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Old Sep 16, 2013, 08:22 PM   #1
The Rain Man
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Macbook Air - Best & Most Compatible External Display

Hi all,

I'm pretty new to Mac as I've been a windows user all my life but decided to take the switch, listening to all the positive reviews by my friends and family members alike. So, I'll be getting my first MacBook Air 13" today and I'm pretty darned excited about it.

The problem I have is that for my scope of work, a 13" laptop would be too small for my daily needs and instead of having a separate CPU at home.. I was thinking of getting an external display and linking it up with my MBA. However, the 27" Apple Thunderbolt display is a little out of my budget and well.. a little too big for my comfort.

I'm not really good with computer configurations but I just wanted to ask you guys if there were any good external monitors (Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc) that you would recommend for a MBA. I'm looking at getting a 20" or so external monitor but am just worried about it's compatibility with a Macbook.

Thanks again in advance and I really appreciate all the help guys
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 12:41 AM   #2
Miat
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I have a 2012 13" Air, 4GB RAM. Works fine with a 27" Dell U2713H 'PremierColor' monitor. There is a 24" version.

Be careful with the lower quality end of Dell monitor range, they often have problems with excessive backlight bleed. The higher end 'PremierColor' series are much less affected, far as I can tell, mine is fine.

I think all the 'PremierColor' monitors have a Display Port connection, and come with a Display Port to Mini-Display Port cable, so they can plug straight into a ThunderBolt port. Not all 3rd party versions of that cable work so well.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 02:03 AM   #3
Woyzeck
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I recommend one of the Dell Ultrasharp displays. They're available in different sizes and the 27" models cost about 2/3 of the Thunderbolt display, while at the same time being more useful with other devices (don't forget that you can use the Thunderbolt display with Apple computers only).

The display quality is on-par with the Thunderbolt display, if not even better.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 05:53 AM   #4
Miat
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Quote:
The display quality is on-par with the Thunderbolt display, if not even better.
The U2713H has a beautiful picture, very happy with it. It also has a great anti-glare coating, best I have seen.

Got mine on sale for 30% off, direct from Dell, delivered to my doorstep.
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Old Sep 17, 2013, 07:27 AM   #5
Boyd01
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Just about any monitor should be compatible if you have the correct adaptor. I've been using an 23" Apple Cinema HD Display that I originally bought for my PowerMac G5 back around 2004. Still looks great. All I needed was a miniDisplayPort to DVI adapter that I got at Best Buy.
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 03:57 AM   #6
catalyst07
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These are the same displays as the Apple thunderbolt for ~$300

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Perfect-Pixe...item337ed014b1


I have one and have used it daily for over a year now with my mackbook air 11" and it's awesome.
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 10:47 AM   #7
boycecodd
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I use a Dell Ultrasharp U2412M, which is the 24" equivalent of the 27" listed (I have a small desk!). The picture is frankly beautiful using a DisplayPort cable (VGA was also good enough while waiting for the cable to turn up)

I find the Wirecutter good for weighing up this kind of decision (and in fact how I ended up with the Dell):

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/del...-best-monitor/
http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/a-g...h-lcd-monitor/
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 08:22 PM   #8
The Rain Man
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Thanks for all the recommendations guys, I really appreciate it! After reading through numerous reviews and suggestions.. I've decided to go with the Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM as it was the most affordable monitor, at least to me.

Now the only issue that I'm having is whether to get a Mini-DP to DVI or Mini-DP to VGA to ensure the best performance. I'm not sure on the difference between DVI and VGA.
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Old Sep 18, 2013, 08:31 PM   #9
ItHurtsWhenIP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rain Man View Post
Thanks for all the recommendations guys, I really appreciate it! After reading through numerous reviews and suggestions.. I've decided to go with the Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM as it was the most affordable monitor, at least to me.

Now the only issue that I'm having is whether to get a Mini-DP to DVI or Mini-DP to VGA to ensure the best performance. I'm not sure on the difference between DVI and VGA.
You want DVI..
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 01:47 AM   #10
HarryWarden
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I'm surprised that so many people buy displays for their laptops. I thought the point of a laptop was its portability, that it isn't tied to a desk and monitor/display. I use mine all around the house and occasionally at the local coffee shop.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 06:51 AM   #11
zipur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryWarden View Post
I'm surprised that so many people buy displays for their laptops. I thought the point of a laptop was its portability, that it isn't tied to a desk and monitor/display. I use mine all around the house and occasionally at the local coffee shop.

Best of both worlds. For example there are times when I want a number pad.
So using a full size keyboard and mouse on my desk it's great. Also it's enjoyable to have a BIG screen to browse the web or just sit and watch a movie/game. Yes bigger is better.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 08:34 AM   #12
HarryWarden
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Best of both worlds. For example there are times when I want a number pad.
So using a full size keyboard and mouse on my desk it's great. Also it's enjoyable to have a BIG screen to browse the web or just sit and watch a movie/game. Yes bigger is better.
I use mine to watch a movie sometimes as well. Hook it up to my Sony Bravia TV for that as at 40 inches, that's bigger than most monitors.
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Old Sep 19, 2013, 08:40 AM   #13
Boyd01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryWarden View Post
I thought the point of a laptop was its portability, that it isn't tied to a desk and monitor/display.
It isn't *tied" to a desk, I can still use my MBA anywhere I want. But it's powerful enough to be my primary computer and I don't want to be limited by the small screen and keyboard.

Either you have enough money to buy a separate desktop and laptop machine, or you just don't use professional software that requires a large screen to be productive. Vectorworks, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro can all be used on my 11" MBA, but they work a lot better on a big screen.
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Old Sep 24, 2013, 11:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryWarden View Post
I'm surprised that so many people buy displays for their laptops. I thought the point of a laptop was its portability, that it isn't tied to a desk and monitor/display. I use mine all around the house and occasionally at the local coffee shop.
Some people require external displays and a keyboard/mouse to do their real work, but still need the ability to take the machine (and their work) with them on the go.
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Old Oct 19, 2013, 10:10 AM   #15
teffers
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Sorry to resurrect and older thread but I'm considering a new monitor and had a question about connectors:

I have a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable I've just bought - would that be just as good as the DVI connector, or is there an advantage of using the DVI ?
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 01:18 AM   #16
Hog Milanese
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I'm using a 23" LG monitor with 1080p resolution (IPS/LED), connected with my Mid-2012 Air 13.3" by an HDMI-to-MiniDisplayPort cable, and the performance is abysmal.

Lots of lag, the fans turn on frequently, especially if watching Netflix on one screen or the other.

If you use clamshell mode, the lag on mouse is unbearable, so you have to leave it open, and mirror displays and dim the laptop's display.

Not a fan. The Air is really underpowered when powering another display.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 01:32 AM   #17
psingh01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teffers View Post
Sorry to resurrect and older thread but I'm considering a new monitor and had a question about connectors:

I have a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable I've just bought - would that be just as good as the DVI connector, or is there an advantage of using the DVI ?
I can't say about advantage/disadvantages, if it works that's all that should matter! I have a Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP. I tried using Apple's mini-display port to DVI adapter and couldn't get a signal to the monitor. Fortunately the monitor has multiple ports, one being a display port. So for $6 I got a mini-displayport to displayport cable from monoprice.com. Tried it and it works like a charm.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 02:30 AM   #18
cerberusss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teffers View Post
I have a Thunderbolt to HDMI cable I've just bought - would that be just as good as the DVI connector
I found the following, related to the Intel HD4000 chipset that the MBA 2012 has:
"Intel graphics does not support dual-link, therefore 1920x1200 is the maximum for DVI and HDMI, 2560x1440 is only possible with a displayport port"
(source: https://communities.intel.com/message/189170)

So it seems there's no difference between thunderbolt-to-DVI and thunderbolt-to-HDMI.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 06:59 AM   #19
teffers
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Thanks guys, that helps :-)

Now to find a monitor a newer monitor.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 07:43 AM   #20
oaltun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cerberusss View Post
I found the following, related to the Intel HD4000 chipset that the MBA 2012 has:
"Intel graphics does not support dual-link, therefore 1920x1200 is the maximum for DVI and HDMI, 2560x1440 is only possible with a displayport port"
(source: https://communities.intel.com/message/189170)

So it seems there's no difference between thunderbolt-to-DVI and thunderbolt-to-HDMI.
To plug a 2560x1440 (27'' or above) monitor, you would need a Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter. Which means it will occupy both a usb and thunderbolt port. This is precisely the reason I'm thinking about selling my superb Samsung IPS monitor to buy a thunderbolt Apple monitor. It occupies too many ports, it's a hassle every time to plug in and out, and half of the time you have a snowy screen, so you would need to turn off & on until you get a clear screen.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 08:49 AM   #21
Redbull916
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I use a 42" Samsung 1080p LED TV linked via VGA adapter.

I did use it in clamshell mode because of the issues with the inability to use full screen apps in dual screen mode, but now I'm on mavericks this has been addressed.
There's no lag and it works great.
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Old Oct 29, 2013, 02:03 PM   #22
McSh5
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I just got a 27" 2650x1440 monitor yesterday and hooked it up to my 2011 MBA (Intel 3000) directly via Displayport.

It looks beautiful. However, there does seem to be some serious occasional lag going on. Windowserver is idling at 6% and pegs up near 30% when moving and opening windows.

Is my MBA choking trying to draw such a high resolution? Anything I can do to help?
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