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retro consoles and 240p / 480p resolution - sometimes less is more

Dacvak

No one shall be brought before our LORD David Bowie without the true and secret knowledge of the Photoshop. For in that time, so shall He appear.
Where's the best place to find them these days?
Facebook marketplace is usually a decent bet. Don’t search for “retro” or “crt”, though. People who list sets like that are usually looking for more money than their sets are worth.
 

Killer8

Member
On my small 21" philips SD CRT from 2000 the scanlines aren't that noticeable from the normal viewing distance, however I can still see them from up close, at least in 240p content.

My S21ultra camera isnt very good (compared to my mirrorless camera), but even phone photo can show scanlines very clearly.

MGS1 running on the PS2 240p, scart RGB

20240106-130206.jpg


Metalslug on the PS2 240p
20240106-120911.jpg


So scanlines were always there at 240p, even on the SD CRT.

At 480i, however, I can barely see scanlines even at close range, just as you describe.

Metalslug 3, PS2 480i
20240106-124335.jpg

I think you've solved it then - I game at 480i almost all the time. My Trinitron does not support 480p and most of what I play on it are sixth generation consoles, which would output as 480i.

Going back to PS1, which would presumably output at 240p, I tested Metal Gear Solid and can report that I do see scanlines but only when very close. From a normal viewing distance it just isn't noticeable.

It appears more pronounced in a photo. I also find that the scanlines are more noticeable in darker areas of the game:

PXL-20240106-200010735-MP-1.png


I suspect that the geometry of the CRT 'pixels' also factors into it. Up very close, you can see that the spacing of the green on my TV is nearly equidistant horizontally and vertically, so my scanlines can appear more like a grid pattern:

PXL-20240106-195452712-MP-1.jpg



This is similar to some other Trinitrons I have seen online, where some can appear to even have vertical scanlines:

1981-sony-pvm-4000-glamour-shots-v0-wiwuu8uvznfa1.jpg


As a side note, I found this interesting comparison of a very good shader vs a CRT. Try to guess which is which:

sony-pvm-simulation-v0-t7inf4gsklj81.jpg
sony-pvm-simulation-v0-d6smqw8uklj81.jpg
 
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simpatico

Member
Where's the best place to find them these days?
Relatives houses or FB marketplace. I found a really nice one with 480p component input on FB marketplace for $25. The refresh rate is basically infinity. Hard part is finding a place to set it up. I used the corner of my home office to make a little retro gaming corner. Best thing I've done for my gaming hobby in years. It gets a ton of use. Even got my kids hooked on F-Zero and NHL '94
 
iu


Get a 8K TV, put a million of shaders, interpolate hundreds of frames, insert black frames on top of this, get a super dark picture but who cares, and probably ghosting too, and sometimes stuttering. Does all this processing add input lag ? Let's hope not. And don't forget your personal nuclear plant to power this. And then, maybe, if you believe it hard enough, you will get that CRT experience on that other technology.
TV postprocesing will always increase inputlag if you turn on motion upscaling. Emulators can however run the main game logic at 30fps, while the graphics renderer can work at much higher framerate. Thats how the PCSX2 emulator work for example.

You dont need a fast PC to emulate old games with simple post-processing (CRT shaders arnt GPU intensive). Anyone with a working PC can easily run old emulators dude. Of course if you want to use CRT shaders without a PC, then you need something like Retrotink 4K, but no one force you to buy this expensive upscaler just to play low resolution games in CRT/PVM like quality. Some people like you will still prefer to game on the real CRT (lucky people can sometimes find CRT TVs / monitors for free).

The 4K display is good enough to reproduce 300 lines of PVM perfectly (240p content will look perfect) and it can also reproduce 600 lines of PVM with very convincing results (480p games), just not perfect. People use zoom lens to show this small difference, but I doubt anyone can see this difference with the naked eyes (I cant).

BFI is not an issue. Modern TVs and monitors are extremely bright compared to the CRTs. SDR content needs around 100-120 nits to look good. A 1000 nits HDR display can easily compensate for the loss of brightness caused by BFI.
 
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Facebook marketplace is usually a decent bet. Don’t search for “retro” or “crt”, though. People who list sets like that are usually looking for more money than their sets are worth.
I agree. People who know what they are selling will not sell good CRTs for a few dollars, they want a premium. Some people are however very lucky:

 
Unfortunately for you, the first is the shader ;)



You just missed out on the grand prize of a free PS5.

RtwCLzQ.jpg

D4djrL4.jpg


My luck is terrible 😂. But thanks for the comparison, it really shows how good the HDR shaders look. Some people will probably still say that their CRT is better because it has 1ms persistence blur, but I think most people should be still very happy with the results.
 
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Kupfer

Member
That's a topic I've never warmed to. For me, it's completely opaque and inaccessible, there are countless shaders and tutorials whose pros and cons have to be weighed up, and ultimately I have the feeling that you spend more time looking for the perfect imitation than actually spending time in the game.

I bought a second-hand Bang & Olufsen MX 7000 Type 8700 from 1999 for 35€ a few years ago so that I didn't have to deal with the issue any more.

Of course, it's great that there are ways to make old games look good on new TVs, but it's not worth the effort of reading up and setting everything up IMO. I'd rather lug the 40.3 kg into the house once and not have to ask myself every time I play whether my settings and shaders are really the best and most original.
 

Moonjt9

No Silksong? = Delivering the pain.
Absolutely need to have scan lines and crt filter on pixel games. Even modern pixel art games should come with them, but for some reason they don’t. Scanlines make pixel art better, that’s just a fact of the art style.

Finding a beautiful Sony pvm for my retro games was one of my best gaming moments. Completely recommend if you like old games.
 

Shake Your Rump

Gold Member
It's about keeping the same setting and feelings from when I was 10 years old. That's simply not possible with a 65 inch OLED, no matter what HDR shaders you provide me with. That's just not a pleasant way to play old retro games for me personally. Tell me what you want, but it's not going to be the same thing. To me a 240p image isn't ever supposed to be upscaled that much.
As someone who has been playing video games since 1978, I have to say that you are missing out. Playing my PS1 games using the RetroTink on my 48” LG C1 OLED is stunning. Perfect geometry, colour, and CRT masks. It’s what people dreamed of 30 years ago. It looks like a CRT, except without the geometry and colour errors.

On the OLED, I measured the 4:3 size to be equal to a 36” CRT. Again, the stuff of dreams back when I was playing SNES on my 20”.

That said, interlaced video (480i) was still unsatisfactory. I sold my RetroTink for $700 after buying a $25 JVC CRT. It's good enough.
 
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As someone who has been playing video games since 1978, I have to say that you are missing out. Playing my PS1 games using the RetroTink on my 48” LG C1 OLED is stunning. Perfect geometry, colour, and CRT masks. It’s what people dreamed of 30 years ago. It looks like a CRT, except without the geometry and colour errors.

On the OLED, I measured the 4:3 size to be equal to a 36” CRT. Again, the stuff of dreams back when I was playing SNES on my 20”.

That said, interlaced video (480i) was still unsatisfactory. I sold my RetroTink for $700 after buying a $25 JVC CRT. It's good enough.
Yeah, I don't play Playstation. Only 8-bit and 16-bit consoles when it comes to retro stuff. I can't stand the look of early polygon based games in any way, shape or form.. Hated them even back in the 90's.

Regardless, it's not what I'm dreaming about for SNES either. 🙂

So, good for you, but it's 100% uninteresting for me and not the experience I'm looking for when playing older games.
 
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Shinobi-III-Return-of-the-Ninja-Master-USA-240104-194617.png

The specific shader is tv-PAL-my-old but with some tweaks to tone down the blur and white glow a bit and disable a spotlight in the corner. I'm also a big fan of the Ambilight-esque reactive colours beyond the reflective bezel.

Truth be told, If I had a 4k HDR OLED I would be trying out the new shaders that utilise the TV's technology to use to recreate a CRT image rather than computing power.


I had a few problems with the installation of these shaders, but I followed this YT guide and now everything is working fine :).



The results are very interesting because these shaders do not replicate the CRT aperture grille down to the microscopic level. They do, however, give some pleasing results and without any visible scalines.

RAW pixels / standard upscaling

no-shaders.png


Screenshot-20240107-170852-Photos-2.jpg


Kaio shader

shaders.png


Screenshot-20240107-170903-Photos-2.jpg


Sprites look very pleasing to my eyes thanks to this shader. I also like more saturated colors, this guy has nailed the way colors look on my SD CRT when I use RGB scart. I would describe this shader as an SD CRT look, but without scanlines and with a slightly better sharpness and clarity. I really like this look.
 
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dave_d

Member
As someone who has been playing video games since 1978, I have to say that you are missing out. Playing my PS1 games using the RetroTink on my 48” LG C1 OLED is stunning. Perfect geometry, colour, and CRT masks. It’s what people dreamed of 30 years ago. It looks like a CRT, except without the geometry and colour errors.

On the OLED, I measured the 4:3 size to be equal to a 36” CRT. Again, the stuff of dreams back when I was playing SNES on my 20”.

That said, interlaced video (480i) was still unsatisfactory. I sold my RetroTink for $700 after buying a $25 JVC CRT. It's good enough.
Just curious which Retrotink did you have? I mean was it the 4k and it still didn't do 480i acceptably? (I know, the NES is 240p because it's basically half of 480i.)
 

Soodanim

Member
I had a few problems with the installation of these shaders, but I followed this YT guide and now everything is working fine :).



The results are very interesting because these shaders do not replicate the CRT aperture grille down to the microscopic level. They do, however, give some pleasing results and without any visible scalines.

RAW pixels / standard uplscaing (integer ratio + nearest neighbor)

no-shaders.png



Kaio shader

shaders.png


Sprites look very pleasing to my eyes thanks to this shader. I also like more saturated colors, this guy has nailed the way colors look on my SD CRT when I use RGB scart. I would describe this shader as an SD CRT look, but without scanlines and with a slightly better sharpness and clarity. I really like this look.

That's what struck me about that pack. You've got everyone else going down the path of focusing on masks, grilles and scanlines with the goal of subpixel accuracy and this one comes along and creates a look that is very pleasing by taking a bit of a different path. I think I'll be sticking with it for a while.
 

cireza

Member
I had a few problems with the installation of these shaders, but I followed this YT guide and now everything is working fine :).



The results are very interesting because these shaders do not replicate the CRT aperture grille down to the microscopic level. They do, however, give some pleasing results and without any visible scalines.

RAW pixels / standard upscaling

no-shaders.png



Kaio shader

shaders.png


Sprites look very pleasing to my eyes thanks to this shader. I also like more saturated colors, this guy has nailed the way colors look on my SD CRT when I use RGB scart. I would describe this shader as an SD CRT look, but without scanlines and with a slightly better sharpness and clarity. I really like this look.

Bottom picture is too blurry. Also it is too dark, gradients have been lost.
 
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Shake Your Rump

Gold Member
Just curious which Retrotink did you have? I mean was it the 4k and it still didn't do 480i acceptably? (I know, the NES is 240p because it's basically half of 480i.)
I had the 2x and 5x. It was "ok". You either had to accept a delay when switching to 480i mode (title and menu screens in games) or have fast switching with several frames of lag at all times. But really, the problem is that it looks terrible in motion. Still images look progressive, but movement just looks awful compared to a CRT.

The 4K still will not handle interlaced video well. There just isn't any fast hardware method of accurately de-interlacing video.
 
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Bottom picture is too blurry. Also it is too dark, gradients have been lost.
The CRT mask dims the image, but you can increase the backlight of your monitor to compensate. On my monitor I can increase the brightness even to the point where the bottom screenshot is too bright.

When the brightness is adjusted, I get a similar look to the SD CRT I'm using, which also has this strong blue color and fairly dark atmosphere in this level This shader is definitely much more blurry than other CRT/PVM shaders, but compared to my SD CRT TV the image is still sharper to my eyes, so I like this balance. I can also tweak the level of blur and the gamma in the shader settings, and even use sharpening mask in my monitors settings to get even sharper image. On my SD CRT, however, there's nothing I can do to increase sharpness, because sharpening sliders are disabled when I use RGB input.
 

dave_d

Member
I had the 2x and 5x. It was "ok". You either had to accept a delay when switching to 480i mode (title and menu screens in games) or have fast switching with several frames of lag at all times. But really, the problem is that it looks terrible in motion. Still images look progressive, but movement just looks awful compared to a CRT.

The 4K still will not handle interlaced video well. There just isn't any fast hardware method of accurately de-interlacing video.
Damn, I'm wondering if the real solution is an oled/microled that have such a low pixel response time that they could simulate pixel decay. (IE a upgrade beyond black frame insertion.) I wonder if that would actually give good motion clarity. (I will say CRTs definitely have an advantage there.)
 
Still images look progressive, but movement just looks awful compared to a CRT.
I have a problem with the way 480i looks, even on a real CRT. Interlaced video looks good in a static image, but when something moves I can easily see a drop in resolution (and increase in pixelation), and this is particularly noticeable in 60fps driving games. Try playing CMR3 on the PS2 and see what happens when you drive very fast. The increase in pixelation is very noticeable. 480p can look good even today (when upscaled correctly), but I absolutely hate 480i, because there's nothing you can do to make it look good.
 
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Damn, I'm wondering if the real solution is an oled/microled that have such a low pixel response time that they could simulate pixel decay. (IE a upgrade beyond black frame insertion.) I wonder if that would actually give good motion clarity. (I will say CRTs definitely have an advantage there.)
On my 170Hz monitor I can see persistence blur in fps games where I can turn 180 degrees instantly, but in 2D arcade games where the screen follows the player slowly I dont even notice any problems.

Can you suggest some fast paced 2D arcade game (that I can run on retroarch emulator) that you think will be unplayable on 170Hz LCD because of persistence blur? I will be playing this game on both my LCD and GT60 plasma to see if there is any significant difference. I can even run this game on my SDR CRT to compare if you want.
 
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Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Koko Aio shaders are included in RA, just update your shaders (or not even if you got RA recently I guess), you shouldn't need any installs. Shaders - > Bezel - > Koko Aio is the folder structure. Guess they're edits of the previous Mega Bezel shaders as there are different Royale presets.

Edit: oh that's what the video tells you to do, never mind, the way you said it it seemed like you had to get some external to RA thing which may have been a way to get somebody's shader versions before they were deemed worthy enough of including by default like that.


I can never get any to look as they do in the comparison shots/videos (no 4K here, 1440p only), plus some are better suited to different resolutions, 3D, 2D, I cba to make per game/system/path presets so I settle for a catch all solution like the Mattias CRT shader is.

I just wish it had options to make it subtler because it's certainly a strong effect that might put off some and it's certainly not some pixel perfect recreation of CRT but more like the impression of using one I guess. Not great for dark background space games.

I also use it because it deinterlaces Sega Saturn high res games like VF2 and Astra Superstars nicely but just the other day I checked new/shaders I haven't used, both Cyclon and cathode-retro_no-signal (one of them with interlacing turned off - also I turn off the bezels, curvature etc.) make those look as good as any non interlaced game, no clue how, there's no wobble or whatever else, no extreme blurring and doubling of the image as on Mattias CRT, but it looks like the games aren't interlaced at all, nice solid graphics, maybe the scanlines/slot masks perfectly match the blank lines? Idk.
 
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dave_d

Member
On my 170Hz monitor I can see persistence blur in fps games where I can turn 180 degrees instantly, but in 2D arcade games where the screen slowly follows the player slowly I dont even notice any problems.

Can you suggest some fast paced 2D arcade game (that I can run on retroarch emulator) that you think will be unplayable on 170Hz LCD because of persistence blur? I will be playing this game on both my LCD and GT60 plasma to see if there is any significant difference. I can even run this game on my SDR CRT to compare.
I have no idea because when I tried to setup shaders on Retroarch to try out SNES games for some reason it wouldn't display right. (Very flickery with no shaders in full screen mode.) I have completely uninstalled it and updated my drivers and I'll give it another go. (I was using the BSNES core. Funny thing is when I just the BSNES executable that works just fine.)
 
Koko Aio shaders are included in RA, just update your shaders (or not even if you got RA recently I guess), you shouldn't need any installs. Shaders - > Bezel - > Koko Aio is the folder structure. Guess they're edits of the previous Mega Bezel shaders as there are different Royale presets.

Edit: oh that's what the video tells you to do, never mind, the way you said it it seemed like you had to get some external to RA thing which may have been a way to get somebody's shader versions before they were deemed worthy enough of including by default like that.


I can never get any to look as they do in the comparison shots/videos (no 4K here, 1440p only), plus some are better suited to different resolutions, 3D, 2D, I cba to make per game/system/path presets so I settle for a catch all solution like the Mattias CRT shader is.

I just wish it had options to make it subtler because it's certainly a strong effect that might put off some and it's certainly not some pixel perfect recreation of CRT but more like the impression of using one I guess. Not great for dark background space games.

I also use it because it deinterlaces Sega Saturn high res games like VF2 and Astra Superstars nicely but just the other day I checked new/shaders I haven't used, both Cyclon and cathode-retro_no-signal (one of them with interlacing turned off - also I turn off the bezels, curvature etc.) make those look as good as any non interlaced game, no clue how, there's no wobble or whatever else, no extreme blurring and doubling of the image as on Mattias CRT, but it looks like the games aren't interlaced at all, nice solid graphics, maybe the scanlines/slot masks perfectly match the blank lines? Idk.
In HDR mode I'm only using one shader, because it has 300TVL/600TVL switch. For 240p games I use 300TVL settings, and for 480p/480i 600TVL settings.

SDR shaders arnt as universal, but if you are willing to test a lot of them, you will find a few shaders that will work great most of the time depending on the game resolution (some shaders work great at 480p, but some adds more blur that loon better at 240p).

EDIT- After some testing I think TV flickering shader (from KAIO shader pack) work well in most games. I'm however using some tweaks to the shader parameters to make it look even more pleasing to my eye:
-Disable FXAA
-In the section Hi resolution scanlines handling I tweak flicker power to 0.15 to make it look comparable to my SD CRT (you can turn it down completety if you dont like this interlacing simulation effect)
-In the section low level phosphor gird I tweak overmask to 1.10 to make the image a little brighter.
-In curvature border section I turn down warp X / Y


Standard upscaling

1.png


KAIO shader

2.png


KAIO shader on my GT60 plasma


20240109-024159.jpg


Metal Slug 3 standard upscaling

retroarch-2024-01-09-15-02-01-006.png


KAIO shader


retroarch-2024-01-09-15-01-38-170.png


KAIO shader on my plasma

20240109-025726.jpg




I have kept my SD CRT for many years because I thought it's impossible to get similar quality on LCD. Fortunately, the CRT shaders have changed everything, becasue now I prefer the way 240p looks on my LCD, because to my eyes it looks much sharper and more detailed. My impressions are even better on my plasma TV, because of perfect contrast and colors. I'm literally hypnotised when I play these games on my plasma. My plasma also has near perfect picture quality during motion, so not much can be improved.

But on the LCD / OLED motion quality can be improved and it seems we will see CRT like motion quality on modern screens:


NVIDIA-Ge-Force-RTX-40-SUPER-CES-Unveil-0001.png
 
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sigmaZ

Gold Member
Slightly related, but I was messing around with the PC Engine emulator Ootake recent and I was surprised how good and unique the upscaling is. It seems like it upscales the individual pixels or something, so the image is really crisp and true to form once you situate yourself at the right distance from the screen so that the pixels become slightly less apparent.
Geo99Cg.png
 
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