The Best budget short throw projector is one that saves your space while projecting a picture of 100in or more, produces bright and vivid colors, doesn’t lag in gaming and is sound in cinematic performance.
Short throw projectors are always preferred for frequent travelers and gamers like me due to their compactness and overall convenience.
Making a list of the best UST projectors is not difficult for experts like us, but with a specific price range, it took our team days to finalize the top 5.
We had to consider throw ratio, gaming performance, home theater performance, color contrast, brightness, portability, black levels, saturation, and speakers.
Finally, after testing 40 models we finalized only the top 5 for gaming, movies, business, and casual use at a very cheap price.
Check out our top 3 picks before we move onto the reviews.
If you want honest reviews about best UST home theater projectors, read our blog post on them.
list of Best Budget Short Throw Projectors-2021
BenQ TH671ST 1080 Short Throw
Optoma GT5600 Ultra Short Throw
BenQ HT2150ST Short Throw
XGIMI Halo 1080p Portable Projector
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Anker Nebula Cosmos Max 4K Projector
1. BenQ TH671ST 1080 Short Throw Projector Review
BenQ HT2150ST is one of those budget tech products that are way ahead in terms of features and technology considering the price tag. According to my team of experts, it is the best budget short throw projector.
Back in 2019, it was an award-winning gaming projector for its low input lag, refresh rate, broader color gamut, and average picture quality.
BenQ TH671ST is a short-throw projector, which was great for me when I first purchased it. I didn’t have too much space in my hostel room so a 100-inch projector from 5+ feet away was welcoming for me.
It is 100% optimized for consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox X, Nintendo, etc. I only use Xbox on this projector but my friends recommend PS5.
Although BenQ TH671ST will not give that 4K gaming satisfaction. Come on guys, a common gamer would never spot a difference between 1080p and native or pseudo 4K.
Why choose BenQ TH671ST:
- BenQ TH671ST is a dedicated gaming projector. 7ms in fast mode is like a dream for gamers like me. I can play COD or Uncharted without any delay.
- The 92% Rec.709 color coverage projects 1.07 billion colors to nullify the rainbow effect.
- BenQ TH671ST is super bright with 3000 ANSI lumens, it’s image is sharp, blacks are decent with a contrast ratio of 10000:1 so expect a decent picture in the living room and more in quality in a dedicated home theater.
- The latest projection technology takes care of banding, compression, muted colors, and rainbow effects.
- The preset gaming and movie modes come with professional calibration to achieve balanced shadows and colors.
- Despite being a budget short throw projector, BenQ TH671ST is optimized for all types of consoles. It is a one-stop-shop of all.
- 3D content is also decent.
- Installation is not that difficult.
BenQ TH671ST is a super lightweight projector. I can carry it around to the friend’s house as well. The design is beautiful, the lens is left mounted, and air vents are on the opposite side of the lens.
Focus and zoom dials are on top of the lens. Manual navigation is clean and easy, it is also on the top. The bottom feet are adjustable.
Considering the budget, the overall beauty of the design and the convenience to carry it around are appreciable. It saves a lot of space.
Connections and connectivity:
- 2 HDMI PORTS. 1 HML
- Audio in and out
- Mini USB port
- Ethernet port
- USB TYPE A
- VGA in and out
Performance of BenQ TH671ST
Since it is a dedicated gaming projector with 1080p resolution, you will get sharp, crispier, and clear image quality with decent black levels and color contrast. I am not saying it will project next level image quality, but being a budget model, it is not bad at all.
92% Rec.709 and brightness fuse to produce a good color quality. I have been using it for some time now and I have never seen color deterioration.
Low input lag is the star of the show here. The gaming experience is extremely smooth and neat. I do connect external sources for the sound because its built-in speakers are just average.
Overall, I would 100% recommend this budget short throw projector to any hardcore or entry-level gamer.
2. Optoma GT5600 Ultra Short Throw Projector Review
Another budget-friendly dedicated gaming ultra-short projector in our list is also known for its cinematic experience for home theaters.
Although Optoma GT5600 is a native 1080p projector, the picture quality is razor sharp as far as gaming is concerned. It is right there among the best budget short-throw projector list for gaming.
The low input lag 144HZ refresh rate makes Optoma GT5600 one of the most popular gaming projectors in the World. It is super bright too because it is laser-based.
I have tested in the living room where ambient light is a bit high, the picture was compromised despite being 3600 lumen projector because too much brightness is never good for picture quality, but considering how cheap it is, you shouldn’t complain about that.
Why choose Optoma GT5600:
- Four corner correction produces a flat and balanced image in terms of dimensions.
- It is an office projector as well which is why lumen output is high. Optoma GT5600 has a PC-free USB image viewer for presentation and business purposes.
- For gaming and movies, the wide range of color processing produces vivid and bright colors.
- Optoma GT5600 is super lightweight and portable. I mean it saves up a lot of space. The ultra-short throw range is the perfect icing on the cake. I have always liked models that save some space in my hostel room.
- I have compared it with similar models in the price range like LG and BenQ and the contrast ratio is a bit low, but the overall balanced picture quality and sharpness compensate for the contrast ratio.
- The reason Optoma GT5600 can be used as a home theater projector is because of the decent black levels.
- It does come with integrated 16W speakers, but I would recommend an external sound source.
- Optoma GT5600 is a laser based ultra-short projector. It won’t take time to heat up and turn on, it won’t get that much warmer, and it produces a fantastic picture despite being 3600-lumen model.
Since it is a gaming projector, it’s designed like a retro console, I don’t know if that was the idea but that is how it looks. I love the design.
It is super lightweight and compact, it is easier for me to carry it to my friends for a multiplayer game or movie night.
Everything about this model is neat and clean. Manual navigation is on the top and easy to understand. Nothing is complicated since it is a budget ultra short throw projector.
Connections and connectivity:
- HDMI 1.4a. HML
- Audio in and out
- Quality remote control
- 2 USB ports
- Dsub-15pin. VGA in and out
- RS-232 port
Performance of Optoma GT5600:
I have successfully projected a 126-inch image onto my CLR screen (ceiling light reject) instead of a 100inch display of what the selling pages claim. Don’t believe everything that the manufacturer says.
The image is watchable even in the living room, or in the office. Black levels and color accuracy is normal, but for the budget, it is very good.
Optoma GT5600 is a very good movie projector, but it is mainly purchased for its low input lag and 144 Hz refresh rate for flawless gaming.
I hate buffering and lagging. I love to play games at full resolution as well, I use Optoma GT5600 like a horse at full resolution, so far I haven’t noticed any significant drop in the picture quality.
It heats up like crazy despite being a laser short-throw projector. I could never use it in summers in a room without AC. It gets way too heat up.
3. BenQ HT2150ST Short Throw Projector Review
Yet another entry in our list that is known for its flawless gaming performance. BenQ HT2150ST is a compact built, smart, very bright, and beautiful-looking home theater projector that is among the top 3 on gaming projectors list.
The low input lag (16ms), low fan noise, and 96% Rec.709 produce balanced colors for a smooth gaming experience and it is a very good movie projector too.
It is a native 1080p model and I watched NARCOS by Netflix on this projector. I won’t compare it with my JVC NX5, but I don’t have complaints about its picture quality.
Why choose BenQ HT2150ST:
- It is not like BenQ HT2150ST is super bright, but I have used it in a room where ambient light is dominant on many occasions. The picture quality was always decent with deep blacks. I have never been a fan of too much lumen output, so 2200 lumens were perfect.
- It always comes with zoom and focuses control which is always cool for a budget model.
- BenQ HT2150ST uses 100% of white in the gaming mode. The response time is fast, there is no judder, lagging is minimum, and the projector is clean and balanced.
- The contrast ratio is 15000:1 which sits nicely with 2200 lumens. Blacks also compliment the overall picture quality. The technical aspect of engineering is appreciable.
- Out of the two menus, I would recommend using the easy menu. The advanced menu is way more complicated for a new user.
- It has ISFccc certified calibration which means quality cinema content in a dedicated home theater and it is backed by experts.
BenQ HT2150ST is not too heavy, it is compact and easy to carry around. Right side mounted lens with air vents at the left is a traditional BenQ design. So far it is working.
There is a hidden door at the top hiding zoom and focus dial that keeps dirt and debriefs out. It would have been nice if there was a lens cover, motorized or manual to keep the dirt out of the lens which is the most important part of the projector.
Manual navigation is also at the top. Buttons are smooth. Feet are adjustable to balance out the projection.
The remote control is big and easy to use. It is beautifully designed and made of quality composite material. It is backlit too.
Connections and connectivity:
- 2 HDMI inputs
- A 12-volt trigger
- A mini USB port
- USB Type-A
- Audio in/out
- Pc connection port
Performance of BenQ HT2150ST:
The manufacturer claims that the 300inch projection will also display a good quality picture. I have been using it on a 100inch screen for some time and 1080 looks crystal clear, but a 300-inch display does deteriorate some quality which is natural for a budget model.
I and my optic engineer buddy ran some tests and we noticed that BenQ HT2150ST is reading 100% brightness in the game mode, 90% in the cinema, and 80% in the rest of the modes. No wonder people call it a gaming projector.
We also noticed during our test that the brightness uniformity was around 70% and the left side was a bit dominant compared to the right side. It is not a big deal for most users, but experts like us do notice these little things. A common user will notice non-uniformity in a bat cave environment.
Although it is a gaming projector the colors were more accurate in the cinema mode compared to gaming mode during our tests. It is a bit strange but maybe there is so much going around in gaming that is why colors were a bit less accurate.
BenQ HT2150ST is easily one of the best budget short throw projectors in terms of gaming. Lagging is low and the response time is high.
4. XGIMI Halo 1080p Portable Projector Review
XGIMI Halo is an award-winning portable projector in terms of design (Red dot, CES, IF international forum design). It is a total package of stunning projection, impactful sound, brightness, and convenience for indoors. It is an upgraded version of XGIMI Mogo Pro+.
I read reviews online, and many experts say that XGIMI Halo is not a budget model despite being under $1k. I don’t know about that.
The movie-ready battery, quality 5W speakers, Android TV operating system, superb cinema performance, game-changing design, and portability may be more enough than for a budget short throw projector for me.
Why choose XGIMI Halo:
- The black levels are acceptable for 1080p quality. Of course, they won’t be as sharp as a 4K model, but considering the price, blacks are decent.
- Being a portable model, it has a battery that will run for 2 hours for video and 4 – 6 hours for audio-only.
- Harmon Kardon speakers do sound very good for the size of this projector. You will be surprised.
- It is perfectly fine for gaming. I didn’t notice any lagging or latency on my PS5 for the 1080p quality.
- The colors would pop in the bright scenes. No odd artifacts in the brighter color patches either.
- It has 12 GB internal storage which is OK for Android TV.
- I have tried to focus the quality manually because I don’t like the autofocus, but every time Autofocus does a better job than me locking up that perfect focus so its autofocus is pretty good.
It is built of hard plastic with no sharp edge, it doesn’t look cheap at all. There is a little kickstand at the bottom if you needed to prop it up a little bit. A thread for a tripod is also there.
The main part of the design is the mesh or grill covering the Harmon Kardon speakers. The part of it is the air intake to cool down the LED engine.
LED engines are rated for 30,000 hours of life, there is a little camera for focus beside the lens. The exit fans are at the back.
Connections and Connectivity:
- USB 2 port
- HDMI port (HDCP 1.4)
- POWER on/off
- 5mm jack
Performance of XGIMI Halo short throw projector:
The HDMI port can take 4k input but it will automatically downgrade to 1080p.
I have tried playing pure 4K media files and it does play it but lagging is always there. The pure 1080p files run smoothly without any noticeable lagging.
If you look closely in a pitch-black room, you will notice grain or noise effect in the blacks levels which means there are not as sharp as they should be for a pitch-black room.
Image quality from the projection is good and brightness is made for dedicated home theater. It would work in ambient light as well but I would recommend using it in a dark room.
Purchase it if you hate to tangle with wires and settings because XGIMI Halo needs only a power cord. The design is neat and clean.
The picture quality is excellent because of the less brightness. Too much brightness kills the HD image’s overall projection quality.
The biggest drawback is that it is not optimized for NETFLIX in the current and age. I mean it is a powerful projector but the fact that it can’t run NETFLIX is extremely frustrating for content explorers like me.
It is super portable, it has a built-in battery, it is easy to carry around and it doesn’t need much space to cast a big image, so why only 800-lumen output. If the design is made for daytime use, outdoor use, or office use because it is portable and convenient to operate anywhere, so why it is only good in a dark room?
Don’t buy it if you do a lot of daytime viewing.
5. Anker Nebula Cosmos Max 4K Projector Review
Anker Company has been known for their small mobile gadgets but recently, their Nebula projectors are gaining popularity for being budget-friendly, compact, fantastic picture quality, Android interface, and cinematic sound.
Anker Nebula Cosmos Max is maybe their cornerstone to offer 4K and HDR10 support. For the price tag, it competes with the rival projectors.
Anker Nebula Cosmos Max has a 1080p base but it becomes 4K through pixel-shifting technology. Even upscaling from lower resolution images, provides excellent image quality.
Why choose Anker Nebula Cosmos Max:
- Anker Nebula Cosmos Max is the world’s first 4K projector with 3D audio.
- From about 2m throw ratio, it gives a 100-inch projection which is huge. It can also project a 150-inch image from 4m away but didn’t had space at that time to test it.
- In 4K, the image quality is sharp even at a 100-inch display. The colors are vibrant, and the picture is bright but in a dedicated home theater room where all the lights are off. I am telling you this after using it for 3 weeks.
- Black is really good even in a little bit of ambient light. It is not pitch black which you will never get off course.
- The UI on the Android TV 9.0 is smooth, fluid, and fast. It got 2GB RAM and 16 GB storage which is enough to run the menu smoothly.
- When you switch on the Cosmos high mode, the high-speed autofocus technology will instantly clear out the images. It works. The final product has an ultra-neat image quality with lively color details.
- Share your screen from your phone to Anker Nebula Cosmos Max via Chromecast which is built-in.
It is made of hard plastic, metal, and alloy on the outside surrounding the speakers. Built quality is very good.
The lens is at the center which is 4K 60 hertz of course. The keystone correction on this lens is 40+- vertical and horizontal.
There is a little autofocus camera of about 3 seconds beside the lens. It may be the best budget short throw projector in terms of design.
There is a hole at the bottom for the camera tripod and some other holes in case you want a ceiling mount.
It is ovoid and easy to move around. It is not heavy. Can easily be fit in the backpack so you can carry it to your friend for movies stuff.
Overall, the design is different, the built quality is good, and it is unique in its own way. I like it.
Connections and connectivity:
- 2 HDMI 2.0 with one ARC
- Optical Out
- 2 USB 2.0
- Power in
Performance of Anker Nebula Cosmos Max:
Anker Nebula Cosmos Max has so much detail and depth in that resolution in the 4K mode, you will notice it on the 100inch projection. The colors are vibrant and super neat. That instant image clarity system does sharpen out and clear out the image quality.
Gaming on a 100inch screen from PS5 looks decent, immersive, and sharp. The blacks are not that deep in gaming. Blacks are dark grayish which most budget projectors display. Input lag is also fine. That is the reality of the projectors, you are never going to get OLED TV’s black levels.
It is a 1500 ANSI lumen projector and it is never going to be enough because not all people use a bat cave environment to watch content, there will be some ambient light present, not everyone is a nerd like us experts. In some ambient light, its projector does fade a little bit compared to how good it is in a bat cave room.
40-watt speakers are not bad at all. There is a nice bass to the audio, treble is also decent. It is not going to replace a 7.1 or 5.1 surround system, but it will do just fine for casual use.
There is no RGB or Rec.709 white balance options which is a letdown. The colors do pop which is a good thing. The gamma accuracy could be improved.
Overall, Anker Nebula Cosmos Max is a budget short throw projector with excellent built-in speakers, an elegant design that is lightweight and compact, clear, neat, vibrant, and produces vivid colors with lagging free 4K projection. The black levels are decent in a bat cave environment only.
It is not for outdoor use, and it struggles to handle the ambient light at times. With a little firmware update, gamma accuracy update, and more lumen output, Anker Nebula Cosmos Max can be a top 5 short-throw choice for most home theater lovers.
How to choose the best budget short throw projector
Choosing a budget short throw projector is a bit difficult job for the common folks who have never used a short-throw projector before. We have to specify a budget before choosing what factors we need for gaming or movies in that budget takes some research.
Experts like me have used so many models to compare and picks a few as the best models of such year. That is why I and the team have researched some factors you have to consider before purchasing the best short throw projector.
- Throw ratio
- Resolution & Brightness
- Gaming and movies
Of course, specifying the budget before making a purchasing decision is the primary step because there are so many choices offering one feature more than the previous version you have looked into for $100 or $200 more. You will get confused.
Specify a budget, make a list of things you want in that model, then look for it.
I had an ultra-short throw projector back in my hostel room whose throw ratio was around 0.3 – 4ft. due to lack of space. Now I am using a standard short throw projector whose throw ratio is around 3 – 8ft.
It boils down to the space you have in your room. It doesn’t affect the picture quality so don’t worry about that.
Resolution & Brightness
Two of the most important factors for any projector let alone a short throw model. You will never get a 4K model at a budget price let’s get that out of the way, but a true 1080p with decent brightness at a cheaper price is possible.
1000 – 12000 ANSI lumens and a true 1080p resolution are a standard for all budget short throw projectors. If your budget is “between” $500 – $1500, then you shouldn’t compromise with the above mentioned requirements.
For smooth gaming and a decent home theater experience, those are the minimum requirements.
Gaming and movies
BenQ TH671ST, BenQ HT2150ST, and Optoma GT5600 are flawless for gaming at a budget-friendly price. It is not even that these models are less expensive, these are genuinely excellent for gaming with a good refresh rate, less flickering and input lag, beautiful color details, and vibrant picture quality.
Optoma GT5600 along with the same above-mentioned models offers beautiful cinema performance in a bat cave environment. I wouldn’t recommend them if you watch movies in a living room. The room has to be dark without ambient light.
90% of the short-throw projectors are compact and easy to carry around. I have covered only those models whose dimensions are not too big save as much space as possible. That is the whole point of a UST projector.
Compact models are also preferred by frequent travelers or gamers. I travel a lot that is why Optoma GT5600 is my primary choice because of its compactness and stunning gaming experience.
Choosing the best budget short-throw projector list was difficult for us compared to normal price models because we had to carefully select the factors like gaming performance, color balance, decent blacks, brightness, light engine, and engine life within a specified budget.
Our whole team spend a full week of research on 40 short-throw projectors, the final 5 are the best for the price tag you can get out in the market.
My favorites are Optoma GT5600, BenQ TH671ST, and BenQ HT2150ST for gaming, movies, and general use.
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