactory (index score of 5.8), you may like to try the latest drivers to see if you can milk anything more out of your card. The generic nvidia drivers will not install without tweaking the INF file, so LaptopVideo2Go is your best bet.

Audio playback glitches—you may notice that during audio playback the sound pops or crackles. It appears that the Broadcom 802.11 wireless card is to blame. If you disable that device your sound problems should go away. I tried every compatible driver I could get my hands on to solve the problem, even those from Dell and HP. Some reduced the effect but the pops were still annoyingly noticeable. Fortunately the Marvell controller does not have the same negative side effect.

Elgato EyeTV—drivers for the Hauppage WinTV-HVR worked to enable digital reception with my Elgato EyeTV for use in Media Center. I don’t remember the exact one I downloaded but I’m pretty confident it was the 950 (not 950Q).

Play Time

Hopefully I’ve been able to provide enough information for you to get Windows running on your own iMac. Now it’s time to try out some of those games that you can only get on the Windows Platform. Microsoft Flight Simulator X is one of my favorites.

Please share any additional information or solutions for some of the problems if your run across something.

35 comments… add one
  • AL Jan 30, 2011 Link Reply

    Hey, is there any way to update links? I am really struggling to get installed on mac mini 2010 model xp 64 bit…
    Thanks mate

    • Jon Stacey Jan 30, 2011 Link Reply

      AL, I don’t have any updated links on hand. The last time I needed the bootcamp drivers I found them on Bittorrent. If you have the official bootcamp drivers package from the disc and you’re running into the 64-bit is not supported error messages, then try this. Open cmd (on Windows) as administrator. This specific step might not be needed on XP. Then run the bootcamp installer from there. That seems to bypass the compatibility check.

  • William Ketchersid Oct 1, 2010 Link Reply

    can you guys help me i’m considering installing vista x64 on a late 2009/2010 model 2.88 ghz quad core will windows x64 bit work for me or do i need to download and install addition drivers to make it work for me the 32 bit one works great for AoC except for some out of memory errors etc.

  • Rob Feb 19, 2010 Link Reply

    The Rapidshare links didn’t work for me. I have the imac 24″ white right before they came out with the imac that is black and silver. I managed to get windows 7 ultimate 64 bit on it, the sound and wireless mac keyboard and mouse works. The video driver seems to work great, but I can’t get the bluetooth, or the eject and volume control buttons nore the webcame to work on it. I downloaded bootcamp 2.0 it didnt seem to do anything tried upgrading to bootcamp 2.1 but it just acts like it going to run the program then it just stops… I have the install disk with leopard that is made for any mac and it has boot camp but no 64 bit drivers. 🙁

  • Jarrod Oct 22, 2009 Link Reply

    Okay so I feel like banging my head on this keyboard here. 2009 Release 2.93ghz iMac 24″; OSX Snow Leopard, Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit edition. Windows loaded fine, beautifully in fact – the issue is the same as above; “BootCamp x64 is not compatible with this computer model”. So I installed the drivers manually and everything in windows was remarkable (thank you thank you thank you!). However, I could not get the BCUpdateVista64.exe to do anything at all. Vista asks me if I want to allow the program to load, I click “allow”, and…nothing. No control panel, no system tray icon, nothing. As long as I am running Vista, and do not shut down, the computer is fast, accurate and flawless. The issue is – when I reboot, restart, shut down, switch to Mac OSX – I cannot get back into Windows AT ALL. Black screen, 10 minutes… nothing. I called AppleCare Support and the gentleman I spoke with says that Vista 64 is not compatible with this iMac. I explained that I was running Vista perfectly fine, had even loaded games / programs, was surfing the web at lightning speed, had a crisp screen… and he simply repeated that “Vista 64 does not work on the 2009 iMac”. At this point I dont know what to do. Please help!

    • James Oct 22, 2009 Link Reply

      I had the same issue and had to resort to using my late-2008 MacBook Pro disk for the drivers. I couldn’t boot into Mac OS X once I was in windows.

      First question, are you using a Mac wired keyboard? The bluetooth keyboard, for one reason or another, won’t send the X key to the Mac to boot into OS X, nor the option key (to select a boot device. A windows keyboard, unfortunately, won’t work. if you don’t have one, see if someone will swap their wired keyboard with your bluetooth one so you can get this done.

      Second, the macbook pro disks. I basically had to start from scratch and redo the boot camp install once I could get back into mac OS X (by having a windows keyboard). I used the MBPro OS X disk and was able to get boot camp working with vista home premium x64. I did have to install the 64 bit drivers from the iMac disk manually vs. from the MBpro disk.

  • Mark Matthews Sep 12, 2009 Link Reply

    Windows SEVEN – 64 bit iMac… SUCCESS!!!

    Brand new iMac 2.93 upgraded to snow leopard,
    Windows 7 (I am a developer with an MSDN subscription so I can download ahead of retail release).

    I followed the above instructions. Additional comments
    In windows, bootcamp did fail with the “Can’t install 64bit on this computer”, and I used K Ds suggestion of “The files are on the disk, run directly as administrator”
    (incidentally, to do this… in windows search on cmd, when it comes up right-click and select “run as administrator”

    All drivers loaded except iSight camera (expected)
    I have an nVidia vid card… and I did notice bootcamp install processing ATI drivers… and expected the worse… but when everything rebooted I had full glorious 1920×1200 resolution.!!

    I am new to iMac… and I tested this enough to switch back and forth to make sure the process was clean.

    NOT ONE ERROR, ISSUE… nada… everything worked.

    I am going to do a Windows Update, and then Parallels 4.0 is next!

    I havent checked wi-fi speed yet.. or other performance issues.
    Was so glad to see this work I wanted to get a post out!

  • brian Aug 30, 2009 Link Reply

    FINALLY! After hours and hours of research, finally did it. After installing vista 64, eject the vista dvd(obv) and insert the mac osx disc. DO NOT RUN IN SETUP. Instead, open to view files and click on bootcamp folder. There you will find ALL the drivers. Install all the drivers manually one by one…


  • James Aug 25, 2009 Link Reply

    I’ve had no luck with a 24″ iMac trying to get OS X to boot after installing Vista x64.

    The keyboard is the Apple wireless bluetooth and my windows keyboard is USB wireless. Although both work after boot, holding down the option key (or Alt, or Command, Control, etc.) is effectively ignored. So is X and also C. The other issue is that the BC control panel app tells me I don’t have privileges to change the startup disk. I’m logged in as an Admin and have also enabled the Admin account and logged in as the “Administrator” (both give this warning).

    I had two errors during the BC windows drivers install. First was KeyAgent, second was Apple (Mac) HAL. I clicked on ignore to continue the process, kybdmr.exe won’t run either.

    I’ve tried reinstalling with no luck, and have tried installing the 2.1 update from the apple site (dated April 08) and from the OS X CD. Same issue occurs on both. Apple says “sorry, iMac isn’t a supported platform for Vista x64 via bootcamp”.

    The BC install is version 2.1 (1539?). I happen to have a MacBook Pro and am going to try the late 2008 BC install from there, I believe it’s 2.01. I will also try refit.

    Any other ideas?

    • James Aug 28, 2009 Link Reply

      Got it working now after a full reinstall of Vista x64. This time I used the MB Pro disks and they worked perfectly. What’s strange is that both the imac and MBPro BC versions were the same version number. But something on the MBPro disks was different, because I didn’t get the HAL error or the key error. I did need to update/install the networking and the nvidia drivers from the iMac disk. I was able to launch the x64 driver for networking, but had to use the regular setup driver for nvidia. When I tried the x64 it told me that there wasn’t a supported version.

      One final pointer. I had to use a wired apple keyboard and a wired mouse (any brand), especially during the windows install.

  • Min Aug 22, 2009 Link Reply

    so that means the problems with windows 64 bits in a imac are over..
    i wonder if i can run the 3d studio max 2009 64 bits in my new imac. i sure hope so

  • Jon Stacey Aug 21, 2009 Link Reply

    I just installed Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit) and everything worked out of the box with the exception of the Mac keyboard shortcuts and the builtin iSight. I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Hakim Jul 21, 2009 Link Reply

    I have an 24″ iMac 3,06GHz from Oct. 2008 with 4GB. I just installed Vista Home Premium 64bit on it. The 64bit drivers where all on my install discs that came with my iMac.

    I installed the drivers individually and it works just fine. The only thing that doesn’t work is Apple functions on my keyboard; such as ejecting the disc (this has to be done by right clicking on the drive in the “Computer” window. Also installing the 64bit Boot Camp was not possible. It doesn’t matter much. You can always just hold the alt key when booting and voilà.

    I’m running Flight Simulator X from it now and it works well. Even my Wilco 737PIC add-on works, which I could never get to work on Vista 64bit on my former PC.

  • Rob Jul 13, 2009 Link Reply

    I’ve a 3Ghz 24 inch iMac and cannot get it to work with Vista 64 bit. I’ve the same problem as eidetic with the network driver. Tried BC 2.1 update, didn’t help; tried to download drivers from Marvell, no luck either; I guess the 2009 models just don’t work

    • Robert Rouse Jul 25, 2009 Link Reply

      For anyone who comes across this, I bought an iMac 2.93 4GB machine today. The network in Windows Vista x64 worked once I installed the nvidia chipset drivers.

      • eidetic Jul 26, 2009 Link Reply

        Where did you install the nvidia drivers from?

      • brian Aug 30, 2009 Link Reply

        Robert Rouse, where did you get the chipset driver for network?> I have the graphics and audio drivers installed on my 20″ early 2009 imac running vista 64bit, just need the network drivers

        • brian Aug 30, 2009 Link

          ok, got it got it…. After hours and hours of research

        • elfe2000 Sep 10, 2009 Link

          hey guys,

          just download the nforce drivers from apple uses a nforce 730i chipset

  • eidetic Jul 8, 2009 Link Reply

    I’m having trouble with this on an early 2009 24″ imac. I have installed the latest Vista x64 bootcamp drivers, but despite downloading and installing the specified Marvell drivers, I can’t get the network controller to work, so can’t get online. Is it a different ethernet controller in the 2009 imac, and if so, does anyone know what it is? or is there another suggested workaround to be able to get online so that Vista can find the required drivers? Any help much appreciated

  • Jon Stacey Jun 15, 2009 Link Reply

    Thanks for the update Ash Man 🙂

  • The Ash Man Jun 15, 2009 Link Reply

    This does not work for Windows 7 x64 release candidate on my “Early 2009” iMac (3.06 Ghz, ATI 4850). The x64 msi installer get’s most of the way through the install, but chokes with a couple of warnings at the end about 2 drivers that aren’t signed and 2 services that fail to start.. On reboot I get nothing but blue screen and failure to repair startup. I believe it is the 64 bit Kernel Patch Protection in Windows, which is supposed to be unbootable if there are unsigned drivers. I will report back if I find anything out.

    • Dan Jun 16, 2009 Link Reply

      Ashman, I have the same configuration as you and i I had a problem like that when i tried to install Vista x64, but Windows 7 RC x64 was a breeze, how odd.

    • Jucardi Aug 2, 2009 Link Reply

      I have the same problem, though I’m able to have everything working perfectly. The problem you’re having is with the ATI drivers, for some reason the ones that are in the Mac OS X cd make windows crash and get the blue screen, but if you update them with the windows update, the problem gets fixed.

      Now my problem is this… Since I’m not able to get throught the end of the Boot Camp x64 setup, the Boot Camp software doesn’t get installed, so I can’t control the brightness in my screen, I can’t control the volume with the keyboard, and to eject disks I have to right click on the cdrom drive and click on eject instead of using the button on the keyboard.

      Anyone knows how to manually install the KbdMgr (the boot cap utility for windows)?

  • Jon Stacey Mar 30, 2009 Link Reply

    In the past, the standard Nvidia drivers would not install on the iMac. The INF file would need to be modified so that the installer would accept the Apple hardware. That’s where LaptopVideo2Go comes in. They provide the modified INF files for a substantial amount of unsupported hardware. This is of course assuming that you’re iMac has an Nvidia graphics card.

    Nvidia started releasing drivers for notebooks through their website, so I don’t know if this is still the case.

    • jimmy May 22, 2009 Link Reply

      What about the ATI 4850 on the new Imac… Are there driver issues? I am very interested in purchasing a new imac, but want to run 64 bit vista.

      Any news on that wireless network issue?

      • Jon Stacey May 22, 2009 Link Reply

        jimmy, I haven’t heard if the ATI driven iMacs have the same problem. I also can’t say because the iMac I have uses an Nvidia card. The only reason I boot into Windows now days is for Flight Simulator and I don’t notice the sound issues using a USB driven sound system.

        Technically only a few versions of the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro officially support Vista 64-bit. If you don’t need the gaming performance of a native install then I would suggest simply using a virtual machine.

        • jimmy Jun 2, 2009 Link

          i would use this for gaming. Spoke to a guy in the local imac store, and he was saying that supposedly snow leapord when it gets released will have more support for windows compatibility. Though that won’t likely be until the end of summer, quite possible later than that. I probably won’t be buying until then anyway. Maybe ill wait and see i guess.

        • Dan Jun 8, 2009 Link

          Hi Jimmy, if it’s any use to you, I have been gaming on an ATI Imac with Windows 7 RC 64bit with no issues at all, playing Crysis on near maximum settings and 2xAA. No sound problems either with the Realtek HD audio codecs driver R2.26. Wireless connection is fast once BT 2.1 has updated. Only real problem i had was getting bluetooth keyboard and mouse to connect, managed it, but was difficult.

  • Alan Mar 30, 2009 Link Reply

    What exactly do you mod to get the cutting edge video drivers to work?

  • Gabor Dec 28, 2008 Link Reply

    Great post on the topic!

    Has any found a solution for the slow 802.11n wireless connection without needing to buy an external network adapter?


  • Alain Dec 6, 2008 Link Reply

    Thanks , work great for me with Vista Ultimate X64. on a Imac 20″ core2 @ 2.0Ghz with 4gb of RAM
    the only problem you will find is the speed of your wireless connection…
    If you install Vista X64 run a broadband speed test!…
    I had to install a USB wifi N card (belkin) and the problem was solved.

  • Jon Stacey Dec 2, 2008 Link Reply

    Thanks for the heads up on the links, they have been fixed.

    That’s good to hear that some workable drivers are included on the CD now. What is the installation disc version number? The one I used when writing the article was version 1.1 from around June.

    Also, did the CD come with wifi drivers? And does it still cause the audio glitch problems?

  • K D Dec 2, 2008 Link Reply

    Further note; I didn’t have to download the drivers from rapidshare; the imac supplied MAC OS install seemed to have most of the x64 drivers now (except the marvel).

  • K D Dec 2, 2008 Link Reply

    “bootcamp x64 is unsupported on this computer model” will result if you run the “Boot Camp\setup.exe” on the MAC OS install disks that come with the IMAC.

    However, if you run the “Boot Camp\drivers\apple\BootCamp64.msi” file directly as system administrator (use an elevated CMD line window to start bootcamp64.msi), you may have more success (I did using Vista X64 and a IMAC 2.66 core 2 duo just purchased today).

    P.S. You have some typos in your link to rapidshare

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