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I'd like to boost my screen space and resolution. My primary monitor is currently a Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX: 2048x1152 native resolution running off the DVI output of my GA-H77M-D3H motherboard.

I haven't picked a monitor yet, so suppose I'd like to go up to 4k-class monitors:

  1. Will a single output type – e.g., either DisplayPort or DVI-D – be adequate for all monitors and resolution classes up to 4k? Or would I want a card that offers both?

  2. Will any graphics card offering that output be adequate to the task? Or do I need to look for some additional minimum specs on the graphics card?

I don't do high-end gaming so refresh rates aren't an issue. My primary purpose for upgrading would be to facilitate high-res photo editing, eventually do 4k video editing, and just get more screen real-estate.

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It should also be noted that along with GPU memory and clock speed (see Enigma's answer) that the GPU should also post what version of port the card uses.

The two most popular are HDMI/DVI and Display Port. Most 4k screens only accept HDMI (no DVI) and Display port (example), research what is supported on the model you plan to buy. Most sub-4k monitors support VGA (old), DVI, HDMI and Display Port however not all at once depending on the quality of the screen.

Quick reference:

  • HDMI 1.4 supports 4k at only 30Hz (currently the most popular) (ref)
  • HDMI 2.0 supports 4k at 60Hz (ref)
  • HDMI 2.1 supports 4k at 120Hz (ref as of Dec 2017)
  • Display Port 1.2 /w Multi-Stream Transport(MST) supports 4k at 60Hz (currently the most popular) (ref, ref)
  • Display Port 1.3 / 1.4 supports 4k at 120Hz (ref)

Currently on the nVidia side most of the 600/700 series that have a display port plug support 4k but in my experience will struggle with it if there is a lot of dynamic content.


For the sake of this answer 4k is referencing 3840 by 2160, however it can mean other resolutions check here. Also use of an adapter will not grant the full potential Hz of a port see here.

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If a GPU says it can do 4k, that is a minimum requirement for a desktop environment. If however you're going to be doing 4k video/photo editing, you'll want to look at recommended GPU specs for the software you'll be using.

GPU memory and clock speed are the next main concerns. If you're software is mainly CPU intensive, most 4k GPU's will be good enough.

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I'm not entirely sure about the AMD side of things but I'm running 4K now and I've been using nvidia GPUs and currently have a dell P2715Q.

Connectivity:

Generally DVI and VGA are nearly dead, they're getting phased out. We're in the arkward situation where support for HDMI is significantly better on TVs and entertainment devices, while DP wipes the floor with everything else on PCs. If you must standardise, use DP for PCs. If you decide to connect your console to your monitor (I don't judge!)

On the monitor side:

SST >>> MST. Its simpler, you get the full 60 hz refresh rate, and amusingly, its better supported by hardware in most cases. You'll need DP 1.1a or better but meh, as you'll see that's not hard

Use mini DP or DP in, not HDMI - the standard for HDMI on PCs is an older standard, monitors may support the same standard and will only do 30 hz. In fact, if you must standardise, DP first, and DP for your best displays.

If you're doing photo editing, getting a properly colour calibrated screen a good idea.

If you can daisy chain, it'll cut your refresh rate in half. Not too recommended.

On the computer side:

I've gotten 4K output on a 660. In some cases I've managed to game badly on 4K, and the output wasn't the bottleneck, the ability to render the game was. I believe the 650 is the minimum GPU from nvidia for 4K (they have a handy list here) and anything better than that should handle it fine. 4th and 5th gen (and better) Intel video should be able to handle at least one 4K display. I can't find an equivilent chart or resource for AMD.

Something worth considering is the modern UHD display is only 8 megapixels. While its challenging to render graphics, and you might need power to render video, it should probably be fairly simple to build a system that can handle photo editing

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