Do CRT Monitors have Input Lag?

In the evolving world of display technology, the conversation often revolves around the advancements in LCDs, LEDs, and OLEDs. However, for enthusiasts of retro gaming and certain professional applications, the old-school CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors still hold significant interest. One key advantage often cited about CRT monitors is their responsiveness, but do CRT monitors have input lag? This blog post delves into the performance of CRT monitors regarding input lag, comparing them with modern alternatives and discussing their relevance today.

Understanding Input Lag in CRT Monitors

Input lag refers to the delay between a command from an input device (like a keyboard or mouse) and the visual response on the screen. This is a critical factor in fast-paced applications like competitive video gaming, where timing plays a pivotal role in the user experience.

How CRT Monitors Handle Input Lag

CRT monitors, unlike their modern LCD counterparts, do not suffer from notable input lag. This is largely due to the way the technology processes the video signal and displays it. CRTs draw the image on the screen via an electron gun that scans across the screen, starting from the top to the bottom at a high frequency. This process happens almost instantaneously without the need for image processing that can add delays.

Comparing CRT and Modern Displays

While CRT monitors are praised for minimal input lag, understanding how they stack up against modern technologies can highlight why some users still prefer them for specific applications.

CRT Monitors and Gaming

In the realm of competitive gaming, particularly in genres requiring quick reflexes such as fighting games or first-person shooters, input lag can make or break the experience. CRT monitors have historically been the gold standard for such applications due to their almost negligible input lag.

Modern Monitors and Input Lag

Modern monitors, particularly high-end gaming models, have made significant strides in reducing input lag, with many achieving rates that rival CRTs. However, these monitors often come with various processing features like motion blur reduction and high dynamic range (HDR), which can introduce minimal lag.

Real-Life Implications and User Experiences

Case Study: A Competitive Gamer’s Transition

Consider the example of Alex, a competitive gamer who transitioned from a CRT monitor to a modern high-refresh-rate LCD for gaming. While the LCD provided a sharper image and more vibrant colors, Alex noticed a slight delay in responsiveness. This perception of increased input lag, though minimal, impacted his performance in fast-paced games.

Why CRT Monitors May Still Be Relevant

For certain users like Alex, the unique properties of CRT monitors in terms of responsiveness make them irreplaceable for now. Additionally, the nostalgic element and the particular aesthetic of CRT graphics are highly valued in the retro gaming community.

Actionable Tips for Users Considering CRT Monitors

  1. Check the Condition: If you’re looking to use a CRT monitor, ensure it’s in good working condition. Capacitors, the tube, and other components can degrade over time, affecting performance.
  2. Test the Monitor: Before committing to using a CRT, test it with your intended setup to ensure it meets your needs regarding image quality and responsiveness.
  3. Understand the Trade-offs: While CRTs offer excellent responsiveness, they consume more power, take up more space, and have lower resolution than modern displays. Weigh these factors against your specific needs.
  4. Adjust Settings for Optimal Performance: For the best experience, adjust the display settings such as brightness, contrast, and refresh rate to suit your environment and reduce any strain on your eyes.


Do CRT monitors have input lag? Not significantly. Their ability to display inputs almost instantaneously makes them still desirable for applications where every millisecond counts. While the technology may seem outdated in the face of modern advances, the unique characteristics of CRT monitors, particularly for specific gaming and professional uses, ensure they maintain a niche following. Whether you’re a retro enthusiast or a professional requiring high-speed precision, understanding the benefits and limitations of CRT technology will help you make the best choice for your needs.

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