So last year, I bought myself a new MacBook Pro 13-Inch 2019 Model in April 2019. My MacBook Air served me well, but it was time for an upgrade because I was getting more into programming, and I just needed the extra power.
Later this year, during quarantine, I upgraded my Home Office setup by getting a 49-Inch ultrawide monitor. It was the DELL U4919DW monitor to be specific. The great thing about it was that the monitor had an integrated USB-C docking station. I could now power my MacBook and transfer the video with just one cable plugged into it. This setup should look super clean.
After the new monitor arrived, I plugged my MacBook into it, but to my surprise, it just gave me a 3840x1080px resolution. That resolution was just horrible on that ultrawide monitor. I thought maybe some settings on the monitor were wrong, or I had to do some settings on my MacBook. Because officially, the 2019 MacBook should support up to 5K [read the specs]. After some digging, I found an Apple support forum post about the problem [read the post]. It seemed that you needed a MacBook with a dedicated graphics card to drive this monitor. But 13-Inch MacBooks don’t have dedicated GPUs. The other option would be, buying an external GPU, but I wasn’t willing to spend another 800CHF (about 800USD) for an eGPU. Mainly because my MacBook should support this monitor.
So I tried all the suggestions of the forum, really hacky stuff, but it never worked. The only workaround that worked for my was using the Picture-by-Picture (PBP) mode. This way, the 49- Inch monitor behaved like two 27-Inch monitors, but I also had to plug in two cabled into my MacBook to make it work. This setup wasn’t satisfying to me. And to add injury to insult, the MacBook seemed to work with the monitor when you installed Windows. So it was a driver problem and not a hardware problem.
I was upset with Apple, and how they dealt with the situation, the 5K support worked fine if you bought an LG UltraFine 5K. But the UltraFine is in the same price range as the Dell monitor but only 27-Inch big.
So I decided to call Apple support and get help with the monitor. I told them that my MacBook didn’t output the correct resolution on my new monitor. The tech support made me do the usual NVRAM and SMC reset. After that didn’t work, the support investigated for a bit until he came back and said that he didn’t know what the problem was. I told him about the forum post, and the most likely cause for the problem is a bad driver from Apple. He said I should wait for an update from Apple. I told him that the post is open since the end of 2018, and I don’t think that Apple will fix the problem.
So I asked for a full refund of the already one-year-old MacBook. He asked me where I bought it. I said in the Apple online store, and then he directed me to the right number to call to return my MacBook. I called them, and to my surprise, they let me return my MacBook for a full refund. With the refund secured, I ordered the freshly released MacBook Pro 13-Inch 2020 with the new 10th Gen. Intel CPU, which should support the monitor’s full resolution. I ordered the new MacBook with 32GB of RAM; the previous one only could go up to 16GB. The total was 100CHF (about 100 USD) less than the refund, so I saved money and got a free upgrade.
After the new MacBook arrived, I plugged it into the USB-C of the monitor, and it displayed my desktop at its full glory with a 5120x1440px resolution.
And this is how I got a free MacBook upgrade after a year of using my MacBook.
PS. In the forum, some people mentioned that they tried the same thing as me, and it didn’t work for them. I figured that the people it didn’t work for purchased their MacBook not directly from Apple, so Apple refuted their refund.
About the Author
Hello my name is Loris Scandurra and I am an engineer and project manager based in Switzerland. I write about issues I encounter during my work and other stuff that would be useful or entertaining to document. If you want to write me an E-Mail do so at firstname.lastname@example.org