It can prove a challenge to shop around for the best PC gaming headset as there's no shortage of products from which to choose. It's essential to make the right choice since a bad headset can utterly ruin your PC gaming experience. This is why we've put together some of the best, high-quality headsets available that suit different needs and budgets. Go with our recommendations to hear everything in-game and clearly communicate with teammates.
What are the best PC gaming headsets?
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When indulging in PC gaming, it's easy to get sucked into the hardware that makes up your rig and push for ultimate graphics and frame rates. However, the audio shouldn't ever be overlooked. Not only is it one of the most immersive aspects of a game, but in titles like competitive shooters, being able to pinpoint where sounds are coming from can be the difference between winning and losing.
For most, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro ticks all the boxes while being extremely comfortable, while the similar Arctis 1 is a solid alternative for folks looking to spend less and also have a console-ready headset. Then if you're into competitive gaming, particularly first-person shooters, something like the Razer BlackShark V2 was entirely designed for you. Meanwhile, gamers shopping on a tight budget can still get a truly excellent headset with the Corsair HS50.
When deciding upon a new PC gaming headset, there are some factors you should consider. The quality of the audio experience is too easy to overlook, but if your audio is bad, then you're just not going to enjoy yourself as much. Regardless of your budget, spending on the wrong headset for yourself is a waste.
The first thing you should consider is just what type of PC gaming you do most. If you're a regular competitive shooter player, for example, you're going to have different preferences compared to someone who plays sports games. The former would look for good directional audio capabilities, while the latter can get away without a lot of it.
It's also worth considering how you want to connect to your PC. Wired has many advantages over wireless, not least that you don't have to worry about battery life. However, it's also not as convenient as having no cables dangling from your head, especially if you don't sit incredibly close to your PC. If you also want to play on a console as well as PC, wired becomes a much easier solution to live with.
There's also the little matter of the microphone. While this doesn't directly benefit your experience, your gaming buddies will thank you a whole lot if your voice is loud enough, clear, and free of background noise. Harmony among your team is well worth it! There's also the matter of a detachable microphone if you, for example, plan to use your headset as a regular pair of headphones. Retractable would be a bare minimum in this case, but detachable is best.
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The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro is a complete package, delivering everything a keen PC or console gamer could want. Not only is it absurdly comfortable to wear thanks to its innovative headband design, but it also comes with a mighty DAC. All of your game audio is channeled through this, giving you crystal-clear in-game audio. It's not just you who reaps the benefits, either, with the noise-canceling microphone ensuring your gaming pals don't hear anything besides the sound of your voice.
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 Nova Pro by SteelSeries. This is one of the best PC gaming headsets you can get right now. It's wireless, has an excellent DAC hub, and offers brilliant audio. You absolutely get what you pay for.
The Pro line headsets share a similar design to other Arctis headsets, which isn't a bad thing. The Arctis headphones are some of the best-designed gaming headsets out there. Taking full advantage of premium materials and the ski-band design, SteelSeries continues to make some of the most comfortable headsets to wear during long gaming sessions.
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.
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The HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout doesn't try to wow with flashy design or features, instead just doing what it does exceptionally well. It's an unusually comfortable headset with a great microphone, a subtle design that means you can easily get away using it as a pair of headphones outdoors without feeling silly, and has virtual surround sound.
HyperX makes some compelling gaming headsets. They're among the best in the business, and we've recommended plenty. The HyperX Cloud II Wireless looks essentially the same as the lower-priced Cloud Alpha range, but with the addition of 7.1 surround sound and wireless operation.
The Cloud II Wireless sports a sturdy aluminum frame with super comfy ear cups that are comfortable for even longer gaming sessions. Utilizing dual 53mm drivers and HyperX's optional companion app to get the best from the headset, you'll be able to enjoy music and in-game effects without the headset muddying the highs and lows.
The bass is pretty punchy, too, and overall, the audio quality, especially given this mid-tier price for gaming headsets, is amazing. The microphone is excellent too, with very clear, crisp sound, which is handy when you plan on communicating with friends and guildmates. And with up to 30 hours of battery life, you'll always be in the game when you need to be.
What you may find annoying is that you can't double this up and use it on Xbox as well. Not a deal-breaker for a lot of PC gamers, but if you do also game on console it could affect your decision. It would also have been nice to see Bluetooth as well as a wireless dongle, since these would also look killer as a pair of regular wireless headphones.
Razer BlackShark V2
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The new BlackShark V2 reimagines one of Razer's earliest designs and brings it up to modern specs. This is about the lightest gaming headset you'll find right now, which makes it perfect to wear for longer sessions, and the THX Spatial Audio provides an "unfair advantage" thanks to its superior directional clarity.
Razer has been making gaming headsets longer than most, and the BlackShark was one of the first, way back in 2012. It was something of a game-changer back then, and eight years on, Razer has revived the iconic design and brought it up to scratch for the needs of the PC gamer in 2020.
The BlackShark V2 has been designed in partnership with some of the leading professional gamers to ensure that this headset captures everything that the competitive scene is looking for. And that starts with being comfortable to wear for long periods, and the BlackShark V2 is about the lightest headset you'll ever put around your ears. Paired with large memory foam cushions and breathable flowknit fabric, you can wear it for up to 14 hours at a time without feeling any fatigue.
Sound quality is also essential, and that starts with superb passive noise cancellation provided by creating a tight seal around your ears. Inside, Razer's all-new TriForce driver has dedicated tuning for highs, mids, and lows, ensuring best-in-class clarity and volume. The microphone has also been given some upgrades, with a new focused pickup pattern that rejects more sound than ever before from the back and sides.
The party piece is the THX Spatial Audio. In conjunction with the dedicated game profiles created by THX in partnership with game developers, it helps deliver either an immersive or a competitive edge. The so-called Razer "unfair advantage." But if you're a competitive gamer, this is the headset to get right now above all others.
As a bonus, Razer launched the BlackShark V2 Pro, a wireless version of the BlackShark V2. Everything good about the BlackShark V2 is on offer with the bonus of no cable trailing from your head.
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You can always count on Razer to push the boundaries, and the Nari Ultimate is a headset like no other. It uses an innovative haptic engine, which genuinely is a game-changer for innovation, sucking you into your games like never before. It's also comfortable, well made, and packs a real punch if you're a fan of powerful game sound.
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 flagship brings something fresh to the scene, with the ability to feel your game. As we found in our Razer Nari Ultimate review, the haptic feedback isn't a gimmick. But its implementation, like a vibration in controllers, may still be better excluded in competitive scenarios.
Furthermore, the haptics won't play perfectly with some titles out of the box, though tweaking various game settings usually does the trick. While the Nari Ultimate has support for a wide variety of platforms, the best experience is to be had by PC gamers with access to Razer's Synapse companion application to tune it properly. When running on a PC and playing titles with full support for the onboard haptics vibration technology, you'll have an experience unlike anything else around today.
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 excellent audio, high build quality, and considerable flexibility via software, this headset is an ideal companion for any PC gamer.
While you're certain to appreciate the impressive audio quality, you may find wireless over USB a little restrictive, particularly with laptops. So make sure you keep the dongle safe.
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Spending this little on a PC headset probably won't boost your expectations much, but Corsair managed to achieve the unthinkable with the HS50. This headset is astoundingly good at an attractive price. It lacks some of the features you'd find on more expensive headsets, but where it counts, like comfort, sound, and build quality, it's a winner.
Corsair makes some excellent PC accessories and hardware, including some of the best AIO liquid coolers, RAM kits, keyboards, mice, and more. The company also makes some pretty good gaming headsets. The Corsair HS50 is a budget-friendly headset that delivers an excellent audio experience. Priced aggressively, the company designed it with a tight budget in mind, making sure the essentials were all excellent.
The HS50 sounds great for gaming, but you may want to look elsewhere if you're serious about music and other media. You should buy the Corsair HS50 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.
There are on-cup controls, which allow you to manipulate audio without doing so through the OS. There is one noteworthy drawback, however. There's no USB connectivity, which is a shame. However, for a budget headset, Corsair did a fantastic job.
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Getting an excellent wireless headset that can handle both PC and console with ease isn't as straightforward as it could be, and the Arctis 1 fits the bill. Not only does it sound great with similar drivers to the Arctis Pro, but it also has good battery life, and it's got dependable cross-platform support.
SteelSeries makes great headsets, and the company brought lossless 2.4GHz wireless features to the budget-friendly Arctis 1 range. To make this headset even more incredible, SteelSeries threw in Xbox Wireless compatibility, making this one versatile gaming headset. Whether you game on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or even Switch, this will be a fine companion.
As we discovered in our SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless review, the headset does require a dongle to connect to consoles. However, the Xbox version of the headset also has built-in support for Microsoft's Xbox Wireless protocols.
If you don't want to use the dongle, there's a 3.5mm cable that can be used. As well as this cable, SteelSeries includes a USB-A to USB-C converter for the dongle and USB-A to micro-USB cable to charge the headset itself. For the design, it's very much an Arctis headset. The only significant difference between the Arctis 1 and other headsets from SteelSeries is the lack of a ski-band.
This is a bit of a bummer, but understandable given the price of the Arctis 1. It's still a comfortable headset to use, just not as comfy as the Arctis Pro. There's also the microphone, which is a little underwhelming, but so long as you're not planning to start streaming, you should be good to go.
Choosing the best PC gaming headset
Shopping for the best PC gaming headset will involve checking out a host of products on the market today from brands you've heard of and brands you haven't, including those not mentioned here. Gaming is a big business, and so every company that can naturally wants to be in on the action. So while these are the best, there are still a lot of alternatives out there.
More specifically, there's an increasing number of choices when it comes to budget headsets for both PC and console, like shopping for the best Xbox gaming headsets under $100 or just the flat-out best Xbox One headset to use alongside your PC escapades.
Choosing a headset is a personal decision that should consider 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 all right with a budget headset with solid sound for general play?
There's plenty more to factor in, too, even if you limit your search to gaming headsets alone. This is why we put together this collection of headsets from top vendors. There are some high-end, premium options, as well as more affordable and budget-orientated cups. You can't go wrong by choosing one of our recommendations. We've tried them all and enjoyed each experience.
The final decision should come down to a combination of the type of games you want to play, whether you're looking for things like console support as well or want to go wireless, and yes, your budget. No matter how good a headset is, if it's over what you want to pay, then it's not a good headset for you.
What to look for in a new PC gaming headset
Use this handy checklist to cover the key features you should consider when you're shopping for a new headset.
- Directional audio/virtual surround sound
- Gaming only or media use
- Just PC or console also
- Wired or wireless
- Microphone quality
- Detachable microphone
- Battery life on wireless headsets
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
- Richard DevineManaging Editor - Tech, Reviews
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