Macbook and external monitor
April 25, 2012 3:27 AM   Subscribe

I have a 2008 Macbook (2ghz, 2g RAM). I'd like to get an external monitor to do 2D photoshop-type graphics. What would you recommend?

Does anybody have recommendations for an external monitor? I'm looking for something with at least a 20" screen. Though I'd love to use dual screens, I seriously doubt my laptop could handle it. I'm really just wanting a bigger screen so I could do higher res graphics (1536 x 2048).

1) Is this something I want to attempt with my 2008 Macbook?
2) Have any brand recommendations?
3) What kind of connection cable do I need?

Thanks for your help!
posted by The ____ of Justice to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is this a white/black MacBook? I know the 13" unibody MacBooks were still MacBooks and not Macbook Pros when the unibody design came out in late 2008.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:42 AM on April 25, 2012

The Unibody silver one.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 4:23 AM on April 25, 2012

1. No reason not to. Assuming it's either a "Core 2 Duo" 2.0 13" or a "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 13", it'll support an external resolution of up to 2560x1600.

2. There's not a huge variety in terms of quality in similar brands at the same price. Your best bet is probably to peruse a selection of online reviews and pick something that takes your fancy and fits your budget. I've heard that both Dell and Asus monitors can be quite good value. 20" is pretty small these days, though; I'd personally go for something a few inches bigger if the money allows.

3. You need to get an adapter to convert the Macbook's mini-DVI (or Mini DisplayPort, although I don't think they were around until the end of 2008) to a standard DVI connector.
posted by pipeski at 4:45 AM on April 25, 2012

(3. I think it probably does have a Mini DisplayPort, actually... but anyway, you'll need an adapter)
posted by pipeski at 5:07 AM on April 25, 2012

Okay, depending on the monitor you get, you'll want a mini-displayport to VGA, or DVI most likely. Personally, I'd consider getting getting an Apple Monitor for two reasons:

1. They're quality monitors. I've got the 27", but I'm sure the smaller models are great too. You'll see similar sized monitors for cheaper, but they'll have lower resolution, and simply won't have the same image quality. Which isn't to say that Dell and others don't have monitors equally good, but they will end up being similarly priced to the Apple monitors, without the bonus listed in item 2...
2. They come with a single cable that you can plug into your macbook, for USB (there are USB ports on the back of the monitor), the display itself - no need to get a mini-displayport to DVI adaptor, and power (which means you can keep the power cable that came with your MacBook in your laptop bag, and never have to crawl under your desk to get it out when you're taking the laptop somewhere. Super nice for cable management.

You should be able to run the monitor and laptop side by side, effectively giving you dual monitors.

If you don't want to go with Apple, I think pipeski is right that you're probably okay with anything, just get something with decent reviews - and grab an adapter from the Apple store (or elsewhere - I imagine Monoprice carries them).
posted by backwards guitar at 5:28 AM on April 25, 2012

I have a 20 inch Apple display and love it.
posted by jgirl at 5:51 AM on April 25, 2012

If you're doing photographic work, get something with a decent screen, one with an IPS variant will likely be best. It'll cost you more, but IPS screens don't suffer from colour shift on changing viewing angles to anywhere near the same extent as ordinary thin film TFT screens. You might also want a wider colour gamut model, depending on the type of images you're working with.

You probably won't go far wrong just picking up the relevant Mac monitor, but HP certainly make nice IPS screens of around that size.
posted by pharm at 6:22 AM on April 25, 2012

Skip the Apple displays. They are *three times* the price of similar displays.
posted by gregr at 6:45 AM on April 25, 2012

FWIW, I have a white 2008 MacBook and it supports dual monitors (although I was using an old crappy display as my secondary).
posted by radioamy at 7:08 AM on April 25, 2012

I recently got an Acer S231HL 23" LED monitor and I'm very happy with it. It's not as great as the screen on my iMac at work, or an Apple cinema display, but if you're on a budget this is an option I can vouch for. Make sure the monitor you buy has a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080; avoid 1366 x 768 because it's not much space to work with.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:16 AM on April 25, 2012

NB TFT Central is my usual goto place for in depth TFT reviews, but I don't think they review the Apple ones sadly.

gregr: Equivalent displays are much closer in price than that.

NB. Current Apple monitors are all glossy IIRC, so skip them if you can't cope with glossy screens.
posted by pharm at 7:22 AM on April 25, 2012

Sorry, I forgot to add the apple monitors are WAY beyond my budget.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2012

I'd suggest the HP ZR24W. Good quality 24" IPS screen that isn't priced out of this world.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2012

Get the best monitor you can afford, and the aforementioned adaptor, and you should be good to go.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:19 PM on April 25, 2012

Thanks all! Will review these and probably puchase this week. Aw yeah!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:12 PM on April 27, 2012

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