The family room is no longer just a place where the family gathers to watch television or movies. Now, parents and children alike use the family room as a place to play video games. Statistics show that in the United States more than 150 million Americans play video games.

A mistake that some families make is setting up their family room without taking video game playing into consideration. This is especially true when talking about their selection of projectors.

But you might ask, aren’t all projectors the same? A lot of people have opted to go for regular projectors over gaming specific ones and find that they just don't work. As projector expert Steve Scott explained in his guide to gaming projectors, regular units just don't have the resolution quality to make your gaming colors pop. To make it worse, regular projector bulbs just won't last and will cost you a few hundred extra.

In this post, we will look at some of the differences between gaming projectors and home theater projectors.

What Is the Difference between a Gaming Projector and a Home Theater Projector?
All projectors designed for video games can function as a home theater. However, not all home theater designed projectors are optimal for video game use. Some of the factors that distinguish home theater projectors from video game projectors include:
  • Refresh Rate
  • Number and Types of Inputs
  • Lag
  • Contrast Ratio
  • Resolution
  • Brightness
The specifications for gaming projectors are higher than those for home theater projectors. As a minimum, you want your gaming projector to have 2000 lm. It should have a 5000:1 contrast ratio. It should be equipped with all of the inputs you will need for your gaming unit as well as sound. In order to get the most out of modern game consoles, your gaming projectors should have 120 Hz refresh rate and a minimum of 1080 P resolution.

Conversely, a projector used for home theater will have a 1000:1 contrast ratio minimum, a 2000 lm minimum, and device inputs that are compatible with media playing devices. Resolution for a non-gaming projector should be between 1080 P and 4K.

If you are a gamer, it only makes sense to purchase a gaming projector that can double as your home cinema device. Gaming projectors will give you the performance you need whether you are playing a simpler game or a graphic intense game designed to blow you away with its imagery.

A Better Look at Specs

ANSI Lumens
ANSI lumens are one of the first specs that you want to look at when selecting a projector. The higher the lumen count, the brighter your image will be. Both gaming projectors and home theater projectors should have a minimum of 2000 lm. This will allow you to comfortably use the projector in a completely dark room while also allowing you to use the projector in a room that has some ambient light. If you are going to be in a room that has a lot of light, then you may want your projector to have a minimum of 3000 lm. The brightness requirements for a gaming projector and a home theater projector are basically the same.

Contrast Ratio
Contrast ratio is the difference between the whitest image on the screen and the darkest one. Contrast ratio is what determines how crisp and how vivid your image will be. Your contrast ratio will be affected by ambient light. When determining the contrast ratio of your projector, you need to look at more than the printed specifications. Contrast ratios can be twisted to give the impression that the projector is better than what it is. We recommend using ANSI contrast ratios as these are considered to be accurate.

A contrast ratio that is 1000:1 means that the purest white is 1,000 times brighter than the darkest black. A home theater projector with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 can produce an acceptable picture. However, for gaming you want your projector to have a contrast ratio of at least 5000:1. That is the lowest you should accept. A mid-range gaming projector is going to have a 40,000:1 ratio, and a high-end projector is going to have 100,000:1 or more.

A Variety of Inputs
The inputs offered by your projector will determine the devices you can connect to it. HDMI and DVI are the most common multimedia interfaces. If you are looking at connecting your computer or other computer storage media to your projector, you are going to want one that has the option of USB, VGA, and SD.

If you are going to use your projector as a video game projector as well as part of your home theater, then you will want to have a device that offers multiple input slots. Most video game consoles use HDMI. Your Blu-ray player may also need HDMI. So having two or three HDMI connectors is best.

Gaming statistics

A home theater projector should have Wi-Fi capability. This will allow you to stream videos from Amazon Prime, Netflix, and other platforms through the projector. The bottom line is that you should think about the devices you want to connect to the projector before selecting one.

Refresh Rates
The refresh rate is how quickly your projector is able to process images that it displays. You may have to do a little bit of digging to find this spec. However, modern theater projectors have a decent refresh rate.

The problem is that gaming projectors need a faster refresh rate based on the game that you are playing. Many modern games rely on quick action, fast screen changes, and trigger movements. This makes having a high refresh rate a must. You want a gaming projector that has a minimum of a 120 Hz refresh rate. This will allow you to make split-second in game movements and have them immediately reflected on your screen.

Purchasing a gaming computer is going to run a little bit more than one used for your home theater. The nice thing about a gaming computer, though, is that it will also make your cinema viewing more pleasant.

What has been your experience in using a gaming computer versus a home theater computer? We would love to hear some feedback from you. Leave us a comment in the comments section below.