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How to Build a Kick-Ass MAME Arcade Cabinet from an Old PC

LCD Monitor

So, you’re willing to give up a little authenticity for the convenience of being able to find, install, and not get maybe-killed by a monitor? That’s ok, we don’t blame you, and in fact we think that LCD screens are a perfectly respectable alternative to CRT monitors.

Pros:

• Lightweight and easy to install.
• Cheaper than a CRT, and much easier to find.
• You might have a spare one lying around.

Cons:

• Too-sharp picture means the games don’t exactly look like they did in 1986.

For our second cabinet top, we used a lovely 21.5” Asus LCD, which we chose because it fit the table nicely, and had a wide horizontal viewing angle (important for a monitor that you’ll be looking down at, from the side much of the time).

Our experience installing the LCD was a much easier one than with the CRT. Scott over at Arcade Depot routed us out a custom cabinet top, with a hole and bezel cut that were the exact right size for the monitor. We just dropped the display in, then fastened it down with a couple strips of metal strapping and some wood screws. After that, all we had to do was attach the top panel, with screen, to the rest of the cabinet.

The custom-cut cabinet top for the LCD monitor

Other

It’s also possible to use an old CRT television or monitor, which will give you a picture quality somewhere in between an arcade monitor and an LCD. They’re still heavy and bulky, but you should be able to find one for much cheaper than either of the other options. In other words, if you don’t mind a display that’s middle-of-the-road in pretty much every way, this might be the cost-effective solution for you.

No matter what you do, though, here’s one major tip: Use a bezel.

Image Credit: ArcadeShop

In arcade machines, the bezel specifically refers to the piece of plastic or cardstock used to hide the edges of the monitor. You can make your own by cutting black card to fit around your monitor, but more often than not this ends up looking pretty janky. Instead, we recommend picking up a molded plastic bezel. Most arcade suppliers sell them, sized for all common monitors, for less than $25. Considering how much better they make a project look, we definitely think this is a worthwhile expense.

Our 19"arcade monitor without a bezel

And with a bezel.