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How to choose the correct resolution for a 5K2K monitor?

bluewalt

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2018
8
5
I just bought a LG 34wk95u, an ultra-wide 34” monitor with 5120x2160 native resolution (named 5K2K). I connected my MBP 13” 2018 to it with thunderbolt.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the only way to have the maximum display quality on this kind of monitor, if to have :
  • 1:1 resolution (5120x2160) -> native resolution
  • or 1:2 resolution (2560x1080) -> because every pixel is x2 horizontally and x2 vertically, so the scaling is perfect and do not need more performance.
As soon as we try other resolution, scaling can not be perfect, and text will be a little less sharp. In addition, it should be less performant since more computing is necessary to approximate (it's actually displayed in macOS display settings: "scaled resolution may affect performances").

The thing is, with 1:1 resolution, everything is way too small on screen, I can't read text. But with 1:2 resolution, everything is too big (and I don’t have enough space on my desktop, 34” becomes useless).

If I change font sizes, I can notice 2 issues:
  1. I need to do it on every software (complicated).
  2. If I take my mac with me to work in a coffee, or just in my bed, font sizes will be wrong on the MBP retina display.
I don’t know what to do.
  • Should I use 3360x1417 res, having a normal size for everything, but accept that the display quality is lower that it should be? (I have to admit it's still perfectly usable, but at 1100€, having a non-native imperfect resolution hurts…)
  • Should I try a new monitor and choose one with a lower native resolution? (like 3440 x 1440). In that case, size of everything should be OK. However, I'm not sure how a native 3440 x 1440 resolution with same res monitor, compete with a 3360x1417 resolution downscaled on a 5K2K monitor, in term of sharpness. (FYI, PPI would drop from 163 to 111...)
Thanks for sharing your experience.
 

xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
7,750
1,892
192.168.1.1
I just bought a LG 34wk95u, an ultra-wide 34” monitor with 5120x2160 native resolution (named 5K2K). I connected my MBP 13” 2018 to it with thunderbolt.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the only way to have the maximum display quality on this kind of monitor, if to have :
  • 1:1 resolution (5120x2160) -> native resolution
  • or 1:2 resolution (2560x1080) -> because every pixel is x2 horizontally and x2 vertically, so the scaling is perfect and do not need more performance.
As soon as we try other resolution, scaling can not be perfect, and text will be a little less sharp. In addition, it should be less performant since more computing is necessary to approximate (it's actually displayed in macOS display settings: "scaled resolution may affect performances").

The thing is, with 1:1 resolution, everything is way too small on screen, I can't read text. But with 1:2 resolution, everything is too big (and I don’t have enough space on my desktop, 34” becomes useless).

If I change font sizes, I can notice 2 issues:
  1. I need to do it on every software (complicated).
  2. If I take my mac with me to work in a coffee, or just in my bed, font sizes will be wrong on the MBP retina display.
I don’t know what to do.
  • Should I use 3360x1417 res, having a normal size for everything, but accept that the display quality is lower that it should be? (I have to admit it's still perfectly usable, but at 1100€, having a non-native imperfect resolution hurts…)
  • Should I try a new monitor and choose one with a lower native resolution? (like 3440 x 1440). In that case, size of everything should be OK. However, I'm not sure how a native 3440 x 1440 resolution with same res monitor, compete with a 3360x1417 resolution downscaled on a 5K2K monitor, in term of sharpness. (FYI, PPI would drop from 163 to 111...)
Thanks for sharing your experience.
While not perfect mathematical 1:2 pixel mapping, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using a scaled resolution and will still be "retina" (in Apple's lingo) and will still be very sharp. And just for FYI, the Apple "default" resolutions on the MacBook Pro 13" and 15" are not the 1:2 resolution option, but one of the higher resolution scaled options (not sure about the 16", but I assume the same is true).
 

mj_

macrumors 65816
May 18, 2017
1,097
685
Austin, TX
Can you actually see a difference in display quality when running it at a scaled resolution or are you simply bothered by the fact that while it may look perfect deep down inside you know it isn't? Because a scaled resolution at 163 PPI will still look miles better than a native one at 110 PPI.
 

bluewalt

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2018
8
5
I clearly see the difference. I can see that the text is less sharp, and I notice the display is a little less smooth (more "laggy") when I scroll. On the contrary, when I'm in 2:1, it's a "Wow" effect because everything is perfectly sharp.
But I confess I could be too picky about this, but I just feel it's annoying to buy a very expensive monitor, and not being able to use it at its full potential.

About the scaled resolution at 163 PPI vs a native one at 110, I completely agree.
However I ordered the 34" Dell WQHD to be sure of what it looks like.
So yes maybe you're right, I could prefer having a less expensive monitor used at its full potential VS a crazy one with downscaling.

I'll tell you about my final choice. Thanks for your help.
 

Nazwisko

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2012
40
9
I clearly see the difference. I can see that the text is less sharp, and I notice the display is a little less smooth (more "laggy") when I scroll. On the contrary, when I'm in 2:1, it's a "Wow" effect because everything is perfectly sharp.
But I confess I could be too picky about this, but I just feel it's annoying to buy a very expensive monitor, and not being able to use it at its full potential.

About the scaled resolution at 163 PPI vs a native one at 110, I completely agree.
However I ordered the 34" Dell WQHD to be sure of what it looks like.
So yes maybe you're right, I could prefer having a less expensive monitor used at its full potential VS a crazy one with downscaling.

I'll tell you about my final choice. Thanks for your help.

Hi! I'm on the market for a new monitor and I found it difficult since I can't go to the store and check out what I like. So I'm surfing various forums to get real life opinions. Did you end up liking the scaling or not? Thanks!
 

bluewalt

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2018
8
5
In the end, I think the LG 34wk95u is "ok" but not "perfect" as I read in many reviews. Among the main issues I noticed:
- As said, scaled resolution is not pixel perfect. To be truly honest, it's not very noticeable. However if you're sensitive to refresh rate, you can see it's more laggy, for example when moving a windows, or making a fast scroll on a page.
- Build quality is not solid enough, lots of plastic, and USB-C port started to fail sometimes.
- For an unknown reason, sometimes when turning the monitor on, the resolution was not the right one. Generally speaking, LG software sucks when you're used to apple. Even with the LG windows manager tool, I had a few bugs.

In the end, I refused to spend 1300$ on a monitor to get this imperfect setup. I sent the monitor back to Amazon.
The truth is, except the very expensive Apple 32" Pro Display, it seems there is currently no perfect external monitor for mac os, in you want some real estate.

So for now, my best bet is to keep my MPB monitor, use 2 iPad as external monitors with Sidecar, and wait for new high res monitors in 2020/2021.

Hope this helps.
 
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Nazwisko

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2012
40
9
In the end, I refused to spend 1300$ on a monitor to get this imperfect setup. I sent the monitor back to Amazon.
The truth is, except the very expensive Apple 32" Pro Display, it seems there is currently no perfect external monitor for mac os, in you want some real estate.

Hope this helps.

Yes, super helpful! I'm sorry for your disappointment! Seems like you may be right- we need to wait for a cheaper version of Apple Pro Display or stay with two monitor setup.
Thanks again - I very much appreciate your help!
 

bluewalt

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 18, 2018
8
5
You're welcome, glad it helped!
In the meantime, I'm currently considering an alternative to this, using two LGs 27" 4K monitors.
Why ?

- A lower total price (around $900 vs $1300)
- A total of 54" instead of 34", with the exact same PPI (163), which allows me to make this crucial choice:
* accepting the scaling issue, but having a GIANT real estate then!
* using the pixel perfect 1:2 resolution (1920x1080), which removes the scaling issue, while keeping an acceptable real estate to me.
- This monitor has usb-c too (not thunderbolt 3), so it can charges your MBP Pro up to 60W (OK pour 13", not really for 15/16"). The only small drawback is that there is no daisy chaining, so it forces me to plug two cables to my mac.
- Having two monitors rather than one have several pro's:
* it helps me organising my windows (using fullscreen features)
* When monitors are held by desk stands, they have less bubbling than an ultrawide.
* It allows to keep my macOS open while using another monitor to game on PC or PlayStation

By the way, this is really a personal preference, but I noticed that for me, I prefer having a main monitor in front of me, with the main content perfectly centered, and a side monitor to take a look to sometimes.
In short, a little bit less design, but more productivity.
This video is a great explanation of all the possibilities.
 
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