The concept of the best gaming projector might sound like an oxymoron but, forget the lag-heavy beamers of yesterday, today’s gaming projectors may just surprise you. While a projector isn’t likely to beat the immense contrast levels of an OLED panel, like those in our best gaming TVs roundup, you’ll find the response times of projectors today are much better for gaming than they’ve been in the past. Many are even able to match the rapid refresh rates some of the best gaming monitors can dish out.
With plenty of projectors now surpassing expectations in terms of latency, portability, and definition, it’s not so much of a stretch for companies to dub their designs ‘gaming projectors.’ And there are plenty of benefits to using a projector for big screen gaming in place of a TV, too. As well as it being a mighty space saver, a projector is also a much smaller target for kids (or adults) who have a tendency to throw controllers. It’s also much easier to shift a projector around to suit your space than it is a TV.
We tested a wide range of projectors to see just how practical they are for gaming and cinema experiences, as well as any other media you might want to have writ large. We’ve tested the basic gaming experience each projector offers, as well as the effective latency compared with a 144Hz gaming panel.
Sure the super speedy, bright, and ultra short throw, 4K Vava Chroma is highly desirable, but the $4,699 price tag may not be to everyone’s taste. Thankfully there are some more affordable gaming projector options on offer, each of which shine in their own way, so there’s a beamer for everyone.
Best gaming projectors
With one of the swiftest refresh rates on the list at 120Hz, the BenQ X1300I comes in at the top. That’s thanks in no small part to its impressive 8ms response time, meaning you’ll be able to get some competitive big screen gaming in without fear of compromising your rank. It may not be as fast as the BenQ TK700STi, but there’s more to gaming than speed.
The built in speakers are surprisingly punchy, and the 30,000 hour lamp life means it’ll last a while longer than the speedier BenQ model… provided you don’t block the exhausts. As long as you can mount it on the ceiling—where it’s best situated—that shouldn’t be an issue. Just make sure you do have the space for a long throw projector before you commit to buying.
Either way, it’s backed by exceptional brightness, so the light of day shouldn’t hamper your gaming experience. And coming in with the kind of speeds you’d expect from a tidy gaming monitor, this beamer will see you right.
Read our full BenQ X1300I review.
The BenQ TK700STi gaming projector shows off with some exemplary 8ms response times when playing in 1080p at 120Hz, and an exceptional 4ms at 240Hz. Even when you move up to 4K at 60Hz you’re looking at 16ms response, which is more than enough for competitive gaming, or when you just want to experience all the high quality textures in your favorite AAA games in scaled-up UHD.
This is not a native 4K projector, though. It uses Texas Instrument’s XPR (expanded pixel resolution) pixel-switching tech to mimic UHD, but it does so rather well. Being a short throw projector also means there’s less faff when looking for a place to put it. It should work from your coffee table so no need to hang it overhead, or tuck it somewhere behind the sofa. Though if you can manage 6.5 foot (2m) distance, you’ll be rewarded with just over 100 inches (2.5 m) screen space. Coupled with the 3,000 ANSI lumen brightness, the BenQ TK700STi should give up a great cinematic experience even in broad daylight.
While the lamp life leaves something to be desired—rated at only 15,000 hours on the most eco-friendly setting—and external speakers are necessary to get a well rounded sound, there’s a lot of power behind this little projector’s beams.
Coming in at the high end is the true 4K Vava Chroma. Funded through Indiegogo, this projector’s rich colours and resounding pair of 60W Harman Kardon sound units make it one incredible cinematic experience, with excellent gaming capability to boot. The only real drawback is the price.
It may be a hefty 24.3 pounds (10kg) but there’s a lot of power behind that bulk, and there’s no need for awkward screwing to the ceiling either. Thanks to the ultra-short-throw nature of the Vava Chroma, you can just pop it against the wall on your TV stand, and you get 100 inches of UHD goodness to marvel at—though there are options to rotate the display when needed, even eight keystone points to play with.
When it comes to gaming, the VAVA Chroma caps out at 60Hz with around a 16-20ms response time—more than enough to play some gorgeous AAA games in up to 4K, as long as you have one of the best graphics cards to handle it. Perhaps not the greatest for competitive online gaming, however. Still, should you feel the need to delve into the magical world of retro consoles, there’s AV input for your nostalgic convenience.
Of course, the wealth of premium features here comes at a premium price, but that’s backed by a two year warranty and 25,000 hours of lamp life. That’s around 11 hours a day, every day, for six years, by the way.
The Xgimi Elfin projector is one of the smallest projectors on the list, and that makes it pretty darn portable. While it doesn’t include a battery for untethered theatre experiences, it’s still easy enough to slip into a bag and take to a friend’s house. And as long as they have a large enough wall, you can get an image that’s 120 inches (3 meters) across from just 10.5 foot (3.2 meters) away.
Keep in mind this is only a 1080p piece of kit, so 120 inches might be a little overkill, but at least it’s cheaper than forking out for a 4K projector. Besides, you don’t need as powerful components, and it means you can run games at a higher framerate. And while it’s no slouch in gaming mode with a more than acceptable response time for non-competitive gaming, the 60Hz refresh does add a cap to how many frames per second you can appreciate.
When you’re taking it out and about, it also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, and even has Chromecast built in. Another thing that makes the Elfin highly portable is its incredible ability not only to automatically focus and correct the keystone position, but also to avoid obstacles on the projected surface such as photo frames or light switches—it just makes the setup super speedy and straightforward.
That’s also backed by an exemplary 30,000 hours of lamp life, or 10 hours a day, every day, for about eight years. Though that’ll be dependent on how you use it, of course.
For a little more money than the Xgimi Elfin, the Halo adds oodles more portability to the list of great features. It comes with a solid battery that’ll keep you going for a good three hours, at least in standard mode, and it can even be used as a portable Bluetooth speaker. Oddly the Halo’s shape is the only we’ve seen that lends itself to ceiling projection. It does block the exhausts when you do this, but it’s a fun little feature.
When it comes to gaming mode, you’re looking at more latency than most on this list, but response time isn’t everything. As long as you have it in gaming mode it isn’t excessively noticeable—slow paced or turn based games don’t pose an issue.
It’s another smart Android device that boots up fast, and doesn’t need to be yards from the wall in order to get a good size screen going. It’s worth noting that the Halo should be projecting square-on if you want to utilise gaming mode though as it prevents keystone correction from working.
Read our full Xgimi Halo review.
Best gaming projectors FAQ
How do I choose a gaming projector?
If you’re looking to do online competitive gaming, look for a gaming projector with a high refresh rate and low latency. That way the information you need can reach your eyes faster, and it wont feel like your character’s moving through sludge when you try to react.
If competitive games aren’t your thing, you can settle for a higher latency—it’s generally only perceptible above 60ms for your average gamer. A higher refresh only becomes relevant if your hardware can pump out more than 60fps, otherwise a 60Hz projector is fine.
The gaming projectors on our list achieve 40ms or lower. Many gaming projectors are backed by impressive sound systems, a vibrant colour range, high resolution, and long lamp life—all of which should be considered carefully when choosing a gaming projector, depending on which features matter most to you.
You should also make sure you have space for your projector where it’ll need to go. If you want it behind you, or overhead, a long throw projector will be best. If you’re looking for one to pop on the coffee table, a short throw projector will work great. Of, if you want to put it up against a wall, you’re going to want an ultra short throw projector.
Are projectors worth it for gaming?
Nowadays, yes. There are plenty of gaming projectors with speedy refresh rates, and low latency, even 4K projectors so you can really get up close and inspect the fine details. If you want to play your games on a larger screen size than you could ever dream of, a projector is a perfect solution. Of course, consider your space and what features matter to you before you dump your TV and replace it with a gaming projector.