When it comes to video games, you can just use your regular headphones, but your normal set may not be up to the task if you need an integrated microphone. You could always just supplement your cans with a HyperX Quadcast or a Beyerdynamic Fox, but extra cables are a pain. That’s where gaming headsets come in: instead of buying a dedicated mic, sometimes it’s better to just pick up an off-the-shelf option to shoulder the load without any other complicated hookups.
We’ve compiled a short list of the best gaming headsets on the market today.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on June 15, 2020 to address an FAQ about external microphones.
What you should know about gaming headsets
Not every headset is created equal. For better or worse, some gaming headsets offer limited compatibility or are completely incompatible with certain consoles altogether. Don’t worry, we have you covered. If compatibility is of utmost importance, just scroll down to the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless gaming headset.
Another important thing to keep in mind is the reproduction of 3D space. Some headphones are better at creating a realistic perception of spatial awareness than others. 7.1 surround sound can really add to the experience of a hectic firefight or atmospheric horror game.
Our pick for best gaming headset is the Audeze Mobius
Audeze makes some of the best headphones in the world, so it makes sense that when the company decides to bring its planar magnetic technology to the gaming space, the results are pretty special.
The Audeze Mobius is just about the best overall gaming headset you can get. It’s got top-notch sound, with 100mm planar magnetic drivers that accurately reproduce audio across the frequency spectrum, without over emphasizing bass.
Audeze MobiusFull Review
With memory foam pads, and super-flexible band, these headphones are a joy to use. They have no issue blocking out most at-home sounds you’d run into, and the memory phone molds to your head over time. Plus the headset supports just about every connection method possible, with a 3.5mm cord, USB compatibility, and Bluetooth 5.
Additionally, Audeze also teamed up with Waves Nx to bring 3D audio to the Mobius. In addition to the 7.1 virtual surround sound the game supports, you can turn on 3D audio to simulate a speaker environment in your headphones. Tap the button to set the anchor point, and it will always sound like things are coming from that direction, regardless of how you turn your head. This isn’t a huge thing for games, but it makes music and movies feel distinct in a really cool way.
The Logitech G Pro X is brings great software support and hardware options to boot
The Beyerdynamic Custom Game occupied this spot on the list for just about the whole time this list has existed. Unfortunately, the Custom Game’s been pretty hard to find lately, given everything that’s happening. It might make it back to the list when things normalize, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for something well built, with replaceable parts, the Logitech G Pro X is probably your best bet.
Logitech G Pro XFull Review
This wired gaming headset sports a primarily metal build, leatherette pads (and velour replacements), and multiple replaceable cable options, depending on how you want to use the headset. There’s a USB dongle for playing on PC, a 3.5mm cord with a volume dial and mute switch for console play, and a 3.5mm cord with a single multi-purpose button for mobile devices.
However, apart from being comfortable and sturdy, and coming with replaceable parts, the G Pro X also bears the honorable distinction of being maybe the only gaming headset ever to have a genuinely great software experience. Using the recently relaunched G Hub app, the headset brings the standard PC software features you’d expect of a gaming headset, like virtual surround sound and EQ customization, and then some. Also rolled into the app is Blue Vo!ce, a suite of microphone controls that offer tons of voice options—listen for yourself:
For the best cross-platform compatibility, pick the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
Gaming headsets use all sorts of connection methods, from USB dongles and cords, to Bluetooth and even to RF transmitters. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless brings USB-C audio to the gaming space, and not only does it not suck, but it works just about everywhere.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 WirelessFull Review
This wireless gaming headset uses a USB-C RF dongle to deliver lag free audio to undocked Nintendo Switches and all sorts of smartphones. It comes with an adapter cord for USB-A, so you’ll be able to get wireless audio on PC, docked Nintendo Switches, and Playstation 4. The Xbox One still doesn’t support audio via USB, but don’t worry: The headset also comes with a 3.5mm cord so you can go wired and still use it.
On top of that swath of connection options, the Arctis 1 Wireless has remarkably solid audio output, and it can last up to 25 hours on a single charge. There’s no surround sound and the mic is fairly average, but for around $100, this thing is absolutely stacked.
Stretch that dollar for gaming headsets with the HyperX Cloud Alpha
Sure, $100 is still plenty to spend, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha gaming headset offers comparable audio quality to headphones twice or even three times the price.
HyperX Cloud AlphaFull Review
This is a no-frills device for gamers who want something simple that gets the job done with aplomb.
Sure, it doesn’t offer the breadth of features many gaming headsets have. However, in this price range, rock solid performance is really what you should be aiming for. Surround sound can be nice to have, but it’s hardly going to make you better at a game. Some games like Overwatch will even add it in for you.
The attached microphone is a little wonky, with underemphasized bass that can make deeper voices sound a little tinny. However, it handles everything without issue. If you’re looking for something use for podcasts or recording, this probably isn’t ideal. If you’re just using Discord, this’ll do just fine.
The headset was clearly designed with comfort and durability in mind. With a solid metal frame, thick plastic headphones, and deep leatherette pads make for a headset that feels fantastic. The inline controls add an extra degree of convenience, too.
If you need something cheap, but don’t want to miss out on features, try the Razer Kraken X
The Razer Kraken X brings a lot of value to the table. Sure, it doesn’t sound nearly as good as the HyperX Cloud Alpha, but it brings 3.5mm connectivity and 7.1 surround sound, all for around $50. This option really walks the line between “good value” and downright cheap.
Razer Kraken XFull Review
The headset has a lightweight design, with a headband made of a 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
Related: Best cheap gaming headsets 2019
- Drop x Sennheiser PC37X: If you’re looking for something like HyperX Cloud Alpha for PC gaming, but you prefer something with an open back, the Sennheiser PC37X is definitely worth a look. It sounds good (though not quite as good as the HyperX Cloud Alpha), its mic is decent, and its got velour earpads—great for long gaming sessions.
- HyperX Cloud Orbit S: This is a great option for the person who wants something as good as Audeze Mobius, but doesn’t necessarily need every feature under the sun. The Cloud Orbit S is based on the Mobius, with the same 100mm planar magnetic drivers and 3D audio features, but it jettisons the Bluetooth support. Plus it’s $70 cheaper.
- Fnatic React: Its audio output isn’t quite as accurate as the HyperX Cloud Alpha (though it comes pretty close), but if you want a reasonably priced stereo gaming headset and having a very good microphone is a priority, the Fnatic React might be just the ticket. This is a comfortable, straightforward headset, and it won’t break the bank.
Why you should trust us
Not only is this site our nine-to-five, but each of us each have multiple years of reviewing consumer audio products. We’ve kept tabs on the ever-changing world of audio, giving us the ability to parse apart the gimmicks from the gems. Sam in particular is our resident gaming guru—so the models listed here have gone through not only our testing gantlet, but hours of practical use.
We want you to be happy with your purchase—none of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here is allowed to benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work, regardless of whether or not people clicked that “buy” icon. They will never even know if anyone did, though the site going under might be a good hint.
How we picked
Although we’ve directly reviewed a vast array of products here at SoundGuys, we haven’t gotten around to all of them. After all, we’re only human and are inherently subjective. To counteract our unavoidable bias, we do quite a bit of research by perusing online forums, reading other reviews (PCMag, CNET, etc), conducting Twitter polls and more.
Unlike some of our more niche best lists, we’re able to draw upon the full experiences of our entire staff—including some who have moved on—for input in populating our list of candidates. This list isn’t simply what one of us likes, it’s an accurate representation of our experiences as an entire staff. This is a very crowded segment of headphones, with countless models that are really, really good. However, this is what we feel are the best when you consider the diverse needs of many listeners.
In short, this list is the running conclusions of thousands of hours of use from a growing list of contributors over many years. This is a living document, and it’s updated every time a new model knocks an existing one off their pedestal.
Did we miss your favorite headset? Let us know in the comments, and who knows? Maybe it shows up in next month’s update.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're looking to produce a gaming voiceover, or just really want your voice to come out crystal clear when talking to your teammates, you might want to consider one of our best gaming microphones, or even one of our best podcasting mics. An external mic will almost always give you a better sound simply because they're designed to produce high quality audio and reproduce a natural frequency response. Depending on the type of microphone you buy, you may need to purchase additional equipment in order to power it. If you just need the mic to do the job for administering communication between you and your teammates and don't want to spend too much, a headset with a mic will do the trick. Additionally, because a headset mic is often physically closer to your mouth than an external mic, it can be better for cancelling out keyboard clicking sounds.