I know my 13" 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display won't support 4k (because it uses the Intel HD4000 for graphics), but I need a new monitor.

I just want a monitor that will look good at 2560x1440 (or 2560x1600?) ideally similar performance to the current thunderbolt display.

Will a 4k display (eg. the PB287Q) perform just as well as a 2560x1440 display (eg. the PB278Q) with my MacBook Pro? If so, I may as well get one so that I'm 4k ready whenever I upgrade the macbook.

Update, Details about my usage: I don't care about gaming, I just want something for programming and internet. I intend to just drive this external screen only and leave the MacBook closed. I occasionally dip into Lightroom for photo editing, so image quality is a bonus. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I had to review images on the laptop screen though.

4 Answers 4


What's officially "supported" and what's possible don't match. I managed to get 4K out of it at 30Hz.

I took a screenshot as proof: enter image description here Just a normal mini-displayport<->displayport cable was used.

More details in my answer here: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/147765/39878

or on this blog post: http://www.mattburns.co.uk/blog/2014/09/30/running-the-4k-aoc-u2868pqu-and-intel-hd4000-graphics/

2560x1440 works ok but because it isn't HiDPI it still feels like a step backwards. I flip between running 1080p (HiDPI) and full 4k (with the text being tiny).


Even if apple refers Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, at millions of colors my bet is you'll not have great performance... But I you just do internet browsing that's not an issue. If you're considering Photoshop or other heavy stuffy that might be slow

  • and only 30FPS and the Performance it really okey - even with Photoshop not soo smooth but okey ... Autodesk ist more critical because it renders every time.
    – bMalum
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:10
  • I've just updated my answer with my usage. Basically I only want to drive this external display so hopefully won't be any harder than driving the laptops current retina display...?
    – matt burns
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:12
  • @bMalum, do you only get 30FPS at 2560x1440?
    – matt burns
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:13
  • @mattburns yeah - HDMI Port does only support 30FPS at the Moment. MBPr mid 2012 15"
    – bMalum
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:16
  • @bMalum Can you not use displayport?
    – matt burns
    Sep 11, 2014 at 9:25

Also consider that there is a 1280x720 resolution, which really outputs 2560x1440. Everything is so big, but it has some benefits, like easier on the eyes. It's a tiny bit blurry but not a problem for me. It's 60 Hz, works much faster than the 3840x2160 (30Hz, slow rendering).


4k displays are night and day better than any non-retina pixel density displays. If you care about text and line drawing apps - there's no comparison and usually no going back once you use a 4k/5k display.

You can test drive this for yourself as well. Connect your retina MacBook pro to any non-4k/5k display and compare text on the retina screen to the external display.

If you don't clearly see the benefit, save your $$ until you do see the difference. You can spend / save that $$ on other things until you decide the better resolution is worth losing that $$.

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