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13" mid 2012 MacBook Pro - SUPRISE!! It's actually a retina display!!!

DouglasCarroll

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 27, 2016
84
56
Hey everyone,

Something I discovered today. I have a "Mid 2012 13" MacBook Pro" Model 9,2...you know it's NOT a retina display..supposed to only support up to 1280 x 800 native. Well, today I wanted to run a resolution switching app to let me quickly switch resolutions so I downloaded this here...


...and installed it and after running it....SUPRISE..my monitor actually supports up to 2560 x 1600!! And YES, i've switched all the way up to this resolution and it works no problem. What the hell?? Everything everywhere claims that the mid 2012 is only a 1280 x 800 display but apparently this isn't true. I tried the same Resolution Menu program on my Sons 2008 Aluminum MacBook and also my Wifes mid 2009 MacBook Pro and both of their machines only show the standard maximum 1280 x 800 maximum resolution.

So anyways, moral of the story...if you have a 2012 MacBook Pro you might actually have a higher resolution display that you think, check it out!

Incidentally, I am now running my machine in 1440 x 900 all the time as my old eyes don't like anything higher on this 13" screen but I really appreciate the little bit higher resolution over what Apple "claims" we have.

:)

Here's a screenshot of the "About this mac" showing my NON-Retina Mid 2012 MacBook Pro, the Apple Displays Preferences showing a maximum of 1280 x 800 and then the third party preference app (link above) showing the "true" resolutions of the screen, and the laptop screen in it's maximum of 2560 x 1600!!!

Pretty Sweet!


Mid 2012 MacBook Pro NON Retina.png
 
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justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
129
47
Your display is only 1280x800, that is its native resolution. The program you downloaded relies on interpolation to "create" the pixels to get the higher resolutions. The interpolated resolution is not as sharp as the native resolution but can look quite nice. I have been running SwitchResX for some time at 1680x1050 on my mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13. Anything higher is too much for my eyes with long term use. It supports it up to 2560x1600 because the gpu will on an external monitor.
 
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DouglasCarroll

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 27, 2016
84
56
Interpolation works to give you LOWER resolutions from a higher resolution...you cannot "make more pixels" by interpolation. That's why interpolated resolutions either have a black border when they "get rid" of the extra pixels or are "fatter and fuzzier" than the native resolution. The pixel count of a LCD is the pixel count of the LCD, how in the world would you show a smaller "dot" than the size of the smallest pixel? That's not how LCD's work.
 
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justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
129
47
Photoshop has nearest neighbor, bilinear and bicubic interpolation used to create larger or smaller images. They all use samples of existing pixels to create data. It is not as sharp, or detailed but that is what it does.

How else do you explain the display of higher resolution or perceived resolution, what have you on the screen?
 
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Puonti

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2011
1,068
599
So anyways, moral of the story...if you have a 2012 MacBook Pro you might actually have a higher resolution display that you think, check it out!

You have a display with 1280x800 hardware pixels displaying a higher-than-native resolution desktop, thus giving you more desktop space. It's the same as viewing a very high resolution photograph on a display with fewer pixels - the whole picture will fit the screen and if you check the photograph's information you can see it has all those pixels, but it's not actually adding more hardware pixels to your laptop's screen.

If the extra desktop space you've gained through this software trick outweighs the loss in visual clarity for you (as you said, you have old eyes and might not even notice it) then that's great, but when it comes time to sell that laptop don't make the mistake of describing it as a rare retina-screen MacBook of its vintage. The other party might not take kindly to being swindled.
 
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DouglasCarroll

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 27, 2016
84
56
Right....and it just HAPPENS to have the exact same maximum resolution as the 13” retina display that was released at the same time by Apple on their new retina 13” MacBook Pro. Random coincidence? I’m sure that its inconceivable to any of you that Apple had switched screen suppliers and was using the same screen in more than one model at the same time. You’re right, you caught me, it’s obviously all just a big hoax by me because you guys can’t possibly believe this could be true and you have all the answers.

whatever....
 
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justashooter

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2020
129
47
I also have a 23 inch Apple Cinema HD display introduced in 2004, its native resolution is 1920x1200, I can run it at 2560x1600 also. Interpolated data.
 
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Puonti

macrumors 65816
Mar 14, 2011
1,068
599
I’m sure that its inconceivable to any of you that Apple had switched screen suppliers and was using the same screen in more than one model at the same time.

Apple does trickle down high-end features into lower-end devices over time. Apple doesn't however silently introduce its headlining hardware features into old devices at old prices.

You’re right, you caught me, it’s obviously all just a big hoax by me because you guys can’t possibly believe this could be true and you have all the answers.

No, that's not it at all. We are just looking at the information you're providing, comparing it to the information we have available and coming to educated conclusions in an attempt to help a fellow human being out. Just because you're mistaken doesn't mean you're trying to trick us.

However, you now trying to paint the situation like you're the enlightened sceptic underdog and we're out to squash a possible truth you're trying to bring to light suggests you A) are not aware of Dunning-Kruger and B) have something in common with anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and QAnon-ers.

Which means we're done here. Have a good day.
 
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Eliott69

macrumors member
Mar 16, 2019
76
60
Specs as per EveryMac.com:
– 13.3" color widescreen LED-backlit TFT active-matrix "glossy" display with a 1280 by 800 native resolution.
– The maximum resolution supported on an external display is 2560x1600.
 
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Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
May 20, 2010
3,638
796
Los Angeles, CA
Interpolation works to give you LOWER resolutions from a higher resolution...you cannot "make more pixels" by interpolation. That's why interpolated resolutions either have a black border when they "get rid" of the extra pixels or are "fatter and fuzzier" than the native resolution. The pixel count of a LCD is the pixel count of the LCD, how in the world would you show a smaller "dot" than the size of the smallest pixel? That's not how LCD's work.

Bro, there are only 1280 pixels across and 800 vertical in that panel. That's how many physical pixels are present in that panel. Period.

Use of a fancy third party app to simulate a higher resolution does not a higher resolution panel make. Sorry to burst your bubble.
 
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MultiFinder17

macrumors 68020
Jan 8, 2008
2,242
1,035
Tampa, Florida
I've used an app called Retina Display Manager for years to do the same basic thing. I also have a mid-2012 non-retina 13" MBP that I use for teaching and while yes, it can run up to 2560x1600, it looks significantly worse at higher resolutions because the panel natively only does 1280x800. I use the app to bump it to 1440x900 every once in a while when I want to grade two things side by side and prefer the extra workspace over the quality hit. Here's some screenshots like you took. I can assure you that this laptop does not have a Retina display.

Screen Shot 2020-10-26 at 7.16.03 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-26 at 7.16.15 PM.png

And here are some shots of the screen at the two resolutions to see the difference in quality. These are the same window in the same position on the screen, the first one at 1280x800 and the second at 2560x1600.
IMG_0892.jpeg
IMG_0893.jpeg
 
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