External display dpi scaling

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by hakonik, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. hakonik macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2016
    I am about to have the new MBP and a 4k or 5k monitor. I really like the size of the user interface elements on my 108dpi Dell U2711 I currently have, but I want more workspace and either 4k or 5k.

    I would like to calculate optimum screen sizes for 4k and 5k that would be able to display UI elements quite precisely near that 108dpi sweetspot using the same dpi scaling that OSX uses on Retina MBP (bigger text - more space). So I do not mean the basic resolution changing.

    But the information is really confusing and reviews seem to ignore this.

    Is there a common set of dpi scale factors that new 4k/5k monitors can use in OSX sierra/new MBP? Or is it different for each model?

    For example I found Eizos website stating that some of their 4k monitors have dpi scaling ratios of 100%, 127%, 150%, 200%, 255% source: http://www.eizoglobal.com/support/compatibility/dpi_scaling_settings_mac_os_x/

    And my current rMBP has ratios 160%, 177%, 200%, 250%.

    And a couple of related questions:
    - Does that dpi scaling only work on some very selected displays or is it a common feature for all newish 4k & 5k displays if I use new MBP & Sierra?

    - Is there any RELIABLE 3rd party apps that can generate custom dpi scaling sizes?

    - If you happen to have a newish 4k/5k monitor, would you care to list the dpi scaling (Bigger text - More space) percentages that are available in Sierra? If you are not able to count the scaling percentage, you can just list the "screen resolutions" when using different options.

    - Does this even matter, or is it just the same if I just lover the monitor resolution to some step that is available? I mean back in the old days, using other than native monitor resolution was a total no-no, but with 4k & 5k it might be a different story. I work with design and also typography so the quality needs to be near identical to what is achieved using the OSX dpi scaling feature.
  2. v1597psh macrumors regular


    Feb 4, 2014
    I have an iMac 5k and Thunderbolt display connected to it. The default 2x scaling option for iMac looks like 2560x1440 which exactly matches my Thunderbolt Display with 109 ppi. So 5k monitor with 5120x2880 will be the best option for you. Everything will look like on your Dell monitor. But I can tell you that using other scaling options like "Bigger Text" or "More Space" will impact quality of image and performance of the OS. I use the next available "Bigger Text" scaling on iMac because I prefer having larger UI elements. I can tell you that overall quality of image has worsen a little bit. But I don't mind about this. I also use an app, SwitchResX to set retina resolution on Thunderbolt display to enlarge UI elements. You can use this app to set any custom resolutions for any of your attached display. However, you'll need to disable SIP in order to do that.
  3. hakonik, Jan 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017

    hakonik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2016
    Ok, thanks. Yes the 27" is ideal size for 5K monitor in terms of getting the UI at right size and scaled exactly at 2x. For 4K, it would be 20" (2x) or 40" (1x). Unfortunately 20" & 27" provide no more working space compared to my current Dell 27". And 40" 4k would be way too big.

    Bot the dpi scaling OSX does on factors between 100-200% are also good enough quality for me. It seems that it all really depends what dpi scaling factors are available for each specific monitor. But 5K really is more likely to be able to do it right than 4K. Here is a quick and dirty chart I made. It might be a bit hard to read, but UI dpi values marked with green are ones I think are close enough from ideal.

    And since it seems that dpi scaling options of 177% & 160% are quite common, I would say that 32" 5K is the most safest bet for me, having one option just above and one just below the ideal UI dpi.
    And 32" provides enough increase in screen size to justify the purchase.

    Edit: ...and by quick googling it seems that there currently is no 32" 5K yet in the market. So I think I just pass this round and wait a bit.
  4. badsimian macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2015
    I actually use a 32" 4K monitor on my 2013 rMBP at either 3560x1440 or 3008x1692 HiDPI modes and both look great.

    I can see how the 5K at 27" is the perfect one but in all honesty, sitting about a foot away from the monitor I can't really tell the difference in sharpness between the 4K scaled monitor and the native Retina display on the rMBP.
  5. hakonik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2016
    Good. Can you confirm that there is a something like 125% or 127% scaling option available for your 4K monitor? By this I mean that vertical resolution for your desktop is listed to be something between 1650 and 1750px.

    I am interested to know if with 4K monitors there usually is a middle step between native resolution and 1440p?
  6. WickedPorter macrumors regular


    Sep 28, 2012
    I have a 3008 x 1692 option on my BenQ 32" 4K monitor...
  7. badsimian macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2015
    Yes as above I have that too (sounds like the same monitor tbh, Benq BL3201PT ?)
  8. WickedPorter macrumors regular


    Sep 28, 2012
    Yep, same one!

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