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Best 4K projector 2021 - go big and bold with your display this year

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Best 4K projector 2021 - go big and bold with your display this year
(Image credit: Samsung/Future)

The best 4K projector matches the march of progress in visual fedlity: 4K is no longer a luxury for the discerning home cinephile. It has truly replaced HD as the standard for image quality and the best 4K projectors will get you there with a bang.

The advent of the PS5 and Xbox Series X in late 2020 was, as next-gen launches tend to be, a turning point in resolution, framerates, and visual clarity. Just as Playstation 3 helped BluRay become the standard, 4K devices have now reached even more homes and we really are in the era of 4K.

As progress goes on, the price of tech lowers and this is the same when it comes to those vying for the title of best 4K projector. Just a few years ago the best 4K projectors were financially out of reach for almost all home cinema lovers. And while you’re still going to need four figures to get most of the contenders for best 4K projector into your home, there are now great options at the lower end of this market - as well as the truly exceptional and 'genuine' best 4K projectors at or above the several thousand dollar or pound mark. Those at the lower end will still give the best gaming TVs a run for their money offering 4K-quality images, but are not native 4K, utilising pixel-shifting technology to give ultra-HD quality images. 

Being stuck at home for so long has made a lot of us look at our setups and wonder whether it’s time to upgrade to something even more immersive like the best 4K projector we can afford - especially when it comes to replacing trips to the cinema or sports stadium.

So if you’re looking to take your home cinema system to the next level, or looking to replace your TV with a glorious and enormous picture from one of the best projectors, then these are a handful of your best bets, covering a range of options from all the established names and to suit a range of budgets. But remember, if you can’t stretch to 4K prices, there are still quality projectors amount the best home projectors, best outdoor projectors, best portable projectors, and best projectors for PS5 and Xbox Series X to browse which might dial it down to HD to reduce the cost, for example. Oh, and remember to peruse the best projector screen and best outdoor projector screen markets to ensure you have the right gear for your projected images.

Samsung Premiere LSP9T

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Premiere LSP9T

The best 4K projector on the market - if price is no object

Resolution: 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 (via pixel shifting)
Brightness: 2800 lumen
Contrast: 1500:1/2,000,000:1 (Native/Dynamic)
Light Source Wattage: Triple Laser DLP
Clear Image Size (diagonal): 130-inches
Throw ratio: 0.189 (Ultra short)
Features: Freeview HD tuner, Three-laser DLP, Tizen Smart TV interface, bluetooth headphone connectivity
Reasons to buy
+Astonishing picture+Very short throw+Exceptional 40W sound
Reasons to avoid
-Occasional rainbow effects-The pricetag

Even the best 4K projectors don’t often get release hype, but Samsung’s first projectors in 10 years created quite a buzz at its release in late 2020. The Premiere LSP9T matches up to every bit of the hype and more to make claim to being the best 4K projector on the market today. 

The innovative three laser light source delivers exceptional pictures, with a laser each for red, blue, and green lights. This means incredible brightness and colours, even with ambient light. This is true 4K, without compromise. Even more impressive is the incredible short throw, meaning you can place this close to your projection surface and achieve a gigantic picture. There are some occasional rainbow effects, and – like most projectors – you may need to tweak the picture for darker images, but these do not spoil an incredible watching experience.

It even has all the functionality you’d expect from a smart TV, with Samsung’s Tizen smart TV interface giving all your usual menus, streaming apps, and content. You can even use Samsung’s built-in Bixby system (with Alexa and Google Assistant support if you have listening devices already). As a minor gripe though, the OS can run a little slow at times.

There’s even fantastic sound with 40-watt speakers – much louder than the usual 10-20W for projectors – if you don’t have enough left in the pocket for a top gaming sound system or similar. And if the price is out of range, the single-laser Premiere SP-LSP7T is also an excellent option at just over half the price.

Such is the quality of this projector, stock is quite low at the moment. You're best bet is to go direct to Samsung USA and Samsung UK.

Epson EH-TW7100

(Image credit: Epson)

2. Epson Home Cinema 3800 / Epson EH-TW7100

A quality mid-range 4K projector

Resolution: 4K UHD 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 3,000 lumen
Contrast: 100,000:1
Light Source Wattage: 250W
Clear Image Size (diagonal): up to 500 inches
Throw ratio: 1.32-2.15:1 (Standard)
Features: Bluetooth connectivity, multiple inputs, keystone corrections
Reasons to buy
+Great 4K picture at a mid-range price point+Bluetooth connectivity for audio output
Reasons to avoid
-No 4K motion processing settings-Chunky, cluttered look

Launched in September 2020, this is a great projector that makes Epson very competitive at this end of the best 4K projector market. But it gives a great picture which belies the price. Colours are impressive for wide landscapes or close-ups of faces, and although there are some of the problems with blacks lacking depths which projectors often suffer from you’d have to be quite pernickety to spot it. 

While there aren’t any frame interpolation options on 4K-level settings, motion blur is low and action remains smooth. Even when switched to the 1080p modes there’s a fantastic picture, plus many extra settings to reduce any blur even further at this resolution.

The option of Bluetooth audio output means you don’t need to have quite so many wires trailing across the room if you’ve run a soundbar under the projected image. However, there are some practical niggles: the onboard controls are a little cluttered; and the dials for lens shift are a slightly strange way to employ this feature. But once you’ve set it up and you’re staring at the beautiful image these minor issues will be quickly forgotten.

Note: The alternative name for this model, the Epson EH-TW7100 is what the unit is sold as in the UK.

Optoma UHD51

(Image credit: Optoma)

3. Optoma UHD51

Best 4K projector on a budget

Resolution: 4K UHD 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 2400 ANSI lumen
Contrast: 500,000:1
Light Source Wattage: 240W
Clear Image Size (diagonal): up to 300 inches
Throw ratio: 1.21:1 - 1.59:1 (Standard)
Features: 3D compatibility
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic entry level 4K projector+Great black levels+Vertical lens shift
Reasons to avoid
-Can struggle with ambient light-Lack of onboard apps

Sometimes with the best 4K projectors, you can end up paying for the label. However, if you stray from the traditional household names in home entertainment then you can find a real bargain, and Optoma is one of the brands that consistently deliver great value projectors which can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. The UHD51 has been out for a couple of years now, which means you can find some great deals on it, although 'budget' 4K still means four figures.

It offers fantastic colour, with good black depths, and smooths out fast motion to keep up with the quickest of action scenes. It also upscales non-4K images beautifully and even has 3D capability (which requires the purchase of DLP link active shutter glasses) should you want to re-watch Avatar ahead of the sequels. However, despite its good light rating, this unit may need the curtains drawn to get the most out of it as it struggles slightly with a lot of ambient light.

You would need to keep this hooked up to a video source to run video as it doesn’t have an onboard operating system that would allow you to stream direct, but that’s a small quibble when you’re getting such a great picture for the price, especially given that it also boasts Optoma’s usual short input lag – making it great for gaming, too.

Sony VPL-VW590ES

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony VPL-VW590ES

Best 4K projector if money is no object

Resolution: 4096 x 2160 (4K)
Brightness: 1,800 ANSI lumen
Contrast: 350,000:1
Light Source Wattage: 280w
Clear Image Size (diagonal): 60" to 300"
Throw ratio: 1.38:1 to 2.83:1 (Standard)
Reasons to buy
+Astonishing 4K picture+Excellent upscaling+Incredibly bright
Reasons to avoid
-Large size-Lack of connectivity-Very, very expensive

A step up on its much-loved predecessor the VW570, mostly thanks to the incredible X1 chip which has been based on Sony’s Bravia TV technology. The X1 is an incredibly fast processor which is constantly working to give you incredible picture quality – analysing frame by frame to ensure everything looks sharp and smooth. Bright enough to be great quality picture even with significant levels of ambient light, and with astonishing depth of colour and contrast.

It’s large and heavy, but so are most 4K native projectors. A slight quibble is the lack of connectivity beyond HDMI and USB, but if you’re shelling out this much for a projector you’re likely to have an amp ready to go for this already. It’s great for gaming with no notable input lag, and the expansive landscapes of open-world games look astonishing in a 4K image of over 100 inches – but so do the bright colours of a platformer. It gives incredible detail even in the darkest shadow, a feat few projectors manage. Yes, it’s pricy, but it’s a cutting-edge projector which truly brings the cinema home and worth the money if you have it. 

Epson EH-TW9400

(Image credit: Epson)

5. Epson Home Cinema 5050UB / Epson EH-TW9400

4K excellence in a projector

Resolution: 4K 'Pro' UHD 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 2,600 Lumens
Contrast: 1,200,000:1
Light Source Wattage: 250W
Clear Image Size (diagonal): 3m-6.3m (100 inch screen)
Throw Ratio: 1.35 - 2.84:1 (Standard)
Features: Motorized zoom and focus controls, image shifting, 3 chip colour technology
Reasons to buy
+4K upscaling+Vertical and horizontal image shift+Motorized zoom
Reasons to avoid
-Can run loud-Lack of bluetooth connectivity

The Epson EH-TW9400 is a long-standing recommendation when it comes to the best 4K projectors. The use of Epson’s 3LCD technology, with a separate liquid crystal chip for each of the primary colours, gives an excellent depth of colour and bright picture with exceptional sharpness so you won’t miss a single detail. There’s even active 3D processing, although it requires the additional outlay on 3D glasses.

There are great practical advantages. Given that it weighs in at 24.25lbs/11kg you’ll want to find a very solid base for it to rest on, which would often cause the image to be projected at a bad angle. However, the motorized zoom coupled with vertical and horizontal image shift means you won’t have to compromise on positioning to get a great picture. This adds to the weight, but it gives a real feel of design and build quality.

A drawback of having been around so long is that it lacks the Bluetooth speaker connectivity which more recent 4K projectors have started to offer, even in Epson’s cheaper models. It also is one of the louder-running projectors, but when hooked up to a good sound system this won’t be an issue. It might no longer be the cutting edge, but the EH-TW9400 has stood the test of time and remains highly recommended.

BenQ TK800M

(Image credit: BenQ)

6. BenQ TK800M

A great gaming 4K projector

Resolution: 4K UHD 3840 x 2160
Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumen
Contrast: 10,000:1
Light Source Wattage: 240W
Clear Image Size (diagonal): 60"~200" / 300"
Throw ratio: 1.50 - 1.65 (Standard)
Features: optional wireless connectors, 3D capabilities
Reasons to buy
+Low input lag+Optional 3D and wireless connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-No lens shift-Quiet, mono audio (but good sound quality)

BenQ is one of the names which always come up for affordable projectors with great pictures and the TK800M is yet another unit which gives more than enough bang for your buck in your search for the best 4K projector for you. The colour tech is great for ensuring reds and greens don’t oversaturate while giving excellent colour depth even for darker shades. The Ultra HD4K resolution gives amazingly sharp picture at most light levels, although you might struggle if there’s bright direct sunlight in the room.

The 'football mod' is a slightly odd gimmick with specific sound settings and colour palette which enhances greens, but it does hint at one of the projector’s best qualities: low input lag modes which make it outstanding gaming and watching sport. It’s been tested at just 48ms, meaning you won’t get out of sync when doing delicately timed stealth kills in Assassins Creed Valhalla or jumps in the frantic chaos of Fall Guys.

There are even optional wireless kits to enable you to connect to an input source without cables or stream content from a mobile device. You can also get optional 3D glasses, and it’s always a slight quirk that the cheaper projectors seem to offer this more often than more expensive rivals.

Remember it's always worth trying to get hold of a new console for your new 4K projector so you'll need to know how to find buy a PS5 and how to buy Xbox Series X. And if you do prefer your screens TV-shaped then check out our guides to the best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X, best 120Hz 4K TV, and best OLED TV too.