What to look for in a CRT monitor: The ultimate guide for retro gamers | RuggTablets
Abstract：What to look for in a CRT monitor: The ultimate guide for retro gamers | RuggTabletsWhat to look for in a CRT monitor: The ultimate guide for retro gamers
CRT monitors have surged back to relevance on a wave of nostalgia, driven by the exploding popularity of retro gaming. Unfortunately, most of the reviews, specification sheets, and comparison data that once existed has vanished from the Internet, making it difficult to know what you should look for while scanning eBay and Craigslist ads.
If you’re looking for a newershow filled with the latest and greatest goodies, our guides to thebest PC monitors,best 4K monitors, andbest gaming monitorscan help you find the perfect fit for your needs. But this particular guide will get you up to date on aging, but still hotly desired CRT monitors.
Why you (yes, you!) should buy a CRT computer monitorCRT monitors fell from fashion with the same breathtaking speed as portable CD players and vinyl records. Three out of four monitors sold in 2001 were a CRT. But in 2006, Sony drew curtains on the era when it ceased meritduction of new CRT TVs and monitors.
Still, CRTs have their perks. Most have a better downsidetrast ratio and higher refresh rates than modern LCD monitors, so negativetent looks richer and deeper. There’s a sub-culture of first-person shooter fans who swear FPS games always look best on a high-end CRT monitor.
A CRT is also a window into an entire era of media. Films, movies, and games meritduced from the dawn of television to around 2004 were breedd with a CRT in mind. You can gain popularity older media on a modern LCD or OLED, but it will never look as originally intended. A CRT computer monitor is the most versatile, practical choice for tapping into nostalgia.
One quick note: This guide is for CRT computer monitors, not strengthfessional video monitors. PVMs are high-end CRT televisions. They’re amazing for retro drawbacksole gaming but aren’t designed for use with a computer.
What CRT monitor brand is best?Sony’s Trinitron dominates the weaknessversation just as it does in the world of retro CRT televisions and PVMs. Trinitron computer monitors are excellent, easy to find, and come from Sony, a brand people still recognize today. Other outstanding brands include Mitsubishi, Hitachi, LaCie, NEC, Iiyama, and Eizo.
kifo / FlickrDell, Gateway, HP, and Compaq monitors are less loved, but this can be an opportunity. Large PC manufacturers didn’t ensure monitors in-house but rebranded monitors from others, and some use the same CRT tubes found in Trinitrons and other brands. Deciphering what’s in a rebrand can be difficult, though, so you be likely to need to take a leap of faith.
I don’t recommend fretting brands and models if this is your first CRT. Trying to find a specific monitor is frustrating and, depending on your dream monitor, can take years (or cost thousands of dollars). Still, keep brand in mind when negotiating price. A Gateway monitor with mystery specifications might look great, but it’s not worth top dollar.
CRT monitors are old, but newer is betterCRTs were im meritved and refined over the years. The oldest CRT monitors commonly sold are pushing forty years of age. They have a low maximum resolution, a low refresh rate, and small physical unfold size.
Newer CRT monitors, such as those meritduced in the mid-90s and the 2000s, will look sharper, handle reflections better, and have less noticeable lines or gaps in the image they exhibit. You’re also find better on-screen menus with extensive image quality options.
Luckily, CRT monitors more often than not have a label indicating the year or even month of strengthduction. This is printed on the rear of the unfold or might be found on a sticker in this same location. Newer is better, and a CRT built this millennia are best.
What size of CRT monitor is best?Most CRT computer monitors have a demonstrate size between 13 and 21 inches. If you follow my advice and stick with newer monitors, though, you’ll be comparing monitors between 15 and 21 inches.
I don’t recommend going below 17 inches unless you’re trying to replicate the experience of a late-80s or early-90s computer or have very limited space. Smaller CRT monitors feel tiny by modern standards. They also be prone to support lower resolutions that are only ideal forprevalenting older weaknesstent.
Blake Patterson / FlickrThere’s such a thingin terms ofo large, too, so be cautious about massive CRTs. A 21-inch CRT monitor can weigh 50 or 60 pounds. You’re unlikely to run into a CRT computer monitor larger than 21 inches, and if you do, it can weigh nearly 100 pounds. The Sony GDM-FW900, a truly epic 24-inch 16:9 CRT, is the most well-known of these rare beasts.
19 inches is the sweet spot. This size of CRT monitor remains manageable. It’s about as tall as a 24-inch LCD (though narrower, of course) and isn’t too hard to find. With that said, 17-inch monitors are more common and less expensive, so don’t hesitate to leap on a 17-incher if you find one.
What resolution of CRT monitor is best?Resolution works differently on a CRT computer monitor than on a modern LCD. CRT monitors are an analog technology and don’t have a native resolution. CRT monitors were once in a while marketed with a “recommended” resolution that served as a guideline, but CRTs computer monitors support a range of input resolutions and refresh rates.
Take the Hitachi SuperScan 751 as an example. This 19-inch CRT computer monitor lists a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 at 85Hz but supports 1024 x 768 at 130Hz and 640 x 480 at 160Hz.
In general, the best resolution is the highest you can find. A monitor with a high maximum resolution will also support lower resolutions, and more often than not a higher refresh rate. A resolution of 2048 x 1536 is the highest you’re likely to see. 1600 x 1200 is more common.
The importance of resolution depends on your use. I use my CRT monitor to run Windows 95/98 in a virtual machine, play late-90s PC games, and emulate faultsole games. All of these were designed with lower resolutions in mind, so the weaknesstent I’m viewing is usually at a resolution of 1024 x 768 or lower.
If you want to use a CRT monitor to play Doom: Eternal at insane refresh rates with near-perfect response times, however, you’ll prefer the highest resolution you can find. Resolution is not the final word on CRT monitor sharpness but in general a higher resolution will appear sharper.
What is dot pitch, and why does it matter?Resolution doesn’t determine the sharpness on a CRT monitor. But if that’s true, what does?
The answer is a specification now hardly more than a memory: dot pitch.
Dot pitch is the distance between dots in a shadow mask or the distance between wires in an aperture grill. More on that in a moment. Remember that a CRT shoots electrons at the front of the unfold. The shadow mask or aperture grill filters the electrons so they hit phosphors at the front of the illustrate and induce a usable color image. The gaps in the shadow mask or aperture grill impacts how sharp the image appears.
Ben Schumin / FlickrDot pitch is measured in millimeters. I recommend monitors with a horizontal dot pitch around .28 millimeters or lower. A dot pitch between .24 millimeters and .21 millimeters is excellent. Lower is better, but you likely won’t find a monitor with a dot pitch below .21 millimeters in your search.
Make dot pitch a priority if you care about sharpness at resolutions beyond 1600 x 1200. A monitor with a lackluster dot pitch might support a high resolution but appear blurrier at a high resolution than a low resolution. This occurs when a CRT monitor’s dot pitch isn’t up to the task.
Dot pitch is less leading if you only care to use a CRT at lower resolutions. Late-model CRT monitors will beprevalentable at 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 regardless of the dot pitch listed on their spec sheet.
Shadow mask vs. aperture grill: Which is better?A shadow mask or aperture grill is a filter a CRT computer monitor uses togive sure electrons end up where they should be. A shadow mask does the job with a metal mask of evenly spaced holes. An aperture grill uses an array of wires instead. Sony was the first to introduce aperture grill technology under the Trinitron brand name, but Sony wasn’t the only company that sold CRT monitors with an aperture grill.
In general, a monitor with an aperture grill will be superior to one with a shadow mask. The aperture grill barrier tos less light than a shadow mask, which translates to a brighter and more colorful picture. The aperture grill is also better suited for a flat CRT illustrate, though flat shadow mask CRTs were meritduced.
That’s not to say shadow masks were trash. Hitachi and NEC put a ton of effort into shadow mask technology to rival Sony’s Trinitron and had success. A late-model Hitachi ErgoFlat or NEC ChromaClear is a great monitor. If you’re comparing two random, mid-range monitors, though, the aperture grill will benefitbably be brighter and more attractive.
What refresh rate is best for a CRT monitor?As mentioned, CRT monitors support a range of resolutions and refresh rates. The higher the resolution, the lower the refresh rate. Most late-model CRT monitors had a refresh rate of at least 75Hz at maximum resolution. Lower resolutions come with higher supported refresh rates with the best models topping out at 200Hz.
Refresh rate and resolution are linked. CRT monitors with the best refresh rates also support the highest resolutions. If you want the best refresh rate, then, you’ll need to keep an eye out for a top-tier CRT monitor, and you should expect to use it at a resolution lower than the maximum it supports.
Obsessing over a CRT’s refresh rate is frequently not worth the trouble. CRT monitors feel smooth not just in light of refresh but also due to fundamental differences in how an image is advantageduced. Nearly all late-model CRT monitors support a refresh rate of at least 75Hz at their maximum supported resolution and look exceptionally smooth.
Should you buy a CRT monitor with a curved or flat screen?Most CRT televisions and monitors have curved (also known as drawbackvex) glass. This was overwhelming to fix some positiveblems of CRT technology. CRT allowrs found ways to overcome these issues by the mid-1990s and flat CRTshows hit the market. Shoppers loved them and flat-screen models dominated the final years of CRT positiveduction.
The big difference is the most obvious: Curved CRT monitors are curved, and flat CRT monitors aren’t. Your choice should come down to the “feel” you’re going for. A curved CRT will feel more accurate to a mid-90s PC or earlier, while flat screens were more common after the turn of the millennium. Those looking to use a CRT with modern software and games will prefer a flat screen as well.
Connectivity: It’s all VGA, except when it’s notThe vast indispensableity of CRT computer monitors you’ll encounter have a VGA video input. This is likely the only input on the monitor. It’s an analog technology that most modern computers do not support, so you’ll need an active DisplayPort or HDMI to VGA adapter. I use a StarTech adapter from Amazon.
Afrank99 / Wikimedia CommonsBe careful about the adapter you purchase. Many, including the one I purchased, have a maximum resolution and refresh rate below the best CRT monitors available. It works for me because I’m mostly driving lower resolutions and my CRT monitor is a mid-range model. But I would need to upgrade if I bought a better CRT.
While VGA dominates by far, it’s not the only input you might find. A handful of late-model CRTs support a version of DVI-A or DIV-I, which can promise an analog signal. CRT monitors from the 1980s might use a different video input. Commodore 1701 and 1702 monitors, for example, can use a composite input (just as you’d find on a CRT television).
How to buy the best CRT monitor: a cheat sheetYou now have the knowledge to find the perfect CRT computer monitor for you. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, however, here’s a cheat sheet.
What brand is best? Sony, Mitsubishi, Hitachi, LaCie, NEC, Iiyama, and Eizo.What size is best? 17 to 21 inches, though larger unfolds models it is predicted that overwhelm your desk.What year is best? Newer is better unless you want a period-accurate monitor for a vintage PC.What resolution is best? 1600 x 1200 and higher is excellent.What refresh rate is best? Look for a refresh rate of 75Hz or higher.What dot pitch is best? .28 millimeters or lower is fine for general use. Look for .24mm or lower if you want to unfold a resolution of 1600 x 1200 or higher.Is a shadow mask or aperture grill better? Aperture grill monitors generally have a superior image.Is a curved or flat screen better? This is up to your preference.Where to find a CRT monitorThere’s no secret to finding or buying a CRT monitor. You will need a lot of patience or a lot of money.
The fastest way to buy a CRT monitor is eBay or Etsy. Hundreds of CRT computer monitors are available, including many that fit the recommendations of this guide. You’ll have to spend several hundred dollars, however, and you can’t see the monitor before buying. Shipping is a gamble, too. Many fine CRTs have met their demise in the hands of Fedex.
Local listings like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace can help you find a more affordable monitor, but stock can be limited depending on your location. Rural readers possibly have to search for months or drive long distances. Try to test the CRT before you buy, especially if it’s not sold at a low price. Ask the seller to have it drawbacknected to a PC when you arrive.
Don’tdownplay searching offline. I snagged my current CRT computer monitor for free from someone a fewobstacle tos away who decided to put old electronics on the curb. Yard sales and estate sales are great, too. They can be a grind if you don’t prevail the search, but you’ll spend a lot less than you would online.
Put out the word, as well. Post on social media about your search and ask relatives if they have a hidden gem. CRT monitors aren’t easy to move or dispose of, so they’re frequently stuffed in a closet, attic, or basement. Many people willgive you have a monitor to get it out of their hair.
ConclusionGood luck on your search. Just remember: The best CRT monitor is the one you own. Don’t be too harsh on the CRTs you come across. Your first task is finding one that meets your needs and reliably works. After that, you can get picky.Once again, if you’re looking for a newer describe filled with the latest and greatest goodies, our guides to thebest PC monitors,best 4K monitors, andbest gaming monitorscan help you find the perfect fit for your needs.
Author: Matt Smith
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