We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Projectors Reviews
15,512 Reviews

BenQ MS517 review

£285 inc VAT

Manufacturer: BenQ

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The BenQ MS517 is a budget low-resolution DLP projector for schools and education.

With its classroom-friendly features and pricing, the BenQ MS517 directly targets the educational sector. At only £283, you're not going to be getting high quality here, but the projector should offer just enough for basic classroom use.

See: more projector reviews.

A manufacturer's brightness rating of 2800 ANSI lumens is very high and in practise it was bright enough to allow the BenQ MS517 to project happily even in broad daylight. The biggest issue though will be the limited pixel resolution. The BenQ MS517 only reaches SVGA, which is just 800 x 600 pixels.

Even ignoring the trend for HD models, not every school will deem this to be enough – especially as most computer software demands at least 1024 x 768 pixel in order to operate correctly.

Should you need a higher resolution, the BenQ MW519 offers 1280 x 720 pixels for around £90 more.

You even have the option of adding 3D to this projector, although the limited resolution and need to buy a pair of glasses for every viewer may leave this feature as little more than tick on the specs list.

No dullard to look at, the BenQ MS517's swish and glossy black casing should catch the eye of even the most particular of pupils. We also like the clear menu system, and the clean control panel with its bold subtitles – it's very easy to see which ports and connectors are which.

You get the usual array of pre-digital connections, namely VGA, composite, S-Video and analogue audio, along with HDMI. It also has a pair of speakers although they lack clarity. If you're wanting to hear audio then you'll certainly want to tack on a better set.

The BenQ MS517 won't create a particularly large picture, but you can beam a 50in image from around two metres away. In a classroom, huge size may not be so necessary, and this could be more than sufficient.

Keystone can be corrected vertically. You don't get any of the sophisticated aids supplied with the likes of the Epson EB-1945W. But then, the BenQ MS517 is less than a quarter of the price.

The BenQ MS517 projector does have some nice educational-themed features. The screen can quickly be blanked when the image is no longer needed, while a series of teaching templates allow you to display a number of designs, from manuscript paper to charts.

In truth, we suspect that most teachers will already have software that allows them to display such designs if needed, but it's still a nice addition that could help in the odd case.

A 13,000:1 contrast ratio is touted, although the results fall far short of such a claim.

Given the price tag and resolution, the BenQ MS517 was never likely to offer a polished colour palette either. The results are not displeasing, but the palette definitely lacks depth and accuracy, with a slightly yellow tinge present throughout.

We can also see problems for classrooms with the dreaded rainbow effect, and the MS517 seemed more prone to this than many others we've tested recently.

Few of us are particularly sensitive to this strange phenomenon, induced by DLP technology's spinning colour whee. With a full classroom, there's more chance that at least one or two pupils will be particularly afflicted, and will have their viewing disrupted by multi-coloured artefacts randomly flying out at them.

With that in mind, you probably won't be wanting to use this projector for showing many black-and-white clips, which exacerbate the problem.

BenQ MS517 Expert Verdict »
BENQ MS517 Scores 8.8 out of 10 based on 13 reviews
DLP video projector
800 x 600 pixel
4:3 aspect ratio
2800 ANSI lumens
‘13,000:1 contrast ratio’
32dB (30dB eco) noise output
HDMI, VGA, USB
composite video
audio in/out
S-Video
37-300in recommended display size
1.2–12.6 m throw distance (wide)
190W lamp
4500 hours lamp lift (normal), 6500 hours (eco)
speakers with 2W amp
303 x 222 x 112 mm
2.3 kg
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 6 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 7 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

The colour palette isn't accurate, and the native pixel count is too low for much computer-based use. But the attractively styled BenQ can handle light-filled rooms, and generally does a proficient job of projecting images.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£295
  • BenQ V920 review

    BenQ V920

    The BenQ V920 is a budget 18.5in monitor with a thin 14mm-thick panel.

  • BenQ FP241WZ 24in HD flat-panel monitor

    BenQ FP241WZ 24in HD flat-panel monitor

    In the era of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, the BenQ FP241WZ has the feature set and price tag to make it the screen of the moment. Read PC Advisor's review of the BenQ FP241WZ to find out why.

  • BenQ M2200HD review

    BenQ M2200HD

    The BenQ is a 21.5in flatpanel monitor that stands out with its gleaming white livery.

  • BenQ W1070 review - a low-cost projector that can play high-quality HD and 3D films

    BenQ W1070 - a low-cost projector that can play high-quality HD and 3D films

    A low-priced model capable of high-quality 1080p HD film playback, the BenQ W1070 projector can be a useful living-room addition. Here's our BenQ W1070 review.

  • BenQ W6000 review

    BenQ W6000

    The BenQ W6000 is a high-end home theatre projector with a 2500 ANSI lumen rating and a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.


IDG UK Sites

3 of the best portable chargers: a solar power charger, a hand-cranked charger, and how to charge...

IDG UK Sites

iOS 8 review: Hands on with the iOS 8 beta

IDG UK Sites

Thinking robots: The philosophy of artificial intelligence and evolving technology

IDG UK Sites

Sharknado 2 VFX: how The Asylum created CG flying man-eating sharks