Your experiences with rMBP and a non-Apple external monitor

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Peng33, May 27, 2014.

  1. Peng33 macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2014
    Hello, first time posting.

    I'm planning to buy a 13" Retina MacBook Pro in the near future and I'd like to pair it with a single external monitor when working in my home office. I mainly use my computer for writing, reading, and some audio work. No games, no movies. After hours of research, searching threads here and elsewhere, I've come across numerous complaints about certain monitors being flaky in such a setup, and/or troubles using various combinations of inputs/outputs (leading to poor display quality, sleep/wake problems, etc.). But, as usual with this sort of research, I've run into a lot of incomplete and sometimes contradictory information. And, of course, people who aren't having problems don't tend to go online to talk about it.

    I would very much appreciate hearing what exactly has worked or not worked for people using a single external monitor with a current rMBP, including the specific details of your setup:

    - monitor make and model
    - and how you have it connected (i.e. TB/HDMI > DP/HDMI/DVI)

    The monitor I keep coming back to is Dell UltraSharp U2412M. If someone can speak to it (or an alternative), paired with an rMBP that would be great. I'm not able to buy a Thunderbolt display and I'm hoping to keep the cost sub-$400. I don't need anything larger than 24" (an onboard USB hub would be great but not essential). I'd also be interested to hear if there's a good reason to go with 1920x1200 rather than 1920x1080.

    I'd like to keep this focussed so, please speak from experience only, rather than speculation (i.e. such and such monitor *should* be great). I'm only interested in single monitor setups (I've seen numerous threads discussing multiple monitors). Also, I'm aware that no monitor will match the quality of the retina screen - I'm just looking for a reliable setup that's good for the work I do.

    Thank you. Any help would be great.
  2. Quu macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    Last year I had a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. The highest specced model with every upgrade. That's the Haswell one with 750m graphics.

    I connected it to a 3007WFP-HC Dell monitor. This is a 2560x1600 @ 60Hz LCD Panel which only offers DVI-DL as an input.

    I used Apples own brand Mini-Display Port to Dual-Link DVI adapter to connect the notebook to the external display.

    Result: Worked absolutely perfectly. Full 60 frames per second, full 2560x1600 resolution. No problems at all.
  3. Boomhowler macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    Running a HP ZR2740w over miniDP->DP from my macbook pro 13" retina (2013). No problems, works without hiccups.

    I've also tried that very DELL-monitor you mentioned using miniDP->DVI. Also worked very well, no hassle.
  4. kasakka macrumors 68020

    Oct 25, 2008
    Haven't had a Macbook Pro for a long time, but I used to run a 2010 Macbook Pro with a Dell 3008WFP with a mini-Displayport to Displayport cable. Worked like a charm.

    1920x1200 is always the better choice simply due to more vertical space. I wouldn't bother with 16:9 displays unless it's a TV or 27" 2560x1440 (or higher) res.
  5. Mattjeff macrumors 6502


    Jun 2, 2008
    I have the mac Mini but I use the monitor with my old 2007 macbook pro.
    Its the 21.5" version of the one you're looking at and I got it for the sole reason that the pixel density is higher. Same 1920x1080 resolution but in a slightly more compact screen than the 24".

    Amazon - 21.5" Dell Screen

    I LOVE this monitor and got two of them on black friday 2 years ago for the price of one right now. Because I had two I used the HDMI to DVI cable and the Display port to DVI cable. Both work like a charm and the screens are beautiful.
  6. elchorizo macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2012
    Beaverton, OR

    I bought the current gen 13" Haswell rMBP when it came out. Love the computer. I wanted external monitors for mine too and I've been very happy with what I chose. One of them is more than your price range but I'm putting info anyway in case its useful.

    From one of the thunderbolt ports I run a miniDP to DisplayPort cable to connect to a Viewsonic vp2770. Its sooooo nice. Its 27" and 2560x1440 (same res as Apples Thunderbolt Display). Beautiful color. It worked perfectly out of the box with this connection and setup. I didn't have to do anything in the rMBP to make this work other than plugging the cable in. Here is the link to where I got that monitor.

    For my second external monitor I got a 27" 1080p display which I've connected to the rMBP with a regular HDMI cable. Its an Acer H276HL. I found it at Fry's and thought it looked excellent so I did some research on it and then ended up getting it. Obviously being 1080p and 27" the pixels are pretty big, but I still really like it as a secondary monitor to my Viewsonic.

    The best part is both of these can be purchased off Amazon for less than the cost of the ATD!

    Anyway, I hope this helps.
  7. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009

    Same here. This is a really great monitor with (technically) better specs than the Thunderbolt display, and I got it for pretty cheap (I got it refurbished for around $350).
  8. diggy33 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 13, 2011
    Running the Monoprice 27-inch Monitor, which uses the same panel as the Apple Thunderbolt display. Have it connected to my 13" rMBP thru Caldigit dock, and using the Monoprice dual link DVI adapter. Except for the occasional flickering when first connecting the monitor (resolved by removing the TB cable and connecting again) it has been absolutely flawless, and a gorgeous display.
  9. Hammie macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    I often pair my 13" rMBP (three weeks old) with a Samsung S27B550 monitor using the HDMI output on the laptop to the HDMI input on the monitor.

    I have had zero issues with flicker or syncing or anything else. I do not use the monitor for audio. I use external USB speakers when at my desk.

    The ONLY issue is the color difference between the two screens. To be honest, I have been too lazy to play with the settings on the Samsung, but there is a definite difference. The Samsung is cooler (bluer) than my MBP screen, which is warm. I use it as a second screen while I work. My virtual desktop software is on the 27" screen while my personal stuff stays on the 13" screen.

    I do have a colorimeter that I can use to calibrate both screens so they are identical. I may do that in the future just to see how close I can get them, but I don't know if Apple uses a single profile for all screens or if each one can be set up with its own profile.

    I have not yet played with Lightroom on the external screen, but that was my initial intention for the monitor.
  10. astrorider macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2008
    My setup is fairly close to what you asked about. I've got a 15" rMBP (original one) hooked up to two U2412M, one with a Displayport (monitor side) to Thunderbolt (mac side) and the other HDMI to HDMI. I hooked it up that way to keep free the second thunderbolt port. I always connect it with the laptop display open as well. The Displayport cable was from Monoprice and the HDMI was a $5 cable on Amazon.

    No problems really. Occasionally the monitor hooked up via HDMI will show an image that looks like static for five seconds and then go back to normal, maybe once every couple work days. Very rarely, maybe once every couple weeks, it'll stay that way longer and I'll disconnect/reconnect the HDMI cable and it's fine. Hasn't really concerned me since otherwise they work great and were pretty cheap for all the real estate.
  11. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Late 2013 15" with 750M

    using a Dell u2412M

    Works well with DVI adapter. Issue with displayport in OSX, where the computer will not stay sleeping if plugged into monitor. Not an issue when in bootcamp with Windows 8.1, so it seems like an OSX software problem.
  12. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    I use my 15", early-2013 rMBP with two external inexpensive displays at work. One is a 19" LG with a resolution around 1440xSomething and the other is a 22.6" LG model IPS226. I connect the IPS226 through a miniDP-to-dvi adapter and the other through a HDMI-to-dvi adapter that came with my 2010 MacMini. Sometimes I open the lid and the three displays work with no issues.
  13. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    Run a 30" Dell WFP3008 (just over five years old) here, with a $6 mini-displayport to displayport cable. The mini-displayport just plugs in to the TB socket. No problems. Except that it's not as clear as the retina display, of course. It's only 2560x1600 but it'll do me until some good 30+" 4K display appears and I upgrade to a later 2014 MBPr with TB2...

    The point is that most of the Dell monitors have a DisplayPort connector. You can buy a cable for this to mini DisplayPort. And mini DisplayPort is effectively the same thing as Thunderbolt. Avoids buying a massively overpriced Apple DVI or Dual DVI adaptor.
  14. anarti macrumors regular

    Nov 28, 2012

    OSX has the best color management from all of the current operating systems. If you have 2 screens calibrated, it will attach separate profiles for each display.

    I've got 24" Eizo and my second monitor is just retina laptop display. It works great, although retina screen is not the best compared to Eizo (which is normal:) )
  15. Peng33 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2014
    Thanks for your responses, everyone. This has been a big help.
  16. Abacus2039 macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2012
    Absolutely go for a 16:10 monitor rather than 16:9.

    16:9 is for movies. 16:10 is for work.

    You say you will be mainly using the machine for reading and writing. I have been using a mix of 16:10 and 16:9 notebooks and monitors in my accounting practice for the past two years. There is no contest. The 16:10s make life a lot easier.
  17. Hammie macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    Thanks for that information. I will certainly look into the calibration options.
  18. ColdCase, May 28, 2014
    Last edited: May 29, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I love external monitors for video and photo editing, and watching video. Apple OSX font smoothing on third party monitors is not so good, however. Sometimes you have to tinker quite a bit. Apple brand monitors with Mac OS are much better. When I have large spread sheets I typically zoom in a bit and the text is much more readable without being a headache.

    The retina screen is awesome with text, however. When working with text I try to stay on the retina screen, moving to the external monitor only when I have to.

    I would go for a 15 inch rMBP if I was spending most of my time reading or writing... but that may just be me. I would think about putting the $$$ you would spend for an external monitor into the bigger screen rMBP. Perhaps save and buy a monitor later. I think you would be a much happier camper as there is nothing like that retina screen for text, you can't get an inexpensive external monitor that comes close. The rMBP is also quite portable.

    I have the 15 rMPB on the keyboard tray and an excellent LG27EA83D sitting on the desktop right above.... a perfect arrangement. The LG is display port.

    If you buy a Dell, buy it from a store with a generous return policy, you may need to go through a few to get a good one. LG makes the glass for most Dells and they seem to pick the best ones off the line and ship the rest to Dell.

    The best monitor for you is somewhat subjective, so audition as many as you can. Look at the text, not pretty photos.

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