Relive all of your favourite classic titles on the best CRT TVs for retro gaming!
Ok, these things aren’t just necessary if you want to play with all the best light guns; they’re pretty much the best way to get the most out of your favourite retro consoles.
The NES wasn’t designed to be played on a 55″ widescreen TV; TVs were about 14″ back in the day and came in a no-nonsense grey colour.
Some of them didn’t even produce colour images, a fact that our younger readers probably won’t even believe,
So, which are the best CRT TVs for retro gaming brilliance, the perfect monitors for your gaming set ups and the units that will catch people’s eye.
Let’s find out!
1. Sony PVM-14M2U
The Sony PVM-14M2U is without a doubt the best of the best CRT TVs for retro gaming.
Just look at this thing; apart from being the classic Instagrammable piece of kit for your set up, it’s built to last and is an absolute workhorse. Ours has never let us down, and all the best retro games look superb up on it.
At 14″ with a 13″ viewable screen, every old console looks perfect on the PVM. The Trinitron colour screen produces a resolution with a whopping 600 lines, so games look steady and smooth as well as nicely defined.
Can any of you remember TVs with actual knobs for aperture, chroma, and other adjustable features the first time they came around? I wasn’t born, but I love messing around with this thing to fine tune my favourite games.
Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Sony PVM-14M2U.
2. Toshiba AF
With a whopping 20″ screen size, the Toshiba AF is a nice if you’ve got a big ‘ol gap to fill in your games room.
Ok, you don’t need a whole blank wall to fit it on, but this TV reigned supreme in a time where the casings were so chunky that it’d take two people to lift them!
The AF range have a 4:3 aspect ratio, perfect for all your old titles that were never meant to be played widescreen in the first place.
And, the inbuilt speakers sounds pretty damn good too!
With a maximum resolution of 480i and a 60Hz refresh rate, this is a solid choice that doesn’t cost the earth to buy.
3. Philips Discoverer
The Philips Discoverer is an incredibly rare TV that hardly ever shows up on second hand sites. But when they do, you can be sure that they get snapped up super quickly!
I mean look at it; it’s the perfect piece for any retro games room!
Commonly referred to as ‘The Space Helmet TV’, this quirky 14″ TV was a collaboration between Philips and NASA to celebrate their first space shuttle launch back in ’81.
Yes, the NASA. How cool is that!
40 years ago this TV had a price of $500. With inflation rates, that’s $1,686.58 in today’s money.
Crikey, not a cheap purchase then!
4. Sony Hi Scan
Up next on our list of the best CRT TVs for retro gaming is the Sony Hi Scan Series.
Yes, I know it looks way too modern to be on this list, but hear me out. It’s a HD Ready CRT line, giving you cracking visuals for everything from the NES to the Wii.
This range comes in both 4:3 and 16:9 models, so you can shop around and get the set that’s perfect for your set up.
Once again, the sound was always great on these things and the picture quality is exactly what you’d expect from a Sony model.
The Hi Scan series is pretty expensive these days, so be prepared to part with a big chunk of cash if you want to add one into your collection.
5. Sony BVM-9045QD
The Sony BVM-9054QD takes the fifth spot in our best CRT TVs for retro gaming. It might not be as widely purchased as the PVM-14M2U, but it’s still got some pretty tasty stats.
With an 8″ viewable area it’s a pretty diddy screen. It has 450 lines of resolution and can be operated by a wired remote.
Side note – my grandma’s TV had a wired remote as a kid and I thought it was the greatest thing ever made!
This little TV is perfect for taking around to a friends house and even comes with a cool handle. It’s the ultimate portable gaming computer; twin it with a NES or a GameCube. They all look good up on this thing!
6. JVC D-Series
The JVC D-Series has that classic ‘first TV set’ that many of us got in our bedrooms back in the day. It’s a nifty little unit that still packs a punch today.
The most popular screen size on second-hand sites these days is 32″, but at a 4:3 resolution games like Super Mario 64 still look amazing on it.
And why is it called the ‘D-Series’?
Well, all the D-Series TVs came equipped with a Digital 2 Line Comb Filter and a component input for DVD players.
That’s a lot of D’s right there!
Plus, with 700 line horizontal resolution, you can’t really go wrong!
7. JVC Videosphere
How cool does the JVC Videosphere look? It’s clearly taken some inspiration from both the Discoverer and the Sega Dreamcast TV, right?
Wrong; this thing came out in the 70’s, so it’s definitely the other way around. It was the original helmet TV, and this one’s an alarm clock too, so it wins hands down.
This black and white TV is the best retro screen for those early NES vibes. With a massive dial on top to adjust wave frequencies and a battery pack for outdoor play, it totally feels like something that dropped from an alien craft…
… maybe it did…
If you can find a working one, then you’re in for a real treat. It won’t come cheap, and parts are even harder to find than the unit itself.
Still, smashing a bit of Super Mario Bros. on this would feel amazing, right?
8. JVC TM-1650SU
The JVC TM-1650SU takes the 8th spot in our list of the best CRT TVs for retro gaming.
With 550 TV lines of horizontal resolution it’s a cracking competitor for the Sony PVM-14M2U and comes with a component/RGB input that will work with all your favourite classic consoles.
Good news for European gamers; it works with both PAL and NTSC systems and also comes with a wired remote (not that us Europeans need the remote, but they always make me smile).
All of the menu settings can be accessed on a system settings screen too, pretty fancy for back in the day eh?
As the name might suggest, the JVC TM-1650SU has a 16″ screen which gives it the edge of the PVM in terms of viewing area. It’s a solid choice if you want to stay away from the Sony classic and won’t let you down!
9. Ikegami HTM
Get a load of the Ikegami HTM; it looks like it jumped straight out of an 80s sci-fi movie and into our front room.
This little baby produces 900 horizontal lines, making for a clear picture that more than does your favourite games justice. It works in both NTSC and PAL regions and pumps out up to 1080i.
See, now you all want one, don’t you?
With adjustable chroma and an apparently ‘optimum white balance’, this is another great option for those wanting a different look to the classic PVM range.
10. Sony 40XBR800
Last, but by no means least, the Sony 40XBR800 ends our list of the best CRT TVs for retro gaming.
This thing is a beast, coming with its own stand and shelving for all your retro consoles.
At 40″, this CRT TV is the biggest on our list. It boasts 4:3 viewing with 16:9 enhanced viewing mode (which probably sounded pretty swish back in the day.
When these TVs hit second-hand sites, they come with a hefty price tag. We’re talking over $1,000, so be prepared to have a call with your bank before you search,
Still, the picture quality is spot on, as is the remote with glow in the dark buttons…
… it’s worth the price just for that alone!
What Is A CRT TV?
A CRT TV is a Cathode-ray Tube TV. They contain something called a vacuum tube that houses one or several electron guns.
These electron guns produce beams that are electronically moulded into images on your screen.
If you want to use some of the best SNES accessories like the Super Scope or other light guns on your favourite games, then you’ll need a CRT TV.
Plus, they’re the only way to play old school games without feeling like your eyes are bleeding!
How Do I Connect My Console To A CRT TV?
You won’t find a HDMI cable port on one of these bad boys. The only way to connect is via component or RGB cables.
Most retro consoles came with these cables anyway, so you should have no troubles connecting up to these TVs.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.