Can You Believe I Played PS5 Games on a CRT TV in 2024? Here’s How It Went

In Short
  • Playing modern PS5 titles on a CRT TV is a double-edged sword with its perks and downsides.
  • CRT TVs offer smoother pictures, reduced motion blur, good black levels, and better color contrast.
  • However, text is unreadable; identifying small objects and prompts within a game is almost impossible.

No matter how much we grow up, certain things pack a charm we can’t resist. As a gamer who grew up with boxy CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TVs and monitors, I have attached a certain kind of romance to it. Even though I now have TVs capable of 4K 60FPS, they don’t strike the same cord for me as those old TV sets. So when a CRT TV landed at the Beebom office, I had a crazy idea. What if I combined the modern appeal of a PS5 console with the nostalgia of a CRT TV? While my editor wasn’t too convinced, I went ahead anyway. Here are the results!

The Setup Was Half the Battle

Despite how much I have romanticized CRT TVs, there’s no doubt that modern devices have plug-and-play that works. As such, even before starting this test, the first hurdle was connecting these two devices from different eras.

The PS5 is built to output high-resolution visuals and comes with only an HDMI port, which is the standard. The old CRT TV still relies on those old red, white, and yellow RCA connectors for input.

CRT and PS5 setup with HDMI to RCA convertor

So, of course, I had to order an HDMI to RCA convertor to bridge the gap between the two devices. While that was a minor annoyance, I preferred to see it as an affordable time machine.

PS5 Games That Made the Cut

PlayStation 5 running on a CRT TV

Now comes the exciting part. I had to pick some of my favorite titles to play on this Frankenstein of a setup. While I would have loved to play every game here, not every game would look better on a CRT TV. After referring to our in-house gaming expert, Upanishad, we agreed upon these five titles.

  • Control
  • God of War (2018)
  • Doom: Eternal
  • Street Fighter V
  • Hollow Knight

We chose these games because they combine modern graphics with a nostalgic feel. I also included Street Fighter because a retro setup would not be complete without a fighting game. For a good and reliable platformer, I chose Hollow Knight.

First Boot: I Can’t See Anything!

Truth be told, I don’t know what I was expecting. Because the first feeling I got was instant regret. The realization that this is a standard CRT TV hit me when the PS5 booted up. The first thing I noticed was the blurry text. God, so much blurry text. I had to squint my eye to make out the icons and use my muscle memory to navigate the PS5’s interface.

After a while, I gave up and installed PS Remote Play to install games and tweak their settings. My first gameplay experience told me that things would not go well. The visual quality was nowhere close to flat panels, and this was prevalent throughout all the games that I tried. I suppose it was time to take off those rose colored lenses.

Control PS5

The low-quality visuals made navigating the map in Control or reading the HUD in Doom: Eternal impossible. Fortunately, Doom had native support for a 4:3 aspect ratio, which suited our CRT well.

It was also one of the better-looking games, alongside Control, during gameplay. For some strange reason, God of War appeared to blend 2D and 3D with a cell-shaded style. But, well, that was just the good old CRT effect.

Looking past the Problems (There’s a Saving Grace)

After playing for an hour or two, my eyes adjusted to the CRT display, and I could finally focus on other visual aspects. Once I was done with the suffering, I started noticing the extremely deep black levels in dark and shadowy regions. This was especially evident in Control’s abandoned spooky hallways, as well as in Hollow Knight.

The invasion of Earth in Doom: Eternal was particularly a treat to look at, as the display showed boosted colors highlighting the hellish regions. The arenas and characters in Street Fighter V also benefit from slightly boosted colors and a higher contrast ratio.

In God of War, the snow or fire effects from your weapons when performing special attacks looked fantastic on this display. The cutscenes and Closeups of characters in Control and God Of War show up well (minus the details) on this low-resolution screen during fight sequences.

The animation also looked quite clear in Street Fighter and Hollow Knight. Even though I dropped the resolution to 720p, the games were relatively clear since the blurry visuals acted like a hardware-based anti-aliasing solution.

The Gameplay: Smooth like Butter

For the gameplay portion, I would only like to use two adjectives: fluid and smooth. No matter if I was knocking down the opponents, performing finishers, or engaged in high-octane demon killing, things worked very well. This was because CRT TVs are great at handling motion. This was particularly noticeable in games like Hollow Knight.

Hollow Knight PS5

Unlike typical LCD/LED displays, I experienced no motion blur no matter what I did in the game. I also felt depth within the game, especially when walking into the large open halls of Control. Another thing that I should mention is that you can crank up the performance or use ray tracing without any hiccups since you are playing at just 1080 or 720p.

PS5 Games and CRT TVs: Was the Trip down Memory Lane Worth It?

Unless you have a high-resolution CRT monitor lying around, it is not worth the effort to try something like this. Having said that, this little experiment did help reignite and discover a newfound appreciation of old CRT technology. The TV had better black levels compared to LCDs. Motion clarity was another pro, along with a good contrast ratio.

Besides the advantages above, the TV gave out fluid motions, boosted performance, and an overall satisfying experience. Furthermore, arcade-style games felt right at home on a CRT TV. So if you can make their peace with blurry text, CRT flicker, and poor video quality, pair up your PS5 with a CRT TV right away.

But as someone on the other side, I think I have finally taken off my nostalgia goggles. It was a technology of a bygone era, and I am happy that it existed, but it’s time to move on.

That being said, what do you think about CRT TVs? Let us know in the comments below!

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