Aluminum Macbook, External Display, and Distored/Pixelated/Dithered Colors

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by pcguru83, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. pcguru83 macrumors 6502a

    pcguru83

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #1
    Hey guys,

    Just bought a new Dell S2209W monitor to hook up to the Macbook as an external display and so far have been pretty disappointed. Sadly, it's not the monitor I'm disappointed in. First of all, a few comparison shots between the Macbook connected to S2009W and a PC connected to the S2009W:

    Macbook connected to Dell S2209W:

    [​IMG]

    PC Laptop connected to Dell S2209W:

    [​IMG]

    So what would you even call that effect? The colors in the shadows looked very dithered or pixelated on the Macbook, yet on the PC laptop the image looks great. Both laptops (the Macbook and PC) are running at the same, native resolution of 1920 x 1080. The wallpapers are scaled the same way on both.

    I've also ruled out the Display Port adapter. I've tried one from Apple and I even tried one from Monoprice--same effect. And it's not just this one wallpaper that does this--I've run across several that do this, but this "series" of Tesla Roadster shots are the most drastic. In fact, I actually found a shot from this series that is even more dramatic, but I had already taken pictures. I can provide more pics if necessary.

    Anyone ever see this? Is my Macbook's 9400M going south? Is there some simple color setting(s) I'm missing in OS X?
     
  2. pellets007 macrumors 6502a

    pellets007

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    #2
    I run a native resolution of 1920x1080, so a need for dual link shouldn't be the issue. What connection are you using and is it constant on your MacBook and desktop? VGA, DVI, or HDMI?
     
  3. pcguru83 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pcguru83

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #3
    Ironically, the Macbook is using the better of the two connections--DVI. Unfortunatley the PC laptop I have handy only does VGA, but the image obciously looks better there! That shouldn't be the case.
     
  4. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Location:
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    #4
    ...what kind of camera did you use to take those shots?

    I actually think the top shot with the MB looks better...
     
  5. tubbymac macrumors 65816

    tubbymac

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    #5
    What monitor are you viewing this on to make that claim? The top picture is a lot worse - it's heavily dithered.

    I have my Macbook hooked up to a Dell 2407 and I don't have any strange dithering problems with mine. This one has me baffled. The only difference is I'm running 1920x1200 res.
     
  6. manuel.mx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2008
    #6
    you could try adjusting the brightness on the monitor setting... maybe that helps. I had a hard time configuring my Samsung Monitor with my macbook cause it was too bright and made darks look bad... Also had to choose a better color profile than the default one, the one called JC Display worked fine on mine.

    Try using another computer with DVI and compare.

    Good luck!
     
  7. pcguru83 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pcguru83

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #7
    After a little bit more testing:

    I broke down and installed Windows via Bootcamp, as that was going to be the ultimate test. Bottom line, it's NOT a hardware problem. Via the Nvidia Control Panel, Windows detected the display correctly. I immediately applied this "test" wallpaper I've been using and it looked perfect. No extreme dithering in the shadows as seen in the Macbook. Here's a pic:

    [​IMG]

    I'm quite perplexed at this point.

    To make matters worse, on the suggestion of someone over at the Apple Discussions forums, I "deleted" (i.e. moved) my display preference files and had OS X recreate them using defaults. Now the display is not being detected at all, even after restoring the files to their proper home.

    At this point, I'm wondering if perhaps an Archive and Install is not my best option.
     
  8. iLog.Genius macrumors 601

    iLog.Genius

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #8
    I don't think an Archive/Install would even correct that. Are you sure it's just not a calibration problem in OS X? Yeah it works fine in Windows but maybe Windows does a better job at handling external displays because of a generic driver. Your first post didn't show anything was wrong with hardware. I should mention that some of my pictures are like that so you need to consider the quality of the picture taken and profiles/configuration of the external monitor.
     
  9. pellets007 macrumors 6502a

    pellets007

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    #9
    I'd calibrate the display; that's what it looks like when I use a calibration not meant for my monitor.
     
  10. pcguru83 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pcguru83

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #10
    Pellets, you were right on. It ended up being a GARBAGE default color profile. I've used a handful of external displays with Macs before, but never before have I encountered one that was just so amazingly incorrect.

    I'm not sitting in front of the Mac at the moment, but the calibration setting the made the difference was the one with the really close horizontal lines where you get the Apple logo to match the background color. Whatever that setting was, it was apparently WAY off. The display now looks like a completely different monitor. The colors now pop and the shadows/grays/blacks "blend" as I'd expect them too.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!
     

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