BenQ X3000i Gaming Projector review: A fantastic all-round projector
BenQ X3000i Gaming Projector review: A fantastic all-round projector
I rarely go to the cinema, but when I do, I can’t help but wonder how much fun it could be to plug my PlayStation into the projector and play on a giant screen. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one to have that little fantasy. Therein, of course, lies the problem for many Singaporeans – space.
Creating space for a large format entertainment is a luxury that not many people can afford. But for those who can, and with the right setup (and this is key), then you will find that watching your favourite movies or playing games on a projector offers a near cinema-like experience in the comfort of your own home.
Projectors have come a long way
Advancements in projector technology in recent years have seen them not only becoming more compact in size without sacrificing image quality and brightness. The BenQ X3000i 4LED 4KHDR Gaming Projector that I’m reviewing here, for instance, is (if not obvious enough), is a 4LED, 4K HDR projector that’s targeted for gamers. BenQ also claims the X3000i is the first of its kind.
You might be curious what ‘4LED’ is. Simply put, the projector uses four LEDs to produce the light required project out an image, and for the X3000i, this is set up in an RGBB fashion – red, green, blue, blue. This differs from many other projectors, in that they often use three LEDs and, oddly, in a red, green, green fashion, but one of those green LEDs has a special coating on it that makes it register as blue, and this is done to help with the brightness.
With the BenQ X3000i, however, a second blue LED is used to help bring up the brightness. According to BenQ, this means that the system will produce more consistent colours and brightness and for longer periods of time – potentially up to 20,000 hours.
4K and HDR needs no explanation here, but while the projector supports this resolution, it is limited by a 60Hz refresh rate with a 16ms response time. Whether this matters to you is a matter of preference, and to be clear, the X3000i is skewed towards consoles – Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch – more than PC gamers. That said, dialing down the resolution to 1080p will net you the 120Hz refresh rate at 8ms, or event 240Hz for an incredible 4ms, offering results that will rival most esports-focused 1080p gaming monitors out there.
Chill and project
Most will think of projectors as large and cumbersome machines; well the BenQ X3000i isn't exactly compact, but it's decently sized and is easy to move it around your home. Its stylish modern cube design measures in at 272 x 197 x 259 mm (excluding the adjustable feet) and weighs 6.4kg. There are stylish vents wrapped around the sides of the projector, giving it a 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.
There are also other accessories included in the package, including adjustable feet, hardware for mounting the projector upside down on a ceiling, a power cord, and remote batteries. The included remote control offers up buttons for both the projector and navigating the built-in Android TV interface. There’s a dedicated button for Prime Video (oddly, no Netflix), Google Assistant, D-pad navigation, volume/mute, home, back, settings, and the general projector menu.
For connections, the X3000i comes with a nice selection of ports. There are two HDMI input ports (2.0b/HDCP2.2), a USB 2.0 Type-A, an RS-232 port, and a 3.5mm mini-jack audio out port. On the wireless side, the gaming projector supports Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (that's up to Wi-Fi 5 in modern terminology). It runs Android 10.0, which also brings Chromecast to the projector. As a smart projector, this allows you to catch up on your favourite Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube shows without having it hooked up to a computer or a game console. This is great convenience and makes the X3000i a nice all-in-one projector, complete with a good sound system that's part of the projector (more on this note later).
The X3000i projector’s lamp life is rated for 20,000 hours when using either the Normal mode or the SmartEco mode and can last for as long as 30,000 hours with the standard Eco mode. For context, this is the equivalent to over 10 years of lifetime when using the projector for an average of five hours a day.
Setting up for games
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 rock and roll. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a projector, so regardless of the 4LED system in use, there are external environmental situations that will affect how the final image is presented. There is a reason that cinemas use a projection screen and turn off most of the lights when you’re about to watch a film, and the BenQ X3000i gaming projector is pretty much the same.
For the best results, you’ll really want a room that blocks out a lot of light, and you’ll want space for a screen, but this isn’t to say that you’ll need them. A simple white wall was all I used (the projection screen that BenQ sent, which was 2.5-metre wide, was simply too large for my HDB apartment), and lowering the window blinds in my living room and dimming the lights were able to provide a display that I was more than happy with.
Thanks to its 4LED lamp system, the X3000i is much brighter than projectors with a 3LED system but more remarkable is its impressive color accuracy. It covers 100% of DCI-P3, has support for both HDR-10 and HDR-PRO tone-mapping technology, so colors will look incredibly vivid and accurate regardless of whether you’re playing Elden Ring or watching a dimly lit scenes in Game of Thrones. It never looked dull or over-saturated at any point. Nor have I noticed any issues with lag when playing games at 4K and at 60Hz refresh rate.
There are dedicated gaming modes too. “RPG” boosts cinematic colors and sound settings when you play, well, RPG games like the aforementioned Elden Ring; “FPS”, which makes a sound finder visible on the screen so you can locate your enemies when playing shooters like Halo: Infinite; and “SPG”, which boosts things like commentary and making, say, the green grass pops up even more realistically while playing sports games like FIFA 22. For the most parts, these modes surprisingly works as intended.
Even when watching Netflix’s Stranger Things S4 or Ms Marvel on Disney+, left me impressed with the picture quality. I never noticed any rainbow effects or other unpleasantries as far as the picture was concerned (since this is a single-chip DLP based system using a colour wheel). It’s a pleasure to watch, always clean and crisp, and it looks like a TV, not a projector.
The BenQ X3000i’s audio performance is no slouch either. In fact, it sounds fantastic, and boy does it get loud! When gaming or watching movies, the gaming projector’s audio is consistently well-balanced across bass, mid and treble frequencies. The dual 5W full-range speakers (specs aren't everything) can easily fill medium-sized rooms and sound clear regardless of what you listen to. This can’t be compared to hooking it up to an external soundbar or a 7.1-channel surround sound system, which will, of course, only enhance the BenQ X3000i. But the X3000i’s speakers are more than capable of holding its own. This is much like the unexpectedly good audio performance we've experienced on BenQ's GV30 portable projector that won our seal of approval for its category. So rest assure that the audio performance is not just a marketing point, it does deliver.
The icing on the cake is the support for Dolby Atmos and 7.1 pass-through via eARC if you’ve got the setup for it. Not bad at all BenQ.
In other words…
I like the BenQ X3000i gaming projector. I really do. It’s almost a perfectly complete gaming/entertainment projector, with its packed features, ease of setup and use, and stylist design.
While it’s designed as a gaming projector, the X3000i is also a great entertainment system that allows you to watch your favourite Netflix or Disney+ shows without having to connect an external playable source to it – thanks to its Android TV OS.
My only peeve with it are the same drawbacks that we see in almost all of today’s modern projectors – the need for space and distance, including a clear wall or a projector screen. Take note that it's not an ultra-short throw projector, so you'll need significant clearance to project a really big image. But if none of these matters to you, then I think you will be hard-pressed to find a better projector with such impressive specifications and performance all rolled into one unit.