monitor for new macbook pro retina - limitations?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by zeppo2, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. zeppo2 macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    Hi, I am not technically savvy about this.

    I want to buy an external monitor (extended configuration) to use with a Macbook Pro Retina for programming/coding (I am a newbie just starting classes.).

    Are there limitations as to the size/specifications of the monitors that a macbook pro retina will run for this use?

    So far I am considering:

    Dell UltraSharp 25" U2515H

    Dell UltraSharp 24" U2415

    I like that these monitors are IPS and can pivot (in case I find that a vertical screen is useful for me).

    I picked the size simply based on the thought that this is about as much screen size as I will comfortably be taking in to view. Although I have seen references by some that the font size still ends up being very small on these size screens (I don't understand why they can't just adjust the font size, but as I said, I am not savvy about these specs.).

    Will either of these work with either the retina 13" or 15" (I was leaning towards 13")?

    Or should I go larger? or same size with higher resolution?

  2. Stetrain, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Either of those monitors should work fine with any of the retina Macbook Pros.

    There are some limitations with the 13" when driving multiple external monitors (I think?) and when driving 4k (3840x2160) displays, but the monitors you linked should be fine.

    I would be a bit concerned about the 25" 2560x1440 monitor making text and other UI elements a bit too small for comfortable use. Some people find that even 27" 2560x1440 can make text a bit on the small side, so that same resolution squeezed down into 25" might not be ideal.

    I think the U2415H would be a great choice for your purposes. It's also nice because it has a bit of extra vertical space (1920x1200) compared to most 24" monitors (1920x1080) which is nice for programming.
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The current retina MBP (no matter if 13" or 15") will basically work fine with every display that is commercially available for the wide consumer base. In case of displays you are talking about, they will even drive both of them at the same time without breaking a sweat.
  4. austinpike macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
    You can get a wide variety of 27" 2560x1440 screens in the $400-$500 price range. 25" at the same resolution would result in uncomfortably small screen elements imho. And there is no real reason to consider the 24" unless you are seriously constrained for space.

    This is my go to recommendation for a reputable manufacturer with 3-year warranty:
  5. AlleaRizary macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2015
    can i asked? when I am using MBP in dock and connect it to monitor and use it, should I first remove the battery or just plugged the cable charge and stay put even if the battery has alread full? does this damage the battery?

    and what is the better tips?
  6. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    Hi, I have a late follow up question to this. I am trying to understand the implications such as you describe regarding which monitor I choose to pair with a MB Pro Retina 13" (or possibly a 15", though if I am using an external monitor, the 15" I assume is pointless).

    I understand that, as you say for some the 27" at 2560x1440 may make test a bit small. So if I were to do this, what happens if I simply go into the "view" settings of the program to enlarge the font to compensate. For instance, lets say I enlarge the font so that it appears on the screen the same size (roughly) as what would have appeared had I gone with the U2415H at 1920x1200? I take it in that comparison, the U2415H wins out with sharper text?

    If so, I guess I would then have to decide if a few inches of screen space on the 27", but with inferior font resolution (although the same size font on the screen), would be preferable to less screen space but sharper text.

    I can say that currently I have a late 2009 iMac that is at 1920x1080. If I were to be using the font for coding that matches what this iMac displays for this forum's posts form, I would prefer to increase the size of the font one time using Command+ (if that gives you an idea of my needs or desires in terms of font size).

    Just trying to understand.
  7. Stetrain, Jan 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015

    Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    You can definitely increase font sizes on an app-by-app basis. However, the size of the other user interface elements won't be affected by this. The menu bar at the top of the screen, tabs and menus in a program, etc. will stay at the native size of the monitor (unless you run the monitor at a resolution other than its native resolution, which isn't a good idea since it makes things blurry).

    In your scenario either the 25" 2560x1440 or 27" 2560x1440 screens would have slightly sharper text than the 24" 1920x1200 at the same text size since they have a higher pixel density.

    You can use to figure out the pixel density of a monitor. The higher the density, the smaller the standard text size.

    (There's an exception with very high density displays, Apple calls them Retina displays but 4k displays are treated the same in OSX, in that they can operate in modes where all text and UI sizes are doubled compared to a normal monitor. That's why the retina Macbooks don't all have tiny text)

    24" 1920x1200 is 94 pixels per inch.
    25" 2560x1440 is 117 pixels per inch.
    27" 2560x1440 is 109 pixels per inch.

    Is that a 21.5" iMac? If so, a 21.5" 1920x1080 screen has a pixel density of 102.

    I think that either a 24" (1920x1080 or 1920x1200) or 27" (2560x1440) display would be the best match, but I would avoid the 25" 2560x1440 display. If you want to see what a 27" 2560x1440 display looks like in person you can check out a 27" iMac at a store.

    If you want really clear sharp text you might also want to look at a 4k display. I believe that currently only the 15" retina MBP is capable of driving a 4k display at full framerate so that's a consideration as well.

    A 24" 4k (3840x2160) is 184 pixels per inch, but all text and UI sizes system-wide are doubled (like on the retina Macbooks) so text will be the same size as if it were a 92 pixels per inch monitor.
  8. gr4z macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2010
    I have the U2515H from Dell I really like it with my late 2013 13" rMBP

    Attached Files:

  9. samcema macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    Have you tried Asus pb278q? How is that?
  10. gr4z macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2010
    No sorry I haven't.
  11. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    yes, it is 21.5". I wish I didn't have a bit of a headache right now, or I might process what you posted better, because it has been very informative. But I'm going to ask this since my brain isn't functioning:

    Is the pixel size a hardware feature of the monitor, or a variable unit displaying one block of color, black or white whose size depends on the settings you have chosen? I'm pretty sure it is the latter, but as I said, headache has me disfunctional.
  12. Stetrain, Jan 20, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015

    Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    In a way, both are true.

    An LCD monitor has a fixed pixel size. If you take a magnifying glass a 1920x1080 monitor literally has 1920 pixel units across and 1080 pixels units down in a physical grid.

    You can also set a resolution in software. If you set a software resolution of 1920x1080 to be displayed on a 1920x1080 monitor, then each software pixel will line up with each hardware pixel exactly for a good image.

    If you set a resolution other than the physical resolution of the monitor, it introduces blurring since it isn't a 1:1 mapping.

    It gets a bit more complicated when talking about very high density (small hardware pixel size) monitors. Apple calls them 'retina' when used in their machines but the same applies to external 4k monitors.

    On retina / 4k displays, the size of everything on screen is doubled at default settings to compensate for the fact that the hardware pixel size is so tiny. Fonts that used to be 12 pixels tall are now 24 pixels tall, but appear at about the same size as a non-retina display because the hardware pixels are much smaller.

    I hope that helps a bit. :)
  13. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    Thanks, Stetrain.

    Yes, that helps a lot. I also am functioning much better this morning. :)

    So the Dell 25" has more hardware pixels per inch than the 24", which means those pixels on the 25" are smaller. So there is no compensation made to take advantage of this and use more pixels to render a font, and so a 12 pixel high font displayed on the 24" remains 12 pixels high on the 25", and is as a result, smaller on the 25".

    Had the 25" also been 1920 x 1200, the pixels would have been larger than the 24" and thus the fonts larger.

    So let's say I get the 25" but go to settings to choose a display option of 1920x1200 (assuming the option is there). I presume the screen displays a "virtual" 1920 x 1200, using the full 25" of screen to display less on the screen than would be shown with the 1:1 setting, but with larger "everything" (albeit with some blurriness introduced by the conversion). A font that is 12 pixels high on a screen set at 1:1 is now using more than 12 pixels for the height of the font. Keeping the monitor at 2560x1440 1:1 but using zoom (Command+) to increase font size doesn't affect "everything" displayed, so menu fonts are unchanged. Then I take it it is a bit random as to which option to enlarge the content displays the sharper text, unless there is something in the design of zoom which is set to be more optimal in the "conversion" to larger images.
  14. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    coming back to this, I got myself thinking again. :) I presume that fonts are either intentionally designed at each standard resolution with some particular attention being made to adjust the design in order to improve perceived sharpness, or they are intentionally designed at one or more standard resolution with their display in others being subject to some automated conversion whose rough edges are what they are. This being the case, then I'm thinking for text, choosing to change the display setting from 1:1 to a standard setting with fewer pixels psi might be the preferable option rather than command+ in terms of sharpness.
  15. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Fonts look best when you're using a 1:1 mapping. The OS does font smoothing and sub-pixel optimization (compensating for the fact that each pixel is actually 3 units, Red Green and Blue) assuming that you're running at the native resolution of the display. If you increase the font sizes while staying at native 1:1 resolution it can keep doing all of that optimization correctly.

    Running at non-native resolution means that software pixels fall on fractional parts of hardware pixels, so you will by definition get fuzziness across the whole display.
  16. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    Ah, so I was wrong in my presumption that when a font is designed, it has designs for how it is represented in each standard resolution. I guess I was just hoping.

    Thanks, that is very good info! Learning a lot.

    Now when it comes to laptop processors and their ability to run a particular screen resolution on an external monitor, is this relative to what is being displayed on the screen? For instance, it has been mentioned in another thread that the current 13" Macbook Pro retina will only run a 4k monitor at 30Hz. I'm not sure if this is due to the i5 vs the i7, or to the graphics. But does this mean the 13" can't run the monitor at 60hz *period*, or just can't run it well, and if it is the latter, wouldn't it be dependent on what program and content is running on the monitor? My primary need from a laptop and external monitor right now is to simply to run a text editor/coding compiler and virtual DOS screen in which to run and display simple programs coded in C and C++. It's not like it will involve graphics.

    That said, the reason I ask that question is that, instead of a macbook pro retina now, I might prefer to wait for the next update and instead by a cheap Windows laptop with a Celeron processor for $300 and hook it up to a nice external monitor that I can pair nicely later on with my future new Macbook Pro. But this isn't a solution if the cheapo laptop can't run such a monitor. If it can't, then it means buying a cheapo monitor to go with the cheapo laptop, and then the option as a whole suddenly isn't so cheap any more. That in turn would lean me towards getting the macbook pro retina now.
  17. zeppo2 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010
    after reading through very long thread on the P2715Q, I think I understand enough to know it won't be worth it to buy a low end windows laptop to only be paired with a low external monitor. So I'll move towards getting the macbook pro retina. Probably the 13" .
  18. JCCash macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2008
    ASUS PB278 Display is what I am using with my MBP. Fantastic monitor. I do not use the built in speakers but the image sharp.
  19. branonx macrumors newbie

    Feb 15, 2015
    P2415Q vs U2515H

    So if I had to choose between a 24 inch Dell p2415Q (which is 4k) vs the Dell u2515h , you think the former would be a better match for my 2014 13" MBP retina?
    27 inches is too big for my desk. In fact, I have an apple 27 inch display which is great except that my neck starts hurting moving left to right and back again.
    Earlier I got a dell Uz2315h and the font was too grainy (23 inch with 1920x1080).

    Most of my work is really writing tex code, some statistical packages, and on the web. During leisure time it is used for Netflix, or Nickjr.

    Thanks a bunch.

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