4K and 5K Display Buyer's Guide for Macs

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    4K displays are becoming increasingly popular as they come down in prices, and even some 5K displays have been released over the past year, but there are lots of variables to consider before purchasing one for your Mac.

    This buyer's guide will help you determine the ideal 4K or 5K display for your MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro or Mac mini, based on compatibility, price, display technologies and more.

    Click here to

    Article Link: 4K and 5K Display Buyer's Guide for Macs
  2. Raddock, Jan 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016

    Raddock macrumors member


    Jul 7, 2008
    I run a MacPro 2013 with two of the Dell P2715Q displays. They were working ok for a while. They certainly look nice when working. However, as of 10.11.2 they don't wake up from sleep without unplugging them. They also don't show any boot screens or boot process for OS X or Windows under BootCamp for any revision of OS X, because they don't support the EFI BIOS. I've finally gone back to my Apple displays because all of these issues are a major annoyance in every day use.

    They also experience major issues in BootCamp with flickering and being generally unstable due to the poor driver support in Windows. The only way to get them to be driven reliably is to run only a single 4k monitor. It just doesn't seem to be able to handle dual 4k displays very will with the current Bootcamp drivers.
  3. wevrem macrumors newbie


    Oct 25, 2014
    Thanks for this roundup. I am planning on upgrading my 3-year old macbook air this year, and have been waiting to see what would be good to buy and how it would play along with displays. This article is fantastic and well-timed.
  4. shurcooL, Jan 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016

    shurcooL macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    This was an awesome write up, thanks. Looks pretty accurate.
  5. soupcan macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2014
    May I make a suggestion?

    If you're a creative person doing work in apps like the Adobe suite or writing scripts or game development or app writing or whatever also consider the 21:9 Ultra Wide standard. LG has some beautiful monitors in that range, from the standard 34" 2560x1080 resolution (more suitable for apps which need a high refresh rate since it's a 75 hz panel) to 34" 3160x1440 curved ultra wide monitors. Don't let the 34"-ness of it scare you: because of the 21:9 aspect ratio it's not as tall as you'd think.
  6. reden macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I own the 34inch LG Thunderbolt display, it's phenomenal and allows me to be more productive on my design work. While I have a 5K iMac and a Retina MacBook, I can't design on those displays since all the work I do is for Web, not everyone has retina displays, so there's no need to double up on pixels right now. They look stunning, but literally the only thing that I've designed on a retina display are my portfolio, and iOS apps.
  7. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    It is a shame the one thing Thunderbolt 2 should have been good at but it can't deliver until another revision.
  8. LindseyA macrumors newbie


    Jan 15, 2016
    Concord, MA
    Can people really see the distinction between 4K and 5K?
  9. axiomreality, Jan 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016

    axiomreality macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2014
    As someone who's job depends on instant information and screen real estate, I can hardly wait till I can connect 3+ retina screens to my Mac Pro. Does anyone have a guess if Apple might include full Displayport 1.3 with SST in their next Retina Thunderbolt Displays and rely on a 3rd party GPU manufacturer to include Displayport 1.3 in their cards (e.g. the next generation of AMD FirePro cards)? I'm specifically thinking about the Mac Pro in this context as they have never included Intel graphics.
  10. PeoTheOne macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2011
    Thanks for the roundup! Read some common mistakes I made when I was searching for my first 4K monitor.
    (Especially the refresh rate part. Had to return my first choice because it was 30Hz instead of 60Hz.)

    I would like to suggest another monitor for people wanting to upgrade/buy a screen.
    The post above suggested the ASUS PQ321Q. If a 31.5" screen is too big for you, there is the ASUS PQ287Q which I can recommend. It display 3840x2160 on 60Hz (with MiniDP) and does not come at the steep price of roughly $1200 but rather at around $500.
    Perhaps it doesn't have the high quality color realism some people like, but for day to day work I think it's ideal.
  11. brianbrook macrumors member


    Jan 3, 2016
    Northern California
    Relevant article, the original Mac Pro can be upgraded with an appropriate graphics card, such as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, which has three DisplayPort 1.2 ports for connecting multiple 4K displays. Mid 2006 and Early 2008 Mac Pros may also be upgradeable, but performance could be limited due to old hardware.

    The GTX 960 is what I'm looking to buy but there are multiple variations, I'm running a Mac Pro 1,1 2006 10.10.5, this one has a single 6 pin: http://www.evga.com/Products/Product.aspx?pn=04G-P4-1962-KR
  12. ka-spot macrumors 6502a

    May 23, 2012
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    Thumbs Up ! Very good read. It seems that I'll have to upgrade my Early 2013 MBP retina 13" with what will be released this Spring, cuz I definitely want 4k display :) And when I have money and nothing to spend them for - I'll buy 27" 5k iMac just to enjoy the full Apple experience and joy :)
  13. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    The main benefit of 5K on a 27" Retina display isn't the extra sharpness, it's maintaining pixel perfection while having the equivalent of 1440p of real estate. Otherwise, 4K would offer the equivalent of 1080p of real estate, which is pretty low for a 27" monitor.
  14. rrissmiller macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2016
    Hi. I thought it was me. I have a Samsung UHD UD97Q monitor. It works OK on Yosemite, but experiences the same issues you describe when run under El Capitan (all versions). I'm now in the camp that Apple have abandoned us with the trash can MacPro. While I can get the monitor up on El Capitan in means using the HDMI connection and running at 30Hz - unacceptable. My real disappointment is that the display is gorgeous at 4K and even the text is OK (31" screen). I keep hoping that we each new beta Apple will resolve the problem, but I'm not holding my breath. I did submit a problem under the Apple Public Beta program. Seeing how we are forced to use non-Apple monitors to get 4K, I'm not optimistic on Apple fixing this. It's really as shame, as it has me starting to think I may have to consider other alternatives. That's something I haven't done in years.
  15. LindseyA macrumors newbie


    Jan 15, 2016
    Concord, MA
    Thanks! So there probably won't be a 21.5 inch 5K display. Likewise, in theory Apple could release a 21.5 inch 4K Thunderbolt display with Sky Lake. Or am I still not getting this.
  16. Joe Rossignol Editor

    Joe Rossignol

    Staff Member

    May 12, 2012
    21.5" 4K Thunderbolt Display is definitely possible even right now. But no certainty it will happen.
  17. CostaMoses macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2014
    I run the Dell P2715Q on my mid 2015 15" rmbp with the discreet video card. It is incredible! I do web dev and I can have two good sized browser windows side by side on the same display. No lag, either.
  18. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I have the Dell P2415Q and I consider the only true standalone retina display. 4k at larger than 24" gives you pixels too big for 2x (so text looks giant rather than retina-sharp) yet too small for 1x (unless you like to squint--and even so you don't get the doubled res).

    That Dell exactly doubles the 1080p you'd get from a normal 24" display. And OS X can boost the virtual screen size larger--I like to go one size up, to 2304x1296.

    BUT IT HAS TERRIBLE WAKE FROM SLEEP PROBLEMS with my Mac Pro. Sometimes I can only get it to turn on by force-shutting down the Mac, since I'm blind to do do anything else. And I received a number of DOA units. And the icing on the cake: Dell repeatedly refused to honor my warranty, saying that Dell displays above 23" from authorized resellers have no warranty. Only buy direct from Dell, they say. Tell that to Best Buy and Amazon! You may think I'm crazy, but I googled others with similar experiences. In truth, they DO have a warranty, but good luck getting it honored. Really: good luck.

    So although I LOVE the color and sharpness of the Dell, I cannot truly recommend it. Keep waiting. Sorry! Retina is gorgeous on a big Mac screen, and the Mac Pro deserves it!
  19. railsonmaui macrumors newbie


    Jan 15, 2016

    Basically, go to displays, hold option key, click detect displays, sometimes more than once.

    Works perfectly

    I'd love a solution for this issue that doesn't require this work.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 15, 2016 ---
    Displays, hold option key, click detect display. http://forum.shakacode.com/t/help-for-dell-p2715q-monitor-not-showing-after-mbp-sleeps/441
    --- Post Merged, Jan 15, 2016 ---
    With a 2015 MBP, mid-year, top end, is it possible to connect 2 4K displays via Display Port and still connect a thunderbolt external drive? I found that I could not get 4K when the display port is connected to the drive. It has to be connected directly to the macbook pro.
  20. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    A couple of notes, including one contradicting MR in their article.

    First, I cannot stress enough considering upgrading to the best/fastest cabling. I own, and use, two Dell P2715Q displays - the included cable generally suffices, and I used a few aftermarket cables but had lag issues. I used to build autocross cars back in the 80s (miss my Datsun 510 so much sometimes...) and learned about tuned exhaust systems and this is a bit relevant - install the best option you can afford. I now use two Accell mDP>DP cables for my displays, the DP-1.2 compatible cables - they're the only cables of that configuration on the DisplayPort.org web portal - I have no sleep issues, have no lag issues, see Color configuration options in the Displays Pref Pane I'd never seen before, my Dells are correctly identified without 3rd-party software. I can't stress that the Accell cables make my Dells (and BenQs, back at my main office) work perfectly. My Dells now work as well as they do on my Win PCs - I've donated all of my other DP cables. You spent $400-$900 on a decent 4k display - spend $19 on an Accell cable.

    Second, MR you need to fix this:
    "15" Late 2013: This model is equipped with two Thunderbolt 2 ports that can drive one 4K display at 60Hz or two 4K displays at 30Hz. This model also supports one 4K display at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one 4K display at 30Hz over HDMI."

    to read:

    "15" Late 2013: This model is equipped with two Thunderbolt 2 ports that can drive two 4K displays at 60Hz with the dGPU version, drive one 4K display at 60Hz, or two 4K displays at 30Hz. This model also supports one 4K display at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one 4K display at 30Hz over HDMI."

    I own and use a late-2013 dGPU version and I'm happily driving two Dell P2715Q displays at up to 4k @ 60Hz, in either portrait or landscape mode, plus the internal display at full resolution, with OS X 10.10.3 - and they look great. I posted this tidbit in the P2415Q/P2715Q display thread months ago, and nothing's changed with the current OS release. No lag whatsoever. I know that Apple's web site doesn't reflect this, but I notified them and they've blown me off. Don't blow me off, please?

    I was using CableMatters cables, but now am using Accell cables. Disclosure: I have no financial interest in any of those companies, but am attempting to dispel FUD about all of this...
  21. orbitalpunk macrumors 6502


    Aug 14, 2006
    I run the latest NEC MultiSync EA275UHD UHD display on my nMP 2013 just fine.
  22. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    A solid article from MR. I learned something that may guide my future Mac purchase.
  23. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601


    Feb 26, 2003
    around the world
    My current Cinema display is from 2007. A new one in 2017 could be accepted. Even so the old is just fine.
  24. diipii macrumors 6502a

    Dec 6, 2012
    Excellent article and exactly what I want now. It's good to know there are viable alternatives out there and Apple is getting a kick up the rear end in the monitor market.
  25. andy89 macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2005
    Kent, England
    The HP z27q (5K) matches the nMP perfectly and works out of the box with El-Capitan. It's also cheaper than the Dell 5K display.

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107 January 15, 2016