4K Monitors To Buy

Updated Nov 2015

The internet is filled with a bunch of articles from 2014 talking about 4K, recommending old TN displays that cost $1000+ at the time, and other outdated advice. It’s almost 2016, and it’s pretty easy to find $400-something 4K screens now. I’ve recently had several friends ask me about 4K monitors, so I’d figure I’d do a writeup of which ones you should actually consider buying.

TL;DR: Of the 300ish 4K screens on the market right now, about… 7 of them aren’t crappy (in the 20–30 inch size zone). Scroll down this article for the list; I’ll list them in descending order of “how much I like them”.

4K Monitor selection

These are the best 4K (3840 x 2160) screens in the 20–30 inch size. There are some fairly nice screens larger than that, but those suck for computer monitor purposes, as they don’t fit on most people’s desks. Also, you’ll be dealing with low pixel density- I’d like my display to match the Retina screen on my laptop, so I’m ignoring those options. I understand some people prefer a larger screen, so you’ll have to do other research for 30+ inch screens.

Avoid TN monitors, which have very ugly color rendering and contrast ratios; make sure you get an IPS type monitor, which will match up will with the laptop display that comes with the Macbook Pro (the Macbook Pro comes with an IPS display). This requirement actually removes a LOT of fairly popular 4K (3840 x 2160) screens from contention. Some of them are very popular, like the Samsung U28E590D, Monoprice 13809 CrystalPro, the Asus PB287Q, etc.

Having support for 60Hz is mandatory- old 30Hz screens are outdated. This means DisplayPort is mandatory, since HDMI doesn’t handle 60Hz (pretty much nothing supports HDMI 2.0 right now). All good new 4K displays are single stream (only a few old ones from 2014 are multi-stream), so not having multi-stream should be fine.

As a summary, my requirements for this list is:
* 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution (duh)
* 60 Hz refresh rate
* Between 20 to 30 inches in size
* IPS panel (or similar technologies, that have better image quality than TN)
* DisplayPort connection, with SST

Specifically for MacBook Pros

Look at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202856

This Apple article shows the support for 4K displays for Macs. Notably:

With OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 and later, most single-stream 4K (3840x2160) displays are supported at 60Hz on the following Mac computers:
* MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
* MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014 and later)

The quote is for 4K (3840 x 2160) monitors, using a Displayport cable. You will need a Displayport cable that supports Displayport 1.2 (older cables that support only 1.0 or 1.1 will not work). I do not recommend monitors that use only HDMI or DVI; these will require expensive adapters when connecting to a Macbook Pro. Also, HDMI for MacBooks currently only supports 30 FPS signals.

This means that any new Macbook Pro you buy from Apple (which will be 2015 models), will support 4K (over a single stream Displayport connection). Just make sure you buy a single-stream 4K (3840 x 2160) monitor, not a multi-stream one; this will work with all modern and future integrated-GPU Macbook Pros.

For non-Apple computers

In general, if you have a discrete GPU, any NVidia 600 series GPU or better should work; for AMD, the AMD Radeon HD 6000 and 7000 series or better should support 4K (3840 x 2160). If you have an Intel integrated GPU, you want a Haswell or better Intel CPU. If you want really good performance, you’d probably want Broadwell or better; all Broadwell CPUs will support 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60Hz.

Displayport Cable

This section is for my friend who asked me a million questions about what cable to get.

All 2015 model Apple Macbook Pros have a Mini Displayport connector port. Usually, 4K monitors that are Displayport compatible will have a (full sized) Displayport connector port, although some 4K monitors will have a Mini Displayport connector. Most other laptops also use Mini Displayport if they output 4K video. Desktop computers tend to use full sized Displayport plugs. Therefore, depending on which monitor purchased, you might need different cables in order to connect that monitor to your computer.

Mini Displayport to (full sized) Displayport Cable

Most 4K monitors will use this cable. Here are some examples of this cable (with good reviews):

http://www.amazon.com/Accell-B143B-007J-UltraAV-DisplayPort-6-6-Feet/dp/B00A7R9I22/
http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters%C2%AE-DisplayPort-Thunderbolt-Compatible/dp/B00C7RJQPY/

Mini Displayport to Mini Displayport Cable

Some 4K monitors will use this cable. Here are some examples of this cable (with good reviews):

http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters%C2%AE-Gold-Plated-DisplayPort-White/dp/B004CAGDSW/
http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters%C2%AE-Gold-Plated-DisplayPort-Black/dp/B00HNF0L2C/

Displayport to Displayport Cable

If you’re using a full sized desktop, you’ll probably want a full sized Displayport cable. Here are some examples of this cable (with good reviews):

http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters%C2%AE-Gold-Plated-DisplayPort/dp/B005H3Q59U/
http://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-6-Feet-Premium-DisplayPort-Cable/dp/B00EFDQHUU/

24inch 4K Monitors

Here are suggestions for good, fairly cheap 4K (3840 x 2160) monitors, with Displayport 1.2 support and an IPS panel, around 24inches in size:

Dell P2415Q

http://accessories.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=860-BBFF

This is a great monitor. The stand offers full ergonomic flexibility, and has pretty much every display input port and 4 USB 3.0 ports. It uses SST, not MST, unlike the previous P2414Q monitor. [1] [2]
It can be purchased for around $425 from Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and B&H.

HP Z24s

http://www8.hp.com/us/en/products/monitors/product-detail.html?oid=7118913

This monitor appears very nice. It has a tilt, height adjustment, swivel, and pivot capable stand. It has DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, and four USB 3.0 port connectivity; two of the USB ports are on the side for easy access. It is a 24 inch, 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS display. However, I am not certain if it is SST or MST; it may not work at 60hz on a Macbook Pro. It can be purchased for around $500 from Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Newegg.

ViewSonic VX2475Smhl-4K

http://www.viewsonic.com/us/vx2475smhl-4k.html

This 24 inch monitor is ok, it has a tilt-only stand and no USB connectivity. It has SST. It is about $450.

Acer K242HQK

http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/UM.UX6AA.001

This 23.6 inch monitor should be ok. I’m not sure if it has SST or MST support. It is about $350.

27 inch or 28 inch 4K Monitors

Here are suggestions for good, fairly cheap 4K (3840 x 2160) monitors, with Displayport 1.2 support and an IPS panel, around 27inches in size:

Dell P2715Q

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=04&l=en&sku=210-ADOF

This is a great 27 inch monitor, best value for a 27 inch 4K screen. It has 4 USB 3.0 ports as a hub. It has both SST and MST modes. It will work out of the box with any 4K capable Macbook Pro, although you may have to go into the settings and disable the MST mode for full speed 60hz. You may also have to disable DDC/CI in the settings as well, the monitor may “freeze” sometimes otherwise. The cable that comes with the monitor may not work, so purchase another one from Amazon. It is around $500 and can be found on Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, and Newegg.

Asus PB279Q

https://www.asus.com/us/Monitors/PB279Q/

This 27 inch monitor is pretty nice, with a stand with full height/tilt/rotate adjustment. The monitor does not have a USB hub. It uses SST. It is around $650, and can be found on Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg.

Acer B276HK ymjdpprz

http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/professional-model/UM.HB6AA.003

Despite the weird name, this is a pretty nice 27 inch monitor. It is an SST monitor. It is about $475 on Amazon/B&H/Newegg right now.

ViewSonic VP2780–4K

http://www.viewsonic.com/us/vp2780-4k.html

This is a good 27 inch monitor, with a decent stand and USB 3.0 connectivity. It is an SST monitor. It is about $700 right now.

Acer S277HK wmidpp

http://us.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/model/UM.HS7AA.001

This 27 inch monitor looks a bit weird, due to the unconventional stand. It should be an SST monitor, it works on SST-only supported Macbook Pro laptops according to some sources. It’s about $550 new.

LG 27MU67

http://www.lg.com/uk/monitors/lg-27MU67

This is a 27 inch monitor. I’m not sure if this monitor has SST or MST support (or both). It’s about $525 on Amazon/Newegg/B&H.

ViewSonic VG2860MHL-4K

http://www.viewsonic.com/us/vg2860mhl-4k.html

This is a 28 inch monitor. I’m not sure if this monitor has SST or MST support (or both). It’s about $550 on Amazon/Newegg/B&H.