DLP vs. 3LCD Projectors

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Updated December 1, 2022

When buying a projector, you may have to choose between several production processes, including lamp-based projectors, LED, DLP, and 3LCD digital projectors. Two of the more common choices can be difficult to choose between if you don’t know how they work. To start, we will cover DLP vs. 3LCD projectors and what advantages a projector vs a TV has. The best projectors should have many advantages and few disadvantages.


  • DLP projectors use many microscopic mirrors to create images for each primary color that our brains combine into one image.
  • You will find that projectors that use three separate displays to create a combined image with red, green, and blue colors are referred to as 3LCD or LCD projectors.
  • If you are looking for a bright projector with little noise and vibrant colors, a 3LCD Projector may be right for you.

3LCD vs. DLP Projection

While searching for the top Epson projectors, you may encounter the terms 3LCD and DLP or DLP vs LED when referring to projectors. Each type of projector provides good image quality with sharp images, though the color performance varies between the two. Keep reading to find out more about the difference between the two. Additionally, if you are looking into ambient-light-based display technology, you may want to check out our article on an outdoor tv vs. a projector.

Insider Tip

3LCD projectors include three separate display panels that combine to produce vibrant, accurate colors and darker blacks.

The DLP Projection Process

Digital light processing (DLP) projectors produce images with digital micromirror devices (DMDs,) a semiconductor chip with microscopically small mirrors. The colors come from either individually colored light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for each primary color (red, green, and blue) or white light passing through a physical color wheel. The colored light reflects off the angled reflective surface of the mirrors on the DMD chip through the best Acer projector lens in single-chip DLP projectors. This process happens for each primary color for each video frame. DLP projectors use lamps, LEDs, or laser light.

The 3LCD Projection Process

A 3LCD projector has three transparent liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, each with a primary color. These displays create a portion of the image for their respective primary color, and they combine when the projector’s light passes through to the lens. This process creates the image shown on the projection screen. By doing so, the projector creates the image at one time instead of being separated into three stages per frame. LCD projectors and 3LCD. However, 3LCD projectors have better color accuracy and black levels initially. As time passes, the colors fade, and you may see a tint to the videos or pictures shown.

  • Color breaking: The slight misalignment of primary colors at the edge of the image enables additional color to be noticeable at close distances on DLP models. 3LCD models offer better color accuracy and representation, with their three-panel displays eliminating this color breaking. However, you may notice more pixelation on 3LCD models.
  • Maintenance: DLP is not susceptible to dust and dirt intrusion as everything is contained within the projector itself. However, 3LCD requires constant airflow to cool the components, but particles may be brought in with the air. These particles make it so that LCD projectors need frequent maintenance to mitigate dust and dirt damage.
  • Noise level: DLP relies on a spinning color wheel that adjusts thousands of times per second to produce its images, making a substantial amount of noise. LCD makes less noise because there is no color wheel spinning within.


DLP may be noisier than LCD, but these devices provide consistent color performance and less maintenance.


What should you look for when choosing a projector?

You should look for a high-resolution projector with accurate colors and good upscaling to a larger screen size. In addition, you may want to consider how much ambient light your desired location will have and how bright the projector needs to be to combat it.

What does 3LCD mean on a projector?

3LCD projectors, also called LCD projectors, have three liquid crystal display panels that combine to create one image.

Is a laser projector better than DLP?

Not necessarily. Laser projectors offer bright, long-living projectors. On the other hand, DLP projectors offer consistent, long-term usage. Both types vary in results based on the model being used.

STAT: DLP technology is widely used in education, business, and home entertainment. It’s even the number one technology in cinema – used in 85% of all movie theaters. (source)

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