It can prove a challenge to shop around for the best PC gaming headset as there's no shortage of products to choose from. 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.
7 Best PC Gaming Headsets in 2020
- SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC — Best Overall: Stunning sound quality, Hi-Res certification, and 7.1 surround thanks to the included DAC
- HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout — Runner-Up: Great sound, extremely comfortable, and attractively priced
- Razer BlackShark V2 — Best for Competitive Gamers: A comfortable, lightweight headset validated by some of the leading professional gamers
- Razer Nari Ultimate — Most Immersive Sound: An innovative headset with haptics that suck you into your game
- Plugable Performance Onyx HS53 — Budget Choice: A superb PC gaming headset for those shopping on a tighter budget
- Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero — Best Wireless: A great sounding headset that's comfortable and has exceptional battery life
- SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless — Best for PC and Console Players: If you also dabble in Xbox as well as PC gaming, this is the wireless headset to get
What are the best PC gaming headsets?
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 sound 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 Pro + GameDAC 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 Plugable Performance Onyx HS53.
Here's our breakdown of the best PC gaming headset you can buy, so take a look and see which best fits your requirements and budget.
1. SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC: Best PC gaming headset overall
Bottom line: The Arctis Pro + GameDAC is a complete package, delivering everything a keen PC gamer could want. Not only is it absurdly comfortable to wear thanks to its innovative headband design, but it also comes with the mighty GameDAC. All of your game audio is channeled through this, giving you 7.1 surround and Hi-Res 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.
Speakers: 50mm neodymium | Frequency response: 10Hz – 40,000Hz | Compatibility: USB, Optical | Impedance: 32 ohms | Features: Retractable mic, DAC
|SteelSeries||Arctis Pro + GameDAC||$231 at Amazon|
- Sleek design
- Solid DAC
- Hi-Res audio
- Doesn't fold
- Not wireless
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. This is the best PC gaming headset you can get right now. The Arctis Pro isn't wireless, so you will need to deal with a cable, but because everything goes through the bundled amp unit, it sounds incredible. As highlighted in our SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC review, you 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 that your gaming pals will undoubtedly thank you for. There's almost everything a gamer requires from a headset for the latest titles, movies, and music.
The Pro line headsets' look shares similar features 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.
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 you 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.
2. HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout: A great all-rounder at an attractive price
Bottom line: The HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout doesn't try and 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, as well as virtual surround sound for an immersive experience.
Speakers: 50mm neodymium | Frequency response: 13Hz – 27,000Hz | Compatibility: USB, 3.5mm | Impedance: 65 ohms | Features: Detachable mic, braided cable with in-line remote, dual-chamber audio set up
|Hyper X||Cloud Alpha S Blackout||$130 at Best Buy|
|Hyper X||Cloud Alpha S Blackout||$130 at Amazon|
- 7.1 virtual surround, remote/mixer
- Stunning sound reproduction
- Great microphone
- Signature HyperX comfort
- High-quality construction, new black color
- The cord is too long for the remote
- Some optional customization software would be nice
HyperX makes some compelling gaming headsets. They're among the best in the business, and we've recommended plenty. The HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout is almost the same as the lower-priced Cloud Alpha, but with the addition of a mixer remote that delivers 7.1 surround sound and a new "Blackout" color scheme. It costs a little more, but it's worth it.
The Cloud Alpha S Blackout sports a sturdy aluminum frame with replaceable ear cups, and you can choose between leatherette or foam. Regardless of which you opt for, both options are comfortable for even longer gaming sessions. Utilizing dual 50mm drivers and HyperX's "dual-chamber" design, 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 you can control it by using physical switches on each earcup to set your desired level. Overall, the audio quality, especially given this mid-tier price for gaming headsets, is amazing. The microphone is pretty good too, which is handy when you plan on communicating with friends and guildmates.
What you may find annoying with the Blackout is the rather long cable. Usually, this isn't an issue, but this cable is long. Some optional customization software would have been welcome too.
3. Razer BlackShark V2: The best headset for competitive PC gaming
Bottom line: The new BlackShark V2 reimagines one of Razer's earliest designs and brings it up to 2020 spec. 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.
Speakers: 50 mm TriForce Titanium drivers | Frequency response: 12Hz to 28kHz | Compatibility: 3.5mm, USB | Impedance: 32 Ω @ 1 kHz | Features: Detachable mic, THX Spatial Audio with dedicated game profiles
|Razer||BlackShark V2||$100 at Razer|
|Razer||BlackShark V2||$100 at Best Buy|
|Razer||BlackShark V2||$100 at Amazon|
- Lightweight design
- Extremely comfortable
- Updated THX spatial audio with dedicated game profiles
- Built-in controls
- USB sound card cable is too short
- Console users lose all the neat features
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 has recently 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.
4. Razer Nari Ultimate: Totally immersive sound for PC gaming
Bottom line: 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.
Speakers: 50mm neodymium | Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz | Compatibility: 2.4GHz over USB, 3.5mm | Impedance: 32 ohms | Features: Retractable mic, haptic drivers
|Razer||Nari Ultimate||$170 at Best Buy|
|Razer||Nari Ultimate||$170 at Amazon|
|Razer||Nari Ultimate||$200 at Razer|
- HyperSense haptics are game-changing
- Great audio
- Long battery life
- Wireless over USB only
- Console gamers can't use the haptics
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.
5. Plugable Performance Onyx HS53: The best PC gaming headset on a budget
Bottom line: Plugable probably isn't the first brand you think of when looking for a gaming headset, but the Onyx HS53 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.
Speakers: 53mm | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz | Compatibility: 3.5mm
|Plugable||Performance Onyx HS53||$45 at Amazon|
- Comfortable and light
- Solid sound
- Cross-platform support
- Sturdy construction
- In-line controls
- No option for USB
- No detachable mic
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. In our Plugable Performance Onyx HS53 review, we found an affordable, budget-friendly headset that delivers an excellent audio experience. Priced aggressively, the company states the design team took out everything that wasn't required for a great audio experience, and as such, you have the best PC gaming headset for those shopping on a budget.
The HS53 sounds great 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.
There are even in-line controls, which allow you to manipulate audio without doing so through the OS. There are a few drawbacks, however. One is the lack of any USB connectivity, and the microphone itself cannot be detached from the headset. However, for a budget headset, Plugable did a fantastic job.
6. Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero: The best headset for PC gaming completely wire-free
Bottom line: If you're hunting for a wireless headset that's not overly expensive, has excellent battery life, a good microphone, and exceptional build quality, the Elite Atlas Aero is the one for the job. Oh, and it's also ridiculously comfortable, perfect for long gaming sessions.
Speakers: 50mm neodymium | Frequency response: 12Hz – 20,000Hz | Compatibility: USB (wireless dongle), 3.5mm | Battery life: Up to 30 hours (listed), 15-20 hours (in testing)
|Turtle Beach||Elite Atlas Aero||$160 at Amazon|
- Rich audio
- Decent mic quality
- Solid battery life
- Superb comfort and build quality
- Volume dials feel "sticky"
- Limited wireless versatility
When we carried out our Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero review we found an excellent all-round gaming headset. It does precisely what the marketing states, allowing you to utilize audio tuning to gain the upper hand in shooters while enjoying ultimate comfort for long sessions. Best of all, if you're looking to go completely wire-free, this is the best PC gaming headset to get.
It's the little things Turtle Beach added that set this headset apart from the rest. It's easy to spot the small touches that show it cared about the design, like the dongle that stops flashing after a short while when not in use. The software is also pretty good, which is not something we can say for all PC accessory makers. You can fine-tune the Elite Atlas Aero to your liking.
The battery life is also solid, especially if you happen to play for more than a couple of hours. It's not all amazing, however. There are a few things that might frustrate. The volume dials are just... weird. There's limited wireless versatility in that it's only worthwhile for PC gaming, so you can't double up and use it this way with your console, either.
It's also a little on the pricey side, but Turtle Beach headsets are known for quality, precisely what you're getting here.
7. SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless: A versatile headset for both PC and console gaming
Bottom line: 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.
Speakers: 40mm | Frequency response: 20–20,000 Hz | Compatibility: Wireless (Xbox and PC), 3.5mm | Impedance: 32 ohms
|SteelSeries||Arctis 1 Wireless||$100 at Best Buy|
|SteelSeries||Arctis 1 Wireless||$100 at Amazon|
- Superb comfort
- Great design
- 20-hour battery life
- Same drivers as Arctis Pro line
- True cross-platform support
- Only one dongle
- Microphone is average at best
- Micro USB port for charging
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.
What about all the other PC gaming headsets?
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 big business, and so every company that can naturally wants to be in on the action. So while these are the best, there's still a lot of alternatives out there.
More specifically, there's an increasing choice 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.
How to choose the right PC gaming headset
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 alright 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
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.
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.
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