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Nintendo Gameboys and SEGA Master Systems were among the early consoles that brought video games outside of arcades and into the living room. Now, 8-bit machines have been transformed into powerful PC gaming rigs and consoles, including Microsoft's Xbox and the Sony PlayStation 5.
As consoles and PCs have become more capable and internet connectivity standard (and sometimes required), gaming has become far more immersive. Headsets, which allow you to communicate with other players in real time, are a key component of the modern gaming experience.
However, just as internet lags can ruin the moment, a low-grade headset can mean you have to deal with poor audio, crackling, drops in conversation, and discomfort. Luckily for us, there are plenty of options on the market that combine performance and comfort to push your gaming experience to new heights.
We researched the best PC gaming headsets based on audio quality, microphones, and connectivity to save you time and money while browsing.
Features: 7.1CH surround sound | Retractable mic | Noise-canceling mic
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition headset is our top pick for balancing price and quality. This wired headset offers THX 7.1 surround sound via 50mm drivers and over-the-ear earphones with gel cushions. The Razer Kraken is compatible with PC setups as well as various gaming consoles. You connect the headset via USB/a 3.5mm jack.
The Razer Kraken also includes a retractable noise-canceling microphone, a volume control wheel, and a mic mute switch.
Features: Extra large ear cups | Flip-to-mute mic | Folding design
The Sennheiser Game Zero headset is the best option to consider if you want a suitable headset for noisy environments. This model sports large leather earcups designed to block noise through what the vendor calls an "acoustic seal," a noise-canceling microphone, and is compatible with devices including PCs and gaming consoles.
The microphone, while a dated design, has a useful 'flip to mute' feature and the headset also includes side buttons for managing volume. Furthermore, the Game Zero is foldable for easy transport.
Features: 300 hour battery | DTS Headphone:X | Detachable mic | Lightweight design
The Hyper X Cloud Alpha wireless is the absolute best when it comes to wireless gaming headsets. Not only does it sport a lightweight design that's comfortable during even the most intense marathon gaming sessions, it also boasts an incredible 300-hour battery life. The 50mm audio drivers provide excellent sound, which is further enhanced by support for DTS Headphone:X audio drivers for spatial sound.
The microphone sounds great for both in-game and Discord chat, and it detaches easily if you prefer to use a separate mic like the HyperX QuadCast S. The left ear cup has on-board controls for power and volume, letting you make adjustments on the fly. But if you want more control over your audio experience, you can make fine adjustments with the HyperX Ngenuity desktop app.
And if you want a more in-depth look at the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, you can check out our full review.
Features: 7.1CH surround sound | Windows and Mac compatible | 6 colors available
The Razer BlackShark V2 X gaming headset is an excellent entry point into headsets. The wired headset, available in six colors, offers 7:1 surround sound via 50mm drivers and is compatible via the .5mm jack with Windows PCs, and macOS machines, as well as consoles. (You may need to purchase an adapter if there's an incompatible jack/audio connector).
The ear cups are made from memory foam. If you prefer, you can also purchase the BlackShark V2 X as a wireless model (Pro), but this is far more expensive.
Features: 24 hour battery | Self-adjusting | Noise canceling mic | Durable frame
The Rig 800 Pro HX gaming headset is a relative newcomer to the scene, and it has excellent features that make it worthy of competing against brands like HyperX and Razer. Unlike many wireless headsets, the 800 Pro HX has a base station for charging, rather than a USB cable. This means you won't have to worry about yet another cord that may tangle or take up a USB port that could be better used for something else. The base also lets you use it as a wireless connection point for the headset; you just plug in the adapter and the headset will use it to connect to your computer.
The sound quality is excellent as well, offering Dolby Atmos support on PC and 3D virtual surround sound on Xbox. But what really sets this headset apart is the durable design. I've got three cats who think my work/gaming desk is their personal playground, which leads to a lot of very expensive electronics getting smacked to the floor or knocked over. Thankfully, the headset frame as well as the charging station are built to take a beating. Both have been used and abused in my gaming space with little wear and tear to show for it.
The Razer Kraken may be our No. 1 choice, but it needs an adapter or two to be fully compatible with every gaming device you own. For PC gamers, we can't ignore its quality sound and its affordable price point.
PC gaming headset
Sennheiser Game Zero
HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless
Razer BlackShark V2 X
Rig 800 Pro HX
When you decide on your new PC gaming headset, comfort and quality are key -- however, you should also consider whether or not blocking environmental noise and noise-cancelation on your microphone are essential to you while you're gaming.
Choose this PC gaming headset...
If you need…
An all-rounder headset
Sennheiser Game Zero
To block out unwanted sound
HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless
A wireless headset
Razer BlackShark V2 X
An entry-level headset
Rig 800 PRO HX
A durable gaming headset
There tends to be a baseline in quality for entry, mid, and high-level headset tiers -- and as you can imagine, the more you spend, the more likely you'll enjoy an audio and comfort upgrade.
While some gamers might insist on a premium brand like Sennheiser or Razer, the price point isn't the only factor. Plenty of headsets in the entry and mid-tiers are comfortable and will last a long time without costing you a fortune.
We have attempted to accommodate different budgets while keeping in mind some headsets are specifically designed to cater to particular gaming consoles and setups.
A pair of headphones is a set of speakers connected together by a band or other structure and is designed to be worn around the head. A headset is a pair of headphones with a microphone attached, in a boom design or otherwise.
Earphones tend to either have a very small band to be worn around the head or will connect through wires only, whereas earbuds are separate and wireless, and are meant to fit snugly in your ears.
If you want to regularly game with your friends, a headset is necessary for communication. Another benefit of investing in a headset is the potentially improved audio quality of your game, blocking out external distractions, and a more immersive experience.
There are a few main features you should consider when you pick a headset -- and these qualities will show you whether or not a headset is decent and suitable for you. The first element is audio quality: Is it crystal clear? Do you want extra bass? Is there an amplification boost, or is it just stereo-only? (There should also be a lack of crackling and feedback when you are using both the speakers and mic.)
You should also consider the build quality of a headset: basic plastic ones tend to be the cheapest, whereas vendors who use a combination of other materials including metals, wood, and leather tend to be more durable and will last longer.
Finally, comfort is key. If you're going to be wearing a headset for several hours at a time, it can't put pressure on your ears or skull.
It really all comes down to personal preference, but both wired and wireless gaming headsets have their pros and cons. Wired headsets have unlimited play time since they plug into your laptop, console, or PC tower and don't rely on a battery. The downside is that you often have to deal with long cables that can get tangled and broken.
Wireless headsets give you more freedom of movement, but you then also have to keep track of battery life so you don't end up with a dead headset in the middle of your game. You also need to make sure your wireless headset can connect to your console or computer, as some models don't use Bluetooth so they aren't compatible with the Nintendo Switch, smartphones, or tablets.
My pick for the best overall gaming headset is the Razer Kraken. It features a headband and ear cups that are cushioned with cooling gel for long-lasting comfort during marathon gaming sessions as well as leatherette ear cup material for easier cleaning. Each of the 50mm audio drivers is custom-tuned for superior audio, and the on-board controls make it easy to adjust the volume or mute your mic on-the-fly.
While deciding on the best products on the market, we based our recommendations on quality, build, versatility, and affordability. You don't need to spend a fortune on a headset to boost your gaming experience, but the pros out there might want to treat their choice as an investment.
There are also other options worth considering: