external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

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Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

can't decide between eizo CS 2731 and CS 2740...

am currently using 2008 Lacie 320 and the screen, after days of trying various connections and troubleshooting, and scrolling through endless pages of forum commentary,  is much blurrier than it was with my old 2012 macbook pro.

Viewing photos is fine, it's mainly the text fonts when web browsing or using menus that seems horrendous.  The problem is compounded by how sharp the laptops retina screen is and comparing everything to that.  Has anyone recently hooked up a 2731 to a 2019 mbp and could comment on the sharpness compared to native laptop retina screen of 3072 x 1920?

robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 7,445
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?
1

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

can't decide between eizo CS 2731 and CS 2740...

am currently using 2008 Lacie 320 and the screen, after days of trying various connections and troubleshooting, and scrolling through endless pages of forum commentary, is much blurrier than it was with my old 2012 macbook pro.

Viewing photos is fine, it's mainly the text fonts when web browsing or using menus that seems horrendous. The problem is compounded by how sharp the laptops retina screen is and comparing everything to that. Has anyone recently hooked up a 2731 to a 2019 mbp and could comment on the sharpness compared to native laptop retina screen of 3072 x 1920?

The Eizo is a nice monitor, to be sure, but it has half the pixel density of a 2019 MBP 16", if that's what you're using. 109PPI vs 226PPI. The Macbook screen holds more info (more pixels), so that difference is noticeable for sure. But the pixel density might not be as apparent, depending on how far you are from each. Like with prints prinited at different DPI.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 17,922
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?
1

To add some context – both are 27" monitors, more or less.

  • Eizo CS2731 = 2560x1440 pixels, 109 ppi
  • Eizo CS2740 = 3840x2160 pixels, 164 ppi

Neither has the ppi of a 5K Retina iMac.  As for the LaCie 320, it has 1600x1200 pixels and a 20" diagonal.  That works out to 100 ppi.

Several guesses as to the cause of what you are seeing:

1. The LaCie 320 is wearing out.  Seems unlikely, given that photo viewing is fine.

2, The 16" rMBP display is spoiling you.

3. Changes in font rendering in recent versions of Mac OS X.  The method that works best for low-res displays is not the method that works best for high-res ones.  Your rMBP may have the advantage of high resolution and the "right" method (for it) while the LaCie 320 may now have the advantage of neither.

https://osxdaily.com/2018/09/26/fix-blurry-thin-fonts-text-macos-mojave/

https://suborbital.io/blog/lcd-font-smoothing-on-macos-mojave-and-how-to-fix-it/

mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?
1

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

can't decide between eizo CS 2731 and CS 2740...

am currently using 2008 Lacie 320 and the screen, after days of trying various connections and troubleshooting, and scrolling through endless pages of forum commentary, is much blurrier than it was with my old 2012 macbook pro.

Viewing photos is fine, it's mainly the text fonts when web browsing or using menus that seems horrendous. The problem is compounded by how sharp the laptops retina screen is and comparing everything to that. Has anyone recently hooked up a 2731 to a 2019 mbp and could comment on the sharpness compared to native laptop retina screen of 3072 x 1920?

Your laptop's screen defaults to a 1440x900 screen scale, with a 2x scaling factor - that's the sharpest possible (readable) display option for that screen - everything is at its pixel-perfect correct scale, there's just 4 physical pixels being used to render each virtual one, which means that any curve or diagonal has finder-grained stepping, but horizontals and verticals still snap to solid or empty full pixels.

The CS 2731 is a 2560x1440 display with a 1x scaling factor - all your verticals and horizontals will be perfectly crisp, but your diagonals and curves will have more visible stepping. Net result is UI elements and text can look a little blurrier, due to the anti-aliasing used to blur any diagonal line, to make things less jaggy.

The CS 2740 is a 3840x2160 (4k) display. At 1x scaling factor, everything in the UI will be smaller on screen, than they physically are on the Macbook - small enough that you might have trouble reading labels on palette tabs etc. Your verticals and horizontals will all be sharp, and the pixels are probably small enough that you won't notice the stepping or anti-aliasing blur on diagonals.

You can set the CS 2740 to be a 2x scaling factor, which will mean your horizontals & verticals will be nice & sharp, your curves will be smooth without apparent stepping, BUT the UI will be physically large, as it's effectively a 1920x1080 2x screen.

The midpoint is to set the CS 2740 as a 1.5x scaling factor, scaling to look like 2560x1440 display. That will give your UI elements the same physical size as the CS 2731. BUT, because there's no longer a perfect scale from one pixel to 4 pixels, this results in horizontals and verticals that can appear to jiggle as they move, and look blurry when still as they get partially antialiased - a 1 pixel wide black line in the UI at 1x scaling, becomes a 1.5 pixel line, so appears as a line of black, next to a line of 50% grey.

Don't forget, driving the 4k display is going to be more work on your laptop's elderly graphics card, and you photography software is probably going to have to generate larger previews, which will eat up your storage. There's a fair population of people who are making the argument now that 2560x1440 1x displays have advantages for photography-specific workflows, especially in the 27" size, where 1920x1080 2x looks too chunky, but 3840x2160 1x looks too small.

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OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

mattspace wrote:

Don't forget, driving the 4k display is going to be more work on your laptop's elderly graphics card, and you photography software is probably going to have to generate larger previews,

Thanks for such a detailed response, but I'm using a 16 inch 2019 macbook pro to drive the monitor!  (said that in the title, but should have repeated it in the body)

Any chance you could re-output any of that helpful info on scaling as it related to the native screen size of my very expensive and not elderly graphics card?

OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Several guesses as to the cause of what you are seeing:

1. The LaCie 320 is wearing out. Seems unlikely, given that photo viewing is fine.

2, The 16" rMBP display is spoiling you.

3. Changes in font rendering in recent versions of Mac OS X. The method that works best for low-res displays is not the method that works best for high-res ones. Your rMBP may have the advantage of high resolution and the "right" method (for it) while the LaCie 320 may now have the advantage of neither.

https://osxdaily.com/2018/09/26/fix-blurry-thin-fonts-text-macos-mojave/

https://suborbital.io/blog/lcd-font-smoothing-on-macos-mojave-and-how-to-fix-it/

Thanks yeah I've tried all that stuff in terminal for font smoothing (the ones for Catalina, which is what I'm running, specifically).  None of it helps enough, - tho I can see the small changes in appearance.

What makes zero sense to me is how the monitor could appear sharper with the 2012 then the 2019 machine.

mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?
1

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

mattspace wrote:

Don't forget, driving the 4k display is going to be more work on your laptop's elderly graphics card, and you photography software is probably going to have to generate larger previews,

Thanks for such a detailed response, but I'm using a 16 inch 2019 macbook pro to drive the monitor! (said that in the title, but should have repeated it in the body)

Sorry, I read the comparison to your 2012 in the message, and thought that was what you were referring to.

Any chance you could re-output any of that helpful info on scaling as it related to the native screen size of my very expensive and not elderly graphics card?

OK, your 16" MBP operates by default at a ~1.5x scaling ratio, Apple having changed the default "looks like" ratio on Macbook Pros in 2016 from a 2x scale to a 1.5x scale, to give the screen more "space" (make the UI elements smaller), without increasing the density or number of the pixels in the panel. People who are particularly sensitive to visual distraction, or who work in pixel-perfect mediaforms have generally complained about that, and that it necessitates setting the display's scaling to one step larger than default, making the display seem small in comparison.

So, that in mind, assuming you haven't changed the default "looks like" setting in your system prefs, you're already in the 1.5x world, though it might be a bit more noticeable just due to the physically larger size of the 27" display.

As for scaling in terms of the external compared to the built-in display, you're not likely to get an exact match in terms of how large UI elements are on the external, vs internal displays.

Your machine will probably cope with a 4k screen fine - though it will mean it's powering up the discreet GPU all the time (which it does for any external display). You may still have the storage issue to deal with - though your photo software may be generating previews for the 3072 x 1920 physical pixels of the screen, so that's not a huge range off 4k.

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mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

What makes zero sense to me is how the monitor could appear sharper with the 2012 then the 2019 machine.

That sounds like the (I assume) newer version of macOS on the 2016 is sending a resampled screen buffer to the display, possibly rendering to a larger resolution and scaling down. If the monitors preferences (I think holding down option gives you more detailed scaling options) isn't giving you the native resolution as an option, you could try SwitchResX to get access to options the system doesn't provide.

The other question, is what's the physical connection - are you using different cables or adapters to connect a display to a Thunderbolt 3 equipped mac, vs the Thunderbolt 1 or 2 of the 2012?

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Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 17,922
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

mattspace wrote:

The other question, is what's the physical connection - are you using different cables or adapters to connect a display to a Thunderbolt 3 equipped mac, vs the Thunderbolt 1 or 2 of the 2012?

The OP's LaCie monitor has VGA (D-Sub 15 pin), DVI-I, and DVI-D inputs.  No DisplayPort of any kind.  The monitor's resolution is not high enough to require dual-link DVI.

There should not be any need to use Thunderbolt (as opposed to MiniDisplayPort, HDMI, or USB-C) on the Mac side.  Likewise, use of the VGA port on the monitor side should be a last resort.

mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Tom_N wrote:

mattspace wrote:

The other question, is what's the physical connection - are you using different cables or adapters to connect a display to a Thunderbolt 3 equipped mac, vs the Thunderbolt 1 or 2 of the 2012?

There should not be any need to use Thunderbolt (as opposed to MiniDisplayPort, HDMI, or USB-C) on the Mac side. Likewise, use of the VGA port on the monitor side should be a last resort.

Yeah, but his machine only has TB3/USB-C ports, so it's going to need a different adapter from however it was plugged in to the older Macbook Pro, so there's the variables that need to be addressed - macOS display settings for the monitor, display cable, display cable adapters.

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Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 17,922
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

mattspace wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

mattspace wrote:

The other question, is what's the physical connection - are you using different cables or adapters to connect a display to a Thunderbolt 3 equipped mac, vs the Thunderbolt 1 or 2 of the 2012?

There should not be any need to use Thunderbolt (as opposed to MiniDisplayPort, HDMI, or USB-C) on the Mac side. Likewise, use of the VGA port on the monitor side should be a last resort.

Yeah, but his machine only has TB3/USB-C ports, so it's going to need a different adapter from however it was plugged in to the older Macbook Pro, so there's the variables that need to be addressed - macOS display settings for the monitor, display cable, display cable adapters.

I see a number of USB-C to DVI-D adapter cables on Amazon, but the listings are a bit confusing.  Some of them claim 4K support, but then when you drill down, you find that there is a 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 limitation that is the hallmark of single-link DVI.

mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

A solution might be to post full resolution screen captures of the display, with the monitors prefpane open on it, from each laptop, so we can see if the difference is in the way the system is driving / rendering the display, or if the physical connection is causing it to be softened in some way (which I can’t imagine how it would happen).

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OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Both laptops are using 1600 x 1200.  I leave the check on 'default', but it's clear that is identical to selecting 'scaled' and 1600 x 1200.  I've tried the other scaling options and they all look way work.  And yes, I've also tried holding down option to bring up the alternate hidden scaled options.

The connector, Ahh back to that.  I did make a previous post about this.  For the 2012 machine I was using a dvi-d cable connected to an apple brand dvi-d to mini diplay port adapter.

For the 2019 machine, I am currently on my 4th adapter attempt, which IS a VGA to USB C cable, (no adapter, non apple brand)

Tom_N - are you saying that you think it's worth it to try adapter #5, (which would be a dvi-d - usb-C third party as apple does not make)  I was unaware that VGA connector on monitor side could be the problem, as thought I'd read numerous things from people saying the connector didn't matter!

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 17,922
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

Tom_N - are you saying that you think it's worth it to try adapter #5, (which would be a dvi-d - usb-C third party as apple does not make) I was unaware that VGA connector on monitor side could be the problem, as thought I'd read numerous things from people saying the connector didn't matter!

Here's a HP note comparing DVI and VGA.  It says that VGA has a resolution of 640x480 pixels.  This is technically accurate, but don't place too much emphasis on it.  There are "VGA"-type standards that offer resolution up to 2053x1536 pixels – and people do not bother referring to them by their own names.  Easier to call them all "VGA".

Top Advantages of DVI vs VGA for Computer Monitors

Another article of interest:

TechSpirited – VGI vs. VGA

OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Tom_N wrote:

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

Tom_N - are you saying that you think it's worth it to try adapter #5, (which would be a dvi-d - usb-C third party as apple does not make) I was unaware that VGA connector on monitor side could be the problem, as thought I'd read numerous things from people saying the connector didn't matter!

Here's a HP note comparing DVI and VGA. It says that VGA has a resolution of 640x480 pixels. This is technically accurate, but don't place too much emphasis on it. There are "VGA"-type standards that offer resolution up to 2053x1536 pixels – and people do not bother referring to them by their own names. Easier to call them all "VGA".

Top Advantages of DVI vs VGA for Computer Monitors

Another article of interest:

TechSpirited – VGI vs. VGA

Interesting Thanks

Okay – DVI adapter ordered...will see if adapter cable solution #5 does the trick

mattspace
mattspace Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

Okay – DVI adapter ordered...will see if adapter cable solution #5 does the trick

Ahh yes, if you're connected via VGA on the monitor, or a VGA connector on the adapter chain then that would definitely be a likely culprit

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OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Well the adapter (startech USB-C to DVI-D) arrived and I've spent the last three hours attempting to get it to work.

But alas, the monitor blinks no matter what settings I change in it's OCD menu, (digital, analog, factory reset) or what settings I adjust in the monitor system preferences menu (default for display/scaled, trying all the different refresh rates)

This was the same issue I got on one of my first (this is now the 5th) adapter cord/attempt, one from OWC that I ended up returning.

2 last points, A) I can see for the 5 seconds or so when the monitor is on before it blinks off for 10 seconds or so, that the image with this dvi - adapter and cable is clearer and more distinct then with my VGA cable.

and B) it's def not the dvi cable itself, as I can switch the adapter back to my dvi to mini display port adapter, hook up my old 2012 macbook pro, and the signal on the external monitor is clear and steady with no blinking.

I ordered a Caldigit thunderbolt dock, to try and eliminate some of the cables, but I don't have much hope that running my new adapter from that to the monitor will improve things.  But I'll wait till it gets here, and try that before ordering a whole new monitor.

Thanks everyone for your input.

OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Adapter #s 6 and 7 were purchased from Fry's (both displayport to dvi) before arrival of the Caldigit dock, which informed me in the instructions that the adapter must be the "active" not passive type.  Neither were labeled either passive or active, neither worked (the picture shows up on monitor, but blinks on and off continuously)

Adapter #8 (also displayport to dvi, but with "Active" specified arrived today and also blinks on and off....

again, the dvi cord works fine with no blinking when plugged into my old 2012 macbook...Any last piece of advice anyone could share?

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 17,922
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

Adapter #s 6 and 7 were purchased from Fry's (both displayport to dvi) before arrival of the Caldigit dock, which informed me in the instructions that the adapter must be the "active" not passive type. Neither were labeled either passive or active, neither worked (the picture shows up on monitor, but blinks on and off continuously)

That's interesting. I had associated expensive and sometimes flaky active adapters with monitor resolutions greater than 1920x1200 pixels. Those require dual-link DVI, and I've never heard of passive adapters that could carry out that conversion.

I'm so accustomed to reading about people using cheap, passive, reliable single-link DVI adapters that I had not considered the possibility that some devices would not support them. Like, apparently, this CalDigit dock. Mea culpa.

https://blog.tripplite.com/whats-the-difference-between-passive-and-active-displayport-adapters

OP Chester McCheeserton Forum Member • Posts: 96
Re: external monitor with 2019 mbp 2560 or 3840 res?

well not your fault at all, but I am curious as to why the active adapter I got didn't work....Guess I'll try a trip lite direct cable, no adapter, at this point I'm almost more determined to figure out a solution, since I can see that the monitor is still fine, and I probably couldn't get 50 bucks for it.

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