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How well does MacBook drive external display?


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How well does MacBook drive external display?
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psmith2.0
Mr. Vieira
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2006-10-14, 19:16

Might be a dumb question...bear with me.

Does the MacBook, with its integrated graphics (not a standalone, dedicated ATi or nVidia card), work well in spanning/extended desktop situations?

I think I'll be getting one (the white $1,299 SuperDrive model) after the Core 2 Duo switch coming soon, and I was just curious...I'd be going a couple of inches smaller than the 15" PowerBook I'm accustomed to. If that got to be a bit small and cramped for me, how well does the MacBook do connected to an external display? Does its lack of a graphics card show up as a negative in any way in this type of scenario?

Does it operate in "closed lid" mode, and fling all its resources to the main, connected display? Or do you keep the MacBook open, and the resources and memory are split between the two? I've never done this before, and certainly not with a machine without beefy, dedicated graphics, so it's all new to me...

Beyond theory and "it should..." stuff, is anyone here currently doing this? Any real-life tidbits and experiences you want to share? I know Apple's site touts this on their MacBook section, but I was wondering how well (how smooth, responsive, etc.) it was...if there was any sort of hit or downside? Or does it work as well as any Mac with a graphics card?

I was all set to get an iMac, but I simply love having a notebook too much (and no, I don't want both...having two computers sucks, and I couldn't afford to anyway).



So what's the story on all this? And I don't game, so that doesn't factor in at all (I know gaming is one of those things the integrated graphics of the Mac mini and MacBook don't excel at). I'm Safari, Mail, iTunes, iLife and Adobe CS...
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chucker
 
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2006-10-14, 19:28

It has everything the MacBook Pro does aside from dual-link, so the highest digital resolution you'll get is 1920x1200; the highest analog is something random like 2048x1536 (at horrifying quality, presumably). It has lid-closed mode, it has spanning, etc.

I can't give you real-life experience and, indeed, only "it should…", but my "it should…" is: the integrated graphics pose no limitation whatsoever on this. There's more than enough VRAM to handle such high resolutions, so it won't feel laggy or anything.
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psmith2.0
Mr. Vieira
 
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2006-10-14, 20:03

That's good to know. Thank you very much.
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Joshua
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2006-10-14, 21:49

To be honest when I use my MB on my external 17" Samsung LCD I'm not too happy.

Can't really put it into words but the resolution is not as sharp and crisp as I would have hoped. I'm using Apple's Analog dongle, so maybe the DVI would produce better quality, but I'm doubtful.

Only thing I dislike about the 'close lid' mode is that it requires your AC is plugged in, and syncing upon first boot is weird sometimes.

I disliked the quality of my external so much I went ahead and switched back to using it as a regular laptop. 13" is small but the screen is gorgeous so to me it's worth it.

Bottom line from my experience is that you'll be hard pressed to replicate an exact image quality on an external. But I'm still going to try to try it out on different LCD's, but I've always been happy with Samsung's displays.

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GladToBeHere
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2006-10-14, 22:20

DVI would produce better results. Even my 1Ghz tibook is sharp on a new 23" ACD.
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trainee
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2006-10-14, 22:32

I second that. DVI makes a great difference.
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Luca
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2006-10-14, 22:39

Thirded. You really should only use DVI for connecting an external LCD. LCDs are by their very nature digital displays, so if you use a VGA connection you're going to see some fuzziness. That has absolutely nothing to do with the relative power of the GPU.

The only real graphical problems that you'll run into in OS X happen when you have too little VRAM. The integrated graphics are very underpowered, much slower than the Radeon 9550 that the iBook had, but at least you get 64 MB of VRAM (32 MB per display). That's very important to getting good performance even in everyday use.

Also, although I'm not sure of this, I think the MB's integrated graphics are sort of designed for 2D use. In 3D gaming, I wouldn't expect them to do any better than an ancient Radeon 7000 because of the severely limited memory bandwidth, but you'll probably get a smoother GUI experience from the GMA950 than you would with the Radeon 7000 (which happens to be the slowest possible GPU that supports Quartz Extreme). This also owes to the MacBook's processor, which is much faster than the one any machine using a Radeon 7000.
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chucker
 
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2006-10-14, 22:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca View Post
the Radeon 7000 (which happens to be the slowest possible GPU that supports Quartz Extreme)
Meep!

The Radeon Mobility, which is one generation before the 7000, also supports Quartz Extreme.
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Joshua
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2006-10-15, 13:10

I stand corrected then.

I was kinda basing that on all my DVI experience on that 'other' platform.

I've connected LCD's to $350+ video cards using both DVI and Analog and could never really say that the DVI wowed me, better yes, but IMO not worlds apart.

I currently only have an analog monitor at work, but if and when I do get a DVI enabled monitor I'd definitely love to see the difference.

As pscates will soon find out, the white MB is a bitch to keep clean, and at work I always get dirt that collects on the magnets on the LCD bezel, which is really the main reason I like using an external monitor.

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Luca
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2006-10-15, 13:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
I was kinda basing that on all my DVI experience on that 'other' platform.
I wouldn't think the OS has much to do with it either, but when I think about it, maybe OS X looks worse on analog vs. digital because of the font smoothing. Windows has much less sophisticated font smoothing that I think is turned off by default, so the fuzziness of the analog display might actually smooth things out a bit. In OS X, though, such a "soft focus" effect is unnecessary, because the font smoothing is already there and it's great.

So maybe you have a point there.
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Windowsrookie
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2006-10-15, 13:54

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
To be honest when I use my MB on my external 17" Samsung LCD I'm not too happy.

Can't really put it into words but the resolution is not as sharp and crisp as I would have hoped. I'm using Apple's Analog dongle, so maybe the DVI would produce better quality, but I'm doubtful.
Don't be, DVI will make a Big difference.

Quote:
I disliked the quality of my external so much I went ahead and switched back to using it as a regular laptop. 13" is small but the screen is gorgeous so to me it's worth it.
Use DVI.

Quote:
Bottom line from my experience is that you'll be hard pressed to replicate an exact image quality on an external. But I'm still going to try to try it out on different LCD's, but I've always been happy with Samsung's displays.
Use DVI and image quality will be just as good as the internal monitor.
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Joshua
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2006-10-15, 14:13

Well in this case I'm glad I'm wrong.

I'd love to be able to hook up my MB to a 19" WS and get as good of an image.

Only pisser is I need to buy another dongle/converter thingy.

But it's good to know.

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psmith2.0
Mr. Vieira
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2006-10-15, 15:30

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
As pscates will soon find out, the white MB is a bitch to keep clean, and at work I always get dirt that collects on the magnets on the LCD bezel, which is really the main reason I like using an external monitor.
I'm a pretty clean guy, so I'm not worried. My new mouse and iPod - two white things I handle more than my computer - always stay showroom clean!



It would be cool if one of the things they offer on the updated Core 2 Duo MacBooks is maybe a $1,499 model with dedicated graphics, just so it's a more worthy successor to the 12" PowerBook G4, and it would be the best of all scenarios. Still keep the $1,099 and $1,299 models (if not cheaper) as is, but give us something small with beefier graphics capabilities (no, I'm not asking for Dual Link and all that shit...just decent, no-apologies 3D/gaming and a bit more well-rounded, capable small notebook in that department.
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Brad
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2006-10-15, 15:47

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
As pscates will soon find out, the white MB is a bitch to keep clean, and at work I always get dirt that collects on the magnets on the LCD bezel, which is really the main reason I like using an external monitor.
In the past couple months that my wife has owned her white MacBook, we've yet to have any issues with keeping the MacBook clean. We don't even wipe it down regularly; it simply isn't a problem.

The quality of this board depends on the quality of the posts. The only way to guarantee thoughtful, informative discussion is to write thoughtful, informative posts. AppleNova is not a real-time chat forum. You have time to compose messages and edit them before and after posting.
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Joshua
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2006-10-15, 16:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
It would be cool if one of the things they offer on the updated Core 2 Duo MacBooks is maybe a $1,499 model with dedicated graphics
Possible, but I'd doubt it.

I mean pound for pound, dollar for dollar the MB is a better buy vs. the MBP. Only real difference is dedicated graphics, but CPU is pretty damn close, it was too close for me to justify the extra +- $800, which is why I elected for the MB. I think they (Apple) need to bait the Pro users with something.

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Joshua
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2006-10-15, 16:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad View Post
In the past couple months that my wife has owned her white MacBook, we've yet to have any issues with keeping the MacBook clean. We don't even wipe it down regularly; it simply isn't a problem.
You know what, I'm thinking Apple did a rev on the plastics they use. When I had my LogicBoard replaced, they replaced the LCD bezel and palm-rests for free. I remember seeing on the invoice that the parts details said something like version 2 or something to that effect.

Believe me, I've babied my MB, as I do my iMac too, but the MB has been difficult for me to keep clean. But I have noticed in the past few months that it does get dirtier at work then at home, so maybe my work is just a dirty place, but I've never noticed till now.

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chucker
 
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2006-10-15, 16:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
Only real difference is dedicated graphics
And an ExpressCard slot. And dual-link DVI. And lots of other little things.

Not worth the $800 you cite, but then that comparison doesn't apply anyway. A MacBook at such a price doesn't even have a DVD burner.
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