Ah, the personal computer—if you’re looking for the absolute crème de la crème, premium gaming experience, there’s no better platform. Much like how you can spend a fortune for a 15 or 20% increase in graphical fidelity over the average console, the PC is also the perfect place for expensive gaming headsets with every feature under the sun.
Don’t worry, there are plenty reasonably priced options too, they just take a little more time to find. Lucky for you, we’ve done that work. Here are the best PC gaming headsets around.
Editor’s note: this list of the best PC gaming headsets was updated on June 29, 2020, to answer a question in the FAQ regarding the value of gaming headsets, and to add the Sennheiser GSP 500 to the notable mentions section.
What you should know about PC Gaming headsets
There are a few things to consider when you’re shopping around for PC gaming headsets. First of all, you should pay attention to how you want to connect it to your PC. Generally, headsets come with three connection methods—USB, single 3.5mm, and split 3.5mm. You won’t find Bluetooth gaming headsets very often, which is probably good, given the standard’s occasional issues with audio lag.
If you’re intent on a headset that uses features like surround sound, you’ll need some kind of USB connection. Sometimes that means a regular USB plug, other times a headset will come with an adapter. Either way, features other than stereo sound and an attached microphone all require more data than a TRS or TRRS plug can give. Wireless headsets generally come with USB dongles here, too.
However, if all you want is something simple, it’s really just down to where on your computer the headphone jack is. If your PC is under your desk and the port is on the back, anything with a shorter cord might not work, so you may be stuck with a wireless headset anyway.
If nothing but the absolute best will do, look no further than the Audeze Mobius
In a world of unlimited budgets, the Audeze Mobius is pretty much flat out the best wired gaming headset on the market. The first foray into gaming from luxury audio company Audeze, the Mobius has 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 a 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.
Ultimately, the headset does it all, and that’s reflected in its price.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is great for setups where wires get in the way
If your only accessible port for a gaming headset is at the back of a tower under a desk, a wireless gaming headset is probably what you should get. Built on SteelSeries’ extremely comfortable Arctis frame, the Arctis 7 sports a flexible suspension band and headphone pads made of Airweave fabric, which keeps things nice and cool.
SteelSeries Arctis 7Full Review
The Arctis 7 uses a 2.4GHz USB wireless RF dongle to transmit audio between the headset and whatever it’s connected to, so lag isn’t an issue. SteelSeries claims its battery can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, though in our review we found it landed somewhere closer to 16—still nothing to sneeze at.
The Arctis 7 features a retractable, Discord-certified microphone, so it’s guaranteed to play well with the program—a necessity for PC gaming. The headset also supports hi-res audio, though most video games don’t. And top of all that hardware, the SteelSeries Engine app brings surround sound and custom EQ balancing, to boot. If you don’t mind losing app support, you can use this on the Playstation 4, too.
If you just want great sound without all the frills, the HyperX Cloud Alpha is your best bet
It’s years old now, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha remains a true workhorse of a gaming headset. So few headsets truly nail the balancing act of quality and price, so when one rolls up, it tends to stick around for a awhile. Most of the headsets on this list came out in the last year. With the exception of the Audeze Mobius, the HyperX Cloud Alpha sounds better than all of them—for under $100.
HyperX Cloud AlphaFull Review
It doesn’t offer the breadth of features many gaming headsets have, but at this price rock solid performance is really what you should be aiming for. Surround sound can be nice, 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 your PC has split audio/mic inputs, you’ll need to buy a splitter, but those are easy to find and usually dirt cheap.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro combines great sound with a mountain of features—no software required
If you want a PC gaming headset absolutely packed with features, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro is your best bet. It’s Hi-Res certified, and offers performance to back that up. The headsets’s retractable mic is convenient and brings clear audio for in-game voice chat. Additionally, it’s extremely comfortable, with a thick ear pads made of a fabric SteelSeries calls Airweave, and a sturdy aluminum frame sporting a suspension band based after the band of a pair of ski goggles.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDACFull Review
However, if comfort and raw audio quality were all this headset had to offer, I’d be recommending the Arctis 7, which feels exactly the same and costs considerably less. The key to really getting the most out of the Arctis Pro is its GameDAC unit. This little console acts as an intermediary between your PC and the headset, and it lets you control your experience in a number of ways.
Whether you want to go deep and tweak the headset’s EQ and sound profiles, or you just want to change the colors of the lights on the headphones, the DAC’s got you covered. It’s compact, easy to use, and adds a ton of extra features. Plus it does all that without the need to install any additional software, which is frankly worth avoiding. Setting it up on consoles can be a little complicated, but the DAC unit is perfectly suited to a desktop setting.
The Razer Kraken X is very solid option for gamers on a budget
On the spectrum of headphones prices, most PC gaming headsets are actually pretty reasonably priced. However, even within that relative space, very few manage to include as many features for as cheap as the Razer Kraken X. This headset is built on the same frame as Razer’s other Kraken headsets, with many of the same features, and just a few limitations.
Razer Kraken XFull Review
The Kraken X features 40mm dynamic drivers, a flexible cardioid boom mic, and its headphone pads sport grooves to make listening while wearing glasses more comfortable. For the price, it features some remarkably accurate audio output, with only a slight overemphasis in the bass range.
The headset connects using a 3.5mm jack, but still supports surround sound on Windows 10, which is pretty uncommon. It really covers pretty much all the bases, whether you’re a fan of FPS games or RPGs—for $39.99, you could do a lot worse.
Best PC gaming headsets: notable mentions
- 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. It also comes with a split mic/audio connection, so you won’t need to go out and get a splitter.
- HyperX Cloud Alpha S: If you love the HyperX Cloud Alpha but want features like virtual surround sound and adjustable bass vents, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S might be just the thing. It doesn’t sound any better or improve on the original Cloud Alpha’s poor microphone, but it’s also only around $30 more expensive.
- 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.
- Sennheiser GSP 500: The open-back design of this headset recreates an accurate sense of sound. Other features include breathable padding and noise-cancelling microphone, making the GSP 500 a comfortable and immersive option for those willing to pay a premium.
Why you should trust Sam
When it comes down to it, I don’t just review gaming headsets because I’m passionate about good audio. Pretty much everything I do here at SoundGuys focuses on gaming content, and that’s because I’ve been a gamer my whole life. You name it, I’ve probably played it. I know what kind of audio features are important for different kinds of games, and maybe more importantly: which ones aren’t.
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. On PC in particular, there’s a lot of fluff out there. Many apps are slow and awkward, or they don’t bring much functionality in the first place. PC gaming headsets should represent the gold standard of what’s possible in the market, and many of them do, but there are just too many prominent bad offerings to wade through. That’s why we review headsets, and why we have lists like this.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're someone who spends a lot of time gaming, you want to invest in the right gear that heightens your experience. Gaming headsets can feature design choices that cater specifically to gamers, which you may not find with just any headset. These features include high-quality microphones for clear team communication, increased comfort for long gaming sessions, multiple connectivity options for use with different gaming devices, and a sound signature that often emphasizes the low-end—a popular preference amongst gamers.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 and the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless offer very similar experiences on paper. They have roughly the same battery life and roughly the same feature set—it really comes down to what's important to you in a gaming headset. The Void has a much more accurate microphone, but the Arctis 7 has more accurate sound output. They're both comfortable, but in our experience the Void was far too loose. Ultimately, this was a big part of why we picked the Arctis 7 for this list—it's hard to appreciate a headset's finer points when you're constantly worried that it's about to fall off your head.
If you're looking for a headset just for PC, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is probably the better option for you. Using the SteelSeries Engine app, it supports surround sound, which the Arctis 1 does not. If you're looking for something compatible with more platforms, the Arctis 1 Wireless is your best bet.