New-gen gaming projectors like the BenQ TK700STi deliver low input lag 4K 60Hz HDR games and streaming with short throw, so you don’t need a big room. Here’s a quick buying guide.
Until recently, gaming on PC and consoles was confined almost entirely to monitors and TVs. Of course, gaming on projectors has been a thing, but issues such as complex setup, high latency, low framerates, and initial cost all played into making projectors a rarity in the gaming landscape.
All of that is changing increasingly with ever-better projectors designed with high quality gaming and entertainment experiences front and center. New generation gaming projectors have short throw and smooth zoom capabilities. That means you don’t need a lot of space to get a massive screen, such as 100” or more. You can also adjust image zoom for even more flexibility and no penalties like blur. Latency and input lag have been reduced to levels competitive with TVs, and true 4K with HDR is a firm reality. New gaming projectors also have smart features and offer app rosters that match up very well with what’s offered by smart TVs and gaming consoles.
For these reasons and more, if you crave a really large format gaming screen, a projector geared towards gaming is now firmly a viable choice. We’ll offer some advice on what to look for in terms of features and setup.
Perhaps before thinking about the projector per se, let’s consider the screen. For prime gaming quality, projecting onto a wall won’t do. You’ll need a screen. The good news is that perfectly adequate and even premium screens aren’t all that expensive, and there’s plenty to choose from. Don’t go with any screen smaller than 100”, because then you won’t get the benefit of a projector. After all, TVs in the 65”-85” range are normal now, so 100” is the minimum to really set gaming projectors apart. Ideally, opt for 120” or larger if you have the space. And not necessarily wall space, because folding and even inflatable screens can now be deployed pretty much anywhere in a room.
You can choose a retractable screen that gets out of the way when not in use, or select a fixed screen. Motorized versions that deploy out of and roll into a housing assembly also exist, but of course those cost a lot and require custom installation in most cases.
Screen materials matter. Reflective is obviously better than very matte or coarse. You want the projected light to come back to you in order to get an image, as projectors are not internally illuminated like TVs. Most screens today use very well-made surfaces that balance reflectivity to a good degree, so this shouldn’t be a major concern.
Screen tautness and rigidity should. An improperly fixed screen frame or an overly loose screen will cause ripples and creases, thus distorting the picture and impairing your gaming experience. Retractable tension-secured screens offer the best solution, and provide a smooth surface for your projector to cast premium gaming content onto.
You may run into terms like high gain screens. Those are very reflective and minimize light diffusion. Sure, they result in a much brighter and clearer image compared to normal gain screens (gain being the amount of reflected light). But they cost a lot more and from our experience aren’t needed, especially for your first gaming projector setup.
Ditto for acoustically transparent screens. These are designed as permeable surfaces that allow sound to pass through them if you wish to save space or need to place speakers behind the screen. It’s a nice, advanced feature, but not something you absolutely need.
Advances in projection technology have given rise to true short throw gaming projectors like the BenQ TK700STi that bring you a big 100” screen from just over two meters away. That’s a great improvement compared to older models that needed at least 3.5 meters. Long throw not only means you need a bigger space to accommodate the projector-screen gap, but also inevitably leads to things getting between the projector and your gaming views, like people and pets. Short throw is thus all-round better.
For even more flexibility, good gaming projectors support precision image zoom. With that, you can have room for adjustments without compromising image quality. Digital-mechanical zoom with proper up and downscaling leaves the old “dumb” zoom features of the past…in the past.
So far we’ve mostly assumed this will be your first projector, but if you already have one setup, then once your new gaming projector arrives of course placement will need to be redone. That’s especially true if a current projector in your home is ceiling mounted.
And to be on the safe side, consult our accurate and handy projector placement calculator for further insight and assistance.
Good gaming projectors provide the connectivity options you need to set up a surround sound system or simply connect a soundbar. Or good headphones for those times considering other people is a priority. At the very least, look for HDMI ARC (audio return channel), which means your gaming projector of choice should have no less than two HDMI 2.0 ports. More is better. Additionally, a plain old but always useful 3.5mm port should be there. The TK700STi has all of those, but also provides the option of foregoing an expensive home audio system by including a powerful integrated 5W speaker. For most rooms, that’ll be more than enough on its own.
It helps that the projector’s user interface includes selectable custom audio modes for different applications, from various gaming genres to movie and music modes.
Being competitive with smart TVs and consoles, modern gaming projectors arrive pre-loaded with Android TV, essentially the same operating system found on TVs from brands like Sony. You get most major apps installed, including Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, and many others. You can also download additional apps. All of them look much more impressive on a 120” screen than on a 55” LED, as you can imagine. With Wi-Fi connectivity, the TK700STi and other good gaming projectors serve as excellent streaming platforms for when you want to watch the latest shows and movies, or catch up with viewing backlogs.
We’ve saved the best for last! The TK700STi embodies new-gen gaming projectors with its eye-popping specs. First off, real 4K. Not upscaled, no pixel shifting. All 8.3 million pixels on a big screen, with proper, officially-certified and tested HDR. Also, no more framerate and latency compromises. At 4K 60Hz, you’re looking at 16ms input lag, which is more than competitive with most TVs. If you prefer high framerates over resolution, go with 1080p 120Hz and just over 8ms input lag. That’s superfast and responsive, and offers you a great range of options whether you’re on PC, PlayStation 5, or one of the new Xbox consoles.
Also, try to get a projector with custom gaming modes. We briefly touched on those above, but they can make things better. For example, first person shooter mode, racing mode, MOBA mode, and so on.
With all that, you should have enough know-how to begin your gaming projector odyssey. There’s a new generation in town, an it’s not playing around. It means business. Gaming business. So, do your calculations, and if you still crave that big screen gaming action, know that great options are about.