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Replace MacBook display with a high-resolution 3rd party display?

Hi iFixit people,

Without going to the reasons of why, for a while already I have been searching and wondering wether it has been done, is possible, or within reach. That is replacing the original MacBook 1280/800 display with an equivalent 13" display in size but with higher resolution and maybe better technology (IPS/LED).

I understand that os x certainly could handle any display, but the physical connectors should match and the display should physically fit to the casing of course.

If no third party displays exist with the right dimensions and specifications, could I replace the MacBook display with the MacBook Air display. Are the connectors the same?


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It is not feasible to do what you are asking. In short the answer is - no. Your money will be better spent by selling your MacBook and putting those proceeds with your LCD money, then buying a laptop that has what you want on it.

Within reason most things are possible. Many of those things are not plausible to do. Upgrading to the LCDs you mention (3rd party, MacBook Air), can be done. You will need to custom build an interpreter board to go between the LVDS/video cable on the MacBook and the new LCD to make it work. 98%+ of the people on this earth are not capable of doing that. If you paid someone to do the work, it would most likely cost you more than the purchase price of a new MacBook Pro, to get the first one built. If you could find/develop a market to sell the interpreter board on and had the start up money for the project, then it would be a plausible venture.

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Thanks for the reply.

It's just a pity that even the current MacBook Air's use such a poor display technology. Apple really should invest for alternative options even just for the customers who are willing to pay a bit extra for it.

But anyhow, thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I assume that it has not been done before then.


Many of the MacBook Pro models have a high definition screen option, with a LED backlight.


The MacBook Air is not intended to be used by a graphics designer (or anyone needing a higher res display). It's designed for a road-warrior or a student when a light weight laptop is desired.

If you look at any Windows based system in the same class as the Air I can't find any that have a Hi-Res display. So I'm not sure why you made that comparison. Besides you referenced a MacBook 13" which is not what most graphics designer would have as the screen is too small (unless you used an external display).

Apple does sell on it's online store quite a few Hi-Res systems for graphics designers. So they have made that investment.


@Dan, @ABCellars - Thanks for the comments. It's true that the 15" line of MacBook Pros do have the matte high-res screen option. The problem comes with the size and weight. I'm sure I can say on behalf of quite a few graphic designers that they wouldn't like to carry any more than they have to. I do have plenty of high quality inches and pixels on my desk, but during the past year or two I have realised that I'm sitting less and less on the desk, and I'm more and more on the go. I'd love to be able to "trust" my laptop screen and few extra pixels wouldn't hurt either. This in mind, 13" Air with a quality display would be perfect. It's a shame that Apple won't be introducing such a setup with any likelihood anytime soon.


The OP didn't ask whether it was feasible, he asked if it could done. Your answer is not at all helpful in that regard. If a higher resolution LCD screen exists that will work, then your answer should be yes. If no such LCD exists, then it should be no. Whether it is feasible or not is irrelevant, only whether it can or can't be done. Some people have specific reasons for keeping an older machine in service like maybe they have a piece of hardware that requires a certain port that Apple no longer includes on newer models or maybe they can't afford to keep running in Apple's hamster wheel cycle of upgrading to a new machine every few years. You need to consider the relevance your answers more carefully before responding to questions. Your answer to this particular question is totally irrelevant.


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Dusty -

I have a 15" while its heavy to travel with it works (I design Web portals) 13" is to small to really be effective without constantly shifting the view area. Try do a one on one presentation with a client on such a small screen you won't get the contract.

I'm sure Apple is heading in that direction of a lighter systems in the future given the popularity of the Air's.

There are limits on what they or anyone else can do. Hi-Res displays require more powerful graphics processors which then need more battery power which leads to a larger battery, then the weight and on and on we go.

So its going to a ways off before the tech gets to the level needed to make such a system. So what you have is what there is.

Get a 15" Hi-res MacBook Pro and build some muscles!

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Dusty will be eternally grateful.
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