Best Projector for Gaming – Top 5 Picks

Playing video games using a projector instead of a screen is a relatively novel idea, mainly because older devices struggled with high input latency. Nowadays, though, choosing the best projector for gaming is mostly a matter of preference! And one’s wallet, of course. 

The specific features and specs you should be looking for in a projector change depending on the reason you need one. If you’re looking to play games on a projector, for example, latency will be the single most important specification of all. 

Since there’s a wide variety of devices for you to plug into a projector, you’ll also need to consider the device’s I/O (input/output). Further still, the usual suspects such as brightness and resolution of the projector play a major role as well. 

If you’re unfamiliar with this terminology, fret not. We’ll explain everything in short order, as well as highlight what to look out for and what to avoid. There’s even a handy FAQ at the bottom of the article, which is bound to be useful for some readers. 

For the purposes of this article, we’ve hand-picked five phenomenal choices for projector gaming. From Optoma’s top-of-the-line models all the way to affordable, yet reasonably usable BenQ offerings, there’s a lot of good stuff for you to choose from. 

Optoma UHD50X 

  • Resolution: 4K UHD 
  • Maximum Brightness: 3,400 ANSI lumens 
  • Response Time: 26 ms (at 4K) 
  • Contrast ratio: 500 000:1 

A mainstay on virtually every shortlist of top projectors, Optoma is no stranger to the production of high-quality implements for every occasion. Their UHD50X model, specifically, is one of the best gaming projectors you could wish for. 

The star of this particular show is surely the low (albeit far from perfect) 26 ms response time when projecting at 4K. Now, to be fair, you can go significantly lower than 26 ms of input lag on monitors, but this will not be an issue whatsoever to the vast majority of gamers. 

If you’re one of the few pro gamers who just won’t settle for anything other than this particular projector, however, note that you can cut the response time down to an even more impressive 16 ms. In doing so, however, you’ll need to stick with 1080p projections at most. 

This isn’t a deal-breaker, we believe. Doubly so because of UHD50X’s second killer feature: its support for 240 Hz refresh rate. To put this in perspective, the majority of gaming-tier TVs and monitors use 120 and/or 144 Hz panels. An image this smooth is incredibly impressive in practice, to say the least. 

Sadly, there are some downsides to Optoma UHD50X. The main one is that it’s limited to the HDMI 2.0 interface, which means you’re not getting more than 60 Hz (60 FPS) at 4K. There’s simply no bandwidth to spare on the now-outdated 2.0 input. 

Secondly – and this is the case for all projectors, gaming or otherwise – there’s no G-Sync/Freesync support whatsoever. So, if you’ve got incredibly powerful hardware that can run games at ridiculous framerates, be prepared to deal with potential screen-tearing. 

As is often the case with “4K” devices, Optoma UHD50X isn’t a native 4K projector, opting instead for the more cost-effective UHD solution. While not ideal, this resolution is still significantly more beautiful than native 1080p, and it is more than sufficient for something as fast-paced as gaming. 

Pros 

  • Phenomenal picture quality 
  • 4K support 
  • Optional 240 Hz-refresh rate at lower resolutions 
  • Decently low input lag 

Cons 

  • Missing native 4K support 
  • Stuck with HDMI 2.0 

BenQ HT2150ST 

  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 
  • Maximum Brightness: 2,200 ANSI lumens 
  • Response Time: 17 ms 
  • Contrast ratio: 15 000:1 

As unexciting as 1080p might look when compared to something along the lines of 4K resolutions, it’s far from bad. In fact, if you’re looking to game on a projector, and if you’re still hoping to get as much performance out of your hardware as possible, 1080p is probably what you’ll need to stick with, and that makes BenQ HT2150ST a serious contender in this niche. 

In fact, since HT2150ST is a short-throw projector, we believe this will make it an option even for those who live in smaller houses, or whose gaming setup is tucked away in a tiny, already packed room, where there might not be enough space for a traditional projector. 

Better yet, while it might not exactly look the part, HT2150ST is a dedicated gaming projector. This means that input lag was one of the main concerns during production, and it shows: this relatively inexpensive projector delivers less than 17 ms of input lag, which is great. 

Of course, you are going to forgo the ridiculously high 240 Hz refresh rate at this price-point, but the good news is that you still won’t be limited to a mere 60 Hz. HT2150ST will push up to 120 frames per second, which is more than enough for virtually every scenario you might have in mind. 

When it comes to picture quality and brightness, this BenQ projector is pretty much a run-of-the-mill device, though that’s far from being a bad thing. You’re getting a sharp and crisp image that’s reasonably color-accurate. 

The focus certainly remains on the projector’s highly-competitive refresh rates: most older TVs are far slower than this projector, in fact. You’re getting a stellar gaming experience with this device; it just won’t be cutting-edge compared to some of the others on this list. 

Pros 

  • Decently low input lag 
  • Short throw technology ensures easy placement even in small rooms 
  • Solid picture quality 

Cons 

  • Fans can get loud at max brightness 
  • No lens shifting 

Epson Home Cinema 3800 / EH-TW7000 

  • Resolution: 4K UHD 
  • Maximum Brightness: 3,000 ISO 21118 lumens 
  • Response Time: 20 ms 
  • Contrast ratio: 100 000:1 

A budget 4K UHD offering, the Epson Home Cinema 3800 (or EH-TW7000, as it is known outside of the US), is a surprisingly decent gaming projector, even though that’s hardly its main draw. 

Home Cinema 3800 is a reasonable if fairly unremarkable projector outside of its sub-20 ms latency rating. You’re getting a very bright picture that looks great, all things considered, with the only real downside being that the device gets loud from time to time. 

Since it’s rated for a maximum of 3,000 ANSI lumens, you can expect to be able to use Home Cinema 3800 with minimal issues even during the daytime, though it’s worth pointing out that you’ll be missing out on its otherwise decent contrast ratio when exposed to excessive ambient light. 

An unexpected upside to this projector is that it comes with a solid onboard audio solution. The stereo speakers sound much like those of a solid laptop, and while they’re not likely to thoroughly impress anyone, they’re more than good enough for gaming and an occasional movie-watching experience. 

Another important thing to keep in mind is that Epson Home Cinema 3800 is remarkably well-tuned for use out-of-the-box. Naturally, you’re likely to want to do some tuning after you set it up, but expect solid performance even if you’re not particularly keen on fiddling around. 

Naturally – and much as was the case even with Optoma’s UHD50X – you shouldn’t expect advanced image processing techniques to make an appearance here. Modern projectors simply don’t account for stuff like G-Sync / Freesync. 

For amenities of this kind, we’ll still need to stick with dedicated gaming monitors. Limiting your games’ framerate and/or substantially upping their graphical quality could come as an optional clutch, however. If you’ve got the hardware that can pull that off, naturally. 

Pros 

  • Fairly bright 
  • Decently low input lag 
  • Impressive picture quality 
  • Decent onboard audio solution 

Cons 

  • Loud fans 
  • Missing native 4K support 

BenQ HT2050A 

  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 
  • Maximum Brightness: 2,200 ANSI lumens 
  • Response Time: 16.4 ms 
  • Contrast ratio: 15 000:1 

Sitting on the more affordable end of the projector spectrum, BenQ HT2050A is a competitively priced gaming-ready projector that wouldn’t look out of place in a school or a university. In fact, we’d go so far as to suggest that this is probably its target niche. 

Thankfully, HT2050A does wear its faults on its proverbial sleeve: it’s a robust, massive piece of tech that won’t break the bank, but it’s also pretty loaded with useful features. 

The projected picture is quite lovely, thanks to HT2050A’s solid color accuracy and contrast quality, but the 2,200 rated lumens will fall behind top-of-the-line models, such as the ones Optoma produces. 

You’re still going to need to settle for a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080, we’re afraid, though HT2050A does allow for downsampling of higher-res content. In ideal conditions, the image will likely look better than it would on a native 1080p monitor or TV, so that’s good. 

The star of the show is surely this projector’s low response time of a mere 16.4 milliseconds. That is fairly comparable with the majority of higher-end TVs, and even some of the more mainstream PC monitors on the market. No small feat. 

In practice, playing games using HT2050A is going to be essentially no different from playing them using a traditional display device. Aside from massively improved screen size, of course, and with the caveat of reduced viability in broad daylight. 

We do believe that affordability that doesn’t come at the cost of quality is BenQ HT2050A’s main draw. You’re getting a whole lot of projector for your money with this device. It’s easy to disregard its comparatively unimportant drawbacks, considering. 

Pros 

  • Decently low input lag 
  • Comes with lens shift, which is rare at this price-point 
  • Fairly solid picture quality 
  • Very affordable 

Cons 

  • Big, bulky, and somewhat unsightly 
  • Few standout features 

Optoma HD39HDR 

  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 
  • Maximum Brightness: 4,000 ANSI lumens 
  • Response Time: 8.4 ms 
  • Contrast ratio: 50 000:1 

Another Optoma entry to wrap up this shortlist of great gaming projectors: HD39HDR is one of the best gaming-specific devices on the market at this time. 

In this surprisingly affordable package, you’re getting an impressive 8.4 ms of input lag, which is hardly perceptible even if you dabble in pro gaming. The vast majority of screens on the market cannot compete with such latency, making HD39HDR an immediately impressive projector. 

There’s the brightness to consider, too: Optoma HD39HDR pushes out a remarkably bright 4,000 ANSI lumens at maximum setting. This means it’s going to run well enough with a pretty high amount of ambient light, which is not something many projectors can accomplish. 

Unlike many other gaming-ready projectors (and even some featured on this list), HD39HDR is also really small. Easily half the size of its slightly cheaper HT2050A competitor. This means you can easily lug it around and organize LAN parties, if that tickles your fancy. 

Speaking of setting the thing up, this is where HD39HDR’s main fault lies. Out-of-the-box, you’re not getting a color-accurate picture. The upside is that the device does offer all the tools and tweaks you’ll need to fix this, but it’s going to take a bit of time to go through that. 

Further still, don’t expect stellar contrast quality out of this projector. While its high brightness ensures great visibility and image clarity across the board, it does leave something to be desired in this respect. 

We don’t believe this is necessarily a deal-breaker for gamers, however. With Optoma HD39HDR, you’re getting a set of features that are absolutely crucial for a fun and care-free gaming experience, and you can even play your games at 120 FPS. Impressive stuff. 

Pros 

  • Astonishingly good response times ensuring minimum input lag 
  • Remarkably bright 
  • Reasonably solid picture quality 
  • The integrated 10-watt speaker comes in handy in a pinch 
  • Small and portable 

Cons 

  • Somewhat disappointing contrast quality 
  • Less-than-stellar color accuracy 

Projector for Gaming FAQ 

Is a projector better than a TV for gaming? 

This will depend entirely on what you’re looking for. Projectors are significantly more cost-effective when it comes to screen size, for example. So, if you want to game on a massive screen – then yes! 

If you’re the proud owner of a competent gaming PC, or one of the latest-gen consoles (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series), you’ll also probably be interested in playing games in 4K. Projectors will make far better use of such a high resolution than most TVs could. 

With that in mind, it goes without saying that a TV will simply offer better brightness and picture contrast – especially if you splurge on an OLED model. Even modern projectors cannot compete with that, since the projection will wash out in broad daylight. 

The choice is yours, of course, but the bottom line will – for most people – be that projectors are sufficiently different from TVs to be a consideration, rather than straight-up being the better option in all cases. 

How long does a projector last while gaming? 

A projector will “last” until its lamp burns out, and this can sound scary for those of us who spend hours upon hours playing video games. Thankfully, however, a modern projector lamp will last for thousands of hours at a time. 

In fact, chances are that truly high-end lamps won’t fail any sooner than other components of the projector would, which essentially ensures a runtime of years before requiring replacement. 

And yes – it won’t be a major hassle to replace most modern projector lamps. They can get pricey, however, so make that a consideration in the long run. 

Do projectors use a lot of electricity while playing games? 

Generally speaking, running a projector is fairly comparable to running a modern LED TV. Expect the device to use between 150 and 800 watts every hour. The answer, then, is a resounding no, but be sure to consult your projector’s manual to get a precise estimate. 

What are the advantages of a projector over a monitor for gaming? 

Aside from easily and (relatively) cheaply affording you truly astonishing screen real estate to play video games on, a major draw of using a projector is that it doesn’t emit light directly towards your eyes. 

It’s the nature of the tech, really: we observe the reflection of the projectors’ displayed image on the surface. With TVs and computer monitors, on the other hand, we directly observe the emitted image, which causes significantly more eye-strain. 

Therefore, using a projector for long gaming sessions will make for a way easier viewing, and greatly reduce the strain on your eyes. 

By now, you’re well-acquainted with the topic of gaming projectors and what their pros and cons are. You also have a pretty solid idea of what to look for in a projector to play games on, and what some of your first choices should be. 

While we’ve tried our best to hook you up with a solid selection of projectors, there’s a huge number of great models on the market in 2021. Long as you get a device with a low enough input lag, chances are that you’ll be a very happy customer.