When you buy a projector for big screen gaming you usually go in expecting to make a few sacrifices. You're not going to get the refresh rate of a gaming monitor and a comparable response time is surely out of the question. Actually, those days are over, and with the BenQ X1300i, you needn't give up much at all for on-the-wall gaming.
The X1300i is officially a 'console gaming' projector but what is that if not a PC gaming projector too. At its core is 4LED DLP projector technology. That means it has all the benefits of an LED device—a longer lifespan and cooler operation compared to traditional lamp models—while a greater number of LED sources helps to increase brightness over popular 3LED models.
The X1300i offers a brightness of 3,000 lumens as a result, which is a plenty respectable rating for a projector in its price range, around the $1,300 mark. At that price it's going up against some high quality units, too, but thankfully falls short of the $5K+ price tags of more high-end, usually laser, projectors.
Projector type: DLP
Image size: ~30–300-inch
Refresh rate: Up to 120Hz
Response time: 8ms
Brightness: 3,000 ANSI lumens
Inputs: 2x HDMI 2.0, 1x USB Type-A, 3.5mm audio, RS232, IR received (front and back), Android TV dongle HDMI port and power
Light lifespan: 20,000–30,000 hours
Price: $1,299 / £1,249
What will be most of note to PC gamers is the projector's 120Hz refresh rate and 8ms of input lag at its quickest settings. The 120Hz refresh offers enough speed for you to really feel the fluidity in your movements while playing fast-paced shooters, or even whipping your mouse cursor across the screen, while also being within reach for a number of most modern graphics cards.
With an 8ms response time it's a little more sluggish than the latest gaming monitors, most of which will tout a 1ms response time. That said, it's not unplayable, far from it. It's the equivalent to some older IPS panels or business/professional panels, and importantly much faster than most regular living room TVs.
You'll find modern LG panels with blazingly quick speeds nowadays, but your eight-year old Samsung probably won't get anywhere close.
I'd imagine for the console crowd that's going to be a much larger selling point, but for us PC gamers it importantly brings a projector like this into consideration.
The X1300i is, however, only a 1080p projector. Technically it is listed with 4K 'resolution support', but don't be fooled, that really only nets you the ability to input at 4K and have it downscale to 1080p. For your trouble you will also end up doubling the input latency to 16.67ms, so not something I'd recommend.
Beaming a 1080p image large on a wall doesn't seem quite as restrictive as, say, a gaming monitor at 1080p native resolution though. For one, I'd imagine most will use the projector as an output for primarily gaming and watching Netflix, and not as an all-encompassing device for every task. In that sense, it doesn't feel as small a footprint to operate within, although its still not quite got the fidelity and clarity of a greater resolution.
The picture quality while gaming is immense, though.
The colour reproduction is deep and rich, which I often find distractingly lacking on cheaper projectors, and the detail is preserved in the picture. As a result it doesn't feel like you're gaming through a Chiffon curtain with the X1300i, and feels much more an open window into a game world, even on the uneven and slightly off-white wall I was using it on.
The high refresh rate also turns this projector from a casual gaming setup to a whatever-you-fancy one.
I played Hunt: Showdown on the big screen and it was excellent. There's no major ghosting or blurring, even during high contrast frames—such as a barrel exploding in the dead of night—and the picture quality allows you to pick out details from a great distance. The 1080p resolution does hamper it a little in that regard, but no more so than any gaming monitor.
This isn't a short-throw projector, however, and you will need to be a good few metres away to get the full span of the picture on the wall. Ideally, you'll want a little bit of flexibility on the distance and height of the unit to get the best balance of picture size, fidelity, and balance, too.
The X1300i has the brightness to show up even in a moderately bright room, but if you're gaming anywhere with a lot of light shining in then you may not end up with the clearest image. A dark enough room, though, and you're going to be pretty blown away with the picture quality. It's easy to get carried away and feel like you're gaming on a massive flat screen bolted to the wall.
The X1300i manages to stay relatively quiet by projector standards, too, although it's still best paired with some beefy speakers for a more surrounding experience. That said, there are some surprisingly decent speakers built-in to the projector if you're in a pinch.
How you go about setting up your audio system, controller setup, etc. is up to you. What matters here is that the X1300i is a decent way to beam your desktop onto your living room wall, and not lose the competitive edge in the process.
The X1300i isn't the cheapest 1080p, 120Hz projector going, at $1,299, but I'll forgive it for its smooth operation once set-up properly. Hooked up to a graphics card, it's a simple joy to game on, and even when it's not plugged in to your rig, the Android TV dongle snuggly fitted inside will put it at the centre of any home media setup.