Gaming headsets are predicated on one thing above all else: convenience. When it comes down to it, these are all products meant to simplify your audio setup and get you down to one thing you can just plug in and use. However, one final barrier lies between the gaming headset and true convenience—cords are just kind of pain. Especially when you’re playing in a living room, a wireless gaming headset can really make everything go a little smoother.
However, while going cordless adds convenience, it’s not as simple as it can be. There are a lot of different products out there, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 30, 2020, to answer a question in the FAQ regarding latency when using wireless gaming headsets.
What you should know before getting a wireless gaming headset
The most important thing to think about when you’re getting a wireless gaming headset is what platform you’re going to be gaming on. For the most part, there is no one-size-fits-all option on the market, and that’s mainly down to limitations placed by console manufacturers. Every platform has its foibles, some of which mean you won’t be able to get something that works everywhere.
For whatever reason, Microsoft in particular doesn’t like it when headset that work on Xbox One also work on Playstation 4, so finding a wireless headset that works on both is basically impossible. Up until fairly recently, the Nintendo Switch didn’t support USB audio, whether it was wireless or not, and it’s only added support on a by-device basis. The Playstation 4, market leader that it is, doesn’t really place any strict restrictions on headphones, but some still work better on the platform than others.
If you’re gaming on PC, the only thing to really think about is managing your USB ports. Wireless gaming headsets generally don’t use Bluetooth, due to lag and inconsistent console support. Instead you’ll usually find wireless gaming headset connect with a USB dongle using a 2.4GHz radio frequency connection, which is less battery intensive and far less prone to lag—plus everything has a USB port, after all.
Wireless gaming headsets generally don’t use Bluetooth, due to lag and inconsistent console support. Instead you’ll usually find wireless gaming headset connect with a USB dongle using a 2.4GHz radio frequency connection
Ultimately, a lot of headsets are also available in different versions for different platforms. The Razer Thresher Ultimate, which is on this list comes in a separate model for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. That means, if there’s something you like on this list, but it isn’t for your platform of choice, it’s possible there’s a more compatible version floating around. With that said, there are enough differences between the highlights of what’s available on each platform, that we decided it was worth including an entry for each major console.
The HyperX Cloud Flight S is the best wireless gaming headset
The HyperX Cloud Flight S brings comfort and performance for a reasonable price. This is a wireless gaming headset made for PC and Playstation 4, and if you’re going between those platforms it’s pretty much the best option out around—wireless or otherwise.
HyperX Cloud Flight SFull Review
This headset is built on a primarily plastic frame, but it doesn’t feel cheap. It doesn’t creak at all, and the headphone hinges rotate and tilt enough to accommodate most head sizes. The headphone pads are leatherette covering thick memory foam, which is very comfortable but doesn’t do a lot for gamers with glasses.
The HyperX Cloud Flight S uses a wireless RF connection with a 2.4GHz USB dongle for transmitting audio between the it and your platform of choice. This is good, because it means audio lag won’t be an issue, and generally this connection takes less power to maintain. That saved juice doesn’t go to waste here, as the Cloud Flight S lasted around 35 hours during our testing—better than just about any other gaming headset on the market. Additionally, this headset brings surround sound to both the Playstation 4 and the PC, something that basically no other headset does.
It’s too bad this doesn’t work with the Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, but if you’re looking for something that checks all the boxes on either the Playstation 4 or PC, this is your best bet. It’s also compatible with the HyperX NGenuity app, but you don’t really need it if setting custom EQ presets isn’t your thing.
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 works on most platforms and brings the features
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 and Nintendo Switch, too.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is the best wireless gaming headset for the Nintendo Switch
Wireless audio has been something of a bugbear for Switch owners. Recently, a software update to the Nintendo Switch opened up the USB ports on its dock to support wireless audio, allowing an additional level of convenience for gamers. However, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is the only wireless gaming headset that works regardless whether the console is docked or not.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 WirelessFull Review
The Arctis 1 Wireless brings 2.4GHz RF wireless audio using a USB-C receiver. Just plug it into the USB port on the bottom of the Switch and you’re all set for wireless, undocked listening. When you want to dock, the headset also comes with a USB-A to USB-C adapter, so you can plug the receiver in and stay wireless.
Outside of that, the Arctis 1 Wireless is built from largely the same materials as the rest of the Arctis line. It drops the comfortable suspension band of more expensive headsets in the line for a simpler plastic band, but it’s still plenty comfortable. The headphone pads are made of SteelSeries’ signature airweave fabric, so heat buildup really isn’t an issue.
This headset comfortable enough for multi-hour gaming sessions, and it can last for much longer than that. In our testing, we found the Arctis 1 had no trouble lasting over 25 hours on a single battery charge. In short, if you’re looking wireless audio on the Switch (or just about anywhere else), there’s really no option more versatile than this.
The Playstation Gold Wireless Headset brings wireless surround sound to the console
Sometimes you want something simple that just works, and given how console peripherals are always a little wonky, where better to go than the source. The Playstation Gold Wireless headset offers straightforward connectivity with its USB dongle and performance backed by Sony.
Playstation Gold Wireless HeadsetFull Review
This sleek PS4 headset supports virtual 7.1 surround sound and can connect to the Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita (!), and PC without issue (though Vita and PC only support stereo sound). It comes with both a wired 3.5mm cable and a USB dongle for connecting to devices, so you shouldn’t have any compatibility options. It might not look like it, but the headset also has a mic embedded into left earphone, so you can chat to your heart’s content, though you won’t sound all that good.
This wireless gaming headset is comfortable and straightforward.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is the best Xbox One gaming headset, wireless or not
If you’re looking for a premium experience tailored from start to finish for the Xbox One, look no further than the SteelSeries Arctis 9x. Built on the same frame as great headsets like the Arctis 7 and Arctis Pro, the 9x variety is one of the only headsets to offer a truly wireless experience on a console.
SteelSeries Arctis 9X
That’s right, this wireless gaming headset uses Xbox Wireless connectivity, previously reserved for console controllers exclusively to connect to the Xbox One. Just pair the Arctis 9x with the console and you’re set—no dongles or base stations required.
The headset sports a durable aluminum frame with a comfortable suspension band modeled after the elastic band of a pair of ski goggles. It’s headphones come with pads made out of a material SteelSeries calls Airweave, which breathes extremely well and offers a nice balance between the plush of a velour pad and the rigidity of leatherette. It also boasts up to 20 hours of use on a single charge.
The Arctis 9x’s bidirectional microphone is flexible and can even retract back into the left headphone when not needed. Surround sound is also supported through Windows Sonic Spatial Audio, so you should be able to hear the direction of enemies trying to sneak up on you in Fortnite just fine.
- Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless: The Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless is a great wireless gaming headset, with a comfortable fit, good sound, and great microphone. Its frame is a little loose, bit it’s got solid battery life, and you can customize the color of the headset’s LED lights, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Razer Nari Ultimate: If these headsets just don’t have all the bells and whistles you want, the Nari Ultimate is probably your best bet. This headset features everything the other headsets on this list feature, along with vibrating headphones that activate during bass sounds. It all feels a little gratuitous, but if that’s what you’re in for, this is a great option.
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
In short, no. As long as you're not using a Bluetooth headset for gaming, it isn't really an issue. Most wireless gaming headsets typically come with their own wireless RF USB dongle to minimize latency. However, all wireless devices will produce some lag, even if it isn't immediately perceptible. If you don't want to worry about latency at all, consider investing in a wired gaming headset instead.
At SoundGuys, we make an effort to keep all our lists up to date and regularly swap new entries in. If a recent gaming headset you're interested in hasn't made it on the list, it's not always because it didn't make the cut. We're a small team, and putting new products through their paces can take time. With gaming headsets in particular, we've only been regularly reviewing them for about a year, so there's also a pretty significant backlogs of products to sort through. Give us time—the headsets on this list all deserve to be there, but if there's something better out there, we'll get to it eventually.