Help me determine if 1440x900 is possible on a 13" MBP via Lenovo display transplant.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kalibar, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. kalibar macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2010
    I've decided that the 13.3" unibody MacBook Pro would be the perfect laptop if only it had a higher-rez display, and I'm sick of waiting for Apple to offer it. I use 1440x900 on my 15-inch MBP and while I've found that it's (barely) enough to work comfortably, I'm not really interested in the physical size or the obnoxiously-poor pixel density of this machine any longer.

    Though it seems that nearly every laptop manufacturer has a raging hard-on for throwing low-dpi displays into 13-inch machines, Lenovo offers a laptop (ThinkPad X300/X301) with an LED-backlit 13.3-inch 1440x900 screen. Inspired by a long, long read through the technical wizardry in the CCFL-based MacBook Pro WUXGA display transplant thread, I'm terrifically curious as to whether it would be possible to get an X300's or X301's display into a 13.3" MBP.

    Right away, we can identify the cost of getting ahold of an X300 or X301 for gutting as a barrier. The machine's just ludicrously overpriced, there's no two ways about it. Fortunately, Lenovo's been firesaling $800 ThinkPad X301 systems off and on this last week, so I'm hoping I can snag a sale like that if I keep my eyes open. Worst case, a used minimum-spec X300 off of eBay shouldn't be too bad. Buying the display separately seemed like an attractive option -- we're looking for Lenovo part number 42T0476 or 42T0475 -- but the cheapest I've found it is $430 shipped on eBay. Snagging the display and selling the rest of the system for parts seems cheapest.

    Next up, we have to get under the glass on a unibody MBP to swap the displays. It looks completely obnoxious, but fully doable.

    And this is where I'm stuck, because I don't have a dismantled X300 or X301 display assembly to look at -- Google hasn't turned anything up for me so far, other than Lenovo's black and white shots from the manual. The X301 manual's on this page, but I've got a screenshot of the relevant section of the PDF below:


    The video cable looks like it might match the one on the 13" MBP, but are there any other considerations I might be missing with that? Is the video cable the only thing I'd have to connect?

    Right away, I can see that the shape of the X300 display is going to be a problem. We can clearly see that a detached MBP display has four metal screw-holes on the sides, and the X301 display does not appear to. Is there any way this could be conquered easily, or is this pretty much a showstopper right here?

    I'm trying to be pragmatic here; it seems like any of a huge number of random little niggles could prevent this from being possible. I just want to figure out if it's very obviously not going to be possible before buying two laptops and tearing them apart. :) I'm really hoping that someone who's done this kind of thing before might be able to give me some advice. I really want a 1440 screen in a 13-inch MacBook. Then again, maybe Apple will deliver a high-rez display option on the 13-inch system in the forthcoming Arrandale refresh and none of this crap will be necessary. The odds are only about fifty billion to one against that happening, heh.

    Thanks for reading, guys, and I really appreciate any help that can be provided.
  2. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    Even if you managed to fit it hardware-wise (unlikely) the drivers would stop you.

    In terms of hardware, mounting locations may be an issue.
  3. dnkbro macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2010
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the display on the MBP also contain the wireless adapter, bluetooth, and other stuff in it? I would say the biggest issue will be driver support, and actually getting the computer to output at a higher resolution on its native display. I think you are way better off hoping the new refresh addresses the "resolution issue" and they start offering higher res displays in the 13" model.
  4. kalibar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2010
    Yeah, I'm up against a lot on the software end -- I've been looking at what the CCFL MBP guys had to deal with. I'd be happy with just getting the display to fit and work with Windows to start with.
  5. Gabriel GR macrumors 6502a

    Gabriel GR

    Jul 12, 2009
    Athens, Greece
    You've probably asked yourself. But since you will be happy with windows and need higher resolution, why not get a 13" vaio with the resolution you want? I think that there are even 13" laptops with 1600x900 or higher.

    Getting a new laptop and performing such "surgery" seems much more troublesome to me.
  6. gfiz macrumors 6502


    Dec 18, 2009
    The driver wouldn't be an issue at all, it already supports pretty much the max resolution you could upgrade to. But I hardly think this is worth it...atleast wait to see if the new mbp's have higher rez screens. To be honest, while I'd like an i5 or i7, and a better video card...the only think that will keep me from buying a new MBP is they keeping the same screen rez on the 13" and/or 15".
  7. smc333 macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2010
    Boston, MA
    I don't know if I see this working. I wouldn't risk it...
  8. kalibar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2010
    I'd like to stick with Mac OS, only mentioned Windows because folks in the other display swap thread were able to get the screen working properly in Windows first and Mac OS later on after a bunch of tweaking.

    The Vaio Z and the HP Envy 13 are the only 13-inch 1600x900 laptops I know of, and neither has a backlit keyboard (though it's coming on the 2010 Vaio Z) or a touchpad that's even in the same league as a MacBook's. Having that resolution would be great, but even with this one stupid deficiency the MacBook is pretty easily best-in-class.

    Really I'm looking for more technical insight than suggestions not to do this. I'm well aware that this would be a huge pain, but I'm up for it if it looks technically possible. My big concern now is with the lack of those screwholes on the replacement screen, as I'd need some other way to anchor the screen down.
  9. kny3twalker macrumors 65816


    Oct 25, 2009
    Dell latitude is another option with a backlit keyboard.
  10. keertib macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2010
  11. maratus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2009
    X301 has display significantly inferior to MBP (bad contrast, black level, viewing angles). I doubt that it's worth it.

    I'd personally wait for several weeks - updated 13" MBP may get 1440x900 screen.
  12. keertib macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2010
    Alright, so I guess the answer to my question is that the new MacBook Pros have glass, but the regular MacBooks do not.

    I called Screentek about that link, and they seems pretty useless. The guy on the other end, "Rob B." said he couldn't provide any information from the link as to which part # that screen (referred to in the link from their own website) would be. He instead kept insisting that I give the part # for my screen.

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