So Much Room for Activities!

My Retina MacBook Pro is here and so far so good. Everyone else has said how great it is, how crappy non-retina Apps look (c’mon BBEdit, I complimented you in my last post), how stupid MagSafe 2 is (I use the adapter with the L-MagSafe 1 on the cinema display), etc. I want to talk about the reason I bought this thing: using three external displays.

The Hardware

  • 24″ LED Cinema Display
  • 24″ LED Cinema Display and Monoprice mini Displayport extension cable
  • Dell 2007FP via HDMI to DVI cable
  • one USB to the closer cinema display, hubbing to everyone else

The cinema displays are obviously 1920×1200 (since they’re the 24″ model) and that Dell is 1600×1200. I have a 1080p display hanging around too but I liked the idea of a consistent 1200 vertical pixels. The 20″ Dell is also Matte (contrasting with everything else) so it’s nice to have that for comparison.

My total external real estate is 1600×1200 + 2x1920x1200 = 6,528,000
“Best for Retina” is 5,184,000
“More Space” (like 1920 x 1200) is 9,216,000

Leaving the lid open on “More Space” with all the external displays connected pushes the GPU pretty hard and it causes the machine to behave a little like G5s. Idling to finder stuff, writing, low level stuff is completely silent. But, like the G5s, the exact second you hit Render or Compile the fans spin up and the moment the progress bar vanishes they go back to silent. Of course, with the display closed and only pushing the external displays, it takes more to get the fans to spin up, and they’ll be more quiet.

While I love my 11″ Air and will continue to use that as my laptop when I travel, the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro is very portable. I did go out and buy a 15″ Incase bag for when I change my mind. I don’t care how slim it is, 15″ (for me) is tabletop, not laptop. That is not a criticism.

The GeekBench score for this is over 12,000. My dual quad 2.8GHz 2008 Mac Pro from my day job scored around 10,500. That’s a hell of a lot of progress for four years. I can see now why Apple only needs to make 16 Core Mac Pro’s for render farms and not much else.

VMWare seems to be in need of better retina support. While I don’t expect Windows 7 to run perfectly at 2X, there is a problem with VMWare’s rendering. If you set the Virtual Machine’s display to say 3840 x 2400, VMWare rasters it down to whatever size your display is in POINTs, so it draws 3840×2400 in a 1920×1200 context and then that bitmap is then upscaled to 3840×2400 for the retina display. It looks bad, so I’m running my virtual machines at 1920×1200 rather than use a hiDPI mode (at least until VMWare addresses this. We’ll see).

I tried out AirPlay mirroring and found that by default it un-retina’s the onboard display and only draws at 1920×1080. While a little ugly, I suppose it gives it less work to do to send it over the air. It frustratingly also defaults to Overscan Compensation On. I hate Overscanning.

The iOS Simulators use retina pixels when using retina simulators (before they were giant, using your displays physical pixels). Non-retina simulators are displayed at the same physical size using pixel doubling.

The MagSafe 2 is my least favorite feature. The internet has done enough complaining about it so I won’t add to the noise. I will, however, suggest that MagSafe 1 should’ve been this size because that makes USB 2 the biggest port on the device. When the first MacBook Air came out it should have been clear that MagSafe 1 might be too big. Since I’m using the cinema display power, I have the adapter. It works well and I get to enjoy the L-shape.

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