I have a MacBook Retina running Windows 8 RP, with the driver that comes with Boot Camp.

I understand why running in a none native resolution like 1920x1200 is grainy. But 1440x900 is exactly half resolution of the native 2880x1800 resolution, meaning that there are 4 pixels to paint 1 pixels (aka pixel doubling), and thus should look great.

When running 1280x720 on my 27" Cinema Display (exactly half of 1560x1440) the picture is sharp and crisp, so why is this a problem on the Retina display?

PS: Running 150 DPI is not an option. Windows is really ugly when changing DPI and many applications have UI problems. Many Apps like Chrome and Skype does not support DPI but windows scales them so the look grainy. But worst of all, attaching an external screen forces this to run in 150DPI as well (turning my 27" into an 18"), and some programs like Remote Desktop are note scaled at all, so every thing is very small.
  • This remains a problem in 2015. I opened a support ticket with nVidia about it, and I was told the problem is that the Retina Display hardware's EDID does not say it's capable of 1440x900 resolution. Therefore the nVidia driver display is blurry at that resolution. I don't accept that answer, since the nVidia control panel lets me specify other allowable resolutions, and because the bilinear interpolation to blur the display seems like an easy thing to remove from the driver if they wanted to. I'd love to find a solution or for nVidia to fix their driver. Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 19:55
  • Is this still an issue for Windows 10? Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 8:05

2 Answers 2


This is because of how Retina is implemented on these new systems. In the Mac OS (and iOS for that matter), resources are doubled in size, therefore each point is roughly the 4 pixels.

To the system though, it still reports the 1440x900 size, even though the actual pixel count is 2880x1800. The Mac OS knows how to handle this looking for @2X resources or using native code to render things at a higher resolution offscreen before painting to the screen.

While on Windows though, it is outright seeing the 1440x900. Since Windows doesn't really have a built in way to handle the 'Retina' feature that the Mac does, things would be grainy. You would see the same problem on a Mac App that doesn't use native text or image rendering, that hasn't been updated yet.

So the only way to make it look crisp on your Windows install would be to run at 2880x1800 - which would be hard to see, or a higher resolution than 1440x900 that you felt comfortable with depending on stretching/artifacts/etc. That is until Windows does have some possible feature like this and implemented in a similar way.

When connected to your external display though, Windows is seeing the 1280x720 px, and rendering that correctly, but at whatever your native resolution is. Also, the pixel density on the larger display may be different.

It comes down to the easiest way to understand - the pixel doubling/retina features are an OS feature, not a hardware feature.

  • 1
    I'm not sure this is true. Windows sees 2880x1800. Unlike OS X Windows actually reports 2880x1800 and are able to run in this resolution. But it is VERY tiny. Therefore the driver defaults to 150DPI. Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 14:24
  • That's partially what I was trying to get at - 'it can run at the 2880x1800 - which would be hard to see'. Windows is a problem on the retina display because at the smaller resolutions (or more native like the 1440x900), its literally running at half its native resolution, and therefore would be similar to other LCD's running at a non-native resolution.
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 14:26
  • Thanks for trying to explain this to me. I can't say I understand it. I just simply don't see why a 15" (retina) display with 2880x1800 running in 1440x900 is any different than a 27" display with 2560x1280 running in 1280x720. Windows does not know that the retina display is only 15". But I must conclude that my theory is not valid... running in 1440x900 is awful. So is running in any other resolution like 1920-1200 or 2880x1440 (in 150 DPI). Conclusion: I have to sell this laptop and find something else. Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 14:46
  • Update: I actually ordered a MacBook Air to replace the Retina. And while preparing the Retina for sale I removed Boot Camp and installed Parallels. And boy... Parallels does actually show Windows without being grainy (well... it's a bit grainy, but nothing I think about). For a long time I didn't see my self running Windows in a VM, but I must say that after a month I'm pretty happy... so happy I updated my iMac to run Parallels as well. So I canceled the Air order ;-) Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 19:17
  • I think the newest versions of Parallels and VMWare actually added 'retina' support, but I don't have a device or those versions to test.
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 11:25

I believe your problem with 1440x900 is not that image is "grainy", but that it is "blurry", because "grainy" (aka pixel-perfect 2x scaling) is expected and desired result, which is, unfortunately, cannot be achieved under Bootcamp.

The reason why Retina MacBook running 1440x900 under Boot Camp looks blurry is nVidia GeForce driver doing bilinear interpolation for any non-native resolution, which is totally fine for most cases, except for 1440x900, where nearest-neihbour interpolation should be more appropriate.

There is no known way to change this behavior.

It is worth noting that Parallels Desktop 8 was updated for Retina Desktop to support both nearest neighbor interpolation (it is called "Scaled" mode) and bilinear interpolation ("Best for Retina" and "More Space" modes). Using "Scaled" mode, you can run Windows 7 and Windows 8 at 2x pixel perfect scaling in virtual machine, both fullscreen (1440x900) and windowed. Disable Cleartype for best results (subpixel rendering doesn't work well in 2x mode)

  • I'm sure this is right. But I still can't understand why running 1440x900 on a 2880x1800 (15") monitor is any different than running 1280x720 on a 2560x1440 monitor (27"). I just tested this and while 1280x720 on a Cinema display is huge, this resolution is not blurry like e.g. 1920x1080 and other 16:9 resolutions. Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 21:27
  • Interesting. You are using 15" rMBP to drive 27" Cinema under Bootcamp at half the resolution, and get pixel-perfect 2x scaling? There is an option in the nVidia Control Panel to perform scaling on the lcd panel instead of doing it on GPU, but it is greyed out for built-in display. Maybe it is on for external display?
    – Sergei
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 14:56
  • 1
    No...it's actually a 27" iMac from 2010, so it's build in. BUT it's an AMD Radeon HD 5800 card!! So this properly "proves" that this is a driver issue, which makes sense to me. Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 18:24
  • This is the correct answer. The Nvidia driver is to blame. You can see this by running Windows through Parallels in "Scaled" mode: no blurriness to speak of, since the Parallels graphics driver is being used.
    – Archagon
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 9:05

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