ProjectorCentral readers are all likely familiar with BenQ's history of high-quality, affordable home theater and business projector solutions. But only serious gamers would know about their Zowie line of state-of-the-art gaming monitors and accessories, or their long-running support of competitive eSport players, PC gamers, and console gamers.

Projector technology has historically lagged behind monitors and TVs in terms of their gaming performance. But now, with recent advances in various projector technologies—including solid-state light sources—BenQ has been able to apply its existing expertise in the gaming arena and meld it with their long history of creating top-notch projectors to bring a new generation of advanced gaming projectors to serious gaming enthusiasts.

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The timing couldn't be better. Since the founding of the BenQ Color Lab in 2015, a dedicated team of engineers and color scientists has been focused on developing technology that can deliver highly color-accurate images in the company's displays. That led to the introduction of BenQ CinematicColor™—which promises a picture guaranteed to adhere to worldwide movie and TV production standards—and a number of award-winning home theater DLP® projectors.

But BenQ went further, conducting extensive research and enlisting the input of the same expert gamers who helped develop their respected Zowie monitors. The result is a remarkable line-up of affordable gaming projectors that rival the performance of panel monitors while offering new, game-focused features never seen before in a projector. These new models are sure to entice a broad audience of serious gamers who never considered a projector.

Supersize Your Gaming

There is no question that the main reason to get a projector is for an image size that just isn't possible from a television or monitor. But what does that huge image get you beyond it just being bigger? For starters, a 100-inch or larger image can fill more of your view than a 60-inch TV, leading to a more immersive experience as your eyes dash around the screen taking in all of the action. To get the same field of vision you can get from sitting 8 feet away from a 120-inch screen, you'd have to sit half that distance—or only 4 feet—from a 60-inch TV. That's not always possible with room configurations. With more of your view filled with whatever you're watching or playing, it's easier for your brain to place you in that environment and be less distracted by the things around your room.

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You can also see more detail on a large screen, especially from a 4K image. For most of us at the distance we sit from our displays, 4K on a small screen is overkill. If you're sitting 6 feet away from your 4K TV, there's a good chance your eyes can't even perceive the extra resolution above 1080p. But blow that screen size up to 120 inches and you can fully take in the benefits of the higher resolution.

And the benefits of immersion in a large, projected image doesn't stop at individual gaming. When you and your friends play on a common TV, the visual experience can be drastically different from person to person. Some TV screen technologies negatively affect what a picture looks like off-axis, so whoever was relegated to the end seat on the couch is getting a more washed out picture than whoever sits in the center. That's not an issue with projectors. No matter where you sit, you're getting the same performance as the person next to you or on the other side of the room.

Furthermore, any Mario Kart enthusiast will know the struggle of playing a four-person race on a small TV. Each player gets their own quarter of the screen where they get a view of their racer and the track in front of them. A 60-inch TV gets small real quick when it's split into four. But with a 120-inch screen, each player basically gets their own 60-inch screen to race on while you and your friends spread out instead of being crammed together in front of a small TV.

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There are other benefits of projected gaming that go beyond mere size. For example, extended viewing of a flatpanel monitor or TV can be very fatiguing to your eyes. This is mostly due to the direct light from the panel, including the blue light that contributes to the increased eye fatigue and, in some players, dry eyes and difficulty focusing. Viewing direct-light screens isn't the only place we are exposed to blue light—if you look to the sky you'll find the biggest culprit—but the concern that surrounds flatpanels comes from the proximity we all spend to them day in and day out. With projectors, however, we are viewing reflected light off a screen instead of direct light from a TV, which helps to limit the amount of blue light reaching our cornea and eases eye fatigue.

Finally, there's the sound quality. Not everyone has the ability to have a full surround-sound speaker system in their home. Luckily, the last few years have seen some significant improvement in the audio quality of projectors, a charge BenQ has been leading by including robust treVolo-tuned speaker systems in some models accompanied by Bongiovi DPS technology to create sound that fills a room and enhances the immersive nature of the image. Sure beats the thin sound coming from most ultra-thin panel TVs these days.

How BenQ is Revolutionizing the Gaming Projector

So, with all the advantages of projected gaming, why haven't serious gamers embraced projectors till now? Projectors have long been the preferred go-to for the best movie- and TV-viewing experience in a dedicated home theater or living room. But when it came to gaming, past projectors kept running into technological hurdles that affected serious gameplay and, until recently, they couldn't compete with flatpanels. The biggest issues were high input lag and relatively low light output when compared to TVs and monitors. That meant a sacrifice in response time for top players and the need to game in the darkness, which many projectors required in order to provide sufficient image brightness as well as color fidelity that matched how the games were intentionally designed.

Thankfully, times have changed, and BenQ's latest line of gaming projectors address, and in some ways surpass, the performance that used to be reserved solely for flatpanels. Here's how.

Low Input Lag

In gaming, input lag is the amount of time it takes the action from a button press on a controller to show up on screen. For some games, The Sims for instance, a high input lag that causes a sluggish feel to gameplay isn't a huge deal beyond being a mild annoyance. But if you're trying to make it through a timed jumping puzzle in Psychonauts 2, or snipe a target from hundreds of meters in Battlefield 1, or get your best towers finish in Mortal Kombat 11, high input lag can be the difference between a playable game and throwing your controller across the room in frustration.

Projectors of the past just couldn't compete with the sub-20 millisecond, and lower, input lag on TVs. But that reality is no more. With the Fast Mode option on BenQ gaming projectors, input lag with 1080p (1920x1080) and 4K (3840x2160) signals at 60 Hz is only around 16 ms. And with high frame rate signals it gets even lower—only 8.2 ms with 120 Hz signals and a staggeringly fast 4.16 ms at 240 Hz. Input lag at that level is barely perceptible, if at all, and keeps your focus on the game and playing your best.

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BenQ's solid-state light source technology allows for continued high brightness output over time while keeping accurate colors.

High Brightness

For years, the primary enemy of home projectors was ambient light. Even a small amount that made its way in to a viewing space could cause a picture to be completely washed out. Any detail in shadows would be obliterated—and when you're trying to creep around enemies, losing shadow detail can result in losing a life. The only solution was to block out windows and keep the room as dark as possible or wait until after the sun went down.

But now the gaming projectors from BenQ have high enough brightness to win the battle against ambient light. With projectors rated at 3,000 ANSI lumens or more, games don't have to be played in darkness. Thanks to their light output, BenQ's gaming projectors are just as capable of providing an enjoyable experience when playing on a Saturday afternoon as they are on a Tuesday night after the kids are in bed.

CinematicColor in Special Game Modes

BenQ is known for its highly color-accurate monitors that are used across the world by photographers, videographers, and editors—professionals who demand the best color so they can properly edit and display their work. There's no reason why anyone else who enjoys that content in their homes shouldn't do so with the best color accuracy they can get for a reasonable cost. Quite often, it seems, projector manufacturers place a great deal of importance on the most light output at the cheapest price. Unfortunately in those situations the color accuracy of the image can suffer. In order to ensure that color standards are kept to the pedigree they've established in their years as a top monitor manufacturer, BenQ has introduced CinematicColor™.

So what does CinematicColor get you? The comfort of knowing that your BenQ gaming projector is performing at its highest capabilities, with 98% Rec. 709 color gamut coverage on models like the 1080p-resolution X1300i, and even achieving 100% coverage of the wide DCI-P3 color gamut in their upcoming 4K flagship, the BenQ X3000i. Each CinematicColor projector, much as in BenQ's monitor tradition, comes with its own calibration report to prove its performance with DeltaE values under 3.0 (considered to be visually perfect in normal viewing conditions). You'll know with CinematicColor that you're seeing the game the way that the game's designers saw it.

Where CinematicColor can be traced to BenQ's performance monitors, the idea of applying it to special customized game modes can be connected to the company's gaming monitor design philosophy. It's common on gaming monitors to find different game mode settings tailored to different playstyles, and now BenQ has become the first to offer similar functionality on its gaming projectors. These dedicated settings are tuned for three different types of games—first-person shooters (FPS), role-playing games (RPG), and sports games (SPG).

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The three game modes are designed for different types of games. Enemies that might appear hidden before (left image) are revealed (right image) thanks to FPS mode.

In FPS games like Call of Duty, the ability to see any enemies hiding in the shadows is of utmost importance. To aid that, the FPS mode discloses fine details in darker scenes and helps reveal any NPCs or other players that might be hiding in the shadows, waiting to take you out with a headshot. RPG mode focuses on delivering the best color performance, giving open-world role-playing games a truly epic, cinematic look. And for sports that take place on a field or pitch, setting the projector to SPG makes greens look vibrant and stunning.

The three dedicated BenQ Game Setting modes don't only tune the visuals. They also adjust the audio to emphasize frequencies that are important in each playstyle. Seeing enemies hiding in the shadow allows you to react quickly to what you see in front of you, but what about those you can't see? Enhanced surround in FPS mode exposes the footsteps of approaching enemies or what direction that narrowly missed gunshot came from. And what's an epic view without a soundtrack to match? RPG mode provides a soundtrack worthy of any recent blockbuster. The announcers' voices in SPG mode shine through so you can follow the action and hear the call from Matt Vasgersian as you take one deep out of the park in MLB The Show.

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The different BenQ Game modes also adjust the audio from the treVolo-tuned speakers to best accentuate important features of the three game styles.

Solid-State Light Sources

Something that can take new projector buyers by surprise is the long-term cost of lamp replacements to keep a traditional lamp projector running at its best. But with the proliferation of solid-state light sources, the concept of replacing a lamp—or having to do any ongoing maintenance—is a thing of the past. The LED light sources in some of BenQ's gaming projectors will last up to 20,000 hours running in Normal mode, and even 30,000 in Eco mode. That's a lot of playtime.

The innovative 4LED light source used in BenQ gaming projectors contributes to the both excellent light output and the color accuracy of the projectors. Rather than just using a traditional RGB source with red, green and blue LEDs, BenQ engineered in an additional blue "pump" LED. The light from this LED is passed through a phosphor to change it to green, a color that plays a big role in how we perceive brightness. That helps boost the overall brightness of the image and makes it possible to achieve up to 3,000 measurable ANSI lumens of light output—a level previously restricted to lamp and laser projectors.

At the same time, the BenQ LED light engine offers a number of advantages. First, it doesn't run nearly as hot as a traditional lamp light source, which helps to keep the projector running at optimal temperatures without its cooling fans having to work extra hard—even in warm climates. There's also the much quicker start up and shut down compared with lamp projectors that take more time to reach their full brightness and require cool-down fan time after shut-off. The build and design of a solid-state light source allows the projectors to be more portable than their lamp-based brethren, as well.

Long- or Short-Throw Options

Everyone has different parameters they need to meet when they start to think about adding a projector to their viewing space. BenQ has designed its new projector line to accommodate a wide range of installation challenges with models that offer both traditional long-throw and short-throw options. Maybe you're converting a long room into a theater and are able to have a long distance between the projector and the screen. The BenQ X3000i 4K projector or X1300i 1080p projector can easily be mounted permanently at the in the middle or back of your room from a ceiling mount or on some shelving. Or maybe your one-bedroom city apartment lease won't allow you to install a ceiling mount, and your room isn't very deep. The BenQ TK700STi 4K short-throw projector can be kept tucked away and brought out for placement on your coffee table just a few feet from the screen when it's time to watch a movie or game with some friends.

BenQ 2021-2022 Gaming Projectors

BenQ offers projectors in three gaming segments. The most advanced models are in their "Designed for Gaming" X series, which features the new X3000i flagship due in January 2022. These projectors offer a compact, cube-like form factor; a high-output solid-state LED light source; an immersive on-board sound system; and advanced gaming features like high frame rate capability, super-low input lag, and dedicated Game Setting viewing modes to optimize the image and sound for specific game types. The X3000i joins BenQ's X1300i 1080p model introduced earlier this year and is a true 4K HDR projector that offers 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and CinematicColor for the most convincing and engaging big screen imagery with HDR games.

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BenQ's T7 and T6 Series projectors (TK700, TK700STi, TH685, TH671ST) are "Game Ready," and offer some of the X Series' advanced gaming features, such as high frame rate capability and low input lag, in a traditional home theater projector form factor with a lamp-based light engine. And the HT and TS Series projectors (HT2050A, HT2150ST, TH585) are the BenQ "Party Gaming" projectors that function primarily for big screen viewing of TVs and movies and more casual gaming.

Here's a closer look at the top models in BenQ's new 2021-2022 Gaming Projector line-up.

X3000i 4K Projector

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BenQ will start off 2022 with the release of its new flagship gaming projector—the X3000i—on January 5, 2022. The X3000i is similar in looks and design to the successful X1300i introduced earlier this year, but steps up from the X1300i's 1080p resolution to full 4K (3840x2160) with 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut thanks to CinematicColor™. It uses the latest generation 0.65-inch DLP imaging chip mated with Texas Instruments' XPR 4K technology. The projector's 4LED light engine is rated for a brightness of 3,000 ANSI lumens and a contrast ratio of 500,000:1 with Dynamic Black enabled. In Normal mode, the light source will last up to 20,000 hours, or 30,000 hours in Eco mode.

Input lag will pose no problem for serious gamers. At 60 Hz refresh rate in both 4K and 1080p, the X3000i's input lag is only 16.67 ms. When switched to 120Hz in 1080p that halves to 8.33 ms, and halves even further to 4.16 ms at 1080p/240Hz. The X3000i offers BenQ's Game Setting options, offering three separate game modes focused on different game styles—FPS (first-person shooter), RPG (role-playing game), and SPG (sports). It also comes with BenQ's QS01 streaming stick with the Android TV OS. The X3000i will have a MSRP of $2,499 and an expected street price of $1,999.

Features

  • 4K (3840x2160) resolution
  • 4K HDR10/HLG supported
  • High refresh rate support up to 1080p/240Hz
  • 0.65-inch DLP chip
  • 4LED light source with rated 3,000 ANSI lumens
  • CinematicColor™ DCI-P3 100% wide color gamut coverage
  • Input Lag as low as 4.16 ms at 1080p/240Hz
  • Three dedicated game modes
  • Two 5 watt chamber speakers tuned by treVolo
  • QS01 streaming stick included with Android TV OS

TK700 4K Projector

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The BenQ TK700 is a long-throw version of the TK700STi introduced last spring. This 4K (3840x2160) projector uses a late-generation 0.47-inch DLP chip paired with a lamp light source to output 3,200 rated ANSI lumens with 96% coverage of the Rec. 709 color space. Its full on/full off contrast ratio is rated at 10,000:1. With a throw ratio of 1.13-1.46:1 and a 1.3x manual zoom, the TK700 can project a 100-inch image from a distance of 8 feet 2 inches, up to 10 feet 7 inches away from the screen. The input lag is the same as found on the X3000i—16 ms at 60 Hz with both 4K and 1080p resolution, 8 ms at 1080p/120Hz, and 4 ms at 1080p/240Hz.

There are two HDMI 2.0b with HDCP 2.2 (HDMI-2 supports eARC), and a single USB 2.0, plus a hidden compartment with an additional HDMI and micro USB to connect the optional BenQ QS01 streaming stick.

Features

  • 4K (3840x2160) native resolution
  • HDR10/HLG supported High refresh rate support up to 1080p/240Hz
  • 0.47-inch DLP chip
  • 240 watt lamp with up to 15,000 hours lamp life (in Eco)
  • 96% coverage of Rec. 709 color gamut, Powered by CinematicColor™
  • Input lag as low as 4.16 ms at 1080p/240 Hz
  • One 5 watt chamber speaker tuned by treVolo
  • Optional QS01 streaming stick with Android TV OS

TK700STi 4K Projector

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A short throw version of the TK700 above, the TK700STi can project a 100-inch image from as little as 6.5 feet from the screen, making it a great solution for someone who wants a projector that can be set up on a coffee table and put away when not in use. It weighs just 6.8 pounds. The 240-watt lamp is rated for 3,000 ANSI lumens and the projector uses the same 0.47-inch DLP chip as the long throw version; it offers 96% coverage of the Rec. 709 color gamut. With 4K and 1080p signals at 60Hz, the projector has an input lag of 16 ms, and is capable of 8 ms input lag at 120 Hz with 1080p resolution.

Features

  • 4K (3840x2160) native resolution
  • HDR10/HLG supported Short Distance Projection, 100 inch image at 7'2" (2.2 meters)
  • High refresh rate support up to 1080p/240Hz
  • 0.47-inch DLP chip
  • 240 watt lamp with up to 15,000 hours lamp life (in Eco)
  • 96% coverage of Rec. 709 color gamut, Powered by CinematicColor™
  • Input lag as low as 8 ms at 1080p/120 Hz; 4.16 ms at 1080p/240 Hz
  • One 5 watt chamber speaker tuned by treVolo
  • QS01 streaming stick with Android TV OS

X1300i 1080p Projector

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The X1300i is the 1080p version of the flagship X3000i. It uses a 0.65-inch DLP chip and the same 4LED light engine found in the X3000i for a brightness rating of 3,000 ANSI lumens. Powered by CinematicColor™ ensures that the X1300i has excellent color performance out of the box, and the BenQ Game Setting feature offers the same three game modes as the X3000i—FPS, RPG, and SPG—to fine-tune performance for those three different game styles.

4K signals are accepted and downconverted to 1080p. At 60Hz, the input lag on the X1300i is 16.4 ms. The projector also supports 120 Hz signals, which lowers the input lag to 8.2 ms. A hidden compartment that keeps the included QS01 streaming stick safe is accessible by sliding off the top of the projector. An additional two HDMI ports are on the back for additional sources.

Like the X3000i, the X1300i has two 5 watt speakers tuned by treVolo and utilizes Bongiovi DPS technology to offer three sound profiles alongside the matching game modes. The BenQ X1300i is available now for $1,199.

Features

  • 1080p (1920x1080) native resolution
  • 4K HDR10/HLG compatible
  • Accepts 4K HDR signals and 1080p at 120 Hz
  • 0.65-inch ECD DLP chip
  • 4LED light source with rated 3,000 ANSI lumens
  • 98% coverage of Rec. 709 color gamut
  • Input lag as low as 8.2 ms at 1080p/120Hz
  • Three dedicated game modes
  • Two 5 watt chamber speakers tuned by treVolo
  • QS01 streaming stick included with Android TV OS