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CRT v. LCD: How to Win an Argument

The debate rages on, but can you keep up? With our analysis of both technologies, the answer is yes.

LCD: Functionality, or form?

  1. Aesthetics - Clearly, the LCD wins the beauty contest. CRTs are big and blocky, while LCDs are slim and trim.
  2. Lighter - CRTs are usually around 3-4 times heavier than a LCD of equivalent screen size.
  3. Pixels - Because the LCD pixels are fixed in place, they are better aligned, and magnetic fields or interference will not distort your picture.
  4. Power - LCDs do conserve some energy, particularly in comparison with older CRTs.
  5. Reflectiveness - LCDs are much less prone to glare, and are brighter, so are much better suited for use in bright rooms.
  6. Refresh Rate - Although a correctly calibrated CRT can display a quite sufficient refresh rate, LCDs do not have to be set up, as the pixels stay on continuously instead of being refreshed. This reduces eyestrain, which can lead to headaches in some people.
  7. Smaller - An LCD can free up a lot of desk space, and their smaller profile allows you to place them in more positions.

CRT: Gaming goodness!

  1. Color - A CRT can display something like a grayscale gradient much better, and it can display black as dark as the monitor is when it is off. LCDs have a backlight that cannot be turned off (at least if you want to be able to see anything!), so they cannot display black, only dark grey.
  2. Color Accuracy - If you do serious video or image editing, for example, you require excellent color accuracy, and CRTs are much better at displaying the true color of an image. LCDs might oversaturate the color, and although it may look good, it is inaccurate and not suitable for demanding work.
  3. Pixels - Because CRTs do not have physical pixels, the pixels all work. In a LCD, it is common to have several dead pixels even in a new monitor, and few or no companies offer refunds unless there are a number of dead pixels.
  4. Price - A good quality 19 inch CRT is likely to cost about half the damage of a 17 inch LCD. Any amount of money you save in power consumption is more than compensated for here, as it will take many years of constant use to pay off the initial difference in cost.
  5. Ghosting - If you scroll quickly or turn rapidly you might see dramatic blurring or streaking on your monitor. In both RTS and FPS games, this is a serious drawback. While CRTs have always been king in this category, LCDs have finally caught up, with 8ms LCDs finally eliminating blur. Only some LCDs eliminate blur, however, while all CRTs are free from this. And, as you might expect, the fastest LCDs are very expensive.
  6. Versatility
    1. CRTs can display at any supported resolution without loss of picture quality, while LCDs are only good at a single resolution. This means that if you have a top-of-the-line videocard, you cannot fully utilize your card's capability.
    2. Also, if you have an old videocard and want to lower resolution for a better framerate, you cannot do so without severely degrading the picture quality.
  7. Viewing Angle - CRTs look far better if viewed at an angle, while LCDs look washed out or distorted when you view at an angle.

There are plenty of benefits to both technologies, and what you should get depends on what you use your monitor for. If you do office work, a lot of reading, web browsing, or other non-demanding work, you should definitely get an LCD if you can afford it.

However, if you are a gamer or a graphic designer, you definitely need the accuracy of a CRT. LCDs today still cannot match a CRT for response time or color accuracy.

If you can afford it, I strongly recommend a dual monitor solution. Buying a CRT for games and editing, and a LCD for office work and surfing, gives you the best of both worlds. There is also a definite coolness factor with a dual monitor setup, if that kind of thing gets you off. Many modern graphics cards support dual monitors, and it is easy to set up.

Whatever you choose, you'll know you have plenty of reasons why your setup works for you - don't let anyone convince you either one is always better, because it just isn't true.