The Best Monitor for Programming: A Cheap 40″ 4K TV

11-27 08:14

I used to have a 28″ 4K monitor, but everything was too small and I hated it and never used it. Recently I picked up a 40″ 4K TV, the Sceptre U415CV-UM, for under $300 and, with a few minutes of work, some adapters, and a pair of yoga blocks, it works great with both my laptop and my Hackintosh . This is truly an awesome setup and it costs less than my previous, smaller monitor. Weird huh?

For computer programming, you need this kind of space. There are lots of code files to work with at once, reference material and how-to’s to look up on Stack Overflow, a task list, designs, etc…

On a laptop screen or normal-sized desktop monitor, I end up putting these different windows on different macOS spaces , but then half the time I swipe the wrong direction to switch spaces and end up going to the wrong space. By the time I get to the correct space my short-term memory is blown and I’ve forgotten what I was doing.


With a big 4K TV as your monitor, you can just put everything in one space. This is weirdly affordable if you just get a 40 inch 4K TV to use as a monitor. I have no idea why they’re so much cheaper than normal computer monitors, but they are. I love hacks like this. It feels like cheating.

HDMI Connection

My Hackintosh has an Nvidia 970 graphics card with 1 HDMI port and 1 DisplayPort. The Sceptre monitor just has HDMI ports, and since my Rift is using the HDMI port, I got a Club3D DisplayPort to HDMI active adapter . “Active” means the adapter has circuitry that converts between the two port formats—it’s more than just wiring that converts between the different kinds of plugs on each end.

On my Hackintosh with High Sierra, this would do 4K resolution (3840×2160 pixels), but only at 30Hz. You’ll notice the difference between 30Hz and 60Hz—you definitely want 60. To get 60Hz, I had to install SwitchResX , and create a custom resolution (screenshots below).

For my MacBook Pro with USB-C, I got this USB-C to HDMI active adapter . When my laptop was running Sierra (macOS 10.12) it would do 4K at 60Hz. Unfortunately when I upgraded to High Sierra it quit doing 60Hz. I tried the Club 3D USB-C to HDMI adapter , thinking a pricier adapter might work better, but it looked like the exact same device, just rebranded, and performed the same as far as I could tell.

I probably just need to install SwitchResX on this one too, but since the monitor connects to my Hackintosh I mostly don’t use it with my laptop. Just with my work laptop which is still on Sierra, so it still does 4K@60Hz.

With this adapter setup, the monitor does Chroma 4:4:4. See Sceptre’s answer. I took a photo of this Sceptre monitor displaying the Chroma 4:4:4 test image from . It’s a high-res picture so view the full size image to see all the pixels and ensure it’s not aliasing.

Monitor Settings

At this point, at least with my Sceptre, the display looks like shit and you wonder why you didn’t just spend a little more and get a real computer monitor. All the text looks grainy.

The problem is that the display is tuned for something other that desktop work. You need to turn the sharpness setting all the way to 0. That disables whatever weird post-processing the display was doing, and you end up with nice-looking text.

Physical Arrangement

You need to elevate this beast vertically otherwise you’ll be craning your neck down to look at it. I looked around my room for something decent to raise it with and found yoga blocks. You can probably come up with something better, but these work fine for me.

This leaves a nice open space beneath the monitor to store other stuff.


Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means Amazon will pay me a little if you buy something from these links. It doesn’t cost you anything. Win-win. All the products I linked to are products I’ve actually used.

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