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Apple Retina IPS vs ASUS FHD TN LED – Color Calibration Results and Comparison

By Pye Jirsa on December 18th 2012



Welcome to the world of strange surprises. Where gravity ceases to exist, where the sun no longer rises from the East, and where the Apple 15″ MacBook Pro Retina IPS display apparently calibrates worse than our non-IPS ASUS G75 sporting an FHD TN LED display.

From Apple vs ASUS and our Favorite Laptops for Creative Professionals articles, you should all know that we have just received our latest MBP Retina and our latest ASUS G75VW-DS73 laptops. In the process of setting up my new babies, I broke out my Spyder 4 Elite calibration device to begin calibrating the monitors for still image editing. This article details the surprising results.

What I Was Expecting

The 15″ Apple MBP Retina sports an IPS display with a native resolution of 2880×1800 while the ASUS G75VW-DS73 is built with a FHD TN LED with an native resolution of 1920×1080. At this point, hopefully you know what TN vs IPS is from our previous article on Understanding Display Technology.

Out of the box, the Apple MBP Retina’s native calibration is far closer to being “color correct” than the ASUS G75. However, we know from past experience that the ASUS G7 series of laptops have very nice displays that work quite well for image editing once calibrated. Our overall expectation was that after calibration, the Apple MBP Retina would be able to display a much broader color gamut than compared to the ASUS and that both displays would work well for image editing with the MBP Retina being the slightly more color accurate display.

Calibration Results

Did I mention I was surprised? No? Ok, so surprisingly the MBP Retina displayed a shorter color range after calibration than when compared to the ASUS G75. Don’t believe me? Here are the reports directly after calibration with our Spyder 4 Elite.


The screenshot from the calibration report above shows that the ASUS G75 displays 97% of sRGB, an 8% improvement over the MacBook Pro Retina‘s 89%. The next screen shot shows that the ASUS G75 displays 72% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, a 6% improvement over the MacBook Retina’s 66%.



Let me conclude this comparison by stating that both displays are wonderful and they both work well for image editing. This testing itself was also rather limited given that we only tested overall calibration with the Spyder 4 Elite. That being said, to see the ASUS G75 display perform so well compared to the MacBook Pro Retina was, well… surprising.

In the end, placing each calibrated screen side by side, I am unable to perceive virtually any color differences when both displays are showing the same image. I will be rendering an overall review opinion on the ASUS G75 and the MacBook Pro Retina later on, but for now, I am content to say that the ASUS G75VW-DS73’s FHD TN LED is just as good for still editing if not better than the MBP Retina.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Good info

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  2. brdeveloper

    Retina Macbooks are now well-known by suffering from color inaccuracies and image retention. It’s no surprise that it’s painful calibrating a retina display since the bottom part of most retina ones suffers from yellowing while the top part has better whites. That is, it’s impossible getting a uniform calibration on a retina display unless you’re the lucky consumer who got a decent unit.

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  3. Aure Bu

    A professional at Datacolor is stating that Macbook Retina has 99% of sRGB. So you must be doing something wrong here.

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  4. Terry

    The misconception in this article is that wider gamut equates to a better calibrated screen. I’m not an apple fan in the slightest, but in no circumstance is a current TN panel EVER going to be as good as an IPS panel for color critical work. Viewing angle & uniformity issues alone completely eliminate TN from being appropriate for anything other than basic tasks, and even if the gamut was a relevant factor for most, the small percentage difference between the displays is negligible.
    The G75 is a fabulous all around laptop, but is not appropriate for someone wishing to do critical color work, and certainly won’t compete with an IPS display. While the read is “interesting” I feel it is not balanced enough for the average reader to make an informed decision – I hope people research further before purchasing.

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    • Chris N.

      I agree here. I am a photographer. I tested a 17 inch laptop with a much praised TN panel laptop and then tested a model from the same family with a 15 inch IPS panel. A

      Although the TN panel was not bad and you could bring both panels to a good level of accuracy, the fact that the TN was prone to important hue shifts when not viewed perfectly from the front made me choose the IPS.

      Working from a laptop means that it’s portable and you will not have the same viewing angle every single time as you may have at your office workstation. For me, uniformity beats size.

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  5. Danny Yau

    Another reason why apple is just a glorified brand.

    I was going to buy myself a £1400 baseline 27″ iMac. This was until i seen the spec list and also found out that beautiful 27″ piece of glass apple lovers always cream themselves over only has 71% colour accuracy.
    the core specs were:
    Intel i5
    4GM Ram
    1TB HDD
    27″ cinema display

    for the same £1400 i would have been paying for that iMac i rebuilt my old gaming computer using only the 850w power supply and the case.
    I now have:

    Intel i7 3770k
    16GB of RAM
    2GB Nvidia GTX 660GT Ti
    128GB SSD
    150GB WD Raptor HDD1TB WD Caviar HDD
    27″ Dell IPS DisplayMy screen of choice being the Dell U2713 which has >99% colour accuracy and the combined hardware is around 2x the power of the hardware offered by apple. Why do people pay these premiums for such over hyped basic machines?

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  6. Ray

    As mentioned regardless of how well the TN screen color calibrated, as a professional photographer I absolutely hate editing on TN panels due to the color and contrast shifts when viewing off-center. 

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  7. Guest12345

    IPS display has wide view angles while TN – not. The exactness of calibration makes little sense on TN display for image editing since a slight change of the angle of view throw off the calibration by tens of percents. At extreme viewing angles TN display even reverses colors, so you can safely forget any color accuracy if two persons looking at the image, e.g. you need to show the image to your client.

    The point is simple – TN display is not suitable for image editing.

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  8. JimmySchaefer

    Plz post settings for collaboration so the community can test this theory

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  9. Yungrich

    If you can’t see the difference, maybe you’re not picking the right photograph to compare it to.

    Pick deep saturated red rose reds, oranges, and neon greens.

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  10. nicosocha

    Why its a surprise that the ASUS has the better color range ? i have a Dell Precision M6400 and the AdobeRGB is 100% covered. When i consider to buy it i compare the display of the MacBooks too and the color range is not as good as the range from many other notebooks. The resolution dont tell us anything about the color range its quit a different thing.

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  11. Dmitry Dulepov

    So there is no real difference in perception. Okay.

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  12. Luffy

    From my experiences who use both mac and pc. OSX don’t play nice with Spyder while windows is perfect with spyder. Try i1 on mac you will see the difference.

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    • Dmitry Dulepov

      I use Spyder calibration for Mac for 1.5 years. Works without a glitch. Looks like you are doing something wrong. Read the manual, may be?

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  13. Galdino Sanchez

    Apple’s True Colors :D

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  14. Ryan Cooper

    Interesting article, I have been leaning towards getting a Spyder for a while but always have been hesitant since it isn’t a necessarily cheap device and I don’t print very often. However, I do think it is time. Do you recommend going all the way to the Elite?  Or would the pro or express be sufficient for someone who wouldn’t necessarily need perfect calibration at all times?

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    • Pye

      As far as I know, the calibration should be the same between the different versions. The difference is just in advanced options, like “ambient light metering.” One of the big differences in the advanced units is also being able to setup multiple simultaneous profiles for computers with multiple screens. 

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  15. Gyulai Zoltan

    forget calculating Whatever% of sRGB or any other rgb if you are not in CieLAB for Christs sake

    This appears to be visualised in xy coordinates which does not relate to human vision much. CieLAB is quite close.
    I know many monitor manufacturers uses this representation – all wrong. – just to see how perceptually uneven this xy space is. 
    “Perceptually uniform means that a change of the same amount in a color value should produce a change of about the same visual importance”
    CiaLAB IS perceptually even (or at least close to it) so ANY calculation that is to compare two devices MUST use this space (or a “better” one). 
    Absolutely misleading conclusion, you give some measurement that is not at all related to human vison, just a pure meaningless number. 

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    • Pye

      I stated the limitations of the testing as we are not setup for such extensive color space testing. In addition, I also concluded that once calibrated, I am unable to perceive a difference visually between the calibrations. It is meant to be a simple comparison from a standard calibration device. Hopefully, it was an interesting read from that standpoint. 

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  16. guest

    what about visual comparison or “look” ? The Retina + the new PS update is said to be better at 200% view. none or very little pixelation.

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  17. Gor Elchyan

    I’m receiving my  ASUS G75VW-DS73 in a week. How can I calibrate the display to show this kind of performance?

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    • Pye

      Just purchase the Spyder 4 Elite from the links above and calibrate the device, that’s all. 

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    • Reinout De Geest

      Can you use one Spyder kit for calibrating multiple notebooks or is it just one license for 1 pc?

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    • Pye

      We use one device in our entire studio. 15 plus machines. 

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    • Gor Elchyan

      There is no software solution for that? Or it had to be checked also physically?

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