How Many Lumens Do You Need for a Gaming Projector?

There are many other things to consider aside from the lumens of your gaming projector. What sort of game are you playing? How bright and vibrant do you need the colors of what you’re playing should be? What about latency (or lack thereof)? How big do you want the projection to be?

Still, projector brightness is a valid concern for gamers. How many lumens do you need for a gaming projector? It depends on your preferences and how those lumens can actually affect your gaming experience. Keep on reading to find out more about this topic.

How Many Lumens Do You Need for a Gaming Projector?

The projection room will determine the level of brightness needed out of your gaming projector. For instance, if you primarily wish to use the projector indoors with your PS5, Switch, or Xbox Series X, you can go with 3,000 lumens and below for all your high-resolution HD gaming needs.

You may also like: What is Lumen in Projector? And How to Use Them to Choose a Projector?

You can even go for 1,000 lumens and below if you have good control of your lighting. For example, if you have blackout curtains and it’s fairly shady inside your living room with all the doors and windows closed, you can get away with a sub-1,000 lumens projector.

For outdoor use, you need to at least have more than 3,000 lumens or all the way to 5,000 lumens and beyond. We’ve even seen projectors capable of 8,000 and 8,500 lumens of brightness.

How Many Lumens Do You Need for a Gaming Projector
How Many Lumens Do You Need for a Gaming Projector

How Many Lumens Are Needed in Darker Rooms?

If your room or projection area is particularly dark but not necessarily as pitch-black as a dark room for photo development, 200 to 800 lumens should be enough. What’s more, for rooms with daylight exposure and/or bright indoor lights, 1,000 to 1,500 lumens or up to 3,000 lumens should do the trick.

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For outdoorsy projection at a wide area or a convention hall flooded with sunlight, the brightness range can go from 3,000 lumens to 5,000 lumens. Most gamers play games in their basement or man caves, so anything between 200 lumens and 1,000 lumens should work out fine.

With that said, even though the brightness is important, low latency is even more important. Those high-speed cables shouldn’t only process 4K HD resolutions. They should also showcase quick reaction time between controller input and player character movement.

More Lumens Don’t Necessarily Mean Better Projector 

Brighter levels or more lumens don’t necessarily mean you have better projector quality as a whole. In fact, this goes double for gaming projectors. For home cinemas, 3,000 lumens and below is good for controlled lighting environment. Above 3,000 lumens is for outdoorsy or daylight-filled living rooms. 

  • A Balance Between Quality and Lumens: A projector should be extra bright for 4K UHD video and videogames because pixel-dense images tend to be darker and higher contrast. The brightness counteracts this tendency for darkness on a typical 80-inch or so screen size. 
  • Tight Control of Ambient Light: Gamers are less concerned about ambient light because many of them do their gaming in the basement or places where there’s little to no light. If they’re not using a projector they’d instead be dealing with a flatscreen LCD monitor and the like. 
  • Vibrancy Maintenance and Smooth Movement: Gaming environments require image and color vibrancy while mitigating fadeout risk. The videogame should also be bright enough for the gamer to see texture, contrast, and 60 FPS or so of movement quickness. 
  • The Rest of the Story: A higher lumen count can turn your average home cinema projector into a gaming projector, but this is only part of the story. You also need 4K resolution, HDR, high contrast, and smooth movement to make the game truly immersive.

The brightness of the projector isn’t enough to make it a gaming projector. It should have low latency to allow the gamer to react to the things happening on the big screen with lightning-fast reaction and zero delays.

lumen in projector
Lumen in projector

It should also render the graphics perfectly so that your money isn’t wasted in buying a PS5, only to have all the nuances of ray tracing and real-time quick rendering of millions of polygons go to waste because you have a subpar projector.

What Makes a Gaming Projector Tick?

Cyberpunk 2077 taught gamers to not always believe the hype machine. They will tend to be quite picky when it comes to their projector purchase so that it’d match their expensive PS5, Xbox Series X, or Switch purchases.

  • Immersion Purposes: It’s a waste to play Breath of the Wild or Final Fantasy VII Remake or even Fortnite without consideration for projection quality. As a novice, you should remember that buying a projector for your gaming needs instead of a monitor is for immersion purposes. 
  • Low Latency: Some projectors value the end result on the screen over how fast the image reacts to user input. For movies this is fine and you can do things like delay audio to sync up with the delayed display. This is unacceptable for gaming that requires instantaneous input. 
  • Input Lag: A decent input lack is about 53ms. You can go faster than that but at least it’s not like other 4K projectors that sometimes have a full second of delay just to render the images with a decent amount of buffer time from console to projector. 
  • Open World works with the Big Screen: The videogame is a new medium that outdoes your typical movie or TV show because of its interactivity. While the projection screen isn’t as immersive as a VR headset, it comes quite close like a wide window to another dimension. 
  • Image Quality: People take for granted that a projector in 4K or marketed as a gaming projector has great image quality. However, there are levels to it. The amount of HDR color gradation and variegation varies from unit to unit and model to model.

Things to Consider

In terms of lumens, you can go the traditional home TV theater route and be satisfied with 3,000 lumens and below, with the caveat of controlling ambient light with the curtains and turning off or dimming your lights. You can go higher than that to alleviate ambient light concerns.

Some projectors even allow you to project your game outdoors, like in the case of a Switch projector. However, a portable projector tends to be low lumen, thus necessitating projection in the shade.

References:

  1. What Are Lumens? And How to Use Them to Choose a Projector“, ViewSonic.com, January 14, 2020
James Core
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right projector.

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