From what I'm reading online it sounds like 4K displays like Seiki displays will work correctly with a late 2013 MBP or later. I have an early 2013 MBP and am not finding much of any evidence that a 4K display will work with this model. Will a 4K display work at 3840x2160 with at least 30 Hz on a early 2013 MBP? Does anyone have this or a similar setup that could provide feedback or any issues that have? I'm interested in an external display with a high resolution and 4K seems like the best option.

6 Answers 6


No. According to this Apple Support article, 4K Display is not supported. The highest resolution your machine can support on an external monitor is 2560x1600.

  • 3
    Even though Apple states this, it is not true. I own an Early 2013 MBP and it does work (over both HDMI and Thunderbolt). Also see Juan Namon's answer
    – BlackWolf
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:30
  • It actually is possible! Check the other answers in this thread.
    – Oion Akif
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 16:17
  • @SkeletonBow this answer is 3 yrs old and was accurate then based on Apple support article + available hardware. To whomever downvoted my answer - the information was accurate then and still is now. Though it may be possible now, Apple still hasn't updated that article. the consequences of driving 4K from it (kernel panics, lagging frames, overall serious performance strain) outweigh any benefit of advising its users to do so. Possible and practical should not be conflated. I own this machine and have driven 4K on it, but it's frozen up nearly every time at any refresh rate > 30Hz
    – njboot
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 5:27
  • Would be possible to use an external GPU capable to drive 4K 60fps?
    – biotech
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 19:51
  • @njboot, why do you yhink the machine is frozen up nearly every time at any refresh rate > 30Hz, it shold work as it has a NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-650M, rigth?
    – biotech
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 22:48

Yes, it is possible to drive a 4k Display with an early 2013 and even 2012 Retina Macbook.

1. Download SwitchResX


2. Create a new custom profile for your monitor

Simplified Settings: CVT-RB
Active: 3840x2160
Scan Rate vertical: 30


Hit ok and press cmd-S to save.

3. Reboot and select custom profile

Based on this thread


I have early 2013 15" retina mbp and I can drive seiki 39 4K TV via HDMI (using supplied cable) just fine.

  • 1
    This does indeed work on the early 2013 over both HDMI and Thunderbolt, but the maximum refresh rate is 30/24hz
    – BlackWolf
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:28
  • Precisely, 4K @ 30Hz just looks horrible. Decent 4K is at least 60Hz. Commented May 11, 2015 at 12:52
  • 1
    @PatrickMcMahon - nope, I disagree. And I'm typing this on an early 2013 machine connected to a 4k monitor (specifically, an LG 27UD58-B 27" Ultra HD 4K Monitor). No adjustments, just plugged it in with a HDMI-HDMI cable. I'm not a gamer though, so it may be awful for that. For text (as in writing code) and videos it's just fine. The only thing I notice is that mouse movement isn't quite as smooth as it is on the native laptop display. Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 14:50

Its possible with SwitchResX and this stuff. Mini DisplayPort 1.2 to HDMI 2.0a Active Adapter 4K@60Hz

I have a MBP, early 2013, and it's working with 60Hz + 4k.

There are many adapters out there, but be sure is 4k + 60hz active, otherwise will not work.

  • Do you have a link for "screenresx"? It's helpful if you include references and links to the products you are reccomending.
    – Allan
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 12:38
  • He meant SwitchResX Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 21:06
  • @Endre can you please share your SwitchResX settings? Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:36

I have been using 4K monitors with an Early 2013 Retina Macbook Pro since August 2014, and have an issue which is consistent across both 4k Monitors - the screen will go blank for a few seconds sporadically. It doesn't happen often enough for it to be a big issue, but it can be annoying. Most of the time i run at 2560 x 1440, but i can go up to 3840 x 2160, both at 30HZ. Both of these require a good quality HDMI cable v1.3.

The monitors i have used are Samsung U28D590D and Asus PB287Q. The Asus gives a richer picture, but the Samsung is brighter.

  • Hi @Baldy, could you please tell me if you can reach 3840 x 2160 60HZ via MiniDP to DP adapter? njboot says above that the machine is frozen up nearly every time at any refresh rate > 30Hz.
    – biotech
    Commented Dec 28, 2018 at 22:45
  • @biotech I have since moved to a newer 2015 MBP, which is capable of 60hz & 4K. The 2013s were hit & miss
    – Baldy
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 8:13

On my early 2013 15" rMBP and LG 27UD88-W 27" 4K UHD Monitor, and SwitchResX, I tried mDP to DP, HDMI to HDMI, all 4K compatible cables, and finally active mDP to HDMI 4k 60Hz cable. I could not get 60 Hz on any cable at 4K.

(DP = DisplayPort. mDP = mini DisplayPort. rMBP = retina macbook pro)

This LG monitor has DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2. has DisplayPort 1.1a and HDMI 1.4.

This was the last cable I tried: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1616926-REG/ezquest_x40085_active_mini_displayport_to.html

The cable I'm sticking with is the Startech mDP to DP, and the HDMI cable I tried was a 4K Belkin HDMI cable from the apple store.

SwitchResX did help me get more resolution options than the standard display settings would. I am now using 2304 x 1296, HiDPI, at 30Hz. I think I've tried everything.

I think it's because the early 2013 rMBP is limited to DP 1.1a, according to Dell. Also according to Dell, late 2013 rMBP has DP 1.2, which should be able to do 4K 60Hz https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-us/000128111/4k-5k-high-resolution-display-support-by-mac-systems

And according to Wikipedia, DP 1.1a is limited to HBR, which is limited to 30 Hz at 4K / 3840 × 2160. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisplayPort

I'm not sure how the other commenters are getting 4K 60Hz, but I think I've tried everything, and the results I've got are in line w/ the specs I could find. I knew nothing about any of this 2 weeks ago, and this was what I found trying to figure it out.

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