1440x900 Retina vs 1920x1200 Retina

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by covertsurfer, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. covertsurfer macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    Apple state the best experience is 1440x900. They render at 2880x1800 then double it to give goood clarity.

    There is the option to choose 1920x1200 which gets rendered at 3840x2400 but then doubled.

    Why are Apple not touting 1920x1200 instead? Is because they believe you'd have to sit further away to see the same clarity which then doesn't give the user the best experience of using the laptop?

    As far as I can tell using the 1920x1200 option sounds better as it gives more workspace but also if apps are designed to use retina then it will also look good at that resolution

    Sorry if I've got this all wrong before the abuse starts :D
  2. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    They easily could've.

    I'd guess it's because they thought that 1920 x 1200 made screen objects too small for some. Also because it's better for marketing to say that they're putting 4 pixels for every 1 pixel in the previous design.
  3. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    But isn't it still 4 pixels for 1920x1200? In fact wouldn't it be more than 4 to 1 on the previous design?
  4. Panini macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2012
    Palo Alto, CA
    For performance reasons, too.

    Rendering at that high a resolution will affect graphics-intensive 3D applications.
  5. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Nope. The resolution of the screen can't exceed 2880 x 1800. It would be less than 4:1. It would be more than 4:1 on lower appearance resolutions like 1280 x 800.
  6. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    If it can't exceed 2880 x 1800 how is it rendering 1920x1200 as I thought I read it was actually rendering at 3840x2400 then doubling the size?
  7. daleski75 macrumors 68000


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northampton, UK
    It's rendering at 3840x2400 in the frame buffer on the GPU before resizing it down to 1920x1200 and displaying it on screen afaik.
  8. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    It downscales to native resolution (2880*1800).

    As others have said, the performance affect is twofold; rending a larger canvas then having to downscale it back to native resolution. Also downscaling will affect image quality, no matter how good the scaling algorithm is.
  9. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007

    It renders at 3840x2400. That won't fit on the screen so it downscales it to 2880 x 1800 but then somehow makes it have the impression of a 1920x1200 resolution. I assume it gives the impression of 1920x1200 by shrinking text etc?

    Although we should take 1920x1200 out of the equation for now as really what its doing is rendering 3840x2400 to a 2880x1800 screen. It then doubles the pixel size to make it not seem tiny.
  10. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Honestly I don't understand what people were saying about rendering at 3840 x 2400. There's no point in rendering at that resolution, downscaling, then doubling to get 4:1 because the screen just can't do 4:1 at that resolution. I would just forget about that whole concept.

    It's scaling whatever resolution you select and displaying at 2880 x 1800.
  11. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    Its not scaling if you select 1440x900 though.

    I guess the question is then, if you use one of the predefined resolutions and it scales, how bad and obscure does the screen look due to the scaling
  12. OSMac, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012

    OSMac macrumors 65816

    Jun 14, 2010
    All the modes offered are rendered in double size,
    then if needed scaled to the native 2880x1800 panel.

    Just take a screenshot and check the dimensions:

    1024x640 -> 2048x1280
    1280x800 -> 2560x1600

    1440x900 -> 2880x1800

    1680x1050 -> 3360x2100
    1920x1200 -> 3840x2400

    Since the panel is 2880x1800,
    1440x900 is an optimal mode being a multiple of this native panel size.
    It just scales things double size and displays it.

    The other modes scale double size then have scale again up or down to 2880x1800.
    That is where the quality drops, its not a multiple and does not scale cleanly.

    If the panel was 3840x2400 then 1920x1200 would be the best mode.

    At some point I'd bet they will release
    a 2560x1600 13.3" Macbook Pro,
    a 3840x2400 desktop 'Retina' 30" monitor, etc.
  13. parlour macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2007
    You are some confused people. Also: Totally wrong. I don’t blame you, it’s complicated. I will try to explain, hopefully I can help you.

    Ok, let’s start with the default. The 15" screen used to have 1440 horizontal and 900 vertical pixels. UI elements all had a certain pixel size that made them a certain size on the screen. The menu bar was 20 pixels high, for example.

    Now, the screen has 2880 horizontal and 1800 vertical pixels, exactly double in every dimension. If you were to use the old UI elements they would only look one quarter their size. The 20 pixel high menu bar would still be 20 pixels high, but it would look half as high on screen.

    Apple didn’t want that, Apple wanted everything to remain the same size. They consequently pixel double everything (pixel quadruple if we are talking about two dimensions). So the menu bar was increased in size by Apple, from 20 to 40 pixels high. That 40 pixel menu bar still looks to have the same height as the 20 pixel bar on a 1440×900 screen. They also created new versions of all the artwork, e.g. the Apple in menu bar was recreated with four times as many pixels. That, again, makes it the same size on screen.

    This approach, however, is limiting for Macs. On iOS it makes perfect sense: apps are baked to be a certain size, they aren’t even set up for changes in size. On OS X, however, all apps are resizable. There is really no need to always have UI elements and content be the same size. You can make it smaller. Making UI elements and text smaller on iOS devices would just get you black bars around the edges of the screen, on OS X it actually gives you more space to work with.

    How can you take advantage of that space? First, we probably have to think about why Apple picked the pixel doubling (or quadrupling) strategy. The great think about pixel doubling is that every four pixels on a Retina screen map to one pixel on the non-Retina screen. That way, you never end up with fractions of pixels when displaying non-Retina apps on a Retina screen. x number of pixels on the non-Retina screen always equal 2x number on pixels on a Retina screen, that is always an integer. If the multiplier would have decimals, you would end up with fractions of pixels. When your screen tries to display fractions of pixels they will look blurry.

    Another advantage of Apple’s approach is convenience. Developers just have to create versions of all their artwork that is four times as large as their originals. That’s easy to remember, easy to do.

    Ok, now back to taking advantage of that space. First we will think about what Apple does in terms of a non-Retina display. Say you have your nice non-Retina 1440×900 screen but you are jealous of your friend and her nice 1650×1080 screen. You want to be able to display as much stuff on your screen as she can but you don’t want to get a new screen.

    What you could do is just render a 1650×1080 and then resize that rendered image to 1440×900. If you ever had a VNC session with a computer with a 1650×1080 screen from a computer with a 1440×900 screen you know how that looks. The problem with that approach is that it is ugly. The pixels on a non-Retina screen are too large, you end up with fractions of pixels (when resizing the rendered 1650×1080 to 1440×900), that’s just not nice or elegant.

    But exactly that approach is practical now, with Retina screens. They have so many pixels that you can get away with fractions of pixels. Apple is still no comfortable with that, that’s why pixel doubling (with no fractions of pixels) is the default, but they give it to you as an option. It basically works the same.

    It’s best to just ignore the old pixel resolutions at this point. They are not helpful and they don’t figure into it. They play no role, they are just there to tell you what you can expect in terms of an old display, in terms of numbers you might be familiar with. In practice (and as is evident here), however, they confuse.

    Ok, so you got your 2880×1800 screen. Apple created artwork for everything that is four times as large and thus has the same size as the old, smaller, artwork on a non-Retina screen, it just takes advantage of all the pixels.

    When you pick an option that gives you more space (say the option that confusingly says “Looks like 1650×1080”), Apple takes that exact artwork, but renders it at 3300×2100. If you had a hypothetical screen with a resolution of 3300×2100 everything would look crisp and every four pixels would map to exactly one pixel on a 1650×1080 screen. More interestingly, however, UI elements on this hypothetical Retina-screen would have the same size as UI elements on a 1650×1080 non-Retina screen with the same size.

    Apple basically renders to a virtual 3300×2100 Retina screen, using all the Retina artwork. Were they to start selling a screen with that resolution tomorrow, OS X could just take that render and throw it on such a screen, it would look perfect.

    Problem is: The 2880×1800 screen just cannot display 3300×2100 pixels. So, OS X just resizes those 3300×2100 pixels down to 2880×2100 pixels. That’s not perfect (because in the conversion process you do end up with fractions of pixels), but since the pixels are so small on a Retina screen, the added blurriness from fractions of pixels is hardly noticeably.

    Did you see? When OS X says “Looks like 1650×1080” they actually mean it. You Retina display still uses every single pixel. The screen resolution is not changed to 1650×1080, it remains firmly at 2880×1800.

    I hope that helps you understand how this all works.
  14. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    @parlour: very nice explanation! And thanks for writing such a well written text, it frees me from doing it ;)

    To the curious I'd also suggest reading Apple developer documentation (don't worry, its written in a very user-friendly language): http://developer.apple.com/library/...roduction.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40012302

    P.S. I went to Apple store today to inspect the RMBP in person. One of things I was curious about is how would scaled resolutions look like. I was pleasantly surprised. I could not detect any downscaling artifacts in the 1650×1080 mode. There was some very slight blur in the 1920x1200 mode, but it still looked great. And btw, the text rendering is so insanely sharp... its just amazing. And web images indeed look blurry, but the effect is purely psychological - the brain just can't miss noticing that the underlaying resolution of the images is less than of the rendered text. Vector graphics looks great though.

    P.P.S. To though of you that claim that downscaling from 3840x2400 to 2880x1800 is a performance hit - it is not. Modern GPUs can do something like this in their sleep. Now, rendering to a 3840x2400 buffer is a real performance hit - and don't forget that many UI elements (like text and probably other things as well) are rendered on the CPU.
  15. bier-meister macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Nice post @parlour.

    Anyone done a side-by-side comparison of 1650x1080 on the new retina display compared to native 1650x1080 non-retina displays?
  16. zahque macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2006
    i would add that the "best for retina" 14x9 resolution looks way too big for me, especially given the physical real estate on the screen. i operate on the upscaled x 1 resolution, and i think it provides a more natural experience, given the 15" screen.

    honestly if i try to go back to the retina resolution, it looks like a universal access/vision impaired setting.
  17. BlueOcean macrumors member

    Jun 15, 2012

    To be fair, when I've seen the standard 15" Pros in stores, I've thought that too. 1440x900 seems wrong for a 15" display to me.
  18. NetJunkie macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2010
    A lot clearer on the Retina. Same with 1920x1200 against a 17" MBP. I run my rMBP in 1920x1200 most of the time...and it's amazingly clear. You don't see any artifacts from scaling.
  19. doh123, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012

    doh123 macrumors 65816

    Dec 28, 2009
    people should fix their numbers...

    1680x1050, not 1650x1080 ... and the "doubling" it renders at (a user doesn't even need to know this) is 3360x2100.

    I think Apple should take out the whole "looks like {resolution}" part and just make it a scaling option for how big and small you want things to appear... would make it much simpler.
  20. Eallan macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2007
    I went from a Hi-res matte screen, to the retina display. I've been using it at "Best for retina" except for a few times I wanted to upscale it. Honestly, I know things are bigger and it's an adjustment, but I truly think it's been easier on my eyes to have the elements crisper and bigger.
  21. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    The only issue I have with that is I want a decent amount of workspace. I'm a developer and need a lot of space for the IDE. 1440 is seriously not enough room. Just hoping the 1920x1200 option is good enough.
  22. Eallan macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2007
    I was using the 1920 setting yesterday, while doing some email/excel and soccer watching ;). It's nice, it looks fine.

    It's a ton of space for a 15" laptop.

    That said, I was happy to go back to "best for retina" setting when the game was over. I didn't notice any artifacts or anything from the scaling, which surprised me. Office however, looks like crap at the retina setting.
  23. covertsurfer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2007
    Thanks for the info.

    I currently use a 16.0 inch @ 1920x1080 so hoping the 15.4 inch at 1920x1200 will be a match if not better

Share This Page