The next great peripherals war is being waged over your ears. After every company on the planet put out a gaming mouse and then a mechanical keyboard, they turned their attention to headsets. So many headsets.
We know you don’t want to scroll through every single headset review when all you want is a simple answer: “What’s the best gaming headset I can buy with my hard-earned dollars?” This page holds the answers you seek, no matter what your budget is.
We’ll keep updating our recommendations as we look at new products and find stronger contenders.
Updated April 18, 2018: Corsair updated its Void Pro Wireless headset, and guess what? It still stands as the best low-end wireless gaming headset. See how this $100 headset has improved. In a similar changing of the guard, SteelSeries’ Arctic Pro Wireless supplants its Siberia 800 predecessor as one of our picks for best extravagant wireless gaming headset.
Best all-around gaming headset
After three years, we’re finally changing it up. Sort of. Since 2014, our official gaming headset recommendation has been Kingston’s HyperX Cloud—the original, no surname, just Cloud. “It’s comfortable, it sounds great, and best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive,” as I wrote of its virtues.
And that still holds true. The original HyperX Cloud remains a phenomenal headset, and almost always on sale for $70-80. I highly recommend it.
HyperX finally outdid itself, though, with 2017’s HyperX Cloud Alpha, or “HyperX Cloud III,” as I’ve termed it in my head. That’s why I say we’re “sort of” shaking things up—the Alpha is, in many ways, just an upgrade to the original Cloud.
The core design hasn’t changed much, meaning the Alpha brings the same combination of durability and comfort that made me fall in love with its predecessor. There are some quality-of-life upgrades though, like removable cabling and more accessible volume and mute controls.
It sounds great, too. HyperX chalks it up to the Alpha’s dual-chamber technology, which separates bass frequencies from the mids and highs. That could be the case, or it could be a gimmick—I’ve discussed it at greater length in our review. Either way, the upshot is that the Cloud Alpha sounds as good or better than plenty of its more expensive competition, and with slightly more bass kick this time around. (Read our full review.)
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is a great headset. If its entry on the scene feels a bit less noteworthy in 2017, it’s only because three years on from the Cloud, HyperX is an established player instead of an underdog—and yet other companies still struggle to match the Clouds’ quality at the Clouds’ price. We’ll see what 2018 holds.
Best budget gaming headset
Surprisingly, the one company competing with HyperX right now in the low-end space is...Astro. Ironic, since as headset prices spiraled downwards the last few years, Astro stood strong at the top—its cheap headset, the A40, was still $150 at the low end, while its high-end wireless A50 (our pick for extravagance) came in at $300.
But for 2017 Astro unveiled the new A10, its entry-level headset. Very entry-level, with a list price of $60. That’s slightly more than our previous recommendation, the HyperX
Cloud Stinger—still a great headset too. I think $10 more for the Astro A10 is a bargain though.
There were compromises to hit that price, for sure. The A10 lifts some design inspiration from its more expensive siblings, but it’s a bit boxier, with a drab gray chassis and minimal decoration. It’s also 100 percent plastic, which doesn’t help dispel the cheap feeling.
The A10 has it where it counts though, which is to say it sounds great. We’re talking “great for a $60 headset,” of course, but still. The A10 delivers clean mids and a rich bass that comes close to mimicking the sound of Astro’s more expensive headsets and only falters in the details. Details, I might add, that most listeners probably wouldn’t even notice day-to-day. (Read our full review.)
It’s an excellent entry-level headset, and deserves your consideration—provided you can look past its bland exterior.
Best low-end wireless gaming headset
Corsair’s carved out a pretty healthy niche for itself at the low end of the wireless market. The new Corsair Void Pro Wireless carries the same $99 price tag as its predecessors, which even by today’s standards is an incredible bargain—about $50 cheaper than any of the competition.
And it’s a pretty decent headset. The Void Pro Wireless takes getting used to, with diamond-shaped earcups and a headband that slants toward the front of the head. It’s an aggressive design, but it’s more comfortable than it looks—almost too comfortable, maintaining such light pressure on the head that it’s prone to slipping around. Not ideal.
Still, I’d rather a headset that’s too loose than one that puts my head in a vice grip, and aside from that minor issue the Void Pro Wireless design is solid. Oversized controls for volume, power, and mic mute are easy to find in a moment’s notice, and Corsair’s RGB lighting is top-notch (though you’ll gain four hours of battery by disabling it).
Audio is the Void Pro Wireless’s only weak spot, which you could argue is not a great weak spot for a headset to have. Playback is very bright, with a small-sounding and treble-heavy mix that’s tiring to listen to long-term. You can’t do much about the first, but spending some time with an EQ can mitigate the latter—I recommend adding a touch of bass and bringing down the high end a bit.
At least Corsair improved the microphone. That used to be this headset’s weak point, but the Void Pro Wireless’s new mic is finally on-par with the competition, picking up less background noise and reproducing voices with more clarity.
Listen, I’m not going to say the Void Pro Wireless is a fantastic headset. It’s not. But it’s good enough for most people, and for $99 and wireless? That’s really all you can ask for. (Read the full review.)
Best mid-range wireless gaming headset
It’s a tough call replacing our former mid-tier wireless pick, the Logitech G933, with its sibling-successor the Logitech G533. Like, really tough. The G933 is an excellent headset, with crisp and well-balanced audio and a few nifty design features (like being able to store the USB dongle inside an earcup).
In some ways, I’d say the G933 is a better headset than the G533.
But I’m still replacing it. Why? Well, aesthetics are a huge reason. If you want an indication how Logitech’s design language has shifted in the past year or so, look no further than the G933 and G533. The G933 was all sharp angles and science fiction. The G533 on the other hand is sleek, professional, restrained. With a piano-black finish and soft curves, it looks like a headset made by Audio-Technica or Sennheiser or a more mainstream audio company—not necessarily a “gaming” headset. I like it.
The G533’s design is also functional. The microphone isn’t as hidden as I’d like, but that’s the sole flaw. The headset is lightweight, durable, and less vise-grip tight than its predecessor.
As for audio fidelity? It’s not quite equal to the G933, but the differences are minimal. The G533 lacks a bit of oomph, especially at lower volumes, and its 7.1 support is subpar. Those are hardly reasons to stay away, though—most people will run the headset loud enough to counteract the headset’s lack of presence, and virtual 7.1 is (in my opinion) pretty much always bad. The G533 is worse than the average, but the average is still something I choose to avoid day-to-day.
In any case, the G933 is still being sold and is a perfectly good choice for some, especially if you want console support. The G533 is PC-only, while the G933 can be attached by 3.5mm cable to other devices. And if you value comfort over audio fidelity, take a look at the SteelSeries Arctis 7 too—another great choice.
The G533 is our official mid-tier wireless recommendation though, for the time being (read our full review).
Best extravagant gaming headset
Two gladiators, locked in eternal combat. That’s been the case with Astro and SteelSeries, both of which have iterated on their $300 headsets over the years—but never with any clear winner. In 2018, the two are once again battling it out, this time the established Astro A50 versus the new-and-improved SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless.
Okay, so Astro: The A50’s a few years old now, but still an excellent wireless headset. Astro’s biggest improvement with the latest refresh was the battery, overcoming a long-running weak spot and packing 12 to 15 hours of life—enough to get you through even a long day of gaming. Better yet, it features gyroscopes in the ears that detect whether you’ve set it down. It automatically shuts off 10 seconds later if so, and then seamlessly powers back on and connects to your PC when you pick it back up. Its base station also serves as a charger, a nice mix of function and beauty.
What keeps it from being the stand-out winner are several annoyances. For starters, the A50 uses the 5GHz band, which means the range isn’t great. Even sitting at my computer, I occasionally noticed interference. A built-in battery also means that if you do forget to charge it, you’re stuck attaching it to your PC with a MicroUSB cable while you play. And the audio, while quite good and superior to the Arctis Pro Wireless, still is easily outdone by $300 headphones. (Read our full review.)
And yes, SteelSeries maintains a place on the list, with the new Arctis Pro Wireless bumping its predecessor, the Siberia 800. Though the Astro A50 sounds better, this headset’s been a favorite of mine for a while—mostly because of its battery system. Rather than charging the battery in the headset, the Arctis Pro Wireless instead allows you to swap between two removable packs. One can power the headset for up to 12 hours while the other charges in the side of the base station. There’s literally no way you can run out of battery in the middle of gaming.
The base station is also functional, allowing you to adjust EQ, chat mix, and other audio tweaks on the fly with a simple OLED display. No software’s needed. SteelSeries has closed the gap on audio fidelity too, and while Astro still has an edge, the Arctis Pro Wireless sounds much better than its Siberia 800 predecessor.
And SteelSeries leaps ahead in comfort. The Sibera 800 was a pretty bare-bones headset design. The Arctis Pro Wireless finally adopts the floating headband style SteelSeries is known for, with a comfy ski-goggle strap and generous ear padding that make it a great fit for all-day wear. The A50 is comfortable too in its own way, but the Arctis design might be one of the all-time best headset designs. (Read the full review.)
Overall, the A50 leads in sound quality, while the Siberia 800 gets the edge in ease-of-use and comfort, plus the aforementioned charging method. With more and more excellent headsets in the $150 range, it’s hard to justify spending twice as much on either of these—they’re definitely not twice as good. But either way, the battle over this top spot continues on into the future.
How we tested
We test headsets over the course of a few weeks, and sometimes longer. Much longer, in some cases—I’ve been using a pair of Astro A50s as daily drivers for years now, and stand by their quality and durability. Our rankings are based on the following criteria:
Design/comfort: Obviously you want a headset that fits well without snapping in half the first time you put it on. Headsets are tested with our vigorous and ultra-scientific “I bent it a lot and saw if it seemed durable” method, as well as against the internationally recognized “I wore this for eight hours and it didn’t give me a headache or make my ears feel like sandpaper” baseline.
Sound: There will always be the people who say, “Why buy a gaming headset when you can buy a decent pair of headphones and a standalone microphone?” And those people are right, but they’re sort of missing the point. There’s something to be said about a product that performs just as well when watching movies/listening to music as it does while playing games. After all, I assume most people want one pair of headphones for their PC, not multiple pairs for different tasks.
With that in mind, we test headsets at PCWorld in various games (Battlefield 4, Rainbow Six Siege) but also listening to music and watching videos, to make sure you’re getting a decent all-around experience. These aren’t necessarily studio-quality headphones, but that doesn’t mean it should sound like all-bass-all-the-time.
Price: How much are you willing to spend on a gaming headset? That’s a purely subjective question, but it’s something we try to keep in mind. Our best all-around option is a bargain at $80, but if you want to throw $300 at Astro for a pair of A50s we’re not going to stop you.
All of our headset reviews
Want to see what else we’ve reviewed? We’ll keep updating this on a regular basis, so be sure to come back to see new products that we’ve put through their paces.