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Over the years, gaming screens progressively grew in size and quality. From the old, small but heavy cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors and TVs, to the new, large, high-definition, thin and light LED screens and TVs of today. Some of the most cutting-edge LED screens and TVs can be at least 77”, which is a huge screen size, especially for gaming.
But sometimes, this is not big enough for a gamer. If you want to really immerse yourself in your games, what you need is the best gaming projector. This will allow you to see your games in life-size proportions, and truly have a one of a kind gaming experience.
These gaming projectors aren’t the same ones you might have encountered in school or in the meeting room of an office. The best gaming projectors go beyond simply projecting presentations or movies. They can deliver the same performance and image quality as some of the best modern TVs and screens out there. But with one key advantage: they can project your games on very big walls!
The best projectors for gaming will give you everything you’ve ever wanted in a screen. Huge screen, flexible playing options, portability, vivid graphics? Those are all possible with this trendy device. Plus, you can even use your projector as a home cinema, too. With a gaming projector, having your friends over for a movie night or a gaming session is entirely possible.
Gaming projector: what is it?
When watching a movie in a theatre, ever notice that the images you’re seeing aren’t coming from the screen itself? That’s right: the source of the images is actually coming from a different device. This device, called a projector, emits video signals that cast it outwards via an advanced lens system.
A gaming projector works the same way. The only difference with a cinema projector is that it’s specially designed to work well with our gaming consoles. It can project the desired high-resolution display perfect for gaming.
How does it work?
A gaming projector makes use of lasers or luminescent light bulbs to cast images towards a screen or flat surface. The unit of measurement for the light source is called lumens. Basically, the higher the lumens, the brighter the display. So, if you’re going to place the projector in a brighter room, you’ll need it to have a higher lumens. We’ll discuss this more in detail in a bit.
The benefits of having the best projector for gaming
- Humongous screens. Gaming projectors come in varying sizes, and it’s up to you how big you want it. 100-inch and higher are the common display sizes, so having a set-up as big as a theatre is possible.
- Great graphics. Want to play as if you’re actually in the game itself? Then a gaming projector is key. The best ones offer great resolutions (i.e., HD, 4K) that will give you vivid colors, fine details, and a truly immersive experience.
- Specially-designed for gaming. Unlike regular projectors, the ones for gaming offer exceptional image quality and low response times, both essential factors in gaming.
- Affordable. You might think these guys don’t come in cheap, but they actually do. You can get a excellent unit for as low as 300 bucks. And, because they’re flexible, you can also use them for purposes other than gaming.
Looking for the best projectors for gaming might not be that easy, though. Buying a regular projector won’t give you the essential features you need as a gamer. In fact, there are three factors you need to consider before even buying one. These will influence your choices in looking for the most suitable projector for you.
The first thing you need to consider is your platform. The modernness of your console is relevant in identifying the resolution it can accommodate. If you have a modern platform, then go for 1080p or 4k. But, if your platform is a little outdated, pick a 720p projector instead.
The second consideration is your environment. Projectors tend to be sensitive to light. So, if you’re going to place it outdoors (hard to achieve, but doable), then get a projector with high contrast and luminosity levels. If you’re going to use them indoors, you’d still need lots of curtains and dim lights.
Lastly, you need to determine your space. Projectors have varying distance requirements in order to work correctly (more on this later). Some are okay being placed within short distances from the screen or surface. But, others might require as much as 8 feet of distance.
Being able to identify these three will help you figure out what you need in a projector. Now, the next step is to consider the key features of the best projectors for gaming.
Features to Look For
Just as you look for key specs when buying appliances, the same is required if you want to spot the best projectors for gaming. When looking for a gaming projector, you’ll be encountering a ton of technical words. But don’t worry, because we’re here to explain what those jargons are. Below are the primary considerations and what they mean.
An input lag is perhaps the most essential feature gamers must look for in a projector. It refers to the time it takes for the screen to react when pressing a button. For gamers, nothing’s worse than a lag between the time they press the controls and the time the result appears. The lag is measured in milliseconds, and the lower it is, the better.
When checking for this feature, you want to look for a 30ms rate or lower. But, many projectors out there offer much lower levels of input lag. Some newer units even offer an input lag as low as 16ms. These projectors are great for those who enjoy fast-paced games such as Battlefield 1.
The input lag is often mistaken for response time. These two are actually different. The response time refers to the speed at which pixels adjust from one color to another. Ideally, the higher the response time, the better. But this might not be the best option for fast-paced games that involve a lot of camera jerking. The speedy response time might cause motion blur. This is also not a good choice for people with vertigo.
The refresh rate refers to the frames you’ll see per second. It is measured in Hz, and the higher the number is, the better. If the projector’s refresh rate is lower than 30Hz, you’ll be able to notice stuttering, tear, and other visual slip-ups. The highest quality projectors will offer a refresh rate of 144Hz. Ones with 60Hz are fine for most people, though. If you’re not so keen on it, you won’t even be able to distinguish the difference.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the resolution of your projector relies on the kind of platform you own. If you use a current-gen console (i.e., Xbox One, Xbox One X, PC, PS4, PS4 Pro, Nintendo Switch), then your projector must be at least 1920×1080. If you have a last-gen console (i.e., Xbox 360 or PS3), then a resolution of 1280×720 is okay. If you plan to use your projector for watching movies, then a 1080p-resolution is the way to go.
4K projectors are also ideal for those who game on PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, and a powerful gaming PC. But, this modern technology is quite pricey. There are budget options out there, which will cost you about a thousand bucks. The problem with this alternative, though, is that their input lag is high.
While budget is also important, we highly recommend against buying an XGA, VGA, or SVGA projector. Yes, they’re cheap, but they’re only great for powerpoint slides. They’re not going to be able to handle your gaming requirements.
Another critical feature in gaming projectors is the throw type. This function determines how far the projector needs to be away from the screen. A long-throw is the standard for projectors. It requires a distance of 10 feet to project a 100-inch display. It is more common than short- and ultra-throws. If you have a more spacious room, lucky for you – you won’t need to spend as much. Long-throw projectors are much cheaper.
However, if you have a fairly small room, you can’t use a long throw because it will only blur out the display. A short- or ultra-throw projector is your best option. A short-throw can project a 100-inch display from a distance of 3 to 5 feet. An ultra-throw can project in an even shorter distance – less than 3 feet.
Also referred to as brightness, this is another important feature when looking for the best projectors for gaming. The luminosity determines how bright and vivid the display will appear on your screen. When determining the right lumen count, you need to consider two things. First is the size of your screen, and the second is where you’ll place the projector.
Smaller screens will require a lower lumens count, while larger ones will need a higher count.
Brighter rooms exposed to natural light will need at least 3000 lumens to project vivid output. In this case, a projector with a lower lumens count will only result in a blurred picture. These projectors tend to be expensive.
Higher-lumens projectors are also ideal for those who play scary and gloomy FPS’s. Playing on a low-lumens projector might prevent you from spotting enemies hiding in the shadows.
If you want to save a few bucks, though, then you might want to buy some heavy curtains and blinds. The ideal room for gaming is one that’s void of ambient light. If you have such a room, then you may opt for 1500-2500 lumens. These projectors are much cheaper.
The contrast ratio refers to the difference between the brightest and darkest spots a projector displays. Your projector’s contrast ratio must be high enough to make you see shadows and lighting effects that computer games nowadays can offer.
Affordable projectors typically have a contrast ratio of 5000:1, which isn’t a good number. The most expensive projectors will give you a ratio of up to 100,000:1. But, a 40,000:1 ratio is acceptable if the projector’s resolution and lumens are pretty decent.
After a certain period, your projector’s bulb needs replacing. The bulb life varies from one projector to another. If you want a long-lasting bulb, then get a projector with a minimum of 6,000 hours of usage. This will allow more than a year’s worth of gameplay without needing to replace the bulb.
Projectors offer a wide range of input and output options. You might think these may not be as important, but you’d be wrong. For instance, the refresh rate is typically dependent on your input and output format. So, you need to make sure that your cord can reach your desired refresh rate. Also, while some cords can carry audio signals (i.e., HDMI), others don’t have such capacity (i.e., DVI).
Gamers usually mount their projectors to a ceiling or a hard-to-reach area. In these cases, we highly recommend opting for a wireless projector. A Bluetooth projector, for instance, will be able to receive wireless audio signals from a mounted projector.
This is particularly important if you’re going to use the projector specifically for console gaming. Thankfully, though, the majority of projectors come with an HDMI. So it’s quite unlikely to buy a projector without one.
Just like monitor speakers, built-in speakers are not critical features in a gaming projector. Yes, even the ones found in the most expensive units. Gamers need a good set of external speakers, particularly if they enjoy games with great soundtracks (i.e., Cuphead, Persona 5, Nier: Automata, and Transistor). As such, please don’t use this as a deciding factor when getting a projector.
But, if you have no other choice but to rely on built-in speakers, then get a projector that has dual speakers. They’re not too loud, but they’re good enough to support your game. Don’t expect quality from these speakers, though.
Say you’ve finally purchased a gaming projector. The next step is to set it up. You might think this would be a challenge, but a lot of models out there work as a plug-and-play. The most challenging part is really finding the exact spot where to put it. Other than that, it’s a breeze. Here are the simple steps you need to take to set-up your projector.
Ideally, the best place to install a projector is high up on the ceiling. Up there, it’s safe, and nothing and no one will get in the way of the beam. But, that might take time and professional help. As such, we’re here to present an alternative solution.
The easiest route is to just place it in between your screen and wherever you’re seated. But, a word of caution: make sure to protect it with a layer of covering. There’s nothing worse than destroying your projector by spilling your drink onto it.
When it comes to distance, you’ve got your throw rate to base on. Keep in mind that newer and pricier models have a shorter throw rate, so you won’t have to place your projector too far from the screen.
Another thing to consider is the positioning of the projector. For instance, if you place it low behind your couch, you might encounter unwanted shadows. A good alternative is buying a ceiling mount, which costs less than 20 bucks.
Another consideration is the screen or surface. If you have a high-quality projector, it will work on a white wall. Lower quality projectors will work too, but the color and contrast might be compromised. As an alternative, you can actually paint a screen surface onto your wall. This is an excellent option if you have a small room and can’t afford to lose space.
The problem with painting a screen surface though, is that applying it can be pretty messy. And, should you need to relocate, it’s not like you can bring the entire wall with you. A good counter-option is to buy a fixed screen or one that you can mount on a stand.
When looking for the best projectors for gaming, it’s only natural to want one that’s affordable. And while it’s tempting to get a cheap projector, it might only compromise your gaming experience. You might have saved up on a few bucks, but you will have to get used to visual lags.
Cheap projectors also come in low quality-bulbs, which implies playing in a dark screen. Plus, these projectors are also prone to overheating. So to sum things up, nope, don’t get a cheap projector. After all, you’re choosing to buy a projector to upgrade your experience. So investing in a good one is the right way to go. Yes, it will cost you more, but it’s going to give you a better outcome.
How important is high resolution?
Very. As a matter of fact, buying a projector with the wrong resolution will be completely pointless. Projectors are specifically designed to accommodate wider screens, so having proper resolution is vital. After all, what is the point of having a huge screen if the images are pixelated or stretched? As such, getting a projector with a higher resolution is essential.
The highest resolution there is is the 4K or the 38x0x2160p. It’s great not just for gaming, but for watching movies as well. The majority of game consoles produce 4K visuals – and they look fantastic. But, they are a lot more expensive than HD and lesser resolutions. So, if you’re on a budget, this might not be worth it.
It is also essential to know what your platform’s minimum resolution requirements are. As such, here is a list of gaming consoles and their corresponding minimum resolution.
|Xbox One X|
The shelf-life of the light bulbs varies from projector to projector. If the bulbs burn out, they could always be replaced. However, the price and difficulty level are dependent on where your projector is placed. If it’s mounted in a hard-to-reach area, then it will likely take an entire day. It will also cost you more. As such, if your bulbs’ shelf-life is quite short, you might want to place your projector in an easily accessible area.
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Game manufacturers might say their bulbs will last 5,000 hours to impress you. However, bulb experts will recommend replacing it after 1000 hours to get you to buy more bulbs. But ultimately, this depends on you. If you notice that your projector is starting to get a little dark, that’s your cue. Of course, you have the option of delaying it until your bulb burns out. Other gamers like to replace their bulbs when trying out a new game to have the best gaming experience. Again, this is your call.
Companies launch new models annually, so they tend to discontinue the production of older units and parts. As such, buying a bulb that goes with your model might take longer and cost you a lot more. So yes, we highly recommend that you purchase spare bulbs when you buy a projector. Especially if you plan to use this model regularly and keep it around for a while, having one or two spare bulbs can’t hurt.
Yes. The tendency for projectors to malfunction is higher than that of a TV or other appliances. Because projectors make use of a hot bulb for hours, they are more prone to failures. In fact, it’s not uncommon to break your projector in just six months.
Sadly, no technology has been discovered to improve on this flaw yet. So your best bet is to invest in a good warranty. This is especially important if you’re buying an expensive projector.
If you need to have your projected mounted onto a ceiling, it’s wise to seek professional help. Screwing things and installing cables might be too complicated. Doing it yourself might only make it worse. Having an expert install it for you will cost around $180, but there’s no price for peace of mind. The professional will also offer helpful tips and guidelines that you won’t get if you try it yourself.
Yes, projectors are generally better than TV or computer screens. Since they are larger, it allows our eyes to adjust better to the light. This means that your eyes won’t get as much strained as they do when you play using a monitor in a dark room.
Top 5 Best Projectors for Gaming
Now that you know some pros and cons about the best gaming projectors, here are our top 5 picks!
Overall Best Gaming Projector
- Brightness – 3,000 lumens
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160
- Contrast: 1 million to 1
- Price: $1,599
With a tremendous overall set of features like multiple inputs, 1.6x lens zoom, 18Gbps HDMI 2.0, and projection capability of up to 300”, the Optoma UHD60 is consistently the best choice for projector gaming.
If you’re not new to the projector game, then you might have already heard about Optoma. This brand is well-known for producing high-quality projectors of all shapes and sizes.
The UHD60 is Optoma’s 4K-enabled model. Unlike other 4K models that only project lesser-quality images, this one actually produces a genuine 3840×2160 resolution. That means it has 8.3 million pixels and 3,000 lumens. These specs are more than enough for any gaming requirements.
Their color spectrum is also quite remarkable. With REC2020 sets, you can enjoy your game with vibrant colors and top-notch lighting effects. Even if you are 10 feet away from the screen, you may still appreciate its 4K quality.
The Optoma UHD60 is also compatible with HDR. It makes use of UltraDetail technology – meaning you can expect clear images even if you zoom in, shift, or throw. So, even if you position the projector in strange angles, it will still deliver perfectly.
Best Gaming Projector For Budget Gaming
- Brightness – 2,200 lumens
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Contrast: 15,000 to 1
- Price: $783.27
If your budget is limited, but still want high-quality projector gaming, the BenQ is for you. Especially useful for small rooms, the BenQ can project a 100” screen from just 3 feet away from the wall!
While BenQ is not as well-known as other video companies, the Taiwanese manufacturer does produce award-winning equipment. Recently, they took their expertise to the projector game and created top-notch models. Their HT2150ST is no exception. It’s a versatile projector that has an impressive contrast ratio and a short-throw ratio.
What’s great about the HT2150ST is its small input lag. Its response rate is just the right speed needed for gaming. The fact that it is a short-throw lets you place it within a short distance of 5 feet, which is excellent for small rooms.
But perhaps its most underrated feature is its 20W stereo speakers. This is perfect for those who can’t afford to have a piece of external audio equipment in their room. Unlike the usual built-in 10W speakers most projectors have, its 20Ws give off loud-enough audio that can fill a medium space.
The only disadvantage we noticed with the HT2150ST is its connectivity. It only makes use of HDMI as it is a short-throw, so if you need to use cords such as DisplayPort, you’ll need to get an adaptor. While this is only a minor issue for some, those who use models with modern GPUs might find this a huge problem.
Best Budget Wireless Gaming Projector
EUG Wireless Projector
- Brightness – 3,900 lumens
- Resolution: 1280 x 800 with 1080p support
- Contrast: 5000 to 1
- Price: $380
If you’re not a fan of wires, or simply want a projector you can easily move around (like if you are using a high-end gaming laptop) then the EUG is the projector of choice.
With the EUG Wireless Projector, you get a 3,600-lumen bulb that offers clear and vivid visuals. Its resolution is 1,200×800 and a contrast ratio of 4:4001. These specs mean that you get a display that’s easy on the eyes. This makes it great for gamers who like playing for hours on end.
The LED bulb is pretty impressive as well, with a shelf-life of 17 years. The projector comes with a pair of built-in cooling fans that will regulate the temperature for long hours of gaming. Its throw ratio is 6.5 feet and can accommodate screens from 50 to 200 inches.
The greatest thing about this device is its wireless capacity. With the EUG Wireless Projector, gamers can simply connect their controller to the projector via Wifi. For an affordable price, you can already enjoy a smooth and lag-free wireless experience.
While it is not as high up there as expensive models, the model is incredibly affordable for the features it offers. Its best characteristic is its connectivity feature that you won’t get in other similarly-priced models.
Best Top Of The Line Gaming Projector
Sony 4K VPL-VW695ES
- Brightness – 1,800 lumens
- Resolution: 4096 x 2160
- Contrast: 350,000 to 1
- Price: $9,998
A very high-end projector for the elite gamer or home theater owner, the Sony 4K VPL is packed with features that will turn your gaming experience into a masterpiece every single time. Advanced Iris with 350k to 1 dynamic contrast, Motionflow, and full 4K resolution delivers some of if not the best gaming projector images out in the market today, for a price.
While there is a myriad of 4K projectors out there, there is nothing quite like the Sony 4K VPL-VW695ES. Most 4K projectors aren’t what they seem. They don’t really offer 4K resolution per se. Rather, they make use of pixel shifting or flashing images several times to simulate 4K images.
But, that’s not what the Sony VPL-VW695ES does. With its 4,096×2,160 resolution, you can expect more than just a blown-up picture.
Its luminosity is 1,800 lumens and its contrast ratio is 350,000:1. It’s not the greatest, but this won’t be a problem if you’re playing in a darkened room with zero exposure to ambient light. If you’re considering spending 10,000 bucks on a gaming projector, the odds are you have such a gaming room.
Best Gaming Projector for Android
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Price: $799
Don’t let our recommendation fool you. This isn’t just for mobile gaming. However, the JMGO N7 does come equipped with Android already. This makes not only mobile gaming, but also other tasks like presentations or surfing the web, on the projector very easy and convenient.
This is perfect for those who want to play but do not own a console or a gaming PC. This is the only stand-alone projector on our list. It comes with its very own Android OS, meaning you can install and stream apps, play music, and watch videos using the projector alone.
Apart from the OS, it is also equipped with its very own Wifi, quad-core CPU, and an internal storage. For a speedier connection, you may also opt for a wired ethernet cable. You can even plug USB (2.0 and 3.0) flash drives and have the video files play on the projector!
With the JMGO N7, you may also go the classic route of plugging in an external device because it comes with an HDMI output. With a resolution of 1080p and a contrast ratio of 9,000:1, this projector is right up the alley of top-notch models.
Additionally, the JMGO N7 has a built-in pair of Dolby Digital 5W speakers. It may be connected via Bluetooth, so you may play and stream music the wireless route.
Our Final Thoughts
The best projectors for gaming a great at giving you an enjoyable experience you won’t get in a small monitor. With a projector, you and your buddies can enjoy your favorite game without having to squish together in a confined space. And, if you’re tired of playing, you can switch your projector into a home entertainment.
We hope that this article has helped you learn a bit more about projectors. We also wish that you’ve found a model you like from our list. Happy gaming!