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Can You Use a Projector for Sim Racing?

Watching races on a big screen can really elevate your enjoyment. You get to see all the minute details, the different racing lines become as clear as day, and when you get a cockpit camera it feels as though you’re sitting right in the action. But does that adrenaline translate well to the use of a projector in racing sim games?

Sim Racing with a Projector

You can indeed use a projector for racing sims but, as you can imagined the larger image comes at a cost. Below you’ll find a short list of pros of using a projector for sim racing:

Immersion

Needless to say, a big screen is encaptivating. That’s why watching movies at the cinema is always more engrossing that watching them at home. Having your own projector will help with that. You will feel as though the world around you is the race track, as it’s blasted at an incredibly large size in front of you. It will also make it easier for your friends to watch.

Multi-Purpose

A projector is thankfully not a purchase which will be limited to your racing sim experience. You’ll be able to attach your computer, console, or media player to it and play other games or watch movies. In short you’ll have your own version of a home cinema without having to spend a fortune on a massive TV screen. 

Portability

Though we recommend using a projector screen (see the FAQ below), it’s not a prerequisite. This means that having a projector at hand makes having a larger viewing experience incredibly portable. Whether you’re going to the countryside, a friend’s place, your dorm, or anywhere else, having a projector will allow you to blast the racing sim on any blank wall you can find. It can also be a lot of fun to use your projector outside in the summer, allowing you to play in the fresh air at night. 

Of course, there are a fair few cons to a projector-based sim racing setup. Here are the main two:

Cost

As per usual, cost has to factor into the decision. Projectors are not cheap, and if you are looking to make your racing experience feel more realistic then you should look elsewhere. For the cost of some projectors you can purchase direct drive wheels, which will go miles more into making you feel like a real driver than any projector might. Even the everyday projector we recommend is still pretty price.

Image

Let’s face it: projectors don’t create the best quality image. If you’re used to playing on a high-quality monitor or television, the first thing you’ll notice when attaching a projector is the difference in sharpness. The image will be blurrier and the colours washier. This is made even worse if you’re not playing in a dark room, as sunlight can further distort and worsen the image focus and quality. As a final note, which is coupled with the high cost, you really should look to purchase a projector screen if you want the best quality image.

Summary

For those which look to emulate real driving as close as possible, projectors are not the answer. Other than costing a fortune, the image quality is definitely sub-par when compared to a VR or triple monitor setup.

However, if you’re looking to upgrade your home movie system or enjoy racing with others, then definitely consider getting a projector. Not to mention, the portability of the projector is also a big plus. If you fit this profile, then consider purchasing one of the two projectors we listed below.

What Projector to Use for Sim Racing

If you are planning on getting a projector, then the things you should look at the closest are input lag (to make sure that your inputs don’t take too long to reach the screen), refresh rate (to make sure your screen is not running behind your game) and, obviously, resolution. 

Everyday Pick: BenQ HT2050A

BenQ HT2050A 1080P Home Theater Projector
  • SUPERIOR PICTURE QUALITY: 1080p Projector with brightness of 2,200 Lumens, high native contrast ratio and 96% Rec. 709 color accuracy calibration.
  • HIGH RESPONSIVENESS: The specialized low input lag of 16ms and unique game modes ensure gamers an ultra-smooth gaming experience.
  • WOW YOUR FRIENDS: Take the action to the big screen by projecting a 100 inch screen from just 8 feet away. Projects up to 300 inches.
  • FLEXIBLE CONNECTIVITY: Supports most media players, gaming consoles, PCs, Macs, and mobile devices with input options such as HDMI, USB, and more
  • AWARD WINNING PROJECTOR: Highly Rated - Projector Central, Best Projector for the Money - CNET

For the price tag it has the BenQ is a pretty amazing projector. The 16ms input lag is specifically tailored for those who game, making it even faster than a lot of the more advanced and pricier models. It runs pretty great and, when in a dark room, the 1080p resolution really lets games shine. Of course this is not a 4k OLED television, but it’s considerably cheaper than that.

Another great point in its favour is how easy it is to set-up and use. Even first time projector users will find it intuitive, set it up in a handful of minutes, and quickly get back to racing.

On a non-sim related point, the fact that it’s compatible consoles, mobile devices, Macs, PCs, and other devices this projector very versatile. All in all this is a great projector for gaming and for all other uses. 

Luxury Pick: Epson 5050UB

Epson Home Cinema 5050UB 4K PRO-UHD Projector
  • TRUE 3 CHIP PROJECTOR DESIGN : Advanced 3LCD technology displays 100 Percent of the RGB color signal for every frame. This allows for outstanding color gamut while maintaining excellent brightness, without any “rain bowing” or “color brightness” issues seen with other projection technologies
  • 4K resolution processing : Advanced pixel shifting technology precisely controls three individual high definition LCD chips to parallel process millions of pixels. This new type of resolution Enhancement technology results in an exceptionally sharp 4K visual experience
  • Her processing : Full 10 bit HDR (3) color processing accepting 100 Percent of the HDR source information to faithfully reproduce HDR content for an exceptional visual performance; Operating Temperature: 41 ° to 95 °F (5 ° to 35 °C)
  • Digital imaging processing : Real time 12 bit analog to digital video processing for smooth tonal transitions, while helping to eliminate banding, blocking, and other compression artifacts from the final visual performance. This powerful processor faithfully reproduces the source material the way it was intended to be shown
  • Outstanding brightness : capable of displaying 4K content at an incredible 2,600 Lumens for both color and White brightness (2). This not only provides for a wider performance envelope but allows for an exceptional HDR performance. Aspect Ratio 16:9 widescreen (4:3 resize,16:10 resize). Compatible with 4:3 with Normal, Full or Zoom Modes. White Brightness White Light Output 2600 lumens. Color Brightness Color Light Output 2600 lumens

The fact that the input lag is slightly higher than the BenQ should not turn you away from the 5050UB. The difference in input lag (23-28ms) is relatively small, but the difference in image is completely different. The fact that a projector can blast a 4K resolution image in your living room is incredibly impressive. The resolution is crisp even in the widest setting.

This, coupled with the precision HDR adjustment, makes every viewing experience a pleasure. You will be able to control how the colours appear, making sure that no quality in the image is lost and that the darkest blacks, the reddest reds and the whitest whites all shine to the maximum of their potential. Image-wise the 5050UB nullifies a lot of the criticisms projectors generally face. 

Need more projector reccomendations? See our guide to the best cheap projectors for gaming.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a projector better than a VR headset or triple monitors?

For sim racing, a projector is usually a worse choice than a VR headset or triple monitor setup. This is because it’s less immersive than the wide-angle alternatives. That being said, a projector is obviously unparalleled as a home movie system. 

Do you need a screen to project onto?

While you can project onto any flat surface, a projector screen is sure to create a crisper, more vibrant image. You may even opt for a curved screen in order to make your sim racing experience more immersive.

Last Updated on January 23, 2021 by Thomas Bush