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The best gaming headsets – PC Gamer

As streaming and squad-based multiplayer games like Fortnite have risen to the fore, a good quality headset with precise audio and a noise-cancelling mic have become borderline essential tools for PC gaming. That means features that would have occupied the high end of the market five years ago (and taken a chunk out of your bank account) are now de rigeur: 7.1 virtual surround, RGB lighting, detachable mics and carry-cases are all found in budget models now. 

Which one is right for you? We’ve picked what we consider the all-around best gaming headset based on price, performance, and features below. But we’ve also highlighted models for those shopping for a budget gaming headset, or who require something specific like a wireless setup. 

The good news is that the overall standard of gaming headsets is at an all-time high. If you stick with renowned peripheral manufacturers like Kingston, Corsair, Asus, Sennheiser, Logitech, Steelseries and Creative, you’ll be in safe hands. With that said, based on our extensive testing, here are the best gaming headsets.

Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha

The all-around best gaming headset

Wireless: No | Drivers: 50mm dual chamber neodymium | Connectivity: 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 13Hz-27,000Hz | Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic, in-line cable controls

Powerful but clear sound

Bombproof build quality

No detachable cable

Flimsy inline controls

Bearing the fruits of HyperX Cloud’s long legacy of excellence, the newest Cloud Alpha presents excellent sound and build quality with the essential features done well, and no feature-flab inflating the price. The stereo soundscape in this closed-back design is punchier in the low end than we’d usually go for, but the extra bass doesn’t interfere with overall clarity—and frankly, in games and music environments, it sounds great. Each 50mm driver’s dual chamber design is intended to give low, medium and high frequencies space to resonate without interfering with each other, and you do get a sense of that while listening to them. 

Elsewhere it’s the usual impressive build quality, generous padding, clear mic and high comfort levels over longer play sessions that the Cloud design has always offered. The inline controls are the only exception to that rule—they feel flimsy by comparison to the rest of the package.

Steelseries Arctis 7

The best wireless gaming headset

Wireless: Yes | Drivers: 40mm neodymium drivers | Connectivity: Wireless via USB, 3.5mm wired | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Features: Retractable noise cancelling mic, DTS Headphone:X, 7.1 surround

Great battery life

Comfortable ‘ski goggle’ headband

Headband can slacken over time

Average mic

What we like best about the Arctis 7 is that you can easily forget it’s a wireless model while you’re using it. There’s none of the muddiness or audio artifacts that have historically ruined the party for wireless headsets—it sounds just as good as the best wired models we’ve tested at this same $150 price range. The extraordinary battery life clocks in at over 20 hours out of the box, and after almost a year of heavy use that figure’s hardly dropped off. You can keep playing while you charge, too, simply by connecting the headset to your PC with a USB cable.

The Arctis range’s distinctive ski goggle headband is really effective at keeping the weight of the headset away from your head, and even after playing for hours we’ve never felt it digging in. After a year of daily usage, the headband does slacken which makes for a looser and slightly less comfortable fit, but the bands themselves are replaceable and sold for under $15 on the Steelseries online store. A functional but slightly quiet and muffled mic is the only chink in its otherwise formidable armor.

Steelseries Arctis Pro + GameDAC

The high-end gaming headset that does it all

Wireless: No | Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB, optical, 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 10Hz-40,000Hz | Features: Retractable noise-cancelling mic, DTS Headphone:X 2.0, RGB

Tasteful RGB lighting

Handy GAmeDAC controls

Cables feel fragile

Slightly overpriced

High-res audio is on the up thanks to lossless streaming from Tidal et al, and games such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus offering full support. The Arctis Pro GameDAC makes full use of that crystalline high-res sound with a 5Hz-40KHz frequency response range—a spec that also makes the drivers sound great for everyday compressed audio usage. 

The GameDAC itself is a combination of a digital-to-analog converter that takes the strain away from your CPU, a preamp, and a control center. With a press of its button and a roll of the dial, DTS Headphone-X surround can be enabled or disabled, chat/game mix tweaked, and EQ settings perfected. The subtle ring around each earcup on these cans ticks the RGB box without ruining the overall aesthetic. Our only reservations with the GameDAC model are that it requires an adapter for smartphone usage, and that its cables feel cheaper than a $250 headset should.

Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless

A high-end wireless headset for PC, PS4, and smartphone

Wireless: Yes | Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB wireless, optical, 3.5mm analog, Bluetooth | Frequency response: 10Hz-40,000Hz | Features: Retractable noise-cancelling mic, interchangeable rechargeable batteries w/ base station, DTS Headphone:X 2.0

Control everything on one box

Smart battery switching design

Menus sometimes confusing

Expensive

Essentially this is a fusion of two great Steelseries models, old and new: the wireless capability and digital control box of the old 800 model, combined with the comfort and sound performance of the Arctis range. Positioned right at the top end of the roster, this Arctis Pro is all about luxury.

As with the 800, we love the ability to change batteries quickly, plugging the depleted one into the base station to charge, and popping the charged one out so that you never need to stop gaming or plug the headset in. We love the controls housed in that base station’s digital display too: chat mix, virtual surround, EQ presets and more can all be adjusted with a few taps. The icing on the cake is Bluetooth functionality: it teams up with the 2.4G wireless connectivity for lossless sound, and means you can use it with mobile devices in addition to your PC. 

Logitech G Pro

A great gaming headset for esports

Wireless: No | Drivers: “Hybrid mesh Pro-G” neodymium | Connectivity: 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Features: Detachable mic

Clean, no-fuss design

Breathable, comfy earcups

A bit bass-heavy

Basic build materials

Logitech designed these cans with the help of esports athletes with a view to stripping away all the fat that’s usually found in gaming headsets, leaving a lean package of high-performance essentials. Generally the G Pro achieves that: there’s not a flame decal or RBG lighting strip in sight, and that functional aesthetic is matched by a barebones feature set.

So barebones, in fact, that it might take some by surprise: there’s no virtual surround, and only a mic mute and volume scroll wheel by way of controls. We like the overall sound produced by the drivers, even if it’s a bit more pronounced towards the low end than we’d normally choose. If you can live with that, though, you get an otherwise attractive package with no unnecessary flab for under $100. 

Corsair HS50

The best budget gaming headset

Wireless: No | Drivers: 50mm neodymium | Connectivity: 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic

Impressive construction quality

Great sterero spread

Cloud Alpha sounds better

Stingy headband padding

How we test headsets

We recently put more than 60 different headset units through a $50,000 testing setup to produce empirical data we could use to quantify our picks. We’ll endeavor to make use of that HATS setup again in future, but we haven’t given up on good old-fashioned testing by ear. 

Each headset that we test we use daily for at least a week. We record a sample of our voice in Audacity and compare it to previous recordings from other models, then head to Discord to get some feedback from our friends on how we’re sounding. 

During that week, we aim to test each headset in a number of different game genres—shooters, battle royales, and racing games make for particularly good testing scenarios, since the former tends to test the low-end and reveal muddiness and distortion, while PUBG et al are great for positional audio tracking. Finally, good racing sims feature a very particular mix designed to help you hear brake lock-up and tyres losing traction. It’s often in Project CARS 2 where great headsets are separated from merely good. 

It’s not just about gaming, though: we wear the headsets while we work, listen to music, watch distracting YouTube videos people send us, and everything else that crops up while we’re at our desk. Finally, we compare a few lossless music tracks by listening through our BeyerDynamic DT770s and then the test sample. The 770s have a really flat EQ that makes them great for music production and critical listening applications—hearing another headset immediately after them really brings EQ peaks and dips into focus. 


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