5 Best Projectors for Under $500

BenQ Projector In Action
"This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links."

While $500 will not give you access to the best 4k projectors on the market, it is still possible to find quality projectors at the $500 price range. The trade off in the price is that you will be foregoing the high resolution and smooth picture given by some of the better 4k projectors on the market. If you have options to increase your budget for your home theater, I highly suggest considering moving to one of the premium projector options to truly take advantage of your home theater set up.

However, if that is not possible I have given you a run down of what is available on the market. Overrall, the Optma HD243X 1080p 3300 Lumens is the Best Projector under $500 in 2020. I will also be reviewing the following options below:

  • Epson VS350 SVGA HDMI 3LCD
  • ViewSonic 3600 Lumens SVGA High Brightness Projector
  • BenQ MH535FA 1080P Home Theater Projector
  • ViewSonic 1080p Px700HD

Prior to getting to our recommendations, I will go over a quick buyers guide for projectors under $500 to make sure that you can optimize your investment.

Buyers Guide – Projectors Under $500

Should I spend $500 on a projector?

When buying a projector for a home theater system I typically recommend spending a bit more than $500. Although there are a number of projectors in $500 price range, the typically either stripped down models from major brands or offerings from lesser known makers. As long as you keep your expectations moderated and are willing to spend closer to the top of the range you can still acquire a projector with solid 480p resolution or better.

What type of projector should I buy?

There are generally two types of projectors that you can get at this price range: 1) Digital Light Processing (DLP)  and 2) liquid crystal display. DLP projectors are generally considered to be more reliable, and tend to be lighter and more portable. LCD projectors are known for there ability to produce sharper images and better picture quality.

Key features of a projector?

Here are some features you should consider when deciding which projector is right for you:

  • Brightness: Brightness is usually measured in lumens, with more lumens meaning a brighter picture. The level of brightness of the room will come into play with what you want to target here. The more light that leaks into your man cave, the brighter the picture you will need. Even in a small room, never go below 1500 lumens.
  • Resolution: The more pixels you have, the more resolution you have, the sharper the image. Do not buy a projector with less than 480p, and if you are investing significantly into your system carefully consider getting a 4k unit.
  • Contrast: Contrast ratio is the ratio of the of the light reflected from all black images and all whit images. This will determine how detailed images on the screen will be. A good contrast ratio is needed to see shadow detail and deep black levels. Any action sequence or fantasy show with dark shadows will benefit greatly from a high contrast output.
  • Throw distance: the distance from where the projector is located to the screen it will be projecting on. Make sure you get an appropriate throw distance from your screen or you will quickly notice a degradation in picture quality.
  • Connectivity: USB, VGA, Bluetooth and HDMI cover the most popular sources. Just make sure you have the right set up to match your audio equipment.

The Best Projectors under $500

Overall Best Projector under $500 – Optma HD243X 1080p

My favorite projector in the under $500 category. Offers excellent features and advanced technology compared to the others in the price bracket. The Optoma HD 243x is a full HD DLP project, for both home theater and gaming. As an added bonus, it comes with full 3D 1080P support and a super bright 3,300 lumens projection.

Why you should buy?

Technical Attributes

  • Resolution: Full HD 1080p
  • Brightness: 3,300 Lumes
  • Contrast Ratio: 24,000 contrast Ratio
  • Lamp life: 12,000 hours

Pros:

  • Excellent picture projection
  • Lamp life of 12,000 means you will get plenty of use out of it
  • Easy setup
  • More than adequate input ports

Cons:

  • None – fairly competes in the sub $1000 range

EPSON VS350 3,300 Lumens

Epson is trusted brand in the home electronics space. The projector offers versatility as a meeting projector, outdoor projector, and home theater projector

Why you should buy?

A portable projector option. You may want to consider this option if you are showing many outside movies. Also offers a great value for the price.

Technical Attributes

  • Resolution: Full HD 800 WXGA
  • Brightness: 3,300 Lumes
  • Contrast Ratio: 15,000:1 contrast Ratio
  • Lamp life: 6,000 hours

Pros:

  • A good clear picture
  • Great multi-purpose projector
  • Portable

Cons:

  • No 3D compatibility
  • Gets during the length of a standard movie
  • No audio out port
  • Aspect Ratio is a little off

ViewSonic 3600 Lumens SVGA High Brightness Project

A solid multi-purpose projector made for large screen projection. Less suited for home theater projection than some of the other options on the market.

Why should you buy?

You want a multi-purpose projector for partial use in a small room where you have to deal with ambient light and need a bright projector to overcome the ambient light.

Technical Attributes

  • Resolution: 600p
  • Brightness: 3,600 Lumes
  • Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1 contrast Ratio
  • Lamp life: 15,000 hours

Pros:

  • Great contrast – shows letters crisply

Cons:

  • Better used as an office projector
  • Advertises 1080p compatibility but has native resolution of 600p (in other words it takes 1080p signals and outputs in native 600p)

 

BenQ MH535A 1080P Supported WXGA Lumens HDMI

Not to be confused with the MH535FHD, its true 1080P HD cousin, the MH535A offers a quality home theater projector for the home theater market. Misleading naming scheme aside, the BenQ offers a a versatile addition to the multi-purpose projector market without creating a huge dent in the checkbook.

Why you should buy:

You want a versatile home projector for occasional outside use. There are better options offered by BenQ and others for a pureplay home theater unit.

Technical Attributes

  • Resolution: 480p
  • Brightness: 3,600 Lumes
  • Contrast Ratio: 15,000:1 contrast Ratio
  • Lamp life: 15,000 hours

Pros:

  • Works great outside – looks quite well projected off a solid wall for an outdoor movie night

Cons:

  • Not a pureplay home theater projector

ViewSonic 1080p Px700HD

A solid true home theater option that just barely misses the under $500 benchmark as of the date of publish. One of the true competitors to the Optoma HD243x at a comparable price point, the ViewSonic offers outstanding performance as a home theater dedicated projector.

Why you should buy?

You want one of the best projectors for gaming available on the market. My go to suggestion for hardcore gamers looking for a home theater projector.

Technical Attributes

  • Resolution: 600p
  • Brightness: 3,600 Lumens
  • Contrast Ratio: 22,000:1 contrast Ratio
  • Lamp life: 15,000 hours

Pros:

  • Great brightness and color technology
  • Flexibility in mode settings
  • Amazing for gaming

Cons:

  • No major flaws

There are a number of quality entrants for the best home theater projector under $500, however of all the options the Optoma HD243x takes the cake as the best option on the market. You will notice that there are some quality options at the lower end of the market, but most of the quality dedicated home theater models are at the higher end of our range.

Share on email
Share on print