15.4 Macbook Pro with WUXGA 1920×1200 Display

This will technically void any Applecare warranty you might have. The hardest part is removing the screws from the bottom of the front of the screen, and removing the panel if it is glued in (some instances it is).

Older 15 inch Macbook Pros 2.33 or < can be modified to include a WUXGA LCD panel without special OS hacks, invertors (assuming the right manufacturor LCD panel, etc).

SAMSUNG LTN154U2-L04/LTN15U2-L05/LTN15U2-L06/LTN15U2-L07 or LGLP154WU1-TLB1 (same as Thinkpad T61p) panels work best.

No special software or cables required as was in the past.

You’re definitely better off using Leopard, because earlier versions of Mac OS have mixed results and require more hacking. Once Leopard came out everyone’s experience became a lot easier and a lot more consistent (though it’s still not completely consistent). I wouldn’t recommend using an earlier version of Mac OS X, unless you really like problem solving and hacking.

I researched screens a while ago and came to the conclusion that the LG Philips LP154WU1 is the best on paper (see much earlier post). (Note: you CANNOT use a newer LED screen in an pre-LED MBP, or upgrade a newer LED MBP with a WUXGA screen as of yet. The fastest machine capable of this mod, currently, is the 2.33GHz MBP.) The next best seems to be the Samsung LTN154U2-L04 (or -L05 or -L06). People who have tried both have confirmed that the LG seems a bit brighter, and users of Thinkpads (over at forum.thinkpads.com) also confirm this, but there’s not a huge difference. The LG may also have a better colour gamut. (Both these screens are used in the highly acclaimed Thinkpad T61p, and the fact that Lenovo uses them is evidence that they are pretty good quality screens.) However, until Leopard came out, apparently it was not possible to use the LG screen, and so most people have done this mod with the Samsung. Earlier on in this game, when it was still experimental and difficult to do, requiring a fair amount of hacking of OS X and the Macbook Pro itself, a lot of people used the Toshiba LTD154EZ0D screen, but that definitely looks technically inferior to the LG and Samsung, plus it is harder to get now, so people have generally abandoned it.

To source a screen, simply google the part number and search on eBay. Double check the part number, the manufacturer, and the screen size and resolution, because other screens (of different sizes/resolutions) often have very similar part numbers. Prices will be in the $240 to $440 range. However, BEWARE anyone who is selling a *new* screen for around the $240 mark. This is likely to be a “compatible” screen, not an original part. Read eBay descriptions very carefully. I would not recommend buying a “compatible” panel (you won’t know who the manufacturer is) although people on this forum have had success with these. A refurbished or pristine used ORIGINAL panel will be around $240-260, a new one around $420-440.

Sometimes you can get a good screen cheaper. There is someone selling a brand new LG panel over at lumenlab.com, still in its sealed packaging, for $240 with shipping, which is a very good deal. I also bought my Samsung panel for only $120 on eBay, and though used it was in perfect shape (I will be selling it soon in case anyone is interested). If you are willing to be patient, you may find a deal like this. In general, the LG screen may cost slightly more than the Samsung (due to its slightly better specification).

Another thing to watch for are BRACKETS. Any panel that has come off a Dell machine (or has a Dell part number) is likely to have metal brackets that are a pain to remove and doing so can easily damage the panel. Much better to get a BARE panel (as the seller if in doubt) with no brackets. (If your panel does end up coming with brackets, see earlier postings for advice on removing them. Some are screwed on, and are relatively easy to remove, and others are riveted on, and are a pain to remove.) The panels with Lenovo part numbers should come without brackets. Also note that there may be slight variations in a suffix to a part number – e.g. LP154WU1 (A1) or LP154WU1-A1K2 and so on. These usually refer to the fitments the panel has (e.g. those Dell brackets), not to any intrinsic differences to the panel itself, and you don’t have to worry about this as long as you know you’re getting the bare panel. You will be able to use the mounting screws (and inverter board) from the old panel in your Mac when it comes to fitting. In the case of the Samsung panel, the -L05 and -L06 refer to later iterations of the same panel, but I am not sure whether this means they are technically the same or if the later models are slightly better. Also note whether you are getting a matt panel or a glossy panel (both will work – it is up to you).

When it comes to physically fitting the panel, you will need a special T6 Torx screwdriver (Radioshack sells a complete set of screwdriver + 20 bits for less than $20, which can be useful for this and future projects). You will also need a piece of flat plastic which can help removing connectors, and a fine-pointed Phillips screwdriver. Some plastic sticky tape (and scissors) will also come in handy, for tying components out of your way when you’re working, and replacing any tape Apple has used to stick things down, which might get torn/dirty as you work).

There are two guides available for the disassembly and assembly, the one at www.ifixit.com and the one at www.screentekinc.com.
The ifixit guide takes you as far as removing the entire screen assembly from the laptop, while the screentek guide takes you through disassembling the panel housing itself. Note that according to the screentek guide, you don’t need to remove the panel assembly from the laptop bottom case in order to get the panel out. However, I recommend both operations, because it makes taking the old panel out, and putting the new one in, significantly easier (especially getting at those screws at the bottom of the housing). But it is up to you which method you feel more comfortable with.

Once you have access to the rear of the old panel (both the connector cable and the inverter cable – you don’t need to worry about the isight cable), which requires removing the display assembly (optional) and the shell from the display assembly, but doesn’t require going further than that (i.e. physically removing the old panel), you can test your new display. If you can’t get it to work then you save yourself some work and possible problems resulting from going further down the road. But if the new screen is not defective, and you are running Leopard, you should be able to get it to work.

I’m about to describe the “sleep method” for getting the new screen to work. It seems not everyone has needed to use this method, so you can try simply plugging in the new screen (at main board and inverter) and booting up. With Leopard, that might just work, as some have reported. If it doesn’t, you can try the sleep method. Alternatively, you can just go straight to the sleep method – although it sounds a bit iffy, there have been no reports of damaging the laptop this way. If simply booting up doesn’t work, you could try the ATIinject method (see below), which requires an external monitor, before the sleep method, but I would recommend using the sleep method first, since it doesn’t involve making any modifications to the OS which may not be required.

Here’s the sleep method. You should be at the stage either of having the keyboard detached from the bottom case but still plugged in and with the display assembly off but still attached by all cables (you can rest it up against a wall or stack of books to keep it at the right angle) (ifixit + screentek), or simply of having the rear of the old panel exposed with the assembly still attached (screentek only). Remove the tape holding the ribbon cable on the back of the display down, so that you can unplug that cable easily and get access to the display port in a moment. Also you may need to work the inverter board out of its little slot under the screen a bit in order to be able to unplug the inverter cable in a moment. However, don’t unplug either of these cables yet! Now replace the battery (you don’t need to worry about all the casing screws, etc, if you removed the screen assembly from the bottom case, just slot the battery in), plug in the machine, and boot it up on the original internal display (still attached and connected).

Remember you NEED to be running Leopard, but you don’t need to have an external display plugged in. Since you haven’t yet modified anything, if it doesn’t boot up or the old screen doesn’t now work, you’ve inadvertently disconnected something (or, much LESS likely, damaged something).

Note that if you opted to go straight to removing the shell from the display housing without first removing the housing from the bottom case (i.e. you went straight to the screentek guide) you can, in principle, get to the stage of testing the new screen more directly and quickly.

Once the OS has started, put the machine to sleep. Make sure it is really in sleep mode, with fans (and disk, if you can hear) spun down. Position the laptop with the OLD screen and housing half-closed (this is easier if you have omitted the ifixit stage and used screentek only). CAREFULLY unplug the screen cable from the old screen, and the inverter cable of the old screen from the inverter. (These screens are very fragile.) Prop up the new screen behind the old one, facing you, against a book or a wall so it is a bit less than vertical. Its base should be right up to the base of the old screen. Loop the screen cable under the new screen (you need to have removed all that tape) and plug it into the new screen, and then plug in the new screen inverter cable into the (original) inverter. It may be tricky to stretch the screen cable up to plug into the new display with the old one still in the housing. Don’t force anything – if in doubt, power down, remove the power and batter, and disassemble the screen further before trying again. Once it’s plugged in, adjust the position the screen so that you can see it ok, even with the old screen in a half-closed position.

Now push the power button to wake the machine up. This is the “aha” moment.

With any luck, the new screen will come up. If it just displays perfectly from the get-go, you’re rocking! Or, (1) if it displays the desktop but is the wrong resolution or refresh rate, don’t worry (see below). Also, it might look funny with lots of lines for a second or so before it comes up, in which case wait for a second or two. BUT (2) if it starts getting steadily brighter and brighter with no picture and more and more washed out, push and hold the power button to switch the machine off. (3) Alternatively, if it is black and stays black, don’t worry, but push and hold the power button to switch the machine off, and see below.

If just works then go ahead with the mod. If you got (1) then you can change the resolution using display settings. If the refresh rate is still wrong, with no ability to change them in the display settings, and/or you can’t get the high resolution, and/or the colors look weird, don’t worry, you can fix that later with an easy software fix. Go ahead with the mod. The software fix is to use either SwitchResX (which is free but sometimes seems to hiccup with Leopard – your mileage will vary) or DisplayConfigX (which is not free but is better) to set custom resolutions and refresh rates into a system file (called an overrides file) which tells OS X how to interact better with the display. I won’t document the steps here, you can find them in earlier postings.

If you got (2) or (3), you can decide whether to try and get it working now (below), to make sure, or push on with the mod anyway, in the hope that it will all come together. (It’s much easier to try the software/OS fixes with everything reassembled, of course, but on the other hand, if you really don’t get it to work, the reassembly will have been wasted work, twice over.) With (2) you’re going to need to work with the ATIinject file (another system file fix posted earlier in the thread) and possibly PRAM resets (people have conflicting experiences here) and one or other of the SwitchResX or DisplayConfigX programs. Again, see earlier postings.

Note that if you got (3), this is the most UNLIKELY scenario, but is also the most disappointing. You SHOULD get (1) or (2). If you get (3), that may be an indication of a hardware problem. However, it is possible to get (3) and then still be able to fix it with the software mods and PRAM resets.

I should emphasize though, that the overwhelming majority of people using Leopard either have the new panel working properly from the get-go or have (1), which has been great news for all of us. It’s a bit of a mystery why different people’s experiences have been different (though they have been converging with Leopard). For these two reasons (these problems are unlikely, and people’s experience with them differs) I’m not making this a comprehensive guide for when things don’t work out. Go back and revisit old postings.

To continue with the hardware part of the mod, make sure the machine is off again, unplugged, and battery out. Continue with the disassembly of the display housing to get the LCD panel out. The difficult bit you’ve already done, removing the shell from the display housing (see the screentekinc guide), which can really be tricky (don’t give up though!). Another tricky bit can be the last step of removing the panel itself from the housing. It is stuck there with double sided tape, which can be very tenacious, requiring a fair bit of force to remove. You need to be gentle and forceful at the same time.

As for Windows Vista, there have been mixed experiences with bootcamp and funny colours and/or a bad refresh rate. Some have got Windows bootcamp working, some haven’t (even while Mac OS is working perfectly). (I haven’t, but I have found VMware Fusion to be great. Or Parallels.) I don’t think it makes any difference whether you use Vista or XP.

4 Responses to “15.4 Macbook Pro with WUXGA 1920×1200 Display”
  1. Mr WordPress 15 June 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in and view the post's comments. There you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. Chris 24 March 2010 at 9:56 am #

    So I know this post is kinda old, but I’m trying to do this with my Mid/Late 2007 Macbook Pro. I have in front of me a LTN154U1-L02, and it has a different plug, with a separate backlight plug, unable to work with the MBP. Which panel do I need for this computer? I can’t seem to find a good picture of any of the panels you’ve listed, so I can’t verify whether the plugs are the same. Help. Please.

  3. sadri 5 September 2010 at 7:48 am #

    I have a MBP 2.2 Ghz and I purchase the LG LP154WU1 and the video cables do not match. Do you know of a way around this? is there an adapter cable for the video cable?? Thanks in advance.

  4. Mark 31 December 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    It is a myth that doing these worts of upgrades voids your warranty. First, it does not say anything of the kind in the Purchase agreement. Second, even if it did, it would be a violation of Federal law, in particular the Moss-Magnusson Act.
    That said, if you break anything doing the upgrade, your warranty then is void, at least for that part.

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