When you hear of gaming projectors it probably brings to mind grainy co-op sessions in Halo 2 with dull visuals and blurred graphics. Gaming Projectors have long since matured into a fantastic medium for communal gaming, immersive RPGs, movie nights on Xbox One, and even competitive gaming. The Gaming Projector of today can achieve 4K visuals, HDR10, and run at much higher refresh rates than ever before. They are also more complex with new features and a steeper learning curve than ever before.
Some of you are Gaming Projector veterans and can jump right into our products below. We selected our favorite gaming projectors of 2020 and placed them in several different but important categories. We have also seen our share of poor Gaming Projector setups. Most consumers are in the dark about what makes a projector good or bad and what matters. So we created a buying guide that will walk you through the important features and aspects you need to know about in order to make an informed decision. If you have questions about anything projector related, just hop on down below to our buying guide and start learning!
66-107-inches at 8ft-12ft
Up to 100-inches at 4.9ft
90-134-inches at 8ft-12ft
100-inches at under 4ft
100 inch at 15-inches; 60 at 4.3-inches
Up to 120 inches at 4ft2in
35-160-inches at 3.93ft-15.74ft
Up to 100-inches at 9ft
Up to 42-167-inches at 8ft-16ft
Best Gaming Projector
With the best balance of power, quality, and price the Optoma comes in as our #1 pick.
We aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen in love with the Optoma HD142X. This projector has been making rounds as one of the best balances of overall price and quality. Full HD visuals and a huge screen space fit into a relatively small form factor. You need around 8 feet of room to get this bad boy started as it is not a short throw projector. Still from 8 feet away the picture is clear, bright, and expands up to a total of as you move outward 107-inches.
First and foremost, the Optoma offers 1080p visuals that look really sharp. It’s the perfect projector for a home theater or a small set-up that wants to play at 1080p. The number one factor in selecting a good projector will always be the richness and fullness of the image. Optoma nails this in a low-light setting and the HD142X does well in a normally lit room too. The onboard speakers are pretty standard at 10W but sound good enough for most purposes. We also love the lamp-life extending up to 8,000 hours meaning that bulb replacements come every few years instead of annually. It’s solid. Small enough to fit most places, and our favorite projector of the current 1080p offerings. The contrast ratio is high enough to show the deep blacks you need for the latest survival horror FPS or watch dim movies provided that you keep light pollution low. We found that the HD142X was very responsive and limited in screen tearing due to the high refresh rate. Ultimately the largest deciding factor in making the HD142X our top choice was that PC Gamers can use this without feeling held back by refresh rate related issues.
Our largest complaint about the HD142X is that 8 feet isn’t optimal for everyone. Compared to a short throw projector you have a large distance to cover before it works best. That means you really need to plan your room out before purchasing which isn’t that difficult to do.
Recommended for any modern console (PS4, Xbox One) or generic use.
Best 1080p Gaming Projector
Our favorite projector also does 1080p!
HD142X is the king of 1080p. Read our take up above!
A stellar option with stellar contrast ratio, beautiful color, and short-throw projection.
BenQ is a relatively unknown Taiwanese company that produces low-key award-winning video equipment such as television sets and monitors. They took the expertise that allows them to create top-tier products and applied it to projectors. The HT2150ST is a fantastic model. It’s ultimately a versatile machine with a stellar contrast ratio, beautiful color, and short-throw projection. The most overlooked feature on the HT2150ST is the set of 20W Stereo Speakers. Rather than attach the small but useful 10W models that most projectors use, the 20W Stereo Speakers really allow the HT2150ST to sound loud and full in a medium-sized room. It’s particularly useful for those who find connecting audio equipment challenging.
As a gamer one of the most important aspects of a projector is that it actually is good for gaming. A large portion of gaming projectors fail at this basic step because they attempt to avoid the most important factors for a gamer. For instance input lag. The HT2150ST feels responsiveness and flawless, taking into account the needed speed for gaming. Another important feature is the ability of this projector to work in a very small space. The HT is perfect for those who don’t have a 20ft room to game in and just want the awesome perks of a projector with the convenience that a television offers. As a short throw model you only need 5 ft to project 100-inches. Ideally you’ll be behind the projector as that’s not a lot of wiggle room but it’s perfect for events and making a small room feel huge.
The one thing we didn’t like was the connectivity options. Since the HT only uses HDMI some setups may require an adaptor for using common cords like DisplayPort. This is a minor inconvenience but can be a real issue with modern GPUs and Apple products slowly moving away from HDMI. The HT2150ST misses a great opportunity here because they have a really good product that is responsive enough to warrant different input types. PC Gamers will want to use this projector but may need to get an adaptor to convert to HDMI or opt for the HD142X.
Honorable Mention (1080p)
Epson Home Cinema 2040
Best 1080p contrast ratio of our picks!
The 2040 really shines when it comes to image quality. While it is 1080p like many other models, Epson has produced a projector with amazing color depth, insane contrast levels, and great lumens. That means you get a projector that can play Fallout 76 with all the stunning glory of post-apocalyptic West Virginia and none of the washed out greyish tones that a cheap projector offers. The 2040 is king of the 1080p Contrast Ratio meaning that you get the best color quality on the market. It also has a few legacy input and output options.
As a gaming projector the 2040 checks off all the boxes you’d want especially in the color category. It’s the best you’ll find without bumping up to a 4K or HDR compliant model. Color unfortunately isn’t enough to win us over the high refresh rate and balanced price of our other two picks but for those who have a need for true color or bright rooms, you can’t go wrong with the 2040. The screen size is pretty forgivable for a large room but may be a bit too much for a small setting as well. It’s a good, solid projector. It’s largest setting is great for huge parties and taking up an entire wall as well. It’s our recommended pick for those who need the largest 1080p picture.
One of the downsides to this Epson model is the short lamp life. While it does 7,500 hours in Eco mode (Usually not as bright) the 2040 only lasts for 4000 hours before needing a lamp replacement. That means about 500 days of use at 8 hours a day. If you use it for a classroom or are the type to forget to turn your projector off, that might be a problem (Yearly bulb replacements). The fan also clocks in at near 30db which is a bit annoying if you don’t have strong speakers. Make sure to remember that when setting this up.
Short Throw Projectors can make a large picture in a very small space. This is useful for small rooms, portable situations, or presentations. The downside is that they can be more expensive and you have to sit behind the projector in most situations.
Best Short Throw Projector
A 10,000 hour bulb life from a trusted brand in the space. The Optoma is a great choice if you want a short-throw projector.
Optoma has proven time and time again that they are capable of making solid projectors. The Full HD range of the GT1080Darbee is not only an impressive upgrade over the GT1080, but it is also one of the best 1080p options available on the market. With a lengthy lamp life of 10,000 hours this projector will give you over 8 hours of use a day for several years before requiring a new lamp or bulb. That’s a huge boon for those who despise the annual purchase of a new lamp.
The GT1080Darbee pulls out all the stops for gaming with an emphasis on making games run at a smooth 60hz with minimum input lag. Whether it’s the Enhanced Gaming Mode or the unique DarbeeVision technology, the GT1080Darbee is one of the best gaming projectors you’ll come across. The short throw technology alone is amazing for most setups. You get a full 100-inch screen at around 4 Feet. That means it can be close enough to replace a tv or far away enough to entertain a crowd. The contrast ratio of 28000:1 makes the color pop and dark levels deeper than almost any 1080p offering out there. It’s a gorgeous machine. Gaming is fun and feels natural with the GT1080Darbee. We also are huge fans of some of the more modern features such as wireless presentation modes and screencast. This projector pairs really well with those who hit the road often and need to make presentations to groups. It’s not clear if 16ms referred to the input lag or response time. In our experience though it gave one of the smoothest visuals of any projector. Perhaps the Enhanced Gaming Mode is key in that. Either way it is clear that Optoma thought about gamers before drafting this model up.
So what’s not to like? The largest drawback is the list price. If found discounted this projector hands down beats 99% of the ones on the market. Near full price though it’d be more useful to dabble in a 4K monitor. Still don’t let that be discouraging. There are regularly a few of them that can be picked up at a third of the list price.
Runner Up (Short-Throw)
Legitmate gaming on the go. This LG is perfect if you need to take a big screen with you.
LG has probably created our favorite item on this. If it wasn’t for the unique form-factor and price, we’d be hard-pressed not to crown the PF1000UW the champion of Gaming Projectors. Taking the short throw model to the next logical step, the PF1000UW is uniquely suited to replace your living room tv without all the wires and cords. It’s tiny, light, and powerful enough to simulate a big-screen 100-inch television screen from a ridiculously close distance. LG also uses an award winning smart TV platform with the PF1000UW making Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apps, and screen-sharing incredibly simple. It’s bright, unique, and a conversation piece for guests.
We love the PF1000UW for gaming because it allows legitimate gaming on the go. With a system like the Nintendo Switch, you can take your console on the road with you without sacrificing quality. It’s one of the most portable Gaming Projectors around. Unlike bulky projectors, the upward reflected short throw doesn’t give the feeling that you have a device blocking the projection. It’s also aesthetically gorgeous. It can literally replace the tv in your living room without anything feeling out of place. At 5-inches you get a very bright 60-inch screen. It’s a tremendous piece of technology. It’s hard not to undersell the PF1000UW. When gaming you’ll feel as if you are using a television set. It’s responsive. The contrast ratio is beyond anything 1080p ever. 150,000:1 means that you’ll see gorgeous deep rich colors and it’s almost a wonder that the PF1000UW isn’t considered HDR10 compliant. You can’t go wrong with this little device.
We only have one main gripe about the PF1000UW. It’s pricey. You can get a really nice 4K tv for this price or even a 4K projector. If it was a little bit cheaper we’d crown the PF1000UW champion of the gaming projectors. One thing to note as well is that this is a very specific product. Often if products this unique don’t get adopted by a mainstream audience the manufacturer drops support. It’s important to consider that you may have trouble finding a bulb or replacing a part in a few years if more models of this nature don’t come to market.
When using older consoles, mobile, or playing classic games like Fallout Tactics, it’s recommended to use a more fitting resolution. We selected our favorite 720p options for vintage gamers.
Best Vintage Gaming Projector
A 720p projector that lets older games look better in their normal resolution.
ViewSonic has a premium quality projector with the resolution of an older television set. It looks stunning for vintage gamers or those using older consoles. Although 720p lacks the clarity and pixel count of 1080p, modern attempts to upscale 720p to 1080p look awful. the PJD5553LWS lets your vintage games breathe and look natural. No more large resolutions with stretching issues. Rather than making your games look unnatural or using digital enhancements that just smudge everything together, this projector lets vintage games breath.
We love the quality that the PJD5553LWS brings to an older form factor. The rich and bold colors of the high contrast ratio mean that it is useful in a brighter setting than traditional 720p projectors. Details you never noticed before in classic games like Red Dead Redemption will pop. Older consoles will feel less dated, rather as if they are for a time and place a little different than today. With the right adaptor this projector also works well with mobile games making some of the newest mobile titles look fantastic. Fallout Shelter looks gorgeous projected onto a wall. You also feel pretty powerful managing a 120-inch vault. We recommend this to gamers who really love to kick back and play old classics like FFVII or dabble in streaming old GameBoy games. It’s a unique projector and will make those games look awesome.
The big downside with the PJD5553LWS is that this projector costs as much as a 1080p model. Due to the large contrast ratio and the high-quality components, it runs the bill up a little. It’s still a crucial component in the arsenal of anyone who wants to throw a party and play the old N64 in all its glory.
Best Budget Vintage Gaming Projector
Simplebeam Projector GP90 Plus
Affordable 720p projector with a minimum 6 ft range. Great value for the money.
Vintage gaming doesn’t take a beast of a projector and while the bells and whistles of a premium 720p projector are certainly stunning, simplebeam offers a stripped down projector for those who want an affordable solution. This is the most affordable and basic projector you’ll find in the 720p range. It is a solid device and has a very long lamp life. This projector can function at under four feet like most throw projectors but the recommended use starts at 5.9ft.
The GP90 Plus is uniquely suited for mobile gaming as it uses a pretty standard mobile resolution, is easy to set up, and compatible with nearly any mobile device. Instead of purely vintage gaming this is a great option for those who stream games like Clash Royale or want to play a mobile game on a larger screen such as PubG. The GP90 is also rated for an incredible 30,000 hours of lamp life. Realistically you couldn’t burn through this with a decade of normal usage. It’s also in a budget range so low that buying a new GP90 is just as valid as replacing the lamp in the projector. We think it’s the perfect item for those who want to have a better mobile experience but don’t have the cash. Most mid-tier Android devices run at 720p as well. It’s an all-around decent machine but it is by no means as good as the other options. After all you get what you pay for. We love that setup is simple and labeled for convenient use as well.
The GP90 Plus has a pretty poor contrast ratio meaning that blacks aren’t dark enough for even a moderately lit environment. It’s a budget projector and in some features that shows. You really need to control the environment with this projector. If you have a dark room and just want to chill and play Pokemon Red on the Super Gameboy though this is your projector of choice!
4K is still a maturing form factor for television sets let alone projectors. That means you can expect some expensive equipment costs if you want a 4K set-up. 4K is best for the most recent round of consoles, the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. 4K also compliments PC Gamers exceedingly well.
Best 4K Gaming Projector
The first 4k projector you don't need a mortgage to buy. If you want the top of the line, look no further.
4K is here to stay but unfortunately nearly all modern 4K projectors break the bank quickly. Add to this that they often run 1080p in an enhanced 4K mode and you have quite the mess on your hands. BenQ has created the purportedly first true 4K projector that you don't need a second mortgage for. Like all emergent technologies it isn’t cheap but you save significantly when propped up against industry stalwarts like the Sony VPL series. It also isn’t clear if BenQ uses some background technology to simulate 4K or if it is true 4K. Regardless it LOOKS like 4K and you’ll be unable to tell the difference. Add to this that it is an HDR10 compliant projector and you have a combination for gorgeous visuals. HDR10 is newer and actually impossible to see on a non-HDR monitor. That’s because it shows a color range and quality that our modern screens just can’t simulate. This projector will change how you view games.
The lamp life is modest at 15,000 hours and the HT2550 checks off all the feature boxes that a gamer will care about. It’s hard not to just rave about the high picture quality and the unreal color palette. As far as screen size goes, the HT2550 is on the smaller size at 100-inches but that’s to be expected for a 4K projector. If you are looking to break into the 4K scene and don’t want to go broke, this is your best option.
So what are the drawbacks? While the refresh rate is not explicitly stated for 4K it could be as low as 24hz but is most likely 30hz. That’s perfect for cinema but not the best for gaming. Most 4K games can’t run above 30hz on console currently though so it won’t be as noticeable. You can also use varying resolutions at higher refresh rates. This shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for console gamers but PC gamers may find this unacceptable as they tend to play in excess of 144hz.
Runner Up (4k)
10x the contrast ratio of the next best option with a price tag to match.
Sony has mastered the design of the projector with the VPL-VW675ES. You literally couldn’t ask for a more beautiful, clear, epic product. Clocking in at 4K the Sony VPL-VW675ES has a contrast ratio that is literally 10x that of our best gaming projector. That means rich, rich colors that are balanced by deep black levels close to real life. It’s expected at this price point that this projector would look unreal and it does. You are no better off going to a movie theater when you have something of this quality at home. A system like this though also deserves a top-notch sound system, a dedicated room, and a purpose. This projector is a niche product for those with lots of money or running unique setups such as nightclubs, business offices, or churches.
We can’t stop raving about how amazing this is for a visual setup. It’ll make your games feel legendary and you’ll be the talk of the town come Super Bowl Sunday. No other projector can compete. And that’s almost all to be said. Refresh rate, contrast ratio, resolution. Every imaginable box for the projector itself is checked and this remains the best projector you’ll see on the market short of buying your own theater projector. It’s just a beautiful machine.
So what are the flaws? Two stand out. The amount of useable hours is very low at this price point. 6000 is a lot but for this price you should almost get free bulbs for life! And that’s ultimately our problem, this projector is insanely expensive. It’s worth noting because those with disposable income building a home theater would love something like this but for the average person it’s more of a pipedream.
Picking a projector can be challenging and the process is far more difficult if you don’t know much about projectors. Read on to learn everything you need to make an informed decision on gaming projectors!
That’s actually a pretty deep question. Projectors aren’t an easy thing to think through for most people. We think three factors will play the largest part in your decision for selecting a gaming projector.
The first is your platform. If you play on a nice modern console you'll want something 1080p or 4K. Older consoles look great at 720p as well. Secondly you’ll want to consider your environment. Projectors are very sensitive to outside light and using one outdoors is near impossible without a high luminosity, high contrast, and a quality projector. Using them indoors can require curtains, dimming switches, and more. Your environment will play a huge factor in your decision. Finally we suggest you consider the setup space. Projectors need various distances to run correctly. Some work really close to a wall while others need up to 8 feet just to look ok. After thinking through your target resolution, your environmental factors, and how much space you’ll need, it’s a bit easier to decide!
Keep reading though and we’ll show you what features matter and what pitfalls to avoid.
It’s natural to want to save money and when picking up a gaming projector you might be tempted to get something light or less than top notch. The problem is that unlike a low-quality television set, a low-quality projector is crippling to the quality of your gaming. It will affect refresh rate meaning you have immense visual lag and artifacts. A cheap projector will lack a strong bulb and make gaming impossible short of an all-black room with no light. Finally, a cheap projector may also overheat. A very inconvenient thing to happen in the middle of a match. In general, going cheap on a projector can get you a pretty useless projector. We have one low-budget projector on our list and in practice it shows! If you want a gaming projector its best to fully commit and spend a bit. This will make the outcome far better.
Resolution is one of the easiest ways to make the call on which projector to buy. Consoles are actually divided by resolution pretty clearly. Recent consoles such as the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are 4K enabled, while older consoles such as a PS2 would look fine on a 720p or less projector. Ideally for those who like media (Movies and games) the sweet spot is 1080p but if you want to project some old Halo 2 matches, a 720p projector will do just fine.
Nothing is more obnoxious than turning on your projector to find that the bulb has burnt out. Projectors have different lengths of time they can be used before you need to replace a lamp or other parts. This is measured in hours. We recommend products rated for at least 6000 hours of possible usage, so you aren’t changing bulbs out annually.
The refresh rate is measured in Hz and quite simply corresponds to the frames per second that you’ll be able to see. Below 30Hz, you often will notice visual artifacts, stuttering, and tear. Top-notch PC Games regularly run at 144Hz. The human eye general can’t distinguish between anything over 60 Hz but some individuals are more sensitive than others. Projectors don’t usually promote a refresh rate, but some gaming projectors do achieve refresh rates of 144hz.
These two terms get mixed up pretty frequently. Response rate is the speed at which pixels can change from one color to the next. If it’s too high, you’ll see blurring and ghosting of older images. Input lag is different and often not actually measured in the graphics industry although WILDLY important. Input lag is the response time between your input and output (Often times this is in reference to your mouse or controller). A high input lag will make you feel as if your games are one or two seconds behind. A sort of awkward unresponsiveness results. It’s important to get a projector with a natural rate and limited lag that will make gaming feel smooth and responsive. Unfortunately, due to industry measurement standards being inconsistent it is hard to get a feel for this and relying on user reviews is most helpful.
Projectors tend to be mounted to a ceiling or in an obscure and hard to reach space. That makes wireless projectors a must for simple tasks. For instance, a Bluetooth enabled projector can receive audio input while mounted if it is wireless. So a cord such as DVI which possesses no audio input is still very effective. It’s another consideration to think through.
Some projectors have dual speakers onboard that generally aren’t quite loud but have enough kick to work in a room. It’s a handy feature for ambient music or set-ups where speakers are inconvenient. Most speakers are low quality but useful for a variety of purposes.
Projectors come with a variety of input and output options such as HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort or DVI. While these may seem unimportant at first glance, there are a few really key things to consider. First, refresh rate is often locked into your input and output format. Secondly some cords can carry audio signals (HDMI) while others cannot (DVI). Consoles often have a variety of I/O slots. Make sure to double-check your desired refresh rate and whether or not your cord can reach those levels.
One of the most important factors in selecting a Projector is luminosity. If the projector doesn’t have a high-enough luminosity it becomes challenging to get the room dark enough for high-quality visuals. Luminosity is measured in lumens. The visual quality heavily depends on your screen size, the distance from the screen to projector, and lumens. Lumens being one of the most important factors. The best tend to have around 3000 lumens and some short throw projectors have smaller lumen counts but project close enough to a surface that it offsets the low lumen count.
Projectors have a required minimum distance to project correctly. Too close and it may look squished or blurry. Too far and the projector dims and stretches the image. Those that project in really close spaces such as 5 feet are referred to as short-throw projectors. Short-throw projectors can also make a pretty large picture in a small space. This is handy for those who sit behind the projector or need to have a unique set-up in a tight area.
Projectors are by virtue of design used in wide-open spaces. They are heavily affected by the environment and room setup as well. To be frank, using the wrong resolution can basically make your games look like stretched out blotchy pixels. It calls into question the very notion of using a projector if the visuals look absolutely terrible. Going for a higher resolution is significantly better than a lower one. Even a 1080p device using 4K settings will look decent but a 4K device using 720p will not. It’s important. Very important.
Look below and find your device for the intended minimum resolution.
Using a PC with a projector is incredibly natural and intuitive but for gaming, it can be a bit more complicated. Due to the nature of PC gaming, most games offer little in the way of split-screen modes or other formats. Also, set-up can be challenging without a secondary monitor. If you can get a PC setup though, modern gaming software has amazing options for the PC
Steam has taken the time to develop an amazing mode for television screens and projectors. With the click of a simple button, steam converts to a unique mode specially tuned for television sets and projectors. You don’t need to own a projector to check it out either. You can use big picture mode pretty easily right now and give it a whirl. This might help you think through whether or not a PC Gaming Projector would be a good decision.
Projectors all have some sort of shelf life in terms of hours that they can run. In general switching bulbs can be a cheap and easy process or for a complex projector mounted in a hard to reach place, an all-day affair. Be very careful to mount the projector in an area that is easy to modify or reach the bulb. Sometimes you replace a bulb other times you replace a larger portion of the projector.
The answer to that is a resounding yes. Projector technology doesn’t change much but many companies put out multiple units and product launches every year. It’s common to log onto Amazon and be unable to find your projector replacement bulb. Worse yet, a particularly popular model that was discontinued may in fact be wildly expensive to repair. If you plan on keeping this around and used regularly, pick up one or two replacement bulbs. It’ll also make the moment your bulb burns out a lot less painful.
Unlike PC components or other products that are designed to run for five years, projectors run very hot and this takes a heavy toll on the hardware. That means you can quickly find yourself with a broken projector after just six months of use. It’s the unfortunate reality of running a hot bulb for hours on end. Not to mention that the inconsistent on and off switches of projectors or power flashes can cause problems. Unfortunately you can’t predict these problems so the best solution is to consider a warranty for any product you a putting a significant amount of cash into. We suggest reading reviews and making sure that you buy insurance if possible if the projector is expensive.
Monitors differ from projectors in a few key categories. Firstly the adjustability of color and resolution is significantly better on a gaming monitor. Gaming monitors have higher refresh rates, are technically cheaper, and won’t burn out like a projector lamp. Still, a gaming monitor can’t get very large before the price skyrockets. We’d suggest looking at the LG short throw if you want a monitor style projector or looking at recent G-Sync and FreeSync monitor releases and picking up a dedicated gaming monitor.
Many projectors bought online through companies such as Amazon offer expert set-up. This will depend on the person but can be very useful if you plan on having a fixed location and need things screwed in or installed. It’s usually going to cost over $180 but it is worth considering if you have a pesky location that needs a projector. For instance ceiling mounts or business purchases really should take advantage of the expert care and can often get advice on running the product that they wouldn’t learn anywhere else. It’s a wise option to consider, especially if you are new to projectors.
We hope you learned something new about projectors and now feel educated on some of the amazing products you can pick up today. Gaming projectors aren’t normally found in most homes but they’re a very practical and useful device. Whether it’s throwing group events or playing Halo 3 Co-op, projectors rock. If that sounds epic, perhaps you should pick one up!
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