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MBP Retina bad display on external Dell display

11809 Views 45 Replies Latest reply: Mar 14, 2014 9:07 PM by prumps RSS
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GreenAsJade Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 28, 2012 8:52 PM

My MBPr LCD display is great: crisp and clear.

However, when I connect my desktop Dell display, the result is washed out and difficult to read fonts.


I've tried with both mini-DVI and mini-VGA.   The mini-VGA is perhaps marginally better, but in both

cases is borderline unusable.

Any clues?



MacBook Pro with Retina display, Mac OS X (10.7.4)
  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 Level 6 (10,570 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 29, 2012 7:55 AM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    Are you using mirrored mode? If so change to extended display mode and set the external display to its native resolution.

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 Level 6 (10,570 points)
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    Aug 30, 2012 7:34 AM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    Well you have not told us the display model or its native resolution so it is hard to guess. Is the resolution on the Dell display set to the display's native resolution?


    If so maybe your adaptors are not working or maybe your display is not working correctly. Try the computer with another display. DVI should result in a better display than VGA.

  • markwmsn Level 4 Level 4 (3,945 points)
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    Aug 31, 2012 9:33 PM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    Might your display need a special display profile or to be calibrated?

  • infinite vortex Level 7 Level 7 (21,400 points)
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    Aug 31, 2012 9:45 PM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    For my Dell display, a 2405FPW, I needed to do a Factory Reset via the display's OSD and then change the colour settings back to Mac Standard Preset.


    EDIT : FWIW I find the Thunderbolt to DVI adapter results to be far better than the VGA adapter.


    Message was edited by: infinite vortex

  • ivan98 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 11:40 PM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    I've a 2011 MBA, 2008 MBP and a Dell U2410 24" 1920x1200-native setup with zero problems, until I replace the aging MBP with rMBP. Now I get the same issue as the OP.


    I've searched extensively, but "blurry images, washed-out colors, smudgy text" isn't very scientific/concrete so it's not easy to have a clear-cut case. On this same issue (I believe), I've found the following threads:


    I'm trying to document the issue as much as possible, with photos taken off the display. (I've found screen capture doesn't work). They're posted at


    Further background


    • The same mini-DP to DP cable is used to connect MBA, rMBP (and my previous 2008 MBP) and have been in service since I've the Dell. No issues at all, except the rMBP.


    • I've tried HDMI-HDMI from rMBP to Dell. Same lousy display quality.


    • The Dell U2410 accepts DP, HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs.


    • On the monitor itself, I can press a few buttons to ask for display info. In both cases, the Dell reports it is displaying in 1920x1200 @ 60Hz. (So this rules out the problem of trying to display 1920x1080 on a 1920x1200 native display).


    • I've done a Factory Reset on the Dell, to no avail.


    • When the MacBookAir4,2 (2011 MBA) is connected, a range of resolutions is available:
      • 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 1920x1200x 1600x1200, 1600x1000, 1344x1008, 1344x840, 1280x1024, 1280x960, 1280x800, 1024x768, 1024x640, 960x600, 800x600, 800x500, 720x576, 640x480


    • When MacBookPro10,1 (rMBP) is connected, only 3 choices present itself:
      • 1920x1200, 1600x1000, 1280x800


    • Comparing the 2 Colors tab photos, notice how, when the rMBP is connected, the fonts have a white shadow all around the black fonts.


    • Comparing the 2 Display tab photos, look at the "1920" in the selected "1920x1200" option. Notice how, when the rMBP is connected, the bottom of the "1", "9", "2", "0" are smudged together
  • ginsysweet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 21, 2012 5:57 AM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    Any joy fixing this problem?


    Apple fix ur OS! Horrible resolution with external displays! Really boring and tedious of you!!


    How many people run extra displays on a MBPr? Millions.


    Thunderbolt to VGA adaptors = horrible resolution.


    2006 MBP with VGA adaptor = great resolution.



  • ginsysweet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Nov 21, 2012 10:20 AM (in response to ivan98)

    Hi Ivan, I'm speaking to Apple right now and hopefully I will have an answer soon! I went through 2 stages of technicians and they want me to email a case and they'll throw it onto a bigger technician to see if they can resolve it... bore...


    I'm using the 15" MBPr and a Philips 231E monitor and checked out ur photo's and I've got the same issues.

  • ginsysweet Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 12, 2012 2:26 AM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    I have talked to Apple direct - 10 emails/ 5 phone calls / ran 3 different diagnostic tests and they are aware of my problem but have no solution.


    My external Philips monitor is fine on a MCP 2006. But blurry and jagged edges to fonts etc... on my MBPr 2012 model.


    Crapola 101

  • tradinghumble Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 3, 2013 10:34 AM (in response to ginsysweet)

    Same here, nobody can solve this problem... this is my first Mac and this is by far my biggest disappointment ... I have an IPS monitor top of the line, works like charm on Windows 7 (crispy)... not so crispy on the Mac and nothing I can do about it.


    Apple, are you listening???

  • ComputerFixer Level 3 Level 3 (720 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 3, 2013 11:27 AM (in response to GreenAsJade)

    It could be the difference between the Retina Displays PPI and the dell displays PPI.  Some external monitors will have an auto-adjust button that will force the monitor to look for a suitably clear solution.  If this still doesnt work, play with the resolution of the external screen.  The problem could be that you are sending a resolution smaller (or larger) than the external screen. I would also suggest trying it with an HDMI cable (which basically just transmits data, instead of a signal.  If that still doesnt work,  try this:


    Resetting PRAM and NVRAM

    1. Shut down the computer.
    2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
    3. Turn on the computer.
    4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.
    5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
    6. Release the keys.



  • tradinghumble Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the reply ComputerFixer, I am in fact using a HDMI cable, I tried to change resolution to make sure it matches my monitor's native resolution by pressing Option and clicking on Display Preferences (instead of accepting the Best for Retina option), the resolution matches.


    I will try PRAM and NVRAM procedure, thanks.

  • tradinghumble Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    ComputerFixer, just tried to reset the PRAM and NVRAM as you have suggested, unfortunatelly didn't solve the problem ... using the same monitor on Mac and Windows is night and day ( Windows 100% better ), crispy fonts and images... Mac, blurry.


    I also went to see a Genius (took my monitor) but no luck...

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