Is there a way to change the display's software density w/o rendering @ a higher res?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by vantt1, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. vantt1 macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2014
    So I have a 15" rMBP (running Yosemite 10.10), and the way Apple/OS X handles Retina scaling has been bugging me recently. The setting that "looks like 1440 x 900" is supposedly the "best" setting for Retina, which makes the display's density look like 1440 x 900 but rendered at 2880 x 1800. But as soon as it is stepped up to what "looks like 1680 x 1050", OS X actually renders 3360 x 2100, then scales it down to the 2880 x 1800 hardware (similarly with 1920 x 1200 at 3840 x 2400). This seems a bit wasteful, and would take a toll on battery life.

    So what if I prefer the look/display density of 1680 x 1050 but don't want the performance hit of rendering 3360 x 2100 on a 2880 x 1800 panel? Is there a way to do this?
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN

    Pixel density is a hardware limitation, not software. You cannot change the hardware.
  3. vantt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2014
    OK, I reworded the title.

    I don't physically want more pixels per inch (which is impossible obviously), I would like OS X (read: software) to display on-screen items smaller as if it did have a higher density, but of course at the display's physical native resolution of 2880 x 1800.
  4. Idarzoid macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2013
    You want OS X to use a resolution of 2880x1800 but display everything as if the resolution is 1680x1050? That's what I understood from your wording.

    Seems doable if you use something like SwitchResX to display at 2880x1800 and increase the size of icons and texts somehow.
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    That is what it is doing

    That is what it does already. The performance hit is minimal and the display is still razer sharp. There are many 3rd party apps to give you more options for your display.

    You can either Run it in native resolution..... Good luck with everything that small.

    Or you can run it scaled.

    There are no other choices...
  6. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I don't really get what you want exactly. To treat the display as if it were native 1680x1050? You can do it by hacking the OS via a tool such as SwitchResX. Of course the resulting quality will be significantly inferior to the scaled retina rendering.
  7. dyt1983, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    May 6, 2014
    edit: To remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
  8. vantt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2014
    Yes, that is close. But instead of increasing the size of icons and text, I would like to decrease it so more can fit on the screen at the same resolution.

    Native resolution (or what "looks like 2880 x 1800" so everything is that small) would mean the GPU has to render 5760 x 3600. I can't imagine how laggy that would be...

    The system preferences window says "Using a scaled resolution may affect performance", and I have noticed that it does lag a bit in some full-screen apps like when scrolling in Maps, or sometimes even Safari if I choose the highest scaling option.

    Screenshots are captured at the display's rendered resolution, and when all three are opened, you can see it really is rendering at that resolution. Relative to the native Retina resolution of 2880 x 1800 (~5.18 MP), 3360 x 2100 is rendering 36% more pixels (~7.06 MP) and 3840 x 2400 is rendering 78% more (~9.22 MP).

    By the looks of it, there's no way to change the way OS X handles Retina resolutions.

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