It’s being reported that Apple has finally gotten around to enabling support for 4K displays on its latest MacBook, with the new OS X 10.9.3 update set to add a new “pixel-doubling” mode and 60HZ refresh rates for the late-2013 MacBook Pro.
Apple-focused technology news site 9to5Mac reports that the update will deliver more scaling options for those MacBook Pros running OS X 10.9.3. The pixel-doubling mode means that desktop mode can be displayed at a native “Retina” level via HDMI and probably Thunderbolt as well. These updates were discovered in the new Displays menu within OS X System Preferences, but have not been announced by Apple in its release notes for OS X 10.9.3 beta.
According to 9to5Mac‘s own tests, running OS X in pixel-doubling mode on a 4K display produces the same kind of crystal clear content that we’ve become accustomed to with Apple’s Retina displays. If so, this should make life much easier for those who often have to work with 4K displays.
The current external monitor support in OS X 10.9.2 limits Retina MacBook Pro users to a maximum scaled output resolution of just 4,096 pixels-by-2,160 pixels at 24Hz. In practice, this means that the system graphics are somewhat warped, with the menu bar showing up much smaller on 4K displays than it does on the regular Retina screen. Users also have a second option – 3,840 pixels-by-2,160 pixels at 30Hz – but this also results in disappointing image quality with less-than-fluid frame rates. In both cases, the only connectivity option is via HDMI.
As well as the pixel-doubling mode, the OS X 10.9.3 update now gives users the option to output 4K at 60Hz, double the current refresh rate of 30Hz. This should allow for much smoother scrolling and animations while using Macs at 4K.
With the new update, late-2013 era Retina MacBook Pro’s will be able to display 4K resolution at the same level as the Mac Pro, which already has the ability to deliver 4K at 60Hz over Thunderbolt to compatible displays.