Windows 8 on the Retina Display MacBook Proby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 14, 2012 3:09 AM EST
- Posted in
- MacBook Pro
This will likely be the last small update before my full review of the next-gen MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Many of you have asked for information about the behavior of Windows running on the next-gen Pro. After getting both Windows 7 and Windows 8 running on the machine, here are some quick thoughts.
Windows 7 by default starts up at 800 x 600 on the Retina MBP, Windows 8 defaults to 1024 x 768. This behavior isn't specific to this system, the GeForce GT 650M doesn't have native driver support in either OS at this point and these are the defaults for the standard VGA driver in both cases. Windows 7 won't expose any resolutions higher than 1600 x 1200 without an actual NVIDIA driver, while Windows 8 will let you select the full 2880 x 1800 panel resolution:
The problem is Apple doesn't provide a Boot Camp driver set for the Retina MacBook Pro yet. I had to use the Broadcom wireless driver from my SNB MacBook Pro to get WiFi working under Windows. Unfortunately, NVIDIA doesn't offer a downloadable GeForce GT 650M driver for either Windows 7 or Windows 8 just yet. The R302 Verde drivers are supposed to be due out in the not too distant future with support for the 650M, but until then you're mostly out of luck. I tried modified drivers to get 650M support and even tried modifying some myself, but I haven't been successful thus far. Just as before, switchable graphics isn't functional under Windows - the discrete GPU (650M) is the only one exposed.
Even without a working NVIDIA driver, I was able to get a feel for what a 2880 x 1800 setting would look like on a traditional desktop under Windows 8. If you remember back to our scaling and display analysis articles, Apple doesn't offer a desktop resolution equivalent higher than 1920 x 1200 under OS X. The thinking being that unscaled 2880 x 1800 would just be too small for the desktop, icon text and default UI elements. The screenshot below shows the Windows 8 desktop at default (no DPI scaling) settings at 2880 x 1800:
Note that the Skyfall trailer is actually a full 1920 x 1080 window. Text is indeed very small, but I suspect those with very good eyesight could actually be ok with this. I would love to see Apple actually expose a native resolution option under OS X.
Here's a look at the unscaled Metro start screen at 2880 x 1800:
Text does get a bit more legible if you turn up DPI scaling. The gallery below has three shots of the same desktop comparing default (unscaled), 125% and 150% scaling options. There's also a shot in the gallery comparing the Retina MBP to Apple's previous highest DPI Mac display: the 11-inch 2011 MacBook Air to give you some perspective.
Quick conclusions? Windows users will have to wait a bit for official driver support, and NVIDIA needs to hurry up with a GT 650M Verde driver.
This is just an insane panel. I'm typing this on my 27-inch 2560 x 1440 display, and to think that the 15.4-inch panel next to it has 40% more pixels is mind blowing.
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JMS3072 - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkArticles like this are why I keep coming back to Anandtech. I appreciate that you take the time to make full-on, useful observations before doing a review- unlike some other sites that rush to get out their review first.
ImSpartacus - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkIt's funny, I was about to make a comment saying just about the same thing.
We're such fanboys, lol.
Zak - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkYup. That is pretty cool indeed. I also enjoy bits like this.
drvelocity - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkAgreed - Anand, you are truly the best technology writer in the world as far as I'm concerned, at least in any language I can read. Even Ars Technica writers reference your articles, that tells you something.
On another note: This article/gallery should be taken in while listening to "Carnival of the Animals VII - Aquarium" by Camille Saint-Saens for full effect. This thing truly is magical. I love that I have to have mine shipped from Shanghai to Illinois only to have it shipped back to Taiwan. :(
BPB - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkOK, I believe I've been coming to this site since '99, otherwise 2000 at the latest. It truly is one of my favorite tech sites. But I gotta say, stuff like this annoys me:
"This is just an insane panel. I'm typing this on my 27-inch 2560 x 1440 display, and to think that the 15.4-inch panel next to it has 40% more pixels is mind blowing."
If this is true then your mind is too easily blown. It's cool, it's nice, but mind blowing? You've already seen the newest iPad approach those numbers in a smaller, wimpier form factor, yet you find it in a larger and much more powerful form factor mind blowing? I think that would be ok from the teenage Anand back in the day, but this one has grown up. Hasn't he?
klagermkii - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkIt is mind blowing. We've spent somewhere near a decade with 2560x1600 being the highest "mainstream" resolution we can get, and finally we're breaking through that and on a laptop display no less.
This kind of thing is exciting because once Apple pushes it, we'll probably see other manufacturers doing it as well (even if just in a me too way), and they'll start pushing ahead of 2880x1800 to at least beat them on specs.
Should be a good few years for monitors coming up.
BPB - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - link"It is mind blowing. We've spent somewhere near a decade with 2560x1600 being the highest "mainstream" resolution we can get, and finally we're breaking through that and on a laptop display no less."
Without intending to, you made my point. This would have been mind blowing several years ago, but not no. Yes, it's been 10 years or so of 2560x1600 max resolution, so why would anybody be surprised it's now been bested, even if it is by a notebook. Making a screen with this resolution has been possible for a while, but making is usable has not. We now have all the parts (hardware and software) necessary to make them usable, all Apple did was do it first. Good for them, but they haven't exactly re-invented anything here, just taken it to the next logical level. It is not mind blowing, it is completely expected, and if anything overdue. See my comments about superlatives below. They should be used very sparingly.
robinthakur - Friday, August 10, 2012 - linkYou need to give credit where credit is due. Apple is a disruptive driver for change here. Anybody who has followed resolutions for a long time will tell you that the higher resolutions have been shunned since the advent of 1080P with the 1920x1200 res of the better screens actually being regressed to 1080P for most 24" screens, most manufacturers thinking that the higher res. would only be useful for professional graphics people. Likewise, the res on laptops stopped improving because manufacturers got lazy and figured that consumers didn't know or care about the difference. I'm very pleased that Apple is driving this forward since the days of the iPhone 4, iPad 3 and this new macbook Pro. Without them pushing the envelope here, other OEM's would be content with far lower resolutions to sustain their increasingly thin margins and the consumer would lose out. Retina displays make one huge difference to being able to read text and to images looking great. One good example is the Galaxy 3's screen. Bigger than the iPhone but all fuzzy for text, with wrong colours, and that was even released this year!As the owner of both that and the 4S, the latter won easily overall when the wow factor of the G3's screen subsided and you actually tried to use it for something.
ukw - Saturday, August 11, 2012 - linkI think the main problem of display nowadays is not necessarly the resolution, but the fact that they are SHINY. Why all the the displays are shiny nowadays? Who wants to see their face in the display? Seems like the hardware manufacturers see all people as narcisists. And here i point at the "beloved" apple at first. Its not like their gear is shiny enough they even put some glass over displays to make it like a mirror. So whats the point in havin a 2880+ resolution when u can't see anything in bright light. Pointless and stupid. Besides right now i have this laptop from Asus with full hd resolution on a 15 inch display. Its mate and i like it but i think windows its not meant for the extra pixels. The scaling its all wrong. The text is big but looks bad like u can see its not proportional with the elements (windows and such). Only a few programs support this scaling without lookin pixelish.
Moizy - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - linkSo you're calling Anand not grown up? Please have some respect. You have to love the bravery, audacity, and/or lack of respect that internet anonymity provides, right?
In Anand's opinion, it's cool that a panel that takes up roughly 1/3 the space of another actually has 40% more pixels. He even, how dare he, used the words "mind blowing."
In my opinion, I appreciate that Anand, after so many years of dealing with tech advancements, and, even more fatiguing, tech marketing, hasn't become jaded and disconnected. When new, cool, inspiring technology comes his way, he still appreciates it.
I'm sure there's a hobby or interest you enjoy or appreciate that really gets you excited, but that same hobby or interest might not do the same for others. That's perfectly acceptable; your excitement wouldn't warrant me curbing your enthusiasm, or calling you immature.