Plugable Performance Onyx HS53 headset review: Fantastic audio experience for the price

Plugable's new affordable gaming headset offers fantastic value.

Plugable Performance Onyx HS53
(Image: © Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Windows Central Recommended Award

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.

Has Plugable done what other companies have struggled to achieve?

What you'll love about the Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

The HS53 looks far more expensive than the asking price. The headset sports a simple, yet aesthetically pleasing black design with brushed metal hinges to connect the cups to the headband. Seeing such materials used in a $50 headset is almost unheard of without looking cheap, but Plugable did a great job here.

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Frequency response20Hz to 20kHz
Speaker size53 mm
Connection3.5 mm
Cup space6 cm x 4.5 cm, oval
Cup styleLeather
CompatibilityXbox One, PC, PS4, Mobile, and Nintendo Switch

The soft leather used for the cup pads also look solid and are comfortable to use for long periods of time. They're not particularly well ventilated, unlike foam counterparts, but you'll not have sore ears after a gaming session. The headset does a stellar job at canceling out ambient sounds by covering your ears and applying enough force to prevent waves from entering any gaps.

Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

Sound quality-wise, the Onyx HS53 is surprisingly really good. The 53 mm drivers are what you'd usually find in more experience headsets, and available ranges ensure the HS53 is able to produce sounds as game developers intended them to be played without gimmicks such as surround sound and enhanced technologies. This headset is all about the basics.

The definition of a budget gaming headset done right.

And because the HS53 uses 3.5 mm connectors, you can not only use this headset with your gaming PC but also consoles (including the Nintendo Switch) and smartphones. You can even get by for listening to your favorite playlists without issue, something we couldn't say on affordable gaming headsets of the past.

What you may dislike about Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

You may not enjoy using 3.5 mm connectors for your audio accessories, and since Plugable does not offer a USB connector with the headset, you're all out of luck here if you prefer the said interface. Using leather for the cups means it'll not allow as much air to pass through to your ears than fabric, but these could be considered minor complaints.

Should you buy the Plugable Performance Onyx HS53?

Plugable Performance Onyx HS53

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.

The HS53 is comfortable to wear, sounds great both in and out of game, and won't leave you too sweaty or hurting after a long gaming session. It's a budget gaming headset done right.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

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.