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The best projectors for gaming, movies and TV on any budget

Best Projectors 2020: browse the best projectors for gaming and film and TV
(Image credit: Future/BenQ)

One of the best projectors could be for you if you've ever looked at your TV screen or gaming monitor and just wanted a bit more. After all, there is a limit (albeit quite a good one) as to what the best gaming monitors and the best gaming TVs can offer. Do you wish you could see your favorite films and games large enough to truly get immersed in them? Do you want to host movie or game nights where everyone can actually see? Then it’s time to leave behind the hours of staring at a screen and embrace the world of the best projectors for gaming, film, and TV. 

And if you’re used to struggling with that ancient blurry projector in a work meeting room, you’ll be blown away by how far picture quality has come in recent years. And in terms of value, some projectors will even give the best 4K TVs under $500 a run for their money too. There’s a lot of choice out there now, and even if you’ve mastered what to look for in terms of monitor or screen specifications you could be forgiven for being daunted by the extra things you need to consider in a projector. 

So this guide is going to walk through some of the best projectors out there at the moment, across a number of price points. While there are some decent projectors at lower price points, you’ll need to have some good curtains to keep the sun out during the day for these. You’ll also need to think about the surface you’re projecting onto, you might need a screen for the perfect picture but with high-end units you’d be hard-pressed to notice any issues if you’re projecting onto a white wall.

The key things to keep an eye out are lumens (essentially brightness, the higher this is the better the picture will be when the lights are on) and throw distance (how far away from the surface you’re projecting on the unit needs to be to give a big enough picture). So whether you’re looking to get your first projector or are looking for a top of the line upgrade, there’s something for everyone here in our take on the best projectors going. In no particular order, here we go...

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BenQ TH671ST

Outstanding short throw unit with minimal input lag

Resolution: 1080p, Full HD (1920x1080) | Brightness: 3,000 ANSI Lumens | Contrast: 10,000:1 | Light Source Wattage: 240w | Clear Image Size (diagonal): 60"-120" | Throw ratio: 0.69-0.83 (100" @ 1.5m) | Features: Game mode with very low input lag, color background settings, short throw

Short throw for narrow spaces
Trusted manufacturer
Short input lag
Less suitable placed further back from projection surface

One of the first things which could put you off getting a projector is a room too narrow for it. But short throw projectors give wall-filling pictures even in tight spaces. The BenQ TH671ST can give you a 100-inch projection size at just 1.5 meters from the surface, so you can turn your cozy living room into a full cinema experience. It’s great for portability: you can take it to a new environment, place it on a table in the middle of the room and deliver huge images. The unit is also very quick to set up and even has modes which take into account some wall colors and adjust the picture accordingly. The built-in speakers are passable if there’s no option of plugging into a sound system.

The TH671ST has truly been designed with gamers in mind. While any of its picture modes offer great response times, the game mode not only gives stunning color but boasts a lag time of just 1.4ms, in line with the top gaming monitors. It’s not the best for placing further away from a projection surface, so if you are set on having your unit far from the image then you’re better off with a standard throw, but only because the image would be too big! 

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Epson Home Cinema 1060 / Epson EH-TW650

The ideal first projector with good picture and brand name recognition

Resolution: Full HD 1080p, 1920 x 1080, 16:9 | Brightness: 3,100 Lumens | Contrast: 15,000:1 | Light Source Wattage: 240w | Clear Image Size (diagonal): 1.35m-1.64m (60-inch screen) | Throw ratio: 1.02-1.23:1 | Features: Vertical and horizontal keystoning

Affordable, great value projector
Offers vertical and horizontal keystoning
Fiddly remote with no backlighting
Slower input lag

A solid entry-level projector from a recognized and trusted name, the EH-TW650 gives good HD quality pictures that are watchable even with ambient light. It’s simple to set up and gives good pre-set modes to give a great picture straight away. Its game mode will cut input lag to 25ms - fine for most but not the best even at this price. It will struggle slightly with darker images, but no more than other affordable projectors.

There are some minor niggles but easy enough to get past, especially at the price. Manual zoom and focus are standard here, but manual keystoning is a surprise - although it’s one of the few projectors which offers both manual and vertical keystoning. Once it’s been set up and behind your sofa you won’t notice this though. However, you might then get frustrated with the remote, which has small buttons (and too many of them) and no backlight - which might be an issue when you’re going to do most of your watching in the dark.

As a note: the double-header of a product name is due to two different product names in the UK and US; so it might vary depending on your location.

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Optoma HD143X

Great entry level unit for games or film

Resolution: 1080p, Full HD (1920x1080) | Brightness: 3,200 Lumens | Contrast: 23,000:1 | Light Source Wattage: 240w | Clear Image Size (diagonal): 0.71m-7.65m (28"-301") | Throw ratio: 1.47-1.62 | Features: 3D sync, backlit remote

Good all-rounder
3D functions
Short input lag
Lack of back leg adjustment
No lens cap

The Optoma HD143X is one of the cheaper units which can be used in a lighter room. It won’t give an impeccable gaming picture while the sun blazes in through a patio window, but if you do want to casually watch something mid-afternoon without drawing the curtains you’ll get by well enough if you use its bright mode. However, when it’s dark the unit gives great quality images in any configuration. It’s easy to set up with a spin of its manual zoom and focus dials, plus a good range of color and brightness settings out of the box. The backlit remote is easy to use in the dark too.

Lag times are slightly slower than some of the more expensive units but still perfectly usable and only the most detail-obsessed gamers will notice the difference, as the enhanced gaming mode can take this down to around 16ms. There are a few practical issues with the HD143 - the lack of a back adjustable leg and lens cap. But this is nothing insurmountable for a very solid unit which gives a great picture.

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Anker Nebula Capsule

Tiny battery powered projector with wireless connectivity

Resolution: 854x480 | Brightness: 100 ANSI Lumens | Contrast: 400:1 | Clear Image Size (diagonal): 20”–100” | Throw ratio: 1.3:1 | Features: Four hour battery life, Android 7.1 OS, Bluetooth and wifi connectivity, pocket sized

Excellent portability
Fun little unit for ease of use
Good value
Low image quality (not HD)
Not full Android OS

This is true portability. The cute Nebula Capsule is about the size of a soft drink can and just as welcome on a summer day in the park (remember doing that?). You can plonk it down anywhere and almost instantly turn any surface into a screen. It will display well even in the light as long as it’s close enough to the surface. You won’t get the truly huge or high definition pictures you’d see with dedicated home units, but this tiny unit still packs a punch. If you’re using it with a console or dedicated media player you can run from HDMI, but you can also use your smartphone to cast or screen mirror for truly wireless video for up to four hours on the battery.

The unit has a heavily modified Android operating system and runs a number of apps, although not the full range you might hope for. The sound is decent enough and truly 360. It isn’t a perfect unit, and the need it meets is quite a specific one. But if you want true portability, the Nebula can provide great fun anywhere. 

There is a Nebula Capsule II which is a newer, flashier model, which is reflected in the price tag - around double that of the 'regular' Capsule. Until that price tumbles, we feel confident recommending the first one still given the value it offers still.

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Optoma UHD65

Fantastic ultra high definition picture without the 4K price tag

Resolution: 4K UHD (3840x2160) | Brightness: 2,200 Lumens | Contrast: 1,200,000:1 | Light Source Wattage: 240w | Clear Image Size (diagonal): 0.67m ~ 7.68m (26.45" ~ 302.2") diagonal | Throw Ratio: 1.39:1 - 2.22:1 | Features: upscaling to ultra high definition, Pure Motion smoothing

Close to 4K images 
Reasonable price point
Upscales lower definition images
Needs experimenting to find ideal display modes
Issues with displaying darker tones

This is essentially the entry-level for ultra high definition images. It’s a fraction of the cost of a true 4K unit but can give excellent picture quality from a 4K input or if upscaling from lower-quality sources. It is easy to set up, but you may find you need to try out a few different settings if you’re upscaling to smooth out the image at first. Zoom and focus are done manually, but once you’ve got this set up you won’t need to think about it again and it helps to keep the price lower.

The unit gives stunning images with a great depth of color, although if you’re being picky you may still notice that darker games or scenes lack the detail of brighter colors - as is so often the case with HD projectors or even TV screens. But that’s not to say you’ll have to put away any Arkham game and only play Mario Kart, and for the picture quality it’s a quibble not a dealbreaker.

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Epson Home Cinema 5050UB / Epson EH-TW9400

Resolution: 4K 'Pro' UHD (3840x2160) | 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 | Features: motorized zoom and focus controls, image shifting

4K upscaling
Vertical and horizontal image shifting
Can run loud
Costly

The entry-level projectors here give great HD picture quality, but there’s a huge gulf in price between these and full 4K picture. The Optoma UHD65 starts to bridge that gap, but the Epson EH-TW9400 is as close to 4K quality as you can get without a native 4K chip. Running a 4K source will give astonishing picture quality, which will stand up in a room with natural light. The lens can move the image vertically and horizontally, making it more flexible in where it can be positioned than cheaper units, which will simply project at wherever they’re pointed.

It’s an incredibly solid unit, with a stronger build than the cheaper units and a very elegant design. It will need a solid base or bracket, as it weighs in at 11kg (nearly four times many of these other units), and does run loud if using its modes for prime video quality. It’s expensive, but you would struggle to get a sharper picture without going for a full 4K price tag.

This too has a different name depending on where you are so it'll pay to check for both names wherever you are.