Projector Reviews

BenQ X3000i 4K LED Gaming Projector Review – Performance

COLOR REPRODUCTION

I found the color reproduction of X3000i out of the box was very good with the Picture Mode set on Cinema. The out-of-the-box color reproduction was also superb with the projector’s Game Mode set to RPG. Gamers and movie buffs alike are well taken care of when it comes to color reproduction.

The images below provide an overall idea of color accuracy. However, when viewing in person, the colors look much better than how the images look on the display of the device you are using to read this review.

In the Advanced menu, you will find six user-selected Picture Modes: Bright, Living Room, Game, Sports, Cinema, and User. You can easily switch to Bright for extra brightness when operating the projector in a well-lit room. The images were slightly oversaturated with a cooler color temperature in this picture mode. However, if you need to cut through a substantial amount of ambient light, the oversaturation may be well worth it.

An additional four automated picture modes are built into the BenQ X3000i projector: 3D, HDR10, HDR Game mode, and HLG. After auto-detecting metadata or EOTF info from HDR content, HDR10 and HDR Game picture mode become activated. HLG Picture mode is switched to automatically anytime metadata or EOTF info from HLG streaming contents is detected. Finally, the 3D Picture mode becomes available when the 3D function is enabled.

BenQ states the X3000i has coverage of 100% of the Digital Cinema Initiatives – Protocol 3 (DCI-P3) color gamut. DCI-P3 is a color gamut commonly used in digital cinema and is the color standard for the film industry. DCI-P3 has a much wider color space than Rec. 709, so you get more shades of colors.

BenQ x3000i color reproduction

The BenQ X3000i is equipped with advanced settings for color adjustment, which are lacking on many lower-priced projectors. The X3000i offers a wide range of adjustments. The projector’s Advanced Color Settings menu can adjust many image parameters, including Gamma, color temperature tuning, and HDR brightness. Lastly, fine-tuning of the image is accomplished by using the X3000i’s Color Management System (CMS).

Based on our prior reviews of BenQ projectors, I was not surprised by X3000i’s color reproduction. Most gamers and video enthusiasts would be satisfied with the picture quality of the X3000i whether it was calibrated or not. However, Phil and I did take the time to measure the projector’s picture modes and calibrate its USER Mode.

Since your room and screen material has a major impact on the overall picture, we don’t recommend using someone else’s calibration adjustments. If your room is brighter/darker or your walls are a different color, copying someone else results can cause more harm than good.

Just as an example, I am including the before and after results of calibration for my specific room and screen. To test the projector’s color accuracy, we use Portrait Displays Calman color calibration software.

Pre-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

BenQ x3000i color calibration graph

The color reproduction in the CINEMA and USER mode were better than most projectors in the X3000i price range. Both were a little cool but pleasing to the eye.

Bright colors were a little too vibrant and the black levels were elevated. The color adjustments were responsive making optimizing the projector’s picture quality quick and easy.

It took Phil and me less than an hour to calibrate the X3000i

  • Picture Mode: USER
  • Color Temperature: 8123K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 8.085
  • Average Grayscale dE: 6.15
  • Gamma: 1.69

Post-Calibration Color Tracking and Grayscale

BenQ x3000i color calibration graph

We switched the COLOR TEMP to Normal to get closer to our 6500K target. To produce good grayscale (RGB Balance), we reduced the BLUE GAIN and increased the GREEN GAIN and RED GAIN a couple of steps.

To achieve our gamma target of 2.2 in my room on my screen, we set the GAMMA to 2.2. and reduced the BRIGHTNESS setting from 50 to 46

We use the CMS controls to reduce the color shift and oversaturation resulting in very good color tracking

  • Picture Mode: USER
  • Color Temperature: 6574K
  • Average Color Tracking dE: 1.33
  • Average Grayscale dE:.71
  • Gamma: 2.18

Delta E as a measure of grayscale/color accuracy of 3 and under is considered ‘Excellent’ and imperceptible by the human eye. After calibration, the X3000i had an average grayscale dE of 0.71 and average Color Tracking dE of 1.33 which is very good.

Once we calibrated the X3000i for SDR, the projector also looked good when viewed HDR. Due to its 4LED light source, the BenQ X3000i can reproduce 100% of DCI-P3 color space, without resorting to a color filter. I have never been a fan of using cinema filters when viewing HDR content because they reduce brightness. When viewing HDR on the X3000i colors appear bright and vibrant.

BRIGHTNESS

BenQ x3000i brightness

BenQ advertises the brightness of the X3000i Gaming Projector at 3,000 ANSI lumens. I also measured the X3000i’s brightness. To measure the brightness, I set the projector’s Light Source Mode to Normal and its Picture Mode to Bright. Once Bright Picture Mode is selected, the X3000i automatically sets its Color Temperature to Native. It should be noted that Native is not selectable in any other Picture Mode. All of the other Picture Modes were measured with their Color Temperature set to Normal, their brightest setting. I then took 3-4 readings about 15-20% out from the center of the lens.

At wide zoom for maximum brightness, Bright mode, the X3000i measured 2750 lumens, which was just slightly under BenQ’s X3000i published ANSI lumens specification. The X3000i should be more than bright enough for most projected applications. I measured all six available picture modes at wide zoom; my measurements are below.

BenQ X3000i Projector Settings Brightness

Picture Mode Brightness (Lumens)
Bright 2750
Living Room 2545
Game 1769
Sports 1741
Cinema 1460
User 1703

Bright mode obviously provided the most luminous projected image, suitable for using the projector in higher ambient light settings. Living Room mode provided a balance between color accuracy and brightness. Game mode offers the best gaming experience in well-lit rooms with Audio-Visual presets for FPS, RPG, and SPG-style games. Sports mode had good brightness for watching sports. Cinema mode was one of my favorite modes. I found the colors and contrast excellent, even in rooms with a bit of ambient light. Finally, User mode allows the end-user complete customization of Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, and Brilliant Color. It also opens User Management, allowing quickly loading settings from the previous five modes.

CONTRAST / BLACK LEVEL

The X3000i’s blacks were a little high but still darker than many competitors’ LED DLP projectors that retail in the X3000i’s $2,000 price range. Deep blacks and extreme shadow performance are usually reserved for projectors designed for dedicated home theater rooms with complete ambient light control. However, the X3000i still produces good darks, even when ambient light is present. Lower lumen projectors tend to wash out at the slightest trace of ambient light.

When evaluating a projector’s picture, I do like to consider the unit’s likely usage case. For example, even though the X3000i’s black level could be better, projectors like the X3000i are not intended to compete against the top-of-the-line home cinema projectors that are found in dedicated blacked-out home theaters. Instead, the X3000i would most likely be used in a gaming environment or multipurpose room with higher amounts of ambient light, meaning the ability to reproduce deep blacks would not be as critical. In addition, the extra brightness would most likely be more beneficial to the end-user in higher ambient light environments. As a matter of fact, when paired with my Screen Innovations Solo Pro 2 Unity AT Pure White 1.3 gain screen, the X3000i, like the last few BenQ projectors I have tested, produced good images even with ambient light coming into my testing environment.

VIDEO QUALITY

The BenQ X3000i’s video quality is quite good out-of-the-box. However, changing the Picture Mode, Light Source, and Color Temperature Tuning can significantly alter the on-screen image. First, I toggled the X3000i’s Light Source Mode between SmartEco to Normal. Next, I switched the Picture Mode between Cinema and User to project the best image in my room(s). I used User mode to fine-tune the X3000i’s image to better suit my specific viewing environment. As seen below, I took various photos in 4K and HD resolution. Like all our photos, they are unadjusted for color. As a result, the images do not appear as good as what the projector actually produced.

The X3000i’s capability to upscale is excellent. Live broadcasts and TV shows will continue to be produced in HD for numerous years, making good upscaling a critical feature. Content in 1080p and Sports in 720P all looked good on the X3000i.

Although most Blu-ray 4K content is available in HDR10, a lot of 4K streaming material is still only 4K SDR. Nevertheless, the X3000i delivered sharp and detailed images without any problems. As previously discussed, the X3000i uses a DMD Texas Instruments (TI) DLP chipset to deliver its 4K (3840 x 2160) displayed resolution.

The BenQ X3000i’s pixel-shifting works well. It is challenging to observe a sharpness difference when comparing a 4K DLP projector like the X3000i to a native 4K LCD/LCoS model from typical watching distances. Numerous 4K movies do not have enough fine detail to make the difference between viewing 4K SDR and HD easily noticeable in the first place. Nevertheless, I would categorize the overall picture quality of the BenQ X3000i as really good.

The BenQ X3000i supports playing 3D content transferred through 3D-compatible video devices and contents, i.e., PlayStation/Xbox gaming consoles (with 3D game discs), 3D Blu-ray players (with 3D Blu-ray discs). The X3000i automatically chooses an appropriate 3D format when detecting 3D contents. The projector allows you to enjoy 3D movies, sporting events, videos, and games in a more realistic way by enhancing the depth of the image when you are wearing a pair of optional compatible BenQ 3D glasses.

BenQ has an exclusive light source mode called SmartEco. BenQ states, “BenQ’s exclusive SmartEco® Technology is an ingenious solution that heightens the viewing experience. It automatically adjusts lamp brightness based on content, enhancing brightness and contrast to produce the best possible picture quality. In this way, BenQ DLP Projectors can project deeper true blacks, increasing contrast for clear text and subtle details.”

SOUND QUALITY

The X3000i menu system under Audio offers Cinema, Music, Game, Sports, and User as preset sound profiles. When Game Mode in the Advanced menu – Picture > Game Settings is activated, FPS, SPG, and RPG mode, respectively, deploy the projector’s Game, Sports, and Cinema preset sound profiles. In addition, the User Mode allows the personalization of the sound settings via the User Sound EQ. The User Sound EQ adjusts the 100Hz, 300Hz,1kHz, 3kHz, and 10kHz bands to fine-tune the sound to the end user’s personal preference. The dual 5-watt built-in chamber speakers with dynamic stereo enhancement powered by Bongiovi DPS technology audio quality changes from acceptable to relatively respectable once you tune the audio settings with User Sound EQ.

While we do not measure audible noise, I measured the fan noise produced by the X3000i between 33dB and 35dB, depending on the Light Source Mode. Surprisingly, ECO was the quietest at 33dB, and Normal mode was the loudest at 35dB. I could hear the X3000i fan from my seated position with the volume set low. However, I did not notice the fan noise once I started watching movies with the volume set to an average movie listening level.

GAMING

The BenQ X3000i has dedicated game modes for FPS, RPG, and SPG modes with audio, visual, and optimized latency settings for each game genre. If you do any console or computer gaming, you know that it is critical to recognize the adversary in some games quickly. The X3000i has Fast Mode, which minimizes the response time between the input source and the displayed image. For optimized latency, 2D Keystone and Aspect Ratio will return to the default settings when Fast Mode is activated. Auto Vertical Keystone will also automatically turn off.

BenQ states the X3000i has True 4K UHD graphics with a quick 16.67ms input lag at 60Hz and 4.16ms input lag at 240Hz when set to display 1080p. While I did not have the opportunity to use Technical Editor Philip Jones’ Leo Bodnar Video Signal Input Lag Tester on the X3000i, I can assure you that I did not experience any significant input lag in the 79+ hours I had utilizing the projector before writing this review. The X3000i was pleasantly fast for gaming duties. I quickly downloaded and played games like Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands on the BenQ X3000i, just to name a few of the many. The X3000i provides a fantastically immersive 4K HDR gaming experience.

BenQ x3000i for gaming

You can read more about my gaming experience with the BenQ X3000i in our new article series called Gaming On A Projector: Best Games To Play In 2022. The goal of the series is to report on the experience of using projectors for gaming with fast-paced FPS games, immersive open-world RPG-style games, and SPGs.

After the X3000i auto-detects metadata or EOTF info from HDR contents, HDR Game becomes available for selection. HDR Game is used to activate the Game Settings menu for HDR gameplay. Switching to HDR Game mode takes advantage of the X3000i’s game optimizing features. You can adjust the HDR Brightness setting, which essentially changes visibility to have a better quality of dark and bright scenes in-game. Finally, switching the Menu Type from Advanced Menu to Basic Menu allows you to quickly make or check adjustments to some game-optimizing settings on the go during gameplay.

The BenQ X3000i should work great for most gamers out there, even competitive gamers looking to play games on a giant projector screen. Keep in mind that I am saying all this and I have a dedicated liquid-cooled EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 equipped gaming PC with a 34-inch curved Alienware gaming monitor and a Razer Blade 17 4K – GeForce RTX 3080 Ti laptop. Still, nothing beats gaming on a massive projector screen when you have a capable projector like the BenQ X3000i Gaming Projector.