The best gaming headset is probably one of the most surprisingly powerful upgrades you can make to your gaming setup. The impact good game audio can have on your experience can be huge, and it's all about immersion. Surrounding yourself with a detailed soundscape, as the developers intended, can ground you in a game world like nothing else.
The headsets on this list are chosen from the dozens the PC Gamer hardware team and myself have tested. Between us we've got decades of experience of the best and worst audio gear ever made. The top headsets offer the best sound for gamers at each end of the budget spectrum. Quality drivers ensure you get the best audio, and we're against gaming headphones that overdo low frequencies, as it provides terrible bass response in most cases. The best gaming headsets offer more balance drivers that require minimal tweaking on your end, and you won't need to spend hundreds of dollars.
The best gaming headset is the Razer Blackshark V2, a supremely affordable and great-sounding set of cans that ticks pretty much all the boxes. And if you want to ditch the cord, the best wireless gaming headset is the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. It's got practically the same great audio as its wired cousin and comes with a class-leading 300 hours of battery life.
Of course, if you do want to spend more, the premium options sound pretty incredible and we've obviously got those covered here, too.
The Quick List
Best gaming headset
The best overall
The Razer BlackShark V2 is a superb gaming headset that delivers on every front. It sounds great and has a simple, functional, and incredibly comfortable design that feels light on your head. It's the best gaming headset you can buy.
The best budget
The Corsair HS55 Stereo is a wired gaming headset that improves on the HS50 with better comfort and sound. It has soft earcups, a light weight and a detachable mic. It has a simple design and no extra features, but it is a great value.
The best wireless
The Cloud Alpha Wireless is a wireless wonder for PC gaming. It has superb sound, a clear mic, and DTS surround sound. It’s also light and comfy, with a whopping 300-hour battery life. It’s the best wireless headset we’ve tested so far.
Best for audiophiles
The best for audiophiles
With a great build and comfort these cans are ideal for long hours of gaming. They are also perfect for critical listening with a well-balanced sound profile that delivers adequate warmth and boom without muddying the sharp highs.
Best for streaming
The best for streaming
The Streamset holds the lofty goal of replacing your desktop mic streaming setup with one headset capable of delivering high quality audio from both ends. And it delivers with aplomb and a price tag that's none to punishing.
Best Gaming Headset
Dethroning the HyperX Cloud Alpha from the top spot was no easy feat. Razer's BlackShark V2 gaming headset manages to do just that by offering killer audio quality, great price, and easy-to-use software. From the moment Razer first started talking about the BlackShark V2, it was clear this was main focus of the headset, and the design of the drivers themselves is effectively doing what the impressive Cloud Alphas do.
The 50mm TriForce Titanium drivers are designed with discrete ports to separate bass, mid, tremble tones from interfering with each other. The result is a richer sound than a standard set, and keeps it on par with HyperX's 50mm dual-chamber neodymium driver headset. They're like a tribute to HyperX's own design, and no worse for it.
And it gives a level or aural clarity to the BlackShark V2 that makes me doubly surprised to hear it from a headset that costs just $100. If I'm being very picky I'd maybe say that I can hear a little more separation of the higher frequencies with the HyperX Cloud Alpha—mostly when the THX software is enabled— but there is a richness to the mids, and some velvety bass notes, that you only get with the BlackShark V2.
For me, the sound is one of the stand-out features of the BlackShark V2, and is far and above what you will get with most other sets in this price point. I'm also a big fan of the restrained design of the headset, and I've found them to comfortable enough to wear for marathon gaming sessions.
I'm a teeny bit of an audio snob; sporting an obsession with Tidal's Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) offerings, and I don't quite have the words to express the slap-bass joy of Rage Against the Machine's Take the Power Back when played loud on really good audio equipment. My usual headphones are the Audeze LCD-3, a particularly lovely open-back pair of cans rocking planar magnetic drivers. They're great, for music and gaming, but those advanced drivers make them expensive.
The BlackShark V2 may not quite have the glorious clarity of a well-worn planar magnetic set, but the tonal quality of the TriForce drivers, surprisingly with the THX software in music mode, makes for a fantastic experience.
And they're great in-game too. Where there's a warmth to the musical experience that means I've been oscillating between the melancholy of Swift's Folklore and the toe-tapping of Seasick Steve's latest, I'm feeling kinda shellshocked after an explosive Battlefield V tour of duty.
There's only one reason I no longer use them as my daily drivers, and that's the arrival of the wireless version, the rather more expensive BlackShark V2 Pro. They use the same drivers, but use a lag-free wireless connection, with a great battery life... but they are pricey. Though it has to be said that we've seen deals as low as $130 so it is worth looking at.
But overall price is the other stand-out feature of the wired BlackShark V2 headset; you'll often find them for under $100 and that makes them an absolute bargain.
Read our full Razer Blackshark V2 review.
The best gaming headset alternatives...
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Best Budget Gaming Headset
The HS55 headset is much comfier than Corsair's previous budget models. The plush earcups on the HS55 make for a stark comparison to the HS50's stiff and unbudging foam. The HS55 is also lighter, at 284g, which has a big impact on comfort over long periods. I wore this pair for the better part of a week, 8 hours a day, and I didn't feel the urge to throw them off at any point. They can be a little sweaty on hot days due to the leatherette material they're covered in, but that's a pretty common drawback among gaming headsets in this price range.
The biggest shake-up is the microphone arm, which is now attached permanently to the HS55's left earcup and can be flipped up and out of the way if no longer needed. This is definitely an improvement over the previous HS50, which had a removable mic via 3.5mm jack.
Don't judge me, but I've lost my fair share of headset microphones in my career, but I'm not a huge fan of leaving the mic in front of my face all day when it's not in use. A flip-up mic is a much better option, so glad to see one make the cut with the HS55.
The microphone sounds great, anyways, and that's what really counts here. I'm really impressed with just how clear the HS55's microphone is: the subtle tones and nuance of my voice's luscious timbre (in my opinion) come through accurately in testing, which you can listen to below. There's a surprising level of clarity in this mic, even in the lower ranges, and it's a really great solution for a budget headset.
This is a 3.5mm wired headset, however, so just bear in mind that both the microphone and audio quality could be adversely affected by your motherboard's DAC/amp or whatever sound card/external device you plug it into. It shouldn't make a huge difference nowadays, even the cheapest motherboards have relatively decent audio, but worth sparing a thought for your holistic audio setup.
You're getting a comfier and lighter headset in the HS55 over the HS50, and ultimately I feel it's worth the slight price bump for those improvements. The HS55 feels a little cheaper than the HS50, however, with more of a plasticky feel to it. Thankfully it still feels robust and is clearly well put together nonetheless.
But Corsair's own is far from this headset's only competition. You've Razer's Kraken and BlackShark V2 X cans, which both make for a good contest, and HyperX can be found selling a few models for roughly the same price, including the Cloud II when on offer. That's stiff competition, though the Corsair delivers enough to warrant consideration by any gamer looking to pick up some new cans.
The microphone is the real star here. It's superbly clear and offers a great end result. You shouldn't struggle to be heard on Discord or in chat in-game, and you won't be that player with the muffled and scratchy microphone no one wants to play with. While the mic's design isn't quite bang-on how I'd like it, it's both convenient and sounds great. That really puts the HS55 in contention at this price.
Read our full Corsair HS55 Stereo review.
The best budget alternatives...
Best Wireless Gaming Headset
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is perhaps the most praised thing to exist on this site. We all love it on the team and now HyperX has cut the cord on its best pair of cans. The biggest drawcard for this headset is the new huge battery. You're looking at up to 300 hours of battery life in wireless mode while still keeping the headset relatively light and comfortable. It's a pretty massive feat and I feel HyperX has pulled it off.
Out of the box, this unit was reporting having about 80% charge, so I decided to leave it there to see how well that held. I spent a workday listening to music and checked the battery again: I swear it still said 80%. I have been using this thing for gaming and music listening pretty consistently for the past week and we aren't even at 50% battery yet.
That impressive battery life is, of course, a best-case scenario. A lot of that has to do with the volume you're running the headset at, and volume is probably my only real complaint. It's absolutely loud enough but I can listen to it at full volume and still be fairly comfortable.
But the sound quality truly is incredible. Music sounds amazing. It's always fun to listen to some of my favorite sound-heavy songs on a good pair of cans and try to pick the different instruments or bites used. These do an excellent job and are definitely one of the better gaming headsets I've used to listen to music on.
When playing games the directional sound is also very nice. I was able to easily locate hidden batteries by directional beeps in Deep Rock Galactic and had a wonderful time bouncing along to the tight beats of Shadow Warrior 3. I loaded up some Doom Eternal and promptly terrified myself. If you've ever wanted to know what it sounds like having a Cacodemon suddenly show up and whisper sweet blah-things into very specifically your left ear then these can absolutely deliver.
The Cloud line is always touted for comfort and despite the hefty battery this still definitely fits the bill. I'm someone who struggles with too much weight or tightness on my head, and I have a real sensitivity to uncomfortable headsets. The top band is thick and has soft padding underneath. This coupled with the equally soft ear cups makes for a very cozy experience, and does an excellent job of blocking out noise.
Sadly, the mic is your fairly standard affair and while it will work just fine for chat in games, it's very basic and uninspired when it comes to sound quality.
Though all things considered, I struggle to imagine a customer who wouldn't be happy with these as a wireless gaming headset. They're pricey, but within reason for their specs, and they certainly deliver on everything you could want for gaming, and listening to music, on your PC.
Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless review.
The best wireless alternatives...
Best wireless gaming headset guide
We've tested a host of different wireless gaming headsets to be able to give your the definitive lowdown on what the best wireless headset is for your budget.
The Maxwell is the wireless gaming headset I've been looking for. It matches Audeze's outstanding audiophile-baiting planar magnetic drivers and packages them up in an excellent gaming headset. The sound is incredible, the battery life great, and the experience utterly high-end. Well, apart from the software.
Read our full Audeze Maxwell review.
Razer BlackShark V2 Pro
The wired Razer BlackShark V2 is our favorite gaming headset and the wireless 'Pro' version takes all of the best bits from those excellent headphones and snips off the cable.
Best Audiophile Headset for Gaming
The very same qualities that make the Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X perfect for long hours of critical listening, mixing, and mastering of audio are perfect when gaming. And you get everything needed in a set of headphones for gaming. Let’s start with the build and comfort. These are extremely well-built headphones with a level of comfort that is hard to beat.
Forget even lambskin leather, these pads wrap your ears with heavenly comfort. The huge circular velour pads completely cover the ears and fellow bespectacled gamers won't face any discomfort either. I don't know how long they'll last but thankfully, they are replaceable.
The spring steel headband has memory foam padding and keeps those muffs well clamped to your head which gives the excellent sound seal despite the open back nature. While you can hear your environment, it's not as transparent as something like my Drop PC38X. Initially, the clamping force was way too strong that I couldn’t comfortably wear them for longer than an hour. I had to manually stretch them out over a few days and now they're perfect for me.
Beyerdynamic includes two different cable lengths cables; 3m and a shorter 1.8m for console gamepads, Nintendo Switch. or smart devices. These cables didn't make any noise, which was something that was present on the MMX 100. The low power requirement of 48 ohms allows you to use the DT 900 Pro X on almost anything without needing an amplifier too.
As an open-back style headset, the DT 900 Pro X surprised me with how punchy the audio is unlike the somewhat anaemic, airy audio I've experienced in other open backs. The STELLAR.45 driver employed here is perfectly tuned for a flat profile that slaps whatever you're listening to. From classical sonnets to Snoop Dogg bass hits, nothing sounded bad.
Forget your typical bloated gamer bass. The DT 900 Pro X is almost surgical in precision, allowing me to hear layers of bass that hits just right without ever dominating and muddying the equally sharp highs. Beyer really wasn’t kidding when they said these cans are for critical listening. You hear everything.
I've only recently started playing the exceptional Ghost of Tsushima and these headphones bring the game world to life in a way that's just hard to describe. From the Samurai inspired soundtrack to the guttural sounds of a dying Mongol to the gentle sounds of wind chimes moving in the wind. You hear everything with a level of clarity and liveliness better than any set of headphones I’ve ever used.
Being open-back, the audio has room to breathe giving it a more natural sound that has you stopping to check if what you're hearing is in the game or the real world. Listening to the sounds of rushing streams, birds chirping, and oh boy, the guiding winds blowing through the gorgeous forests and fields truly made me feel like I was in the world.
Turning to competitive shooters like CoD Warzone and Apex Legends, the impressive clarity and fantastic audio positioning make it easy to identify the location and relative distance of opponents. Every bullet sings and whines, explosions boom and shake and environments come to life.
With all the qualities mentioned above, it goes without saying that if you are into content creation, the DT 900 Pro X will help you create the most accurate audio for your audience. Since a lot of us are now dabbling in some form of creation be it streaming, podcasting or YouTube, these are a no brainer.
Read our full Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X review.
The best audiophile alternatives...
Best audiophile headphones for gaming
We're audio geeks here on PC Gamer, so we've tested a huge variety of dedicated audiophile-grade headsets to be able to deliver the definitive verdict on the absolute best-sounding headphones around today.
Best gaming headset for streaming
Almost every gaming headset I've had the pleasure of wearing has had a pretty poor quality microphone. They're mostly fine for game chats and yelling at your friends, but the second you want your voice to sound good they can get in the bin. Your average gamer probably doesn't mind too much, and would definitely rather their headset delivers great sound and maybe forgoes the mic quality for a cheaper price. But there's a reason most streamers, podcasters, and content creators of many stripes will have a dedicated desk mic for those higher quality recordings.
Even our absolute favourite gaming headsets fail to go toe-to-toe with an ok quality desktop microphone. Audio Technica's new ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet headset says hell no to that, spend all that money on me instead.
The ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet isn't exactly a budget headset coming at $229/$AUD399/£169 but in no way is that the aim. It's absolutely a high-end closed back headset.
Listening to music is a lovely experience in the ATH-M50xSTS, which I kind of expect for an Audio Technica headset. These are essentially a rebuild of the ATH-M50x so they're brimming with that good sound DNA. The audio quality is really hard to fault especially in this price range. It's well balanced with little details shining through in songs. A little bass heavy in the way that all headsets tend to be, but it's fairly mild and the bright treble and warm tones are lovely to be immersed in.
The outer housing for the StreamSet is pretty minimal as the whole thing only offers one button, a pressable scroll wheel. All it does is turns off the monitor mode and adjusts specifically the volume so you can monitor your own voice to your headset. Monitor mode can be pretty offputting, but I noticed myself using it far more with this headset than normal, allowing me to get a good feel for what my voice was like. It felt easier to do this with the dedicated monitor controls, and also potentially thanks to the sidetone circuit that's supposed to give your own voice a more natural tone in the headset.
With such a dedication to monitor mode, there's no buttons for anything else on the headset. It makes sense, especially for a headset that wants to make sure you sound good. All other audio is meant to be controlled through your PC. Remembering to reach for your PC volume controls as opposed to the headset itself takes a little bit of getting used to, but I think the trade off in simplicity is worth it.
I know the whole point of the ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet is to have a good mic, but wow does it actually have a good mic. Audio Technica has packed a cardioid condenser into this attached boom mic. It's based on the brand's 20 Series microphones and gosh it does sound like it.
The StreamSet mic is comparable to using a desktop mic only a whole lot easier. I used it during several streaming sessions and am convinced it's less hassle and maybe even a better solution than my desktop mic setup. I am almost exclusively rocking wireless headsets because I hate cables, but this is convincing me it needs to be in my streaming kit.
This gaming headset is old school cool. There aren't any real drivers to worry about, and certainly no blaring gamer software to have to not only install but also navigate. These are plug and play in the truest of sense just immediately working with whatever I plug them into flawlessly. Due to working with PCs and what not, I'm reviewing the USB model which has a fixed USB Type-A cable and comes with a USB Type-C adapter in the box and has absolutely no issues. For people much cooler than me there's even an incredibly uncommon analog XLR option, which feels like it goes further to show off audio reverence in these devices.
This headset/mic combination doesn't disappoint on either spec, delivering amazing sound quality and recording that'll see your desktop mic gathering dust.
Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review.
The best streaming headset alternative...
How we test gaming headsets
How does PC Gamer test gaming headsets?
You can read all about how PC Gamer tests hardware in our how we test guide, but here's a quick breakdown of specifically how we test gaming headsets.
Each headset that we test we use as our daily drivers for at least a week, that way we get to experience not just the sound, but what it's like to use each set of cans on a daily basis.
We test each headset in a number of different game genres—shooters, battle royales, and racing games make for particularly good testing scenarios since the former tends to test the low-end and reveal muddiness and distortion, while Battlefield, PUBG, et al are great for positional audio tracking.
We record a sample of our voice in Audacity and compare it to previous recordings from other models, then head to Discord to get some feedback from our friends on how we're sounding. You can hear a lot of the microphones and headsets we test on our Soundcloud (I promise it's not PC Gamer's homemade rap).
Oh, and we listen to a lot of high-res audio music, obviously. Listening to tracks we know well, that work through the bass, mid-tones, and highs, means we know how they should sound at their best. And if we hear things we've never heard before in a familiar track, that normally indicates a pretty damned good headset.
Where to buy
Where are the best gaming headset deals?
In the US:
- Amazon - Big discounts on popular gaming headsets
- Walmart - Console, and PC gaming headsets up to 30% off
- B&H Photo - Deals on pro-sumer and gaming headsets
- Best Buy - Save up to $100 on gaming headsets
- Target - Gaming headsets as low as $13.99
- Staples - Tons of budget gaming headsets
- Lenovo - Turtle Beach headsets starting at $29.95
- Newegg - Lots of gaming headsets on offer
In the UK:
- Amazon - Tons of budget gaming headset options
- Newegg - Variety of gaming headset brands
- Overclockers - Deals on wireless gaming headsets
- Scan - Deals on Razer and Beyerdynamic headsets
- Ebuyer - Gaming headsets as low as £17
- Argos - Budget gaming headsets aplenty
- Box - Wide range of affordable gaming headsets
- CCL - Discounts on some of the best headsets
Best gaming headset FAQ
What does a gaming headset need?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a gaming headset. A good price and sound quality are foremost, but comfort is up there, too. Also, noise-cancelling mics are crucial for coms, so most of the headsets we've listed here include this feature. You want decent voice quality and a microphone that won't pick up every single keypress on your mechanical keyboard.
Are wired or wireless headsets better for gaming?
This really comes to down to preference, but if you're going the wireless route what you want to look for is for decent battery life (20 hours or higher). The last thing you want to have a headset that's constantly needing to be plugged in because the battery life is bad. It kind of defeats the purpose of being wireless. For wired headsets you want to make sure you the cable is long enough to reach your PC without feeling like it's tugging on your head.