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MICHAELSD

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
5,090
2,747
NJ
I'm in the top 1% of users when it comes to flicker sensitivity on Apple products, and even the M1 Pro 14" with its high rate of 14,880Hz wasn't enough to solve this issue.

However, I've persisted and kept the laptop despite my better judgment--it was time for an upgrade, and it felt like a much nicer laptop overall over the MacBook Air in my opinion.

I've tested basically every combination of settings, from using a third-party app to dim the white point to avoid the worst levels of PWM and creating a 'Dummy Display' in BetterDisplay per a MacRumors user suggestion to switch the display to 8-bit color to mitigate temporal dithering, which is another form of flicker with the goal of displaying additional colors. The latter seemed to have a stronger effect in reducing my headache symptoms, as the PWM rate is quite high and another user measured the flicker coefficient at 2.5% under 5 notches on the brightness scale and .75% at 6 and above which essentially matches a PWM-free display.

As utilizing a 'Dummy Display' disables ProMotion and HDR, I've since been experimenting with more settings including display presets found in the stock Settings menu. I've been using the D50 color preset with Limit Luminance at 160 and HDR enabled at 400 nits. This seems to help slightly, but disables niceties like True Tone and Night Shift--which can be emulated using an app like Flux. The presets and Limit Luminance setting both seem to have some sort of minimal effect.

If by some miracle Apple improved this on the M2 Pro then I would upgrade instantly. However, it seems for now I'm stuck with trying to figure out the best combination of settings to make the display both enjoyable and usable.
 

MICHAELSD

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
5,090
2,747
NJ
I suppose my options at this point if I can’t figure out how to have a completely headache-free experience:

1) Deal with it until a better option is released. Some settings seem to help, but I’m staring at my iPhone SE typing this and it’s so much more comfortable. Side note: I figured once I had a MacBook Air I would similarly enjoy the Liquid Retina display, but I’m not sure it pops quite the same to my eyes. Direct comparisons to the Mini LED of the M1 Pro may have biased this, while my Retina MacBook Pro’s display compared surprisingly well…

2) Sell it, and revert back to my late 2012 15” MacBook Pro. My work has benefited from the M1 Pro by virtue of it being a newer machine, but the extra performance isn’t necessary for my current workflow.

3) Purchase another MacBook Air, or iMac—either of the first two options would be ideal if a 15” Air and/or M2 Pro iMac is released in the spring.
 
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