Help Me, Laptop: What's the Best Laptop for 5K Monitors?

4K monitors are just now catching on, but that hasn't stopped manufacturers from enticing us with 5K and even 8K displays. But before you splurge on the super-high-resolution monitor, you'll want to make sure your laptop can drive one. After all, 5K monitors have nearly twice as many pixels as 4K displays.

One Laptop Mag reader is having difficulty finding a machine that can connect to a 5K display at 60 frames per second, so he DM'd us on Twitter looking for some help.

"I’d like your advice on a great desktop-replacement windows laptop. It should ideally drive 5k displays at 60 fps, ideally 15 inch, 16GB memory or upgradeable to 16GB, 512GB storage or upgradeable to 512 GB, at most 2.2kg weight, budget: $2500... Can you think of any that meet this requirement?"

Since our reader didn't provide specifics on what 5K monitor they own, we'll go under the assumption that it has the latest inputs. Early 5K monitors, like the Dell UP2715K, required two DisplayPort 1.2 connections.   

Getting back to our reader's predicament, there is good news and bad news. We'll start with the good: New 5K monitors, like Dell's insane UltraSharp U4919DW (5120 x 1440), connect to a laptop via USB-C (or Thunderbolt 3), HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3 (or newer), and almost every modern premium laptop has at least one of those ports.

Our favorite laptop that falls within our reader's parameters is the Dell XPS 15, a compact workhorse with a gorgeous display, long battery life and an attractive design. For $1,650, you can buy the XPS 15 with a Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is another excellent alternative, thanks to its comfortable keyboards, sophisticated design and stunning 4K display.You could also purchase the excellent 15-inch MacBook Pro, which would give you the option to buy LG's UltraFine 5K Display, one of the few available 5K monitors available today. Importantly, these machines have Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI ports.

But that brings us to the bad news: Gaming on a 5K monitor at 60 fps requires a ton of horsepower. A representative at Nvidia tells us that no single desktop GPU is capable of doing so. If displaying content at 60Hz is the goal, then the latest GeForce GTX or RTX GPUs will do the trick. However, if our reader wants to play games in 5K at 60 fps, I'm afraid they're out of luck.

Credit: Laptop Mag

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.