The Overlooked Component
There is one computer component that many people overlook when they looking for a quality system. Oddly enough, this component is also the one device that you are looking at the most when using your computer. If you happen to stink at typing, this would be your keyboard, but I'm actually talking about your monitor.
I find it interesting how when it comes to a computer/component purchases, people seem to put the least amount of thought (and money) into the monitor choice. Everything you do, everything you ask from your computer is going to be reported to you in livid technicolor on your monitor. Be it a web page, a game, or even your secret stash of "Brandon eating BBQ" JPEGs, the presentation of all of these things are affected by your choice of CRT. All the visual interactions you have with your computer take place through that big old electron box sitting right there in front of you.
Cardboard and Bread or Sugar and Spice?
We gamers are simple folk. We don't need the latest and greatest in cutting edge monitor technology to get in some eye-pleasing fragging, but at the same time, we don't want to be staring at a low-res, blurry mess of gibs either. We want our gibs looking sharp and red, and we want it without totally breaking our (or our parents') bank account.
There is no one simple answer to which CRT is good for you, because the choice that will fit your needs is probably going to be different from the best choice for someone else. As I said, we gamers are simple people. We aren't doing brain surgery here, so those super expensive LCD displays are more or less overkill for our needs (not to mention that they're terrible for FPS games). At the same time, you want to shoot at an opponent larger than your thumb, and want gib trails that come out nice and clean.
Many monitor polls have pointed out that 17" is the most popular size, so I'm going to focus mostly on monitors of this screen size. I am also going to attempt to stay under $300 as well as sticking to well known brands. Since this is supposed to be a "low cost" guide, you won't find any uber models with huge price tags here. We are going to focus on brand name, good quality 17" monitors. Please note that I tend to use the terms "monitor" and "CRT" (Cathode Ray Tube) interchangeably -both refer to the "monitor".