rMBP - Text is blurry on external display

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by yg17, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. yg17, Jun 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012

    yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Just got an rMBP, hooked it up to my Dell U2410 monitor, and the text sorta looks like crap on the web, I tried it in Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Best way to describe it is it looks like a compressed JPEG. It seems to be most prominent on colored text on dark backgrounds. Very annoying.

    It doesn't do it on my PC (Windows 7) or old MacBook (Snow Leopard) connected to the same monitor. And if I take a screenshot of my rMBP, transfer it to my PC or MB and view it, it looks fine. Tried HDMI and DisplayPort, both look the same.

    I know stuff might look iffy on retina, but this is on the 1920x1200 external display (yes, the resolution is set correctly), retina shouldn't be an issue here. The text looks amazing on the retina display.

    Anyone else notice the same thing?
  2. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    How do you have your display set up? Is the external an extension or is it mirroring your internal display?
  3. shurcooL macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Post some screenshots so we can see what you're talking about?
  4. yg17 thread starter macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO

    I don't think a screenshot will do any good. Screenshots look fine on my other computers.
  5. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
  6. yg17 thread starter macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Yep, looks like crap too.
  7. Rmafive macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    Richmond, Virginia
    I had the same problem as well. Windows appears to be making everything bigger, so I went to "adjust screen resolution" and clicked on "Make text and other items larger or smaller." Then you can adjust the size of the items on the screen to your liking.

    Edit: Saw you were not talking about Windows 7. Hopefully this helps someone else out though!
  8. 7even macrumors 6502a

    Jan 11, 2008
    Been using mine with a couple of 23" displays and image quality appeared fine in both (though color calibration inconsistencies drove me nuts).
  9. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2012
    Maybe you have your resolution set at something lower than native of the screen.
  10. doh123 macrumors 65816

    Dec 28, 2009
    for a test, knock up your built in screen resolution to the full 2880x1800 so that no Apple scaling is being used and its running like any other normal monitor, just a really high res. See if it clears anything up...
    to run 2880x1800, you can use the second app linked on the post i'm linking to below... it'll just knock it way up to a full 2880x1800, and you can go in System preferences and put it back like you want it when you are done.
  11. jveldboom macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2012
    Any luck with this?

    I'm experiencing the same issue where everything on any external display is really blurry. I'm connecting to two Samsung SyncMaster 2494. Tried using HDMI and Thunderbolt to DVI both are blurry.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
  12. SLR722 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Any one have any progress with this issue?

    I have the same problem with an ASUS VH242. It sucks because it really ruins the whole experience IMO. I use it 90% of the time hooked up to an external monitor, kb, mouse.

    I have a case # open on it. Supposedly they've had engineers looking at the issue for at least 2-3 weeks now, but I haven't gotten any meaningful updates. If you have the issue and want to give AppleCare a call, PM me and I will give you my case # so you can reference it.

    I've referenced this thread in the ticket also, so they know its more people than just me.
  13. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    Is it possible you guys are just already used to the retina display? My external monitors looked about right when I plugged them in.
  14. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I had an issue plugging into an old cinema display that it wouldn't let me go higher than 1280x800. Is that the problem? Or have you just gotten so used to looking at the retina that you are now noticing how crappy the other display looks (thats what happened with my dell 24" ultrasharp.)
  15. jveldboom macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2012
    Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24

    I ended up purchasing a Dell UltraSharp U2412M and it helped with the blurry issues I was having with the Samsung SyncMaster 2494s I have. Dell also makes a U2410 which I'm sure is even better than this one.

    As mentioned below the issue is not that we're use to the retina display. I use the rMBP as my main desktop machine so it's always been hooked to a second display. And since day one I noticed on my Samsung monitors that everything was slightly blurry.

    I went into the Mac store and plugged mine into a 27' Cinema display and can honestly say the Dell U2412M looks just as good as that.
  16. melburstein, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014

    melburstein macrumors regular


    Jul 3, 2012
    I'm also using a Dell U2410 monitor

    I purchased a Monoprice "Mini Display Port + USB toDual-Link Adapter", as recommended by someone on a forum,and it cleared up the problem. The connection uses both a Miniport and a USB pot, but it works.

    UPDATE: It was this special cable that worked for me, although others have fixed the problem by changing the Dell monitor profile. That was too technical for me so I have stuck with the cable solution.
  17. SLR722 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Yeah, I've hardly used the actual retina display, so it's def. not that I'm used to it.

    What's really strange is, through multiple screenshots and actual pictures I've taken at the different resolutions, in OS X, the blurry text/icons look MUCH better at the lowest resolutions, and look terrible at the highest resolutions (1920x1080 being what my monitor supports on the high end). Basically the opposite of what you would expect. The text is blurry/jagged and the icons (esp round ones such as App Store, itunes, etc.) look very aliased/jagged.

    For the poster above me, by any chance have you tried the thunderbold/USB to HDMI adapter? Or only thunderbolt/USB to DVI? It would be a shame to have to use up a USB port on a machine that only comes with two.
  18. shurcooL macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Then a photo.
  19. Dralt macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
    Figure out the native resolution of your external display.

    Go into System Preferences > Displays.

    Before you click on the Scaled radio button, hold down the Option key.

    From the list of resolutions that appears, pick the native resolution of your external display. Close System Preferences > Displays.

  20. jveldboom macrumors newbie

    Jul 12, 2012
    I also found that adjusting the font smooth helped.

    You can force OS X to use LCD font smoothing on all displays with this Terminal command:
    defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 2

    And to restore the default:
    defaults -currentHost delete -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing
  21. SLR722 macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Yup, monitor is 1920x1080 and it's set to 1080p. Problem persists. :-(
  22. GreenAsJade macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2012
    I have the same problem.

    I have a Dell external monitor, 1900x1200 native. It's crystal clear when driven by a Dell laptop.

    I'm connecting my rMBP to it via Thunderbolt->DVI adapter. It's blurry. Not "dramatically unusably", but "very irritatingly".

  23. nontroppo macrumors 6502


    Mar 11, 2009
    There are several concatenated issues here:

    1) Color profile -- will cause different Macs and different PCs to display text differently. I can get very fuzzy bitty text rendering by changing display profile / gamma. A screenshot wont easily capture this difference (as colour calibration translates directly via the monitor hardware) as explained by the OP.

    2) Font smoothing: Apple doesn't smooth on non-apple displays by default -- see the terminal command a couple of posts above. I assume a screenshot should capture this, but perhaps there is an interaction between framebuffer and actual pixels?

    3) Slight frequency driving differences, possibly could explain differences between Macs and PCs and not be visible with a screenshot. SwitchResX can control low-level frequency much more precisely. I suggest this as I've seen my Mac Pro handle a display via KVM very differently changing frequencies slightly.

    4) One should keep in mind when comparing OS X and Windows is that each smooths fonts differently, so just comparing a Mac and a PC laptop on an external monitor without also comparing the native display panel will not give a clear result.

    Without another Mac to directly compare with (the OP has done this, others haven't) it is hard to pinpoint what potential issue is at play here.

    I have tried a Dell G2410 connected via a Mac Pro, A Dell Precision T3500 (Win 7) and a rMBP. I don't see clear differences between the three. Initially the rMBP looked worse than the Mac Pro, but recalibrating colour space fixed that for me.
  24. lukeydukes macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2012
    I am having the exact same issue. Using a Samsung Syncmaster XL2370HD. When connecting my MBPR with HDMI, the external monitor looks absolutely atrocious. I've also used HDMI to connect to another screen (a Samsung flatscreen tv), and image quality was equally unbearable. I read that there were some issues with HDMI, so I purchased a DisplayPort to VGA adapter. While this does make the external display a bit clearer, it remains a lot blurrier than it should. And yes, I have made sure to check the native resolution of the external monitor, etc. The issues are not with color profiles, not with fonts only. For example, even using a program like Sketchup, the resolution is extremely jaggedy and bordering on useless.

    One interesting point is that when I boot into Windows 7 using Bootcamp, the external monitor looks much better through the DP to VGA adapter than in OSX. This includes both fonts as well as programs such as Sketchup - both are noticeably less jagged and blurry. However, there are frustrating issues with setting resolutions and scaling so that both screens are usable at the same time.

    The only decently usable way to use the computer to an external is through Windows 7 with a DP to VGA adapter and the retina screen off. This is totally inexcusable for a $3,000+ computer. There are clearly some major software issues resulting from the retina display, maybe tied to the screen scaling?
  25. orrsella macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2012
    Anyone find a solution to this issue?

    I'm having the exact same problem: Connecting the rMBP w/Mountain Lion to an external Dell U2410 set to it's native resolution of 1920x1200 with HDMI. Everything, especially text *but* also graphics (photos, close/minimize/maximize buttons, etc.), looks very fuzzy and not sharp. Hooking the same monitor to a Windows 7 PC gives excellent picture (used it for 1 year before switching to the new rMBP).

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