Purchasing a headset doesn't have to be an expensive investment, especially if you're not going to be streaming or doing any voice-over editing. When gaming teamwork demands you hop onto TeamSpeak or Discord, you need a headset. But getting one that sounds decent doesn't mean you'll have to break the bank on a premium offering.
There are various factors one should consider when looking at potential headset purchases. These include the likes of comfort, speaker and microphone quality, connection type, unique features and even aesthetic design. While generally speaking any headset in the sub ~$100 bracket won't be as good as a quality pair of Hi-Fi headphones, they'll still get the job done without taking you out of the game.
- HyperX Cloud II
- SteelSeries Siberia 200
- Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma
- Turtle Beach — Ear Force PX22
- Logitech G430
Depending on your PC specifications, you'll also need to decide whether or not you need a headset that sports a 3.5mm connector or one that runs through USB. Some headsets even have the capability to utilize both interfaces. For example, should you wish to take the headset with you on the road for music playback, you'll generally want to look at those with 3.5mm jacks.
We'll now run through some of our favorites in the segment.
HyperX Cloud II
The Cloud II is part of the incredibly popular family of HyperX headsets. This particular model creates virtual surround sound thanks to the USB connection and on-board sound card, which powers solid-sounding content through the 53mm drivers. Speaking of which, the memory foam ear pads make it possible to comfortably wear the headset for long gaming sessions. And you even get an extra set of ear pads included.
The microphone on the Cloud II supports noise cancellation, thanks again to the HyperX sound card that handles everything before shipping recorded sound to the PC. The mic also detaches from the headset should you want to go sans audio pickup, or be using standalone microphone.
The sound card unit and USB connector can be disconnected from the headset too, opening up the possibility to use a 3.5mm jack for media playback. The Cloud II also comes in a choice of colors. Red, pink, and gun metal will set you back $89.99, $84.99 and $99.99, respectively.
SteelSeries Siberia 200
The SteelSeries Siberia 200 is an headset delivers on performance. From the suspension-based headband to the padded ear cups and years worth of development, the Siberia series is a comfortable headset.
An issue regarding fit is experienced when wearing glasses, depending on the size and shape of your head. We found that the headset sat a little too tight for comfort when rocking a pair of Gunnars computer glasses. SteelSeries has packed in 50mm drivers for enhanced sound quality as well as a retractable microphone for convenient access so it's not left behind at a LAN event.
Voice controls are located on the cord, and you're able to download SteelSeries' own software to tweak and customize the headset to your liking. From $57.95, you really can't go wrong. Pricing depends on your color of choice.
Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma
The Razer Kraken is a workhorse of a headset. Competitively priced, there are a bunch of features available that make the price tag well worth the investment. Razer has added virtual surround with audio calibration for the Kraken 7.1 Chroma; the calibration allows you to use the Synapse suite to customize the audio for different software and games.
Many hold complaints about Razer headsets being too heavy on the bass, which I'd agree with. Luckily, you can customize just how much is being thrown to your ears for those times when you aren't blasting enemies or listening to trap music. When you have the sound just as you like you'll be able to game for hours with the Kraken aboard — they really do offer a comfortable experience with 40mm drivers for enjoyable playback.
Then there's the fully retractable digital microphone, and the choice of up to 16.8 million colors for lighting, if you're into that sort of thing. Better yet, the Kraken looks the part. The headset is USB, which means you'll not be able to take this out and plug it into your smartphone, but for gaming online with friends and clan mates, you'll be squared away for $79.99.
Turtle Beach — Ear Force PX22
The Ear Force PX22 from Turtle Beach is an affordable headset that offers 50mm drivers for playback that will make one smile when hitting the stars in No Man's Sky or taking on a heist in Grand Theft Auto Online with friends. There's no virtual surround and you'll not be able to reproduce audio at the same level of more expensive options, but for general use and gaming you'll be absolutely fine.
The in-line controller offers a bunch of options to personalize the audio experience, including volume manipulation for speakers and the microphone, bass and treble levels. If that wasn't enough, the Ear Force PX22 automatically adjusts the volume of voice input when speaking and increases chat volume during moments of high audio output.
Not bad at all for just $49.99. Black and white colors are available, though white will set you back an additional $5.
The G430 is an excellent headset for the price. Logitech has managed to pack in a bunch of features and you'll not be required to part with too much in order to strap it to your head. We've got Dolby 7.1 surround sound, comfortable ear cups for long gaming sessions that can even swivel up to 90 degrees for a more personalized fit.
A volume dial and mute switch are located on a control pod some way down the cable for convenient access. When you don't need to microphone for some duration, it's possible to fold back the noise-cancelling recorder to keep it out of the way. The 40mm drivers will be able to power not only explosions and immersive atmospheric ambience, but also your favorite Spotify playlist.
The G430 is one down from Logitech's G35 headset, but does offer both USB and 3.5mm options for various applications. If you really don't need the headphone jack connector, it may be worth considering the G35, which costs more but comes with programmable buttons. The Logitech G430 can be yours for $39.99.
What do you game with?
We've provided our short list of headsets we feel are worthy considerations in this segment, but we'd like to know what you happen to be using in the comments!