FYI: LCD vs CRT monitors

I see a lot of postings asking how LCD monitors stack up against CRTs. At work I have a two monitor setup one 19” HP LCD (a TN) and an old NEC 21” CRT. At home I have a 24” Dell 2405 (mva) and a 26” Planar(IPS). Here is a short summary of the pros and cons of CRTs and LCDs.



Better color differentiation, some light shades of gray that show up as white on LCDs show true on a CRT. CRTs also have deeper blacks.

Better in motion, when moving text around quickly on a CRT you can read it, this is not true of an LCD

More resolution choices, a CRT isn't at stuck to native resolution.

CRTs have very low latency. This means when the graphics cards tells it to display an image that image gets to the monitor very quickly. It's not instant as some people claim as it's tied to the refresh rate, but it is two to eight times faster than an LCD (depending on the LCD and the refresh rate).

Stereo 3D. CRTs can work with shutter glasses to give you a true 3d image, LCDs can not.


CRTs are very slightly fuzzy because their phosphors don't line up perfectly with the pixels they are trying to represent. CRTs can also jitter very fine text when the video signal from the card is near the maximum frequency the monitor can accept; this is particularly true at high refresh rates.

All CRTs flicker to some extent and are harder on the eyes then LCDs

Most CRTs start to hum or whine as they get old.



Crisp still images. When running an LCD at it's native resolution it looks perfectly sharp.

Stable images. LCDs do not flicker at all. They also never jitter and it is much easier to read text on one for long periods of time than it is on a CRT.

Size. A 20” LCD is really 20”. A 20” CRT is really only about 18”.

LCDs take up a lot less desk space than a CRT.

Text can be rendered using “Clear type” on an LCD effectively doubling the horizontal resolution.


Colors often don't render true on an LCD, a very light gray can look white. This is more true of Cheap TN panels than MVA or IPS

Muddy motion. Objects in motion look very slightly muddy on an LCD is directly effected by the response time. The higher the response time the muddier the image.

LCDs have one true native resolution, running on anything else will make the image fuzzier and can increase the monitors latency.

Viewing angle. Particularly on cheap LCDs, as you look at the screen from the side the image loses contrast.
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  1. I agree with almost every point, with the notable exception of fuzziness. I find a Sony Trinitron to have much clearer picture than any LCD I have seen.
  2. It is possible for a Triniton to be virtually as clear as an lcd because its phosphors are arranged squarely in stripes whereas a standard CRT uses a hex pattern. It's even possible for a Trinitron to use Clear type. For this to happen the monitor's resolution has to line up with the phosphors exactly.

    The clearest CRT I've ever used had a DVI interface and did indeed look as clear as an LCD, however this interface didn't support higher refresh rates, maybe 70hz max.

    The clearest possible LCD screen is a 30 inch (Highest DPI) IPS screen running through DVI at 60hz on its native resolution.

    I am partial to LCDs but consider them a stop gap on the way to OLED.
  3. Yeah, Trinitrons are much superior to shadow mask CRTs, even though there were some excellent Panasonics back in the day. They still were a step lower than Trinitrons/Diamondtrons.

    On the DVI note, I didn't notice any difference between that and D-Sub and hence use D-Sub on my Philips LCD in order to have the pseudo-75Hz refresh rate for gaming. Do you think I should re-run the comparisson?
  4. If you are going for pure static quality I'd go for DVI and 60hz. To my knowledge going above 60hz on an LCD doesn't cause it to refresh any faster it's just the signal rate and anything above 60hz is discarded.

    I'd definitely go for DVI on an LCD. Running D-Sub is similar(though not nearly as bad) to running it out of its native res, you might see this increase latency if the LCD has to process the analog signal (d-sub) into a digital one before it can be displayed.

    I think shadow mask CRTs have more detail (lower dot pitch) than aperture grill (Trinitron). But an aperture grill CRT's phosphors line up better with the way the pixels are drawn.

    Almost every display technology has it's own unique advantages and disadvantages. For a lot of visual applications it makes sense to have displays of different types so you can compare the results on each one.
  5. Dot pitch is supposed to be measured diagonally. When measured like that (i.e. properly), apperture grill monitors had dot pitch of 0.25 - 0.22 depending on the model. Shadow mask ones had 0.28 - 0.26. The 0.20 that appeared on some "fact" sheets of shadow mask monitors was the dot pitch measured horizontally instead of diagonally. In essence, it was a marketing trick, or a scum much like the BTB and GTG response times of LCDs; put it as you may. Thus Trinitrons / Diamondtrons had better clarity than shadow masks. On the other hand you had to put up with those fine black lines (the wires that supported the grille) but you got used to them quite quickly.

    I am using the monitor for both static images (i.e. web browsing) but for gaming as well. In both cases the result was simiral between D-Sub and DVI. I guess it has also got to do with the specific monitor. I am tempted though to revert to DVI for a while and see how it measures up once again.
  6. Ever try a BNC cable for your CRT? It's a little clearer than a Dsub
  7. I am afraid I have not. I am mostly using TFTs though now as my Trinitrons have starting dying on me and CRTs are an extinct species. The only CRT I still use is an 8 year old 17'' Sony G200 that runs at 1024x768@100Hz and shames all LCDs I have ever seen. The G200 has the D-Sub cable coming out of the casing and thus cannot be changed, at least not without "operating" on it. Then again it has another input for a 2nd PC, I don't know if it can be done through that.
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