Cheapest 4K HDMI Display Monitor with MacBook Pro Retina

The reason why these Seiki 4K Displays are so cheap is that they are just stripped down to bare bones. You won't find a tuner, or a set of quality speakers. There's no fancy aluminum housing with a coated glass screen. You won't find a Smart WiFi interface with Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu. It's simply a display, but for the price - a damn good display!

While i'm not quite ready to start editing 4K videos, or watch 4K content, the MacBook Pro Retina (I have the old version) is able to utilize the full 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160. I'm currently running an external Thunderbolt Display as my main monitor, but as I was looking for a second display, I decided to try this 39" 4K model. The colors are amazing, fonts are sharp, and images look great. I would not advise this to be a primary monitor for creative graphics use, but definitely a worthy addition as a secondary display.

Seiki 4K 60hz Display Monitor Macbook Pro Retina Mac Pro DesktopSeiki 4K TV HDMI Video Monitor Display Macbook
find-price-button Seiki 39" 4K HDMI Television 3840 x 2160 Display Monitor

My system can only support a 30hz refresh rate at full 4K, but considering this is my secondary display for static content it's not a big deal. Seiki also offers a 50" inch 4K Television (found here), but would be just too big as a monitor.

Now when the 39" version of this 4K TV hit retailers it was announced for $699. Over on eBay it's still listed for $580 (seen here). That's an amazing price for a 4K television today, but right now they are on sale for just $480! (found here).

[Update: 01.16.2014 it's currently listed at just $404]

Seiki 4K HDMI Monitor Macbook Pro Review Sample
find-price-button Seiki 39" 4K HDMI Television 3840 x 2160 Display Monitor

35 thoughts on “Cheapest 4K HDMI Display Monitor with MacBook Pro Retina

  1. Emm

    Post author

    @Brad - You need an SDI monitor and one that can support true 24p (some don't). I think on the cheaper side, you can look into the MustHD monitors that offer SDI inputs. httpss://

    Then you need an SDI cable. They come in different lengths, but I use this one:

  2. Brad

    Hey GUYS!! Hopefully a quick and easy question. I own a Black Magic Production Camera (4k) and have been having various issues trying to get a monitor to work. Because I'm shooting again this week, instead of explaining the 17 or 18 different options I tried, could someone PRETTY PLEASE just list what I'd need for a reasonably easy monitor set up for the Black Magic in terms of a Monitor or TV option and what accessories I would need to get said monitor to accept the image? For instance, the SDI to HDMI converter above, along with anything else? that could hook up to ___ insert a suggestion for a monitor or TV ____ Thank you VERY MUCH guys.

  3. @Emm, thanks, it makes totally sense, so if I decide to monitor at 1080p out of the mini monitor on the 4k seiko, it will upscale it. Can it be any better you think ?

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Ben - Hmm. I don't know if your iMac can drive the 4K monitor unless it's really new with a good graphics card. I think using something like the Ultrastudio may help with proper playback but I don't know if it's going to do any better with color.

  5. Ben

    Hi Emm !

    I really have a super important question to ask you : I'm currently building a simple editing bay to work on my BMCC raw projects. I intend to buy the Seiki 39'' 4k monitor to use it out of my iMac 27'' and maybe my question will sound dull but do I need to buy the Ultrastudio 4k to link both of them or will the ultra studio mini monitor will work ? I wanna monitor at 2.5K if possible.

    Thanks !

  6. Doug

    I see people commenting on their Mac Pro but I have a Mac Air. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether I would have success with a Lightning Bolt to HDMI?

  7. Mac

    @Paul: I might be wrong in this case but what does bit depth have to do with spatial resolution ?
    In the case of this monitor, i personally would be interested in seeing 4k (i am working on 4k footage) that is not condensed but 1:1.
    8 bit is fine because that is what is going to be broadcast anyway. In fact i prefer to see it in 8 bit/255 so that you can see if you will band gradients when broadcasting....


  8. Paul

    Ok I was all set to pull the trigger until I saw this comment in a posting about another cheap 4k display- this one branded POLAROID, but I am sure this also applies to the Seiki (though they say this one has more color controls and the finish on the Polaroid is much better- 50 inches for $970!). This is a quote of the comment: "its all B.S. because even though they are 4k they still use the 8bit REC.709 protocol instead of the new REC. 2020 protocol that SMPTE hasn’t implemented yet. So all your going to see is really high definition blocks of color since it can only show 255 different shades of grey where as the new REC.2020 is a MINIMUM of 1024. So all the gradients in images will be blocky. Hence why they are so cheap as its the exact same thing they did when HD came out and sold you a set that was 720i" I'm waiting on my Mac Pro and I don't have a display option yet but perhaps this is not it.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Josh Becker - I didn't buy the retina specifically for the 'retina display', I had to purchase it because it had the best video graphics card which is needed for video editing. It takes quite a bit of graphics horsepower to run full 4K resolution, so I don't think the older computer can do it.

  10. Hey Emm, do you happen to know if the Seiki will work with a non-Retina MBP (mid-2012, same specs as Retina, just doesn't have HDMI)? I would use a Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @t-stik - I honestly haven't noticed anything on mine, but i'm not purposely looking for it or running solid colors on there. I'll double check mine to see if I can pick anything out.

  12. t-stik

    Hey Emm, have you found a Seiki supplier that lacks dead pixels? I've gone through 5 of these monitors from different sources, and ALL of them have had varying number of dead pixels! With all the swapping going on, I'm thinking it might be a better to save up for a name brand.

  13. RobShouts

    A few guys were using these at work, they're terrible. All of them broke within a few months and the warranties were not honored.

  14. I spotted these as well. I'd love to have such a monster-monitor. However I am currently not ready for 4K yet. Just getting the hang of 1080p RAW footage.

    But I love these developments. Means 4K is getting affordable very quickely!

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Blake - I think you'll really have to see one in person to judge for yourself. Everyone can be subjective about the look of video. For my purposes, nothing comes close to this price using it as a display for my secondary monitor. I've happily edited a few projects in FCPX already. Love the extra space. I can view my video in 100% size and not even use half the screen.

  16. Blake

    Hey Emm,

    I'm thinking about getting one of these as a secondary monitor.

    Just want to know does being only 30hz really matter when using frame rates of 25 and 24p? Seems like the Hz rate is higher than the frame rate so it shouldn't make a difference to how the video looks? I'm yet to see one in persone so would love some insight

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @Christian - I can't suggest this as a primary monitor right now mainly because my hardware is just barely able to work. I plan to upgrade to the new Mac Pro Desktop which 'should' be able to power several of these 4K monitors at full resolution and refresh rate. Right now i'm very pleased with the image color and sharpness, so t sure does work as a kick ass secondary monitor. The price right now is literally a steal, so it's something to look into. You might want to look into Amazon's return policy just in case you don't like it, but at least you got it for this price.

    Another alternative is to call some of the retailers to see if they have this in store and will price match. Then figure out what their return policy is also.

  18. Christian


    How does this monitor fare for video editing and photography as a monitor? I am imaging the real estate must allow more content to be displayed, especially for tools and what not in premiere and photoshop?

    And I know it's not an apples-to-Apple (pun intended) comparison...but do you think this would be a decent alternative to a external retina Apple display?

  19. Emm

    Post author

    @Jeremy - One hassle is that you need to power these cheap units. Some converters have a built in battery. It also will not provide you with a redundant feed, but they do work.

  20. Cap

    @Emm, thanks for checking! And yes, I've been calibrating - individually - all my monitors on all my Macs since ColorMunki was released! But thanks for that anyway!

  21. Jeremy

    Any insight on that bargain SDI -> HDMI converter? Setting up a new ATEM TV studio, and have purchased the $300 Blackmagic converter & I'm sure to need one or two more. Is it well made? seem reliable? I guess for that price it may be worth a shot just to give one a try anyway.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @Cap - The fastest I can support with my system + Mavericks is 30hz, but there is an option to use 24hz.

    I can't say how it does on it's own (although there are quite a bit of settings in the panel). The cool thing about a Mac is that you can install a color profile that it uses on each display individually (not across all screens). If you had one of these calibrating tools you can create a color calibrated monitor.

  23. Cap

    @Emm – Ok, Thanks.

    @tormaid – That's exactly what I don't want it, to play back 24fps at 120 Hz, but to play it back at 24 Hz, which in theory technically would be possible, if it's able to play back at 30Hz. But the settings must allow it... Am I wrong?

    Besides that, I've read a lot of reviews, stating that it was possible to get quite acceptable colors – for that price tag, of course.

  24. tormaid

    I highly doubt that it works at 120Hz in 4K and even if it does, your video card almost certainly will not. Even if you /can/ get it to, the pulldown will probably be wrong (it almost always is).

    But for a TV with horrid color accuracy and black levels, is a normal jutter really what you should be concerned with?

  25. Emm

    Post author

    @Cap - I'll have to dig into the menu and see about changing these settings. I didn't want to tweak it too far since I was using it for my monitor.

  26. Emm

    Post author

    @Tom - I just played some 1080p video, not realizing it actually does the UpRes to 4K. Pretty amazing image even just as a regular video television. I'm really waiting for the new Mac Pro desktop that should have the latest HDMI and support for native 4K. Then this TV would be even better.

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