The Best 4:3 / Square LCD Monitors for Retro Gaming/Classic PC Use

CRTs can be abundant if you have good places in your local community to look, but they are getting trickier to track down each passing year. And while nothing’s stopping you from using a modern LCD for retro gaming, you may want to track down a square-shaped LCD (mostly 4:3 aspect ratio) so your classic content seems a bit more “at home” — avoiding those black bars.

So whether you’re looking for a cheap 4:3 LCD to use with your MiSTER FPGA setup, have a classic personal computer, or just want something for watching “full screen” video content or a emulation box to run on, I’m hoping this guide is helpful in your shopping.

MiSTER Powering a Dell 1907FPt w/ optional Dell SoundBar– photo by RetroBitsTV

Granted LCDs, especially older models, aren’t ideal for retro gaming compared to CRTs. LCDs often down’t have as deep of black colors and there is input lag involved among some other issues.

However, LCDs are easier to move around and store and use less electricity. And even though there are many die-hard CRT fans out there, there are also many long-time retro fans that have been using the recommended monitors below for a while and been happy with their performance. I’ve even quoted and handful of enthusiasts to give you a good perspective on these recommendations. And don’t forget, eventually LCDs might be much easier to find and purchase remotely then the CRTs counterparts.

Early LCD monitors may show a lack of technical maturity, however, near some of the later ones that we are focusing on have some decent IPS technology with reasonable color and response times.

Availability and practicality are the main reason for me rounding up this guide. I know many retro gamers will focus on hunting down and maintaining CRTs, but as time goes on, this is becoming much less practical for the average person.

In the end, I thought this would be a fun, lighthearted look at some options for those that are interested. If you have any commentary on the matter, please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below. Just be respectful — not looking for CRT vs LCD wars 😉

Dell UltraSharp 2007FP/2007FPB

You’ll quickly notice the Dell has had a history of making some solid monitors in the first decade of the 21st Century and they actually had a pretty solid habit of routinely making some 4:3/square LCD monitors. The format was actually quite format for their target market of the enterprise business environment.

Another solid and newer entry in Dell’s lineup. This might actually be a best value for you depending on what your needs are. As you may have noticed below, the 2001FP is popular in the Amiga community, so it often has a bit of a price premium, despite being older.

It’s also worth pointing out that the native resolution pf 1600×1200 is evenly divisible by 240p. Important for crispy-looking retro gaming!

These were quite popular in the enterprise world but are now starting to get phased out more, so they are rather plentiful on eBay. But score them while you can.

Note: both the 2007FP and 2007FPB are the same model. The “B” is just for “Business”. They can often be found cheaper, but its just because they were often sold to the enterprise market, which then takes more effort to sell off on the aftermarket.

Community Testimonial:

“I have that exact monitor hooked up to my A2000. You can still buy them used and refurbished on sites like amazon.com for between $40-$100. It correctly displays nearly every screen mode I can throw at it from my Indivision ECS and GVP Spectrum (P96) graphics cards, but does not, to my recollection, display 15KHz modes (even when hooked up to the composite port). That being said, it’s probably the most capable, largest, 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) screen you’re going to be able to find out there for any sort of reasonable price” – Oldsmobile_Mike

“the one to get [this product era] is the 2007FP because its native 1600×1200 is evenly divisible by 240p and it supports S-Video and Composite input as well.” @retrobitstv

“Towards the end of the 4:3 era you could already find decent IPS LCDs, with reasonable response times (the kind you would get from today’s 60Hz LCDs). The Dell 2007FP is one example. It’s 16ms ISO on paper, 6-8ms average grey-to-grey. The black values were not great, though.”- red_avatar

“IPS panel. Great color and viewing angles. I have a few, and haven’t found better at the correct size and ratio. Nice rotating stand, so if you like shmups, or classics like pac man or Galaga its got that going for it… It’s an old model, but they made a lot of them, and this model holds price well.” – recycledheart

Shop for Dell UltraSharp 2007FP on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell UltraSharp 2007FP on eBay

Dell UltraSharp 2001FP

Another great value from Dell, but it does have a but of a premium in resale over the newer 2007FP model.  This 2001FP UltraSharp model from 2003 is also quite popular for retro enthusiasts (especially popular in the Amiga community) and has a solid industrial design. Not only is a generous screen size, have rotation and VESA mounting ability, but it also has a variety of video inputs — especially interesting for retro gamers that aren’t outputting to Component or HDMI elsewhere.

Community Testimonial:

“The Dell 2001fp is nearly ideal for several reasons. One, it has composite and s-video connectors so you can connect computers like a Commodore 64 or VIC-20 to it. Secondly, it’s old enough that it still has the old-school 4:3 aspect ratio of CRTs. But thirdly, this monitor is able to sync down to 15 kHz, so a stock Amiga works with it (see this Youtube video for example). Yes, this means a cheap and common LCD 20″ monitor can substitute for a rare and expensive Amiga monitor. “

Dave Farquhar

“I have a Dell 2001FP that is pretty nice. 1600×1200 60Hz, VGA or DVI, and it also has S-Video and composite inputs! Rotatable stand for TATE mode. Can come with a nice integrated soundbar as well.

This model was also prized by some in the Amiga scene because it can accept 15khz RGB over the VGA connector but I didn’t find that worked very well for me. Not a big use case for me though.”

– @raygank

Shop for Dell UltraSharp 2001FP on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell UltraSharp 2001FP on eBay

Dell UltraSharp 1707FO/1907FPt

  • First Production Year: 2006
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $25 to $60 shipped
  • Find on Amazon.com
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024 at 60 Hz
  • Ratio: 5:4
  • Inches: 17 / 19
  • Inputs: DVI
  • VESA Mounting
  • Dell Spec Sheet

If you’re willing to make some compromises, these more budget-minded Dells are a decent option. This is helpful if you’re on a strict budget or you just want multiple square-shaped LCDs in your arsenal and don’t want to splurge on all of them.

The sacrifices of these models compared to the 2001FP and 2007FP above are not only the smaller screen size but they also lack the screen rotation, S-Video and Composite inputs, and they have a lower resolution that doesn’t perfectly divide into 240p like the 1600 x 1200 models.

Community Testimonial:

“It’s an old Dell 1907FPt that I’ve had since the day. Nothing special.” @retrobitstv The budget version of the 2007FP above.

Shop for Dell UltraSharp 1707FO/1907FPt on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell UltraSharp 1707FO/1907FPt on eBay

See Also:

  • Dell UltraSharp 1708FP (eBay)
  • Dell UltraSharp 1908FP (eBay)

Dell 1703FPt

  • First Production Year: 2010
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $30 – $60
  • Find on Amazon.com
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024 at 75 Hz
  • Ratio: 5:4
  • Inches: 17
  • Inputs: DVI-D, VGA
  • VESA Mount

Community Testimonial:

“Accepts VGA, DVI and has 12vDC out for clip on speakers! I have had it for 5 yrs as 2nd hand. No complaints. I also recommend close cousin 1704FPTi. Ive used them for years in 4:3 arcade cabinets. Best feature: it remembers its power state. Kill power (say from main strip) next time you power on the LCD will return to the ON state.”

@RetroBuiltGames

Shop for Dell 1703FPt on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell 1703FPt on eBay

Samsung Syncmaster 710N (or 712 or 713)

Photo courtesy of retrogamesba on Instagram

  • First Production Year: 2004
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $30 – $100
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024 at 75 Hz
  • Ratio: 5:4
  • Inches: 17
  • Inputs: VGA

If you want a no-frills monitor at potentially a low cost and aren’t stressing about the 4:3 vs 5:4 ratio as much, this generation of Samsung Syncmaster models can work out well.  Some enthusiasts like retrogamesba on Instagram loving having it in their hardware rotation for classic PC goodness.

Shop for Samsung Syncmaster 710N on eBay

Dell 2000FP

  • First Production Year: 2001
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $50 – $150
  • Find on Amazon.com
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1600 x 1200 at 60 Hz
  • Ratio: 4:3
  • Inches: 20
  • Inputs: DVI-D, VGA, S-Video, Composite
  • VESA Mounting

These are an older generation and style of Dell monitors. Not quite as elegant or “futuristic” and they also don’t have the rotation and flexibility of the later UltraSharp models. But there is still a 1600 x 1200 with this one and the S-Video + Composite inputs.

Community Testimonial:

“I have a Dell 2000fp (the older one with the big border around the screen). Good is that it has 1600×1200 native resolution, so 800×600 looks sharp as a bitch. Also 320×240 (1600×1200 divided by 5) looks amazing.”

Roman78

Shop for Dell 2000fp on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell 2000fp on eBay

IBM ThinkVision L200P

  • Year: 2003
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $100 – $200
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1600 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
  • Ratio: 4:3
  • Inches: 20
  • Inputs: DVI-D, VGA

If you’re looking for a bit of an iconic retro branding in your classic PC LCD, you might want to consider the IBM ThinkVision series (from before they sold the brand to Lenovo).

But as a longtime Thinkpad fan (and an admirer of the Activa and ThinkStation series of desktops/workstations back in the day), I tend to appreciate the IBM industrial design of the late 90s and early 00s.

While the L200P is a larger display and has the desirable 1600 x 1200 resolution, it wasn’t a mainstream unit like the Dells above, so its a challenge to find a good deal on. If you like the IBM styling and branding, you can look into some of their smaller displays that are much more inexpensive, but often have a 5:4 aspect ratio.

Shop for IBM ThinkVision L200P on eBay

Also 15 Inch & 17 Inch ThinkVision Models

  • $45 – $150 price range
  • Sizes: 15 inch and 17 inch
  • Current Availability: 

If you’re up for smaller units that may be 5:4 ratio, there’s enough different models that it’s not really worth focusing on a particular model at this point (unless somebody shares a really solid recommendation for something I’m overlooking). But because of the era these were sold, you won’t have to weed through any widescreen models while shopping.

Shop for IBM ThinkVision LCD Monitors on Amazon.com

Shop for IBM ThinkVision LCD Monitors on eBay

Dell E1715S E Series

  • Year: 2014
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges : $50 – $130
  • Find on Amazon.com
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024 at 60 Hz
  • Ratio: 5:4
  • Inches: 17
  • Inputs: VGA, Display Port.

While it doesn’t have as many retro gaming bells and whistles as the Dell units above, this one is still available for purchase new today and features some newer screen advancements — including LED backlighting. It does have Display Port instead of something like DVI, but something worth considering

Shop for Dell E1715S E Series on Amazon.com
Shop for Dell E1715S E Series on eBay

Pretty in Beige: Samsung SyncMaster 151S

  • LCD Monitor 15″ (beige)
  • Year: 2002
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges: $50 – $150
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1024 x 768 @ 75 Hz
  • Ratio: 4:3
  • Inches: 15
  • Inputs: VGA

This one is an interesting piece. It’s not the best bang for the buck, but if you’re looking for a bit more of a retro style this. Not only does it have a classic beige case, but it also has some rather interesting buttons on the side. One downside is that it’s VGA input only, but for many of our uses, that may not matter.

I’m kinda wondering if this was primarily sold in Canada as I seem an interesting percentage of sellers on eBay being from Canada.

Shop for Samsung SyncMaster 151S on eBay

LG Flatron L1510S

Found on Reddit

  • Year: 2004
  • Current Availability:
  • Current Price Ranges : $60 to $90
  • Find on eBay
  • Native Resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Ratio: 4:3
  • Inches: 15
  • Inputs: VGA

LG has made some decent monitors over the years and a handful of square designs. The L1510S is one of the few pure 4:3 models, but some of the newer ones listed below are decent but have a 5:4 aspect ratio.

Shop for LG Flatron L1510S on eBay

See Also for LG 5:4 aspect ratio monitors:

  • LG Flatron Slim L1781Q (eBay)
  • LG Flatron L17NS-7 17 (Silver) (eBay)
  • LG Ultra Slim Flatron L1980Q 19″ (eBay)
  • LG Flatron L1732TQ 17″ (eBay)
  • LG Flatron L1920P 17″ (eBay)

Sharp QD-101MM

This one isn’t a super-serious recommendation and you’ll be lucky to find one of these on eBay, but I couldn’t help but share this one I spotted on Reddit.

The LCD is a Sharp QD-101MM, a 640×480, active matrix TFT from 1996 that cost $2,995 at launch! It is actively cooled with a fan that is louder than the LC!

“From the photo, the viewing angles appear to be surprisingly good for a screen this old, but that’s probably an illusion.

jade_nekotenshi

Given the price, it might be an early IPS or MVA/PVA panel, which have pretty good viewing angles.

DdCno1

IPS screens were originally advertised as Super TFTs in 1996, so the manufacturer would have likely used that term instead of merely calling it an active matrix TFT, which have been on the market since 1992.”

Shop for Sharp QD-101MM on eBay

Honorable Mentions

  • ViewSonic VA705b 17″ – $35-$45 price range – solid brand for displays and a quite reasonable price range. (eBay)
  • Gateway LCDs – another nice nostalgia brand. They have a handful of models that are in silver (model FPD1530) beige (model FPD1730- eBay) or black (model FPD1765 – eBay)

What’s Your Thoughts on LCDs for Retro/Classic Use?

Do you have a model of LCD monitor that’s been a good fit for you?  Is there one you’re going to add to your watchlist?   I’d love to hear your feedback of this piece in the comments section below.

I hope you found this useful!


19 Comments

kevin s. says:

Great article! I’ve definitely considered getting n 4:3 LCD over the years but had never fully looked into it so this is perfect, thank you for the write up

racketboy says:

Thank you! And half the time with an article like this it starts with a similar curiosity and I decide to just document and share the process 🙂 I figure somebody else would find it useful too!

JoeAwesome says:

No love for the Sony LMD 1410/1420? I have the 1420, and it looks good for 2D RGB, but has the typical issues with black color and viewing angles. No computer inputs, though: Composite, Component (but no 480p or higher), S-Video, and RGB via Component only.

racketboy says:

They didn’t come up in my recommendations and research before, but I’d love to look into them! I’ve always loved Sony’s industrial design — thanks for the recommendation!

Graham W says:

Nice article. I use an American Dynamics 17” Multi Input monitor. Model ADLCD17MB. The LCD screen is a 5ms 1280 x 1024 withHDMI, VGA, Y/C, and BNC inputs and headphone and small built in speakers. Most critical for me, is that the monitor supported PAL and NTSC at 15kHz – which meant I could use it with an Amiga. Worth checking out.

racketboy says:

Very cool — thanks for sharing Graham. I’m looking forward to expanding this guide with more recommendations like this 🙂

Andrew K says:

I had a Samsung SyncMaster 214T back in the day that I loved. 21 inch 4:3 with excellent contrast and response time. It is probably hard to find and pricey, but fits into what this guide is all about.

racketboy says:

Yeah, some of the Samsungs are hard to find for a good price. Not quite as plentiful as the Dell units. But I’ll keep an eye on these and consider for further expansion of this guide — thanks!

allcaps says:

Pretty interesting article. I’ve been giving more thought lately to using period-correct displays with my older systems, so this was pretty helpful. I don’t know if I’ll go to eBay for these but I will for sure look at 4:3 monitors I find at the thrift/flea closer than before.

racketboy says:

That’s a good strategy as well — thanks for chiming in with feedback — always nice to hear people find this useful!

Willem Elbers says:

you’re right with the soundbar!

Willem Elbers says:

This is a great article, I wish I had it when I started looking for a good 4:3 LCD monitor last year. After doing my own research, I eventually arrived at the DELL Ultrasharp 2007FP. I am really happy with it.

What you don’t mention in the article is that it has a small speaker hooked to the bottom-side of the screen. While the sound quality is not super, it is really a big plus.

racketboy says:

Nice choice and glad you’ve found it useful 🙂 I do mention the sound bar on that and a couple other Dell units. It’s optional, but pretty cool!

John says:

One which I think trumps every one of these is the NEC professional series (or at least meant for high-end graphic designers / engineers to use). I think the NEC P212 (21.3″ 4:3 IPS screen) is the last/newest model. People still do the “it’s not produced anymore, lets ask double MSRP” thing on Amazon/eBay on it, but can be had cheap if you find on Craigslist or OfferUp or FB Marketplace or whatnot since it looks like an antiquated 4:3 model like the rest. Earlier NEC professional models, which I honestly can’t tell much of a difference from those and the newer version), are the LCD2090 and LCD2190. BONUS: ALL of these are available in silver which IMO better matches the old Beige computer cases from the past (the silver actually looks like beige in some pictured). These all are so overbuilt they have built in handles, can buy aftermarket handles for them, can wall mount them, put in server racks I think. The included stand is gas piston/balanced to the weight of the monitor – or something like that – and lets you rotate the monitor 90º for those sweet TATE shmups.

racketboy says:

Yeah I figured there was some professional ones like that, but was hard for me to track down info. But thanks for sharing some specifics. I’ll be sure to add those in the next revisions!

Jean says:

Good topic, Racketboy I would love you to analyze now the CRT TVs for our beloved Retro consoles since I have noticed that the larger the image tends to get ugly.

Gui says:

That’s because you can’t use a CRT TV like a CRT PC monitor : the larger the TV is, the farther you stand 😉

Missing from this guide are the 480p EDTV 20″ LCD TVs which offer great support for 240p and 480p and mean that you get pixel-perfect scaling-free results Wii/GC, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3/2/1 and more besides. Philips made the best sets like this, with an IPS panel by LG/Philips for the display (yes, in 2006!) and DVI/VGA connector. Some other manufacturers used the same LG/Philips IPS panel. The trick is to find a set with VGA/DVI input so you can use the PC mode which does not have an image processing applied to it. I’m in Europe so I use the Philips 20PF4121, which is simply glorious. Here’s a spreadsheet that should help you find a suitable TV. Please contact me @gingerbeardman on twitter with details of your buying choice and experiences: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1HOEvXkjMTum_Vd1CJ0RrpvgH0a_Uo0zJc9RwUtfZVZ0/edit?usp=sharing

Note that Sharp used their own panel and Samsung used a different panel, neither of which are IPS and so not as good.

racketboy says:

Very cool — thanks for sharing this info! Looking forward to digging in!

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