First, there was standard definition, then there was HD—and now there’s 4K UltraHD. 4K is quickly becoming the standard resolution option for televisions, especially for higher-end versions from the top companies.
Ultra HD resolution gives you a remarkably sharp and life-like image. The best news is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get it. But what’s the best 4K projector under 2000 dollars? If pressed to pick a winner, the Optoma UHD50X performs the best across all categories (>>> Check on Amazon). But that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for everyone. It all depends on where and how you plan to use the projector. Let’s look at some of the most important factors to consider.
Best 4K Projector Under 2000 – Top Picks for 2022:
|BenQ HT3550i||BenQ TK700STi||Epson Cinema 3800 Pro||Optoma UHD50X||BenQ TK850i||Optoma UHD38|
|Resolution||3840x2160||3840x2160||1920x1080 4K w/pixel shifting||3840x2160||3840x2160||3840x2160|
|Brightness||2,000 ANSI||3,000 ANSI||3,000 ANSI||3,400 ANSI||3,000 ANSI||4,000 ANSI|
|Input Lag||51ms||17ms||29ms||25ms||No data||4ms|
|Throw distance||3.2' - 16.4'||2.4' - 19.6'||6.2' - 28.8'||4.0' - 26.6'||3.2' - 24.6'||4.0' - 32.7'|
|Screen size||30" - 200"||30" - 300"||40" - 300"||34" - 302"||30" - 300"||33" - 300"|
Natural light is the enemy of a projected image. The more light coming from lamps and windows in your viewing area, the harder it is for the projector’s beam to compete. If you have a completely dark home theater, you can use a projector with a brightness as low as 1,000-1,500 lumens without loss of picture quality. For most spaces, though, a projector this dim just won’t cut it.
If you want to keep the lights on at a normal level while you watch TV or play games, you’ll want a projector in the range of 2,500-3,500 lumens. While you may still need to close the blinds in the daytime, you won’t have to go to extreme measures to darken the space. For competing with natural daylight, a projector of at least 3,500-4,000 lumens will have the power you need.
Brightest projector under $2,000: Optoma UHD38
Projectors take a bit more planning and space than TVs. Aligning the image can be tricky for new projector users, and the best projectors offer features to help make it easier. If you plan to mount the projector on the ceiling, vertical keystone correction is a necessity. Most projectors offer at least manual zoom and focus controls. Features like lens shift or the Corner Fit Correction on the BenQ TK700STi let you install the projector in more positions without impacting the picture quality.
A projector’s throw distance is a factor here, as well. This is a measure of how much space you need between the lens and the screen to get a given image size. The shorter the throw distance, the easier it will be to install in a wider range of spaces. The BenQ TK700STi has the shortest on the list, needing roughly 6-7 feet for a 100” screen, followed by the BenQ HT3550i, which needs around 8-9 feet.
Most flexible projector under $2,000: BenQ TK700STi
There are two main specs a gamer needs to look at: input lag and frame refresh rate. The input lag determines how long it takes commands given to the projector to reach the screen. Anything above about 60ms will be noticeable by the player. That can be incredibly frustrating for any kind of fast-paced gaming. Serious and competitive gamers should look for an input lag of 30ms or lower. Click here if you want to check the best 4K projectors for gaming
When it comes to frame refresh rate, you want something operating at 60Hz or higher, with a minimum of 60fps (frames per second). This will prevent any choppiness or compression artifacts on-screen, which can be just as annoying for the player as a high lag. A high contrast ratio is also helpful, giving you the most clarity in dark areas of the screen.
The Optoma UHD50X and Epson 3800 are responsive enough for reflex-based gaming, but if you’re looking for responsiveness the BenQ TK700STi and Optoma UHD38 are the winners, with a recorded input lag as low as 4.2ms in full HD. The dedicated game display presets on the BenQ TK700STi give it the slight edge, helping create a truly immersive playing experience.
Best projector for gaming under $2,000: BenQ TK700STi
Streaming and Voice Control
All of the BenQ projectors on this list have an Android OS streaming interface, which links to the Google Play store for downloading thousands of apps. Both the HT3550i and the TK850i support both Google Assistant and Alexa voice search, giving you the option of hands-free control.
The picture quality of the BenQ HT3550i is particularly impressive at this low price point. Its true 4K resolution is backed by a high native contrast and a 6-segment color wheel with HDR-PRO tone mapping. All of this means a crisp, detailed image with cinema-quality color that’s both vibrant and accurate to the source material.
The BenQ HT3550i is a smart projector, too. The built-in Android interface is linked to the Google Play store, giving you access to more than 5,000 apps for watching movies, playing games, or listening to music. It also supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control systems, although their use is limited to voice searches and doesn’t have the playback controls you’d need for full smart home integration.
Something else we love about the BenQ HT3550i: it’s easy to set up and use. It’s ready to go right out of the box and the colors are calibrated at the factory so you don’t have to waste time fiddling with settings before you start watching. You’ll need about 8-9 feet for a 100” screen, less space than many standard-throw projectors, and the inclusion of adjustment options like lens shift and keystone correction gives you even more flexibility during installation.
- Sharp, detailed image with true 4K resolution
- Cinematic color (95% of DCI-P3 color space)
- Built-in Android TV system for direct streaming
- Supports screen mirroring through AirPlay and Chromecast
- Fast, flexible installation
- Comparatively low lamp brightness
- Limited commands through voice control
The BenQ TK700STi is arguably the best 4K projector out there for gamers. It’s remarkably responsive, for one thing, with an input lag as low as 4.2ms in full HD. That only goes up to about 16-17ms when you’re gaming in 4K, still plenty fast enough to keep your competitive edge.
Gamers will also love the Game Mode presets on the BenQ TK700STi. Separate presets for first-person shooters, RPGs, and sports games optimize the contrast and color so you can see every detail, even in dark areas of the playing field. The picture quality is just as high when you’re watching shows and movies, with sharp details and accurate colors, covering about 96% of the Rec.709 spectrum.
Another strength of the BenQ TK700STi is its easy set-up. It works well in small spaces, needing only about 6-7 feet to produce a 100” screen. The corner fit correction and 2D keystone correction give it nice placement flexibility, too, keeping the image square even when the projector’s at an angle.
- True 4K resolution
- Bright enough lamp for lights-on viewing
- Low lag and display presets for gamers
- Short throw distance
- Wireless casting through AirPlay and Chromecast
- Android streaming interface with Google voice search
- Limited voice control and smart home integration features
- Relatively short lamp lifespan
Epson Cinema 3800 Pro
The approach to 4K on the Epson Cinema 3800 is different than that used by other manufacturers above. The native resolution on this projector is HD (1080p). It then uses a processing system known as pixel shifting to create the Ultra HD resolution. This is paired with a 3LCD chip technology that provides accurate HDR10 color without the image issues that can be caused by color wheels.
The Epson 3800 is another option that’s great for gamers. It uses 12-bit digital video processing and has a frame rate of 60 per second to keep your game smooth. The input lag is low, too, down to 16.7ms with the right settings.
This is a heftier projector and isn’t as portable as some of the other options, though it does have a wide enough range of screen sizes to conceivably use outdoors. With a brightness of 3,000 lumens, it’s not ideal for bright rooms but can cope with moderate levels of ambient light. The only issue of the Epson 3800 is with the sound. Its fan is a bit loud on higher performance levels and can easily overwhelm the 10-watt speakers. Plan to use an external sound source with this projector. Click here for our full review of Epson 3800
- 3 chip projector eliminates rainbow effect and other color issues
- 4K picture through pixel-shifting
- 12-bit digital processing creates smooth transitions
- Low input lag with high frame rate
- Bright enough for most uses
- Loud fan can overwhelm the built-in sound
The Optoma UHD50X just might be the most versatile projector under $2,000. This starts with its powerful 3,400 lumen lamp, which is bright enough to use in even well-lit rooms without a worry. Its wide connectivity includes less-common inputs like VGA along with HDMI and USB and it has all the image adjustment features you need, including a vertical lens shift and wide 1.3x zoom. All of that means it’s easy to set up in any home.
Another thing that makes the Optoma UHD50X so versatile is its gaming performance. The input lag measures as low as 16ms in Enhanced Gaming Mode, and only goes up to about 25ms when you switch to 4K resolution. Its 240Hz refresh rate gives you the same responsive performance on-screen, eliminating issues like frame tearing and motion blur that can interrupt your playing sessions.
From a picture quality standpoint, the Optoma UHD50X has the performance home theater enthusiasts are looking for. This includes true 4K resolution with a high dynamic contrast ratio for crisp details and rich black levels. For the color, it uses an 8-segment color wheel with UltraDetail enhancement. This impressive performance across content types makes it an ideal choice for multi-use media spaces.
- Native 4K resolution with support for HLG and HDR10
- No motion blur thanks to high processing speed
- Excellent color and contrast
- Bright lamp works in any light level
- Responsive enough for fast-paced gaming
- Wide zoom, lens shift, and keystone correction
- No smart features or direct streaming
- Relatively long throw distance
Here’s another great option if you want a smart projector. The BenQ TK850i uses the same Android TV interface as the TK3550i above, letting users stream music and videos directly through the projector or mirror content from another device through Chromecast or AirPlay. It also has the same support for Alexa and Google Assistant voice searches, though with the same limitations—it’s lacking the playback controls that smart home users look for.
The BenQ TK850i is a great choice for both dedicated home theaters and more versatile spaces like living rooms. It’s particularly impressive for watching sports, with great detail even for fast-paced sports like hockey and dedicated viewing modes that optimize the picture settings for indoor or outdoor sports. While the color gamut is narrower than other projectors on the list, the Enhanced HDR Tone Mapping makes up for this, and we found the picture both vibrant and accurate.
As to the installation, the BenQ TK850i is relatively flexible. Its 3,000-lumen lamp is paired with Dynamic Iris technology, maximizing the output and limiting the impact of ambient light on the picture. The 10% vertical lens shift and vertical keystone correction make it fairly easy to install in almost any space. For our more-indepth review of BenQ TK850i click here
- High resolution and contrast
- Dedicated sport modes optimize picture
- Built-in Android TV interface
- Compatible with Chromecast and AirPlay
- Supports Google and Amazon voice searches
- Voice control is limited to searches
- Not a great choice for gaming
The lamp on the Optoma UHD38 puts out up to 4,000 lumens, and this makes it an ideal choice for bright spaces. It can even deal with some natural daylight, eliminating the need for black out curtains in many rooms. This also makes it a great choice for backyard movies and other outdoor uses, especially since its relatively compact and weighs less than 10 pounds.
The Optoma UHD38 is also a very versatile projector. Its low input lag makes it just as suitable for gaming as it is for home theaters, and it has the connectivity to support multi-use entertainment set-ups, with a VGA input for PC gamers along with dual HDMI inputs. Keep in mind there’s no built-in streaming interface or voice control, so you’ll need to use a wired connection for content sources or network control.
In terms of your space, you’ll need a fairly large room for the Optoma UHD38 (around 11-12 feet for a 100” screen). The alignment features are also relatively limited, and while it does have 2D keystone correction the zoom is narrow and there’s no lens shift or rotation adjustment. This can make it tricky to install in some spaces, though the overall installation process is straightforward.
- Sharp, high-contrast true 4K image
- Cinematic color with 8-segment color wheel
- Low lag for gamers
- Super-bright lamp works in any light environment
- Good range of wired inputs
- No streaming or voice control
- Limited image alignment and adjustment options
Best 4K Projector Under 2000 – The verdict
For most users, the Optoma UHD50X will be the best all-around choice for a living room or home theater (>>> Find on ProjectorScreen). It has a high picture quality, is easy to install and use, and has a low enough lag for the majority of gamers. Having said that, serious gamers should consider the BenQ TK700STi, which will give you the lowest lag on the list along with a picture optimized for gaming. In bright spaces, the Optoma UHD38 is your winner, while the voice search options on the BenQ HT3550i and TK850i are great for smart home owners.
Hopefully, this breakdown has helped you figure out the big differences between these projectors. They’re all affordable ways to bring Ultra HD quality to your home. Whatever your home theater projector needs, one of the options above will fit the bill!