I test PC gaming headsets — here’s what I recommend for every budget

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 on desk
(Image credit: SteelSeries)

I will admit that I’m a relative latecomer to the wonderful world of PC gaming headsets. While I’ve owned dedicated gaming mice and keyboards since I was in college, the very first gaming headset I used was the Turtle Beach Ear Force PX22 in 2015. I picked up the Turtle Beach Stealth 450 a year later, and used the peripheral until it literally fell apart. Since then, I’ve reviewed dozens of gaming headsets from some of the most popular manufacturers on the market — and they’re easily one of my favorite gadgets to cover.

That’s because music and sound play an enormous role in how we perceive the world around us. A good gaming headset isn’t just a tool to improve your in-game performance; it’s also a way to connect emotionally with a heartfelt cutscene, or a beautiful music track, or a perfectly delivered line of dialogue. As such, more so than any other gaming accessory, headsets are the one area where you really, really don’t want to skimp.

However, just like any other piece of tech, gaming headsets run the gamut from “impulse buy” to “comically expensive,” and it’s not always easy to know how much to spend for the features that you’ll need. As such, I’ve divided our gaming headset recommendations into five different prices, and provided my personal recommendation in each category. It’s important to remember not all of these are necessarily the best gaming headsets for any given setup or situation. But they should be a decent entry point for gamers who know they want a gaming headset, but otherwise aren’t exactly sure where to start.

Less than $50

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 on desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you don’t need anything fancy in a gaming headset and don’t mind connecting with a 3.5 mm audio cable, $50 is about what you should look to spend. While you can get cheaper gear, these tend to be questionable products from unknown companies.

I’d look toward the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2. This versatile gaming headset is either “no-frills” or “bare-bones,” depending on how you look at it. But either way, it provides better sound quality than you might expect for $50 in a perfectly passable chassis. The design feels a bit flimsy and the microphone is pretty weak. But it’s comfortable and it sounds good, and those are the most important things a gaming headset can offer.

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2:

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2: $49 @ Amazon
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is an inexpensive headset with a lot to offer. In addition to boasting good sound quality and comfortable earcups, the Cloud Stinger 2 connects via 3.5 mm audio cable, making it suitable for both PC and console play. It’s not as sturdy as it could be, and the mic is on the weaker side, however.

In this price range, I like the Razer Kraken X as well, and if the SteelSeries Nova 1 goes on sale, that’s worth considering, too. But I think the Cloud Stinger 2 has the best sound quality of the three, and that goes a long way in an inexpensive headset.

Less than $100

Razer Blackshark V2 review

(Image credit: Razer)

In the $100 range, you’ll generally find wired headsets with USB connections and software connectivity. (You’ll also find the bottom rung of wireless gaming headsets from major manufacturers, but I think it’s worth spending just a little more on those.) Of these models, I like the Razer Blackshark V2 best. Not only is it extremely comfortable, but it also provides excellent sound quality and a robust software package. At the time of writing, it’s currently our overall “best gaming headset” pick, and the distinction is well-earned.

Razer Blackshark V2:

Razer Blackshark V2: $99 @ Amazon
The Razer Blackshark V2 is a sleek and comfortable gaming headset that can connect via either wired USB or 3.5 mm audio jack. This versatile device works beautifully with both PCs and consoles, providing a nuanced soundscape for both games and music. It also offers high-quality surround sound options, although getting a good fit is more difficult than it should be.

The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Nova is a pretty similar device overall, and the Corsair HS55 Wireless (review forthcoming) is worth checking out, if you really, really need a wireless model that doesn’t exceed $100. The HyperX Cloud Alpha is also an oldie-but-goodie at around $100, although I think the Blackshark V2 offers more features overall.

Less than $150

Corsair HS65 Wireless on desk

(Image credit: Corsair)

Between $100 and $150, you start crossing the threshold from “mid-range wired gaming headsets” into “mid-range wireless gaming headsets.” This category has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and it’s an excellent place to begin your gaming headset search. If you can spend about $150 on a wireless gaming headset, I highly recommend that you do so — and the Corsair HS65 Wireless is a great place to start.

First off, the Corsair HS65 Wireless doesn’t cost the full $150; it comes in around $120, which means you should have enough left over for a mid-budget game. In spite of that, it offers excellent wireless performance via either a USB 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth connection, as well as a rich soundscape and comfortable foam earcups. The SoundID feature in the Corsair Utility Engine (iCUE) software is particularly interesting, as it can customize an equalization profile specifically to fit your tastes.

Corsair HS65 Wireless:

Corsair HS65 Wireless: $119 @ Amazon
The Corsair HS65 Wireless offers two kinds of wireless connectivity: USB 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth, which is somewhat unusual in this price range. Otherwise, the device provides fantastic sound for both games and music, and an excellent perk in its SoundID equalization features. The fit is tight, however, and the mic is nonremovable.

The Logitech G733 ($130) also deserves a nod in this price range, as it’s one of the few wireless gaming headsets that you can buy in a wide variety of colors: pink and blue in addition to the standard black and white. In terms of wired gear, the venerable Astro A40 also costs $150 — a true classic in the gaming headset department.

Less than $200

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 USB-C adapter

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

While gaming headsets can get even more expensive, $200 is the ceiling I’d recommend for most people. Not only are there some fantastic wireless gaming headsets in this range, but I’ve never reviewed a $200+ gaming headset that was significantly better, all-around, than a good sub-$200 model.

Case in point: the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7. This crowd-pleasing peripheral is an updated version of the SteelSeries Arctis 7, which was one of the best gaming headsets I’ve ever reviewed. Unfortunately, the Nova 7 costs $180, whereas the Arctis 7 cost a more reasonable $150. But fortunately, SteelSeries has added more features to justify the price hike, including a revamped design, better battery life and Bluetooth connectivity.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7: $179 @ Amazon
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 is one of the most versatile gaming headsets you can buy. Between its USB-C connector, USB-A adapter and Bluetooth connectivity, it can easily hook up to any modern PC and most modern consoles — or all modern consoles, if you get the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7x variant, which can accommodate the Xbox’s idiosyncratic wireless protocol. The design is sleek and the sound quality is pretty good.

My one big caveat about the Arctis Nova 7 is that the sound quality is good rather than great, and you’d be well within your rights to demand top-notch sound quality at this price. For that, I’d go with the Logitech G Pro X Wireless at $200. On the other hand, if battery life is your top concern, the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless can last up to 300 hours. (That’s not a typo.)

Less than $250

Astro A30 Wireless on desk

(Image credit: Astro)

I’m on the fence about recommending any gaming headsets that cost more than $200. I think that for the most part, they offer pretty comparable feature sets to their less expensive brethren, and the sound quality is not night-and-day better. But gaming headset prices do keep creeping upward, so it’s worth at least mentioning a contender in this category.

My top choice here is the Astro A30 Wireless, which combines a comfortable and eye-catching design with rich sound quality and a variety of versatile connection options. You’re definitely paying for style as much as substance. But thanks to its Bluetooth connection, you can wear the Astro A30 Wireless out and about for music and podcasts, and look right at home on a plane, train or busy sidewalk.

Astro A30 Wireless:

Astro A30 Wireless: $239 @ Amazon
The Astro A30 Wireless is a comfortable and stylish gaming headset with a premium price to match its premium feel. The gaming sound quality is top-notch for games, music and movies alike, and you can connect via either 2.4 GHz USB or Bluetooth wireless protocols. The device’s only significant drawbacks are its inconsistent software — and its unusually high price.

Beyond that, I’ve used the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT as my go-to headset for years at work, although its battery life is nothing special.

Further recommendations

Razer Kaira Pro for PS5 on desk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As with our “gaming mice at every budget” and “gaming keyboards at every budget” pieces, there are a few caveats to keep in mind before you run out to buy anything based on this piece.

First and foremost, this piece should be a starting point in your research, not the be-all, end-all of gaming headset recommendations. Unlike our full gaming headset reviews, which are more analytical, and our best gaming headsets page, which is broader, this piece is purely my opinion. I personally like the headsets I’ve recommended, but I can’t speak for every gamer. 

Gaming Headset Disclaimers

1. This piece is not a review or a buying guide

2. The advice represents my opinions alone, not those of Tom’s Guide

3. My recommendations are intended for a general audience

4. Treat this as a starting point to decide what you might want to buy

5. My picks are limited to models we have tested

Along the same lines, there are other excellent gaming headsets out there that Tom’s Guide simply hasn’t tested yet. If you don’t see your favorite model here, it’s entirely possible that we just haven’t reviewed it yet. We take reader feedback seriously, and if you’d like to request that we review a certain model, we’ll look into it — or link you to a review, if one already exists.

Finally, while many of these headsets are compatible with both PCs and game consoles, I have a somewhat different list of headset recommendations for the PS5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. As such, take this list with a grain of salt if you game primarily on consoles. Some of these will work beautifully; others, not so much.

Whichever model you choose, it should serve you well during your digital adventures. And your housemates will probably enjoy the peace and quiet, too.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • nka
    No EPOS? I'm surprised. The H6Pro are very good and comfortable! The Open version is pretty cool if you play in a quiet environment!