(This page is my summary of this forum discussion - please see the Installing a high resolution display on a Macbook Pro guide for a step-by-step instructions guide. This page is only really useful if you're looking to separate the useful info from the random chat in the macrumors forum thread. As always, YMMV, so don't blame me if it all goes horribly wrong... ;o)
About this page
The display panels used in the 15.4 inch Macbook Pro are a standard size, and it's possible to switch the standard WSXGA (1440x900) resolution panel for a higher resolution one, for example from a Dell laptop. This page is my attempt to pull together the 46+ pages of chat posted on the Macrumours forum after member Baxterbrittle managed to fit the display from a Macbook Pro on to his Powerbook.
Having seen this, several people reported back saying that a number of higher resolution panels fit the MBP, but success was limited. The long and short of it is that the best panel to use is the WUXGA (1920x1200) panel by LG (under Leopard) or Toshiba (under Tiger), but it only works in the Core Duo and Core2 Duo MBPs with CCFL lighting - conversions on Santa Rosa C2D (2.2GHz and 2.4GHz) LED-backlit and unibody models don't seem to be possible at the moment, so the search is on for a high-res LED-lit panel.
Machines you can upgrade
- Core Duo and Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro 15.4" models with CRT backlighting (the LED backlighting is a problem at the moment as there don't seem to be many (or any?) high resolution LED-backlit panels available right now.
In a nutshell
- It's possible to fit a WUXGA (1920x1200) screen to a 15" Macbook Pro. Using SwitchResX and a Toshiba panel, the modification has been proven to work. Connectors in many newer screens are largely similar, although YMMV so please read on...
- Almost all screens tried seem to work fine under Leopard, but Tiger has been a PITA for most users
- No conversions can be done on LED-backlit MBPs as there are no WUXGA LED panels freely available, and converting from one light source to another is difficult or impossible
More detailed thread overview
This is as short a summary of this Macrumors forum discussion thread as I can manage:
- Baxterbrittle posts asking if anyone's interested in a hi-def conversion. They are. Photos are posted. Turns out he's modified a 15 inch Powerbook to fit the (slightly wider) Macbook Pro screen. Everything looks fine apart from the lid being slightly wider and not closing as the catches are different:
- Loads more photos and info can be found on baxterbrittle's macmod.com website.
- This conversion was using a Sharp (154xxx?)  panel via eBay. Connector for LVDS cable didn't match and display was 15.4" not the more common 15.2" of the MBP, hence the MBP lid. LVDS cable has to be swapped with one from the last-gen Powerbook (loads of photos). On the Powerbook it seems the display can literally be plugged in and it works straight away. Unfortunately this isn't the case with the Macbook Pro, possibly because of the EFI interface (link, later link).
- Loads more photos of the panel and laptop disassembled
- Some questions over which inverter to use - seems the MBP one is probably fine.
- Dell laptops (e.g. Precision M70) fitted with high res displays seemed to be able to handle the Sharp, Samsung and Toshiba panels interchangeably, but it's later posted that the MBP doesn't like the LG LP154WU1 panel (or any LG panels, it seems).
- Turns out the 17" iMac can probably take WUXGA upgrades too.
- Quote: "The supposedly "compatible" screens from the 15.4 Inspiron are: Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp"
- The video card should be able to handle WUXGA and high resolution external displays as well, although driving for e.g. the 30" Cinema display might be a challenge or not possible on the 128MB-equipped MBP (link).
- Two good photos: one of the high res display next to a MBP, and one of the connector. Toshiba panel though - turns out to not work in OS X.
- vv-tim got the panel working but only in Windows under Bootcamp. Panel wouldn't come on for bootloader or OS X. Again, EFI looks to be the cause.
- Suggestions include trying a PRAM reset and forcing a lower resolution to get the panel working. PRAM reset lets the panel work until the next reboot, but colours are very messed up ([ pics]).
- Mini-diagrams and instruction for removing metal tabs from donor panels.
- Samsung panel works perfectly in Windows via Boot Camp, but displays as if the refresh rate is out of sync in OS X. DisplayConfigX is recommended as a solution - copy display timings from Windows usingPowerstrip and create a custom resolution for OS X using DisplayConfigX (screenshots) (with an external monitor so you can see what you're doing). More information and discussion - it works, but colour profiles are broken.
- Problems with not being able to adjust brightness may be related to not having the right monitor profile installed. This post tells you how to get the vendor ID of the panel. Also, Anderson22 asks how to change the monitor's make and model information to repair a non-dimming screen. Baxterbrittle explains how to do it.
- Btw, the LCD is glued into the casing on the MBP.
- Recap: panel works fine in Windows, but OS X seems to push some settings into PRAM/EFI/? which causes Windows to also have colour issues.
- Baxterbrittle points out that the colour issues are probably not related to colorsync, as it is not applied until just before the login panel appears on OS X startup.
- Scottsummers asks whether a similar modification could be done on the (4:3) early 12" Powerbook. Baxterbrittle suggests that a 1400x1050 Toshiba Portege M200 panel.
- Twwheeler asks whether booting from the install CD might be worth a go to see if the installation can get the colour issues right - apparently not as the refresh rate is a problem under OS X installer. Vv-timreplies that he couldn't get 1920x1200 working on his Dell laptop under OSX86.
- Vv-tim posts some bad news - having tried to override the graphics settings, he thinks he may have caused permanent damage to the panel, causing vertical lines to appear on the screen even in Windows. Having reset the PRAM, deleted the override profile, and let the Mac sit with the battery out the problem still remains.
- Psylance points out that he remembers reading that they couldn't get OSX86 up to a 1920x1200 resolution; the largest they could go was 1650x1080.
- Gangis asks whether deleting the hidden EFI partition (possibly via Windows) or working with the creator of rEFIt might be worth a try due to their knowledge of the Mac EFI system.
- Getgreg has spotted that the graphics card on the 17" MBP (which is the only Mac with a native 1920x1200 option) is a minimum of 256MB, not the 128 of the lower-spec'd 15" MBPs. Could this be the cause of the colour issues? Vv-tim replies that it's highly unlikely/impossible - a GMA950 with shared memory can support 1920x1200, and the display works/worked perfectly fine under Windows.
- Tarjan suggests trying Omni's Callisto to inject EDID information into the OS.
- Freddyflinty asks for some clarification - how can he make sure a new panel has the right connectors, and is fitting straightforward or does it require a lot of gluing? Twwheeler replies that the 15" 16:9 screens all seem to have fairly standardised connectors, and the panel fitment is tedious, although the scariest part apparently was un-gluing the original panel.
- Freddyflinty replies that he's interested in doing the mod on a 17" G5 iMac. Baxterbrittle replies that, as long as it's the revision C iMac G5, it should be possible (as these were the earliest iMacs fitted with the required LVDS connector). Also worth remembering that the iMac panel uses two LVDS connectors on the stock panel, so leaving one disconnected to fit a replacement panel without two LVDS connectors might result in a dimmer display.
- Vv-tim posts three photos of his MBP display conversion with associated problems:
- Having seen the photos above, Baxterbrittle points out that the colours remind him of how computers sometimes handle 256 colours when it's not expecting it, and suggests trying the panel colour profile from another display, possibly an Apple 23" cinema display (with the same resolution), and also suggests using the Callisto app mentioned previously.
- Mrdice87 asks whether resetting the PRAM might fix the vv-tim's display problems. vv-time replies that it might help to fix the display problems in Windows.
- Stingerman points out that OS X's Beamsync might be to blame for the display problems, and posts a way of disabling it.
- Rickadair posts some findings corroborating vv-tim's colour issues. He writes that he managed to enable the screen under OS X but only in the 256 colours vv-tim got, but pushing the pixel clock 3MHz over the windows display values. The colour problem also exists in the OS X boot screen. This seems to support the theory that EFI is a major culprit here.
- Baxterbrittle asks whether anyone has tried modifying the com.apple.boot.plist strings to get things working, and posts some suggestion strings to try using.
- Belldandy seems to have got things working with SwitchResX and a Toshiba LTD154EZ0C (which I've just bought from eBay US for £95 inc postage - search eBay for LTD154EZ0C) screen, and posts the XML file to be used to get things working. Baxterbrittle (thread starter) replies that he's impressed, and has a theory that SwitchResX works differently to DisplayConfiguratorX in that it re-routes new display res/frequency to existing resolutions, while DCX creates new resolutions. Apparently, 56Hz is the magic refresh rate number...? Unfortunately, this doesn't work for the Samsung panel. Narzola seems to corroborate these findings, posting a step-by-step how-to to get the panel working. Gudy posts some hints, including one which points out that, for his panel (on a CD MBP), he had to use GTF or CVT in the display config instead of CVT-RB.
- Jrsade suggests a way of obtaining the (working) Windows panel timings to plug in to SwitchResX by using Powerstrip.
- Narzola lists a couple of good panels to try fitting, and also posts the display config files needed to get the monitor working on his machine.
- MichaelPritchard also posts that he's had success on an early CD MBP.
- Jeeb75 provides lots of useful tips on dealing with configuration issues. He also explains how to get the panel working in Vista via Bootcamp by copying the OS X settings from SwitchResX, and later notes that the LNT154U2-04 panel seems to be much better quality than the -03.
- Skippy911 posts pics of the right snips needed to remove the metal brackets from donor screens.
- Another success story for the Toshiba LTD154EZ0C from Faye, using CVT or GTF in SwitchResX and 56Hz timings: "Timing parameters for the custom resolution: 1920x1200 55.939Hz. Use simplified settings CVT. Everything else greyed out."
- ... and then Faye broke it, but has posted up lots more useful information here. Also, this guide on fixing bad colour issues should be of some help, and this post provides some more detailed instructions.
- ukp has found the solution to the screen going black when the external monitor is disconnected with the Toshiba screen.
- Faye reckons that there's no need to use SwitchResX with the Toshiba panel, at least on a CD MBP; instead she suggests that all that's needed is to add the vendor/display info file to OS X. Save the following text as file "DisplayProductID-5000" in the "DisplayVendorID-3064" folder (in /System/Library/Displays/Overrides/). Faye adds "Installation of a new LTD154EZOD screen should be as simple as copying [this file] to the appropriate location on your HD, shutting down, swapping screens and powering back up. The only problem with this screen appears to be that the EDID returns incorrect settings for the panel to work properly which is corrected by this overrides file":
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
- Faye has also spotted that the broken colour profiles aren't just a product of installing an unexpected panel, but can come about from installing Windows via Bootcamp, as this support topic on the Apple discussion forums shows (which mentions using the ColorSync utility's "repair profiles" tool to fix things.
- ukp posts an update confirming Faye's method works, although his custom DVD with the custom plist, above, didn't work as the file wasn't listed in the OS X installer's file manifest. Also, a problem with distorted fonts ("like they were in 3D") can be easily fixed by opening the Appearances Pref Pane - this automagically resets the problem for most users, and setting the Font Smoothing option to "light" should rectify the problem for everyone else.
- Faye responds to adavid's questions about the quality of the Toshiba panel on brightness, viewing angle and quality. In a nutshell, it may not be as bright, but it's perfectly usable. The viewing angle is a little narrower (although that's a good thing as far as Faye is concerned for on-screen privacy), and in any case, it hasn't affected her being able to share movies. On another post, someone did mention that the matte screens tend to appear a little less colour-saturated, although this is a frequently-cited matter of debate (example).
- jrsade asks Faye whether her plist (above) can be made to work on a Samsung LTN154U1-L03 panel. Faye replies that it might work, but to use caution to avoid damaging the panel, and especially to ensure you have a copy of SwitchResX running with an external display in case of issues.
- Col22 reports another success story using the Toshiba panel on a CD MBP, and posts a step-by-step guide on how he got his panel working.
- Michaelpritchard posts bad news about his Samsung display - after using it for a couple of months he suffered a machine crash (kernel panic?) which caused both OS X and Windows to display the broken colours/colour profile again, and nothing he could find could fix it, including PRAM resets. Whateverandever replies that he has also had this problem with an LG panel. Jeeb75 adds that he has had to use Powerstrip in XP/Vista and SwitchResX in OS X to stop the colour profile problems.
- Charlon77 posts how his CD MBP on the Toshiba panel transplant worked, with some useful trouble-shooting tips in case the screen goes blank when trying to set the 1920x1200 resolution in OS X.
- thomas-chaos says he has discovered that the Mac pulls graphics card BIOS from EFI instead of an on-card BIOS (as on PCs), and that he has created a kext using atiinject which hard-wires the card to behave itself with the Samsung LTN rev 01 panel. It seems the .zip file may be corrupted though. thomas then posts up that he has managed to get the display working almost completely fine, and lists some of the display settings needed. whateverandever and aznastronaut confirm where the kext should be placed and how to set the permissions correctly. joelypolly reports that this method works for him.
- Aznastronaut asks thomas-chaos to help as he's trying to get a rev -03 Samsung panel working with thomas's atiinject kext having experienced an "invalid kext" warning. Thomas advises him to make sure the permissions are correctly set on the file by using "repair permissions" in OS X Disk Utility, and deleting the extensions caches. Apparently, this advice works.
- Faye and phox compare technicques for removing the un-needed metal mounting tags from the Toshiba screens.
- Whateverandever has got the Samsung -04 panel working, albeit without brightness adjust. Thomas-chaos' atiinject kext override doesn't work, but SwitchResX does seem to.
- Whateverandever posts a good outline of the steps involved in making Toshiba, Samsung and other WUXGA panels work.
- The 10.4.10 update has caused some issues with the brightness control for phox and his Toshiba panel. UKP seems to have a fix which involves copying the AppleBacklight.kext from 10.4.9 over - this should also be done for Leopard. Faye posts up a handy checklist of things to check to make sure the copy is successful.
- Amuraivel writes that an app can be downloaded from www.osx86project.org to generate override files from the EDID files.
- akraj41 posts up some useful pin-out information on the iSight. Mikec78 later replies with some extra information about pin-outs.
- Bryanus warns that the C2D panels are virtually permanently fixed in place - he had to replace the whole top casing with a backup. He later posts that he has got the screen working, but found that aznastronaut's instructions had some syntax errors, and posts the correct terminal commands. He also lists all the steps he went through to try and get the conversion working. He then lists a whole load more steps to try and get his panel working reliably.
- Whateverandever replies to bryanus to let him know that he managed to get brightness working on the same panel that bryanus was fitting (details linked previously, I think?).
- noetus lists a handy breakdown of the specs available for the four main panels mentioned in this thread, and it seems that the Toshiba panel - which is the easiest to get working - is the worst quality panel, while the LG panel is the best quality, but cannot be made to work. Noetus then posts with some more up-to-date information which suggests the LG and Toshiba panels' specs from the previous post weren't quite accurate.
- Noetus posts that he is in a bit of trouble: having installed a Toshiba panel (the same as Faye's?), the MBP won't initialise on power-up. The disks and DVD drive initialise, but no further activity occurs apart from the CPU cooling fans spinning up to maximum speed very quickly. A long discussion between noetus, bryanus and faye follows (all can be found on this page starting at post 658). The result seems to be that the panel is probably faulty. However, he later posts that he's having the same problems with a different panel as well. Odd...
- mediapirate posts that he's ordered two panels - WSXGA (1650x1080) and WUXGA; he doesn't have much luck getting the WSXGA to work in OS X, although it works fine in Vista. He has also found that downgrading the screen resolution seems to work straight-off, so the problems are linked to the increased resolution, it seems.
- byanus's screen has started misbehaving - not lighting up on reboot, especially after PRAM resets (it's later agreed that PRAM resets should be avoided) and posts his temporary workaround findings.
- harpersincleelu has managed to get the Samsung LTN154U2-L04 panel working on a C2D MBP, and posts up a brief how-to, the posts a much more detailed how-to here. zhixingzhao has also got this panel (but version -L07) working in a CD 1.83GHz model, and posts a fairly detailed walk-through. He also posts a follow-up covering fixing the blue cast by using Shade app. morffius has also got this panel working, apparently with little trouble. Bungle has also managed this. xJethro88x also had success with this panel and Faye's override. Finally, bungle posts an updated Colorsyn profile which should remove most of the blue hue from these panels.
- Morffius warns that a PRAM reset will reset the panel, resulting in having to uninstall and then reinstall the WUXGA panel, so avoid PRAM resets!
- harpers... also posts up how to hack the display override file to try and get brightness working with a non-Apple panel
- harpersincleelu posts an updated Samsung LTN154U2-L04 panel override file which gives better brightness and supports more resolutions
- don.key has tried this mod in a 17" MBP and, having put in exactly the right Apple hi-def panel, is still experiencing the colour issues which are related to not having the right display override file. He later poststhat he's had some success with, and posts a step-by-step guide to getting it working
- harpers... posts that he's been able to do an erase-install of Leopard and the screen continued to work perfectly with no modifications at all. byanus confirms it's working.
- bryanus posts some suggestions on getting around the problems some users have had with blank screens during Leopard install, and has found that the Samsung screen works perfectly in Leopard.
- mediapirate can't get the Samsung -04 panel working in Leopard - on bootup, the panel flashes brown and then goes off. jeeb75 posts some detailed instructions, but they [http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=4474608&postcount=738 still don't work, so jeeb75 tried some more suggestions. mediapirate realises he didn't follow the instructions perfectly, but despite re-doing everything still has a display issue. He later updates the thread, saying he can only use the built-in monitor as a second screen when his external display is connected. jeeb75 posts a possible solution which worked for him which involved downloading the screen_fix.zip from page 22. He goes on to mention that auto brightness and other resolutions also work well after this fix, which seems to all be down to the ATIinject file.
- mediapirate has found that changing the screen resolution breaks the screen on reboot, causing a blank screen, as OS X defaults back to 60Hz instead of the correct 56.
- minox has managed to get the Sharp LQ154M1LW-02 to work perfectly and posts up his step-by-step instructions.
- mediapirate posts up a very clear step-by-step guide to installing Leopard and getting the Samsung screen to work. Noetus replies with a couple of updates which worked better for his system.
- byanus updated to 10.5.1 with no problems at all
- noetus explains how he's managed to get past the blank-screen and no booting problem he was having, and has an almost perfectly-working screen now having installed Leopard.
- noetus has provided an explanation/image which shows the colour-banding problem he was having. There is a forum topic on macrumors which covers this issue with the stock 6-bit screens, instead of the 8-bit panels used in top-end (usually desktop) screens. He later posts up that, having switched the panel to 50Hz using SwitchResX (using the SRX control panel for Leopard, not the app), and possibly with the help of the ATIinject kext, the screen is displaying nearly perfectly now.
- rkfinley79 has got the Samsung LTN15U2-L05 panel from a Thinkpad T61p working and posts his step-by-step guide, then posts up a photo and screenshots for comparison. He also provides some more detailfor those wanting to do the same modification, and notes that when putting the MBP to sleep under XP, it comes up with the strange colours which won't go away until a reboot.
- Purlah posts that the 10.5.2 update with ATIinject works fine on MBP C2D 2.3HGz.
- ShadarJP has been successful installing the LG screen] and posts up some useful info and photos of the conversion:
- Faye pops into the thread to say goodbye - she's selling her Frankenbook. Boo...
- Noetus collates a lot of useful information into one summary 'how-to' post - well worth a look
- Noetus has installed the LG panel to replace his Samsung and reports that the improvement is remarkable.
- Noetus provides some useful comparison information between the LG and the Samsung. In short, the Samsung has better contrast ratio (600:1 vs 500:1), but the LG is brighter (210 vs 175), has better viewing angles (100 vert/130 horiz vs 50 vert/65 horiz) and response times (16ms vs 25ms). This discussion compares the two panels in more detail.
- Noetus adds a useful tip to recover from the dreaded unexpected black screen (which usually requires the sleep trick, which involves removing the case) - have an external firewire hard disk with a copy of OS X installed, boot off that, then shut down and boot off the internal drive again and the problem should be fixed. He also posts a useful hotkey combination which switches from extended desktop to mirrored for fixing problems when the main display doesn't work and connecting an external monitor doesn't show the dock, etc, because the laptop is in extended display mode
- bryanus has found an apparently reliable way of getting the screen working again after resetting the PRAM. It seems that ATIinject can be used to revive a black screen after a PRAM reset.
- 5to1 also provides a good write up of his experiences fitting the LG LP154WU1 panel from Lumenlab.
- A high pitched whining noise appears to be a frequency timing issue. Leopard seems to fix this for most
- Noetus has found that the 10.5.3 update now identifies his LG panel correctly in system info.
- Oh bugger, someone's beaten me to it - http://www.hiresmacbook.com has a small wiki dedicated to this conversion (although I'm sure I can improve on it... ;o)
- drayon has some concerns over using the LG LP154WU1 panel and requests some clarification, listing five users who are using it - three with issues, two apparently without. 5to1 replies that it's working for him under Vista but clocked at 162.135MHz using Powerstrip. Panzer06 gets it working at 74.114kHz but screen is dodgy on boot until Powerstrip loads (in Vista). 5to1 adds some more to the discussion, and gets it working after a bit more tweaking - problems return. D'oh.
Noetus posts some useful tips to check gamut and colours.
- To quote Noetus: "And in Mac OS I have found on both the WUXGA displays I've tried that I have to change the vertical refresh rate to 50Hz (Mac OS sets the default to be 60Hz) to get rid of all the speckling, although it isn't bad at the default of 60Hz."