If you’re worried that a projector might fall short compared to a TV when it comes to gaming, you can set those fears aside, as we’ve found a bunch of projectors that can offer big, bright, sharp images while succeeding in one of the most important aspects: keeping low enough input lag for gaming. We’ve got projectors from massive 4K and high refresh rate models to compact models that can run on a battery. So, start dreaming about your gaming tv-free setup and check out the best gaming projectors that can make those dreams come true.
TL:DR – These are the Best Gaming Projectors:
1. Optoma UHD50X
Best Gaming Projector
If you want the best gaming projector, you don’t want to miss out on a thing. The Optoma UHD50X can deliver pretty much the best of everything all in one package that doesn’t cost multiple thousands of dollars. So, if you’re not looking to compromise, this is the one. The Optoma UHD50X has a 4K picture, as the “UHD” in the name suggests, and with a brightness up to 3,400 ANSI lumens and a 10-bit color depth, you’ll get a full HDR experience from that sharp picture.
Of course, a 4K picture and HDR isn’t all it takes to be a great gaming projector. That’s where the UHD50X rises above. You can play in 4K at 60Hz, but this projector also supports an astronomical 240Hz by bumping the resolution down to 1080p. The projector keeps its input lag down to a respectable 16ms as well. So, whether you want to game at 4K for the prettiest visuals or rip through the competition at 240Hz, the Optoma UHD50X is ready to let you do so with a screen size up to 302 inches. Good luck finding a gaming monitor that can do that.
2. BenQ HT2050A
Best Budget Gaming Projector
The BenQ HT2050A delivers just what you want from an affordable gaming projector: a massive, bright image and a low response time. This projector offers a respectable 2,200 lumens that’ll handle your indoor brightness needs when you’re going for a more reasonably sized picture but can also hold up when you’re setting up the massive, outdoor gaming screen of your dreams at night.
The projector can display a 1080p picture stretched over anywhere from 60 inches up to 300 inches. And, while you’re gaming, you can get as little as 16ms of input lag, which is impressive for any display that’s not also offering a high refresh rate. This projector is also incredibly flexible for setting up, thanks to both vertical and horizontal keystone correction.
3. JVC DLA-NX9
Best 4K Gaming Projector
The JVC DLA-NX9 is the true 4K projector to get If you’re setting up an epic home theater and you want the biggest and best-looking picture possible. Sporting a native 4,096 x 2,160 resolution, you can make your picture as big as you want without having to worry about losing detail.
You also get one of the highest contrast ratios of 40,000:1 out of any projector from this unit, so you’ll be able to experience darker blacks. It’s 1,800-lumen peak brightness doesn’t make this the brightest projector we’ve ever seen, but it’s more than enough to make flashes of light in games and movies pop.
4. Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe
Best Mid-Range 4K Projector
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UBe is a brilliant projector for both your usual movies and TV but also for gaming. It has an impressively fast response time at 23.5ms, so you won’t be feeling heavy lag when you’re playing games. At 2,600 lumens, you’ll also be able to get a big, bright image. This project creates a 4K image using pixel shifting technology, however, unlike some projects it doesn’t internally downsample 4K video to a 1080p signal and blowing it back up to an Ultra HD resolution. Instead, you’re getting true(-ish) 4K input to 4K output. This version also includes a wireless transmitter, letting you set the projector across the room from your gaming computer or consoles.
5. BenQ TK800M
Best Budget 4K Gaming Projector
4K projectors are still pretty pricey compared to 4K TVs, but if you’re trying to go big on a budget the BenQ TK800M (read our review) is your best option. It’s a little more affordable than most 4K units at $1,300, but you still get 10-bit color and HDR support.
What’s more, this budget projector outputs 3,000 lumens so it’ll work in most rooms even ones that are well lit. The BenQ TK800M’s rated contrast ratio of 10,000:1 might be significantly lower than other projectors, but it has the latest a dynamic 0.47-inch DLP chip and a dynamic iris to strike the right balance between brightness and contrast while presenting rich colors.
6. Optoma CinemaX P2
Best High-End Gaming Projector
If you want your projector to make a splash in games, then the Optoma CinemaX P2 will be a great partner. You’ll make a couple trade-offs, but in the end you’ll be looking at some stunning game footage. This projector has a short throw, letting you put it close to wall while still achieving a massive image size. And, with a 3,000-lumen laser projection, you won’t have to fuss too much about how bright the room is.
The Optoma CinemaX P2 can display a 4K picture at 60Hz for smooth gameplay, and you have the choice of running it with an 8-bit color depth or with chroma subsampling to allow for an expanded color depth. So, you can go for speed or more impressive 4K HDR. With an input lag of 67ms, it’s not quite the fastest, but it’s respectable for gaming. And, since this is a laser projector, it offers an extra-long lifespan, so you won’t have to worry too much about replacing it halfway through the current console generation.
7. Epson EF-100
Best Smart Projector
One nice perk of a projector is you don’t exactly have to dedicate a big space for it like you would have to with a TV. The Epson EF-100 not only needs little space thanks to a compact form factor, but it won’t require a bunch of extra clutter for a complete setup. That’s thanks to an included Android TV dongle that slots inside the case of the projector and built-in speakers. This will give you a completely kitted entertainment device that only needs you to plug it to a power outlet.
When you want to game, you can disconnect the Android TV dongle and plug in your preferred gaming system over HDMI. You’ll get a bright HD image with support for 10-bit color and game-worthy input lag. So, if you’re looking for a projector that can double as a smart TV while giving you a big image from a small form factor, the Epson EF-100 is a safe bet.
8. Samsung Premiere LSP7T
Best Ultra Short Throw Gaming Projector
Sometimes you want that big gaming picture but don’t have the space to set a projector far enough from the wall to get it. That’s where a short-throw projector comes in, and the Samsung Premiere LSP7T is the new hotness. This projector is built to give you a massive, 120-inch display area with a 4K resolution even when it’s positioned less than half a meter away from your wall. You couldn’t get a small image out of this projector if you wanted to (at least not without trying some really weird positioning).
The Samsung Premiere’s image won’t just be big, as the laser projection will also offer a max of 2,200 ANSI lumens of brightness. And, Samsung has you covered for high dynamic range with support for HDR10+. This projector is ready for your games, but it’s also built to work as a stand-alone entertainment system. It runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system, letting you treat it much like a smart TV with its own streaming apps. Heck, it even has its own 2.2-channel, 30-watt sound system built into the chassis. This makes it an awesome fit for the minimalist that wants to max out their screen size.
9. Anker Nebula Capsule II
Best Portable Gaming Projector
So, you like the idea of gaming on a project but want something that better suits your on-the-go lifestyle? Well, the Anker Nebula Capsule II is up to the task. This projector is close in size to a can of soda, and it only weighs 1.5 pounds, but it’s ready to put on a show wherever you go. You don’t even need to bring along a speaker or battery, as this projector has both built in.
The Nebula Capsule II can shine at up to 200 lumens, letting it create a 40-inch display in light conditions or a 100-inch display in a dark setting. You’ll get a 720p picture that’s sharp enough for decent gaming, whether that be from your console at home or a Nintendo Switch on the go. You can connect your devices to the projector over HDMI or even try out some games on the device itself, as it runs Android TV.
10. Optoma HD39HDR
Fastest Gaming Projector
If you want a projector that’s going to give you the best shot at beating out your opponents in competitive online games, then the Optoma HD39HDR is the one for you. It doesn’t offer the highest resolution at just 1080p, but it can deliver super-smooth frames with its 120Hz refresh rate, and your controls will feel snappy thanks to the 8.4ms response time. You even get HDR support, making it all the more impressive that the Optoma HD39HDR comes in at under $1,000.
What to Look for in a Projector for Gaming
When looking to buy any display—be it a computer monitor, a flat-panel television, or a projector—there are basic specifications to keep in mind. Color accuracy, contrast ratio, and resolution combine to create a true-to-life and engaging image.
With gaming, another primary concern is a low input lag on the projector so you can be the frag-er and not the frag-ee. We recommend aiming for something below 35ms. There are of course a few more important necessities to keep in mind when it comes to projectors.
The room you plan to have your projector in, and more specifically the amount of ambient light in that room, can drastically affect image quality. If the projector doesn’t output enough light, measured in lumens, the ambient light in the room can cause the picture to look washed out and dull. You’ll lose definition in the blacks and colors won’t seem as vivid. If your room lets in a lot of light you’ll want a projector that outputs around 2500 lumens or more. A light-controlled room will be fine with a 1500-2000 lumen projector. No matter what avoid any unnecessary direct light on the displayed surface.
That displayed surface is another concern. While it is completely possible to display your projector on to a white wall, color and contrast will be affected. There are fixed (non-retractable) options like the Silver Ticket 100-inch STR-169100, and there are screens that are mounted to a separate stand that sits in front of a wall, or products for painting a screen surface directly onto your wall.
Having the screen sit in front of a wall causes you to lose a couple of feet of space, which is not ideal if space is at a premium. The paint option is a cool alternative for small living rooms but can be messy and finicky to apply. Plus, if you move it’s difficult to take the entire wall with you. If you can afford it, we recommend just using a fixed screen.
Where you put your projector can also drastically affect your gaming experience. If it sits in a low position directly behind your couch you’ll need to sit to one side to avoid any unintentional MST3K shadows. Plenty of ceiling mounts, like the VIVO Universal Mount, are available for under $20, but be aware you’ll need to think about how you’re going to run power and signal cables.
Projectors have a throw range that determines how near or far they need to be from the screen. If your room depth is limited, a short-throw projector needs only around four or five feet of distance to project a 100-inch diagonal image on the screen or wall.
More Expert Tech Roundups
Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark