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The best cheap projectors you can buy

Upgrade your viewing experience or bring your home theater to life with the best cheap projectors you can buy, expert researched by ZDNET.
Written by Kayla Solino, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Epson EX3280 | Best cheap projector overall
Epson EX3280
Best cheap projector overall
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Vankyo Leisure 3 | Best truly cheap projector
Vankyo Leisure 3
Best truly cheap projector
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Benq GS50 | Best cheap projector for outdoors
Benq GS50
Best cheap projector for outdoors
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Optoma UHD38x 4K Projector | Best cheap gaming projector
Optoma UHD38x 4K Projector
Best cheap gaming projector
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Nebula Cosmos 2K Projector | Best splurge projector
An Anker Nebula Cosmos projector
Nebula Cosmos 2K Projector
Best splurge projector
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Nebula Solar Portable | Best cheap portable projector
Nebula Solar Portable
Best cheap portable projector
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Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro | Best cheap projector for travel
Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro
Best cheap projector for travel
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Show more (2 items)

While TV's reign supreme in the home entertainment ecosystem, with more advanced features like OLED, oversized screens, and even transparency, nothing replicates the movie theatre experience quite like the projector. 

More: I saw Samsung and LG's new transparent TVs at CES 2024

Projectors have come a long way, and they're not just used in classrooms anymore. With indoor and outdoor options, projectors are popular alternatives or supplements to traditional TV screens and entertainment setups, and can provide crisp viewing on a much grander scale. 

Also: The best outdoor projectors

Whether you're looking to set-up movie night in your backyard, create a home theatrer, or just catch the latest flick on a much larger display, ZDNET rounded up the best cheap projectors that will fit your needs without breaking the bank. Our top cheap projector choice is the Epson EX3280 projector for its vivid picture quality and easy connectivity. Read on to see how it compares against models from Xgimi, Nebula, and more based on features like sound, lumens, connectivity, price and more. 

Read more: What are the best projector screens and what size do you need?

The best cheap projectors of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Phenomenal imaging
  • Built-in speaker
  • Excellent connectivity
  • Low aspect ratio
  • Single HDMI port
More Details

Epson EX3280 tech specs: Brightness: 3,600 lumens | Resolution: 678p | Noise level: 37dB | Light source: Lamp

The Epson EX3280 offers a perfect balance between price and product, providing a crisp, traditional home-cinema experience with Energy Star-certified design. It is 4K-compatible and offers simple connectivity, allowing you to stream from all of your favorite devices easily. The three-chip 3LCD technology and 3,600 lumens pack in spectacular color and brightness with a crisp XGA resolution. The compact build weighs only 5 pounds, making it easy to tote to and from home. 

Pros & Cons
  • Extra ports
  • Large screen size
  • Carrying case included
  • Super budget-friendly
  • Mediocre speakers
  • Low resolution
More Details

Vankyo Leisure 3 tech specs: Brightness: 65 lumens | Resolution: 480p | Maximum screen size: 170 inches | Light source: LED

The Vankyo Leisure 3 boasts superior viewing with a projection size ranging up to 170 inches, which is the largest among cheap projectors on our list. This allows a larger picture projection that can stand up to even your largest walls or even the outside of your house. With two built-in speakers, it has plenty of power for an all-around solid viewing experience. However, you won't hear it work, thanks to its inner heat dispersion and cooling system with noise suppression technology. Plus for under $100, the Vankyo is an affordable investment in at-home fun. 

Pros & Cons
  • 1080p resolution
  • Excellent brightness
  • Rugged design
  • Tricky to use Netflix
  • Lacks 3D support
More Details

Benq GS50 tech specs: Maximum projection range: 110 inches | Brightness: 500 ANSI lumens | Resolution: 1080p | Aspect ratio: 16:9

Benq GS50 is rated for the outdoors, which means you can bring all the benefits of indoor screening on your next outdoor adventure. The projector offers 1080p full HD resolution and maximum brightness. And don't worry about sound quality outside, either -- Benq benefits from extra bass from the dual midrange tweeters and a 10W woofer for crisper sound. Plus, picture is improved by Benq's CinematicColor for more vibrant, vivid hues. Easy HDMI connectivity gets you started, and there is an embedded Android TV for simpler use. You can also connect via AirPlay and Chromecast.  

Pros & Cons
  • Large imaging
  • Excellent brightness
  • Clear & Crisp pictures
  • Pricey
  • Lacks short-throw ability
  • Larger design
More Details

Optoma UHD38x tech specs: | Connectivity: HDMI, VGA, USB | Display resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Dimensions:  10.6 x 12.4 x 4.6 inches

The Optoma UHD38x home theater projector is your best bet for an outdoor gaming-compatible projector. Specifically designed for gaming, it offers a brilliant picture in 4K Ultra HD with both HDR10 and HLG technologies to maximize your online experience. 

The UltraDetail picture has more than eight million on-screen pixels, and features an Enhanced Gaming Mode to eliminate lags and enable interruption-free gaming. Optoma UHD38 offers multiple inputs for easy connectivity  and the ability to stream via your computer or mobile device. 

Pros & Cons
  • 4K picture
  • Powerful light
  • Easy Netflix integration
  • Easy setup
  • Price
  • Lacks optical zoom settings
  • Boxy design
More Details

Anker Nebula Cosmos tech specs: Connectivity: HDMI | Display resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Dimensions: 10.35 x 6.5 x 8.66 inches  

The Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K by Anker may be expensive, but at 2400 ISO lumens, this is an extremely powerful projector that allows you to watch whatever you'd like at any time -- even when the sun is shining bright. The 4K UHD visuals are crisp and supported by Anker's Intelligent Environment Adaptation (IEA) Technology. 

Equipped with Dolby Audio and a 3D soundscape, this Nebula Cosmos projector allows for top-tier audio to match the stunning visuals. Its tabletop design allows for easy set-up and portability, making it a great companion for outdoor entertainment. 

Pros & Cons
  • 1080p
  • Built-in Android TV
  • HDR support
  • Dimmer picture
  • Average imaging
More Details

Nebula Solar Portable tech specs: Maximum projection range: 120 inches | Brightness: 1100 lumens | Resolution: 1080p

The Nebula Solar Portable is a 4K-supported projector that is designed to go where you go. With 1,100 lumens and a 1080p resolution, you can expand your viewing area up to 120 inches wherever you like. There is no need to worry about volume, either, with dual 3W speakers and Double Digital Plus integration. The built-in battery allows for three hours of video playtime, giving you enough time to catch a movie or game, and it even comes with its own built-in stand for easy portability.

Pros & Cons
  • Fantastic connectivity
  • Chromecast available built-in
  • Simple set-up
  • Few instructions
  • Missing SD card
More Details

Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro tech specs: Maximum projection range: 100 inches | Brightness: 300 ANSI lumens | Resolution: 1080p

The Xgimi MoGo 2 Pro is designed to travel. Offering two hours of viewing with easy Bluetooth connectivity, the Xgimi easily allows you to stream entertainment via apps downloaded from the Google Play store. The 1080p resolution comes with 300 ANSI lumens on a picture that expands as much as 100 inches for your viewing pleasure, making this portable option big enough for wherever you take it. In addition to wireless and Bluetooth listening, enjoy dual 8W speakers with Dolby Audio built into the projector for excellent sound. 

What is the best cheap projector?

The Epson EX3280 offers a crisp viewing experience with 1080p resolution at a fairly moderate price, perfect for a home theatre setup. To see how it stacks up against our other picks, here is an overview of the best cheap projectors.

Best cheap projectorCostScreen sizeResolution
Epson EX3280$450100"1920 x 1080
Vankyo Leisure 3$100170"800 x 480
Benq GS50$799110"1920 x 1080
Optoma UHD38x$1,322300"3840 x 2160
Nebula Cosmos 2K$1,800120"3840 x 2160
Nebula Solar Portable$400120"1920 x 1080
XGIMI MoGo 2 Pro$599100"1920 x 1080

*Lowest, non-discounted price at the time of writing. Please note that actual prices may vary depending on available sales, deals, discounts, and coupons.

Which is the best cheap projector for you?

To help you find the best cheap projector, consider our expert recommendations based on our research. 

Choose this best cheap projector...If you want...
Epson EX3280An all-around solid projector perfect for all your home, office, and school needs.
Vankyo Leisure 3True affordability without sacrificing decent quality or features.
Benq GS50Durability above all else.
Optoma UHD38xA projector designed specifically for gaming.
Nebula Cosmos 2KA high-quality projector at a splurge cost.
Nebula Solar PortableA mini projector to take with you on the go.
XGIMI MoGo 2 ProA sound projector for regular travel and use.

*MSRP at the time of writing. Please note that actual prices may vary depending on available sales, deals, discounts, and coupons.

How did we choose these best cheap projectors?

When searching for the best cheap projectors, we used several specific criteria, including these factors here.

  • Screen size: The best cheap projectors cover a variety of different-sized spaces. Be sure to measure the area where you plan to use your projector so you can be sure that the specifications match your intended space.

  • Resolution: Most of the best cheap projectors offer a full HD resolution measuring 1920 x 1080 for a superior image. 

  • Lumens: The number of lumens that a projector has will speak to its brightness. The higher the lumen count, the brighter you can expect your projector to be.

  • Audio: We look to see what speakers are incorporated and what kind of sound output is generated. 

  • Price: Not all projectors are wildly expensive, so when searching for the best cheap projectors, we looked for projectors priced under $800, while also including a few splurge selections for those interested in weighing their options. 

How much do the best cheap projectors cost?

Of course, the value of what a cheap projector is relative to every unique buyer, and projectors can significantly range in cost, quickly climbing into the thousands as you add more features. But many quality projector offerings can be found under $1,000. These best budget projectors range anywhere in cost from less than $100 to over $2,000 depending on the model you choose to best fit your needs, with a bulk of the top picks falling under $800. 

Are there alternative best projectors worth considering?

For other options, consider these runner-ups for the best cheap projectors and more.

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