Best PC Gaming Headsets Windows Central 2020
Not every headset is the same. We've tested countless headsets and know what it takes to make the perfect PC headset for gaming. A good headset makes a huge difference. Choosing a high-quality headset will allow you to hear all sounds clearly in-game while having the ability to communicate with friends and clanmates using your favorite VoIP client. That's why we recommend the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC: you'll get all of that and more.
- Best Overall: SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
- Runner-up: HyperX Cloud Alpha
- Immersive Sound: Razer Nari Ultimate
- Awesome Value: SteelSeries Arctis 5
- Budget-friendly: Plugable Performance Onyx HS53
- Wireless Audio: HyperX Cloud Flight
Best Overall: SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
When looking for a good deal or bargain headset, this isn't going to be on your shortlist, but if you happen to have the budget and seek the best-sounding headset for gaming and more, look no further than the Arctis Pro by SteelSeries. The Arctis Pro isn't wireless so you will need to deal with cabling but because everything goes through the bundled amp unit, it sounds awesome. As highlighted in my review, you really do get what you pay for.
Not only do you have excellent sound quality with 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res certification, but also enhanced durability, supreme comfort, and a noise-canceling microphone. There's essentially everything a gamer requires from a headset for the latest titles, movies, and music.
Specifications of the version with the GameDAC:
- Driver — 50mm neodymium.
- Frequency response — 10Hz to 40KHz.
- Sound — DTS Headphone:X v2.0.
Whether you want to game on PC or console, you'll be able to take the Arctis Pro along for the ride, which makes it even more attractive to gamers who enjoy titles on more than one platform. You'll struggle to find a gaming headset that sounds better for the price.
- Sleek design
- Solid DAC
- Hi-Res audio
- Doesn't fold
- Not wireless
Amazing sound in a tight package
The Steelseries Arctis Pro + GameDAC isn't cheap but offers some incredible functionality. It's a quality Hi-Res certified headset for gamers.
Runner-up: HyperX Cloud Alpha
HyperX is widely renowned for high-quality headsets with solid audio that do exactly what they say on the tin. Great sound, great comfort, and great microphones typify the HyperX lineup, all at great prices. The Cloud Alpha is a little different from some of its similarly-priced brethren, rocking a dual chamber speaker design that adds a whole new dimension to sound I felt very familiar with.
There aren't any frills that go with this headset — no 7.1 surround sound, no mic monitoring, and no customization — but if you're looking for a headset that does the job, and does it extremely well, then look no further. With some of the most impressive audio at this price range I've ever heard, with HyperX's signature comfort and a stellar microphone, this is without a doubt one of the best $100 wired headsets on the market right now. If the price of the Arctis Pro series knocks you down, HyperX can easily pick you back up with the Cloud Alpha.
- Stunning sound reproduction
- Great microphone
- Signature HyperX comfort
- High-quality construction
- Basic feature set
Solid build quality with ace sound
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is an excellent gaming headset for PC gamers with a dual chamber driver design for optimal audio performance.
Immersive Sound: Razer Nari Ultimate
Razer is well-established in the PC accessories space, producing some of the best keyboards, mice, and more for gamers. With the latest line of Razer Nari headsets, its $200 flagship brings something fresh to the scene, with the ability to feel your game. While the Razer Nari Ultimate's haptic feedback isn't a gimmick, its implementation isn't for everyone in the high-end headset market. Like vibration in controllers, HyperSense is better excluded in competitive scenarios, likely hindering tense shooters and other high-stakes titles.
Furthermore, the haptics won't play perfectly with some titles out of the box, though tweaking various game settings often does the trick. Despite touting support for a wide variety of platforms, the best experience is limited to PC gamers. Between the lack of wireless beyond USB devices and Razer Synapse tuning, non-PC gamers can find better solutions elsewhere. When running Windows and playing titles with full support for the onboard haptics vibration technology, you'll have a blast.
While the Razer Nari Ultimate sells an unusual proposition, its HyperSense haptics aren't only fun; they make immersive games even more impactful. Paired with great audio, high build quality, and considerable flexibility via software, this headset is an ideal companion for any PC gamer.
- HyperSense haptics are game-changing
- Great audio
- Long battery life
- Wireless over USB only
- Not great for non-PC gamers
Feel the action
Great audio and build quality make for a strong PC gaming headset, but Razer takes the whole experience to another level with HyperSense haptics.
Awesome Value: SteelSeries Arctis 5
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 is ideal for those who aren't sound enthusiasts or producers, unlocking immersive gaming and immense comfort that allows for hours of use. This is a quality headset with great sound, an impressive microphone, and the aforementioned comfort — all at a rather affordable price. Throw in a stunning design and some handy features and you're onto a winner.
That said, the proprietary cabling is a bummer and something I hope SteelSeries opts to remove in future revisions. Sure, it's nice that the company includes everything you need to hook up the headset to a PC, phone or console, but at the same time, I'd like to have redundancy by being able to connect spare universal cables. That's my main gripe with them, which shows just how good they are. If you need a new pair of headphones, you can't go wrong with the Arctis 5.
- Comfy to wear
- Works with PC, mobile and console
- LED lighting
- Great audio
- Looks great
- Proprietary USB cabling
- LED lighting
Great value gaming headset
The Steelseries Arctis 5 sports solid sound, has 7.1 surround support, and is arguably one of the most comfortable headsets ever made.
Budget-friendly: Plugable Performance Onyx HS53
Plugable makes some excellent PC accessories and general gadgets, including USB port hubs, Bluetooth speakers, and even some adapters. The company is now moving into the realm of gaming headsets with the Onyx HS53, an affordable, budget-friendly headset that promises a great audio experience. Priced aggressively, the company states the design team took out everything that wasn't required for a great audio experience and it almost did it.
The HS53 sounds good enough for gaming, but you may want to look elsewhere if you're serious about music and other media. You should buy the Plugable Onyx HS53 if you're looking to buy a new gaming headset and don't wish to spend more than $50. What sets this headset apart from other similar offerings at this price point or lower is the sturdy design, durability, ergonomics and sound drivers. For a budget headset, Plugable did an amazing job.
- Comfortable and light
- Solid sound
- Cross-platform support
- Sturdy construction
- In-line controls
- No option for USB
- No detachable mic
Stunning value for PC and console gamers
Plugable has made a $50 budget-friendly headset for gaming that's worth considering, even if you're not looking to save money on your audio.
Wireless Audio: HyperX Cloud Flight
The HyperX Cloud Flight headset is an impressively affordable wireless option from HyperX, boasting 30 hours of battery life and the company's signature sound quality. Although there's no wireless compatibility for Xbox One or mobile devices, PC and PS4 users will be able to enjoy completely stable voice and game sound via a handy USB wireless interface. With no cables in sight, the audio controls are baked directly onto the headset itself.
To ensure the price stayed reasonably low, HyperX compromised on a few things with the Cloud Flight, namely build quality. The soundstage is also less impressive than other HyperX headsets, which not only impedes your sense of immersion but could also negatively impact tactical competitive play. Despite that, the sound quality is still great overall, particularly when compared to lesser brands.
- Solid audio overall
- 30 hours of wirelessness
- 3.5mm cable included for wired capabilities
- Lower build quality than other HyperX headsets
- Only PC and PS4 compatible
- Pointless LEDs lower battery life, but can be disabled
Despite lacking the high-quality construction of some other HyperX headsets, its wirelessness is rock solid on PC.
Choosing a headset is a personal decision that should take into account what you want from a pair of cups. Do you want a wireless option or is wireless fine for you? Do you need the absolute best in sound quality for competitive play (that way you can hear all those footsteps and which direction they might be coming from) or are you alright with a budget headset with solid sound for general play? There's an option out there for you.
If you're after wireless connectivity (or Hi-Res audio with the DAC version) and have enough money to spare, the Arctis Pro from SteelSeries is an excellent choice. It's not going to appeal to people on a budget as it's the most expensive option on this list, but it makes up for that in quality that justifies the price. Not only do you get excellent sound quality with 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res certification, but you get even more with enhanced durability, supreme comfort, and other features not typically found in other headsets.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time you can usually find him practicing the guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.
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