MBP as desktop or move on?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Karpaasi, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Karpaasi macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2008
    Recently my 2007 MPB suffered a torn screen ribbon. It works fine connected to an external monitor, so I'm thinking about investing a few hundred dollars to create a decent desktop (new monitor, keyboard and mouse). I don't care about losing portability, but I am questioning whether it's worth the money to create a desktop out of an older machine.

    I'm concerned about how well non-Apple external monitors work with MBPs. While I'm not looking for the same clarity as my MBP monitor, I'd like something relatively close. And, I'd like to be able to do it with a fairly inexpensive monitor. Once this "desktop" gets much above $300, I think it makes more sense to look at something newer like a used iMac.

    Are the stories about lack of sharpness with external monitors the exception or the rule? Short of hooking my MBP up to a bunch of monitors at a big box store, I'm not sure how I can figure out which monitors work well.

  2. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Lack of "sharpness" vs. an MBP screen? That's a new one for me... I haven't run into it but I don't mess around with budget displays either...

    I'm switching from iMacs to MBPs and external displays. I don't care for the iMac "glassy" display and the lack of ergonomic adjustments. External displays can also be purchased that are of better quality than the stock iMac displays for a comparable price. I don't require the power of an iMac or Power Mac and I like the idea of having an "all in one" Mac that is both a desktop and portable computer.

    So one route you can take is to increase your budget somewhat and get a very good display that you can use with another portable Mac when you eventually upgrade. One area that I don't like to scrimp is my display, but I spend much of the day on my Macs and I also do image editing, so my needs may be different than yours. But a new iMac costs substantially more than $300, so why not consider spending a little more money since that figure must include new input devices?

    I prefer NEC displays for their high quality, reliability and four year warranty. LDC displays start at $300 MSRP; there are thirty CCFL backlit models as well as LED backlit.

    Other people will have suggestions for less expensive displays. The Monitors for Photography Web site really like this Asus display for less than $300: http://monitorsforphotography.com/reviews/asus-pa238q-23-review-best-value-monitor-for-photography. I don't have any personal experience with Asus displays and if I was considering it I would look at other review Web sites before making a decision.
  3. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    I love my 27" ACD, and can handle the glossy look by and large, but my 2011 MBP will not be used for 3D or encoding as the temp gets up to 90C.

    I don't mind anything up to low~mid-60s during use, so Photoshop and VMs are just fine. But I will not do rendering or app compiling. Because of that, a MBP as a desktop replacement is not a viable choice for me. :(


    Thanks for the link!

    Asus has a 24" version (1920x1200) for $500 (CCFL backlit for an extra 10% gamut improvement) that looks REALLY nice and Asus generally has a good reputation (I'd put them above HP or Dell based on recent experiences and reading up on others' situations, which were too similar not to discount...)

    They must be using e-IPS for that 23", though. There's no way the price could be that low, but if it is H-IPS or other comparable higher-quality version of IPS than e-IPS, then I am floored. And have 13 days to make an exchange, but

    10-bit color has some caveats, according to a couple of people here:

    (from page 6 of user comments)

  4. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I prefer standard gamut displays myself. I've never needed a wide gamut and I shoot RAW and use the ProPhoto or Adobe color spaces in post-processing.

    If you are thinking of spending around $500 take a look at this NEC display:


    It's $500 when placed in the cart. It also qualifies for a free monitor hood that normally costs $100.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've used apple and non apple displays with my MBP and I've never had any issues with color, sharpness or anything else.

    I have a 21" ACD currently but I've had other monitors before that I've been happy. I like the 21"ACD but when I replace this in the course of time, I'm not sure I have the $$ to plunk down for another ACD, so I may opt for a non-apple display.
  6. upbraid macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2011
    save that 300 for your next mbp. anything older than 2 years is very obsolete in the world of computing technology.
  7. NickZac macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    I may be in the minority here but I would personally not drop that kind of money on a display given if the computer stops working you have a nice display but no computer, and 5 years is pretty old for a laptop. Also, $300 is enough to buy a cheap new laptop. I would personally put the money towards a new or refurb laptop, Apple if you can afford it but if you can't there are some really nice Windows PCs as well. To me it is kind of like spending 2 grand in repairs on an old car...there really is no win/win but if you put the money in it and something else breaks, then it becomes a lose/lose/lose. :(
  8. srxtr macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
  9. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I love the way people on this forum love spending other folks' money!

    A two year old Mac is not "obsolete." If that 2007 MBP is still serving the OPs needs and he can get by for a while with an external display I say go for it. The display will be an asset when he finally upgrades the MBP.

    Th least expensive MBP is going to be a refurb early 2011 13" MBP at around $929 from Apple. I have one and it's a great little Mac. I use it with a high-end 24" NEC display. What the OP winds up doing depends on how much he wants to spend now vs. down the road a bit.
  10. thekev, Mar 31, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Edit: I wanted to note that there aren't many good sRGB CCFL displays left on the market these days, and the thunderbolt display is (unfortunately) not a suitable alternative. Also in noting black levels they chose to ignore the problem there. When you increase contrast ratio, you also spread the points out. For each combination of 0-255 across each channel, you have a corresponding color that is displayed. With profile corrections, you basically eat a few values to smooth out the response curves, so you're typically not using every one of those values anyway, and it becomes most apparent in the shadows. Going for blacker blacks and consistent white point luminance can exacerbate the problem much like the gamut thing, which is why I don't regard that as a testament of quality (meaning I don't care if Apple doesn't have the deepest blacks). I look for reproduction of shadow detail rather than black levels.

    Apple doesn't have 10 bit displayport drivers. I think one or two cards worked on a Mac Pro under Leopard. None have worked under SL or Lion. If the drivers were there, caveats would not be present. Adobe RGB displays have caveats in that the larger gamut is harder to control. The references to RGB LED displays are just really bad as NEC is the only company that has made one that wasn't an undercooked piece of garbage. It hit the market around $6000 in 2005 or 2006. It was an exceptional display for its time, and one of the first ones to implement such a thing. The others that have tried this produced trash in terms of computer displays.

    Apple did improve uniformity on the 27" models over the older cinema displays. I don't mess with them that often, but it seems to hold up reasonably well even at lower luminance levels. It's not really designed for color critical use. You don't have enough luminance control to match brightness to any given target, and LED backlighting produces other problems. For that kind of thing, black levels wouldn't be that big of an issue. Doing print or video corrections doesn't actually require as high of a contrast ratio as you might think. It requires a certain amount of contrast when calibrated at a specific luminance target.

    They didn't mention the device used for testing on color or uniformity. The measurement devices aren't perfect, and they respond differently based on display characteristics. This is why these things are often bundled with a tuned version. I'm just saying that while I'm not sure if their results are spot on, the lack of information on their tests may not tell you the entire story, especially if they're reporting Delta E values without noting potential margin of error (especially as most colorimeters suck with anything LED related, and in the case of NEC and the 2180WG they used a custom puck with their design).
  11. ygohome macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2009
    If it were me, I'd replace the ribbon cable. But I like to take things apart and fix things. Even if you fail at successfully replacing the ribbon cable then you are no worse off than you were to begin with (other than the $ of the replacement cable of course)

    Here is ifixit's link on how to replace the display cable.


    and the part itself is only $50 (confirm you model mbp incase I'm directing you to the wrong part and guide):

    The guide says it is "very difficult" but as long as you follow the walkthrough guide, have a clean and organized work area with proper tools then I don't see any problems... Unless you have fingers like sausages and get the shakes easily. :)

    You can always still get the external monitor if you want more real-estate
  12. Karpaasi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2008
    Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm still undecided about what to do. Repairing the screen (if I repair it myself) or turning it into a desktop are the cheapest options. I've found a good deal on a used Dell 23" IPS monitor, which I can combine with an external keyboard and mouse for $200-250. I think this set-up would suffice.

    A part of me wants to wait for the next iMac refresh, and then pull the trigger on a current model, which should be discounted in the Apple refurb/clearance section. Since there's some speculation about a design refresh, it makes sense to wait, since a new design would bring down the prices of the current models.
  13. njean777 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2009
    Thats always an option as well, if you want a desktop then just wait for the Imac refresh, but if you want to salvage your computer now then just get a monitor.

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