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The best cheap gaming headsets
The gaming headset occupies a somewhat odd position in the audio market. Sure, there are all sorts of great products out there, and many come at completely reasonable prices, but price often isn’t a reliable indicator of quality. Plenty of $150-plus headsets advertise best-in-class features and sharp audio, but end up a bass-boosted mess.
Sometimes all you want is something straightforward and affordable. Don’t worry! There are plenty of perfectly decent cheap gaming headsets—here are some of the best.
Editor’s note: This list was updated on November 1, 2022 to include the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 in the notable mentions and to include microphone demos for some headsets, as well as to update formatting.
If you want the best audio in a cheap gaming headset, grab the JBL Quantum 50
JBL’s Quantum line of gaming headsets really covers a wide swath of prices and use cases, but if any one product among them is the most compelling, it’s the JBL Quantum 50. These wired gaming earbuds don’t come with bells and whistles. There’s no virtual surround sound or even an incredible microphone. Instead, you get a comfortable, sturdily built pair of earbuds that sound excellent and work everywhere for $30 USD.
The JBL Quantum 50 features a two-part ear tip design, to fit securely in the shape of your ear. It’s got a braided tangle-free cord, and in-line controls for volume and microphone muting, as well as a multifunction button. Its microphone doesn’t sound incredible, but very few in-line earbud mics do—again, this is a $30 USD option. The Quantum 50 sounds better than options twice or three times the price, and it never needs recharging.
JBL Quantum 50 microphone demo (ideal conditions):
You don’t need to break the bank to have a good time
While there’s plenty of crap out there, there are also plenty of quality options in the affordable gaming headset space. There are just a few things to figure out before buying a new headset.
The first thing to figure out is what you’re actually looking for. If you’re not into multiplayer games, it might be worth asking if you even really need a gaming headset in the first place. A lot of people feel the best gaming headset you can buy will always just be the best headphones you can find. If you just need something decent to keep the sound in, we’ve got plenty of recommendations.
Similarly, if you’ve already got a great pair of headphones, but you lack a microphone, it might be worth just looking for that. If you’re playing on PC, a USB microphone could be great—they’re generally easy to set up, they can reach pretty reasonable prices.
However, plenty of people aren’t interested in mixing and matching different peripherals to cobble together a solution. Getting a cheap gaming headset is ultimately the simplest solution. There are just a few things to keep in mind when shopping around.
What do you need in a cheap gaming headset?
Gaming headsets on the cheaper end of the spectrum tend to have more limited feature sets. It’s hard to find something that really covers every base for under $60—this is also true of more typical headphones, there’s just also a few other things to consider for gaming. There are plenty of great options, but you’re going to need to get a little specific.
What kind of games do you play? If you’re really into multiplayer games like Fortnite or Call of Duty, finding something with surround sound and a microphone is probably a good idea. That’ll be easier if you’re looking of a PC peripheral, as features like surround sound often don’t make the leap to console, even if the rest of the headset works.
Pay attention to whether a gaming headset is designed for a platform, or merely compatible with it. Plenty of gaming headsets use 3.5mm connections, and therefore work with most devices. That doesn’t mean they all work perfectly on those devices. Usually, your best bet is to look for something tailored to the platform you use. Odds are, you’ll have a better time with a gaming headset made specifically for the console you own, rather than one made for PC that also works on the PlayStation 4.
It’s also important to pay attention to the physical design of the headset. Does it look like a pair of headphones with a mic attached, or does it look like an LED-riddled UFO? The headsets that add a lot of odd angles and edgy designs often do so using cheap plastic—especially at lower prices. Ones with straightforward metal frames are usually more durable.
I’ve always found that simpler designs often indicate higher quality—there’s less to distract from how a headset will sound. Ultimately, it’s probably better to keep the flashing lights and gaudy futuristic-looking tech in your games, rather than on your head.
The Razer Kraken X has features to spare
The Razer Kraken X brings a lot of value to the table, with 3.5mm connectivity and 7.1 surround sound, all for around $50. This option really walks the line between “good value” and downright cheap.
The headset has a lightweight design, with a headband made of durable thermoplastic. The headphones’ memory foam pads feature slight gaps to alleviate pressure if you wear glasses. Its attached microphone is flexible and offers clear audio. All in, this is a comfortable headset, and the volume and mic controls on the left headphone add even more convenience. The 7.1 surround sound only works with Windows 10, but you won’t find a better gaming headset for $49.99. If you want to save a little cash, the Razer Kaken X Lite is available for $10 less, offering a slightly lighter build with no onboard controls.
If you’re willing to shell out some extra cash, take a look at the Razer BlackShark V2 X. For around $20 more than the Kraken X, it features great isolation, 7.1 surround sound, and one of the most neutral-sounding sound profiles we’ve ever tested in a gaming headset. At under $100, the Razer BlackShark V2 has all the same features as the X-variant, in addition to THX Spatial Audio for better in-game spatial awareness, compared to traditional virtual surround sound.
The Puro Sound Labs PuroGamer is the best option on the market for kids
If you’re a parent interested in protecting the hearing of your children, Puro Sound Labs will likely be a familiar name. The company has been one of the only players in the audio space consistently putting out headphones with volume limits designed to eliminate the chance of noise-induced hearing loss, something to which children are especially susceptible. The fact that the PuroGamer is also a cheap gaming headset is just icing on the cake.
This stereo gaming headset supports both 3.5mm and USB connections, with a split cord that terminates in both plugs. Despite its $45 price tag, this gaming headset is made almost entirely of metal, with sturdy hinges and soft, thick leatherette ear pads. It also happens to have a very accurate microphone for a gaming headset. As we mentioned above, the PuroGamer limits audio volume, so no sound will come through louder than 85dB—it’s not even all that quiet, but it wont damage anyone’s ears.
The best budget console headset is the Turtle Beach Recon 70
Turtle Beach makes gaming headsets for all kinds of price ranges and needs, but if any of the company’s product fill the entry level console niche, it’s the Recon 70. For under $40, you get a straightforward wired audio experience, with decent sound, a very accurate microphone, and on-ear controls.
There’s not a whole lot more to say, really—You plug it in, and it works. The microphone flips up to mute, and there’s an audio volume dial on the side of the left ear cup. If you’re playing on Xbox One, this headset also supports Windows Sonic surround sound, which is pretty neat.
Sure, this isn’t the HiFi audio solution for discerning music lovers and competitive gamers, but if you’re in the market for something in this price range, you know what to expect. For such a low price, this is a damn good headset.
When you want cheap, but not that cheap, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
Cheap can mean a lot of things, and while $100 is still plenty to spend, it’s downright reasonable compared to a lot of options on the market. The HyperX Cloud Alpha occupied this spot on the list for long time, and it may do so again one day, but right now it’s pretty hard to get one for a decent price, given the state of international shipping and shopping. If you can’t find one for a reasonable price, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless. Like the Cloud Alpha, the Arctis 1 Wireless is only $40 more than the next most expensive entry on this list, and offers comparable audio quality to headphones twice or even three times its price.
This is the first wireless gaming headset to connect using a USB-C dongle (there’s an adapter for devices with regular USB ports), which means it can connect a PC, smartphone, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch—even when it’s undocked.
Sure, the Arctis 1 Wireless doesn’t offer the breadth of features found in the premium space, but in the no-frills budget arena, it hardly seems like a no-frills experience. It offers rock-solid audio output, stellar battery life, and it works on almost every platform wirelessly—even an undocked Switch.
The attached microphone is a little wonky, with underemphasized bass that can make deeper voices sound a little tinny. However, it handles voice chat without issue. Like other SteelSeries Arctis headsets, the Arctis 1 Wireless is Discord certified, so it works very well with the service. It won’t be podcast-ready any time soon, but voice chat is no problem.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless: microphone demo
The headset doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as something like the Cloud Alpha, but it’s plenty comfortable. The headband is made of plastic, but clamps down tightly. The ear pads feature cushions in the SteelSeries’ Airweave fabric which is really comfortable and manages heat very well. Basically, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is as close to a premium wireless experience as you can get for under $100.
The best cheap gaming headsets: Notable mentions
- HyperX Cloud Alpha: It’s getting a little long in the tooth, but the Cloud Alpha is still one of the best wired gaming headsets on the market. It sounds great and feels great, and it’s under $100 USD.
- ROCCAT Elo X Stereo: There’s nothing too special going on here, except for that $34 USD promotional pricing. If you want a cheap gaming headset with a pretty good mic, the Elo X Stereo is a fine use of your money.
- SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1: If you’re a fan of the style of the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless then you might also be interested in the updated, wired version of that same headset. It has the same level of comfort with a slightly updated design and same good build quality.
- Turtle Beach Recon 200 Gen 2: For just $59 USD, you get a solid wired gaming headset with a good microphone and comfortable fit that accommodates most head sizes, small and large. Things get a little wonky with this headset because the bass response is either too quiet or too loud without much in between.
- Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2: It doesn’t work on as many platforms as the Arctis 1, but this $99 USD wireless gaming headset is a real contender for people moving between PC and either PlayStation or Xbox consoles. It’s got a great microphone, great battery life, and decent sound, plus it’s comfortable.
- Roccat Syn Buds Core: These gaming earbuds don’t sound quite so good as the JBL Quantum 50, but if you see them when on the hunt for a decent cheap audio solution, know they’re reliable. No extra features, and a pretty mediocre microphone, but $25 USD is $25 USD.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
The gaming headset space, much like many other parts of the audio industry, is rife with exaggerated language and gimmicky features that often don’t add much of anything to your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the flashy lights and promises of immersive audio and bass so intense it’ll rupture your eardrums (in a good way, somehow), but most of that stuff flat out doesn’t matter. That’s why we review gaming headsets, and why we have lists like this. After testing and reviewing dozens of options, we know what kind of audio features are important for different kinds of games, and maybe more importantly: which ones aren’t.
Frequently asked questions about cheap gaming headsets
Between the two headsets, the Razer BlackShark V2 is arguably a better choice. It boasts great sound quality, best-in-class isolation performance, THX Spatial Audio, and a very comfortable design. However, it costs twice as much as the Kraken X. If you’re willing so stretch your budget to just under $100 USD, the BlackShark V2 (or the cheaper BlackShark V2 X) is definitely worth considering. Otherwise, the Kraken X is still a great value for under $50 USD.
Well, the answer is a bit of a mixed bag. For roughly $20 more than the Recon 70, the Turtle Beach Recon 200 features a better build quality and more accurate frequency response. However, its inclusion of a bass boost and amplified audio means that users will have to charge the headset, which can be inconvenient for some. That’s why we believe that the Recon 70 is a much better value for money, since you’re getting good sound for $40, without having to deal with the hassle of recharging your headset.