Monitor for old and new Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Nutella, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Nutella macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2003
    Hello, I have a 2010 Macbook Pro and will hold onto it as long as it stays alive, but I imagine I'll have to replace it with a new one in 2018. I use it for photography editing (using Affinity Photo). It's getting more and more difficult for me to use the laptop for editing, so I want to buy an external monitor. Nothing too big or expensive, probably up to 24" and less than $300 or 400 USD (just ballpark as I use different currency).

    Any recommendations on what to look for as far as compatibility with my current and future MB Pro? And possibly any specific models? Thanks!
  2. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    If it were me, and from what you describe, I think you either want a good "HD" monitor or a good "4K" monitor. The former is pretty inexpensive these days. The latter is relatively inexpensive, and will be more future proof.

    Dell, Samsung, LG are good brands.

    I believe this model has a mini DisplayPort, which can be directly connected to DisplayPort on some of these monitors. The mDP can also use inexpensive adapters to convert to HDMI, if required. I've had good luck with adapters from monoprice.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd get a 27" 4k display.

    You can use it with the 2010 MBPro @1080p.

    When you get a new MacBook, it will be "4k ready".
  4. esk macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2016
    I would only buy a 1080p screen max, because the integrated graphics cannot support a 4k display smoothly. It will be laggy as hell
  5. Nutella thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2003
    Thanks for the responses, much appreciated and I will consider all the advice!
  6. xbankaiz macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2015
    If it is for photo editing, I would suggest getting something that is properly colour calibrated. I use the Dell U2417 for most of my photo editing but you rather get a 4K if budget isn't a constraint for you so that you will be future proof once you get a new computer in the near future.
  7. 1080p macrumors 68030


    Mar 17, 2010
    Planet Earth
    Thanks for the mention. I appreciate it.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I have a Dell S2817Q 28" 4k display (it was cheap - I'd only consider it for extra real-estate, the colour isn't up to photo editing - but the observations may apply to other Dell displays) - which I've tried connecting to both a 2010 Core 2 Duo 13" MBP (OS X 10.9) and a 2011 17" MBP (MacOS 10.12). Some observations:

    1. With a MiniDP-to-DisplayPort cable, I just get a blank screen (on both the 2010 and 2011 MBPs). However, I found that a StarTech active MiniDP-to-HDMI adapter works. (

    2. Works at 2560x1440, 1920x1080 and 4k native 3840x2160 (yes, even the 2010) - but the latter is only 30Hz and you get very small text & icons... I haven't tried to use it in anger on the 2010 to see what the lag is like!

    3. Had a bit of crashiness and weirdness on the 2010 with the 4k display connected... and after I select "1080p" many of the other resolution options mysteriously vanish... may be an OS X 10.9 thing...

    4. You can drive most 4k displays in "Scaled" mode at 1080p or 2560x1440 from a non-retina, but the quality is not quite up to what you'd get on a "native" 1080p or 1440p display - but its the monitor doing the scaling and the result is a bit "soft focus". Its not bad but it would be rather disappointing if you'd just bought a new display. (On a retina-capable Mac, Scaled modes render internally in pixel-doubled mode and then downsample to 4k, using the GPU, and the quality is in a different league).

    Overall, I'd only get a 4k display for a 2010 MBP if I were on the brink of upgrading to a retina-capable machine but desperately needed a larger screen in the interim - the 2010 MBP deserves some kind of medal for even supporting 3840x2160 and its of limited practical use, the display quality at 1440p is usable, but disappointing, and 1080p text & icons are too big for a 27" display.

    My advice would be to either:
    (a) Make do without until you upgrade, and don't let the need to work with an old Mac constrain your choices of new display when you do upgrade. OR
    (b) Get a "native" 2560x1440 display - which will work more smoothly with your old Mac, give a better-quality image at 1440p, and still be perfectly usable with any new Mac you buy - just not 4k.
  9. Nutella thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2003
    Just checked back after being absent for a while, thanks for all the fantastic input!

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8 December 27, 2017