Late 2013 MacBook Pros can run a 3840x2160 display at 60Hz - But there's a catch…

Monday, 02 December 2013

This month sees the launch of the new Mac Pro from Apple, which can support multiple 4K displays. Many Mac fans hope that Apple will also be launch 4K displays to go with the new computer.

Yesterday MacRumors reported that Dell are starting to promote a new 24" '4K' monitor. This is relevant news because Dell pricing is usually much keener than other suppliers, and Dell usually use the same display panel manufacturers as Apple.

Apple have already said that the new MacBook Pros with Retina can support a 3840 by 2160 display via their HDMI port at 30MHz. The question is whether their two Thunderbolt 2 ports can support large displays at higher refresh rates - which means smoother movement for animation and video with frame rates faster than 30 frames per second. Apple haven't publicised that the new MacBook Pro can run two 4K external monitors alongside it's 2880 by 1440 internal screen.

Dell's new display uses the DisplayPort 1.2 standard, which supports 60Hz refresh rates at 3840 by 2160 at a high bit depth. Thunderbolt connections have always been able to support monitors with an DisplayPort 1.0 interface. So far Apple haven't been clear about whether Thunderbolt 2 can handle the increased demands of DisplayPort 1.2. Will the MacBook Pro and new Mac Pro only work at high refresh rates with Apple Thunderbolt 2 displays?

A good sign can be found in a post by 'kogir' on the Apple's Support Discussions site:

Yes. The Macbook Pro Retina Display (Late 2013) works for me via the Thunderbolt 2 port @ 4K 60hz under Windows 8.1 with the ASUS PQ321Q.

The hardware support is there, and I fully expect OS X to get support in time for the Mac Pro launch.

My one worry is that it *is* a driver issue, and the Mac Pro has ATI graphics, so it's still not impossible that the Nvidia drivers for the MBPR never get support :/

So for now, the Thunderbolt 2 ports on the new MacBook Pro support a 3840 by 2160 display only if the MacBook is running Windows 8.1.

The good news is that higher refresh rate 4K displays from many suppliers are likely to work with the new Mac Pro and MacBook Pro with a driver update in OS X Mavericks - not limiting monitor options to new Apple Thunderbolt 2 displays.

  • Categories: UHD