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helloapple1

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 20, 2020
433
286
For a while I've been finding my M1 MacBook Air's screen to not be as clear and precise with text as I'd imagined the MacBook to be. The screen gives me "light flashes" so to speak meaning I'll be trying to read text on the screen and then I'll get distracted by another part of the screen, it's hard to explain. It's almost blurry to me in a sense. I have True Tone off. I've tried turning off font smoothing which doesn't change anything for me. Other laptops (like the one at my work) that are PC's don't give me this issue.

The best way to explain it is that I don't feel the screen is as crisp as it should be causing me to have a hard time focusing on what I’m reading. I'm still under he 1 year warranty so I'm going to bring it to Apple and see if they notice it as well. Maybe it's faulty. I’ve never encountered this before.

Is anyone experiencing something similar when looking at their screen?
 

DrCC

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2021
255
178
Canada
I had exactly the same problem, coming from a Windows laptop with a 13.9" 3000x2000 3:2 screen (200% scaling). Put next to a MacBook Air the display on the Windows laptop looked sharp and crisp and the Air display actually gives me headaches and eye strain. Sure, 3000x2000 is more than 2560x1600 on the air, but the difference on the eyes should not be that great.

I dug a bit deeper and I connected both laptops to an external 27" 4K UHD screen and low and behold, the text on the display looks better when connected to the PC on the same external monitor. Also Windows renders the text differently than macOS and personally I like the Windows ClearType better than what Apple is doing, but sadly it is what it is and if you want macOS there is nothing else you can do except go with a higher resolution display found on the MacBook Pro 14"/16".

P.S. I ordered an Air a year ago and returned because of the screen clarity problem. Since then, the Windows laptop I used above decided to break (the screen hinges broke) and this time I had to make it happen somehow with the Air. I mostly use it with the external monitor and it makes it easier on my eyes; I don't really like the built in display, it is too dim and not sharp enough compared to what I was used to.
 
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helloapple1

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 20, 2020
433
286
I had exactly the same problem, coming from a Windows laptop with a 13.9" 3000x2000 3:2 screen (200% scaling). Put next to a MacBook Air the display on the Windows laptop looked sharp and crisp and the Air display actually gives me headaches and eye strain. Sure, 3000x2000 is more than 2560x1600 on the air, but the difference on the eyes should not be that great.

I dug a bit deeper and I connected both laptops to an external 27" 4K UHD screen and low and behold, the text on the display looks better when connected to the PC on the same external monitor. Also Windows renders the text differently than macOS and personally I like the Windows ClearType better than what Apple is doing, but sadly it is what it is and if you want macOS there is nothing else you can do except go with a higher resolution display found on the MacBook Pro 14"/16".

P.S. I ordered an Air a year ago and returned because of the screen clarity problem. Since then, the Windows laptop I used above decided to break (the screen hinges broke) and this time I had to make it happen somehow with the Air. I mostly use it with the external monitor and it makes it easier on my eyes; I don't really like the built in display, it is too dim and not sharp enough compared to what I was used to.
Thank you for your response. That clears up a lot of questions I’ve had about why the built in screen on the air was bothering me. I tried searching to see if others were experiencing something similar but couldn’t until you’ve shared yours. I’m wondering if maybe selling the air and going for the MacBook Pro 14 would be a better option.
 

DrCC

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2021
255
178
Canada
You might get a clearer image with integer scaling on the built in display. To do that change the resolution from 1440x900 to 1280x800. The built in display resolution is 2560x1600 and 1280x800 is half. You will have to put up with less real-estate.
The Pro 14" would definitely give you a clearer and sharper image, it has a far better display compared to the Air, but the Pro is a different beast than the Air, it is bigger, heavier, chunkier. The Air with a 2880x1800 screen would have been perfect.
 
Last edited:

ghanwani

macrumors 601
Dec 8, 2008
4,714
5,987
There is thread about this.
Some think it's probably not PWM but perhaps due to temporal dithering or a 60Hz flicker noted by notebookcheck. Or even due to the background image.
 
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