Wiser monitor choice for RetroArch Shaders: size & resolution

Hello folks, I’m trying to figure out which could be the best monitor to be used exclusively for retro gaming … in particular, I’m not sure about 2 aspects: display size and resolution. These two parameters must be evaluated above all in order to implement CRT shaders, which I particularly care about.

Now, I read many posts and threads about the argument, so I know a little: generally, at least a 2K resolution is considered mandatory in order to allow for sufficient detail to be represented, while 4K is considered the best. In truth, I read that only 8K resolution would allow the pixel structure of a CRT monitor/TV to be represented with maximum fidelity and from some rough tests I’ve done with pictures I feel like I fully agree.

However, we leave 8K aside for various and easily understandable reasons. Now I want to explain what my doubt is: I wear glasses and, in all honesty, I can’t clearly distinguish the pixels on a 23" FHD monitor from 70cm away.

So I wonder: even if a 2K monitor is able to allow the shaders to show more details, would I be able to appreciate it? And if so, what would be the minimum display size that would allow me to do this? 24"? 27"? And at what distance should I stay?

In other words, I’m trying to figure out if, for me, it’s worth aiming for a 2K monitor, or should I choose a 4K (27"? or 32"?) and what size do I need to be able to enjoy the details without squeezing my eyesight and without being 20 cm from the screen. There is also the doubt that, regardless of the panel size, I will not be able to appreciate any substantial difference between FHD /2K /4K, except in certain particular conditions that would not be practical (such as being glued to the screen).

Surely some of you would like to suggest that I try different monitors myself, but sadly I can’t do that because I live in a small town and monitors of a certain level are not commonly available in shops nor can I ask shopkeepers to try RetroArch and various shaders :smile: …so I’m here to ask those who have a lot of practical experience in the field, having owned several monitors from FHD to 4K.

Thanks in advance for every feedback!


The general consensus by the 4K monitor fan base is that pixel density is to high below 32".

You could always clear a space and get a 50" TV instead of a monitor.

I have two 28" 4K monitors, but I use them mostly for graphics development, not game play, so I sit fairly close.


4K is good for making better scanline effects vs 2K and 1080p, so I think that’s a worthwhile target. 8K is only really required for doing certain mask effects at a certain quality, and for most masks, 4K is plenty.

Personally, I think some of the other monitor specs are more important, like peak brightness, HDR support and high refresh rates (for BFI effects, now or in the future). Depending on the mask effects you like, the subpixel layout can be important, too. Monitors are typically RGB, while TVs are almost always BGR, which requires different mask layouts to look good/right.

You probably also want to look at whether flashing effects (e.g., BFI and interlacing simulation) cause image persistence.


More resolution is better for scaling and gives you more options. However as Hunterk wrote, you must keep other features in mind. Brightness is very important, you can’t have enough of it.


Thanks very much for the replies!

@Duimon My intention is to buy a monitor, not a TV: in the future, I plan to use it for a cabinet and I dislike huge displays…back in the days, a 19" CRT was the absolute standard for arcade cabinets and I remember that for us little boys it already looked huge, especially taking into account that most of us played at home with 14-15" monitors or at the very best 17", which was already luxurious.

32" is already way bigger than I’d like to get, but I can compromise for the sake of image quality and CRT-like fidelity (best shaders). Moreover I have some great ideas for put in use such a big display when I will make my cabinet…

In fact, one of the things I was most torn about is whether to opt for 27" or 32", since now decent 27" monitors, including 4K ones, are starting to appear on the market. Your info about the excessive pixel density for a 4K 27" is precious: it is one of the aspects that I was pondering about.

@hunterk Thanks for sharing your opinion! I was inclined mostly for 4K, but I was still considering 2K for a couple of reasons:

  1. that they are available in refresh rates way above 4K and will likely remain so for a few more years. This could be important in regards to motion clarity (I’ll eventually make a separate post for the topic).

  2. which, as mentioned, since my visual acuity isn’t that of an eagle I’m afraid I can’t tell much difference between a 2K and a 4K regarding the details of the shaders and, if so, it would obviously not make sense to choose a 4K. However, after your feedback and that of others I would say that I settled on a 4K.

Yes, I’m aware about the importance of peak brightness (basically it’s only for BFI, I think!?) and high refresh rates (motion clarity), whereas I’m not so sure about the usefulness of HDR for retrogaming: keep in mind that I’m mostly interested in emulating arcades and all the old consoles and home computers from the 70s/80s/'90, so if HDR is useful for relatively modern titles like 3D PlayStation games it’s not my priority. If you talk about HDR implying the maximum brightness a panel is capable of, then I understand, but if you’re implying that RetroArch or some core can somehow use HDR even for arcade titles (ex.) then I’m not aware of that. Instead, I know that some monitors released in the first months of this year allow you to use local dimming even in SDR and I actually think this can also be beneficial for arcade games or old home computers.


Yeah, thanks! My top priority for the monitor is shaders & motion clarity, so I have in mind the parameters and specifications that I have to evaluate in this sense. Maybe I will make a separate post for discussing those aspects.

So, in conclusion, my best choice would be a 32" 4K with high brightness (at least 1000+nits) and high refresh rate (at least 144hz I think, but the more the better I suppose). I think that the best tech for my intended use is IPS Mini Led with tons of “zones” (at least 1152): I will talk about this in another post later. Thanks again to all who replied to my OP post!

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For HDR, check out the “Megatron” shader.


So HDR can be useful for shaders… why I didn’t think about that? :smile:Thanks!


Take a look at this thread @OTT. It’s primarily about overall system requirements but there are a number of displays shortlisted some of which I have actually experienced first hand.

For example, this Asus, which can also be vertically oriented:

ASUS TUF Gaming VG289Q 28” HDR Gaming Monitor 4K (3840 x 2160) IPS FreeSync Eye Care DisplayPort Dual HDMI HDR 10 https://a.co/d/i0N65vj

This one adds high refresh rate (as well as high price):

ASUS TUF Gaming 28” 4K 144HZ DSC HDMI 2.1 Gaming Monitor (VG28UQL1A) - UHD (3840 x 2160), Fast IPS, 1ms, Extreme Low Motion Blur Sync, G-SYNC Compatible, FreeSync Premium, Eye Care, DCI-P3 90% https://a.co/d/3RZnXqv

Then there’s this Mini LED, High Refresh Rate that I’ve seen around. There’s a 32" model available as well.

Something like this which provides a few more vertical pixels than 4K might actually be ideal.


These are also something to consider:

The creator of the awesome Sony Megatron Color Video Monitor used one of them so I’m imagine that you might be able to get results as good as his using one.

It’s also one of the few manufacturers that produce glossy 4K IPS displays.


Thanks @Cyber!

I will take a look at the thread you linked: more or less I know all the best displays currently on the market, since I spent lot of time researching and viewing YT videos or reading specialized reviews as well as Reddit posts and other sources. The main problems, for my understanding, concerning the “best” monitor for retrogaming (4K) are:

  1. still the refresh rate is very low compared to what it would take to have a decent motion clarity (not at the level of a real CRT but at least close), i.e. at least 540hz. Considering that high-refresh panels are designed for use with modern games (not retrogames!) and that we are very far from GPUs capable of supporting 500+ FPS in 4K for this type of games (not to mention the price they will be sold when they exist), we will not see 4K monitors with these characteristics for who knows how many years, sadly.

  2. so far, the Mini Led IPS monitors (I consider this tech the best for retrogaming) equipped with FALD have been rubbish products, with bad panels and even worse management software, moreover plagued by scandalous lack of QC and prices beyond any logic (right Asus?) Now, finally, 2-3 decent monitors have come out at more reasonable prices (still very high, we’re around $1000, but at least not $3,000-5,000…) and local dimming as well as HDR have improved or at least they are no longer a joke like in the previous absurdly priced monitors. However, even in these respects, we are far from ideal: my opinion is that a monitor with at least 4-5,000 zones would be needed to have high-level HDR and possibly also very realistic blacks (quasi-OLED) as well as keeping blooming at bay. Then there are some shortcomings / bugs to fix, such as the impossibility of using HDR and VRR together or the fact that on certain monitors this generates flickering and other problems.

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Man i recently also had a digging to monitors and had extensive research months prior so i can give you my thoughts on what i bought and why compared to the rest.

Considering retroarch is used for retro games and consoles, i wouldn’t suggest you to go for very high refresh rate monitors, cause most likely you would still end up playing around 60 fps anyhow. Recently have come monitors with oled but i guess it is only 1440p still and that is not a resolution i would pay a premium for anymore.

I have a 28 inch 4k 144hz monitor from samsung which is the g70a, in my region it is the most well priced and the best one of its budget.

The main problem is that above the one i said, you need to pay a big big premium to get great hdr, oled, and high refresh rates and response performance.

I don’t know your budget, but i would say that if you are a fan of motion clarity, probably an oled monitor like the recent ones are great for you, even at 1440p cause they are mainly designed for esports. However i also have a sony crt but tend to use retroarch the most on my g70a, and i tested cyberlab shaders, sonkun shaders and also the classics hyperspace mega bezels and guest ones. Even on a 499 dollar monitor like the g70a you can get pretty close to a sony crt leaving responsiveness aside.

I personally do not like oleds as desktop usage for their subpixel layout, and also a suggestion on 32 inch or 28 inch monitors. the bigger the panel the more likely response times are slower. So if you are confident with 28 inches on your desk go for it.

I would also suggest you the channele monitors unboxed from hardware unboxed company, they are great at monitor reviewing, and when you confront their data with your price region you can make a better purchase.

VRR is a bit useless in retrogaming cause as i said before, you never play high refresh rate games, and more often than not with emulators you can always mantain a constant framerate related to the system, so you would disable vrr and maybe even push the resolution higher with dsr in case of retrogaming. That way you can even use 8k resolutions with retroarch and still play at 60 fps if you have a good gpu.


This is important for BFI and improved motion clarity (not pixel response time).

This is important for games that run at non-standard/uncommon refresh rates for example Mortal Kombat to be able to run at the correct framerate/speed.

Any type of scaling would destroy the Mask patterns of subpixel “aware” CRT Shaders.

Not even close to possible if using some of the more advanced and immersive Shaders like HSM Mega Bezel Reflection Shader with most GPUs.


Thanks for the detailed answer and the valuable info! As you said, it is true that for retrogaming we play mostly at 60 FPS but the reason why I also evaluate monitors with refresh rates higher than 144 hz is for the possibility of implementing multiple BFIs that further reduce motion blur. For example. 180hz BFI on a 240hz display (1,0,0,0) reduces motion blur by 75% (100% = CRT) while a single BFI 60hz strobe on 144hz displays reduces motion blur by only 50%.

Regarding my budget, I’m not one of those willing to get robbed just to chase (and show off) the latest technological fetish, but I’d be willing to spend what I consider to be a high price for a “definitive” monitor that best satisfies this hobby of mine…I’m talking about max $1000 anyway, anything over that is unjustified in my view for a purely gaming monitor - no matter quality and performance.

About OLED: I own a LG C1 TV for several years and it has given me a lot of satisfaction, also coming from the CRT era I’ve always hated LCDs and all the underlying flaws of that technology - all the more reasons to appreciate the absolute black, infinite contrast and vivid colors from OLED. The typical glossy coating it’s another plus, in my view :smile:

That being said, I don’t believe in OLED tech for monitors: a part from the issue of subpixel layout you mentioned that makes reading texts quite tiring, the obvious and unsolvable problem of burn-in makes them effectively unusable or at least unreliable for productivity.

I think the prospect is not much better for retro gaming: basically every old game from the arcade or home computers era has tons of static text/graphics, so there is no way you will escape burn-in if you (or anyone in your family) play frequently and/or for several hours continuously.

We all agree that self-emitting diodes are the “definitive” tech for displays and that OLED is the very first step in the right direction, but one cannot fail to acknowledge that it is a “flawed” technology by its very nature of using organic (=perishable) components.

They could convince me to buy OLED monitors if they sell them at bargain prices, like $300 for the current 2K from LG/Asus just to give an example, but they ask for $1000 instead … so I’m not willing to “burn” (literally) that sum after few months of play. Another thing I hate is that all the allegedly automatic display protection features annoy you all the time and maybe just when you’re playing … as far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth the hassle.

About response time: you are right, it’s a crucial parameter and of course it’s normally worse on bigger displays. However, I don’t think there can be any important differences in this sense between a 28" and a 32": more than anything else, it is the technology itself that needs to take a big step forward.

About VRR: I agree with you. For me too it’s not an essential feature but I was talking in general about the current issues found in even recent monitors (that you cannot get HDR + VRR), and it’s very important for lot of people that don’t use the monitor exclusively for retrogaming.

I will look at the channel you suggested! Thanks! :+1:


I agree with @Cyber that VRR is actually a pretty big deal for retrogaming. You get low latency and correct timing.

RetroArch’s low-latency vsync implementation, dynamic rate control and latency-reducing settings minimize the issues, but there are a number of other emulators where VRR is the only way to get a good experience.


Continuing the discussion from Wiser monitor choice for RetroArch Shaders: size & resolution:

Very high refresh rate monitors wouldn’t be useful if you play at a certain fps not close to the refresh rate target.

Black frame insertion is not a good feature to look for in a monitor, most monitors don’t have it or have it poorly integrated.

Not true about the vrr for standard refresh rates, in retroarch you can dynamically switch vsync to a fixed one based on the content, which will look great for pal or ntsc games, slow downs in games usually tend to go lower than 40 fps if made by game engine (like vagrant story particles effect) and that won’t see vrr in effect anyway even if enabled.

8K resolution is a supported resolution in mega bezel shaders, looks great even with dsr from 4k resolution and i can confirm it.

Smooth adv screen only no reflection works great on my 12gb vram gpu at 8k.

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Of course most monitors nowadays have g-sync and free sync so you would get that no matter, i personally wouldn’t play retrogaming with g-sync on cause i prefer a constant fixed one, we play with emulators to actually reach those performance targets, otherwise we’d play original hardware and also original crt, it would cost you less than an extremely premium monitor at that point.

Unless HDR is very well implemented with FALD and loads of dimming zones, i would avoid using HDR as a desktop usage, unless you work with it.

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as i said in the previous comment, that is a tn panel and only strobing on tn monitors showcase great quality, but would you prefer a 24 inch tn monitor for strobing?

At that point if you were planning a premium budget and decide strobing is the way, maybe a real crt is the best still.

Strobing on ips premium monitors is not well integrated at all, it is actually a feature you would always disable due to how poor is implemented.

4K is minimum in my opinion as you want to use an RGBX type mask at least for aperture grille and slot masks. Essentially its 4 pixels wide and so 2160p / 4 gives 540 TVL which is around the TVL of a good CRT from the 80s. Of course you can go lower.

Next thing is just to get as bright a tv as humanly possible. You want 100% masks and BFI/strobing if you can and so max nits is king. I wouldnt worry about colour accuracy of wider gamuts as all your content will be in the narrower rec.601/709 gamuts anyway.


I see that the thread has become even more interesting due to the addition of “technical” posts: in this regard, I thank all those who have intervened. I would like to go back, for a moment, to the question “which monitor” to buy, starting from the post by Cyber (above) that showed some proposals.

As I said previously, I did lot of research the past few weeks and came to the conclusion that currently the two best monitor 4K for (retro) gaming available are:

  1. INNOCN 27M2V / Nubia RedMagic GM001J (same panel from INNOCN)
  2. KTC M27P20 Pro / Cooler Master Tempest GP27U (same panel from KTC)

I watched many videos and read many reviews / tests about of all these monitors, here my note (DISCLAIMER: I’m going by memory!)

About 1):

First, there is also a 32" panel version but it performs worse, in several respects, than the 27" counterpart.

Second, I must say that I’m really impressed by the HDR performance of the INNOCN27P20, which seems to rival an OLED panel in most situations! This despite the number of dimming zones being decent but not incredible (1152). It probably means that the zones implementation and the management algorithm have been well done (and, as ridiculous as it seems to say, this is good news compared to the rubbish seen so far in the Mini LED / local dimming field).

Obviously, the OLED is still superior in critical scenes, especially those made to highlight the technology, but from the videos it seems to me that for the contents that 99% of users could view, the differences between this monitor and an OLED do not are noticeable (even more so in gaming).

Another very positive aspect is that the clear superiority of the LCD in terms of average and peak brightness even gives it an evident advantage in different types of scenes (and use-case, I would say). Colors are vibrant and everything else you need is there (see reviews for any spec you want to check) … so does it have at least some flaws?

Unfortunately, yes: the viewing angles are poor, which may or may not be a deal breaker for some. Another cons is that the motion handling is far from best, IMHO … actually is quite worse than previous panels I saw, with similar specs (some 4K 144hz for ex.). VRR can work at the same time as local dimming/HDR without any flickering issues, tho.

What about the “RedMagic” version? There are very few “reviews / videos” (one of the best : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHJ0yUUuPkE&pp=ygUNSU5OT0NOIDI3TTJWIA%3D%3D) but for what I remember, it seems to be even a little better than the INNOCN version, in particular for aesthetics, color calibration and even a little better in motion handling.

However the after-sales support is an absolute unknown and even worse the software support (development of new firmware): it is well known that Nubia/RedMagic is among the worst companies ever, in terms of software development / support of their products. Actually, their main products (gaming smartphones) although excellent on paper and in terms of price / performance ratio, are systematically plagued by a terrible user experience. This is also their very first monitor.

About 2):

compared to 1), this monitor has better viewing angles (better but far from perfect…) and above all has much better motion handling. It performs much worse in HDR contents, tho (it also has half the dimming zones - 576).

Between the KTC and CoolerMaster version, KTC is better at the moment (motion handling is better for sure, also a couple of other things I don’t remember). CoolerMaster monitor was released plagued by software bugs but they provided a firmware upgrade that solved most of (NOT ALL!) the issues.

However, it must be said in favor of CoolerMaster that there is most likely a better after-sales support (especially in the West) compared to KTC and I also believe there is more commitment to guaranteeing future firmware updates that bring further benefits (I am very skeptical about KTC in this regard): this could be an important reason to buy the CM version instead of KTC.


About Huawei MateView 28" 4K 3:2

It’s a very nice monitor, very stylish (Apple-inspired? :joy:). Size is good and aspect ratio is super good for retrogaming (being 16:9 one of the worst aspect ratio ever IMHO, second to only obscenities like 18.5/9,20/9,21/9, etc.) since we gain precious vertical resolution.

The problem is that it’s an office monitor…brightness it’s just passable (500 nits) but it’s an old edge lit without any local dimming / HDR feature and above all the refresh rate it’s only 60hz which is an absolute no-go for retrogaming.

It lacks all the features - even the most basics - which would be desirable in a gaming monitor.

About Dough (ex Eve) Spectrum 4K

On paper, it seems to deliver all the dream features we retro-fans always wanted. However, the panel is already old (produced by LG and used in their 27GP950) plus I’ve read tons of negative feedback from users or (above all) potential users, i.e. people who paid good money in advance and who after months (or years!) still hasn’t even seen the box of their precious monitor.

Adding fuel to fire, on Dough own forum, the (few) who have so far managed to physically hold the monitor in their hands go crazy about countless bugs and the non-functionality of some of the main features they paid for (especially those concerning motion handling!!!).

It also appears that multiple fake accounts were created to vote in favor of Spectrum on RTINGS website, which adds to the long list of dark sides of this story: many, on the web, have been talking openly about scam for months now.

Personally, I will stay far away from this company.

Going back to the ideal 4K monitor for retrogaming, until Micro LED monitors of reasonable size and “human” price are available, I think it should have these characteristics:

  • MiniLED IPS with lot of dimming zones: at least 2K, ideal 4K+, with hopefully (and finally!) good to very good HDR management.

  • peak brightness of at least 1000 nits, better if 1200. SDR max brightness should be increased, too, compared to current standard

  • refresh rate of 240hz (bare minimum), 360hz is “sweet spot”. More is desirable, but implies major technical difficulties regarding the implementation of technologies for CRT-like motion clarity (read below)

  • very good viewing angles! Lately, IPS panels started to literally sucks in this regard … and think that this was one of the selling points of the entire technology!

  • 32" size (27-28" it’s also ok). No curved, no weird aspect ratios, no giga-monitors.

As you can see, we are far from reaching all the goals I listed. One of the problem is that GPU manufacturers, especially NVIDIA, refuse to support DP 2.1, which means that panel manufacturers aren’t incentivized to produce 4K panels with very high refresh (240hz+) since no GPU can support them currently (except RADEON RX 7000 series, sold at outrageous prices as far as I’m concerned).

IMO, 240hz it’s the bare minimum theshold because you can use BFI and get a 75% blur reduction without crosstalk, which is already good. Also, with 1000 nits panels becoming more and more common, the corresponding brightness reduction is not an issue anymore.

With 360hz BFI we get 83% blur reduction and I think this is the sweet spot because above this you need at least 540hz to get significant improvements (90% BR). Moreover, 1000 nits are already barely sufficient for 360hz BFI, while with 540hz BFI you need at the very least 1200 nits. Not to mention that both GPU and monitor manufacturers won’t see the need to pump up to those refresh rates for who knows how many years yet.

Another unknown is crosstalk: for what I read / understood, with BFI software-implemented it’s practically not existent, at least at frequencies up to 180Hz. Not sure if it stay the same @ 360+ hz. Also, we can forget about hardware BFI, since it produces tons of crosstalk at high frequencies and would be unbearable at 540hz.

I end this very long post talking about future releases: I read that just today AUO presented the first 4K 240hz panel, but it is a “trivial” HDR400 and also has blooming problems, especially when viewed from an angle: it is something that has been noticed during the presentation by those present, so AUO made a not so great first impression!

Also, I read long time ago (August of last year?) that BOE was developing many interesting MiniLED panels, also including a 4K with 4608 zones (!!!) and 240hz refresh that it should have gone into production in November / December 2022 … but of which nothing more has been heard.

The same goes for other big announcements with great fanfare by BOE, that I remember reading in recent years, which never materialized in real products … so I matured a big doubt about a tendency to bulls*** by this company.


You can also take a look at this. It’s not a monitor though: