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If you look at the specs of the latest models of lots of different laptops, specifically, those built around the integrated graphics of the 22nm "tick" Ivy Bridge or even 22nm "tock" Haswell — the latest and greatest generation of Intel processors as of mid-2014 — the manufacturers still say that they only support 2560x1600 as the maximum resolution.

For example, the mid-2013 and early-2014 MacBook Air 11" and 13" are all powered by Haswell and Intel HD Graphics 5000 — pretty much the latest and greatest — yet their specs merely lists:

Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors

Same for ThinkPad X230 with, for example, Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5-3320M and Intel HD Graphics 4000, with a mini-DisplayPort output, as per tabook.pdf:

Maximum external resolution: 2560x1600@60Hz (DisplayPort via optional Mini DP cable);

Also, the latest and greatest 199 USD Haswell netbook  — Acer C720 with Intel Celeron 2955U — simply no mention of any external resolution at all, has an HDMI port.

Do any or all of these and/or other Ivy Bridge and Haswell laptops support 3840x2160 @ 30Hz like what's needed to drive Seiki 39" SE39UY04 at its native resolution, or do none of them really do just as advertised?

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Yes, pretty much any laptop with a mini-DisplayPort should be able to support 4K Ultra HD on the HDMI-only Seiki.

I've even tried as old as late-2008 unibody aluminium MacBook 13" (the only aluminium model that was not part of the MacBook Pro line), and after a bit of wiggling, it worked perfectly fine at 3840x2160 @ 30Hz with Seiki, with the help of Accell B086B-007B-2 UltraAV mini-DisplayPort 1.2 to HDMI 1.4b Active Adapter.

It would appear that in order to have the support, however, you have to specifically purchase an adapter that is not only advertised to deliver 4K Ultra HD (4096x2160 and 3840x2160 @ 30Hz), but also specifically labelled as being Active. At the moment, the only such adapters appear to be made by Accell; models include B086B-008B (with some kind of ATI certification, but an older DP 1.1 spec) and B086B-007B (newer DP 1.2 spec, but no ATI cert).

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  • You are using this mDP to HDMI, what if I connect mDP to DP to a 4K monitor with DP. Will X230 still drive 4K native res?
    – Alex S
    Feb 29 '16 at 20:17
  • @AlexS, try it out an tell us! superuser.com/questions/750840/laptop-to-4k-monitor/…
    – cnst
    Feb 29 '16 at 20:46
  • I cant as I dont have the machine, I will buy used if it can be done over mDP/ DP and not HDMI
    – Alex S
    Mar 1 '16 at 5:37
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4K is generally not supported by intel Integrated graphics, but it may vary depending on different manufacturers.

There are workarounds where people mix hdmi cables to obtain 1440p or higher resolutions but those resolutions are forced to run at lower refresh rates. If you require 4k output, then you must invest in some high end dedicated graphics.

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Besides enough "power" from the GPU itself, you need enough VRAM for 4K resolutions. None of the integrated GPU's support that much. You will need a discreet GPU to support those resolutions and not just any discreet GPU will do either. If the manufacturer says it doesn't support that much, then you can pretty much believe what they say.

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  • There are confirmed reports that Haswell does support 4k resolution: anandtech.com/show/7007/intels-haswell-an-htpc-perspective. Basically, to put things into perspective, 2560x1600@60Hz is mathematically just about the exact same thing as 3840x2160@30Hz, so, I don't really see what all the big deal is.
    – cnst
    Jul 2 '14 at 23:02
  • 1
    You're talking about processing/transferring an amount of pixels per second. I am talking about memory storage for those pixels. In that calculation, forget about the Hz, and then 2560x1600 is a lot less than 3840x2160!
    – Jakke
    Jul 2 '14 at 23:13
  • -1 Integrated GPUs support gigabytes. Meanwhile, two 4K framebuffers are 50MB or 200MB with 4xMSAA. Jul 5 '14 at 19:21
  • for static images you may be correct, but that is not what vram is used for. If a processor says it supports a certain resolution, it's supposed to do more than just display static images
    – Jakke
    Jul 5 '14 at 21:01

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