If you wish to play your favorite retro games with a CRT-like visual experience, then this list of the best CRT filters for emulators will help you achieve it.
Many of us still have an attachment to retro games like Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter II, The Legend of Zelda, and more. These games were simply designed with CRT in mind, meaning they don’t have an authentic look on modern display technologies like LCD or LED.
If you want your experience to be as close to the original as possible, you need to either buy a CRT monitor or use a CRT filter/shader to replicate the look and feel of an old-school CRT monitor.
Since the former is not always a viable option, here are some of the best CRT filters for emulators out there.
Best CRT filters or shaders for emulators
When it comes to CRT monitors, there are mainly two types of technologies: mask-style and aperture grill. Each of these technologies works differently to filter electrons at the front of the screen.
Aperture grille CRTs had sharp images and strong scanlines, while mask-style CRTs, which typically had less noticeable scanlines, or simply had a smaller set, tended to be less sharp.
Many of the emulators replicate aperture grille CRTs, so if you find that these shaders don't look a damn thing like your old TV, it's likely you owned a mask-style CRT. So, without further ado, let's look at the best CRT filters/shaders for emulators.
CRT-Royale is the common choice among all the emulators. It has a wide array of configuration settings that you can play with to attain the exact color and shading of your old television.
As it is a large and complex shader, discrete Nvidia or AMD video cards are required to run this filter. Also, your monitor should have at least 1440p of resolution to get a decent level of detail for slot mask emulation, though 4K (2160p) or higher resolutions are recommended.
This is arguably the most advanced, feature-rich CRT shader of all. It has just as many if not more parameters to configure than CRT-Royale while being more optimized.
There are several variants of this filter that adds features such as NTSC emulation and better support for games that render at 480p or higher. It is still in active development, so you can expect new features and improved optimization.
It is currently the only shader that takes advantage of HDR support for greater color depth and brightness, allowing for highly accurate CRT emulation on HDR-capable displays. Unlike other CRT shaders, it doesn't have many bells and whistles.
Sony Megatron is fairly simple and focuses mainly on drawing scanlines and accurate phosphor masks as well as color correction, which makes it one of the fastest shaders available.
It is one of the most popular CRT shaders that simulate an aperture grille display (with the mask enabled). CRT-Geom is the easiest to configure and it comes very close to replicating a real CRT.
The CRT-cgwg-Fast variant runs even faster, while the CRT-Geom-Deluxe version is slower but includes many, many more options. One of the notable features of the Deluxe version is the ability to simulate both the aperture grille display and mask-style CRT.