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Old Nov 12, 2006, 12:55 PM   #1
pbmikez
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MacBook Pro Grainy Display

I've posted this in other forums, and attempted to hijack another thread here on this forum with this issue with no luck . Anyway, to the issue.

I just recently received a new 15" Merom Glossy MBP and I would be completely satisfied if it weren't for one serious issue; there's this grain, or noise, all over the screen. It's extremely evident when looking at bright solid colors.

This image was posted on the MacNN forums by TheSpaz who described it as taking a screenshot of your screena nd adding 1% Noise to it (Gaussian and Monochromatic)


I've been attempting to find out some more information concerning this issue, if it's even widespread or not. I haven't found much on websites concerning this issue on macs, it's moreso on the pc side that I've learned much about it.

At first I believed it to be a problem with the LCD Panel. Now, this isn't a matte vs glossy issue here, as the problem affects both types due to matte and glossy simply being the finishes on the same panel. The panel itself was flawed, or so I initially believed. After much reading, I learned that the issue has plagued many PC laptops. It has much to do with the way the dithering works and all the laptops that had this problem all had one thing in common; they had an x1600 as its GPU.

Some of the Mac users using bootcamp have noticed an issue with grain and noise appearing on their displays when loading into Windows XP, and this is due to the way XP dithers to cover all the colors and such. This issue was believed to be only in the XP side of Macs, but it's been plaguing Macs on the OS X side as well. The common ties between the PC laptops and our MBPs are the x1600 GPU, and the possibility of the same faulty LCD Panels. Here's the interesting thing; after much research in the pc community, they've narrowed it down to the GPU rather than the display itself.

When this conclusion was drawn, Ken from GenTech used his Intel contacts to bring this issue to surface. A new VGA BIOS update was given and lo and behold, the grainy/noisy issue was gone. This leads me to believe that this issue can be fixed with an update. Other users have mentioned that this graininess is natural and is due to the anti-glare coating they've placed on these displays but that shouldn't be acceptable.

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These links lead to the threads onto other forums in which they've experienced the same issue we are currently going through now. They're very lengthly so..

Now, I do hope that everything I've typed here is simply referring to a small, bad batch that can be fixed by having the displays replaced but if not, I'd like to get an idea as to who else is having this issue. If we don't say anything, this issue, if it's an issue at all, will not be fixed.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:07 PM   #2
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Of course people looking at this with a MBP might not see anything, because of their screen.

Last edited by Nermal; Nov 17, 2006 at 02:55 AM.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:26 PM   #3
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Of course people looking at this with a MBP might not see anything, because of their screen.
Actually, if you're looking at it with a MBP, as I am, the grain is still visible..
After going through much trouble trying to figure out what the problem may be, I think I'd at least know if an image isn't going to help much.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:33 PM   #4
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Go to System Prefs (Apple Menu) --> Display --> Millions of Colours. Is Millions selected?
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by ChrisG View Post
Go to System Prefs (Apple Menu) --> Display --> Millions of Colours. Is Millions selected?
I guess I should have stated all the things I've done in the previous post. Yes, it's selected. I've tested an external display and it's fine, which is where I narrowed it down more. In those links I provided, there's much detailing and explaining everything but it's very long. Many users have had this issue with the grain and noise and it's not a simple setting fix. The folks at the local Apple store didn't have much to say aside from "it's normal", which it isn't.

edit// I seemed to have forgotten to mention that the grain on the screen is NOT dirt, and IS static.

Last edited by pbmikez; Nov 12, 2006 at 01:47 PM.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:49 PM   #6
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Yup my MBP display seems quite grainy, I have posted on the subject before.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 01:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by pbmikez View Post

edit// I seemed to have forgotten to mention that the grain on the screen is NOT dirt, and IS static.
That explains. Watching DVDs sold by Universal on this machine = extremely poor viewing quality.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 02:08 PM   #8
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So what should be the strategy for this going forward? Should everyone submit a bug report to Apple?
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 02:15 PM   #9
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So what should be the strategy for this going forward? Should everyone submit a bug report to Apple?
Well, I think it's most important to see how many of the users who purchased MBPs and are having this specific problem. From there, we can work to narrow down what may be the problem, though I already have an idea. After that's done, we can all call up and harass Apple and hope for a fix If we can get them to acknowledge this as a problem, maybe we can get somewhere.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 03:12 PM   #10
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FWIW, my C2D MBP (week 44 build/9C60 glossy screen) looks like the Powerbook side of the image posted. The MBP side of the image looks like it has slight horizontal lines in it..my screen doesn't do that. I also compared my screen to my 12" PB 1.5, and they both exhibit a slight speckly effect. My Dell 2005fwp also looks slightly speckly when examined up close. I'm not sure if all LCDs do this, or it's an unacceptable problem.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 03:13 PM   #11
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I have not noticed the "grainy screen" issues with my 15" MBP. Now that I read this thread, I would check up my 15" MBP more closely when I return from my business trip. I am crossing my fingers I am not see that problem with my MBP.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 03:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by miniguu View Post
FWIW, my C2D MBP (week 44 build/9C60 glossy screen) looks like the Powerbook side of the image posted. The MBP side of the image looks like it has slight horizontal lines in it..my screen doesn't do that. I also compared my screen to my 12" PB 1.5, and they both exhibit a slight speckly effect. My Dell 2005fwp also looks slightly speckly when examined up close. I'm not sure if all LCDs do this, or it's an unacceptable problem.
Many LCDs will look a bit 'speckly' if you examine it up close due to the nature of the displays. The issue with the MBPs is when you're viewing it from all angles and distances, it looks grainy, as if there was another layer on top of the screen. I also have a week 44 build and I'm having the problem. If your display doesn't have this problem, with more people giving their feedback, hopefully we'll be able to see if this problem is widespread or is just a small batch of flawed panels. Otherwise, I'll continue to assume it's something that'll be fixed with an update until I speak with the good ol' folks at the Apple store.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 03:56 PM   #13
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I'm on my 15" C2D MBP now, no grain at all.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 04:29 PM   #14
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Is that screenshot really a screenshot, or is he simulating the effect by taking a screenshot and manually adding noise?

It seems to me that if it were IN the real screenshot, it's not the monitor. But if it is just static grain that doesn't get captured into a screenshot, it is the monitor.

All that said, my Apple Cinema Display has this 'static' grain as well. I do beliveve it is the anti-glare coating. When I first got it, I was coming from CRTs, so when I saw the grain I was a bit upset. Honestly, I do not notice it anymore. You have to be looking pretty closely to see it anyway.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 04:52 PM   #15
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my question is: how do you even tell? I mean i can see the difference in the "screenshot", and the g4 one looks fine to me. I plugged an external Samsung CRT and all i can say is that the crt doesnt come close to the clarity or brightness of the lcd, so i cant really see it. When i get a chance with my university's Dell LCDs, i'll plug it in and see.

if i look really really closely and move a window i can see the finish of the display. (I have a matte). Only glossy screens can really confirm this.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 05:41 PM   #16
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I haven't really had the issue you describe, but I have noticed an interested trend with these complaints. It seems the people who do a lot of photo work (those who mention things like "1% Noise" and "Gaussian") seem to be the ones complaining about the MacBook screen (whether it be "uneven lighting", "graininess", etc). Everyone else, like me, looks at the screenshots like the ones you posted and doesn't see a difference.

Now, I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement, and from what you describe the graininess you see (I don't see anything) could be corrected with a firmware update. I'm also not a Mac apologist (I work primarily with PCs). But coming from the PC world, my new MacBook Pro C2D probably has the *least* problems I've ever had with a laptop, including the screen. I've seen machines with terrible screens (My last laptop had one -- Inspiron 9300 from 2005. You haven't seen brightness issues until you looked at this thing). When people talk about uneven lighting or graininess, I kind of look at my new MacBook and shrug. Just can't see it.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 05:53 PM   #17
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The grain problem is clear as day if you compare on old PowerBook or new MacBook display next to a MacBook Pro display. If you cannot see it then all I can say is ignorance is bliss for you!

It's the first thing I noticed with my old 15" MacBook Pro Core Duo. All the MBPs I've seen, including new Core 2 Duo models, have this problem so I believe it's endemic.

What gives me hope is that it looks like a driver/firmware issue with the X1600 GPU, whereas previously I was under the impression it was the physical screen itself.

I really think Apple need to be told en mass about this so they act to solve the issue like other manufacturers have done.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 06:18 PM   #18
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Apple need to be told en mass about this.
Let's do it. http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbookpro.html
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 06:36 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by drlunanerd View Post
The grain problem is clear as day if you compare on old PowerBook or new MacBook display next to a MacBook Pro display. If you cannot see it then all I can say is ignorance is bliss for you!
I'm really not trying to be offensive, but comparing my old Rev D 12" PB and my new C2D MBP, I don't see any difference grain-wise. If anything, the PB screen looks ever so slightly grainer.
I mean... it is a possibility that some MBP screens just don't have the grainy problem.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 06:54 PM   #20
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Hm, well I saw the noise as soon as I got my MBP, but my fiance convinced me I was seeing things. I still see it now, but only if I really look for it.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 07:17 PM   #21
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well darn, now im gonna notice this and its gonna piss me off forever. i shouldve just waited for the Merom Macbook. My computer hasn't arrived yet, but it's a BTO (glossy) 2.16 (everything else stock). If I see this, are there any grounds upon which is can be returned? If they try to fix it, since its apparently a software problem, nothing will be done, right? Augh, I've always heard so much about how apple makes such wonderful products, and that's why people keep coming back to buy, but with this standard, i'm beginning to second guess my decision to switch. At least on my POS, 993 MHz, 232 MB RAM, 10" sharp laptop, the picture is clear (granted i can't watch movies, program, edit film, edit pictures, 3-D model, etc. on it). This is just a pain. So now I have a grainy screen to look forward to...
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 07:27 PM   #22
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it is a possibility that some MBP screens just don't have the grainy problem.
If this is like the "horizontal line issue" that the last generation of G4 15" PowerBooks had, then it will be an issue that effects all of them, but some users will be bothered by it and some users won't even notice it.

It took Apple about 4 months to deal with that issue. The solution ended up being replacing the LCD with an LCD from another manufacturer.

Since a BIOS update solved this problem on other systems, hopefully nobody will have to ship their new C2D MBPs back to Apple.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 07:43 PM   #23
pbmikez
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Is that screenshot really a screenshot, or is he simulating the effect by taking a screenshot and manually adding noise?

It seems to me that if it were IN the real screenshot, it's not the monitor. But if it is just static grain that doesn't get captured into a screenshot, it is the monitor.

All that said, my Apple Cinema Display has this 'static' grain as well. I do beliveve it is the anti-glare coating. When I first got it, I was coming from CRTs, so when I saw the grain I was a bit upset. Honestly, I do not notice it anymore. You have to be looking pretty closely to see it anyway.
The screenshot is simulated. As for the anti-glare coating, the regular MacBooks don't have this issue with the screens and they're extremely crisp and clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentCrs View Post
I haven't really had the issue you describe, but I have noticed an interested trend with these complaints. It seems the people who do a lot of photo work (those who mention things like "1% Noise" and "Gaussian") seem to be the ones complaining about the MacBook screen (whether it be "uneven lighting", "graininess", etc). Everyone else, like me, looks at the screenshots like the ones you posted and doesn't see a difference.
While I do much graphical work, I have my desktop with my big ol' CRT. I only mentioned that 1% noise and gaussian setting there just incase anyone watned to know how I went and recreated the image.
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 07:44 PM   #24
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If this is like the "horizontal line issue" that the last generation of G4 15" PowerBooks had, then it will be an issue that effects all of them, but some users will be bothered by it and some users won't even notice it.

It took Apple about 4 months to deal with that issue. The solution ended up being replacing the LCD with an LCD from another manufacturer.

Since a BIOS update solved this problem on other systems, hopefully nobody will have to ship their new C2D MBPs back to Apple.
With the issue you're mentioning with the horizontal line, did Apple replace the panels on those who previously bought the systems or did they just sell new notebooks with the newer panels?
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Old Nov 12, 2006, 08:09 PM   #25
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With the issue you're mentioning with the horizontal line, did Apple replace the panels on those who previously bought the systems or did they just sell new notebooks with the newer panels?
The horizontal line issue was quite well publicised. Cnet even ran an article all about it. If Apple were to take an action for the current lot of displays something like that would have to happen again. Considering Apple has been selling these displays since January such a recall is going to cost them billions, so I am sure they will just quietly stifle anyone who tried to publicise it.
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