Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $1,999

The BenQ X3000i gaming projector next to its Android TV dongle, remote control, and two gaming controllers
Kevin Bonnett

We tend to only think about projectors when it comes to TV alternatives, but not often enough for gaming when, actually, projectors like the BenQ X3000i are perfectly tailored for the task. With bright color-accurate images, low latency, and multiple gaming modes. Who could ask for more?

Here’s What We Like

  • Outstanding color accuracy and image quality
  • Three unique gaming modes
  • Low latency
  • Audio sounds loud and crisp
  • Multiple mounting options

And What We Don’t

  • 110% vertical offset not ideal for ceiling mounting
  • Blacks are solid but could be a little richer

BenQ first announced the X3000i at CES 2022, which was exciting, and after going hands-on with it for a few weeks, I can say it’s truly impressive. The company advertises the X3000i as an immersive open-world gaming projector, saying it “overwhelms you with the most cinematic visual and auditory impact.” And with three dedicated gaming modes, virtual 3D surround sound, support for eARC and Dolby Atmos, low latency (16ms 4K at 60Hz), a bright 4LED light source, and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, that statement is hard to argue with.

Plus, with an included Android TV wireless adapter, built-in speakers, and multiple mounting options, the X3000i effortlessly pulls double duty as a home theater projector. The projector is fun to use, and it can easily handle game night just as well as movie night. It’s the one to beat anywhere near this price point.

Specs as Tested

  • Projection System:  DLP (0.65 inches)
  • Native Resolution:  4K UHD (3840 x 2160) with HDR-PRO/HDR10 support
  • Native Aspect Ratio:  16:9
  • Project Size:  Up to 200 inches
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio:  500,000:1
  • Color Coverage:  100% DCI-P3 Cinematic Color
  • Light Source:  4LED
  • Brightness:  3,000 ANSI lumens (about 900 nits)
  • Lamp Life:  20,000 hours Normal/SmartEco mode, 30,000 Eco
  • Refresh Rate:  Up to 240Hz
  • Throw Ratio:  1.15~1.50:1
  • Zoom Ratio:  1.3x
  • Projection Offset: 110% vertical
  • Keystone Adjustment:  2D, Auto +/- 30 degrees Vertical/Horizontal
  • Latency:  4ms at 1080p/240Hz, 8ms at 1080p/120Hz, 16ms at 4K/60Hz
  • Sound:  2x 5W speakers, with support for eARC, Dolby Atmos, virtual 3D surround
  • Inputs/Outputs: 2x HDMI 2.0b, USB Type A-1, 3.5mm Mini Jack, RS-232 in (DB-9 pin), DC 12V Trigger (3.5mm Jack), Optical Audio out
  • Connectivity:  Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4G/5G), Google Chromecast (via included Android adapter)
  • Built-In OS:  Android 10.0
  • Dimensions:  10.7 x 7.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Weight:  14.1 pounds

Design

The x3000i has a stylish modern design, and it looks incredibly similar to the company’s previous X1300i model for those familiar with that. But make no mistake—the X3000i is by no means small. It measures 10.7 x 7.8 x 10.2 inches (excluding the adjustable feet) and weighs 14.1 pounds, so you’ll need to ensure you have either enough space on the surface you want to set it on or enough clearance for your screen if you plan on mounting it to your ceiling (which I’ll talk about more later on).

Angled shot of the front, top, and right side of the BenQ X3000i projector
Kevin Bonnett

It’s shaped like a cube and has a black front with a white case on the other sides, with stylish vents wrapping around the sides of the projector, adding to its simple yet playful style. Ports are all on the back for easy access, while controls for settings and navigation—as well as the manual zoom and focus dials— are on the side.

The projector ships with an Android TV wireless adapter. You will need to undo two screws and remove the top of the projector before you can plug in the pocket-knife-sized adapter, though, as there’s a dedicated slot for it in there. It’s a teeny hassle, but you only need to do it once, and it only takes a few seconds. I love that BenQ threw in an Android TV adapter instead of opting for a built-in OS that may potentially get sluggish with age; plus the adapter can be replaced with newer versions in future models.

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It also comes with adjustable feet, hardware for mounting the projector upside down (for those who want that), a power cord, and remote batteries. The included slim remote control offers up buttons for both the projector and navigating the Android TV interface. There’s a dedicated button for Prime Video, Google Assistant, D-pad navigation, volume/mute, home, back, settings, and the general projector menu. Buttons were large, easy to press, responsive, and I didn’t feel like any were missing.

The projector’s lamp life is 20,000 hours when using either the Normal mode or the SmartEco mode, and it jumps to 30,000 hours with the standard Eco mode. This translates to well over 10 years of enjoyment if you use the projector for an average of five hours per day.

Setup

Getting the projector set up and ready to use didn’t take much time, as its design is fairly plug-and-play. Once I unboxed it and connected the Android TV adapter, it was ready to party. The average user shouldn’t have any issues with this part of the process, especially if it’s just gonna sit on a table.

I thought its picture color looked solid for being fresh out the box, as did its brightness and contrast. Again, I don’t think the average user will need to make adjustments to the picture; more advanced users may want to make slight adjustments and, thankfully, this projector makes it easy to do so. The only settings I felt I needed to tweak were with focus and keystoning, and I also turned off True Motion (because it’s the worst).

Angled view of X3000i on table next to the included remote control and Android TV adapter
Kevin Bonnett

You can opt to place the projector on a flat surface—like a table, countertop, or bookshelf—or mount it upside down to your ceiling. BenQ includes all the hardware you’ll need for that. It’s worth noting, however, that the X3000i does have a 110% vertical offset. This means the picture coming out of the lens doesn’t shoot straight out. Instead, it tilts slightly downward; you may need to lower your screen a bit to get it to line up right. While the projector supports both vertical and horizontal keystoning, it does so at the cost of potentially impacting latency.

Ports & Connectivity

The X3000i is spaciously large and, as such, has plenty of room for a variety of ports, dials, streaming sticks, and more. And as we mentioned earlier, the included QS01 Android TV adapter actually gets plugged inside the projector; you’ll plug the micro-USB power cable into the adapter and plug the adapter itself into the HDMI port.

All other ports are readily available on the projector’s exterior, and there’s a nice selection to boot. You have two HDMI ports (2.0b/HDCP2.2), which made it easy to connect my ROG Zephyrus G15 laptop when I wanted to do some gaming. There is also one USB-A (2.0/Power Supply 2.5A/Service), one RS-232 in (DB-9pin), a DC 12V Trigger (3.5mm Jack), and a 3.5mm Mini Jack audio out port.

Rear of BenQ X3000i projector showing an array of ports and vents
Kevin Bonnett

As for connectivity, the X3000i supports Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. It runs Android 10.0, which brings Chromecast to the device for those who like to cast videos from a phone or laptop. With the Android TV adapter, you’ll have access to various popular video streaming apps like Prime Video, Disney+, ESPN, Tubi, Paramount+, YouTube, HBO Max, and Peacock. You can also access the Google Play Store for those who want other apps, like TikTok, TED Talks, Facebook Watch, Kodi, and Plex.

Simply put, you can absolutely hit the ground running with the BenQ X3000i. Between the Android TV adapter and the projector’s many ports, it’s easy to connect to other devices, hop into a game, or find something to watch for family movie night.

Image Quality

I’ve purchased and enjoyed using many high-end TVs in my day, but I haven’t used many mid-range or high-end projectors before. Still, to my eye, the image quality on the X3000i looked fantastic right out of the box, and nothing felt unbalanced, dim, or profoundly lacking. Most folks who pick up this projector for their home theater will be pleased with what it offers picture-wise and that they won’t need to make a ton of adjustments.

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View of the home screen with the Android TV adapter feature

Suzanne Humphries

The X3000i playing

Suzanne Humphries

The X3000i projector playing a basketball game

Suzanne Humphries

The X3000i projector playing

Suzanne Humphries

The BenQ X3000i running in the afternoon, with ambient lights on but blinds closed

Suzanne Humphries

BenQ X3000i projector running in bright afternoon with ambient lights on and blinds open.

Suzanne Humphries

Thanks to its 4LED lamp system, the X3000i is much brighter than projectors with a 3LED system. BenQ added a fourth blue LED pump inside, which boosts the brightness; this projector clocks in at a solid 3,000 ANSI lumens (with a contrast ratio of 500,000:1), making all the difference. And where many projectors end up trading brightness for color accuracy, I never found that to be a problem with this model. It’s bright enough to comfortably use mid-day or in a room with overhead lights on; though I’d recommend sticking with dimmer ambient lighting (or none) for the best picture results.

Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the X3000i’s brightness is its impressive color accuracy. BenQ is known for creating projectors with excellent color accuracy out of the box, and this projector is no exception.

It covers 100% of DCI-P3—the modern color standardization protocol used for modern monitors and video games with a broader range of colors than sRGB—with the wide color gamut setting toggled. It also supports both HDR-10 and HDR-PRO tone-mapping technology, so colors will look incredibly vivid and accurate regardless of whether you’re playing Fall Guys online with your friends or watching a dimly-lit scene in literally any fantasy TV show. It never looked dull or over-saturated at any point.

I kept the picture at about 100 inches with the projector about 10 feet away from the screen for the bulk of my testing, sitting it atop a tall bookshelf. Its native aspect ratio of 16:9 looked great, but it also supports 2.40:1 and 4:3. I moved the projector off to the side at one point to test the vertical and horizontal keystone features, and it was easy to use and quick to fix. Since using the keystone feature can affect latency, I only recommend doing this while watching a movie or YouTube and not while playing an online game.

Speaking of latency, if you aren’t messing around with the keystone feature, I think you’ll be pleased with response times here. Latency at the projector’s native true 4K UHD resolution at 60Hz, with gaming mode enabled, is 16ms. Likewise, it’s halved to just 8ms with 1080p at 120Hz, and halved again to 4ms with 1080p at 240Hz. The latter is especially impressive, as we don’t always see latency go down as framerates go up. As I played hours of online FPS titles on the BenQ, I never noticed any issues with lag—it was always smooth sailing.

As I tested out different placements and throw distances, I did so at different points throughout the day and with ambient lights on then off to see how the X3000i handled it all. Unsurprisingly, it knocked it out of the park every single time. The picture was always plenty bright, crisp, and had accurate colors. My only complaint here (and it’s fairly minor given how excellent the projector is otherwise and its $2K price point) is that blacks could be a little richer. They’re genuinely just fine, and most people likely won’t notice a problem out of the box, but I felt like they could be improved slightly (and if you feel comfortable doing so, there are calibration features you can fuss with to your liking).

Close-up of the projector lens at the front of the X3000i projector
Kevin Bonnett

By far, the coolest features BenQ added to the X3000i are three dedicated gaming modes! There’s RPG, which boosts cinematic colors and sound settings when you play, well, RPG games like Dark Souls; FPS, which makes a sound finder visible on the screen so you can locate your enemies when playing shooters like Halo; and SPG, which boosts things like commentary and the green-ness of the grass while playing sports games like FIFA 22. The different modes might seem like a weird flex on BenQ’s part, but I enjoyed them. What’s not to like about better immersion as a gamer?

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Regardless of what I used the projector for—be it gaming, watching Disney movies, or catching up with my For You page on TikTok—I was constantly wowed by the X3000i. I never noticed any rainbow effects or other unpleasantries as far as the picture was concerned. It’s a pleasure to watch, always clean and crisp, and it looks like a TV, not a projector.

Sound Quality

In the past, when you chose to purchase a projector, you were also choosing to purchase an external audio solution. However, this is not really the case anymore with modern speakers, and especially not when it comes to the X3000i. It sounds fantastic, and wow, does it get loud!

The dual 5W full-range speakers easily fill medium-sized rooms and sound clear regardless of what you listen to. Audio is well-balanced across bass, mid, and treble frequencies, and dedicated audio modes fine-tune your audio to enhance details. I never felt like I’d need to connect my soundbar or otherwise use an external speaker at any point. The projector sounded effortlessly great while gaming and watching TV shows.

Plus, the onboard Bongiovi DPS technology supports virtual 3D audio, allowing you to properly hear not just where enemies are in an online multiplayer video game, for example, but how far away they are. You can also enable Dolby Atmos and 7.1 pass-through via eARC if you’ve got the setup for it.

As I tested the projector for audio, I ran it through the same audio testing playlist I use for testing earbuds and headphones and was wildly pleased with the results. It handled all genres of music (from country to classical) like a pro. I threw all kinds of video content at it—including Marvel movies, a Slow-Mo Guys video, a funny pet compilation, Elden Ring, Sifu, Minecraft, Gang Beasts, and Halo Infinite—and was thrilled with the full, detailed sound. I also loved being able to hear where enemies were coming from in games and how far away they were.

The X3000i with the remote and Android TV adapter on top of it
Kevin Bonnett

I don’t think you need to connect separate speakers to this projector, especially if you’ll be sitting near it and it’s in a small- to medium-sized room. Sure, it doesn’t provide an audiophile-level experience, but it’s still quite solid and works fine on its own. A dedicated speaker setup never hurts, though, and it can only enhance the X3000i experience.


Final Thoughts

The BenQ X3000i was a pleasure to test, and I’m disheartened at the thought of having to send it back. It was fun to play video games and watch videos on, as it is powerful, easy to use, and rocks some seriously impressive specs.

I love how bright it is (whether it was the middle of the day or late at night), how crisp the 4K picture looks, how accurate the colors are, and how loud the volume is. I was pleased with how many mounting options and ports it offers and that it comes with an Android TV adapter and a great remote control. Plus, with its three dedicated gaming modes, such low latency, and an artillery of calibration controls and other settings you can tinker with, the X3000i was indeed a blast to game on (and watch movies on).

While the 110% vertical offset might be undesirable to anyone looking to ceiling mount the X3000i, and its blacks could stand to be just a little bit richer, the projector doesn’t really have any considerable downsides. And honestly? You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better projector with such high ease of use and so many features at this price point.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $1,999

Here’s What We Like

  • Outstanding color accuracy and image quality
  • Three unique gaming modes
  • Low latency
  • Audio sounds loud and crisp
  • Multiple mounting options

And What We Don’t

  • 110% vertical offset not ideal for ceiling mounting
  • Blacks are solid but could be a little richer