MacBook Air 2018 vs MacBook - Display quality?

Peter_M

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 20, 2018
140
75
Hi,

I've ordered a MacBook Air 2018 model, but afterwards I've seen various complaint about the display quality. I have a MacBook 2016 model, which display is good enough for my needs (though I prefer a high quality display). Is the MacBook Air 2018 display better, worse or same as the MacBook 2016 model?

Would appreciate any comparisons, thanks!
 
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Ma2k5

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Dec 21, 2012
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London

According to this review (and a few others, including user reports), the new MBA is dimmmer than the MB.
[doublepost=1541781016][/doublepost]
It’s probably best you wait for the one you ordered to arrive and compare then. People have different perceptions of what is an acceptable screen to them.
He wasn’t asking if it was acceptable, he was asking how it compares to the MacBook screen.
 
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buddyspencer

macrumors 6502
Oct 4, 2005
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Hi,

I've ordered a MacBook Air 2018 model, but afterwards I've seen various complaint about the display quality. I have a MacBook 2016 model, which display is good enough for my needs (though I prefer a high quality display). Is the MacBook Air 2018 display better, worse or same as the MacBook 2016 model?

Would appreciate any comparisons, thanks!
My MBP 2013 Retina is much better than the MBA 2018 Retina. Better contrast and brighter.
 

Mildredop

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2013
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My MBP 2013 Retina is much better than the MBA 2018 Retina. Better contrast and brighter.
Are you sure about that? I have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro retina and compared it to the new MacBook Air.

My research tells me that the 2014 MBP has a brightness of 286 nits, the new MacBook Air has 290 nits.

Surely your 2013 Pro wouldn't be brighter than my 2014?
 

Peter_M

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 20, 2018
140
75
Thanks for the comments.

I can live with a slightly dimmer screen (as I rarely use the Mac outdoors), but are the colours on the MacBook Air 2018 also duller? That would be disappointing, and could make me reconsider as the new MBA isn't much cheaper than MBP...
 
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glycerine00

macrumors newbie
Nov 8, 2018
16
10
Belgium
Are you sure about that? I have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro retina and compared it to the new MacBook Air.

My research tells me that the 2014 MBP has a brightness of 286 nits, the new MacBook Air has 290 nits.

Surely your 2013 Pro wouldn't be brighter than my 2014?
I'm not the person in question but I have the same experience, my late 2013 retina MBP has a much better screen (I compared them in the store, along with an older MBA) I know on paper it seems the new MBA would at least be the same but to me it's not and I don't know if it's something I can get past. It feels limiting.
 

Mildredop

macrumors 68020
Oct 14, 2013
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Right. So what's the deal here? I've got a MacBook Air arriving on Monday, but I'll be annoyed if the screen is less bright than my current 2014 MacBook Air.

"At 286 nits, [the 2014 MacBook Pro] is dimmer than the XPS 13" - https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/macbook-pro-13-inch-retina-display-2014

New MacBook Air has 290 nits according to the Dave2D YouTube review mentioned above.

So either some info here is wrong or people are mistaken.
 
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filmbuff

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2011
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Right. So what's the deal here? I've got a MacBook Air arriving on Monday, but I'll be annoyed if the screen is less bright than my current 2014 MacBook Air.

"At 286 nits, [the 2014 MacBook Pro] is dimmer than the XPS 13" - https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/macbook-pro-13-inch-retina-display-2014

New MacBook Air has 290 nits according to the Dave2D YouTube review mentioned above.

So either some info here is wrong or people are mistaken.
It's brighter than the old MBA. They had them side by side at the Apple store.
 

Peter_M

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 20, 2018
140
75
It's brighter than the old MBA. They had them side by side at the Apple store.
That doesn't say much, as the old MBA have an crappy display by today's standards. As long as the colour quality on the new MBA display is the same as MacBook, I don't mind the slightly dimmer display. It would be nice to get some clear answer on this. Thanks!
 

Big Apple

macrumors member
Jun 30, 2010
84
43
Maybe my eyes aren't as good as they used to be but I didn't really notice much difference in brightness or contrast with my late 2013 MBP. If there is one, it's certainly not big enough for me to send the MBA back ( sorry about the reflection, I had just snapped a quick photo for my own personal reference at the time so wasn't really paying attention)
 

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Ma2k5

macrumors 68020
Dec 21, 2012
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upload_2018-11-9_22-40-57.png


12” MacBook vs new MBA from Dave2D’s review.

So it’s not just less bright then the Pro, but also the 12” MacBook.

(Thanks @EugW for the picture)
 

MontTrain

macrumors member
Sep 10, 2012
31
16
It’s not just dimmer but the colours / contrast is worse than the 12”.

I have a 2015 that I wanted to replace with the Air, but side by side in the Apple store the screen on the 12 was much nicer browsing Apple.com let alone the wider colour of the Pro displays.

Super disappointed that they must have cut some corners to get it to price or got different suppliers or something.

I just assumed it was the same panel as the 12” but in a larger size since the specs on the Apple site had the same measurements.

It’s fine in isolation but it would nag at me knowing I went backwards in upgrading.
 
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Peter_M

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 20, 2018
140
75
That's disappointing. I like the updated keyboard (gen.3 butterfly), and as a teacher having the fingerprint button without the awful Touch Bar (instead of typing in my password all the time), made me order the new MBA. Considering the high price point, it's disappointing that Apple skimped on the display quality.

Tim Cook is taking well care of his company margins. I can see the next MBA update in a couple of years, with Timmy proclaiming from the stage with big arm movements and a ponderous voice inflection: "Now, with a better display having 30% more colours!" Yes, you gotta plan ahead for those low-hanging next-gen updates...
 
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newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
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East of Eden
Hi,

I've ordered a MacBook Air 2018 model, but afterwards I've seen various complaint about the display quality. I have a MacBook 2016 model, which display is good enough for my needs (though I prefer a high quality display). Is the MacBook Air 2018 display better, worse or same as the MacBook 2016 model?

Would appreciate any comparisons, thanks!
Worse. Not as bright, and yellow-ish. That's based on comparing half a dozen units of each at the Apple Store and my own rMB, rMBP and rMBA at home.
[doublepost=1541939735][/doublepost]
It’s not just dimmer but the colours / contrast is worse than the 12”.

I have a 2015 that I wanted to replace with the Air, but side by side in the Apple store the screen on the 12 was much nicer browsing Apple.com let alone the wider colour of the Pro displays.

Super disappointed that they must have cut some corners to get it to price or got different suppliers or something.

I just assumed it was the same panel as the 12” but in a larger size since the specs on the Apple site had the same measurements.

It’s fine in isolation but it would nag at me knowing I went backwards in upgrading.
I agree with everything in this post, though my rMB ism 2017 (current model).
[doublepost=1541939884][/doublepost]
Thanks for the comments.

I can live with a slightly dimmer screen (as I rarely use the Mac outdoors), but are the colours on the MacBook Air 2018 also duller? That would be disappointing, and could make me reconsider as the new MBA isn't much cheaper than MBP...
The rMBA is both not as bright as the rMB and older rMBP displays, the color tone is also off - it has a yellowish cast.
 
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Velin

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
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Hearst Castle
Saw the 2018 MBA at Best Buy today. As a long-time Mac user, previous MBAir owner and current MBPro owner, I could instantly tell the 2018 MBAir screen was dim and dull. In fact, when I tried to brighten it, at first I thought I hit the wrong function keys, turning up keyboard brightness instead. Nope, of course I hit the correct screen brightness key -- the screen was maxed out. Then I thought something was wrong with it. Only to come to the forums and see more than a few posts about the dim screen -- which is exactly what I saw and thought firsthand.

When compared with my 2013 MBPro, the 2018 MBAir screen is a no and this iteration is a pass. Even the M$ Surface screens looked way better.
 
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prizm

macrumors member
Oct 29, 2007
97
22
Worse. Not as bright, and yellow-ish. That's based on comparing half a dozen units of each at the Apple Store and my own rMB, rMBP and rMBA at home.
[doublepost=1541939735][/doublepost]

I agree with everything in this post, though my rMB ism 2017 (current model).
[doublepost=1541939884][/doublepost]

The rMBA is both not as bright as the rMB and older rMBP displays, the color tone is also off - it has a yellowish cast.
I had to color calibrate my original MacBook Air and it looks tons better. I'm wondering if these new Airs need calibrating as well. Some of the problems in these threads might clear up a bit.
 

newellj

macrumors 604
Oct 15, 2014
7,742
2,626
East of Eden
I had to color calibrate my original MacBook Air and it looks tons better. I'm wondering if these new Airs need calibrating as well. Some of the problems in these threads might clear up a bit.
Could you? Yes. I still have a colorimeter from Windoze days but my experience with Retina displays over the last five or six years is that they typically don't need it, or not much. They've also been pretty consistent. (Not so the TN panels in the non-retina MBAs, in my experience, though.). Comparing the rMB, rMBA and rMBP side by side the rMBA is very obviously different.
 

roncron

macrumors 6502a
Aug 15, 2011
610
851
Right. So what's the deal here? I've got a MacBook Air arriving on Monday, but I'll be annoyed if the screen is less bright than my current 2014 MacBook Air.

"At 286 nits, [the 2014 MacBook Pro] is dimmer than the XPS 13" - https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/macbook-pro-13-inch-retina-display-2014

New MacBook Air has 290 nits according to the Dave2D YouTube review mentioned above.

So either some info here is wrong or people are mistaken.
Regarding the nits, results seem to vary. Laptop Mag as you might know measures the 2018 Air's display brightness and gets 234 nits. Trusted Reviews does its own measurement and gets 305 nits.

Source:
https://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/apple-macbook-air-2018
https://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/macbook-air-2018

Why the variance? Maybe different batches of 2018 MB Air's have different displays, some brighter than others? Or maybe the various tests aren't strictly comparable (e.g. one tester has auto brightness on and another has it off). Who knows? The best thing in my opinion is to live with the new Air for a week and try using it in different lighting conditions to see if it's bright enough for you. If it's not, take it back.

I bought a 2018 MB Air to replace my early 2015 retina MB Pro. I've used this Pro in many different lighting conditions over the past 3 years and never felt it wasn't bright enough.

In a side by side comparison, my 2018 Air's brightness is virtually the same as my Pro's brightness (not surprising since both are rated at 300 nits). Since my 2015 Pro's display has always been bright enough for me, I'm confident the Air will, too.

I also viewed a variety of video clips and high-res photos on both screens at the same time. I believe the 2018 Air's display is no worse or better than my Pro's display. (One difference: My Pro has a slightly cooler color temperature than the Air.)

I know the newer (2016-2018) MB Pros have better and brighter displays than the 2015 and earlier MB Pros, most especially the Touch Bar models with True Tone display.

I'm sure many people will choose the 2017 ntMBP over the 2018 MBA for its better display and processor, and I can't blame them.

For me, the 2018 MBA is plenty fast enough for the kind of work I do (a lot of writing, a lot of data analysis, some presentations), and I like the MBA form factor better than the MBP's (I have a late 2016 MBP with TB at work). So it's the right choice for me.
 

darkmatter343

macrumors regular
Sep 18, 2017
205
135
Toronto, Canada
Hi,

I've ordered a MacBook Air 2018 model, but afterwards I've seen various complaint about the display quality. I have a MacBook 2016 model, which display is good enough for my needs (though I prefer a high quality display). Is the MacBook Air 2018 display better, worse or same as the MacBook 2016 model?

Would appreciate any comparisons, thanks!
I highly doubt on day to day usage you'll notice a difference, or stop and think about how better another display may be. Obviously the colors on the Pro line are better, but it's also a much more expensive laptop. The MacBook I believe is rated for 300 nits as well, same as the Air, and even if one can notice a difference side by side, again using it day to day, I doubt that'll be on your mind. It's a nice Retina Screen with good colors. If you need the P3 Color and 500 nit display, the Pro line awaits. :)
[doublepost=1542171787][/doublepost]
View attachment 803961

To me, the 12" MacBook on the left in brighter for sure
The 12" is suppose to be rated for 300 nits as well, but notebookcheck.com has the 2017 rated for around 300-340, where as the 2018 Air gets about 300-320. It's really not that much brighter.
 
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