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What are the Differences in Gaming Experiences on Projector, TV, and Monitor?

BenQ
2022/09/06

With the arrival of PS5 and Xbox Series X/S and their becoming the mainstream of console gaming, a 4K HDR display has become a must for gaming. Similarly, on PC the fastest growing resolution segment is 4K, with newer hardware making ultra HD more popular and doable in PC gaming, even in the most demanding titles. So, the baseline for all gaming displays has to be 4K with HDR, and of course the offering of low input lag.

However, you may  be wondering which type of display is the one that’s right for you. After all, projectors, TVs, and monitors all have their advantages. The best one to choose depends on your particular situation, from your home environment to the types of games you play. Also, you could get more than one, with many gamers finding the combination of a projector for consoles and a monitor for PC gaming a very satisfying setup.

Naturally, a big factor to consider is budget, with all three display types encompassing models from entry-level to extremely premium and costly.

We’ll go over the main factors you should consider when choosing between a projector, TV, or monitor for gaming. 

In This Article We Cover:

Types of Games You Favor

  • Shooting Games

If you mostly enjoy shooters, whether first person or third person, and have a leaning towards competitive gaming, then a monitor would be best. While we still recommend going with 4K HDR, in this situation you likely prioritize high frame rates over visual quality. Still, a 4K monitor in up to 32” for PC or a gaming TV in the 43”-55” size class are what you’re looking for. Make sure you have at least 120Hz refresh rate with variable refresh rate support (VRR, FreeSync and G-Sync). These days you should aim for HDMI 2.1 ports instead of the older HDMI 2.0 standard so you get full support for 4K 120Hz. Low input lag is a must have either way, and you should aim for models that provide 4ms total input lag, and certainly not more than 16ms.

The advantage of smaller 4K gaming monitors and TVs is that you can sit close to them and enjoy their high pixel density. In competitive gaming that gives you the ability to spot movement and details very quickly. Also, these displays don’t take up too much space so they’re great for smaller rooms and homes.

 

  • Sports, Racing, and Party Games

For gamers that prefer more casual gaming genres such as sports and racing, bigger screens should be considered. The same applies to gamers who enjoy co-op, local or online. If your favorite games are four player-based shooters like GTFO, you need more screen real estate to get a better view of what everyone’s doing. If you enjoy sports and racing, you want a larger view as well as great color support. We recommend an OLED TV in 65” or a gaming projector capable of 80”-150” image size. Due to screen size, projectors are by far the best for split screen gaming because each portion is the size of a full display. Even on a 65” TV, split screen leaves each player with a rather small part of the display.

For casual adventure and party game-style titles, “regular” TVs and home cinema projectors are fine, as low input lag isn’t essential, nor is variable refresh rate. But for sports, racing, and co-op team shooters you really do need a TV that’s designed for gaming, and the same applies to projectors. Low input lag, high refresh, and VRR support are vital for your experience in those genres and game styles.

Since gaming projectors now have response, refresh, and latency that match those of the best gaming TVs, they edge out the competition by offering considerably larger display sizes. Also, while OLED TVs have almost no lag and look great in terms of picture quality, their panels do deteriorate with time and are susceptible to image retention. Those are not problems with projectors, especially those that use newer 4LED technology.

 

  • Open World Games

Open world games deserve the biggest screen possible, and thus gaming projectors are recommended. If your favorite games are titles like GTA, Death Stranding, any of the Assassin’s Creed games, Cyberpunk 2077, or the upcoming Starfield, then a good gaming projector is ideal to do them justice with screen sizes ranging from 80” to 150”. There’s no way a gaming TV can match this kind of sheer scope. However, screen size isn’t everything, you still need to choose a projector that’s gaming-focused, with low input lag, good HDR, and 4K. Having 120Hz support is great but not essential here, as all of these open world games play best at 60Hz while having visual detail maximized. Graphics quality is more important than high refresh with this genre.

Because open world games tend to be very compelling, you often find yourself playing for extended periods of time. Unlike TVs, projectors use indirect illumination so they cause very little eye fatigue. Just think of the movie theater. You can watch a three-hour movie and not feel eye strain, but doing the same on a TV or monitor will tire you out. That’s because direct illumination has a lot more blue light and is simply more fatiguing for eyes. So, this is another advantage for projectors. Add to that the benefit of a huge screen in games that aspire to create living worlds. Even a large TV has very clear edges and a limited field of view. But projectors expand viewing to a massive size without jarring borders and a much wider field of view for that important immersion factor.

It’s no coincidence that THX only recommends projectors for getting the full experience of the advanced audio technology the company produces, based on the wide viewing angles and spacious sound produced by good quality projectors.

Room and Screen Size

Viewing distance arguably is the most important factor in getting the best viewing experience. Sit too close and you’ll get a lot of detail and max the benefit of your display’s resolution, but you’ll also get tired, be able to make out individual pixels (which isn’t a good look), and probably have a hard time following the action if you go with a big screen TV or projector. Sit too far and resolution doesn’t matter, you lose detail and a pricey 4K TV or projector might as well be a standard 1080p display.

 

 

Room size largely determines viewing distance. If you have a tiny living room then a 150” projector screen is going to be overbearing, as will a 75” TV. Conversely, if you have lots of space, trying to reduce costs by going with a 55” TV is going to be a complete waste as you’ll need to be no more than four feet away from the screen to get true 4K experiences.

 

 

Going back to THX, which is one of the leading authorities on viewing distances, they recommend what is described as a 36-degree horizontal viewing angle, or field of view. That angle best correlates to our natural field of view, and THX describes it as the most cinematic. It also applies to gaming, and only projectors offer display sizes wide enough to accommodate 36-degree viewing from an optimal seating position. As for the vertical axis, you should not have to move your head up or down by more than 15 degrees each way. You can learn more about THX requirements in this resource.

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

Seat-to-Seat Distance

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

55 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

6.1ft (187cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

65 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

7.3ft (222cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

77 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

8.6ft (262cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

80 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

8.9ft (273cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

90 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

10.1ft (307 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

100 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

11.2ft (341 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

120 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

13.4ft (409 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

140 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

15.6ft (477 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

160 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

17.9ft (545 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

180 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

20.1ft (613 cm)

Screen Size (Measured Diagonally)

200 inches

Seat-to-Seat Distance

22.3ft (618 cm)

Some room and screen size recommendations based on common settings:

-        Very small rooms such as 7 x 10 feet, opt for a 55” gaming TV and sit no further than six feet away.

-        Small rooms sized 10 x 13 feet are best with an 80” gaming projector screen or a 75” gaming TV, with the viewing distance optimized at 8-9 feet.

-        Medium rooms of 12 x 18 feet are ideal for a 100” gaming projector screen with an 11-foot viewing distance.

-        Larger rooms sized 15 x 20 feet or more deserve the 120” gaming projector treatment, and you should sit approximately 13 feet away from the screen. 

Budget Concerns

As 4K is now standard, you can get it on a very wide variety of displays, from true budget to top of the line premium. The term 4K itself isn’t saying much other than pixel count, and also having HDR on the box doesn’t mean you’ll get the most impressive high dynamic range experience. Brands and specific product details matter, and those affect prices.

 

Generally speaking, monitors come in as the cheapest, followed by non-gaming TVs, then gaming projectors, and with gaming-focused TVs as the most expensive. If you can afford it and really want the best possible gaming experience, then you should go with TVs that offer 4K 120Hz, HDR, VRR, and HDMI 2.1. Do note that as of this writing gaming projectors still do not offer VRR and HDMI 2.1, so in terms of pure specifications, costly gaming TVs give you the best experience. If you prefer screen size, then a gaming projector is for you, as no other device type offers movie theater-class views of 120” or even larger.

 

Should you wish to cut costs due to a smaller budget, then something has to be sacrificed. Screen size, performance, features, something has to go. That’s OK, you should not buy something you can’t afford. Gaming monitors are widely available in many price points, and you can quite easily find a 4K HDR monitor on the smaller side of things for a reasonable price.

 

Standard TVs that aren’t specifically aimed at gaming can still do a good job and cost as low as a third of the price of high-end gaming TVs. They’re especially versatile if you want to do some gaming but don’t care about the highest specs and also enjoy movies and TV.

 

Once more, if you have your mind set on the biggest display format and screen sizes possible, your choice is gaming projectors. They cost more than regular TVs but offer a superb balance and great value for money, not to mention have exclusivity on the biggest display size. You get the huge, immersive screen plus the same low input lag, HDR, and 4K of gaming TVs. As of now, the only disadvantages are no HDMI 2.1, VRR, and 4K high refresh rate. But if we’re being honest, on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S games with 4K 120Hz are extremely rare, and most are best in 4K 30Hz or 4K 60Hz, which gaming projectors showcase much better than gaming TVs.

Conclusions

To recap, choosing the best gaming display for you out of monitors, gaming projectors, and gaming TVs requires a close look at what types of games you play and where you play them. In general, monitors offer the fastest gaming displays but are best for PC, while pricey gaming TVs are the most feature-loaded and best optimized for console gaming. Balanced just right between are gaming projectors with their unmatched wide scope and truly cinematic gaming experiences. Only you can decide which is best for you, and we advise taking time to balance all of the factors mentioned plus researching products so you make the most informed decision. Happy gaming!

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