Age :45
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Activity killed the cat?
Hardware  /  9 Dec 2008, 21:39
TFT vs CRT ?
The every day question everyone wants an answer but nothing conclusive has been ever said. I got myself another TFT today so let's see what I have to say about these damn TFTs in overall, compared to CRT of course.

NOTE: This article updates also The Theory of Smooth QW article, so check it out for TFT related fps settings.
The contenders:

1) Viewsonic P227F 21" 2048*1536 perfect flat

- one of the best and latest 21" monitors ever made
- very sharp image and good colors, outclasses midclass trinitrons and diamondtrons
- 2048*1536 75Hz , 1920*1440 85Hz , 1600*1200 100Hz , 1360*768 150Hz (qw!)
- reviewed on behardware

2) NEC 20WGX2 20" AS-IPS 1680*1050 widescreen

- an AS-IPS TFT panel capable of producing astonishing image quality
- true 8-bit per channel colors
- 6ms gtg, 12 typical response time
- glossy screen that enhances colors greatly (and has mirror effect of course)
- costs a shitload of money, is discontinued but was marketed for multimedia applications like games and videos
- review 1 and review 2

3) BenQ G2400WD TN 1920*1200 widescreen

- a TN TFT panel
- 6-bit+Hi-FRC, 16.7M colors
- 2ms gtg, 5ms typical response time (overdrive can be disabled)
- non-glossy anti-reflective surface
- as cheap as they come, I got mine with 204 euros (250 euros including taxes)
- LCD BUYER'S GUIDE has information about this monitor over at anandtech forums

Ok now that the highlights are somewhat covered (you can read more over at the URLs I provided) I can start telling stories about the monitors. I've been using photoshop for over 10 years now so I can talk a little about the image quality and color reproduction, also I can tell how I feel when playing QW or other games with these monitors, I've done that "a bit longer" than used photoshop (I'm ashamed to admit that ).

So let's start with the CRT I have. It's truly the best CRT monitor I've ever owned, or actually laid my eyes into. The image at 1600*1200@100Hz is really sharp, not a single Trinitron or Diamondtron tube has ever come even close to this, and I can say that the 24" professional CRT on my former polytechnic's graphics lab had blurrier image even at lower resolution. Colors are pretty good and the shade separation is, let's say adequate since CRT monitors have problems differentiating close shades, even if they were pro-class. Overall, the image quality of this monitor is great among CRTs and that's it all.

How about gaming then? Well for being a CRT capable of really high refreshrates, this puppy shines with it's 0ms input lag (obviously on CRT) and most of the games at 1600*1200@100Hz look really good. I play QW at 1360*768@150Hz with this monitor and it's really nice, there's enough resolution to make things look sharp and I can still have that magical 150Hz refreshrate.

However, this is where the catch kicks in. In my opinion all of the CRTs has one particular flaw that I really hate, and it's their gamma/contrast. If I adjust my CRT so that the screen remains black in the dark room when displaying black image, there isn't enough gamma in the games, so I have to add some more from in-game menus if it's possible. This can make things look like shit, but is pretty manageable. This also affects desktop brightness and photoshop. So increasing the brightness from the monitor is required to a certain level, and it's not really something I desire since it makes things look a bit greyish. Luckily P227f has a bit better than average contrast and very good adjustments overall so it makes things easier.

Let's continue with NEC 20WGX2 TFT. I got this one two and half years back since it had good reviews. It cost way too much back then but it is also very classy TFT. Response times are adequate or actually good for gaming, the image has some ghosting and blurring but nothing one can't handle. It almost matches 2ms GTG TN panels but I have to emphasize the word "almost". The image quality is really something out of this world: NEC uses glossy screen that makes colors really vivid and the image almost jumps to your face. Brightness must be toned down or otherwise you'll burn your retinae otherwise. There is no backlight leeding or dead/stuck pixels, and image is more or less uniform all over the screen. Viewing angles are good but I can't they'd be perfect, it won't happen with TFTs ever I guess.

How about gaming then? This AS-IPS panel can do only 60Hz properly so it kinda limits stuff, but nothing really serious. Games look really good, there is some blurring and little ghosting (like I already mentioned) but one can get used to it. Now comes the sad part - input lag. This particular TFT has ~1 frame average input lag (16ms) and ~2 frames in the worst case (32ms) and it can be felt pretty easily, especially on fast games like QW and CPMA and it's NOT a good thing. Slower games like UT2k4 and UT3 can be played with less "performance hit" than QW or CPMA and single player games are nice too, not to mention they look gorgeus.

So overall this is quite nice TFT, very expensive for 20" widescreen though and 1680*1050 resolution is on the low side for me. Only cons are probably that annoying input lag and someone might not like glossy screen since it can practically have your own face mirrored in the screen. Colors, gradients, black level, response time, they are all good, gaming is ok too if you don't play fast-paced games like QW and CPMA.

So, how about that BenQ G2400WD then? I didn't expect anything from this monitor, being the cheapest (204 euros) and having TN panel that is known to be the panel type that is the worst among TFT panels except on response times. But for my surprise TN panels have come a long way since the introduction. Colors are pretty good, not comparable to IPS panels of course but I have to say they are better than on my CRT. Also the backlight bleeding is very minimal or non-existent on this monitor, which I find odd since TNs are problematic considering that. There are no stuck or dead pixels on this screen, which is of course, another surprise for me since TNs tend to have these kind of problems unlike more costly IPS/VA panels. Viewing angles are weaker than they are on my NEC but that doesn't really bother me since I tend to look my monitor from infront of it. Overall, image quality of this monitor is really good, it can't compete with NEC but then again, it's not far from it either. Not bad I have to say.

As for gaming, this G2400WD has only 60Hz refreshrate working properly. So like with my NEC, at 75Hz every fifth screen update is disregarded making it effectively displaying only 60Hz with jerky images. The good thing is, this monitor has very little or no input lag (up to 3ms according to digitalversus) so playing QW and CPMA feels considerably better than it does on NEC. Other games work even better since they are not so dependant on the fps stuff as QW is. Also games look really good with this TFT if you think about image quality and blurring/ghosting is even less visible than it's on the NEC. Colors are not as vivid because of non-glossy screen but they still look good.

The only part remaining now is to compare the techniques a bit. What can CRT do better than TFT and where's TFT better than CRT?

* CRT image is not as sharp as TFT has, but TFTs will blur the image even if their response time was 0ms due to technical stuff, ghosting might not be there but blurring will always be.

* TFTs can and will have better contrast ratios, better colors, better shade separation/resolution and better brightness than CRTs depending on the panel type.

* CRTs high refreshrate makes them better for gaming. TFTs can do 60Hz or 75Hz at most these days and while there has been news/discussions about 100Hz or 120Hz TFTs, they are nowhere to be found. It depends on the user if 60Hz or 75Hz is enough for his/her needs or not.

* There are no geometric distortions on TFTs while CRTs can have those.

So that's it. Perhaps I forgot something, perhaps I didn't. Or perhaps I wrote something incorrectly or the way I didn't mean it, but I'm too lazy to read all this boring text again and correct it. Recommendations? Considering QW, if you can find that Viewsonic P227f somewhere, get it if your serious. If you're serious about QW then you shouldn't get either of these TFTs. If you just play games and don't really care, I think BenQ G2400WD is worth consideration due to it's great charasteristics for very low price among 24" monitors. Sure, you can find better ones but they cost considerably more.

If someone has something to ask, I can reply in comments.
2008-12-09, 23:41
nice read as always. it sums it up nice "details"
2008-12-10, 07:00
Wouldnt 154hz be slightly more responsive for qw or perhaps that is what you are using?

My Iiyama 454 pro 19" managed 154hz in 1024*768. Doesnt take as much desk space, but the picture isnt that sharp.

I've tried to put it on 640*480@231hz and it seems to work. Very smooth infact. But at that setting the picture sometimes 'breaks' and requires power off-on to correct it. Also low-res sucks a bit...
2008-12-10, 10:56
nice article once again renzo, but what about a new kind of technology for monitors.
I have heard that it will come out in the near future that will give us all the advantages of the both "monitor" worlds (tft & crt).
My question is, do you have any info of the new technology and/or what will it be like, better/worst than tft/crt?
Should the people comfortable with their monitors now wait for it or should they go ahead right now and buy one of your suggestions?
Just some lazy questions, I guess I could have myself but since your the monitor wiz I guess you have some information in you pocket already
2008-12-10, 10:57
ps. any difference if you use windows/osX/linux on these monitors?
(perhaps dumb question )
2008-12-10, 12:42
Wouldnt 154hz be slightly more responsive for qw or perhaps that is what you are using?

Perhaps, but the difference is so small that it doesn't matter, at all, at least to me it doesn't.

sassa wrote:
nice article once again renzo, but what about a new kind of technology for monitors.

You are talking about OLED displays I guess. I have too little information and absolutely no experience from those, so I rather not guess more than what's written in wikipedia. If things go as they should, this OLED technology should surpass both LCD and CRT technologies easily, having none of their weaknesses and all of their strengths, while doing it all even better.

ps. any difference if you use windows/osX/linux on these monitors?

Probably not.
2008-12-10, 14:45
right off the bat you have an awesome crt vs two mediocre lcds (one that is not 2ms and another that is a cheap 2ms)
2008-12-10, 17:16
You couldn't be more wrong.

Sure, the CRT is one of the best (I have had, it doesn't mean that it is the greatest of them all).

NEC 20wgx2, not being TN panel, instead an AS-IPS panel was one of the best buys of 2006 if you wanted a mixed bag with really good technics and gaming stuff, however the input lag is what makes it not so desireable for "serious gaming". Read the reviews and you'll understand.

BenQ on the other hand, has a bit worse image quality due to having TN panel instead of VA or IPS panel, can be ranked really high (again, check the anandtech LCD buyer's guide link I gave) and it's #2 on the "hardcore gaming" section. The lack of proper 75Hz refreshrate affects fastpaced games like QW but that is the only minus.

Saying "mediocre lcds" proves you have very little knowledge of TFTs in overall, and you think 2ms gtg is some magical thing (regardless of the panel type) and 75Hz refreshrate matters more than anything else. Spend some time reading anandtech LCD buyer's guide, and wsgfwiki AND actually using few TFTs (not just one 2ms gtg TN panel).
2008-12-10, 19:53
"If things go as they should, this OLED technology should surpass both LCD and CRT technologies easily, having none of their weaknesses and all of their strengths, while doing it all even better."

Hmm, but doesn't DVI itself set the 60hz (or 75hz on smaller resolutions) limit? I think I read somewhere that it's bandwidth is not sufficient for higher rates?
2008-12-10, 21:18
DVI-D (digital) has bandwidth limitations, yes. It's limited to 3.96 Gbit/s or 7.92 Gbit/s using single/dual link. It means max resolution using dual-link is 2560*1600*32bits at 60Hz (7,86Gbps).

Hopefully OLEDs use at least HDMI 1.3 since if offers 10.2 Gbps bandwidth using single link mode. In case HDMI can use dual-linking the refreshrate gap increases. Of course I have no real information about this other than that single link bandwith that can be found from hdmi site.
2008-12-10, 21:39
Yeah you can use dual linking, I just hope that the monitor manufacturers take that into account and don't desing the device so that it's limited to single link capacity internally.

In any case, zero delay high refresh rate flats would be great news for gamers.
2008-12-10, 22:41
There's some shit to read over at digitalversus about 120Hz TFT screens. Perhaps worth checking if anyone is interested.
2008-12-10, 22:58
Yeah but I guess that's about generated frames, not real 120Hz. Wouldn't be surprised if that kind of processing actually increases delay, but I guess I should read that instead of guessing.
2008-12-13, 04:01
95% of what you wrote was white noise for me, but thumbs up for the impressive initiative on writing a full-blown geek-novel!
2008-12-13, 12:57
Not really, I wanted to go a bit more into detail but I noticed how long that article was already so I decided not to, instead giving few URLs to reviews and to that LCD buyer's guide thread since it's really good and has all the technical shit about panel types and so on.

Also, as it appears I just gave some info about all the monitors, and didn't reply even the original question. The truth is, I can't really answer it. I can say QW is not good with 60Hz TFT but I don't think I'd want to use CRT in any other game compared to my 24" BenQ.
2008-12-19, 16:59
I will update this info to the The Theory of Smooth QW blog and a bit more, but I found out that pretty good (or actually the best) setting for 60Hz TFT is physfps 75 and maxfps 300. Read more info from the previous blog.
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