The best gaming headsets can bring the boom, and make all the difference to your immersion gaming experience. It can be the deciding factor in crucial life-or-death situations in game, and can provide outstanding levels of comfort for that marathon gaming session you’re planning.
No matter what kind of gaming setup you have, what gaming headset features you need or how much money you want to spend, you’ll find the perfect pair in our guide. From budget gaming headphones to premium, we’ve got top choices right here.
Of course, there are a lot of peripherals out there, and not every one makes the cut. The ones that make our best gaming headsets list all offer good sound and a comfy fits, but they also tend to go a step beyond their competitors. Sometimes, they do that by offering the basics without charging too much money; other times, they offer a premium experience for a premium price. There’s something here to suit every play style and budget.
Underneath our list of top gaming headsets, we’ve also included some useful advice on what to look for if you’re shopping for a new gaming headset, wireless or otherwise, as well as information on who we consider to be the best gaming headset makers. And, lastly, there’s a gaming headset jargon buster, too, so be sure to consult it if you feel lost in a specs list.
Wired vs. Wireless Gaming Headsets
Headsets can be either wired or wireless, with wireless models generally costing more. More important is that each gaming headset supports different system, handheld, and computer connections. For the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, most mobile devices, and some computers, you can use Bluetooth for a wireless headset (the original Xbox One lacks Bluetooth support). Other systems require a different wireless connection, often with a separate base plugged into your console or computer.
Bluetooth has made great strides in the last few years, but proprietary wireless connections generally offer better audio quality and a stronger signal. Proprietary wireless connections are typically designed for only one console, or one console and a PC; you’ll have to choose between Xbox One and PS4 for most wireless gaming headsets.
5 Best Gaming Headsets of 2021:
The new Razer BlackShark V2 is being billed as the “the definitive esports gaming headset”, but for those of us not affiliated with any 1337-named esports team there’s another way to look at these new Razer cans: the gaming headset to dethrone the HyperX Cloud Alpha.
Yes, it really is that good. From the audio response, comfort, design, and software, the BlackShark V2 is absolutely one of the best gaming headsets available right now, and potentially the best. The fact Razer has kept the price down to a vaguely affordable $100 means it goes head-to-head with the classic HyperX headset, and for my money it’s got it beat.
The original BlackShark was introduced in 2012, with a more industrial design than most and a wireframe microphone to boot. It was immensely popular with the esports community for its audio quality, comfort, and mic clarity, and those are the key pillars that Razer has built the BlackShark V2 on this year.
But this is an all-new headset, not just some iterative update. There’s a new design and this is the first time we’ve seen Razer’s TriForce Titanium 50mm drivers in a set of cans too. The comparison with the Cloud Alpha works here too, as the tuned ports of the new TriForce drivers operate in a not-dissimilar way to the HyperX design. The discrete ports keep the bass, mid, and treble separated to keep the different tones from interfering with each other, much like the dual-chamber layout of the competition.
- Restrained styling
- Great audio
- Can’t wait for the wireless version
The SteelSeries Arctis 7P/7X is very nearly the perfect gaming headset. On the one hand, that’s not shocking, considering that its predecessor, the SteelSeries Arctis 7, was already well on its way there. But in the three years since the Arctis 7 came out, SteelSeries zeroed in on the headset’s few lingering issues, eradicated them, and added a few helpful enhancements along the way.
The end result is a $150 headset that’s ready for both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as any other system you own — PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, phone or tablet. With excellent wireless connectivity, a comfortable fit, long battery life and solid audio quality, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P/7X has absolutely everything a gaming headset needs to succeed, with no wasted features or confusing controls.
There are a few quibbles that keep the Arctis 7P/7X from absolute perfection. Three years later, the music quality is still underwhelming, something that other gaming headsets have rectified in the meantime. The 7P feels underfeatured, compared to the 7X, despite costing the same amount of money.
But otherwise, the Arctis 7P/7X is one of the very best gaming headsets I’ve ever reviewed, and the sooner you can pick one up, the readier you’ll be for the next console generation. Read on for our full SteelSeries Arctis 7P/7X review.
- Works with just about every system
- Great gaming sound
- Comfortable fit
- Long battery life
- Music quality could be better
- 7P model is less versatile than 7X
The Corsair HS60 Haptic is easily the best gaming headset we’ve seen in a long time. While not without its faults, those faults are largely cosmetic or a matter of taste rather than any particular technical failing.
While it isn’t a wireless headset, anyone who has ever used one can tell you that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s no interference or battery life issues to worry about.
What’s more, the haptic feedback on a gaming headset sounds like a total gimmick, but we can assure you, it’s actually not. Listening to the Interstellar soundtrack through the HS60 Haptic with the haptic intensity pushed up to full can only be described as an experience.
For gaming and communicating with teammates, the sound is sharp and clear in both directions, and the haptic feedback adds a surprising level of immersion while playing Call of Duty: Warzone and other intense titles.
All that said, the arctic camo look might be off-putting to many – but, to be fair, might just be the kind of aesthetic some gamers are really looking for – and the microphone is detachable, so you can lose it if you’re the kind of user who loses anything not tethered to the wall.
- Excellent sound
- Haptic feedback is like wrapping your head with a subwoofer
- Excellent noise-cancelling microphone
- In theory, you can lose the detachable mic
- Some might prefer a wireless headset
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is the best gaming headset for most gamers, offering nearly perfect sound quality. Noise reproduction with these cans sounds natural, with the drivers avoiding flaws like overly aggressive bass or highs. It’s not revolutionary headset, but it’s a fantastic value, especially if you can find it for under $100.
In terms of long-term wearability, the headset earns its Cloud branding with a light, comfy fit built with quality materials. This includes thick memory foam padding on the headband and earcups and HyperX’s decision to opt for aluminum over plastic in some important areas. The overall look and feel is one of quality.
If you like the Cloud Alpha’s design but want something with some more features, there’s also the HyperX Cloud Alpha S. It’s basically the same headset but with 7.1 virtual surround sound, an inline controller and bass sliders on each ear cup. The black-and-blue or all-black color options (instead of the Cloud Alpha’s black and gold or black and red) add more options too.
- Excellent all-around sound
- All-day comfort
- Finicky mic positioning
- Cable may be too long
Outfitted with ASTRO Audio V2, you can rest assured that you will hear every sound – be it music, movies or in-game dialogues with utmost clarity. Furthermore, the connection here is completely wireless so users get to enjoy the convenience and freedom that cannot be expected from wired headsets.
Though it’s incredibly aesthetically pleasing, this luxury headset is more than just a pretty face. It is equipped with a free ASTRO command center software that gives you complete control over your virtual environment. This is in terms of audio settings and voice communication balance and it also comes enabled with USB sound card functionality when using your computer in order to further balance the game and voice streaming.
Even better is the fact that there’s no need for optical cables. Additionally, the headset comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can last for more than 15 hours at a stretch when fully charged. It is further engineered this way to make the charging process, as well as headset pairing simple. Its boom microphone also provides super-clear, low-latency voice communication that ensures even a whisper is clearly heard on the other end. Though it does a pretty good job on its own, this product can be bought with an optional modification kit (for even more flexibility and customization).
It even includes replacement synthetic leather ear cushions and headbands which makes for better noise isolation. Please note that the mod kit is only compatible with the Gen 4 version of the A50 Wireless Headset.
- Rechargeable battery that can last 15+ hrs
- Equipped with Dolby Audio and ASTRO Audio V2
- In-built mix amp and Mod kit ready
- Works with Playstation 4 and PC
- Weak Bass
Quick Gaming Headsets Shopping Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for the best gaming headset for you:
- Wired or wireless? Wired headsets generally cost less and don’t need to be charged. Therefore, if you typically game at your desk, you may want to stick to wired options to keep things cheaper and simpler.
- Headbands and earcups. Comfort is more subjective than measuring audio output and input, but generally speaking you should be wary of plush gaming headsets with thick bulges, cheap foam and cloth covers. When we’ve tested these types of headsets ,we’ve often found disappointing acoustic performance.
- Audio and mic quality. These are very important if you want the best gaming headset, but impossible to evaluate on the one or two floor models. We focus on these aspects in detail in our reviews.
- A key Bluetooth spec: aptX. If you do go wireless and opt for Bluetooth (no USB dongle needed), look for headsets that support Qualcomm’s aptX tech, a compression tech (codec) that’s been leveraged for decades in TV and movie voice-work, movie theater audio and thousands of radio stations.
How we tested
We started by trying on each of the many, many headsets to rule out those that squeezed too hard, had uncomfortable headbands, had itchy or creaky earpads, or felt uncomfortable with glasses. Any headsets we were uncertain about I forced my very patient partner (whose head is larger than mine) to evaluate.
For every headset that passed the initial comfort test, we tested audio quality by listening to a playlist of songs and other clips selected to evaluate detail, bass, soundstage, and sonically dense material. We eliminated headsets that sounded too inaccurate or unpleasant.
Then, we got to playing games on our budget gaming laptop pick. Sound and microphone quality can be affected by your PC’s motherboard or sound card—or by the sound-processing software that manufacturers install on their laptops, which we turned off. We didn’t use any external DAC or amplifier, unless it came in the box with the headset, because most people don’t have external audio gear for their gaming laptops.