CES 2023 was an opportunity for me (and the industry as a whole) to finally get back to some sense of normalcy following the past several years of dealing with the pandemic. It was refreshing to once again see a packed show floor, and an opportunity to meet up with both old and new friends alike. As part of my CES coverage this year I had the most incredible opportunity to meet up with the folks at BenQ. While BenQ always brings an incredible assortment of fantastic gaming peripherals and monitors, my eyes were drawn to the corner of the conference room where a couch was set up and a large 100” projector screen. It wasn’t the fact that a projector and screen is all that unusual at CES, lots of companies show off large-format cinematic experiences for your home. It was, however, what was being displayed on the screen…God of War Ragnarock. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to talk with them and realized that this was not just a projector, but a projector focused on gaming! While I had about 20 minutes of playtime at the show, I went away wishing I had an opportunity to really throw a ton of other games on it. At the show, BenQ had a PS5 connected, but being primarily a PC gamer, I really wanted to put it through its paces.
BenQ was gracious enough to loan me one of their incredible X3000i projectors to try out for myself. Just so I could put it through the paces utilizing numerous content on various devices to get an idea of exactly how well it performed in the “real world” aka my home!
Before I get into that though, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the specs. The projector itself is surprisingly light, weighing only 14.1 pounds. It’s a DLP projector that offers HDR support, 3000 lumens brightness all at 4K resolution. While all these specs are certainly impressive it’s the incredibly short input lag that makes it stand apart from its more cinematic-focused brothers.
It offers three HDMI 2.0b ports, including two behind the unit and one that you can get to by opening a small hatch on the unit. All of the HDMI ports support HDCP 2.2 security and 1 HDMI port supports Enhanced Audio Return Capability (eARC). The X3000i also includes 1 USB 2.0 Type-A port, Bluetooth, and WI-FI and even comes packed with its very own Android TV dongle. While the device itself doesn’t have built-in ethernet, it was hardly a deal breaker to me. The WI-FI is plenty responsive (particularly for streaming content) and it’s one less cable to worry about. While my home is wired with CAT6 ethernet, I think that is more the exception than the rule these days.
While DLP lamps in the past typically required replacement after a couple of years, BenQ has rated its LED DLP bulb at over 20,000 hours in full power mode (or 30,000 if you are choosing ECO mode). Even the most adamant gamer and cinematic enthusiast will likely replace the projector long before the LED wears out.
The X3000i also includes its own virtual 3D surround sound. While it does offer the ability to connect to a home theater receiver (or any other HDMI source), sound bar speakers and even optically, the virtual sound was actually very nice, particularly if you have it set up in a room that doesn’t have a dedicated sound system. For gaming the speakers sounded incredibly crisp, and while many gamers may still prefer the use of headphones, I appreciate the fact that I could play with my friends who use a speakerphone versus headphones (yes there are those of us out there that still do it this way) and still hear the sound incredibly well. Does that mean it’ll replace your home theater anytime soon? Absolutely not, but I appreciate it as an option (even if it does mean the projector is a bit larger than others on the market).
The projector itself comes with adjustment feet opening up additional installation options. It supports mounting like a traditional projector on the ceiling, or even setting it up on a bookcase behind you or an end table. For my particular test case, I had it sitting on a small end table in both my living room (and my computer room) but for those who are looking for a more permanent solution, it comes with options.
A full unboxing video can be found here:
The hardware is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to what makes a true gaming projector, after all, you can have the best projector in the world, and the games can still look bland or unexciting. This is another area where BenQ has the gamer in mind. BenQ has dedicated an entire page to individual settings to enhance your gaming experience. Following the link below:
This site brings up ideal settings for some of your favorite games. Everything from Elden Ring, Stray, and a game I was reviewing at the time Plague Tale: Requiem can be found here. A total of 26 games so far with new ones being added all the time (even the recently released Star Wars Jedi: Survivor). You can even create your own settings for your favorite game and share them with BenQ to be included in this very list. While you certainly don’t have to use the settings provided, each one is tailored to a specific genre and mood.
During my time with the X3000i, I used it on everything from console gaming (Primarily PS5 and Tiny Tina’s Wonderland), PC gaming (Elden Ring in particular) and of course, watching movies as well. Nothing quite immerses you like playing one of your favorite games on a 100” screen. That’s not to say you have to invest in a screen at all, you can project onto a wall, the ceiling, heck it’s even perfect for some outside viewing (weather permitting of course).
BenQ has achieved something that was only a dream a few years ago, developing a projector with the gamer first and foremost in mind. Sure, lots of gamers have utilized projectors in the past, but no other projector has focused (pun intended) on providing a gaming experience that could not only provides an immersive experience but one where the user doesn’t suffer from a terrible gaming experience just to experience it on the largest screen imaginable. Why rent out a theater and play video games with your friends when you can throw up your own big screen and game at home?
BenQ has changed the gaming landscape and my own personal experience in a way that truly feels revolutionary. I can’t wait to see the next big advancement from BenQ.