Color range seems low on 17" UMBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by nein, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. nein macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2008
    I'm wondering if its the video card in the UBMP's thats giving me a pretty low color range.

    I am using the same background I had on my old PC with a pretty good video card in it and the blending of different shades of was smooth. But with this laptop it seems that the amount of colors isnt there, or I'm not sure whats happening.

    I have tried changing the color profile, even took color profiles from this site, but they were all pretty bad still.

    I'm just curious if anyone can chime in on this issue. Is it the video card just not really being all that great? Or is it display. I run into the same flickering issues as everyone else but this just happened to make me curious about how to go about fixing these color issues.


    I hope you can see what im talking about in this image. You can clearly see the gradations arent smooth at all.

    I have the 2.93ghz model with matte screen.

    Thanks alot!

  2. JtheLemur macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2002
    Here's what I think: the display is actually *so good* that it's showing the compression artifacts in that image. Artifacts are quite noticeable with gradated colors.

    Seriously, I need the colors on my 17" to be pristine, and I gotta say, they are.

    Go grab a vivid desktop image, preferably in PNG or as lossless a format as you can find, and try it out. *Don't* bother with PC-oriented sites, because frankly, your average Windows user cranking out wallpapers has no clue what compression, or artifacting, is. ;)

    May I suggest Mandolux?
  3. nein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2008
    That's a good theory.

    I've however seen this desktop on other mac's as well. But it doesnt surprise me that what you suggested might be true as well.

    I find the display on my 17" actually quite good. I was a little curious, however.

    Thanks for the link as well.
  4. jofus macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    I'm not sure if the 17" screens are 6 bit or 8 bit, but with my old MBP (I haven't ran the same tests on the UMBP because I do all my graphic work on an external and gave up on the MBP display) the 6 bit matte screen showed a lot of banding in gradients. I believe it has to do with the monitor only being 6 bit and thus requiring dithering to show the amount of colors needed to fully represent a high contrast gradient.
  5. JtheLemur macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2002
    @ jofus, I'm preeeettttty positive that that whole debacle has been addressed, though perhaps someone else here knows 100%…

    @ nein, if you want to try a quick sample, go over to David Lanham's site (, grab any of his desktops that have a wide range of colors. Even though they're smaller than native resolution, I feel that on a calibrated display (that is, NOT using the default profile!), his art should give you a good idea of the color capabilities of the display.

    I'm using his Dragons piece right now, and it really shows off the display. =)
  6. nein thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2008
    Wow yeah I'm looking at some of these desktop wallpapers. I guess it must have been the file. These are vibrant and beautiful.

    Thanks all.
  7. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    The mbp screens are all tn panels which are 6-bit displays.
  8. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    6bit is just that - not enough colors

    I've looked at smooth gradients on the new 15" and 17" UMBPs and to be honest, these screens suck.

    They don't suck as bad as some other laptop screens, but compared to Apple's desktop displays (the 24" Apple LED or the 30" ACD) they suck.

    Have a look at the attached PNG gradiant image at full resolution.

    The image shows a white, red, green and blue gradient. Each is split in two parts with 256 colors in the top part of the gradient and 64 colors in the bottom part. In the bottom 64 color parts you can clearly see some horizontal banding (which is expected).

    But on the 15" and 17" displays you can also see some vertical banding, like alternate striping in the 256 color gradients. As if every other pixel line has a color issue. These stripes are independent of the zoom factor of the image. They are artefacts introduced by the display.
    And they're pretty ugly.

    If you have a new 15" or 17" UMBP, check out the image at full res! I'm sure you can see the vertical banding!

    You don't see these on any of the Apple desktop screens.
    Nor on my 5 year old 12" PowerBook display, which seems to be an 8bit display. It has other issues, like the viewing angle, but at least color gradients are much better than on any of today's Apple laptops.

    I wish Apple had some 8bit 'Pro' displays in their 'Pro' laptops...
    At least as a build-to-order option (even if more expensive).


    Attached Files:

  9. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    LOL, 8-bit display on a 12" powerbook?

    All notebook displays are and have always been 6-bit displays. Your 12" powerbook has a 6-bit display as well.

    I believe there was only 1 8-bit display and it was a notebook sold from a thinkpad I believe.

    External displays such as the 24" LED ACD or imacs 24" displays have the 8-bit H-IPS panels thats why the gradients are so much better.
  10. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    I'm pretty sure it is also 6-bit.

    But the sad truth is, comparing screens side by side, my 12" PowerBook can display color gradients better than the most expensive 17" flagship MBP.

    Over the years Apple's LCD screens got worse, not better.
  11. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    When I had the 2.53GHz unibody mbp that I sold off just a month ago, I did a gradients test as a stuck pixel check as well.

    The gradients were quite good was almost comparable to my 24" LED ACD.
  12. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    Perhaps the lighting in the Apple Store has a frequency range that interferes with the dithering algorithm on the new MBPs?

    Or these dithering algorithms are not as good as on my 12" PowerBook?

    Those are the only explanations I can think of.
    The latter case can perhaps be improved with an Apple firmware upgrade at some point?

    I just wish Apple would offer true 24bit OLED displays for some of their laptops. I'd be prepared to pay a premium for such a display.

    I guess we'll get this in a few years...
  13. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    Would you really pay $6000-$8000 for a 24-bit OLED 17" unibody mbp? ATM that is.
  14. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    If it also comes with Blu-Ray drive, quad-core CPU, 1GB VRAM GPU and support for up to 16GB RAM, then yes, definitely!
    Because then it truly is a high-end mobile workstation.
    Without those specs it is just a laptop, not a mobile workstation.

    With just a dual-core CPU, no Blu-Ray drive, 512MB VRAM GPU, and 8GB RAM max I'd pay no more than $6,000-$7,000. Even with OLED display.
  15. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Sep 4, 2006
    I would just plunk down for the highest end Nehalem Mac Pros + 24" LED ACD. That way you'd get the fastest machine + a great display + save a couple of grand as well.
  16. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003
    I would if there'd be a 1+ GB nVidia GPU option...
    Since I'm doing 3D stuff I could really use a CUDA capable nVidia GPU. ATI doesn't cut it.
    Yet the 120 is too anemic for serious 3D work.
    Losing portability this is the trade-off compromise I'd be willing to do. But with an anemic Mac Pro GPU I'm not willing to go that route. The 120 is probably not any more capable than the 9600 in the MBP.

    Do I have another choice?

    In the past Apple sold the nVidia Quadro GPU only together with a Mac Pro, it was not available on its own.
    So I'm hesitant to buy a Mac Pro now, because if Apple pulls that same trick again, I'm not too happy to have to buy another Mac Pro just to get a 'pro' graphics card...
    (I'm hoping that with Snow Leopard a Quadro GPU will be an option again, or at least a 2xx nVidia card.)

    I guess I'm damed to do more waiting...

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15 March 30, 2009