What resolution wallpaper to use for Retina MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by raymondu999, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. raymondu999 macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2008
    Hey folks. I've just gotten my Retina MBP. I use the screen in the "Like 1680x1050" mode, as this is what I'm used to (I used to use the 15" HiRes MBP).

    As I understand it the menubar and other "core" system aspects are sort of a bastardised "resolution independence." I seem to remember Phil Schiller saying in the Keynote something about the OS displaying images/videos still in the native resolution of the laptop, @ 2880 x 1800.

    Now I'm not generally a fan of normal wallpapers, and I invariably craft my own wallpapers out. What resolution should I make it to? Should I make it to 1680x1050, as my current resolution is set to mimic? Or should I make it out to 2880x1800, which is the display's native resolution?

    If the OS is really resolution independent, I'd probably get a better result with 2880x1800. But if the OS ISN'T really resolution independent, I'd think doing 1680x1050 is better, because I'd imagine a 2880x1800 OS pixelated to 1680x1050, which in turn is shrinking a 2880x1800 image could blur things quite a bit.

    Any and all help is appreciated. Thanks!
  2. rockyroad55 macrumors 601


    Jul 14, 2010
    Phila, PA
    I'd say do 2880 native resolution. Even though the screen is set to "like 1680," the amount of pixels on the screen do not change.
  3. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    The amount of pixels may not change but in the resolution the OP is using it is utilizing multiple pixels to make up one pixel at 1680x1050. If a 2880x1800 picture is used and is set for center (not stretch or tile) you'll have around half of it off the edges of the screen (similar to overscanning when displaying a 1080p image on a 720p HDTV that isn't set to shrink)
  4. raymondu999 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2008
    Hey folks - I've done some experimentation, and would like to post the results here for anyone interested in the same question.

    I've tried a whole range of resolutions of wallpaper, all set to "stretch to fill screen" or "fill screen" or whatever it is, and I've set it across all the different "resolutions" of my Retina MBP (ie from "like 1024 x 640" all the way to "like 1920 x 1200"). Please keep in mind that I actually didn't do anything scientific for each test, other than the human eye.

    For any given wallpaper, there was no difference in the quality, whatever the Mac was set as (ie a wallpaper looked exactly the same under "Like 1024 x 640," as it did under "Like 1920 x 1200").

    I scaled the wallpaper I used all the way from a rubbish looking 1280x800 resolution, in steps, all the way to 2880x1800. There was an appreciable difference in quality and resolution everytime I increased the wallpaper resolution.

    The OS, the icons displayed, the wallpaper - they're still working at full 2880 x 1800 resolution IMO, just that the other elements of the OS, such as window headers, the menubar etc are made to look like the "simulated" resoltuion. So 2880x1800 is the way to go any day.

    Hope this helps any other people!:D
  5. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Technically, when using "Looks like 1680x1050" mode, the software screen resolution is actually 3360x2100 (double 1680x1050 in both dimensions). Things looks the same size as if you were using a 1680x1050 display because all of the UI elements are using double-sized images and font sizes.

    As I understand it if you use a 2880x1800 wallpaper, it will be scaled up to 3360x2100 and then back down to 2880x1800 with the rest of the UI to fit on the screen. I don't think that will cause much of a reduction in quality, but providing a 3360x2100 wallpaper might be slightly better.
  6. RealEyes macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2012
  7. Tea-Aholic macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    I don't think that's correct. Only UI elements that are too small to display natively are scaled up 2x (or whatever the setting). That is i.e. menu bar, icons, dock, buttons.

    Content on the other hand (assuming application is retina optimised) runs at native resolution, allowing you to see more content (so you can see more of an image at 100% zoom). So i.e. wallpaper, movie preview in Final Cut, images in Preview, iPhoto, Aperture etc.

    So, wallpapers should be at least 2880x1800 as it is displayed at native resolution.
  8. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    If you take a screenshot in "Looks like 1680x1050" mode it will be 3360x2100, including the desktop background.

    There are only two scaling modes for apps to know about, 1x and 2x. They can't do "Looks like 1680x1050" mode just by telling apps to draw their UI elements smaller while keeping everything else the same. They do it by telling apps to draw at 2x mode and setting the screen resolution to 3360x2100, then downscaling the final result to fit the screen.

    As far as I know the only modes that would display 'pixel perfect' images are "Looks like 1440x900" mode (aka Best for Retina) when using retina-aware applications, or when using native 2880x1800 mode. Both of those modes are actually 2880x1800, just with 2x and 1x scaling modes respectively.
  9. Tea-Aholic, Aug 31, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012

    Tea-Aholic macrumors 6502


    Dec 8, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    I know, but I still think the wallpaper is still being displayed at 2880x1800 no matter what scaling is used. The reason the final screenshot is larger is because of the elements, and the screenshot is based on the largest on the screen (UI elements).

    The reason I say this is because even if I run at 1920 mode (3840x2400) in Final Cut, my 1080p video still take up 1920x1080 pixels, just like if I ran it at 1440 at 2x.

    That's correct. I personally think apps would look better if images are vector based, then scaling would be "pixel perfect". However that being said, even with non-linear scaling with the 1680 and 1920 modes, everything still look extremely clear, the rendering of the scaling down back to 2880 is quite good.
  10. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    umm.. interesting

    WHy does Apple do this wacky internal up scaling/down-scaling. This icons and all that which are unscaled may not be as good as native icons..

    I think of this more like converting video and/or audio files.... The final result can't be exact can it ? Surly, something has to be loss here.

    On the other hand, it does give Apple a "dirty little trick" up it's sleeve to pull of virtually any resolution it wants to some degree.

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9 August 31, 2012