Earlier this morning Apple introduced its next-generation MacBook Pro equipped with a Retina Display. The 15.4-inch panel features a native resolution of 2880 x 1800, or exactly four times the standard 1440 x 900 resolution of a regular 15-inch MacBook Pro. As we've seen in the past however, an ultra high resolution screen in a small form factor can make for some very difficult to read text. The Retina MBP ships with a version of OS X Lion however that supports a number of scaling modes to take advantage of the ultra high res display.

By default, the Retina MBP ships in a pixel doubled configuration. You get the effective desktop resolution of the standard 15-inch MacBook Pro's 1440 x 900 panel, but with four physical pixels driving every single pixel represented on the screen. This configuration is the best looking, but you don't actually get any more desktop space. Thankfully Apple exposes a handful of predefined scaling options if you do want additional desktop space:

Apple offers five scaled settings including the default pixel doubled option: 1024 x 640, 1280 x 800, 1440 x 900, 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. Selecting any of these options gives you the effective desktop resolution of the setting, but Apple actually renders the screen at a higher resolution and scales it to fit the 2880 x 1800 panel. As a result of the upscaled rendering, there can be a performance and quality impact. It's also worth noting there's no default option for 2880 x 1800, which is understandable given just how tiny text would be at that resolution. I suspect it won't be long before users figure out how to manually add a zero-scale, 2880 x 1800 option. 

The gallery below shows the impact of these scaling options on desktop area as well as how much of the AnandTech front page you can see at each setting.

POST A COMMENT

74 Comments

View All Comments

  • rs2 - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    See the picture in the article. A third of the screen is lost in glare from the window, on what appears to be a cloudy day. So in other words, no, not usable at all. Reply
  • Henk Poley - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - link

    It appears they still don't use something like Schott Mirogard anti-reflective coating. So it's pretty reflective, as seen in the pictures. Reply
  • RamarC - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    signed..,. most windows laptop manufacturers ;-) Reply
  • Denithor - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    Well said!

    Too bad more manufacturers aren't following Apple's lead (yet). I refuse to buy an Apple but damn, they design nice hardware.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - link

    ASUS actually one upped Apple when it comes to ultraportable res, the new Zenbooks have 1080p panels at 11.6 and 13 inches... Lots of Win8 devices will be 1080p at similar sizes, I'm actually surprised Apple only updated one 15" model, but I'm glad they stuck with 16:10. Reply
  • steven75 - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - link

    How is that one upping Apple when the Air line hasn't yet been made Retina? 1080p is barely better than what's been out for 4-5 years now. Reply
  • AlexFeren - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    > Selecting any of these options gives you the effective desktop resolution of the setting, but Apple actually renders the screen at a higher resolution and scales it to fit the 2880 x 1800 panel

    Is it possible that bitmaps are scaled whereas vector graphics (including fonts) are actually rendered using extra resolution? If so, this would be a breakthrough - beginnings of a transition from raster to vector rendering.
    Reply
  • etamin - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    I wonder how well the 650M is able to drive this display with medium gaming. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    I wouldn't even bother at 2880x1800. Just game at 1440x900 and call it a day. Reply
  • frostyfiredude - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    It'll be interesting to see, but with only 1GB of VRAM on a 128bit wide bus I can't see it pushing all 5.2 billion pixels at anything but low on a couple year old games. It should run games at 1440x900 quite well though, and it won't get any funny scaling issues being 1/4 the native resolution. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now