On their new TestTube page, YouTube writes:

And if playing 4K videos at 3840x2160 isn't enough to melt your device, try doing it at 60 frames per second.

Is the latest MacBook Pro 13 able to play such videos smoothly?

  • When I select the video from that list. I will be just max at 1080p 60fps Jun 29, 2016 at 11:00

4 Answers 4


I'm under the assumption that you may have stumbled across reports such as this one in a casual Google search. I quote:

The Air correctly identified the attached monitor at 4K resolution, switching the user interface into HiDPI mode.

Subsequent refresh rate tests confirmed that it was running at 60Hz, and the publication said that interface components were "more than smooth enough for desktop use." Problems cropped up when performing animation-intensive actions, like entering full-screen mode, with "clearly visible" frame lag, showing that the display pushes the Intel HD 6000 graphics chip near its limit.

Notice that the first emboldened snippet says that you have to switch the user interface. This likely means usage of 3rd-pary software, such as SwitchResX, to enable changing system setting and entering this configuration. This is not recommended. Changing the resolution settings to something that cannot be enabled via System Settings can cause problems. Trying to push your hardware over the limits set by Apple can cause the system to overheat and consequently be damaged. Your MacBook is not ventilated very well and you have an integrated GPU which relies in part on the CPU. The additional overhead will cause complications.

I've read that full 4k at 60 fps is supported over DisplayPort. – Šime Vidas 3 hours ago

Refresh rates in the article above confirmed 60Hz. Is it able to play videos at 60Hz? The answer is likely yes. It is officially supported? No, their support page shows a limit of 30Hz at the resolution you stated.

As per your quote, can DP support 4k @ 60Hz? Yes, the DisplayPort 1.3 standard supports it. Does Thunderbolt 2 support DisplayPort 1.3? No. Remember that through the Thunderbolt port there is backwards compatibility with a mini DisplayPort cable, but with Thunderbolt 2 there are still some limitations as it uses the DisplayPort 1.2(a) standard.

To summarize this:

Is the latest MacBook Pro 13 able to play such videos smoothly?

Objectively speaking, yes, it is able to.

Will the system play it at 60Hz on a 4k 60Hz monitor? No, it will not. It does not natively support it.

Also see DisplayPort 1.3 and Thunderbolt 2 on Wikipedia for sources and more detailed info.

  • But the support page states that 60 Hz is supported on 4K MST displays. May 6, 2015 at 23:25
  • @ŠimeVidas Then your answer would be yes if you adhere to the list there. If you are using that as reference I do not understand why you would need to ask here. The videos would also have to be filmed in 60fps May 6, 2015 at 23:32
  • I’m concerned about the performance requirements of playing such high-bitrate videos in a browser. For instance, on my relatively old computer, I can play 1080p @ 60 FPS videos locally, but when I try on YouTube, the same video stutters significantly. There are specific “minimal hardware requirements” for 4K 60 FPS YouTube, and I’m not sure if the i5 processor in the latest MacBook Pro 13 satisfies them. Somebody needs to test this. May 6, 2015 at 23:38
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    @ŠimeVidas My MacBook 15 mid-2014 can run 2560x1800 at 60Hz and YouTube videos on 2k/4k format with no issue on the Retina display. I have the 2.5GHz CPU and the discreet GPU (nVidia GT 750m 2GB GDDR5). It is likely that in order to run 4K videos on the Intel HD 6100 via external 4K monitor you would have to disable the laptop's monitor (by closing the lid) so all power is pushed to the 4K monitor May 6, 2015 at 23:52
  • I understand that you mentioned YouTube in your question but how it is written pushes towards the capacity of running 4K 60Hz/fps instead of 4K 60Hz/fps with YouTube video. Had you specified this for YouTube performance I would've answered differently May 6, 2015 at 23:57

In my experience: No, it is not capable of decoding YouTube 4K/60fps videos without dropping frames.

This is with a MacBook Pro (13", Early 2015) connected to a Dell P2715Q (3840×2160 @ 60 Hz) via DisplayPort. I used YouTube's hidden "Stats for nerds" feature to confirm significant frame droppage.

  • 1
    I have the same setup and it does stutter every 20 sec or so. Jun 29, 2016 at 9:51

No. Retina display for a 13-inch is only 2560x1600. And even if you use the HDMI port, it will be at 30fps.

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    I've read that full 4k at 60 fps is supported over DisplayPort. May 6, 2015 at 19:00

No, for my machine MacBook Pro (13", Early 2015) with Dell P2715Q (3840×2160 @ 60 Hz) can not play 4k Youtube smoothly.

Yes my Macbook pro 13" Early-2015 can play 4k Youtube video smoothly on Dell P2715Q but must be via Safari, but not Chrome

I don't know what fps is played, but I will put the stat for nerds here. If you know please tell me

enter image description here

  • That video is playing at 30fps, while the question was about 4K @ 60 fps.
    – Charles
    Jul 15, 2016 at 4:08

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