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It was promising to hear that the new MacBook Pros have a display brightness of 1000 nits (peak brightness of 1600 nits):

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However, a more recent review of the laptops said:

but it's not quite what you think, the display mostly runs at a max of 500 nits ... allows it to hit that 1600 nits brightness, but only when you're viewing HDR content, the rest of the system is the same as ever 500 nits

Question

Can the new MacBook Pros be somehow forced to stay at 1000 nits all the time? That is, is there a way to force a higher-than-500-nits brightness on all content (not just HDR content)?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – bmike
    Nov 7, 2021 at 2:09

2 Answers 2

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+50

No, as display systems are designed to prevent potentially damaging screen states from occurring which is what a permanent 1000 nit setting would do the screen. This could be embedded within unalterable firmware or somewhere deep in the OS, or somewhere else, but in any case belongs to the category of things that are not user changeable.

The same behaviour occurs with the latest 12.9 iPad Pro.

Theoretically it can be overriden if you can modify the firmware, or the display controller, directly but that’s probably not what you meant as that would require tearing down your laptop and reverse engineering.

For reference, displays that are designed to sustain 1000 nits, or higher, are typically thicker and have active cooling systems such as outdoor displays, commercial video walls, or Apple’s own XDR display.

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    Thanks for confirming this. 2 avenues I'll continue looking into are i) if I can squeeze an extra 1-200 nits (for 6-700 total) - even though not 1000 it could be handy in high light environments, and ii) whether I can somehow "trick" the OS into thinking non-HDR (e.g. web browsing) content is HDR. If you have any ideas on these, please let me know.
    – stevec
    Nov 5, 2021 at 16:24
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    See also a number of (failed) attempts so far to get above 500nits via software: alinpanaitiu.com/blog/over-500nits-failed
    – Vivek Gani
    Feb 5, 2022 at 4:44
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Hit 1,600 nits of brightness on your M1 Macbook Pro using the MacOS app Lunar.fyi

Here's the changelog for the version that introduced the feature: Lunar v5.5.1

Probably shouldn't use this for too long - best if you're in bright sunlight and need it for a short amount of time, but it's awesome!

There's also an FAQ clarifying the safety of using this feature: Is XDR Brightness safe?

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    @CodyGray Alin here, developer of Lunar. Just chiming in to let you know that Yan Sim is not the author of the app. Also, the XDR Brightness feature is now in the official app, so people can download it directly from the official website. No need for the beta version in the Github issue. Mar 27, 2022 at 14:57
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    @AlinPanaitiu thanks a lot for your work on this. I really can't wait to try it. Can I ask, what is considered 'too long' and what are the consequences of using it for too long? I will probably try to gain 1-200 extra nits when outdoors, doing regular web browsing, text editing, coding etc, sometimes for hours at a time. Do you think that 'regular' sort of activity is safe for a few hours? Or should we turn it off for a break periodically?
    – stevec
    Mar 29, 2022 at 1:09
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    This depends a lot on the environment. I used XDR at max brightness in the sun and it was fine for 3-4 hours, the sun didn’t heat up the display too much as it was mostly hitting the edge of the display. I didn’t have the chance to use it longer but I’d say it would have been fine either since the temperature remained low. The display is still locked at 1000nits when the whole screen is white, only reaching 1600nits for localized zones so it’s hard to get into dangerous territory. Mar 30, 2022 at 6:05
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    @stevec only the latest 14inch and 16inch MacBook Pro has an XDR display with LEDs that can reach 1600 nits of brightness. All the previous MacBooks have 500 or 400 nits LED displays. Apr 4, 2022 at 13:31
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    Has anyone tested what the minimum nit brightness you need for outdoor viewing? Aug 27, 2022 at 21:42

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