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Calibrage d'écran de portable avec une sonde de calibrage


How to calibrate a laptop?

Published on April 15, 2011   |  Updated on October 31, 2019


Because they have a reputation for having bad panels and you can only adjust their brightness, laptops just seem good for emptying our memory cards while on the move. What if the game is changing, slowly? Let's see how to calibrate them, whether or not they are connected to a secondary screen, often of better quality.

In theory, calibrating the screen of a laptop computer should be very complicated or even impossible due to the lack of settings and the quality of the panel. It is true that for a long time, this truth was difficult to dispute. However, since the release of a new generation of calibration tools, notably from X-Rite (Colormunki Display and i1Display Pro) and then Datacolor (SpyderX Pro and SpyderX Elite), the surprises are interesting on some good quality laptops. It is even perfectly possible to calibrate your laptop in 2019, at least to neutralize the dominant colors, to modify the color temperature and make them display a good brightness. Obviously, the final quality will depend a lot on your screen but the final calibration of a MacBook Pro of 2011 or 2012 (Retina), Microsoft Surface or even laptops with IPS panels at Asus, Dell or Sony is really amazing and will do it good. It has even become perfect on the latest MacBook Pro Apple 13'' and 15" 2017/2018 DCI-P3 panel !



The specificities of laptop calibration

But what makes laptops so difficult to calibrate a priori ? Is it because of their panel, their settings, their graphics cards ?


Calibrating the screen of a laptop with a colorimeter

What about the quality of laptop panels ?

There are now three main categories of computer display panel quality: TN, PVA and IPS for short. The better the quality, the easier it is to calibrate it and above all to edit your photos on it or even some basic touch-ups. Why ? Mainly because bad panels are distinguished by their poor viewing angle. With these panels it is indeed impossible to keep the same brightness as soon as you turn or lower your head. However, the vast majority of laptops have these panels at very low prices. This is their main defect that a calibration can never correct or minimize.

My purchasing advice !  Choose an IPS panel laptop as there are more and more in the Asus N752Acer V Nitro VN7,  Dell XPS 13) ranges or Surface Book 2 Microsoft and of course the  MacBook Pro Apple and their beautiful Retina IPS panels. New ! If you are looking for a laptop panel close to the best "Graphic Arts" monotors, buy the new MacBook Pro 2017/2018 with P3 panel. I had never measured such Delta E values on a laptop before. Unbelievable!

Choosing laptop display technology : CCFL or white LEDs ?

Most laptop screens have very basic panels, so they use a fluorescent technology called CCFL. Few laptop screens with LED technology are available. However, in the spring of 2019, there are many exceptions: Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air since 2012, Microsoft Surface, Dell IPS panel, etc.

My advice !  Most laptop displays are CCFL technology. The default choice is therefore the right one. All Apple laptops (MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Pro Air have been using LED technology since 2012), some Asus, Dell, Microsoft or Sony laptops are starting to use LED technology : choose LED or white DIODES.

Almost no settings on laptop screens

On the other hand, it is now possible (since 2011) to correct or even cancel their second major defect : the absence of screen settings except for brightness. However, we had seen on the page dedicated to screen calibration that the brightness was used to adjust the white point and the contrast of the black point. This small miracle is still possible thanks to a new function implemented in particular in X-Rite Colormunki Display and i1Display Pro  colorimeters : the ADC function (Automatic Display Control)

My advice !  All you have to do is choose the brightness you want (with X-Rite colorimeters or the latest Datacolor) and make sure, on X-Rite models, that the "Enable ADC function" button is checked. (Fig. below) :

ADC fonction i1Profiler

Adjusting the brightness on an iMac - At best, it is possible to manually adjust the brightness of your display in 16 steps if you use the brightness button alone. On the other hand, you can make a much finer adjustment since in 1/4 steps thanks to the combination of keys: ALT + SIFT + Brightness. This allows you to make a very precise adjustment, or at least quite sufficient. However, even with 16 levels, you would never be far from your target value.

Default color temperature for Mac or iMac displays

No more 9300K Mac displays out of the factory. They all come out today in the least flattering but very beautiful 6500 K. However, they can be preferred with an even lower colour temperature: 6000 K, neither too hot nor too cold.


Be careful if you calibrate a laptop screen

Indeed, these computers always activate by default in their monitor preferences the "Automatic brightness" option, which must absolutely be deactivated BEFORE starting the calibration.

Apple iMac Retina brightness adjustment option

UNCHECK "Adjust the brightness automatically"





What color management if you connect a secondary display to your laptop ? - Updated on May 2018

The portable + secondary display configurations are very varied so we will see their differences and how to calibrate these different solutions.

Comment ! As there are many possibilities, many scenarios, I can only reasonably propose a few of them here.

Screen calibration with Colormunki Display

Is the graphic card important ? Which RAM for which display ?

NVidia Mobile Graphics ChipMore and more laptops are incorporating processors that contain their own graphics cards, such as the famous Intel HD Graphics chips on some Intel processors (In 2019). Other higher-end laptops also incorporate dedicated graphics cards - and sometimes both at the same time ! But what influence does this have on the quality of the display ? None (for photographers)! This only affects the frame rate - 30 or 60 Hz -, especially when playing and the definition of the secondary display that you can connect to it - Only 3840 x 2160 or 4096 x 2304 pixels - depending on the most recent.

Learn more about the importance of the photo graphic card  

My advice !  If you are considering buying a laptop + secondary display, be sure to check the power of your graphics card and its ability to display the right definition on both displays. Also, check also the connector that will allow you to connect this second monitor because if there is no difference between HDMI and MiniDisplayPort in terms of color quality or display accuracy, the refresh rate will not be the same in 4K : HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30 Hz in 3840 x 2160 while MDP 1.2 allows to reach 60 Hz. Up to QHD (2560 x 1440) you will have no problem with the integrated Intel chips.

To each his own ICC profile: can we calibrate several monitors ?

Importante note !  You can perfectly calibrate all the screens connected to a laptop - including of course the laptop's - but, depending on the graphics card and/or operating system, you will not always be able to use your own ICC profile on each display all the time simultaneously. In short, either you use the profile of the laptop display, which will also apply to the secondary display with the consequences that we can guess... or the opposite! It is therefore not always possible to manage two separate ICC profiles at the same time from certain laptops. Their graphics cards and/or operating system can only manage one screen profile at a time.

1 -Your graphics card and/or operating system only supports one ICC profile - so you should choose the priority monitor, probably the one on which you will display Photoshop or your video. The laptop screen will probably be in trouble. You will calibrate your secondary display and the ICC profile will be installed in the system for both.

  Windows 10 Color Management Monitors Preferences

My advice !  If your graphics card does not support two ICC profiles, remove the ICC profile from the laptop and it will work by default. It's often a lesser evil.

2 - Your graphics card and/or operating system supports several ICC profiles - Your two displays will be able to display beautiful colors ! Since Photoshop uses a monitor profile to send the "right" colors to the one on which you are retouching your colors, you should make sure to choose it carefully in the preferences of the graphics card. I will show you how below. But let's start by assigning the right ICC profile to each monitor.

A - On Mac, it's very simple from System Preferences > Monitors > Color tab: a window opens on each screen so all you have to do is choose the right ICC profile from the list.

  Color tab of the Mac OS display preferences

B - On Windows 10 - Go to Settings menu > System > View > Advanced Settings > Color Management Tab :

  Préférences gestion des couleurs moniteur de Windows 10
  Question : what about Windows 10 and MacOS 10 and ICC multi-profile management ?  With these two operating systems you will be able to calibrate your laptop screen AND your secondary screen while applying your ICC profile to each. On Windows 10, the monitor profile assigned to Photoshop is the one of the laptop screen by default so you have to reverse the main screen :
  Preferences display screen of Windows 10
  All that remains is to check in Photoshop :
  Screen profile in Photoshop color preferences
  On the next page, we will study how to calibrate tablets and other smartphones : How to calibrate a tablet or smartphone - - 5 / 5 Suivre

To be remembered !

But first of all, I would like to invite you more than warmly to calibrate your laptop display, whatever you use it for, because it is finally possible quite easily since 2011.

 You can choose from four models even if I have a slight preference for X-Rite colorimeters : SpyderX Pro, SpyderX EliteColormunki Display and my favorite the i1Display Pro

 The panel of the MacBook Pro (since 2011) and therefore of the new Retina is very beautiful after calibration with X-Rite colorimeter : no breaks of shades, grayscale really progressive, beautiful color temperature. Not Graphic Art nor large gamut but very beautiful !

 The MacBook Air panel as well as many other panels can also be calibrated easily but with more tone breaks. Their panels are not the same as on the MBP. Their calibration is still surprising and this is clearly due to the new colorimeters including the incredible i1Display Pro.

 The difference between Datacolor and X-Rite colorimeters is much smaller than in the past. And this is even more true since April 2015 and the release of the Spyder5 and even less since February 2019 and the release of the new SpyderX.

 If you display your images on a secondary screen, you must of course calibrate both screens, but unfortunately only one can use its ICC profile. It is up to you to choose on which screen you work and on which screen you display the tool palettes.

Through these 6 pages of advice and my 12 full colorimeter tests I will help you to properly calibrate your desktop or laptop screens, your iMac or your tablets...
- Why calibrate your monitor ?
- How to calibrate your monitor ?

- Special case : iMac / iMac Pro
- Special case : calibrating laptops monitors- 4/5
  - Calibrate a screen with or without a colorimeter ?
- Calibrate with a colorimeter/ the key points
- Tests and checks
- To be remembered...

- Special case : calibrating tablets and smartphones
- Special case : Eizo ColorEdge + ColorNavigator


- Best colorimeters buying guide
- 2020 monitors buying guide
- Basics of color


Calibrate your monitor with the best
colorimeter: X-Rite i1Display Pro !

Read my full review...


Calibrate your monitor with your favorite colorimeter : Datacolor SpyderX PRO !

Read my full review...










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