External monitor confusion: 4k vs 5k vs scaling

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Boklos, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. Boklos macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2019
    #1
    I'm thinking to get an external monitor to MacBook pro13 2018.
    I was thinking to buy the LG 27uk650 and really thought it's a winner untill someone told me you can't get any other retina display except the LG ultrafine 5k for 27" monitors.
    He said macOs scale retina for 2x times so 5k scaled to 2560X1440 is exactly twice, while Anything in between will be scaled somewhere in the middle as in 2.33 for example, and that does not render the fonts as crisp and clear as it should.


    is this true?on a 27" 4k screen, the text is not as clear or it's little blurry as opposed on the MacBook pro screen or imac screen or LG 5k ultrafine?

    Does anyone with 4k 27" screen see fonts little blurry?
    Is a 32" screen even worse ?

    Thanks
     
  2. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    Nov 2, 2018
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    Thailand
    #2
    macOS will “default” to @2x for a 4K screen like that, which will give you a “looks like” resolution of 1920x1080.

    I can barely accept this resolution on my 24” 4K dells until I have an eGPU (to use with a mini not a mbp) but at 27” I think it’d be like reading a “my first book” children’s book (everything in the ui/fonts would be huge).

    You can use a scaled resolution (I like 2560x1440 on my 24”s) but a) it uses a more resources - one screen should be fine on a mbp - and will look slightly less crisp. It’s still better (to my eyes) than eg “native” (@1x the same as the “looks like”) resolution and the slightly less crisp text with more screen real estate is better for productivity for me.
     
  3. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #3
    My question is does the 2560X1440 scaling for 4k 27" , visibally different then the 2560X1440 (@2x)on a 5k 27" ?
    Specially for reading online ?
     
  4. Stephen.R macrumors 65816

    Stephen.R

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    #4
    I’m sure side by side there is a difference yes. Whether it’s noticable without them side by side I don’t know.
     
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #5
    OP:

    I'd forget about 5k on a 27", and look for a 3rd-party 4k 27" display instead.
    There are numerous ones out there that can be had for decent prices and they LOOK GREAT.
    I would avoid LG stuff, however (only experience I ever had with LG was a bad one).
     
  6. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    #6
    My wife and I each have that LG monitor and love them. You'll probably use 1440p (as the scaling on actual 4k makes it too hard to use).

    Just make sure you use a DisplayPort cable if you can, we did have some blurriness when using HDMI, but it went away when we switched to DP.

    There's a pluggable brand DP-USBC cable on amazon that we use, and it's held up well for over a year now.
     
  7. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #7
    Thank you for posting your personal experience.
    When comparing it to your macbMac pro screen, side to side, could you see the difference? Is the text more blurry on the LG screen ?
     
  8. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #8
    There have been numerous people on different macrumors forums who have been unhappy with 27" 4K UHD monitors. At native resolution, they say everything is too small. In Retina mode (1920x1080 apparent resolution), they say everything is too big and there's not enough screen real estate. Scaling to 2560x1440 (if possible) makes everything blurry. There have been enough people that have mentioned problems with 27" 4K UHD that you really need to go see it in person before making a decision to do that. If you have an Apple store that's convenient you can see if they have the LG UltraFine 4K (4096x2304, not UHD).

    I have a 32" 4K UHD monitor (BenQ PD3200U) that I use in native resolution and for some of the applications, I magnify it on an application-by-application basis (if available). I have found this solution acceptable for me. The computer I use with my 32" runs Sierra and I haven't documented it but it seems that the resolution options have changed even though I've always had 10.12.6 on this computer (there have been numerous security updates, etc. since and security updates don't necessarily exclude non-security changes to the OS). In any case, for me, when scaling to 2560x1440, the text looks OK, not as sharp as Retina on my 2018 15" MBP, but acceptable for me. I much prefer the native resolution though. The poster of #2 makes a good point - if you have the 13" MBP, there may be an issue if you do scaling on a 4K or 5K monitor.
     
  9. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #9
    I thought scaling issue is only with 4k not 5k screen 27". Recommended by apple. As the 2560x1440 scaling will be 2x exactly for 5k screen.

    Also the post by David he says he has the 4k LG27UK650 and happy with it.
    So why some people are fine and some get blurry? Could be the cable connection? Dp vs hdmi vs usb-C ?
     
  10. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #10
    I'll just take a pic of the screen if I can. These pics are terrible, but you can see the text quality for yourself. In real life, the screen doesn't have those discolorations. This is 1440p.

    upload_2019-2-24_11-45-29.jpeg

    upload_2019-2-24_11-46-4.jpeg
     
  11. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #11
    Thank you, these 2 pics are from the LG monitor ?
    The text looks sharp enough for me but I understand it's a photo from a screen also.
    That's why I asked you if you compare that text from your macbook pro display, does it look the same almost?
     
  12. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #12
    Yep, it's the lg 27uk650.

    edit -

    The MacBook pros screen is definitely sharper. Personally though - while noticeable, I don't think it's that significant.
     
  13. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #13

    Attached Files:

  14. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #14
    Makes sense.

    How much do you want to spend?

    I took the approach of: we have a budget of around $1000, and I would rather have two nice monitors rather than 1 amazing monitor. I had an iMac 5k and it was amazing, but I still prefer two monitors over that setup.
     
  15. Boklos thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 23, 2019
    #15
    Your setup also make sense specially if difference is not huge.

    I'm starting to think about imac or Mac mini plus the 5k screen(if it goes on sale)
    A MacBook pro plus a 22" 4k ultrafine LG screen seems a very small screen and the 5k 27" LGLG pl the MacBook pro is much more money
     
  16. treekram macrumors 68000

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    #16
    The quality of the scaling only appears to be an issue when the scaling is a non-whole number (2560x1440 on 4K in particular).

    My post mentioned that people are unhappy with the 27" 4K UHD monitors at 2560x1440. I think that's because they used to be quite a bit cheaper than 32" UHD monitors (the pricing difference has decreased) and people just bought it without thinking through the decision. I don't recall anybody in these forums being unhappy with 2560x1440 on a 5K monitor - of course, far fewer people buy 5K monitors.

    I think there's a lot of subjectiveness in evaluating display quality. For me, between my non-Retina iPad Mini and my Retina iPad Mini, there wasn't that much of a difference. Aha - it must just be a iPad thing, I thought. Well, I got my first Retina MBP this past December and I said to myself, surely there will be a fantastical difference between it and my 2012 non-Retina MBP. Well, yes, the text is noticeably sharper but other than that, I would say I appreciate the extra real estate and the increased processing power that my 15" MBP has over my other Macs more than I do the display quality which was a no big deal thing for me. There are people who have complained about the uneven color of a white background as you look left to right on the 2018 Retina displays. I see some of that on my MBP (but not on my 32") but if people didn't mention it here on this forum, I wouldn't have noticed. If you're not the ultra-critical type in regards to display quality, you'll probably be fine, otherwise you really should go look at various displays in person.
     
  17. MHenr macrumors member

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    Dec 22, 2008
    #17
    I'm using a 13" 2018 MBP with a dual 28" 4K Samsung U28H750 QLED setup and it is pretty great!

    The monitors are quite cheap for what they are (320€). And in conjunction with SwitchResX they can be setup perfectly.
    I have both at 2560*1440 HiDPI (and it runs absolutely perfect.
    Only 1 runs at 60Hz, the other at 30Hz though.
    Still have to figure that out as I'm using the exact same cables and dongles) and it runs absolutely perfect.

    Also definitely consider getting a stand for them!
    Although I ordered the screens and the stand at the same time, there were 3 days in between deliveries.
    Even though I loved using the screens, the stand just makes these things perfect!

    It absolutely is my dream setup.

    The initial idea was getting 2 USB-C monitors, but the ones that are available are quite expensive in comparison to similar spec screens with HDMI/DisplayPort connections and it doesn't bother me at all to use dongles or adapters at home. Neither do I care about daisy chaining or powering my laptop over the display cables.

    SwitchResX is awesome though!
    You can get some more control over resolutions pressing alt when you click scaled in settings.
    But the app just sets everything up great, offers a lot more control over which resolutions to use as standard when you plug them in, save specific configurations, etc. it's great!
     
  18. materialvisionist macrumors newbie

    materialvisionist

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    May 30, 2019
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    Bergen, Norway
    #18
    Just a quick newbee question here since you all seem to have a lot of experience with external monitors. I recently got a LG 4K Ultrafine (the new 24") for my MBP and just curious about the difference between the standard resolution (showing in Retina size) and the scaled one to 4k size I can choose. Is there any difference when viewing a 4k movie for instance? Should I swtich to scaling (true 4k) to get the best resolution or will it still show all pixels in standard resolution?

    What I noticed is that it is a lot heavier for the gpu to show the scaled 4k screen, and the fps drops. But otherwise I find it hard to "see" any difference in resolution.
     
  19. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #19
    The default scaling is 2:1. If you have a 4k monitor at 3840 x 2160 this gives you 1920 x 1080 highest quality pixels. If you have a 5120 x 2880 monitor like the Apple 5k monitor, this gives you 2560 x 1440 highest quality pixels. If you have an iMac 21.5 inch Retina display 4096 x 2304 this gives you 2048 x 1152 highest quality pixels. For highest possible quality of videos, you should use the default scaling.

    There are 4k monitors that are larger, or a lot larger (in inches) than the Apple 4k monitors. If you have 27" with 3840 x 2160 this gives you 1920 x 1080 highest quality pixels, but the pixels are quite big - one third larger than on the 21.5" iMac. You can use it to display 2560 x 1440 pixels, the same as the iMac 27" Retina display. The difference is that the pixel scaling is not 2:1 but 1.5 : 1. So two pixels are scaled to three hardware pixels, instead of four hardware pixels on the iMac, and your picture quality is accordingly lower. Or you could buy a 27" 2560 x 1440 pixel monitor, with no scaling at all (not a Retina display), with the lowest picture quality. All these monitors would look identical from five feet away, but when you sit at the monitor at normal difference, you see the difference.

    If you are old enough that your eyesight isn't as good anymore, then the 27" 3840 x 2160 scaled to 1920 x 1080 is a very good solution. Everything is a bit big, which is very welcome to older eyes. (Of course the 5k Retina screen can also be scaled to 1920 x 1080, but you have wasted some money if you do that.).
     
  20. materialvisionist macrumors newbie

    materialvisionist

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    #20
    Thanks. Still a little bit confusing when Quicktime info says that I am viewing a 4K movie "current size" at 1080 but it is "really" at 4K. Oh well...
     
  21. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #21
    Note it depends on your software. Some software is retina-aware, like say Lightroom. So if my display is set for the default, "best for display" or whatever they call it, then all the icons, menus, etc are using hidpi graphics, which are really twice as big and more detailed than the regular interface elements, so that you can see them (otherwise they'd be too tiny). But the applications are smart enough so that if you say want to view an image at 1:1, one pixel from the image to one on screen, it's NOT pixel doubled or scaled, it's really showing 1:1. Sort of the best of both worlds.
     
  22. grmlin, Jun 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019

    grmlin macrumors member

    grmlin

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    Feb 16, 2015
    #22
    My 2 cents.
    I have one 24" 4K at home, and a 27" 4k in the office. I use a MBP 15" from 2014.

    scaling the UI might make the text a bit blurry, but that has never been a problem for me. What does drive me crazy though is the performance impact. Scaling the UI really has an impact on performance. Your MBP is newer, but I would try to test it first. I remember reading posts about MacMini performance issues with 4/5K displays, too.

    For me personally, 24" is the best compromise. Running the 27" with 1080p takes some getting used to. Everything is huge.

    I don't know anything about the UI performance with a 5K screen.
     
  23. leman macrumors G3

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #23
    I really wouldn’t worry about that. As long as the screen is high PPI and macOS is using one of the retina drawing modes, the quality will be high enough in any case. Blurriness is not really an issue with those monitors since the pixel grid is so fine.

    But as usual, people are different and what is perfectly fine for one person can drive another one mad. If you have the possibility, do try the display before buying.
     
  24. x-evil-x macrumors 601

    x-evil-x

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #24
    my monitor I just picked up has a resolution of 3440x1440. while text looks good and sharp video looks ehh in 1080p. Im using a HDMI cable to adapter for my 2016 15" MacBook Pro. I have a usb-c to display port on order and a usb-c to HDMI on order to see if its that or just the display. in display settings the resolution is correct to the monitor and its not showing tv in system report. The monitor is a lg 34uc80.
     
  25. leman macrumors G3

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #25
    That is not a high DPI monitor though, it’s just ultra-wide. The text won’t look any good if you use scaled resolution and the pixels are larger than on pre-retina macs...
     

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