Seemingly in a single breath, BenQ has tagged its X1300i projector as “the world’s first 4LED gaming projector,” that’s simultaneously capable of supporting incredibly smooth gameplay and cinematic visuals. In reality, this peculiar cube doesn’t completely live up to all of that hype. The good news, however, is that it gets about as close to meeting those lofty expectations as you could hope for from a $1,300 projector in 2021.
- Resolution: 1080p (1920×1080)
- Brightness: 3000 ANSI lumens
- Contrast Ratio: 500,000:1
- Input Lag: [email protected] Hz
- Resolution support: VGA (640 x 480) to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160); HDR10; HLG
- Connections: two HDMI 2.0 inputs; one 3.5mm audio output; one optical audio output.
BenQ X1300i – Design and Features
First, and most notably, the BenQ X1300i makes a deliberate departure from the rectangular shape that most modern projectors have adopted. Instead, the X1300i is a 14-pound cube of a projector, and a stylish one at that thanks to a color scheme that utilizes a black faceplate surrounded by an orange trim. The different shape may make this projector a trickier fit depending on the configuration of your space. But in general, it’s an aesthetically pleasing design that sets this projector apart from the competition.
In addition to a pair of HDMI ports – one of which is an HDMI ARC connection – there’s also a third, hidden HDMI input that can be found by unraveling a few screws on the projector’s back panel and lifting the cube’s lid. That connection is meant solely for the Android TV dongle that BenQ included in the package, which is a usable, slightly flawed tool for streaming if you don’t have another option at your disposal. More on that in a moment.
For all the praise awarded to the X1300i for how it looks, it’s what is inside the box that should be the real cause for excitement. As a 4LED projector, BenQ says the X1300i takes the RGB color system found in standard LED projectors and incorporates an additional blue “pump” into the mix. We’ll expand on this shortly, but the 4LED technology built into the X1300i made for an exceptionally bright picture that portrayed remarkably accurate colors.
Another major bonus from the X1300i’s status as a 4LED projector is its presumptive lifespan. BenQ rates the X1300i as capable of 20,000 hours of use while operating under “normal” projector settings, with a peak of up to 30,000 hours if the projector is in energy-saving mode. Obviously, we didn’t have time to truly test the validity of this claim by BenQ. But if the reputable brand’s assumption is even close, the X1300i will still last far longer than the average, non-LED projector under similar conditions.
Not to go unnoticed, the remote for the BenQ X1300i is a sleek, streamlined way to access important settings and features on the projector. It may not have all of the options that the remote for its relative, the BenQ TK850, comes equipped with, but it isn’t nearly as bulky while offering most of the essential functionality that everyday projector users will find handy, including dedicated buttons for Amazon Prime Video and for switching between the X1300i’s three gaming modes.
BenQ X1300i Projector – Performance
BenQ specced out the X1300i to be a workhorse projector for gamers. Simply put, that is precisely what this product is. There are gaming projectors with better input lag (the Optoma UHD38 comes to mind), and gamers used to the miniscule lag of great gaming monitors may be able to nitpick the X1300i. But 8.3ms for 120Hz playback is solid for a projector in this price range, and we experienced hours of smooth gameplay throughout our testing period.
That impressively low input lag is bolstered both by BenQ’s GameMaestro Technology – which the company says is designed to “optimize visual and audio settings,” for certain gaming styles – and the X1300i’s trio of gaming modes designed for RPG’s, sports, and FPS. The differences in the various modes weren’t necessarily massive, but they were noticeable in certain situations. In FPS mode, for instance, the image seemed slightly more illuminated to help decipher details hidden in darker parts of the picture. We can’t say the same for the projector’s audio, which according to BenQ is supposed to adapt alongside the image depending on what gaming mode is selected, but these three modes had a positive impact on the specific genres of gaming that they are meant for.
The end result of the BenQ X1300i’s intriguing combination of specifications is a gaming experience that should satisfy both casual and more experienced players alike. Make no mistake, the X1300i won’t replicate the performance of a great gaming monitor or comparable 4K TV. But in the gaming projector space, it’s a very capable machine.
Outside of gameplay, the X1300i can be a solid streaming solution, just as long as you’re willing to work with its faults. It’s ridiculously bright, making it compatible with non-light controlled spaces. Plus, BenQ’s auto color calibration feature shines with the X1300i, displaying astonishingly accurate colors with content like the breathtaking visuals showcased in The Grand Tour.
If you do want to play with the picture, the X1300i gives you the tools to do so. In addition to several picture presets (bright, living room, game, sports, cinema, and user), you can adjust standard settings like brightness, contrast and sharpness. Or, you can dive into the projector’s advanced color settings and tinker in areas like color management or HDR brightness for supported content. The average person will likely enjoy the picture that the X1300i presents right out of the box. But it is comforting to know that it’s possible to tune things to your own individual taste.
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The X1300i is limited, however, to a 1080p native resolution, effectively putting a low ceiling on how spectacular of an image it can create. And, while the Android TV dongle is certainly better than other built-in streaming platforms we’ve tested in other projectors, it is missing native Netflix support. BenQ tried to include a workaround here by providing the option to cast Netflix to the dongle via a separate mobile device or computer. It works, but the best alternative here is simply to stream through your console or one of the many great, affordable streaming sticks available today.
The built-in stereo speakers of the BenQ X1300i follow a similar pattern to the Android TV dongle. They will work if you need them to, and are in fact better than other projector speakers we’ve dealt with. But there are better, more satisfying solutions readily available, from modest soundbar systems to full home theater setups.