Ghosting Retina MacBook Pro is a Known Unknown

Just yesterday I noticed while editing some Illustrator and Photoshop documents that there was significant ghosting on my August 2012 Retina MacBook Pro screen. You know, the screen known for its brilliant resolution and eye-popping color. And also for this particular flaw.

Ghosting MacBook Pro with Retina Screen

I absolutely love my Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Screen (rMBP). It is the most powerful computer I have ever owned, the thinnest computer I have ever owned and has the longest battery life of any computer I have ever owned. It is so amazing that I plan on putting my iMac out to pasture, replacing it with this computer and a 27″ screen.

But there is this issue with the ghosting. When I went to my Apple Genius appointment today the tech told me something I couldn’t believe and reminded me of this famous Rumsfeldism…

Secretary of Defense Donald RumsfeldThere are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Oh those were the days… Here is an approximation of how it went down.

Apple Tech: So what brings you in here today?

Me: I’ve noticed some issues with ghosting on my rMBP. I know it’s a known issue and have a few friends who have had the same issue who recommended I bring it in.

Apple Tech: Well I wouldn’t call it a “known issue”, we do have a Knowledge Base article about this issue. That being said, let’s check it out.

Me: Well, I think it’s pretty well known that rMBP screen have been having this issue, enough that you guys have an article on your site. See, this is what I am talking about.

Photo via ExtremeTech (link above).

Photo via ExtremeTech (link above).

Apple Tech: Awe yes I see that. It happens when you have something on the screen for an extended period of time, right? This sort of ghosting is common in a screen using this technology and should be expected.

Me: No. I just opened this, maybe one minute ago.

Apple Tech: Ok, well let’s do this. I want to run a test and make sure it isn’t a graphics card problem. After that I’ll run a test that addresses the ghosting issue on these computers.

Me: So wait. It isn’t a “known issue” yet you guys have a help article covering this issue, you said this is common in this type of screen and you even have a custom test created by Apple to check for this on these computers? How is this in anyway emblematic of something “unknown”?

Apple Tech: (slight laugh)

The ghosting test consists of a checkerboard pattern that sits on the screen for 4 minutes, then it goes to grey (or was it black?). If you see the pattern then you have a ghosting issue. We couldn’t find any ghosting. Meanwhile I’m looking at an issue of it on my screen.


In the end my Apple Genius said if I wanted, they would replace my LCD panel but that it would most likely not solve the problem and emphasized again that this is an unknown, known issue… I opted to wait and see what happens. It seems to only come up when I have a lot of graphics intensive programs running at once. Of course correlation does not equal causation; I almost always have multiple graphics intensive programs running at once.

Does your rMBP have this ghosting problem? Have you gotten it fixed and if you did, how long did the fix last before the problem came back? Do you think this sort of ghosting should be expected and acceptable? I for one do not, considering the cost of the laptop and that a major selling point of the rMBP is it’s screen. Would love your thoughts and experience in the comments!

Bonus points if you got my Gilbert Ryle and René Descartes’ mind-body dualism joke earlier on.

8 thoughts on “Ghosting Retina MacBook Pro is a Known Unknown

  1. @shayes287 I didn’t notice any issues until yesterday. Hopefully it never happens to you. @oskrNYC’s rMBP ghosting looks pretty horrible…

  2. @justex07 @shayes287 Justin, try again. When I went they admitted it was an issue and replaced it no questions asked. That’s unacceptable.

  3. @oskrNYC @shayes287 oh! Did it actually fix your problem? Seems like last time I saw your screen it was wretched with ghosting.

  4. @justex07 @shayes287 they replaced it again. I took it in and told them about it and they changed the screen the same day.

  5. @oskrNYC @shayes287 oh wow. Well I guess I’ll give it a try again. Still bewildered at the situation.

  6. @markremarks He definitely seems to have haha. He was nice (and super cute) but wish he could have been more upfront. Oh well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *