How to compare MBP retina display to other laptop brands

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by scubacat, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. scubacat, Mar 21, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015

    scubacat macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    I'm thinking about buying a retina MacBook Pro but am also considering Windows laptops since I've been a long-time Windows user. I've found a few laptops with similar specs as the rMBP at the same price but the main difference other than the OS seems to be the display. How do I compare displays between different brands since I can't put them side by side? Is it just the resolution that makes the retina screen so special or is there something else I should look at to compare each one?

    For example, the Dell XPS 13 has a QHD+ display with 3200 x 1800 resolution, 276 ppi and Intel HD 5500 graphics card. The Lenovo X1 carbon has a QHD 2560 x 1440 resolution, 209 ppi, Intel HD 5500. The MBP has 2560 x 1600 resolution, 227 ppi, Intel Iris 6100. Based on numbers alone, it seems like the Dell is the best screen and the Lenovo isn't far behind the MacBook. Am I wrong?

    EDIT: Please everyone, don't make this a battle of Windows OS vs. OSX unless it specifically relates to my questions (i.e. I didn't know Windows has trouble with scaling with high dpi). I know this is an Apple fan forum but I'm trying to find a compelling reason to switch to Mac besides the OS, trackpad, etc. The screen isn't my only deciding factor but is a way to differentiate between other similar specs (all have i5 processor, 8 gb RAM, 256 gb SSD).
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The Dell isn't the best because:

    1. It's a Dell
    2. It doesn't run OS X.
    3. It has a far weaker GPU driving a higher resolution.
    4. No one else has a trackpad that rivals that of a Mac's.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Lenovo makes good laptops, and yes, you can get a good machine from them for less then what apple charges. I've not looked into what they have to offer lately because I like MBPs but when I did look at them, I liked what they had.
  4. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Numbers and resolutions only tell part of the story with a screen. If they disclose it, you want to find out what the screen type is, and you want to look for screens that are IPS panels. Even that, however, is not a guarantee of quality. Lenovo, especially, is known for using low quality panels in even their expensive computers - or having one supplier that provides a good panel and another that doesn't, and there is no telling what you have until you receive the machine.

    The big difference between quality panels and not are, imo, two-fold. Color accuracy and how evenly lit the screen is. Sub-standard panels are often different all over the screen, which effectively changes how the screen looks depending on how it is placed in front of you. The Dell XPS 13 has been said to have a good screen, but Apple tends to have much more rigorous standards when it comes to screen quality and consistency. If the screen were a primary motivator for me in a laptop purchase, I would buy a Mac.
  5. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of Windows software does not work well with high-DPI screens, since Windows' display scaling system is not (yet?) well supported. You'll often see GUI elements being out of place etc.. Perhaps it will get better with Windows 10.
  6. steveyo macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2015
    I've owned Thinkpads for over a decade with Dell and HP business laptops here and there.

    Overal I have mixed feeling with the macbook pro 15"
  7. scubacat thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks, that was very helpful. The Lenovo is an IPS screen, but I'm not sure about the Dell. I read one review about the Dell changing brightness automatically and causing low color accuracy an I've heard about Lenovo using multiple display manufacturers. I've never owned a Dell but am hesitant since I always thought of them as more of a consumer grade laptop compared to the higher quality professional grade Lenovo (although I hear Lenovo's gone downhill lately).
  8. scubacat thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    Can you elaborate? Do you prefer the Windows laptops over Mac for some reason?
    I've never really heard of someone who doesn't like MacBook Pro, even those who come from PCs (although maybe it's just because I read this forum too much).
  9. mtneer macrumors 68030


    Sep 15, 2012
    Well, this is the wrong forum to get an objective answer. There are tons of comparisons between the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Pro's on Youtube. Personally, I respect the reviews by Lisa Gade and Mike Kukielka. Spend some time over the weekend looking at such review videos and then make up your mind yourself.
  10. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Lenovo and Dell are both all over the place with their quality. In some respects they are both doing well, but I would expect some niggling issues with them no matter what you choose. I have heard of the brightness issue on the XPS13, and then my wife just received a brand new very expensive Dell ultrabook from her work, and it has, bar none, the worst laptop screen I have seen in recent memory. I'm sure it doesn't claim to be IPS but I have no idea why Dell would allow something so bad to bear their name. Funny thing is that their business line of monitors are generally excellent.

    What is driving you towards perhaps a Windows PC over the Mac? If I had my choice, I would undoubtedly choose a Mac laptop because there is no Windows machine that matches the overall package that Apple puts together - screen, touchpad, keyboard, chassis design and size, battery life, charger design and size, etc.
  11. steveyo macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2015
    Hate to admit it but you're right which is why I moved from Thinkpads to a Macbook. Lenovo ruined the Thinkpad brand, they forgot why people bought Thinkpad!
  12. scubacat thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 10, 2011
    I'm not committed to a Windows laptop, it's just that I've never owned a Mac and it would require me to purchase new software and learn how to use the Mac OS. I've used last year's MacBook Pro in the Apple Store a few times and it's a beautiful computer. I'm willing to take the time to make the switch from Windows to Mac if the MBP turns out to be the best option, and I can always use Bootcamp if there's some Windows programs I can't live without. So far the MacBook pro is at the top of my list based on the positive reviews I've read, but I'm just nervous to make the jump from one OS to another. I guess it's time to stop reading reviews and just go to the Apple store and spend time using the computer.
  13. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    There's a 14 day return windows you can use.

    Honestly, I switched back in '08, and don't regret it one bit. There are very few Windows apps with no OS X version or equivalent.
  14. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I owned a 2013 XPS 13 (a very nice machine by the way). The automatic brightness was a setting that you could find if you really bored down into the advanced settings. It is possible but would be surprising if you can't do that any more, which would be a huge problem for me personally. (That sounds like I'm arguing with you - I'm not, just sharing a related experience.)


    Have you really inventoried what software you'd need to buy? I think the two big ticket items that I use that don't come in dual form (if you buy software in box/disk form rather than download) are MS Office and Acrobat Pro. If you can get those with a discount (MS Home Use Program or MS/Adobe ed discount) it's a lot less painful.

    The OS honestly isn't likely to be more than a minor speed bump for you. I use both daily and there are definitely interface differences but you get used to them quite quickly.

    Apple has a very good return program. One thing you could consider is buying a refurb from the Apple Store (nice discount on perfect machines). Use if for 13 days and see if it works for you or not. If not, you can return it by mail or to a local Apple Store for a full refund.
  15. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I won't claim that it'll be easy to switch. If you are used to Windows, there is going to be a period where you have to adapt to the way OSX does things. As stated, most software is available, although sometimes, such as in current versions of Office, there are differences in user interface, and even in functionality. My wife absolutely loves her 11" MacBook Air I got her a few years ago, but there are still times when she is trying to do work on it where she gets frustrated and I have to step in.

    The tradeoff is that once you've adapted, the computer tends to be a bit more reliable for the average user, and requires minimal administration. If you have an iPhone, it integrates seamlessly with that (I use a PC for work, but really wish I could send iMessages and even texts from it the way I can on my Mac).
  16. steveyo macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2015
    I hate how OS X is so power user unfriendly but it's the best trade off between Windows Linux and OS X for me.

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