The 7 Best Gaming Projectors of 2021

Enjoy gaming more than ever before with these first-rate projectors

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The best gaming projectors boast many of the same features as the best computer monitors—great image quality, contrast, and high refresh rates and response times. Unlike the vast majority of monitors, however, the sheer scale of a projected image can transform your normal game session into a truly cinematic experience, and the projectors on our list manage to do so without sacrificing quality or frames.

The Optoma GT1080HDR is a perfect example of a gaming projector that goes above and beyond (but is still reasonably priced). It produces gorgeous full HD images, can create 100-foot projections, has HDR10 support for vibrant, rich colors, and a spectacular 28,000:1 contrast ratio for deep blacks and brilliant whites. Its 16ms response time in Enhance Gaming Mode secures its crown as the best gaming projector, and it's an incredible way to showcase what the best gaming consoles are capable of.

The Rundown
Short throw projector with enhanced response times, vibrant visuals and rich contrast.
It has an immersive 100-inch screen from just five feet away.
A high-end model committed to hyper-realistic, cinematic visuals.
Unlike a lot of other projectors which accept 4K inputs only to spit out a downscaled picture, the UHD60 offers true 4K resolution up to 3840 x 2160.
Best Color Contrast:
Epson Home Cinema 2150 at Amazon
With an astounding 60,000:1 color contrast, you have a really wide range of tonal options available here.
Spectacular 3D for a cinematic and immersive gaming experience.

Best Overall: Optoma GT1080HDR Short Throw Gaming Projector

What We Like
  • 16ms input lag

  • Small and portable

  • Excellent contrast

What We Don't Like
  • 1080p resolution

  • Fixed lens limits placement

Optoma built this projector from the ground up to satisfy the needs of gamers. The result is the perfectly optimized short throw projector with enhanced response times, vibrant visuals and rich contrast. First, the .49 throw ratio is perfect for gamers, allowing the projector to be placed on your TV stand or entertainment center for a 100-inch image from just four feet away.

That image is going to be glorious, thanks to the DarbeeVision Image Processor that reveals extraordinary detail, depth and object separating, so the details of your games show in cinematic quality. Expect full HD 1080p resolution, 3,000 lumens of brightness, as well as a 28,000:1 contrast ratio that creates amazing black levels for the best experience in all genres of games. Don’t worry about lag, either. Enhanced Gaming Mode gives you a best-in-class response time of 16ms to keep you engaged in even the most demanding circumstances. Other nice features include Full 3D and a long-life lamp that will last up to 8,000 hours. 

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 30000:1 | Projection Size: 120 inches

"One interesting feature that Optoma included is a wall color function. Users projecting straight onto a wall might want to experiment with this feature." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Optoma GT1080HDR Short Throw Gaming Projector

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Design: BenQ HT2150ST Projector

BenQ
What We Like
  • Low input lag

  • Sharp image

  • Excellent color

What We Don't Like
  • Brightness uniformity could be better

This award-winning 1080p projector from No. 1 best-selling DLP projector brand BenQ hits all the marks to make an excellent gaming projector. It has an immersive 100-inch screen from just five feet away, with 1.2x optical zoom lens and vertical image keystone to make for easy installation that will fit your living room configuration. The image is bright and vibrant, thanks to 2,200 lumens of brightness and a 15,000:1 contrast ratio with no distortion, even in 3D.

Gamers will benefit from low input lag, meaning racing and action titles won’t skip a beat even on the 100-inch screen. Customized gaming modes provide even more benefit, allowing you to see the darkest shadows and brightest details to get the most cinematic experience out of all of your titles.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 2200 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 15000:1 | Projection Size: 300 inches

"Capable of delivering a 100-inch image from just 4.9 feet away, the BenQ HT2150ST gives buyers a fantastic projection experience that will work in just about any room configuration." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

BenQ HT2150ST Projector

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best 4K: BenQ HT3550 4K Home Theater Projector

What We Like
  • Great display quality

  • Affordable for a 4K projector

  • Excellent build quality

What We Don't Like
  • Loud operation

  • Slow boot and shutdown times

  • Doesn’t have many quality-of-life features like Bluetooth

There’s gaming, and then there’s gaming with the BenQ HT3500 4K Home Theater Projector, a high-end model committed to hyper-realistic, cinematic visuals. Compact and unobtrusive, it can zoom up to 1.3 times, can reach a screen size of 120 inches, and has a brightness of up to 2,000 lumens, allowing it to function at all brightness levels. This, combined with the 4K UHD 3840x2160 resolution with 8.3 million pixels, results in unparalleled picture quality.

Thanks to its dynamic iris, the device has a 30,000:1 contrast ratio, meaning you’ll be able to notice the nuances of shadows, along with details in both dark and bright scenes, bringing games to life. The projector’s built-in speaker is able to fill a room and offer clear, textured audio, though hardcore gamers might want to opt for a higher-end model, for full immersion. Though it is more expensive than other home projectors, the HT3500’s value is more than worth the cost for those who want not just to watch a new world, but be part of it.

Resolution: 4096x2160 | Brightness: 2000 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 30000:1 | Projection Size: 100 inches

"We used the projector about ten feet away from a 100” projector screen, and it had no trouble filling the space." — Emily Ramirez, Product Tester

BenQ HT3550 Home Theater Projector

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Best Sound: Optoma UHD60 4K Projector

What We Like
  • Excellent white and color brightness

  • Powerful enough to project even in a lighted room

  • Surprisingly loud built-in speakers

What We Don't Like
  • Flimsy top access panel

  • No horizontal lens shift adjustments

  • A bit on the large and heavy side

If you’re in the market for a projector, chances are you’ve landed on an Optoma model once or twice. The brand offers high-value projectors, regardless of what specs you’re looking for. The UHD60 is their 4K-enabled model, and unlike a lot of other projectors which accept 4K inputs only to spit out a downscaled picture, the UHD60 offers true 4K resolution up to 3840 x 2160. That’s 8.3 million pixels available, and with 3000 lumens, the brightness is plenty for your gaming needs. The color gamut is pretty impressive here, too, offering everything in the REC2020 sets — making your games shine with truly rich, deep blacks and cinematic highlights. What this all amounts to is the ability to sit up to 10 feet away and still take in the full, stunning range of 4K quality (unlike the much shorter seated distance required when you’re looking at 4K TVs). Plus, it’s HDR compatible, employs UltraDetail technology for picture clarity, and even folds in flexible zoom, throw, and shift. This means it'll fit nicely in your setup, even if you have to deal with awkward angles or room layouts.

Resolution: 2160p | Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 1000000:1 | Projection Size: 120 inches

"You’d hope, given the Optoma UHD60’s size, that it’d pack some powerful speakers inside. Thankfully, it does with two 4-watt stereo speakers which get surprisingly loud." — Nick Jaynes, Product Tester

Optoma UHD60 4K Projector

Lifewire / Nick Jaynes

Best Color Contrast: Epson Home Cinema 2150

What We Like
  • Solid built-in speakers

  • Affordable

  • Excellent image quality

What We Don't Like
  • A bit loud

Epson is arguably the king of projectors, but many of their options are catered to either business presentations or movies. When you’re looking to game on your projector, color response is hugely important, because modern video games are just as much works of visual art as they are fun challenges. With an astounding 60,000:1 color contrast, you have a really wide range of tonal options available here. For perspective, many mid-tier projectors settle in at 15,000:1, meaning their range from the blackest blacks to the whitest whites is vastly smaller than this one. The Epson 2150 offers 1080p resolutions, and at an 11-foot minimum throw, it offers a screen four times larger than a 60-inch flatscreen panel. There’s a built-in 10W speaker, and it even supports Miracast so you can easily stream HD media should you choose to use this for other entertainment purposes. Plus, at less than $1,000, it’s far from the most expensive option out there, especially considering its rich color spectrum.

Resolution: 2049x1080 | Brightness: 2500 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 60000:1 | Projection Size: 132 inches

Best 3D: Sony VPLHW45ES 3D SXRD

What We Like
  • Attractive design

  • Good picture quality

  • Low input lag

What We Don't Like
  • 3D picture tends to be a bit dark

  • 3D glasses sold separately

This high-end home theater and gaming projector from Sony has spectacular 3D for a cinematic and immersive gaming experience. It has advanced SXRD panel technology alongside Sony’s Super Resolution processing technology to refine color and textures and give a crisp 1080p image. To complement the amazing visual experience, this projector has powerful picture calibration that includes nine modes for gaming, cinema and other presets. No matter what you choose, Motionflow technology lets you game with minimal motion blur even up to a 300-inch screen size.

Resolution: 1080p | Brightness: 1800 ANSI lumens | Contrast Ratio: 60000:1 | Projection Size: 40 to 100 inches

Final Verdict

The Optoma GT1080HDR (view at Amazon) is an excellent projector on its own merits, and also packs a bunch of great options specifically for gamers, like the Enhanced Gaming Mode that takes response time down to a best-in-class 16ms. BenQ's HT2150ST Projector (view at Amazon) is also a winner (and literally award-winning), with its bright, 100-foot display potential and its own suite of customizable gaming modes.

About Our Trusted Experts

Patrick Hyde lives in Seattle where he works as a digital marketer and freelance copywriter. With a Master’s degree in history from the University of Houston and a job in Seattle's booming tech industry, his interests and knowledge span the past, present, and future.

Jonno Hill is a writer who covers tech such as computers, gaming equipment, and cameras for Lifewire and publications including AskMen.com and PCMag.com.

Emily Ramirez is a tech writer who studied game design at MIT and now reviews all sorts of consumer tech, from VR headsets to tower speakers.

Nick Jaynes is a tech writer whose writing has been published by Mashable, Digital Trends, Cool Hunting, and Travel+Leisure, among other publications.

FAQs

What's the difference between ANSI lumens and lumens?
Lumens are a measurement of luminous flux, or the observed power of light. ANSI lumens are measured as per the standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute, which means that the light is measured the exact same way every time. It gives you a more exact figure as to how projectors compare with one another. Other measures of lumens are valid, but they're not as strictly controlled.

Do you need a screen to use a projector?
Typically you will get a much better picture if you use a projection screen, however, it's not strictly necessary. You can use a blank, white wall as a screen and it'll work just fine. Keep in mind that the wall's color will have an effect on the colors from the picture. For example, a tan wall will skew colors toward the brown range.

Can you get a projector instead of a TV?
Yes! Good projectors will sometimes offer a better picture than a TV would. Plus, it has the benefit of going away when you're not watching it. You can roll up a screen, or even just cast your projection onto a white wall and not have to worry about a screen. Many projectors, including most of the ones in this list, take the same kinds of inputs as a TV, too.

What to Look for in a Gaming Projector

Input Lag

When you push a button on your controller, you want to see the result on the screen as fast as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of projectors have a lag so large that you can actually perceive it. Great gaming projectors still have a little bit of lag (because zero lag is impossible) but not enough to have an impact on your game.

Frame Rate

When you play fast-paced games on a projector that has a low frame rate, the result is a blurry mess. This isn’t just unpleasant to look at—it’s also unacceptable when you’re playing a game where every single moment counts.

Luminosity

Projectors work best in dark rooms with high-quality screens. If your real-world circumstances are less than ideal, you can end up with a washed-out picture that’s difficult to see. Gaming in a room that has a lot of ambient light calls for a projector with at least 2,500 lumens, while something in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 will do if you have decent shades or blackout curtains.

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