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Mac mini and external monitor resolution

cfurlin

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 14, 2011
396
769
I have a Samsung 28" E590 DS/ZA 4K monitor attached to my Mac mini. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160. My question is this: In the display settings, the Default for display option puts the screen at 1920 x 1080, which seems wrong. However, the clarity is absolutely fantastic at this resolution. If I scale it to the monitor's native resolution, it looks terrible. Is this some retina thing? I have no issue leaving it at the default (although everything is quite large). I'm just curious why macOS would choose the lower resolution. TIA.
 

chscag

Contributor
Feb 17, 2008
3,933
1,413
Fort Worth, Texas
I just checked the online user manual for the Samsung. It specifically states that it supports an input signal of up to 1080P and no higher. I couldn't find any nomenclature for its native resolution though? Normally macOS will choose the best default resolution for a given monitor. The Samsung is not a retina display as far as I know.

Also, which Mini do you have, year and model? Perhaps your Mini does not support 4K.
 
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cfurlin

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 14, 2011
396
769
I just checked the online user manual for the Samsung. It specifically states that it supports an input signal of up to 1080P and no higher. I couldn't find any nomenclature for its native resolution though? Normally macOS will choose the best default resolution for a given monitor. The Samsung is not a retina display as far as I know.

Also, which Mini do you have, year and model? Perhaps your Mini does not support 4K.

It's a 2018 Mac mini 6-core i5, 32GB RAM. The monitor specs are as follows:

LU28E590DS/ZA
28" UE590 UHD Monitor
4K, 3840 X 2160 Resolution (UHD), 60Hz (DP)
Sharper Viewing Angle with T-shaped Stand
 
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chscag

Contributor
Feb 17, 2008
3,933
1,413
Fort Worth, Texas
There is no question that your Mini can support much higher resolutions than the Samsung. Which port are you using to attach the Samsung?

This is what Mactracker says about display support for your model Mini:

Display Support Up to two displays with 4096 by 2304 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096 by 2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0 or One display with 5120 by 2880 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096 by 2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0

As you can see, you should be able to use that monitor at its native resolution.
 
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cfurlin

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 14, 2011
396
769
There is no question that your Mini can support much higher resolutions than the Samsung. Which port are you using to attach the Samsung?

This is what Mactracker says about display support for your model Mini:

Display Support Up to two displays with 4096 by 2304 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096 by 2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0 or One display with 5120 by 2880 resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096 by 2160 resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0

As you can see, you should be able to use that monitor at its native resolution.

Display port, but I've tried both with the same result.

Interesting. I wonder why macOS chooses 1920 x 1080, which strangely enough, is 1/2 width/height of the native resolution of the monitor. That's what you generally get with retina. I wonder if macOS thinks I have a retina display for some reason.
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,684
3,093
Thailand
OP: can you screenshot the displays preference pane and upload it here? It sounds like you’re just seeing the effects of “@2x” scaling (which macOS generally does by default on a 4K/5k screen).
 
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Cruciarius

macrumors regular
Aug 18, 2013
102
17
Massachusetts
In the system preferences -> display, do you have "default for display" or "scaled" selected? If you option + click the "scaled" option, you should see a list of other resolutions you can use.

Note that running a higher resolution does tax the iGPU more than the default option.
 
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macdos

macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2017
410
641
That's the Tim Apple default. He only writes letters, and he likes his fonts blurry. He thinks the computer is a bigger Iphone.

The rest of us want screen estate. And an option to customize UI size.

The default resolution is always the native resolution of the screen, everything else is scaled.

I have a Samsung 28" E590 DS/ZA 4K monitor attached to my Mac mini. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160. My question is this: In the display settings, the Default for display option puts the screen at 1920 x 1080, which seems wrong. However, the clarity is absolutely fantastic at this resolution. If I scale it to the monitor's native resolution, it looks terrible. Is this some retina thing? I have no issue leaving it at the default (although everything is quite large). I'm just curious why macOS would choose the lower resolution. TIA.
 
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cfurlin

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 14, 2011
396
769
In the system preferences -> display, do you have "default for display" or "scaled" selected? If you option + click the "scaled" option, you should see a list of other resolutions you can use.

Note that running a higher resolution does tax the iGPU more than the default option.
As I said in my original post, I have it set to Default for display. Scaled at a higher resolution looks awful.
I think I'm just going to leave it as 1920 x 1080. The screen is clear and crisp. At the higher scaled resolutions, it almost looks pixelated.
[doublepost=1563187362][/doublepost]
OP: can you screenshot the displays preference pane and upload it here? It sounds like you’re just seeing the effects of “@2x” scaling (which macOS generally does by default on a 4K/5k screen).
Yes, that's what I'm seeing: @2x scaling. Thanks for putting a name on it for me. ;-) I'm actually OK with it now that I know what is happening. Higher scaled resolutions don't look nearly as good.
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,684
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Thailand
Thanks for putting a name on it for me. ;-) I'm actually OK with it now that I know what is happening. Higher scaled resolutions don't look nearly as good

In Mojave, with my displays at least, it even says "Looks like 1920x1080" - in reality its still sending a 4K signal to the display, but the way it's rendered the UI sizes it as if it were 1920x1080.

he likes his fonts blurry
@2x scaling mode literally makes things smoother on screen, what are you talking about?

The rest of us want screen estate.
This argument doesn't make any sense no matter how many times you repeat it. Regardless of whether it says "Looks like 1920x1080" or "3840x2160, UI @ 200%" you're going to have the same "screen real estate".

And an option to customize UI size.
Have you ever heard the phrase "perfect is the enemy of good"?

Sure, a fully vectored UI scaling system would be great, but the current system means apps built way before "Retina" Macs existed can be rendered in a way that doesn't look like a horses ass. I have a dev tool that was last updated seven ****ing years ago, and it looks amazing (albeit not dark-mode supporting) under Mojave.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
20,431
7,246
OP wrote:
"I have a Samsung 28" E590 DS/ZA 4K monitor attached to my Mac mini. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160. My question is this: In the display settings, the Default for display option puts the screen at 1920 x 1080"

That's NORMAL.
That's what it's supposed to show you.

The concept behind most 4k displays is that the user is not going to run them at "full resolution" -- but rather in "HiDPI mode", in which 4 [of the tiny pixels] are used to represent 1 pixel (as it would be displayed on a 27" 1080p display).

As such, the image is "the same size" as you would see on a 1080p display, but it's MUCH SHARPER.

This is what the "retina" concept is all about.

If you were to run a 4k 27" display at FULL pixel-for-pixel resolution, the text (displayed at normal font sizes) would be so small you'd almost need a magnifying glass to read it.

If you want to see all the resolutions the display can show you, do this:
a. open the displays pref pane
b. hold down the option key and (still holding it down), click "scaled".
 
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macdos

macrumors 6502
Oct 15, 2017
410
641
It doesn't get more clear and sharp than with native 4K. Unless you are a hawk, you can't see individual pixels at that resolution.

Upscaling and applying blur (which is what smoothing is) doesn't make it more clear, it is an illusion.

If you want to hate on Tim, do it somewhere else.

No, WE don't. I want a clear image.
[doublepost=1563206240][/doublepost]That's unheard of outside Cupertino. A 4K display is of course intended to run at 4K. That is why they make movies and TV broadcasting in 4K.

The concept behind most 4k displays is that the user is not going to run them at "full resolution" -- but rather in "HiDPI mode", in which 4 [of the tiny pixels] are used to represent 1 pixel (as it would be displayed on a 27" 1080p display).
 
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JanezP

macrumors newbie
Jun 11, 2019
3
1
Japan
Hi all. May I share my frustrations regarding Mac Mini 2018 choice of monitor resolutions. I have connected NEC PA272W main display with natural resolution 2560x1440 30 bit by 4K HDMI cable to Mini. No matter what Mini would always switch to 1920x1080. And monitor would warn me about substandard resolution. Display preference pane with Option pressed does not display natural resolution for this monitor. HiDPI selection produces sharp pictures with well balanced colors, however not for my use. 1080p selection degrades the sharpness, so is of no use. Any advise would be much appreciated.
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,684
3,093
Thailand
In the Displays preference pane, where it says Resolution: and has a 'default for display' and 'scaled' option, hold down the Option key and click 'Scaled'. You'll see a long list of resolutions available. Pick 2560x1440.

What you see is indeed incorrect behaviour, but it's almost completely unrelated to what the OP was seeing last year btw.
 
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JanezP

macrumors newbie
Jun 11, 2019
3
1
Japan
Thanks Stephen. Solution offered is what I was hoping for with new OS 10.15.4. Alas, scaled option in my case does not show more than five entries none of them desired 2560x1440 60Hz, neither 'Detect displays" would offer more. However. checked NEC page for this model and found the following suggestion for Mac users. Quote:'cable that can plug into a Thunderbolt port on your Mac and into the DisplayPort port on the monitor. This is the best connection for this configuration.' Unquote. Meaning I'll skip HDMI and give it a try. Out of the ordinary anyway.
 
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Ray2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
740
168
Hi all. May I share my frustrations regarding Mac Mini 2018 choice of monitor resolutions. I have connected NEC PA272W main display with natural resolution 2560x1440 30 bit by 4K HDMI cable to Mini. No matter what Mini would always switch to 1920x1080. And monitor would warn me about substandard resolution. Display preference pane with Option pressed does not display natural resolution for this monitor. HiDPI selection produces sharp pictures with well balanced colors, however not for my use. 1080p selection degrades the sharpness, so is of no use. Any advise would be much appreciated.
I have found hdmi2 to scale too large with 2560x1440 displays. A task bar on the right will be fully hidden. You might want to try a DP connection. With a Dell Ultrasharp, my 2018 mini does not switch to 1920x1080. It remains where I set it at 2560x1440.

I run Mojave, for a reason.
 
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JanezP

macrumors newbie
Jun 11, 2019
3
1
Japan
Thanks for response. Played a bit more with Mini's Display preference panel. The key step was to hold Option key pressed at all times (as Fishrmman mentioned earlier). Got to the 2560x1440 scaled option, picture is OK but on the expense of refresh rate. Now monitor complains it has only 30 Hz rate to deal with and not 60Hz as expected. I guess (not being a pro) I'll ditch HDMI and go for DP cable as Ray2 suggested. Let me mention, I have not had such a problem with cMPro 5.1 running OS Mohave on the same monitor in addition to the NEC PA271Q in dual configuration. Thanks all.
 
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