CRT vs. LCD Monitors

What's the difference between CRT and LCD computer screens?

Since the production of cathode ray tubes has essentially halted due to the cost and environmental concerns, CRT-based monitors are considered an outdated technology. All laptops and most desktop computer systems sold today come with LCD monitors. However, there are a few reasons why you might still prefer CRT over LCD displays.

CRT vs. LCD monitor

Overall Findings

CRT Monitors
  • Greater color clarity and depth.

  • Faster response time.

  • Very large and heavy.

LCD Monitors
  • Smaller and lighter.

  • Energy efficient.

  • Blurry images outside the native resolution.

While CRT monitors provide better color clarity and depth, the fact that manufacturers rarely make them anymore makes CRTs an unwise choice. LCD monitors are the current standard with several options. LCD monitors are smaller in size and easier to handle. Plus, you can buy LCD monitors in a variety of sizes, so customizing your desktop without all the clutter is easy.

CRT Computer Monitors Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • Multisync capable.

  • High refresh rates.

  • Can be found used for very cheap.

Disadvantages
  • Uses large amounts of energy.

  • Generates excess heat.

  • Glare from the screen.

The primary advantage that CRT monitors hold over LCDs is color rendering. The contrast ratios and depths of colors displayed on CRT monitors are better than what an LCD can render. For this reason, some graphic designers use expensive and large CRT monitors for their work. On the downside, the color quality degrades over time as the phosphors in the tube break down.

Another advantage that CRT monitors hold over LCD screens is the ability to easily scale to various resolutions. By adjusting the electron beam in the tube, the screen can be adjusted downward to lower resolutions while keeping the picture clarity intact. This capability is known as multisync.

The biggest disadvantage of CRT monitors is the size and weight of the tubes. An equivalently sized LCD monitor can be 80% smaller in total mass. The larger the screen, the bigger the size difference. CRT monitors also consume more energy and generate more heat than LCD monitors.

For the most vibrant and rich colors, CRTs are hard to beat if you have the desk space and don't mind the excessive weight. However, with CRTs becoming a thing of the past, you may have to revisit the LCD monitor.

LCD Computer Monitors Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • Causes less eye fatigue.

  • Larger viewable area.

  • Easier to transport.

  • More environmentally friendly.

Disadvantages
  • Motion blur on fast-moving images.

  • Reduced color clarity.

  • Dead pixels can occur.

The biggest advantage of LCD monitors is the size and weight. LCD screens also tend to produce less eye fatigue. The constant light barrage and scan lines of a CRT tube can cause strain on heavy computer users. The lower intensity of the LCD monitors coupled with the constant screen display of pixels being on or off is easier on the eyes. That said, some people have issues with the fluorescent backlights used in some LCD displays.

The most notable disadvantage to LCD screens is the fixed or native resolution. An LCD screen can only display the number of pixels in its matrix. Therefore, it can display a lower resolution in one of two ways: using only a fraction of the total pixels on the display, or through extrapolation. Extrapolation blends multiple pixels together to simulate a single smaller pixel, which often leads to a blurry or fuzzy picture.

For those who are on a computer for hours, an LCD can be an enemy. With the tendency to cause eye fatigue, computer users must be aware of how long they stare at an LCD monitor. While LCD technology is continually improving, using techniques to limit the amount of time you look at a screen alleviates some of that fatigue.

Final Verdict: LCD Monitors for Modern Computing

Significant improvements have been made to LCD monitors over the years. Still, CRT monitors provide greater color clarity, faster response times, and wider flexibility for video playback in various resolutions. Nonetheless, LCDs will remain the standard since these monitors are easier to manufacture and transport. Most users find LCD displays to be perfectly suitable, so CRT monitors are only necessary for those interested in digital art and graphic design.