This week, I got a chance to take a spin on a 4K HDR gaming projector, and to put it to use, I immediately connected it to mine. PS5 to see how he showcased some of the best looking games you can play this generation. And I left completely impressed.
To be more specific, the projector was the BenQ TK700STi. The company has been making projectors for all budgets for years, but the TK700STi marks its first attempt at a gaming-focused 4K HDR projector, and at $1,699 (about £1,249) the price is comparable to the 55-inch. LG C1 OLED TVwhich we believe to be among the best gaming TVs you can buy.
And that’s what brings us to this topic – why consider a 4K gaming projector when you can buy one of best gaming tvs for about the same price? Before trying out the BenQ TK700STi, it’s a question I would have – perhaps foolishly – pondered against the projector. Now, though, I can think of several reasons why a 4K gaming projector like the TK700STi is absolutely a worthwhile investment if you want an impressive gaming setup.
Let there be light
What immediately struck me with the BenQ TK700STi – aside from the blissfully simple initial setup – was how well its image displayed in a bright environment. Projectors, typically those that drop below the $1,000 price point, often have a reputation for displaying a darker image in well-lit conditions.
This is something that even some of the best 4K TVs may struggle depending on how much glare it may reflect on the display panel. OLED panels in particular are not as bright as LCD or QLED monitors too, so they’re not ideal if your room lets in a lot of natural sunlight.
Not so with the TK700STi. To my delight, the projector was able to display games of various shades and lighting conditions – such as Souls of Demons and Cyberpunk 2077 – with little or no problems. From the deepest blacks of the first’s oppressive Upper Latria to the scorching skies of the outskirts of Night City, the projector effortlessly displayed various environments and times of day as effectively as if they were displayed on an HDR-compatible TV screen.
This is largely due to the TK700STi’s light source. With 3,000 lumens, it’s bright enough to capture every inch of the projected image, even in the brightest, naturally lit rooms. This is even brighter than some of the best 4k projectors you can buy, like the Epson EH-TW9400’s excellent 2,600 lumens output.
a versatile win
In my time using the TK700STi, I have found that it is also much more versatile than a 4K TV. It’s more portable, for example, and with a little effort it can be moved from room to room. Its short-throw capabilities mean you don’t need a huge amount of space for the screen to line up properly either. A distance of about 6.5 feet is all you need to display a massive 100-inch image. Also, you can move it closer or farther away from the wall or ceiling to reduce or expand the screen size based on your preferences.
And even when the screen size hits the triple digits, the projector still produces a crisp 4K image. This is crucial to consider, as most large TVs approaching this size often cost thousands of dollars, especially when new. If you’re looking for a truly gigantic screen size without the equally huge cost, a 4K gaming projector like the TK700STi can provide an easier path to getting the screen size of your dreams.
With versatility in mind, 4K gaming projectors like the TK700STi are good for more than just that. Depending on your projector of choice, you can also download and watch a variety of the best streaming apps. And doing that with a 4K HDR capable projector means you can get a cinema-like experience in your own home – especially if you increase your screen size beyond 100 inches.
The perfect match?
It’s been nothing but positivity for 4K gaming projectors so far, but it’s important to note that my experience wasn’t entirely fault-free. As much as I like to say that an HDR-ready 4K gaming projector is a total improvement over a 4K TV, that won’t always be the case. One area where the projector has fallen short, which can be quite detrimental to a gaming experience, is input lag.
If you don’t know, input lag is the time – measured in milliseconds – between an action being sent from your controller to the screen. The LG C1 is a fantastic example in this case, boasting a basic input lag of 10ms. This means that if you press a button on the controller, the action will appear on the screen about 10 milliseconds later.
Most 4K gaming projectors can’t keep up with 4K TVs in this regard, although at 16ms the BenQ TK700STi is among the best projectors for minimal input lag. This is actually quite remarkable for a projector, but there will be extreme cases where an input lag above 10ms can be a bit detrimental to the experience.
As an example, I tested the recently released The King of Fighters 15, and the results could have been better. That’s because fighting games like The King of Fighters, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat often require precise inputs to perform special moves, such as swinging the analog stick in a quarter-circle move before immediately pressing a button.
A relatively high input lag means that the game occasionally has problems registering these inputs to the screen, even if it played flawlessly. This is even less ideal if you play the game online against other players, where spotty internet connections can also degrade performance.
Also, using the game modes of a 4K HDR game projector is essential to keep input lag as low as possible. But this is not without its caveats. The TK700STi’s Game Mode HDR, for example, isn’t as rich or crisp as HDR10, which beamer also supports. The downside, then, is that HDR10 looks better but has an impact on input lag.
This is potentially not an issue if you’re playing a game where the action is a little less moment-to-moment, like in an open world game like Forbidden West Horizonor a pilot like the next Gran Turismo 7. However, move into the realm of fast paced games like Call of Duty: VanguardDoom Eternal or the aforementioned The King of Fighters 15, and relatively high input lag starts to become an issue.