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Gone to the farm for the weekend.  I'll still be answering questions, but much less frequently than usual.  Thank you for your understanding.  Damien.

siobhankelly

Best monitor to get?

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Hi Brian,

I'm hoping you don't have to answer this question constantly - I did search through a little but didn't go back too far as we all know how quickly technology changes!

I'm a macbook pro user - I've had the same machine for years now and it still works a charm. Retina screen, 15 inch. Only thing is I just can't seem to find consistency in my editing - understandable as I'm editing all over the place on a laptop screen.

So I'm looking to invest in a good monitor that I can keep in one place. My questions - am I able to use a non-mac screen with a macbook pro? will it still calibrate okay? (it's one of those versions that still has USB ports so I'm not worried about connection). What's on the market now that you would recommend, with a budget up to about 1K? Happy to spend if a couple hundred dollars makes a decent difference in quality. There seem to be so many different models and I'm not techy enough to know the difference!

Thanks in advance!

Siobhan

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1 hour ago, siobhankelly said:

am I able to use a non-mac screen with a macbook pro?

Yes.

1 hour ago, siobhankelly said:

will it still calibrate okay?

Yes. But this will depend on your Calibration Device. If it's a few years old, it may not be compatible with current displays. So I'd plan on budgeting for a new one. You don't have to buy one right away, but have the money set aside in case you do. For calibrating two displays, I'd recommend either the SpyderX Elite or the current version of the i1 Display Pro.

1 hour ago, siobhankelly said:

What's on the market now that you would recommend, with a budget up to about 1K?

You don't need to go up that high. Around $500 or so should be more than enough, unless you purchase a genuine Apple Display, then you pay a premium.

1 hour ago, siobhankelly said:

 There seem to be so many different models and I'm not techy enough to know the difference!

The biggest thing to look for is it NEEDS to be a IPS-Based Display Panel. It will say this in the specifications. The manufacturer will brag about it / point it out. If it doesn't say "IPS" anywhere, skip it. Why is this important? An IPS Screen is more accurate from edge-to-edge in terms of color, contrast, sharpness and overall image quality. Which is kinda important for photo editing. :) Plus the viewing angle is much better.

The second thing it you want to fine a "Matte" Screen or something that has Anti-Glare Coatings.

Third, you will have to decide on what resolution and size you are looking for. Personally 27" is more than enough. Damien works on a 19" Display and CS5! Also, will you be after a 4K model or a traditional one? But before I start rattling off a bunch of displays, what Macbook are we talking about? What year?

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Thanks @Brian for your help so far!

I've actually lost my calibrator, so that's definitely in the budget for another one. 

The macbook I'm using at the moment is a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013). Yes - I know it's old - even apple told me it's a vintage model now when I tried to buy a replacement battery. It still runs like a charm and I figure provided my software and hardware is compatible (which, so far, it all is),  I'll keep it until it starts playing up. Does that make much of a difference when we're talking external monitors?

That's interesting you say there's no need to spend above $500 - everything I was reading was recommending a range that fell between $300-2000+ and I figured if I'm wanting professional standard I'd have to pay the premium. I'm doing photography as a day job so definitely want something decent - not a rookie anymore (despite the whole lost calibrator and editing on a very old laptop, haha). There was a dell I had my eye on that was just under a grand - this one - https://www.pbtech.co.nz/product/MONDEL42721/Dell-UltraSharp-U2720Q-27-4K-USB-C-Monitor--Up-to - but if the difference is very small for something a few hundred cheaper, then obviously worth considering! A few years ago I bought a cheap monitor and ended up not using it, because despite the laptop screen being small, the retina screen was so much better than the monitor - so I'd want to make sure that I'm getting something that will make me want to use it rather than defaulting to the laptop screen.

Would love to hear recommendations! Thanks so much!

 

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OK. Let me clarify. Regular people like myself, do not go out and blow $3000 on a Eizo Display, especially for a 2013 Macbook. :D Granted, your thinking is on the right track, to not cheap out, but I'd like to keep things more realistic in terms of budget. Of course, depending on where you are geographically located will affect prices. Places like New Zealand, Australia and Canada will cost more...so it is possible your budget could be closer to the $1000 mark. But if you live in the US, $500-$700 is more than enough for something decent.

Wow! I just noticed you are in New Zealand!! Yeah...you are going to pay out the arse for a display. That very same display you linked to is around $600 here in the US.

OK, now for your laptop.

Bad news! 4K is not going to play well on your laptop and external screen. In fact, your laptop NOT will support 4K! From Apple's website for your model: "Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colors."

You are better off with a standard 27" 2560x1440 and not the UHD stuff. Retina is going to kick external display's butt. Pictures will be fine, but text might be a bit fuzzy. Apple is very good at scaling and sharpness and colors on their displays, but you won't get that same "Look" on an external 3rd party display. So whatever you do end up getting, make sure the return policy is decent and have realistic expectations. 

I'd recommend a Dell Ultrasharp U2719DX IPS Monitor and be sure to use a HDMI cable.

Keep this thread in mind to refer to: Macrumors.com - Fixing External Monitor Scaling and Fuzziness. Some people seem to have minor success, while others seem to really go out of their way to make the external display look good. If you want 4K, you are going to need a new / current MBP. 

Can I interest you in a 27" iMac? Do you really need a Laptop? I have a feeling you aren't going to be happy long-term. But I'd try that Dell that I recommended first. If you can't get it looking the way you want, start saving for a new Mac.

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Thanks Brian, that's very helpful! Never would have thought the laptop would limit what I could use externally. I think I might start saving for a 27" imac - if I'm not going to get the clarity I want, I'll end up not using the external monitor so might as well just wait a little bit!

 

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On 2/24/2021 at 6:05 PM, siobhankelly said:

might as well just wait a little bit!

You win the Gold Star from me today!! Congratulations!!

I am a HUGE proponent of "Buy it Right-Buy it Once!" I hate-hate-hate wasting money on this sh*t. :D

Remember, your laptop is from the 2013-era, 4K really didn't become a thing until around 2016 or so. So it doesn't surprise me one bit that it only goes up to 2560 x 1600 (or really, 1440) which was the top-of-the-line back in 2013. ;)

Now, I wrote a thread for what to configure for when it comes to a iMac. You defintely want to stick to a 27" model. No matter how tempting, DO NOT BUY A 21.5" iMac!!! Here is the article:

Quick & Dirty iMac Configurations

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Thanks!

Just checking - would I have to go for pro, or just standard? And yep, I'd definitely go 27" :)

 

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You didn't read my article, did you? ;) I covered that in the Mac Pro section:

Quote

For Heavy Duty Video Work, you will probably want a Mac Pro. Believe it or not, Adobe Photoshop CC WILL NOT FUN FASTER ON A MAC PRO as compared to the standard 27" iMac. In fact, it might actually run slower. Why? Because it's not encoded / programmed to take the advantages that the Mac Pro provides. So if you are primarily editing still photos in Photoshop, stick with the "Photoshop Work" or "Mixed"  Configurations in the above sections and save yourself A LOT of cash.

So if you are just doing Photoshop work, a tricked out standard 27" iMac will run better than a if you had a Mac Pro.

Now if you want to go ahead and blow $10,000+ NZ Dollars, be my guest. It won't do you any good. I would rather you get a standard 27" iMac, upgrade / tweak its configuration, and then take whatever money you would have blown on a Mac Pro and upgrade your lenses or possibly spend your money on education. THAT will make your photos better.

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8 minutes ago, Brian said:

You didn't read my article, did you? ;) I covered that in the Mac Pro section:

So if you are just doing Photoshop work, a tricked out standard 27" iMac will run better than a if you had a Mac Pro.

Now if you want to go ahead and blow $10,000+ NZ Dollars, be my guest. It won't do you any good. I would rather you get a standard 27" iMac, upgrade / tweak its configuration, and then take whatever money you would have blown on a Mac Pro and upgrade your lenses or possibly spend your money on education. THAT will make your photos better.

I did read it, I promise! I might have gelled over the last bit though, haha. I Just wanted to check as the standard model has the price you'd mentioned, but I wasn't sure if that number was in my currency or in USD  (in which case I'd be looking at the pro!)

 

Thanks so much for the help :)

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All my prices are US Dollar based. You do not need a Mac Pro for Photoshop. Trust me, you are wasting money if you do.

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If I had to buy a brand new iMac right now, this is the configuration that I would get. This is what I consider the "Tricked Out iMac" for Photoshop:

593652783_ScreenShot2021-02-27at12_51_48AM.thumb.png.fb2925d6b1b0036ec19c37b345836566.png

The cost is $3229 (US Dollar) before AppleCare, Tax and Shipping.

The exchange rate as I type this puts your cost around $4469.99 NZD, and that is before AppleCare, Taxes and any possible Shipping charges. So I'd budget around $6000 NZD or so out your way. You will know this better than I will. 

Now, if you look, you will see 8GB in the configuration. That is way too small for RAM with today's modern software. You want 32GB or preferably more. Unfortunately, Apple is insaine when it comes to their RAM prices! You could spend $600+ to get 32GB, OR you could upgrade the RAM yourself to 40GB and pay only a few hundred or less! All you need is a 32GB RAM Kit. When it comes time to purchase your new Mac, hit me up for some help. I will get you a configuration that will run extremely well for Photoshop.  

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Ouch! It doesn't come cheap, does it!?

 

Got some saving to do. How much do they change from year to year? Like, if there was a 2019 or a 2020 version around, would that be worth looking at?

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27 minutes ago, siobhankelly said:

How much do they change from year to year?

Nope. That's one thing that Apple does...is keep their prices relatively the same. Bear in mind, when I configure a computer, I build it with a 7-8 year time-frame in mind. All too often people will buy a less expensive model, only to replace it within 3 years or so. Apple does have their "Refurbished Mac Store," but you are in New Zealand, so I'm not sure how that will work for you. What they have in the store is what they have. It's not like it's a discount store with 100's of the same item. No, this is the twelve 27" iMacs in various configurations that are in stock...oops, someone just bought one, now we have eleven 27" iMacs...

My $6000 NZD could be way off. It might end up being cheaper. Head to Apple.com and it should take you to the New Zealand portion of their website. Configure the iMac the way that I did and see how much it will cost you. Start with clicking on "Mac" then iMac (not a iMac Pro,) then click 27" and "Buy." Start with the one in the right column, which should be the most expensive out of the three.

Upgrade the CPU

Upgrade the Video Card to the middle one (8GB Video RAM)

Upgrade the HD to a 1TB SSD

Upgrade the Keyboard to the one with the built-in number-pad, it's totally worth the extra $30 or so.

Then click "Add to Cart."

Add the AppleCare option

Then see what the total is and let me know. I'm curious to see how my numbers are and how far off they are.

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Here goes - 

  • Standard glass
  • 3.8GHz 8-core 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz
  • 8GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • Radeon Pro 5700 with 8GB of GDDR6 memory
  • 1TB of SSD storage
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad — US English

+ applecare

 

$4748.00 NZD

 

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Plus budget for a new calibration device, and that puts it around $5000 NZD. There is your target budget. 

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I’m now considering a new MacBook instead (I just can’t shake the love of portability) - and adding a 27inch screen. Would I be best to stick with a Mac screen, or better to go all Mac?

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You are throwing money away if you go the MacBook route. A "Good Mac Laptop for Photo Editing" is about $3800 USD! Plus, Apple makes current MacBooks sealed units and you must purchase the Apple over-priced upgrades at the time of purchase! Not to mention the batteries will wear out, and you'll get about 36-48 months out of the damn thing. (Yes, even if you leave your laptop plugged in all the time.)

Bonus! You will spend more money than on a upgraded 27" iMac AND have less performance in the end. Not to mention if you really want to take advantage of Apple's full graphics, you need an Apple Display, so that adds to the cost. Sure, you can get a 27" 4K display, and graphics would probably look fine, but text and such, notsomuch.

But you can edit by the pool!! In the car on your way to the beach!! In all sorts of places!!! Color accuracy be damned!!

Edit: Apple currently has a "Pro Display" and it's really meant for "Pros." They no longer offer the "Consumer" model as they once did. I think they were planning on releasing one, but then COVID-19 hit, and I haven't heard much. Anyway, the Pro Display that Apple offers is $5000...and that is just for the display panel. If you want a stand to place it on a desk, that's $1000 extra. $6000 for a stinkin' Apple Display.

So $6000 USD for an "Apple Display" on top of your $3800 USD MacBook Pro.

So $9800 vs $3200-ish. All for "Portability." Plus, this is US Dollars, you are in NZ, so you have to add to the cost. $10,000+ NZD is like buying a used car.

You are better off buying a Windows Laptop, 27" screen and converting all your files over. :)  

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oh wow, I didn't expect such a price difference!!

See, I'm trying to solve as many problems as I can in one hit - I want the flexibility of having a laptop that can move around with me (photography is half of what I do - I also write, do admin, have a side job doing GST returns... portability is key as the laptop is attached to me at the hip!) BUT I also want to solve the original problem - I want a nice big screen that I can set up in one place for consistent editing.

Is there any screen that would work with my old laptop? What about if it was a mac screen? Or, is it a case of sucking up the fact that this 2013 machine has no hope?

If I did go the computer route, and wasn't fussy with mac vs PC, would you still recommend the iMac route? Or deck out a PC?

Yes I could just get a PC/iMac and use my old laptop for other stuff... but I do know it's going to die eventually so I will be up for a new laptop too regardless of whether I've bought a screen or a computer. I need the portability.

In short, I'm still convincible, and I do have money to spend... I just want to make the right decision! What would you do, keeping in mind that I do want a decent monitor or computer that stays in one place, but also want the portability of a laptop!?

 

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You have two problems:

It’s a 2013 Mac Laptop - so it’s limited in what it can do. That’s 8 years ago, it’s had a good run.

It’s a 2013 Mac Laptop - so an Apple Display will be the only one that “looks like an Apple Display.” Sure, you can get a 27” standard display and it will look “fine” for the most part, but won’t be Retina Display quality. It’s all about realistic expectations. 
 

You could get a 27” iMac and use the 2013 laptop for your portable stuff. Otherwise you are looking at a new MacBook Pro. I guess the only way to find out for yourself, is to purchase that Dell Monitor I recommended and give it a go. Then you will know. If it doesn’t work out, return the Dell. So make sure the store you purchase it from has a good return policy. (Unless you can bring your laptop into a store and try out some displays.) 

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Thanks. Okay, going with the computer option - would you reccommend an iMac over a PC? Obviously they are always going to be more expensive, so are they worth the extra cost? My main thing being that I love the retina screen so would be disappointed with a sub par PC screen if they don't compare.

Thanks so much for all the help, by the way - really appreciate it!

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Right now, keep saving  

COVID-19 has really screwed with the prices. With everyone working from home and a shortage of components that make up the individual parts of a computer, it’s a wash. Your budget for a Windows Computer that is “Good for Photo Editing” should be about $2000 USD. PLUS a Display. Which puts it right around the price of a iMac. 
 

it’s actually the worst time to be in the market for a new computer. Everything is $500-$800 more than last year. Today’s $1200 PCs were last year’s $500 models. So you really need to be careful of WHAT you are buying spec-wise. It’s not just about Computer X is more expensive than Computer Y. 
 

Until the world goes somewhat back to normal in 2022 or 2023, I fear we will be in this inflated price predicament. :( 

if you have a Mac and switch back to Windows, you will need a program that  convert your files into something that Windows can read. It’s not a huge deal, but more of a hassle. Apple makes it VERY EASY to go from Windows to a Mac, but not the other way around. 

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Ah, bugger. Covid, what a drama.

I got the SpyderX Elite today though, so that's going to give me a starting point at least!

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