Nothing beats the experience of watching your favorite movies or TV shows or playing video games on the biggest screen possible. You don’t need a TV to enjoy the experience on the big screen. 4K projectors can getand they don’t take up the same amount of real estate. The stigma surrounding projectors is that they are expensive, but the prices of 4K models have come down quite significantly in recent years.
However, remember that resolution is only one aspect of image quality. With a great contrast ratio, color gamut, keystone correction and brightness, the projector can easily stand up to a 4K UHD projector that only offers higher resolution at the expense of everything else. The best 4K projectors combine great performance in all aspects of image quality along with 4K resolution for a truly incredible picture.
If you’re ready to take your home theater to the next level, here are the best projectors you can get for 4K content. Check out our listfor more, often cheaper options if 4K HDR isn’t your top priority. Or, if portability is your main concern, we also have a list to help you find a take on trips.
The Epson Home Cinema 5050UB is the best all-round 4K projector because it strikes the perfect balance between image quality and price. An excellent contrast ratio coupled with impressive brightness and accurate colours, all with better detail than is possible with a 1080p projector, and you have all the makings for a fantastic picture. This UHD projector is not cheap, but it offers a significant improvement in image quality compared to other 4K projectors. The extensive lens shift and motorized zoom are the icing on the cake.
Read our Epson Home Cinema 5050UB review.
The Epson LS11000 uses a completely different technology to create light: lasers! Most other projectors use UHP lamps instead, which are glorified incandescent bulbs. This allows the LS11000 to produce a bright, colorful image with shorter start-up and shutdown times, no lamp replacement and better dynamic contrast ratio. Although more expensive than the HC5050 initially, they will cost about the same over the life of the projector. The 5050 performs better in a few areas, but overall the LS11000 produces a deeply colored and highly detailed image.
Read our Epson Home Cinema LS11000 review.
The Sony VPL-VW325ES is a thoroughbred among ponies, a Porsche among Volkswagens, an absolute stunner with a price tag to match. Contrast ratio, easily the most important aspect of overall image quality, is better than the Epson 5050 and significantly better than any projector that doesn’t cost significantly more. And that’s saying something because the Sony itself costs significantly more than any other projector on this list. If the price is not a factor, the image quality in 4K resolution is incredible.
Read our Sony VPL-VE325ES review.
The Optoma UHZ50, like the Epson LS11000, uses a laser to create light. The UHZ50 blue laser is paired with a yellow phosphor to produce a bright, vivid image. The detail is fantastic and snaps on and off so it’s easy to live with. It is also relatively quiet. The contrast ratio is very good for a DLP projector, but not as good as the LCD and LCOS projectors on this list. The small, inexpensive-looking case also has minimal zoom and lens shift, making it a little more difficult to fit into some rooms than the Sony and Epson options in this roundup. Overall a great projector though.
Read our Optoma UHZ50 review.
The UHD35 packs a lot into its small package at a low price. It can throw a lot of light, produces accurate colors and has great detail. The contrast ratio isn’t great, but it’s pretty average among 4K projectors in this price range. And that price is really the UHD35’s biggest selling point. It offers great image quality for just a few hundred dollars over the best 1080p projectors. It doesn’t offer lens shift or much zoom, but if you can fit in the room, it’s a great way to get 4K for a reasonable price.
Read our Optoma UHD35 review.
Great 4K color at a reasonable price
The BenQ HT3550i trades light output for rich colors. They’re not as deep as those you’ll find on the LG UH810PW, but they’re richer and more impressive than most projectors, and the 3550i costs only about half of what the LG does. However, its contrast ratio is only average for a 4K projector, and its light output is well below average, meaning its image doesn’t pop as much as images from other projectors on this list.
Read our BenQ HT3550i review.
Other products we tested
: The HU810PW costs about the same as the Optoma UHZ50 and is also a laser-powered 4K DLP projector. It has better lens shift, zoom and is quieter in operation. But the contrast ratio is pretty poor, so overall it doesn’t look nearly as good as other 4K projectors we’ve tested. Read our LG HU810PW review.
: The HC 2250 is an excellent 1080p LCD projector. It won’t look nearly as detailed as any of the projectors on this list, but it’s bright and otherwise looks great. It’s also much cheaper. .
: The HT2050 has been one of our favorite home theater projectors for several years now. Which means it’s not new. So it’s not as clear as some other options, nor is it 4K. However, it looks fantastic and relatively cheap. .
How we test 4K projectors
Every projector we review goes through complex objective and subjective testing. CNET editors select the products and services we write about based on editorial quality. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.
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4K projector FAQ
Do I need a 4K projector?
All mid-range and high-end projectors are either 1080p or 4K. On huge screens typical even for a modest home theater, often 100 inches or more, the fourfold difference between these resolutions is quite noticeable.
However, resolution is only one aspect of image quality. A great 1080p projector will always produce a better image than an average 4K projector. That said, the added resolution certainly doesn’t hurt, adding a new layer of realism and fine detail to things like textures, hair, wrinkles and more.
Should you break the bank and get a 4K projector? Absolutely not, but if you can easily afford it, a good 4K projector can look impressive.
What type of projector should you get?
LCD projectors and projectors with digital light processing are the most common technologies. High-end projectors often use an LCOS, or liquid crystal on silicon, design. These are marketed as SXRD and DILA. LCOS is superior to LCD and DLP in almost every way, but is significantly more expensive.
LCD (used almost exclusively by Epson) and DLP have their strengths and weaknesses. DLP is typically sharper, LCD often brighter. However, both technologies offer a clear and sharp image. It depends more on the specific model of the projector than on specific technologies.
Need a screen for a better projector experience?
It is technically possible to use any flat surface to project the image. This is far from ideal, especially with 4K projectors. Any and all small irregularities in a wall, for example, will be visible as additional “noise” in the image. This can be distracting and degrades the image quality of your expensive projector.
If you want the best picture quality, even a cheap screen is a much better choice. This is because projector screens tend to brighten the image noticeably and create a smooth surface on which to display your TV, movie or game.