You want a good projector, but you’re afraid you can’t find one in your price range, right? Well, we’re here to tell you that you can get one! Whether you want the best projectors under $500 or just a good one for office presentations, we’ve got you covered.
We looked at all available models under $500 and mercilessly culled the herd, getting rid of low-quality models and those with bad reputations. Keep reading. We’ll show you the best and teach you how to find a great one on your own in the buyer’s guide below the reviews.
Pay attention to the ones we think are the best out there. And be sure to read the buyer’s guide after this. We really want to teach you about the important factors to consider before you buy anything.
Home Projectors Under $500: My Top Picks
Anker Nebula Capsule Max
Do you want a small projector that you can take with you anywhere? This one is less than six inches high and three inches in diameter. There’s no need to bring along a DVD player. It connects to WiFi, so you can access your cloud-based entertainment, pictures, and videos from just about anywhere.
Everyone loves smart devices. That’s one reason for this tiny projector’s popularity. People like that it can connect to WiFi and to phones and tablets with Bluetooth.
Most are surprised by the picture. It doesn’t look like you would get a full projector experience out of this little thing, but you really do. The biggest difference people notice is the picture size. The maximum size is 100”.
- Very high-quality picture
- Excellent sound from the built-in 8W speaker
- Small and portable
- WiFi cuts the battery life almost in half to under three hours
ViewSonic 3800 Lumens SVGA High Brightness Projector for Home
How would you like a nice big 300” picture? You can have it with this affordable HD projector, as long as you have a good 43-foot throw. The remarkable thing about this projector is the color. The contrast is good at around 2,000:1, but the proprietary SuperColor technology is the star. It utilizes a six-segment color wheel for optimum clarity and color separation.
Many have commented on the clarity of the picture. That has to do with the multi-layer precision glass lens. Multi-layer lenses are usually seen only on more expensive projectors.
Some have griped that the sound quality of the speaker isn’t that great, but there is an audio-out jack. One innovative buyer purchased a dongle to connect to the audio jack so he could use his Bluetooth speaker.
- Very good contrast and brightness
- 3D-ready – Just plug and play
- Wide throw range – 4 to 43 feet
- Brilliant color
- 16ms lag
- We recommend using the audio out jack and connecting good speakers to supplement the somewhat weak built-in speakers
This is the best short-throw projector for under $500. It only needs to be 30” from the surface you’re projecting onto. That makes it great for watching TV in a bedroom or making a presentation in a small office. It’s bright, too. At 3,200 lumens, you won’t have to make the room darker than normal, and you won’t have to worry about dimming the lights in the office.
Its native resolution is only 800×600, which is decent for more affordable projectors, but it will support source resolutions of up to 1080p with no problem. Read the buyer’s guide following these reviews for more information about native versus supported resolution.
People love the brightness, which is among the brightest of all projectors in this price range. Some have even used it for outdoor movie nights in their backyards. The overall feeling is that this model offers the best value among affordable projectors.
- Great value
- Very bright
- Wide throw range
- Manual focus – You have to turn the lens to focus the image
YABER Y30 Native 1080P Projector
The brightness of this one is incredible. Combined with the sweet contrast ratio, you get a fantastic picture. A native resolution of 1080p gives the best HD picture of any projector on our list. It can support 4K as well. When you put together the brightness, contrast, and high resolution, you get the best 4K projector for under $500.
Who doesn’t love something that’s easy to set up? Those who take the time to learn how to use the keystone adjustment feature talk about how easy it is to get it going and have a great, perfectly shaped picture. They like how super bright it is, too. 6,000 lumens is awesome for any projector, but it’s incredible for a projector under $500.
- Very bright and colorful
- Easy to set up
- Color-popping contrast
- Big 200” max image size
- Good throw range
- Good sound
- May need a free firmware update from the manufacturer
BenQ MW535A HDMI Vibrant Color Projector for Home
When most projectors of this price range claim a resolution of 1280, they mean that they support that resolution. The actual res is usually lower. But this budget HD projector has a true native res of:
VGA(640 x 480)
WUXGA_RB(1920 x 1200).
The brightness and contrast translate into a superb picture. And that picture can be a whopping 300”. You’ll need about 28 feet between the projector and the viewing surface for that size, but you can still have a good 200” picture with around 20 feet of throw room.
People who have owned other projectors say that this is the best in its price range. They like the resolution, which is a true 1920 x 1200. Combine that with the decent contrast, and you’ll understand why people rave about the picture quality.
- Huge maximum picture of 300”
- Awesome picture quality
- With this throw range and resolution, it would be nice to have better zoom for more control over the picture size and an easier setup
Optoma HD243X 1080p Projector for Movies and Gaming
This is the best gaming projector for under $500. The bright image, high contrast, and big picture make for an immersive experience. But a big consideration for a gaming projector is lag time. You want less than 50 milliseconds. Well, this cool projector has a lag of only 16ms. That’s unbelievable for a projector at this price.
Gamers are very impressed that they can have a gaming projector for under $500 that isn’t a piece of junk. Many gamers who own this one have tried cheap projectors for games before and thought that they would have to spend over $1,000 for a decent one. They were pleasantly surprised when they started playing with this model!
- 16 ms lag makes for seamless gameplay
- Brightness and contrast mean great colors and a fine picture
- Nice throw range, zoom, and keystone adjustability for easier setup
- Awesome 300” max picture size
- There have been problems with rainbowing reported in online reviews
AuKing Mini Projector 2022 Upgraded Portable Video-Projector
This one offers a very good, bright, and colorful picture up to 170”. All this comes in a small package that you can take with you anywhere. The sound isn’t great, and there’s no way to connect your sound equipment to it. So you may want to look elsewhere if you need to have strong, dynamic sound.
First off, people wish that there was a way to connect additional speakers. Apparently, the integrated speakers leave something to be desired.
But most bought this one for its portability. And that’s where it shines. It’s 8”x6”x3”. It can fit in a purse or a small duffel bag. The picture quality hasn’t drawn many complaints. In fact, everyone is pretty happy with it. It has a good resolution and nice coloring.
- Small and portable
- Nice picture
- Short throw
- A maximum of 15 feet of throw can cause problems in larger rooms
Projector, GooDee 2021 G500 Video Projector 6000L
The keyword here is value. This projector gives performance comparable to a full-size projector at a much higher price. I mean, it’s got 1280 native res! It’s also very bright: 4,500 lumens. High contrast means bright and deep colors.
A price tag of $600 would be reasonable for this one. But the actual price is less than $150. At that price, you could get a few and replace most of the TVs in your home with projectors.
People are usually surprised that they get this kind of performance from a projector of this price and size. Many of those who are experienced with projectors compare this one favorably to models well over $500, even though this one costs under $150. That really is an amazing price for this thing.
Some people have taken advantage of the great value of putting a projector in their bedroom or even a guest room.
- Incredible value – This quality projector can be bought for less than $150
- Small size
- 200” picture at a distance of 15 feet
- Very bright
- Great resolution
- Manual focus – You have to rotate the lens
Vamvo Ultra Mini Portable Projector 1080p
This is a good pocket projector. Many people use it for office presentations. It can be used for entertainment purposes, but the room has to be pretty dark.
People have complained about the brightness and the loudness of the speaker. They say that the room has to be dark for a good image and that the speaker isn’t as loud as a smartphone speaker.
Well, this is a pocket projector. It isn’t the best for entertainment, but it is fantastic for presentations. Those who use it for its intended purpose are impressed. There are people who use it for movies and TV, but most of them use an external speaker.
- Small and light
- Short throw
- Not very bright
- Not the best speaker
Factors To Consider
Think about these factors when weighing your options so you can get the best home theater projector for under $500.
Native Resolution vs. Supported Resolution
Avoid the number one amateur mistake by understanding the difference. Think of native resolution as actual resolution. Regardless of the input, native res is what will be displayed. Supported resolution is the highest res that will be accepted as input.
For example, say you have a projector with a native resolution of 720p and a supported resolution of 1080p. You can play a source of up to 1080p, but it will be converted to 720p before being projected.
Brightness And Contrast
The brightness of projectors under $500 is usually comparable to those of more expensive models. Light sources aren’t expensive. Contrast is a different story. It’s determined by the image chip, which is a big cost factor.
A contrast ratio of 2,000:1 is pretty good for a projector priced under $500.
Less expensive projectors are often made for the purpose of smaller rooms. That means that they sometimes have a shorter throw distance, but not always.
Just check the specs. Measure the distance from the surface you’re going to project onto to the place you want to put the projector. Then make sure the throw distance of the model you’re considering covers that.
There are some extra considerations for projectors that will be used for playing games. Follow the same rules for home projectors in regard to contrast, brightness, and other picture factors.
But you need to pay attention to lag. Lag is the amount of time it takes for the frame to appear as an image after being received by the projector. It’s measured in milliseconds or ms.
Anything under 45 is good for gaming, but lower is better. We’ve reviewed the two projectors above with lags of 16ms, and they would be great for gaming. Check them out.
Here are the questions that people who are looking for the best digital projector under $500 ask the most.
How can they afford to sell projectors so cheap?
Manufacturers use cheaper image processing components to save on costs, and then pass those savings along to the consumer. That’s why projectors under $500 usually have a contrast ratio of under 3,000:1 and a native resolution of 720p and below.
In order to save a bunch of money, like a thousand dollars, you have to sacrifice some image quality.
How hard is it to set a portable projector up?
Many people who want a cheap projector are looking for a portable one. It may seem intimidating to have to set it up every time you want to use it.
All projectors can be set on a table. That’s probably what you’ll want home theater to do if you’re giving a presentation or playing a game at a friend’s house.
Keystone correction is useful in these scenarios. That’s a feature that basically allows you to move the lens up, down, or side to side to compensate for an uneven surface, like a table.
If the lens isn’t perpendicular, the image will not be a perfect square or rectangle.
What kind of inputs do affordable projectors usually have?
Almost all projectors have at least one HDMI port. That covers almost any device or console you’d want to connect to it. Even phones can connect to an HDMI port.
You just need an adaptor. Some cheap projectors also have VGA hookups, which is a common means of connecting to a PC or laptop.
USBs are pretty common connections on affordable projectors, but sometimes they’re just for supplying power to devices that are connected to them through another port. Check and see if the USB is a power port or a data port.
The ANKER Nebula projector is the best projector for under 500$. It offers a superior picture in actual 1080p resolution, which is rare in affordable projectors. If you need a projector with a throw of 15 feet or less, check out Epson’s VS250. It will give you a great picture of smaller rooms.
You gamers out there will love the bright colors and incredible lag of 16ms that Optima’s HD243X will put on your wall. You want the best movie projector for under $500. It doesn’t seem to be an impossible dream anymore, does it? You know what you’re doing now. You know what to look for and what to avoid. You’ve seen the twelve best.
Every day you spend without a projector from this day forward is just a waste of time. There are some really good deals out there. Why wait any longer? You deserve it. Use what you’ve learned here and make your choice today