Projector Reviews

NEC NP-PA653UL Projector Review – Performance

NEC NP-PA653UL Projector Review – Performance: Brightness, Contrast, Audible Noise


The rated brightness of the NEC NP-PA653UL is 6,500 lumens. In its brightest mode, the projector measured close, but not quite. High-Bright came in at 6,156. Still, that’s plenty bright for a large venue and for rooms where there is ambient light present. This will be the mode you want to use if your room has a low control over how much light is leaking in and, as you read in the previous section – you don’t even have to sacrifice color too much when using this mode. Remember: There are three lens options, they all have different brightness levels, so it’s possible that with one of the other lenses, the NEC might top its claim.

Presentation mode is the second brightest mode. I measured 5,795 lumens. When switching from High Bright to Presentation, it is evident that this mode is the less bright of the two – but not by much. Presentation also has better color than High Bright, so this mode should work just fine when dealing with ambient light.

Truth be told, all of the modes deal with ambient light rather well. Of course, it does depend on screen size. I don’t have a 25-foot diagonal screen (which, of course, is over 6 times the area of my screen), so the same amount of ambient light is a bigger issue on a much larger screen.

Note: I have blackout curtains in my living room where I do the testing on projectors I’m reviewing. When viewing content, I never felt like I needed to shut those curtains in order to see anything (some projectors do rather poorly in this department). Now, if it were a home theater projector, that would be a different story – but for presentations and other business, education, scientific content that will likely be most used with this projector, all modes are plenty bright for the majority of situations. Of course for some, this projector might not be bright enough, which is why NEC also makes brighter versions – at higher price points.

The next brightest mode is sRGB at 4,946, closely followed by DIMCOM SIM. mode. That mode measured in at 4,776. sRGB will be another good mode for presentations. DICOM SIM. is typically used for viewing X-Ray films, and would be most used in a university classroom/lecture hall for medical students, or in hospitals for teaching purposes. I included the photos of X-Rays being projected in DICOM SIM. mode on the previous page, if you’d like to check those out.

The next two modes are Video and Movie, and were the closest in measurements. Video mode came in at 4,606 lumens, while Movie measured at 4,691 lumens. The lowest lumen count goes to Graphic mode, at 4,458 lumens. That’s still really bright. Overall, I was pleased with the brightness performance of the NEC NP-PA653UL commercial projector.


The contrast ratio of the PA653UL is 2,500,000:1. We don’t really pay much attention to that number here at Projector Reviews, as what we are concerned with is black level performance. Now, on a business/education projector, black levels aren’t really important – that’s something we look at for home theater and home entertainment projectors (more so for home theater). Since laser projectors can shut down the light engine completely when a black frame is called for, it’s easy to get high contrast claims that don’t relate to practical use.

That said, the black levels on the PA653UL are not that great. One can still differentiate blacks and darker tones from one another, but blacks may not be true black unless viewing 4K UHD content with HDR, as was the case with Journey to Space (photos on previous page). Like I said – that’s not important. What is important is that the contrast is good enough so that your content will look pretty much as you intended. If you have an application that demands “home theater-like” black level performance, a DLP based laser projector would provide an advantage, but that’s not likely to be the case.

Audible Noise

Audible noise refers to fan noise. NEC claims the fan on the PA653UL is 39db – that’s not particularly quiet. However, this should be a non-issue. As a large venue commercial projector, it is likely to be placed at least a decent distance from the nearest audience. Think this way – 39db at 1 meter’s distance is only 33 db at 4 meters – and 33 db is “just acceptable” noise in a home theater, nevermind a classroom. If you could hear it, it’s no more noticeable than the hum of air conditioning. In fact, once the projector has been on for a few minutes, I stop hearing the fans. Some things you just adjust to.

ECO Mode is a different story. The fan noise rating for this low-power mode is 33db. That’s the audible noise level of Art’s Epson HC5040UB (the most popular over $2000 home theater projector), and I can almost never hear the fan on that projector. So, if you’re super sensitive to the noise of the fan – there’s always ECO Mode. This mode doesn’t affect brightness too much either, as the lumen count of the PA653UL is so high. You’ll be able to use ECO even when there is ambient light present, but you’ll be the judge of what works best for your application.