Why is a 4K monitor better than a Full HD monitor for gaming with RetroArch?

The following message keeps repeating itself everywhere: in order to play retro games correctly, it is necessary to have a monitor or a CRT screen, that is, the tube ones that were seen in houses. However, this is not necessary thanks to the filters to emulate the behavior of these screens, as is the case of the CRT Royalea plug-in for RetroArch that makes use of 4K monitors and that we recommend you use.

There is nothing more elitist than the retro purists in terms of games, they are still the equivalent of the vinyl lover, who tells you that the sound of vinyl was purer. However, they are right as far as televisions are concerned. This has led to the development of solutions to be able to recover the Look and Feel of tube TVs on current screens.

The games of yesteryear were not designed for LCD screens

We must bear in mind that tube screens do not understand the concept of pixels, but that the electron beam is responsible for drawing a line at full speed and the color changes are due to voltage variations. However, the transition between colors ends up generating a series of colors that are not seen when we transmit the same image on a CRT. What’s more, the creators of old video games used this particularity to their advantage, as can be seen with the example below these lines.

The image in both cases is the same; However, in the CRT it seems that there are more pixels than there really are, but it is still a side effect of how these types of monitors and televisions worked. That is, it is the classic failure turned into something positive after being used positively. Would it be possible to imitate this effect? Well yes, we only need to represent each color variation as a pixel and know how they would be represented in order to emulate it. Which leads us to the fact that we need to work with a higher resolution than the original system in order to represent these changes more accurately.

CRT Royale, to emulate the behavior of a CRT on an LCD

The direct answer is no, but what we can do is that the image you receive from the system allows us to get closer to how it works by modifying the final image. This is achieved through a series of computer shaders that take the final frame generated by the graphics card and through a series of changes generate an image that, seen from an OLED or LCD monitor, appears to be transmitted on a conventional television through a analog video signal, and even with the differences between the use of composite, RGB and other video systems used at the time.

A clear example is CRT-Royale, a plug-in that is part of RetroArch and that, among other things, even allows us to emulate the famous curvature of old tube televisions to revive the experience. All this without having to look for an old TV that is fully functional, at a good price and does not have a single broken capacitor.

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