I've recently started using a Mac. I've been on Debian + Thinkpads exclusively till now.

I have an HP Pavillion 23fi monitor which I've been using with my old Thinkpad X201 via the VGA port. It drives the monitor at 1920x1080 (60.0 Hz) and everything looks sharp and nice.

Now that I have the retina MacbookPro, I've connected it to the monitor using a Belkin HDMI to HDMI cable. It looks symmetric. I've put one end into the macbooks HDMI port and the other end into the monitors HDMI port. The MacBook detects it fine (understands that it's is a HP 23fi) and I can see stuff on the screen.

Now, the problems start. I want the laptop retina screen to be turned off and the external HP monitor to be driver at 1920x1080 (60.0 Hz). If both the laptops are plugged in, I can simply change the input terminal on the monitor and use them both conveniently. With Debian, I run this on the terminal and everything works fine.

xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1920x1080

which basically tells the external monitor (VGA1) to run at 1920x1080. After that, I usually run

xrandr --output LVDS1 --off

which shuts off my laptop screen.

I want to do something like this with the mac but have hit some problems. I can set the built-in retina display to say "Best for HP 23fi" under system preferences. With the HP23fi, I set "Resolution" to "Best for HP 23fi", Rotation to "standard" , Refresh rate to "60 Hz (NTSC)" and underscan to "more" (without which, I can't see the entire screen).

This "works" but the fonts on the screen are blurry and I can't really use anything. I'm not familiar with how the retina display affects things but I'd like the external monitor to be driven at top resolution and get output similar what I'm getting with the Debian laptop. How exactly do I do this?

There might be bits of relevant information I'm missing since I'm not familiar with the platform.

  • what is the driver for the hp ? is it up to date ?
    – Ruskes
    Feb 24, 2014 at 16:11
  • I'm not sure. How do I check? I assumed that it's working fine since it detected the name of the monitor. Feb 24, 2014 at 17:09
  • Detecting the name is basic function but does not mean the driver is up to date. You can look up under Display in system preferences or better under about this mac- more info, system report- display. there you should see the driver information.
    – Ruskes
    Feb 24, 2014 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


I just bought one and had the same problem - blurry fonts on 2014 RMBP & had to adjust the underscan to fit the image on the screen.

Fixed by

  1. turning off Overscan in the monitor menu Image Control > Custom Scaling > Overscan > Off and
  2. turning off Underscan in the System Preferences > Display menu.

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