Part 2 of the Best Gaming Projectors of 2019 Report features our winners for Fastest Input Lag and Best 4K Gaming.
Fastest Input Lag – Optoma HD243X
Optoma HD243X Specs
1920 x 1080
Best Mode Lumens
The Optoma HD243X is the update to the HD143X, which we reviewed. Because the two projectors are so similar, we didn’t opt to review the HD243X. As such, the photos included on this page are from our review of the HD143X. That said, we’ve grouped these two projectors together twice now, in two different reports. They won an award for “Best Value Home Entertainment” in the 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report, and were included in our 2019 Holiday Guide for Seven Great Home Theater Projectors Under $2000. It has a normal throw distance, a 1.10:1 zoom lens, and a 10-watt built-in speaker.
When I reviewed the older model, I was seriously impressed. For a mere $499, you get excellent color and good black levels, with the HD243X. We can almost never say that an entry level home entertainment projector has good black level performance, and that’s one of the things that makes this projector such a steal of a deal. This is due to a feature called Dynamic Black, which mimics the function of a Dynamic Iris by modulating the brightness of the lamp to produce deeper blacks. During dark scenes, the lamp is dimmed, and during bright scenes, the lamp is brightened. The result? Better than entry-level black level performance, for about a third of the cost you would expect for them.
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The Optoma HD243X has the fastest input lag around! 16.4 ms is about as good as it gets when it comes to projectors. It actually has the same input lag speed as the ViewSonic PX706HD, which we chose for the Bright Room Gaming Award. Interestingly, this Optoma has a higher lumen claim than the ViewSonic PX706HD (3,300 versus the ViewSonic’s 3,000), but the ViewSonic got way closer to its claim, while the Optoma (HD143X, mind you) measured way less. Its best brightest mode measured at 1,401 lumens, as opposed to the ViewSonic’s, which had two best modes, each measuring around 2,150 lumens. That made it a clear winner for the Bright Room Gaming Award.
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So, we have the same input lag speed, and the ViewSonic is obviously much brighter than the Optoma, but there are some trade-offs (always). The Optoma has way better black levels and its color performance is more natural than the ViewSonic. That’s not to say that the PX706HD doesn’t have good color – it does – just not as good as this Optoma. Since the gaming performance is the same on both projectors, it’ll come down to your room environment, and personal preference. If you’re room is bright and you can’t control the lighting, the PX706HD may be for you. If you have a room with good lighting control, and value great color and black level performance, the Optoma HD243X is one to consider. Hold off on making any decisions until you check out our discussion of the ViewSonic PX706HD, though!
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is the update to one of our top picks for 4K entertainment, the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB. The HC5050UB takes an already-superb projector and adds several improvements, such as the ability to game in 4K. 4K gaming requires an 18 Ghz HDMI port, which was lacking on the HC5040UB, so although it was a 4K capable projector, one could only game in 1080p. That is, the projector could only accept the game’s 1080p signal rather than a 4K resolution signal. This was a deal breaker for many.
You spoke, Epson listened, and now we have 4K gaming on a projector that has superb color, right out of the box. Of course, you’ll want to calibrate this projector – settings are provided in the HC5050UB’s review – to get the full range of beauty this Epson can provide. It has a 2,600 lumen claim, which is plenty bright for your dedicated home theater or gaming room, and even a living room with good lighting control. In its best mode (calibrated, of course) the Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has 1,842 lumens available – again, plenty bright for any room that has good lighting control.
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This projector won an award in our 2019-2020 Best Home Theater Projectors Report for “Best Performance – Home Theater” in the $2,000 to $5,000 Class, and for good reason. Not only does it have excellent out of the box color, and even better color when calibrated, but Epson made significant improvements on the HDR and added HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which is HDR on broadcast content. It has a Dynamic Iris for better black level performance, an impressive 2.10:1 zoom lens for excellent placement flexibility, and that lens is fully motorized (Lens Shift + Lens Memory).
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The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB has 27ms input lag! This is less than one frame behind on 30fps games, and just below 2 frames behind on 60fps games. You remember from our discussion of input lag times that 21ms to 32ms is considered “Great,” so 27ms should be perfect for anyone who isn’t a hard-core competitive gamer. Those who game for fun, and even get a little competitive in Call of Duty online, will enjoy this projector immensely.
One thing to note – this projector does not have built-in speakers. That is because the Epson HC5050UB is, first and foremost, a home theater projector. It is assumed that if you’re spending $3K for a projector, you have a sound system to go with it. You’ll want an A/V receiver that can handle 4K content.
There’s no Audio Out – audio served through an HDMI cable – but if, for whatever reason, you don’t get an audio system, you can hook up stereo speakers to a 4K-capable switcher and get sound out of your projector. This is what I did with my HC5040UB when I first got it, because the living room we had at the time was awkward for having surround sound.