Can a 2011 MBP play nicely with a new 32" monitor?

Out of the box the display looks like the 13" screen blown up and not very well defined.
Is my MBP just too old? Systems Prefs>Displays offers very few choices of settings, nothing that gives a good result. Is there a third party utility for these situations?

Sorry if my description is not precise. Thanks for any suggestions.


MacBookPro 8,1
Intel Core i5 2.4 GHz
OS 10.13.6

SAMSUNG 32 inch UJ59 4k monitor (LU32J590UQNXZA) - UHD, 3840 x 2160p, 60hz, 4ms, Dual monitor

Intel HD Graphics 3000:

Chipset Model: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Type: GPU
Bus: Built-In
VRAM (Dynamic, Max): 512 MB
Vendor: Intel
Device ID: 0x0126
Revision ID: 0x0009
Color LCD:
Display Type: LCD
Resolution: 1280 x 800
UI Looks like: 1280 x 800
Framebuffer Depth: 24-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Rotation: Supported
Automatically Adjust Brightness: No
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (1080p FHD - Full High Definition)
UI Looks like: 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz
Framebuffer Depth: 24-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
Display Serial Number: HCJT902268
Main Display: Yes
Mirror: Off
Online: Yes
Rotation: Supported
Automatically Adjust Brightness: No

TL;DR: How have you connected it? You should be able to get 2560x1440 resolution (the Mac’s maximum external resolution is 2560x1600). But you will probably need to use a DisplayPort cable. The fact that you’re topping out at 1920x1080 tells me that you are probably using an HDMI cable and the Mac is probably generating a DVI-compatible signal on that cable.

I recommend you get a DisplayPort cable. Since your Mac’s mini DisplayPort connector is electrically compatible with full-size DisplayPort connector. A passive cable (e.g. this one) should work and won’t be very expensive.

With that, I would expect the Mac to present the display’s full set of compatible resolutions (up to what the Mac can put out). I think the maximum you will find will be 2560x1440 (aka 1440p), which the monitor will upscale to 4K.

And now the ugly details:

According to its user manual, it supports HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI (via an HDMI adapter cable). The native resolution is 4K (3840x2160) at 60Hz. It supports a wide variety of standard resolutions (see page 45), which it will upscale to 4K.

According to MacTracker and Apple’s spec sheet, a MacBookPro 8,1 supports external video via mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt 1 (or other interfaces with adapter cables). Its maximum external display resolution is 2560x1600.

Looking at the display’s list of supported resolutions, the closest one to the Mac’s maximum is 2560x1440 (“1440p”). This is basically a 16:9 aspect version of the Mac’s maximum 2560x1600 (16:10 aspect) resolution. I think this will be available if you use a compatible cable/interface.

I assume you are not seeing this resolution because you are using a passive HDMI adapter cable, which the Mac is seeing as a single-link DVI connection (maximum resolution 1920x1200). If you use a different interface that can support 2560x1600, then you should see higher resolutions.

I think a DisplayPort connection will let the devices directly communicate, so they will negotiate capabilities and present the highest resolution common to them both.

Before you buy a cable you can try to force the resolution with SwitchResX which gives you a 10 day trial

David, you are correct. I was using an HDMI cable.
Thanks very much for your thorough response. And thanks Ray for the tip and the link.



Basic DisplayPort cable did the trick, things are rendering perfectly now. I wasn’t even aware of the DisplayPort standard, thanks for enlightening me.

SwitchResX installs easily, kinda worked but resolution was very grainy. In the event, the cable was also the cheaper option.



1 Like