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BenQ X3000i 4K Gaming Projector - A Worthy Upgrade?

Today, we have a special treat for you, behold - BenQ X3000i 4K Projector. This little beast has a great potential to take your home theatre and gaming experience to a whole new level. We've spent some serious time with it and are ready to share our insights. Let's check it out!

Starting off with the design, the X3000i features a sleek, modern look with a compact form factor. The exterior is primarily finished in a matte silver hue, complemented with red accents and black front panel which seems like a weird choice at first but from a practical perspective, black is a good choice for avoiding distracting reflections during projection. And the lens itself is housed within a circular frame, adding a futuristic appeal to its design. Our unit is not new and over time some dust gets in there behind the glass. We didn’t notice any impact to the picture quality but it is worth mentioning.

Once unboxed, the X3000i proves to be remarkably user-friendly. Turn it on, and you're greeted by Android TV, ready for action. Just ensure you're running the latest updates, and then you can easily log into all your favourite streaming platforms.

In terms of physical setup, it's pretty straightforward - you can conveniently position it on a tabletop and tweak the angle using the rear feet. However, we found the range of adjustability was slightly limited for our setup, and we had to get a bit creative with everyday items to achieve the perfect angle for our wall projection. Bear in mind a couple of things: this isn't the quietest machine, producing a mild hum during operation. The sound isn't overly loud, but if you’re seated nearby, it will be noticeable. Additionally, the exterior casing can heat up during use, so if you have curious kids or pets at home, be mindful of that.

Now onto the heart of the matter - the video performance. The X3000i delivers an impressive 4K visual experience. We put it to the test with a gruelling Game of Thrones marathon, and it performed flawlessly from start to finish, proving its reliability and consistency. However, despite being a bright projector, it works best in a dark room (too much ambient light can make the image look faded). While the HDR feature improves the contrast, it might not match the performance of some high-end projectors and certainly not OLED displays, occasionally resulting in the loss of finer dark details.

However, when set up in the right environment, the projector's performance is akin to watching a movie on a gigantic TV screen. The level of detail it produces, particularly in darker scenes, is truly impressive. This significantly improves the viewing experience, especially in high contrast dark scenes where even subtle details can dramatically enhance viewer immersion.

The high lumen output of the BenQ X3000i makes it a formidable contender in terms of brightness, maintaining image clarity and detail. However, it's essential to note that the image quality is influenced by the source. If the original video has low contrast or black levels, the projector cannot compensate for that. Therefore, while the X3000i boasts many impressive features, it does have its limitations, and the overall viewing experience can vary depending on the circumstances.

For gaming enthusiasts, BenQ's recommended gaming settings available on their website can optimise the projector for an immersive gaming experience, and I may have spent an unreasonable amount of time testing this projector while playing Diablo 4 (for scientific reasons, of course!). I was actually using a recently built SFF gaming PC with RTX 4070 and it drives this game perfectly at 4K. But you can do very well with game consoles too.

There is something special about playing games on a screen that is the size of the whole wall while lounging on the couch. Doesn't really matter what you're playing, could be an RPG, a racing game, or whatever. With this 4K projector, everything just feels larger than life! Also there is an added benefit - if you ever get upset and throw your controller, you will not break the TV.

However, with that being said, it is not all perfect, we did encounter an audio sync issue when connecting to our soundbar via Bluetooth. More on this in a bit.

In terms of audio, the X3000i features built-in speakers. Although they perform satisfactorily, their placement on the projector can lead to a slight disconnect between the sound and viewing experience. Having projection in front of you and hearing things behind isn’t great. Considering the price point, you might want to invest in a dedicated sound system for the whole package.

We suggest using a system which supports HDMI ARC for sound, but remember, if you're planning to mount this machine on the ceiling, you'll need a lengthy, possibly higher-end HDMI cable. If you prefer Bluetooth, ensure your input device can synchronise audio and video. In our experience when using a PC with VLC, we managed to sync perfectly with a -350ms setting on standard mode, but remember - different projector modes have different latency so just play around and see what works for you. On the other hand if you use built-in apps, then you will have issues outputting via Bluetooth, as the projector itself does not support any manual sync adjustments.

As for physical attributes, the projector does come with zoom and manual focus controls located on the side. It's not a problem if the unit is desk-mounted, but remote control of these settings would have been a valuable addition for ceiling-mounted setups. Connection-wise there are 3 HDMI 2.0 B ports, two are exposed on the back and one is internal where the android TV dongle is fitted. I wish BenQ allowed users to use other 3rd party dongles here since there is already a power source, but alas it is locked down to the BenQ stick. To be fair the amount of space inside there is very limited and you can use one of the other two HDMI ports for it if needed. At the back there is also a USB Type A port which supports 2.5 amps, as well as RS232 and DC 12 V Trigger connection.

I did try to use the USB to run videos from an external USB drive and unfortunately that did not show up, but your mileage may vary.

Though the BenQ X3000i packs a decent punch in its performance, there's always some room left to step it up a notch. One area where it could use a bit of a tweak is how it deals with high contrast dark scenes. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty solid, but a bit more fine-tuning, especially on the black levels, could make it even better. Another common projector hiccup it hasn't completely dodged is how it handles ambient light. But hey, these are usual projector challenges, and a solid projection surface can help to up your game massively. In our case, we were testing it on a basic white wall, and honestly, it already put on a heck of a show.

Lastly, if there's one thing to nit-pick, it would be the absence of remote control for zoom and focus settings, which might be a bit of a let-down for people who want to mount it on the ceiling. Incorporating remote access to these settings could seriously up the convenience when setting up in future models.

All in all, the BenQ X3000i 4K projector does an outstanding job balancing high-end features and performance in a compact form factor. Just like with any projector - you really need to have the right environment and the right screen to get the most out of the experience and that is going to cost more money so don’t get fooled by the initial price. Regardless of this - I very much enjoyed consuming content and playing games on this.


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