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sclough

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 23, 2008
216
14
Kansas City, MO
This is probably a dumb question but I haven't purchased an external monitor in a very, very long time. Now I'm working at home more and thinking about an external monitor for my 16" MBP. I mostly write and research. I do not game. I do want text to be perfectly crisp and clear since I stare at it all day. I'm thinking of something in the 27-30" range. With that in mind, what resolution do I need to text as crisp and clean as it is on the MBP's retina display? I'm assuming I need a 4K display instead of 1080p? Or is there something else I should be looking at. Again I apologize for what is probably a dumb question.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68040
Nov 2, 2018
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Thailand
To get the same PPI (and thus content looking the same size, smooth etc) you need to aim for Apple’s “ideal” PPI of 220. In a 27” that means a 5K display. At 32” it means a 6K display.

You can achieve similar content size (eg so don’t sizes are similar across the external and built in displays) on eg a 27” 4K display, but it won’t be quite as smooth/crisp. Whether you notice it or not will depend on your eyesight, viewing distance, etc.
 
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XNorth

macrumors 6502
Feb 23, 2018
287
342
United States
You need at least 4K. The LG UltraFine models are some of the best 4K and 5K monitors for Macs. They can scale down and increase font size to look very crisp and sharp, perfect for writing.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,749
7,960
Personal disclaimer:
I'm currently happy with a 1080p 27" display because my eyes are old and what's most important for me is the SIZE of text, not necessarily the "clarity".

Having said that, 27" 4k displays are plentiful and reasonably-priced.
But realize with 27" @4k, you're going to have a screen that "looks like" 1080p (in HiDPI mode, which is the default for Mac).

You can "scale" the display to "looks like 1440p", but that's going to put a load on the MBP's GPU and it may heat up and the fans may speed up.

If I was buying a new display today, I'd buy a 32" 1440p native resolution.
That's a larger overall screen, but with smaller pixels than a 27" 1080p.
Because it's running NATIVELY @1440p, it won't put any extra load on the computer's GPU and should run "cool 'n' easy".
 
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MecPro

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2009
538
232
London
I’m an IT guy but this screen talk is so confusing to me

So the LG UltraFinenis our of the picture for me just due to my buying it for my other half and she doesn’t like me spending. I already have 2 LG 4K monitors with USB-C and I feel just to get another one for her

But is there much text resolution difference between:


and

 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68040
Nov 2, 2018
3,626
3,961
Thailand
I’m an IT guy but this screen talk is so confusing to me

So the LG UltraFinenis our of the picture for me just due to my buying it for my other half and she doesn’t like me spending. I already have 2 LG 4K monitors with USB-C and I feel just to get another one for her

But is there much text resolution difference between:


and

The resolution is exactly the same. The PPI is different, because they're different physical sizes.

So the 27" will have exactly the same amount of "screen real estate", but displayed physically bigger to you.

Personally I'd go for the 24" (or, two of them actually) but it all depends what your priorities and goals are.
 
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sclough

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 23, 2008
216
14
Kansas City, MO
I’m an IT guy but this screen talk is so confusing to me

So the LG UltraFinenis our of the picture for me just due to my buying it for my other half and she doesn’t like me spending. I already have 2 LG 4K monitors with USB-C and I feel just to get another one for her

But is there much text resolution difference between:


and


If it helps the 24" will almost look retina (it is around 185 or so pixels per inch while a retina screen is 220 poi). The 27" will not look bad but is around 165 or so (I think ) ppi. The further the screen is away from you the less difference it makes. It also depends on what you are used to an how picky you are. For example, I tried the P2415Q dell 4K 24" monitor and the text looked very close to retina but when I put it next to a 21.5" Retina iMac and stared at text you could tell a slight difference.

If you already have a 4k monitor and are happy with it use that as your point of comparison. If you get a larger screen with the same number of pixels (4k) know that if you get close to the screen it will not be quite as crisp. But if you aren't really close you may not be able to see it. Plenty of people are happy with 27" 4K displays.
 
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MecPro

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2009
538
232
London
The resolution is exactly the same. The PPI is different, because they're different physical sizes.

So the 27" will have exactly the same amount of "screen real estate", but displayed physically bigger to you.

Personally I'd go for the 24" (or, two of them actually) but it all depends what your priorities and goals are.

Thanks both, yes that makes sense. Same resolution, smaller screen = more pixels and more £!

She works as a translator so is in Word, for the majority of the day, so I may have to look at treating her to the screen for work purposes. I wish I could go and see the difference though. I'll check out some more reviews, but for now I think it will be the LG UltraFine.

Thanks!
 
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sclough

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 23, 2008
216
14
Kansas City, MO
If she works with text all day I would personally get the UltraFine. The text will look much more crisp than on a 27" 4K I think.

The bigger monitor isn't necessarily better for text (I prefer 22" or 24" rather than 27" because I write most of the day).

The 22" (21.5") UltraFine looks really crisp (It's true retina) but in the states is hard to get and expensive used. In many cases more than a new 24".
 
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Stephen.R

macrumors 68040
Nov 2, 2018
3,626
3,961
Thailand
So, for context, I read and write most of the time for work (code, documentation, etc). I have two of the aforementioned Dell P2415Q's and find them to be great. For Word, she may even want to try rotating it 90º to portrait orientation!
 
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