27 Inch 4k Monitor for 2015 MBA and 2017 MB?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by - rob -, May 7, 2017.

  1. - rob - macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #1
    Last weekend I upgraded my 2013 MBA to a loaded 2015 while I hold out for the Macbook and MBP lines to get sorted out.

    I spend a good amount of my time with my mac docked at home or work. Previously, I've been using a 27" Apple Cinema Display, but have wanted to upgrade to a 4k for some time.

    I'm interested in using a single Dell Ultra HD 4k Monitor P2715Q as a new docking monitor now, and possibly adding a second one when I eventually upgrade to a stronger macbook.

    Is anyone here using their 2015 MBA with the P2715Q? Any other 27" monitors suggested I take a look at or other thoughts about getting an external display for now and later?
     
  2. peglegjack macrumors 6502

    peglegjack

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2011
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    #2
    Was wondering about this too.

    I'm considering downsizing from a high end base 2015 iMac and thinking I could still be ok with a 24in Dell monitor, a 2015 Air, and a decent bit of money in my pocket
     
  3. - rob - thread starter macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #3
    I picked up the P2715Q. I should have feedback here in next few days.

    Mostly curious how well the 2015 MBA 11" handles this 27" 4k @ 60 hz.
     
  4. - rob -, May 11, 2017
    Last edited: May 11, 2017

    - rob - thread starter macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #4
    Moved the Cinema Display aside and plugged this in to the 2015 MBA this morning. Works very well as far as I can tell.

    Running the display at max (3840 x 2160) is too high, making fonts and windows too small for reasonable use.

    I have it set at the following, (3008 x 1692) which seems to be reasonable for this size of monitor.

    [​IMG]
    Notice this Displays dialog does not show refresh rate. I went to System Information to see that yes, out of the box just plugging the machine in (running newest version of Sierra) does in fact run at 60hz:

    [​IMG]

    I'm able to display this youtube video set at 2160p 4k fullscreen with reasonable frame rate on that max setting. Looks superb, really for a two year old machine.

    I actually did this same video test using a fully loaded 2016 13" tbMBP on the LG 5k display in the Apple store and it did markedly worse. This is probably why they don't have the new MBPs hooked up to the 5k. (Only mac pros!)

    Anyhow, I have been using MBAs for many years now and I think until an updated Macbook with Cannonlake or Macbook Pro with Cannonlake + tiered battery drops, the best portable docking setup in the Apple line is:

    Loaded 2015 Macbook Air
    Dell P2715Q Monitor
    Magic Trackpad / Keyboard 2s

    The reason I feel this way is because of price and weight:

    Loaded 11" 2015 MBA can be had at around $1000 lightly used
    Monitor is $550 New
    Trackpad and keyboard new cost ~230

    So you can have a high-mobility, contemporary port selection, powerful i7 2.2ghz and excellent workstation setup for $1780. Tough to beat!
     
  5. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Location:
    Midwest US
    #5
    What about a lightly-used Apple Thunderbolt Display?

    I second your analysis of workstation effectiveness. However, $550 will likely buy you a nice TBD.

    Just a thought!
     
  6. - rob - thread starter macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #6
    I have a TBD I'm upgrading from actually. It is a fine display, but the point was to get a 4k that would also work well with an upgraded Macbook.
     
  7. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Location:
    Midwest US
    #7
    You said you had an ACD. The TBD resolution is 2560X1440, which isn't far removed from 4K. Is the 27" ACD the same res? l've only had a 24", so my experience isn't comparable.
     
  8. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #8
    The 27" "LED Cinema Display" is basically the Thunderbolt Display without the Thunderbolt and is the same 2560x1440.

    UHD (what most manufacturers are now selling as 4k)is 3840x2160 - 50% more pixels-per-inch than 2560x1440 - I wouldn't call that "not far removed".

    At home, I've just replaced a 24" 1920x1200 with a cheap-ish Dell S2817Q 28" to "try out" 4k on a Hackintosh. - I expect to get either a 5k iMac or some other new Mac + a higher-end 4k or 5k display as soon as Tim unblocks his pipeline and use the Dell as a second screen.

    ...and, yeah, it blows the 24" away on sharpness and screen real estate.

    Mostly I use it in scaled "Looks like 2560x1440" or "Looks like 3008x1692" mode - the "looks like" is misleading because although the system fonts, icons etc. come out the same size as 1440p they're made out of 50% more pixels and far sharper (as long as you're using retina-aware software, which is most things these days) - and of course most software that you're likely to use lets you zoom the content independently, and will take advantage of the extra pixels.

    With the 28-inch screen "native" 3840x2160 is actually bordering on usable - I can certainly read it a but my eyes probably wouldn't thank me after sustained use.

    So, if you're looking for maximum screen estate for coding etc. you might want to think about going for 30 inches or so. Or having the eyeballs of a 21-year-old.

    At work, I use an ACD and, no its not as sharp as 4k, and lacks the slightly finer "scaled" modes that could be useful for extra real estate but... its still a ruddy good display, so upgrading it wouldn't be my first priority.

    Other thing to consider - if you've got older "nonretina" Macs that you want to use with the display, that output a native 2560x1440, then although the display will upscale them, the result is very "soft" looking and not a patch on what you'd get with an ACD, let alone the "scaled" modes on a Retina-capable mac. My 2011 MBP can actually manage 4k, but only at 30Hz which makes cursors and dragging somewhat jumpy.

    NB: Dell S2817Q quick summary: pro: 28", relatively cheap; sharp, clear 4k picture, DP/miniDP & 2xHDMI ports, internal speakers good by internal speaker standards. con: washed-out colours, no adjustable stand (which also makes connections a pain), no VESA mount, fiddly/poor quality menu buttons - summary: great for general use and coding, probably not for artists. I'll be happy delegating it to "second screen" when I upgrade my Mac. 2011 MBP wouldn't drive it via DisplayPort, but an active MiniDP-to-HDMI adapter worked.
     
  9. - rob -, May 12, 2017
    Last edited: May 12, 2017

    - rob - thread starter macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #9
    Thanks @theluggage for the detailed explanation. I have found external display descriptions, particularly with regard to how scaling is handled a confusing subject.
    You're right, I meant thunderbolt display. I had not made the distinction, thinking that all the 27" apple displays were thunderbolt.

    My old 27" TBD display has held up remarkably well, it has traveled quite a bit for a monitor. Due to literally falling off a chair or desk, the glass front cover has shattered twice. (I've replaced it with OEM parts from ebay each time)

    On top of the dents from those problems, the actual thunderbolt cable has gone bad, and I added a new one from the Apple Store using the TB port on the monitor to keep that sucker going. It also has what appears to be a light hot spot or some kind of subtle moisture damage to the display itself.

    That said the TBD lives and will be my home one until I decide to get another one of these Dell displays. We watched a show on it last night and it still looks quite good.

    But to @theluggage's comments the 4k screen does offer resolution advantages in situations. The matte finish and overall brightness are major improvements. I imagine color is probably much truer here.

    I do need to downplay the performance on the 2015 11" Macbook Air with the Dell P2715Q some, though. While the UHD video playback was good, I've noticed slowdowns in OS X animations.

    Expose's animation causes serious stuttering / slowdown, to the point you have to hit the key more than once to get it to work. Moving between Spaces (desktops) also has a lower framerate. This matters more to me than UHD video playback, really as it impacts core use.

    That said, I still think this is the best mobility / workstation compromise looking forward on the external display front. Hopefully we'll see a serious update to the Macbook this year that offers a true migration path for 11" MBA loyalists turned off by the 2016 MBP.

    I am very curious as to how and when Apple intends to return to the external display market.
     
  10. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #10
    I wasn't suggesting that 4k isn't better than an ACD/TBD - just that the ACD is still pretty good and I wouldn't be in a particular rush to upgrade from ACD to 4k.
     
  11. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Location:
    Midwest US
    #11
    Guys, I have a 5K iMac (5120X2880) sitting next to my TBD. I can tell a good bit of difference in the detail rendered in the 5K display, but the TBD is still very useable.

    If the iMac packed it up tomorrow, I could happily run Photoshop and InDesign on my 11" MBA mated to my TBD. The real difference would be the speed of the MBA ... but I doubt my productivity would take much of a hit.
     
  12. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #12
    Exactly my point.
    Especially if there's any sort of downside to using 4k/5k - like a Macbook Air not being able to deliver smooth animations at 4k/5k or having to put up with an upsampled display when you use an older Mac.
     
  13. - rob - thread starter macrumors regular

    - rob -

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2012
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    #13
    After a few months of using the Dell P2715Q with a fully loaded 2015 11" MBA, I can say that unfortunately performance is not good enough.

    I'd recommend sticking with a non-4k monitor for this machine, even though it technically supports it.

    This is such an awkward stage for portable power right now. I really feel like there are no great options that offer power + batter + performance in a small size.

    If the newest rMB drives the P2715Q well, I'd consider offloading my MBA and going to that now.
     
  14. RealityM macrumors member

    RealityM

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    #14
    Did the Thunderbolt Display change at all from 2011 to 2016 when it was discontinued? Wide variety of prices on eBay for this display.
     

Share This Page