- Excellent input lag
- Multiple game modes for different game styles
- High light output for LED light source
- Near perfect color accuracy in Cinema mode
- Higher than average black level
The BenQ X1300i steps beyond a standard gaming projector with its LED light source and multiple gaming modes for specific game types. It supports 120 Hz gaming at its native 1080p resolution, plus serves really well for movie and TV watching despite its somewhat elevated blacks.
When it comes to projectors in the $1,199 price range of the BenQ X1300i, traditional lamp models have been the kings of the hill for a while, mainly due to their value and light output. But when looking at the long-term value of lamp-based projectors, lamps need to be replaced in order to reach the same number of hours provided by solid-state competitors—and the cost of replacement lamps can't be ignored. Solid state models offer more longevity without having to worry about those costly lamps. The problem has been that LED projectors have always been on the lower end of light output in comparison to lamps, even when taking into consideration the perceived vs measured brightness of a LED light source.
But the BenQ X1300i breaks that trend. At 3,000 ANSI lumens it's among the brightest 1080p native resolution LED projectors in ProjectorCentral's comprehensive projector database. And as you'll see below, BenQ's lumens claim is actually accurate and within an acceptable margin of error. It's also aimed squarely at gamers, and comes with low input lag, 120Hz refresh rate, and three different game modes designed for different types of games.
So how does the X1300i achieve higher brightness than other LED projectors? It uses a 4LED light source (RGBB), which is basically a 3LED setup with an additional blue LED. The extra blue "pump" LED boosts overall brightness and improves the color accuracy of the projector, which as you'll see in the Performance section below, is excellent in two modes in particular. The extra blue LED is actually converted to green with a phosphor to increase the brightness (an increase of green is perceived as an increase of overall brightness to our eyes). BenQ includes an auto-calibration feature that adjusts colors as the projector ages and the LEDs slowly deteriorate, which happens at different rates depending on color, with red usually deteriorating faster than the others. Even so, the LED light source will last 20,000 hours in Normal mode and 30,000 hours in Eco. The rated 3,000 ANSI lumens of brightness is the highest of any 1080p (or 4K for that matter) LED projector designed for consumers, matched or exceeded only by a couple of the business-focused models at 1080p or WUXGA resolution. It's a good amount of light output and holds up well against some ambient light. As you get with brighter projectors in this price range, the black level is also elevated, a bit more than I've seen on competitive projectors.
Now, LED projectors are not the only solid-state options out there. While laser is generally a more expensive technology, there are a few models available with higher light output—most notably our Highly Recommended pick, the Optoma GT1090HDR. They also use a 0.65-inch 1080p DLP chip, but cost slightly more than the X1300i and none of them come with a streaming platform included.
The platform on the BenQ X1300i is Android TV, which has thankfully started to take a stronger hold over the Android-based Aptoide OS. While Android TV is a marked improvement over that other OS, on the X1300i (and many other projectors that aren't specifically authorized) Netflix is still missing. BenQ's suggestion for accessing Netflix is to install the Apps Manager from Google Play and install Aptoide, but that brings with it the resolution limitations and utter frustration of running Netflix on Aptoide. Another BenQ-recommended workaround is to cast a Chrome browser page to the X1300i from a laptop running Netflix, which worked from a MacBook but for some reason not on my Windows machine—either the video locked up or it just wouldn't play, although the audio continued. Casting from the Netflix app on a mobile device yielded the same result. Hopefully at some point Netflix will be authorized on BenQ projectors. When and if that might happen is unknown.
The OS is included in the form of the BenQ QS01 dongle and there's a hidden compartment to place it in (with both dedicated HDMI and mini USB power connectors). Accessing the compartment requires the removal of two screws from the back so that the entire top of the X1300i can slide off. The fact that the dongle has its own dedicated HDMI leaves the two HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 on the back (one that has ARC) free to connect to other sources or a home theater system. The HDMI will accept 4K HDR signals, but the X1300i is a native 1080p resolution projector and displays all content at that resolution.
Gaming projectors of course come with a gaming mode that usually turns off extra processing to get the input lag as low as possible. Gaming mode on the X1300i does the same, with a 16.4 ms response at 1080p/60 (confirmed with my measurements) and 4K/60 (which is downcoverted to 1080p). The projector also supports 120Hz refresh rate at 1080p, which halves that response time.
What's unique to the X1300i is GameMaestro—three different submodes (FPS, RPG, and SPG) that offer different color and grayscale calibration tuned towards specific game types. Each submode also has its own audio profile. According to BenQ, FPS enhances detail by revealing all the enemies hidden in the dark shadows and provides surround sound to hear distant footsteps and recognize the direction of gunshots, RPG provides cinematic color (its color is identical to the Cinema preset) and film-like sound—e.g. it boosts the bass—and SPG provides more vibrant greens and puts the focus on dialogue to make sports announcers stand out. Input lag was identical across the three GameMaestro modes. The projector has two 5 watt speakers tuned by treVolo and use Bongiovi DPS technology for the different modes. There are distinct visual and auditory differences between the three modes, but I personally found the accurate color and more balanced audio profile of RPG to suit my play best, no matter the game type I played.
There's a dedicated button at the top of the slender white X1300i remote to easily flip through the game modes if you so choose. Other useful buttons include a dedicated Amazon Prime Video button, an input select, two different menu buttons (one for the projector and one for Google settings only accessible when the Android TV OS is active), a button to activate Google Assistant (there's a mic at the top of the remote), volume control, and a directional pad. The remote is light and laid out pretty well, with the directional pad, settings, and volume all easily within thumb's reach. It is not backlit.
The X1300i uses the bulky cube shape that's becoming the rage over the past couple years for lifestyle- and gaming-type projectors. It measures 7.8 x 10.7 x 10.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 14.1 pounds, which is a bit on the hefty size for its class. At its weight and size, it feels intended for a permanent setup location—either on a rack or ceiling mounted—than to be taken out only when being used. I was able to easily fill my 100-inch Stewart screen with it mounted on my ceiling about 10.5 feet away thanks to the 1.2x manual zoom and 1.3-1.56:1 throw ratio (to see if the X1300i fits in your room, you can use the ProjectorCentral BenQ X1300i Projector Throw Distance Calculator). The manual zoom and focus ring sliders are on the side of the projector next to the menu navigation buttons as opposed to the top. They move smoothly but firmly, and I had absolutely no worry that they would ever loose position.
In addition to the three HDMI listed above (all 2.0b with HDCP 2.2), there's a digital optical audio out, USB 2.0 for power and service only (not for displaying files from a flash drive), RS-232, and a 12V trigger port.
Color Modes. The BenQ has color modes you'd expect to see from a home theater projector—Bright, Living Room, Sport, Cinema, User, HDR10, and HLG—but with the GameMaestro setting, it adds in three different game modes for both SDR and HDR. In all, there are eight SDR color modes, 3D, and five HDR color modes.
All of the color modes are watchable, even the Bright color mode which lacks the significant green shift most projectors use to increase brightness. Most modes do have some oversaturation in reds and even more so in magenta, with blue a bit undersaturated. In every mode, the grayscale luminance below 60% is elevated compared with more typical home theater projectors around this price. This is an issue with every bright DLP projector, but the BenQ X1300i has a slightly higher black level than most that can rob it a bit of dimensionality when watching in a dark room. On the flip side of that, the picture can hold up very well to a room with ambient light. So much so, in fact, that while on a Zoom call with AV colleagues they commented on the brightness of the picture, which was behind me displaying the Roku screensaver.
Even with all modes being watchable, there were two modes in particular that stood out—Cinema (not surprisingly) and Game RPG. Using Portrait Displays' Calman color calibration software, my X-Rite i1 Pro 3 spectrophotometer, and my Murideo Six-G pattern generator, I measured the color accuracy of both modes—which were virtually identical. The highest color point DeltaE (which denotes how close to perfect a measurement is, with below 3.0 considered to be imperceptible) was red and blue at 1.4 and 1.3, respectively. The other four color points were all at or below a DeltaE of 0.7. This performance from a projector in this price range, especially before any CMS calibration, is remarkable. You still see the elevated blacks at the low end of the grayscale curve in both the Cinema and Game RPG modes, but it isn't as significant as any of the other modes.
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HDR performance is consistent with SDR. Colors in HDR Game RPG are a bit more vibrant than HDR10, but all modes are acceptably accurate. As with HDR on other DLP projectors, there's a separate 5-point slider to adjust the HDR brightness to specific content or viewing conditions. This primarily changes the midtone brightness up and down. I found myself staying with the -1 to 1 range as the two extremes were a bit too bright and dim for my tastes. The same three GameMaestro modes are available for HDR with similar audio and video variations as SDR. As with SDR, I preferred the RPG setting on GameMaestro for color that was vibrant without being artificial.
Thanks to the quality of Cinema and Game RPG modes, there isn't a real need to spend the extra money on a calibration, which is a blessing considering that the cost of professional calibration would be a significant portion of the projector's total price. Using a calibration disc like those put out by Spears & Munsil to properly set brightness, contrast, and sharpness are enough for the X1300i to have really great performance. Some improvement can be made to the grayscale curve, but no matter what it still maintains some of that low-end extra brightness.
SDR Viewing. I was a bit surprised when I saw Selena Gomez had teamed up with Steve Martin and Martin Short for the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Obviously Steve Martin and Martin Short are legendary comedic actors with already established chemistry over decades of working together, but a few episodes in and Selena Gomez is melding well with the dynamic septuagenarians. In cinema mode, the BenQ displays the residents of the NYC apartment building well. There's nice detail in the native 1080p resolution, actors' skin tones are accurate, and moments of color—such as the blood red of a gunshot wound ("murders" is in the title, so no spoiler there)—have a nice pop. Overall the presentation in SDR is very good.
[Editor's Note: See the author's update below regarding the X1300i's rainbow artifacts.] The one main drawback with this BenQ is the rainbow effect. I'm not very susceptible to DLP rainbows, but I noticed them on the X1300i in multiple instances. My wife, who has taken to working out at home during the pandemic with the Les Mills streaming app, saw them constantly while doing her workouts. She also isn't terribly susceptible to them, but the moving exacerbates them. If rainbows don't bother you, then you'll have no issue. But if you find them distracting when you see them, as I do, be aware that the X1300i displays them more than some other gaming projectors I've seen. BenQ says the company is planning a firmware update for mid-to-late October that will address this by adjusting the speed of the color wheel, though its effect on the image remains to be seen.
UPDATE 2/5/2022: For anyone who has or purchases the BenQ X1300i with the original firmware, there is now an update available (to firmware version 1.00A) that addresses the severity of its rainbow effects. Unfortunately it is not possible to install this new firmware version at home. Instead, it requires the projector be sent back to BenQ for them to update it at the factory. After sending my sample back to BenQ for the update, I'm happy to report the rainbow effect is significantly improved. I no longer was able to see it, nor was my wife during her workout sessions. The turnaround for the update took less than a week; BenQ says typical turnaround time internally is 24-48 hours after BenQ receives the returned unit, and they will provide Fedex ground labels for shipping in both directions. Still, the normal ProjectorCentral disclaimer applies as it does with all single-chip projectors susceptible to rainbow effect: If you're sensitive to it, make sure to buy your projector from somewhere that has a generous return policy.
HDR Viewing. Some day in the future I'll move on from using the new Lord of the Rings 4K Blu-rays as my go-to reference material. That day is not today. There are many moments, especially within Return of the King, that can really show off how well a projector performs or reveal how well it doesn't. When Frodo arrives unknowingly at Shelob's lair and enters into the cave passage, there's a bunch of detail and depth in craggy walls. On the X1300i in HDR10 mode I was able to see some of that detail (more so with the curtains closed and the HDR slider in the 1 position), but it didn't have the same depth that I've experienced with other projectors that have better black level. It wasn't distractingly so, but I know there's more dimensionality there than the BenQ was able to exhibit.
For colors, though, the X1300i does an excellent job, much like SDR. The skin tones of the armies and the dust of the battlefield in Pelennor Fields was beautifully accurate. Action was easy to follow without looking overly smooth. Detail was suitably sharp and I didn't notice any artifacts from the downconversion process.
Gaming. During a conversation with a friend, she mentioned how her entry to gaming a few years ago was with the Borderlands series. Thus began an adventure with me revisiting the franchise and starting up Borderlands 3, which I had only briefly played when it first released. The game has an irreverent, childish tone and an almost comic book style to the animation. The colors are purposefully vibrant and the X1300i handles them well. Colorful moments within the desert have a nice pop and even in darker moments it's easy to see within the shadows. Borderlands 3 isn't a game that relies on sneaking around or frights jumping from the corners, so there isn't the need for inky blacks. I also didn't find the elevated shadows provided by Game FPS mode to be necessary, although the sound profile with FPS did add some clarity to weapon firing. Perhaps it was the positioning of the projector on my ceiling mount, but the spatial placement of that gunfire wasn't particularly different than the other sound modes. If you have a separate sound system, I highly recommend using the audio return channel instead of the built-in speakers. They're fine, but not ideal.
Running the game in Performance mode on my PS5 (which prioritizes high frame rate over resolution), aiming was incredibly smooth and response was quick. There was no indication of lag whatsoever. And since the X1300i is a native 1080p projector, there really isn't any reason to run the PS5 in Resolution mode and lose out on the high frame rate. There's no visible improvement to resolution quality in that mode with the PS5.
For games with darker moments, like running around islands at night in Sea of Thieves, I needed to either have the blinds pulled tight or play in FPS mode. I most often chose to pull the blinds. It was a minor difference, but I preferred the look and sound of Game RPG over any of the other modes.
3D Viewing. 3D on the X1300i looked really good. In the toy train battle scene between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket at the end of the first Ant-Man movie I didn't detect any evidence of crosstalk. There was nice depth of field as Scott Lang and his ant army ran through the fibers of the rug, or as the two characters fought each other on the top of the toy train.
The BenQ X1300i performs really well as a gaming projector. The three different gaming color modes allow you to fine tune your gaming experience to match your preferences and the super low input lag with 120 Hz support matches what you can get from a flatpanel TV. And thanks to excellent color accuracy and the included QS01 streaming stick that can be hidden away, it works really well for movie and TV watching.
While there are two main concerns, they are conditional. The fact that Netflix is still not supported on the QS01 is unfortunate, and if you're a Netflix watcher you'll want a second streaming stick to access it. The workaround solutions just aren't satisfactory to enjoy content without a significant amount of frustration. The DLP rainbow effect is the second issue. They're more apparent than I've seen on a projector in a while. But BenQ does hope to address this with its planned firmware update, and if you're not someone who's bothered by rainbows, then it's a moot point.
Overall, the BenQ X1300i is a great projector that can perform both for its primary purpose—gaming—and for daily content watching. There are some less expensive lamp-based options, but their initial price doesn't include the inevitable replacement lamps and, most often, they don't include a streaming-capable OS. If you can get past the few drawbacks, the BenQ X1300i is worth the consideration for your next gaming projector.
Brightness. The brightest color mode on the BenQ X1300i is Bright in the Normal light mode (which is the only option available for the Bright color mode). In my measurements, it came in at 2,793 ANSI lumens, which is 93% of BenQ's 3,000 ANSI lumens rated spec and well within tolerance. Cinema mode, the most color accurate, drops the brightness by 43% to 1,603 ANSI lumens. Color brightness was also measured in Bright color mode and was 55% of full brightness.
ECO lamp mode drops brightness by 20%. SmartEco adjust the brightness dependent on the content on screen. So with a full white screen (as we use for measurements), the LEDs are at full brightness. Because of this, measurement lumen readings in Smart Eco are the same as Normal light mode. Custom lamp mode also measures the same as Normal and has a slider that ranges from 100 down to 70. These values match with a percentage decrease to overall light output. Since both SmartEco and Custom (at 100) have identical values to Normal, they are not included in the chart.
BenQ X1300i ANSI Lumens
Zoom Lens Light Loss. Changing the zoom from its widest setting to its maximum telephoto position resulted in a 14% light loss.
Brightness Uniformity. At the widest zoom setting, brightness uniformity on the X1300i measured 85%, with the brightest section at the center top and dimmest at the bottom right on my sample. In max telephoto position brightness uniformity was 81% with the same sections cited above as the brightest and dimmest.
Input Lag. With a Leo Bodnar lag tester, the BenQ X1300i in game mode measured 16.4 ms with a 1080p/60 signal and 33 ms outside of game mode. Based on those numbers, the rated 120 Hz input lag of 8.2 is more than likely accurate.
Fan Noise. The X1300i is rated for 31 dBA in Normal mode and 27 dBA in Eco mode using the standard, multi-point measuring process in a soundproof environment. In my living room that has a noise floor of 29.5 dBA at a distance of three feet under the ceiling-mounted projector, I measured the X1300i at 33 dBA running in Normal light mode. Eco dropped the noise to 31.5 dBA. At those levels, even during quiet scenes, the projector's noise blends into the background. In High Altitude Mode, which BenQ recommends for altitudes of 1,500 meters (0.93 miles) and above, the fan noise measured 41 dBA.
- HDMI 2.0b (x3 with HDCP 2.2, one in compartment, one with ARC)
- Digital optical out
- USB 2.0 (for power and service)
- 3.5 mm analog audio output
- 12V trigger
For more detailed specifications and connections, check out our BenQ X1300i projector page.