The new Retina MacBook Pro has an astounding 2880x1800 pixels. Naturally, the "native" double-detail resolution is 1440x900. But what other resolutions can be used? And how crisp are they? (Are they just up-/down-scaled @2x graphics?)

  • specify which model more clearly... e.g. "late 2012, 15 in" Dec 13, 2013 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


Supported resolutions

  • Retina, Ratio 16:10

    • 2880 by 1800 pixels
  • scaled, Ratio 16:10

    • 1920 x 1200 pixels
    • 1680 x 1050 pixels
    • 1280 x 800 pixels
    • 1024 x 640 pixels

According to the official tech specs by Apple.

How does the scaling work?

According to an article in AnandTech:

Selecting any of these options gives you the effective desktop resolution of the setting, but Apple actually renders the screen at a higher resolution and scales it to fit the 2880 x 1800 panel. As a result of this scaled rendering, there can be a performance and quality impact.

There is a new option to configure the resolution in the system settings. While you actually change the resolution, Apple only refers to the visual impact of the settings.

So basically changing the resolution offers:

  1. Large text, but much crisper.
  2. More space for visual content (and smaller text), but not as sharp.
  3. Something in-between (default retina).

enter image description here

(original picture from AnandTech)


Due to the imprecise definition of "retina display", this answer may seem confusing, because at the top Apple speaks of 2880x1800 as retina, but the picture suggest something different.

  • It scales the UI but the native resolution is 2880x1800, as the answer to my question shows, you can force the UI scaling to 1.0 rather than somewhere between 1.5 and 2.8125 using 3rd party software.
    – mludd
    Jun 20, 2012 at 16:13

This also gives a good understanding on how it works: http://www.slideshare.net/MarkRiggan/retina-display-textures


Another clear answer is obtained from using a Windows OS on a Mac. So, in terms of pure Hardware support (the other answers gave great summaries of software-answers, and I am by no means advocating or bashing Windows-on-Mac solutions, just giving the pure-hardware capabilities of the MBP w/Retina), the resolutions are:

2880x1800 2560x1920 2560x1600 2048x1536 1920x1440 1920x1200 1920x1080 1680x1080 1600x1200 1440x900 1400x1050 1366x768 1280x1024 1280x960 1280x800 1280x768 1280x720 1152x864 1024x768 800x600

From this, it seems the max resolution is 2880x1920, not 2880x1800, but I cannot verify that. It seems like the maximum horizontal resolution is 2880 and the maximum vertical resolution is 1920, but not both at the same time. Further investigation would be nice.

  • I'm curious about the down vote... I clearly addressed the angle I was approaching.
    – John Davis
    Jun 29, 2012 at 21:49
  • 2560x1920 would be a software mode, which is then scaled to fit the display. It's been stated and verified all over the Internet that the screen physically has 2880x1880 pixels. The hardware only supports that; scaling is done in the OS/graphics drivers = software.
    – FeifanZ
    Aug 2, 2012 at 15:05

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