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2012 MBP Retina — Retina Display Scaling

Last updated June 20, 2012 - Send Feedback

The stunning 2880 X 1800 “retina” display offers 25% more pixels than even a 30" desktop display (2560 X 1600). This should provide the most photo-realistic experience yet seen on a computer.

Application support and pixel doubling

There is one downside— application support will be needed to fully benefit from the doubled (quadrupled pixels) resolution. Non-updated applications will be presented in “pixel doubled” mode.

The 2880 X 1800 dimensions are twice (linearly) that of the 1440 X 900 display, such that unmodified applications will be pixel-doubled, and thus won’t benefit much from the new display resolution. But modified applications are sure to follow quickly and that’s where the juicy fun beings: viewing images on a 2880 X 1800 display in a laptop will provide the most photo-realistic experience yet seen on a computer.

Display impressions to the eye

  • For text, the Retina display looks almost like paper, better really. The level of realism portends a future of more-lifelike-than-life displays (imagine 100 million pixels on a wall).
  • Display glare is quite low compared to past models— very acceptable.
  • Display contrast is impressive.
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Scaling options

The 15" Macbook Pro Retina has a display that is natively 2880 X 1800.

Because text would be tiny, Apple does not offer a native resolution option; programs have to be modified to use the full resolution (“pixel doubling”).

But actually it is not pixel-doubling only; it can almost be pixel-tripling, or other ratios.

Photoshop CS6 performance on diglloydSpeed1 benchmark
Scaling options for 15" MacBook Pro Retina display

Note that screen capture sizes vary with the resolution chosen; all are twice linearly what the nominal non-Retina resolution is (e.g. 1440 X 900 produces 2880 X 1800).

Available scaling factors corresponding to the image below include:

  • Larger Text — unmodified applications see a 1024 X 640 screen. Screen shot produces 2048 X 1280 image.
  • Intermediate — unmodified applications see a 1280 X 800 screen. Screen shot produces 2560 X 1600 image.
  • Best (Retina) — True pixel-doubled resolution of 1440 X 900. Unmodified programs will “see” a 1440 X 900 screen size; each pixel such programs draw will actually be a square of 4 pixels on the Retina display. Screen shot produces 2880 X 1800 image.
  • Intermediate + — unmodified applications see a 1680 X 1050 screen. Screen shot produces 3360 X 2100 image.
  • More Space — unmodified applications see a 1920 X 1200 screen. Screen shot produces 3840 X 2400 image.
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Relative screen sizes

View the relative sizes page.

Photoshop CS6 performance on diglloydSpeed1 benchmark
Relative size for 2880 X 1800
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