Whether you're looking to get lost in Horizon: Zero Dawn or want to hear the competition coming in Gears of War 4, having a good gaming headset matters. After testing tons of models from multiple brands in different price ranges, our top pick is the SteelSeries Arctis 7. This headset offers an incredibly comfortable fit, along with rich sound for both games and music. You can use it on just about any system, including PC, PS4, Xbox One and the new Nintendo Switch.
Gaming headsets aren't one-size-fits-all, and we're not just talking about comfort. There are budget-friendly options such as the Logitech G230 and Hyper X Cloud II, as well as high-end headpieces that boast thunderous surround sound and loads of customization options, such as the Astro A50. If all you need is chat audio, there are extra-cheap options out there such as the Turtle Beach Recon Chat.
The best headsets are more than just gaming peripherals, too. In some cases, they offer enough crisp highs and satisfying bass to double as worthy headphones for music and movies. And if you own an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR, you're going to need an immersive headset to make virtual reality feel that much more real. Learn more about all our recommended headsets below.
How We Test
Gaming headsets are among the most personal and subjective peripherals out there, and as such, much of our testing involves wearing the devices for hours on end and playing lots of games.
We typically test headsets with a mix of shooting, fighting and action/adventure games. Games such as Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront give us a sense of how accurate each headset's directionality is in a multiplayer setting, while titles such as Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight help us evaluate how well each peripheral captures a game's sense of impact and atmosphere.
We also listen to music and watch movies with each headset in order to size up its usefulness for consuming multimedia. For wireless headsets, we keep a log of how long the peripheral lasts before the battery completely drains.
We generally wear each headset for at least two full days to assess comfort level. We always get a second opinion from someone else on staff, as what's comfortable to one gamer could be unbearable to the next.
Compatibility and What to Consider
Before rushing to buy a fancy headset, it's important to make sure it works with your platform of choice. Most headsets are designed primarily for a single type of hardware (PC, Xbox One or PS4, for example), but are rarely limited to those machines.
Any headset with a 3.5 mm audio jack can hook up to your PC, PS4 controller, Xbox One controller (newer models have a headphone jack, older ones require an adapter), mobile device or Nintendo Switch. Some PC-based headsets only connect to your computer via USB, while others have optional USB dongles that provide physical volume-control buttons.
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If you're an audiophile who loves to tweak, you might lean toward headset accompanied by software. Programs such as Logitech Gaming Software and Razer Synapse 2.0 allow you to adjust individual parameters such as bass and treble, and, in some cases, let you save sound profiles for specific games.
You'll also have to consider whether you want to go wired or wireless. Wireless headsets free you from staying glued to your monitor, though the risk of interference and a draining battery might compel competitive gamers to stick to wired sets.
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