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Best cheap gaming headsets: Immersive audio on a budget

What is the best budget gaming headset? Our number one pick is the SteelSeries Arctis 3. We analyzed and tested, connectivity, sound quality, microphone, and more below.
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Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

Shopping for a cheap gaming headset doesn't mean you have to settle for subpar quality. There are tons of affordable options out there which provide excellent chat and game audio as well as comfort and durability. And if you're willing to be tethered to your PC or controller, a cheap gaming headset means you can have more money for other things like a copy of Elden Ring or an extra set of Joy Cons for your Nintendo Switch. As a connoisseur of budget-friendly gaming headsets, I've curated a list of the best available from top brands like SteelSeries, Corsair, and HyperX, and I've broken down their features to help you find the one that best fits your needs.

Also: Best gaming headset 2022: Immersive sound for an extra edge

SteelSeries Arctis 3
SteelSeries

Connectivity: 3.5mm AUX | Surround sound: No | Weight: 283 grams | Driver size: 40mm | RGB: No | Noise cancellation: Microphone only | Microphone: Integrated boom

The SteelSeries Arctis 3 is an affordable, well-rounded gaming headset that is great for both PC and console gaming. The boom mic features a bi-directional pickup and noise cancellation technology for better chat clarity, and the left ear cup features on-board controls for quickly adjusting volume and muting your mic. The microphone also retracts into the left ear cup so you can use the Arctis 3 as a regular set of headphones or for when you don't feel like chatting in-game. The Arctis 3 features the same ski-goggle headband as its premium counterparts for weight distribution and long-term comfort. And although the headband structure itself is made of plastic rather than metal, it still gives plenty of stability and support. 

Pros:

  • PC and console compatible
  • Retractable mic
  • On-ear controls

Cons:

  • No USB connection option
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Astro Gaming

Connectivity: 3.5mm AUX | Surround sound: No | Weight: 349 grams | Driver size: 40mm | RGB: No | Noise cancellation: No | Microphone: Integrated boom

If you prefer a wired headset when playing your PS5, the Astro A10 is a good choice. It features an anodized aluminum headband embedded in crack-resistant plastic for long-term durability as well as memory foam ear cups and headband cushion for comfort. The integrated mic features a flip-to-mute function so you can quickly cut your chat input by rotating it up and out of the way. The 40mm speaker drivers are tuned in-house by Astro for better clarity, preventing muddy and distorted sound even at higher volumes. 

Pros:

  • Flip-to-mute mic
  • Metal headband
  • Good sound clarity

Cons:

  • No USB connection option
  • Mic arm is not flexible
Microsoft Xbox stereo wired headset
Microsoft

Connectivity: 3.5mm AUX | Surround sound: Dolby Atmos/DTS Headphone:X | Weight: 286 grams | Driver size: 40mm | RGB: No | Noise cancellation: No | Microphone: Integrated boom

This is the wired version of Microsoft's Xbox stereo headset, and though it costs about half as much, that doesn't mean that it skimps out on features. It has the same on-ear control dials for quickly adjusting volume and chat balance as well as support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X spatial audio drivers. It uses a 3.5mm audio cable to connect to your controller, giving you more freedom to move around your gaming space and a more stable, reliable connection for chat and in-game sound. The integrated microphone can't be detached, but it can be bent out of the way when you don't feel like hopping in chat.

Pros:

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS Headphone:X support
  • On-ear control dials

Cons:

  • Mic doesn't detach or retract
  • Mic isn't noise canceling
HyperX Cloud Earbuds
HyperX

Connectivity: 3.5mm AUX | Surround sound: No | Weight: 19 grams | Driver size: 14mm | RGB: No | Noise cancellation: No | Microphone: In-line diaphragm

If you mostly use your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, the HyperX Cloud Earbuds are a perfect choice for private listening as you game on-the-go. Each ear piece can be fitted with one of three different sized silicone tips for the perfect fit and to keep them in place as you walk around. The tangle-resistant, rubberized cable has an in-line microphone for in-game chat as well as a 90-degree 3.5mm plug to prevent damage to wires. You also get a handy, zippered carrying case to safely store your new earbuds when you aren't using them.

Pros:

  • 90-degree plug
  • 3 earbud sizes
  • In-line microphone

Cons:

  • In-line controls are a single button
  • Mic isn't noise canceling
Corsair HS45 Surround
Corsair

Connectivity: 3.5mm AUX/USB dongle | Surround sound: 7.1CH virtual | Weight: 227 grams | Driver size: 50mm | RGB: No | Noise cancellation: No | Microphone: Detachable

The Corsair HS45 Surround is a headset that lets you get the most bang for your buck, especially if audio quality is your top priority. While it has a 3.5mm AUX cable for connecting to headphone jacks or controllers, it also comes with a USB controller which provides virtual 7.1CH surround sound. The USB controller enhances your audio by letting you pinpoint sound cues and creating a dynamic experience. The detachable mic is Discord certified for crisp, clear chat, features a flexible boom arm for precise placement, and can be quick-muted with the on-ear button. The ear cups are made of cloth-covered memory foam for comfort and breathability, while the metal headband provides strength and durability.

Pros:

  • 7.1CH virtual surround sound
  • Detachable mic
  • Metal headband

Cons:

  • USB module doesn't work with consoles

What is the best budget gaming headset?

The best budget gaming headset is the SteelSeries Arctis 3 based on our expert analysis of connectivity, sound quality, and microphone.

How did we choose these gaming headsets?

Aside from making sure each headset was budget friendly, I chose models that gave the most value for the price. This included checking things like on-board controls, microphone build, and overall construction. Because spending less on a gaming headset doesn't mean you have to get one that is going to break in 2 weeks and make you sound like you're talking under water in chat.

Which cheap gaming headset is right for you?

While most budget-friendly gaming headsets are going to be wired-only, you still need to make sure that the one you want is compatible with your computer or console. You also need to take into account how the microphone is attached to the headset: is it an integrated boom arm, or detachable/retractable? Finally, you should make sure that it is going to be a comfortable fit, especially if you have a larger head or wear glasses. While you can't know for sure until you actually use it, you should opt for a gaming headset with plenty of padding around the ear cups and on the headband.

Are cheap gaming headsets worth it?

Absolutely! Just because you have to stick to a budget, that doesn't mean you have to buy a trash headset. There are plenty of cheaper options out there that are durable, comfortable, and provide great chat and audio experiences. You just have to do a little digging to find them.

Can't I just use regular headphones for gaming?

You could, especially if you mostly game on PC. Though, the downside of using regular headphones is that you may not get features like dynamic audio or virtual surround sound. And you definitely will need to invest in a separate microphone for chat.

Why are wireless headsets so expensive?

The snarky part of me wants to say "because they can be," and be done with it. But the truth is, wireless headsets are more expensive than their wired counterparts because they are packed with tons of expensive tech. It costs more to make sure a Bluetooth or RF wireless headset is actually going to work with your PC or console than it is to make it use a 3.5mm or USB plug. They're also usually packed with premium features like customizable RGB lighting, active noise cancellation technology, and dynamic audio processing. Which, again, means they're more expensive to produce, and therefore more expensive to buy.

Are there alternative cheap gaming headsets worth considering?

There are plenty of budget-friendly options out there. Here's a short list of other cheap gaming headsets I thought were great:

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