One of the best gaming headsets can turn a video game from a simple distraction into a fully immersive experience. While cheap headphones may technically play a game’s sound, a great gaming headset can highlight important noises, deliver rich music, let you customize your soundscape for different applications and communicate with your teammates with a high-quality mic. Even if you already own a good pair of speakers, a gaming headset can prove its worth by letting you play late at night without waking up the whole household.
Of course, there are a lot of peripherals out there, and not every one makes the cut. Our best gaming headsets all offer good sound and comfortable fits, but they also tend to go a step beyond their competitors. Sometimes, they do that by offering the basics without charging too much money; other times, they offer a premium experience for a premium price. Whatever the case, there should be something in our list of the best gaming headsets to suit almost every play style and budget.
- The best computer speakers are a good complement to headsets
- Pair your headset with the best gaming mouse
Read on to find out how you can improve your overall gaming setup simply by improving its audio component.
What are the best gaming headsets?
While there is no best gaming headset for every possible use case, we can make a few broad recommendations. The headsets featured on this list come in a variety of prices, and offer many different functionalities. Generally speaking, the more money you spend, the fancier a headset will be. But even our picks on the lower end still offer good sound and comfortable fits, which are the most important qualities to look for in one of the best gaming headsets.
If you’re willing to spend a little money, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 is our pick for the best gaming headset overall. This wireless model features an incredibly comfortable elastic headband, as well as easy connectivity with both PC and PS4. However, if you prefer to use an older device with a headphone jack, you can simply plug the Arctis 7 in via 3.5 mm cable. With customizable soundscapes and a long battery life, there’s a lot to like in the Arctis 7, and almost nothing to dislike.
At the other end of the price spectrum, there’s the HyperX Cloud Stinger, which usually retails for $50 or less. This headset has everything you need for a gaming setup, including plush earcups, on-ear volume controls and a sturdy boom mic. Granted, the sound can get distorted at higher volumes, but as budget headsets go, that’s an extremely mild criticism. You can wear it for hours at a time, and use it with any system that has a headphone jack.
Black Friday 2020 deals
If you want to buy a new gaming headset, you may want to wait until Black Friday. These sales will start in early November, and won't end until at least the beginning of December. You can find many good deals on gaming headsets as retailers try to clear out their inventories. If you need new audio gear right now, check out our best headphones deals instead.
The best gaming headsets you can buy today
The $149 SteelSeries Arctis 7 is the complete package and best gaming headset overall, offering great sound, consistent wireless performance and a comfy, attractive design at a reasonable price. The headset’s 2.4-GHz wireless connectivity keeps you glued to your game without any lag or interference, while its S1 speaker drivers pump out crisp directional sound that lets you hear the competition coming.
With a stylish, subdued look in both black and white, the Arctis 7 is the rare gaming headset you’ll actually want to use as your daily headphones. The device is incredibly comfortable, too, thanks to an elastic headband that adjusts to your dome and a pair of soft, lightweight earcups. Factor in a clear microphone, a 24-hour battery, compatibility with most major platforms, and lots of customization options, and you’ve got a winner.
Read our full SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review.
The $50 HyperX Cloud Stinger proves that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort when you’re on a tight budget. The Stinger’s sturdy, feather-light frame and soft, faux-leather earcups make for one of the best gaming headsets on a budget we’ve worn yet, and its handy on ear controls and solid microphone certainly don’t hurt either. Finding a comfortable fit is arguably the most important thing you can look for in a gaming headset, and the Cloud Stinger doesn’t disappoint on that front.
The Stinger also offers very solid audio quality for the price – though things can get a bit blown out at max volume. But if you’re looking for good sound within a superbly comfy set of cans for less than $50, the Stinger is a fantastic value. And if you want to enjoy the Stinger’s excellent design without wires, the $99 Cloud Stinger Wireless is a good alternative.
Read our full HyperX Cloud Stinger review.
The Razer Blackshark V2 is probably the best headset that Razer has ever made — and that's saying something. This mid-range wired headset provides fantastic sound for both games and music, particularly thanks to its innovative THX profiles. The famous film audio company has lent its expertise to make the Blackshark V2's surround sound realistic and nuanced — especially for a handful of games like Apex Legends and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which have their own optimized profiles.
Unlike some of Razer's bulkier headsets, the Blackshark V2 is extremely sleek and comfortable, making it easy to transport to esports tournaments. Getting it to fit properly can be a bit of a pain, however, and the Razer software is tedious to navigate at times. Still, at less than $100, the Blackshark V2 offers a great value, and some innovative audio options for your favorite games.
Read our full Razer Blackshark V2 review.
The Logitech G Pro X delivers tournament-grade performance for a reasonable $130 price. The headset's distinguished black design sets itself apart from the competition, in no small part thanks to its flexible headband and supremely comfortable foam and leatherette earcup options. Simply being comfortable isn’t enough to recommend a product as one of the best gaming headsets, but it’s arguably the most important quality we evaluate. If you can’t wear a headset for more than a few minutes at a time, it’s not very useful.
The Go Pro X delivers rich, direction-accurate sound out of the box whether you're playing on PC or console. It's also the first gaming headset to sport a built-in Blue microphone, allowing for extra-crisp voice chat whether you're practicing with your Apex Legends squad or streaming to your online fans. Also worth considering is the Logitech G Pro X Wireless variant.
Read our full Logitech G Pro X review.
Getting good wireless performance has never been this seamless -- or affordable. Thanks to its high-speed, discrete USB-C dongle, the SteelSeries 1 Arctis Wireless allows you to instantly enjoy wireless game audio from your Nintendo Switch, Android phone, PS4 or gaming PC, with none of the convoluted pairing or interference that comes with Bluetooth-based headsets. It’s worth mentioning the Nintendo Switch functionality again, as it’s hard to get a wireless headset for Nintendo’s handheld hybrid.
The headset sports the same sleek, understated design as the standard Arctis 1 complete with a removable mic, making it perfect for playing some Switch games on the go. It also features the same powerful drivers and crisp ClearCast microphone as SteelSeries' higher-end headsets, allowing you to get immersed and play competitively with confidence. If you're looking for a best wireless gaming headset under $100, the Arctis 1 Wireless is the new gold standard.
Read our full SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless review.
If you're looking for a comfortable, highly customizable high-end headset that's especially ideal for PC, the new Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero is one of the best gaming headsets out there. This premium headset packs an incredibly comfortable pair of gel-infused ear cushions, which are also designed to play well with glasses. The Aero's 50mm speakers sound great out of the box, and it comes with a solid noise-cancelling microphone to boot.
But where the Aero really shines is in its plethora of software and customization features. You can remap the headset's on ear controls, activate immersive 3D audio, and tweak a ton of EQ settings to find the perfect balance for your favorite game. Factor in a long 30-hour battery for PC and PS4 and an included 3.5mm cable for use on any other device you own, and the Aero is one of the most versatile wireless gaming headsets out there.
Read our full Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero review.
In terms of style and sound for the money, the HyperX Cloud Alpha is hard to beat. This headset’s premium design belies its sub-$100 price, thanks to a sturdy metal frame, a slick red-and-black paint job, and some of the most comfortable leatherette earcups out there. This is a headset that you can transport with you anywhere and connect to almost any system, without ever having to worry about it breaking.
The Alpha’s proprietary Dual Chamber drivers deliver big on sound, offering thick bass, sharp treble and strong directionality. With its world-class comfort, impressive audio and a suite of cables for use on just about any platform, the Alpha truly lives up to its name by offering the best gaming headset value under $100. There are cheaper headsets on the market, sure, but few that offer the same bang for your buck.
Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha review.
SteelSeries’ Arctis Pro + GameDAC brings audiophile-grade features to the already excellent Arctis design. As its name suggests, this headset includes a DAC (digital-to-analog converter), which allows it to deliver high-resolution 96-kHz/24-bit audio. The GameDAC also allows for a wealth of customization options, whether you want to fine-tune sound via an equalizer or customize the headset’s subtle RGB lighting.
We found that the Arctis Pro sounds great for hi-res audio files, and is notably louder and crisper than the traditional Arctis line when it comes to games. If you’re willing to pay a premium for high-res sound support and a ton of features, the Arctis Pro + GameDAC is one of the best gaming headset combos available. And if you already have a pair of headphones you really like working with, it’s possible to buy the GameDAC separately.
Read our full SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC review.
The SteelSeries Arctis 9 is a worthy — albeit more expensive — follow-up to the SteelSeries Arctis 7. Like the Arctis 7, the Arctis 9 connects to PS4, PC and docked Switch via a wireless dongle, as well as Xbox One and handheld Switch via 3.5 mm audio cable. But unlike the Arctis 7, the Arctis 9 also works beautifully with mobile devices, thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity.
With a long battery life, effortless wireless connectivity and good sound quality for games, the Arctis 9 is an easy recommendation. Just be aware that music doesn't sound great, at least not unless you're willing to dive into the SteelSeries Engine software and do a little manual tweaking. Having three separate wireless connection profiles is also a little convoluted, particularly when compared to the effortless USB-C dongle in SteelSeries' own Arctis 1 Wireless headset.
Read our full SteelSeries Arctis 9 review.
The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 is one of the best console headsets on the market, particularly if you want a wireless model. This peripheral boasts great sound, plush earcups and two kinds of wireless functionality. The PS4 version can connect to either PS4 or PC via USB dongle; the Xbox One version can connect to the Xbox One right out of the box. Both versions can connect to mobile devices and PCs via Bluetooth. It's an extremely convenient feature, especially since very few gaming headsets offer Bluetooth functionality.
The only real caveat here is that the Stealth 700 Gen 2 has an extremely tight fit, so you'll have to either break it in, or get used to some pressure around your ears. Volume levels can also be a little inconsistent, so it's best to start with the volume turned down and slowly work your way up, when possible.
Read our full Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 review.
How to choose the best gaming headset for you
Choosing the best gaming headset comes down to a few different criteria. No matter what, the headset has to be comfortable and provide good gaming sound. In fact, I would argue that the former is more important than the latter. Even if your headset produces subpar sound, you’ll still be able to hear what’s going on in your game. But if it’s even a little bit uncomfortable, you’ll want to tear it off of your head after about half an hour, and that’s not conducive to playing any kind of game.
The next thing to think about is whether you want a wired or wireless model. Wireless models are almost always more expensive, but the convenience of living without wires may well be worth the cost. Generally speaking, wireless headsets that are compatible with PC and PS4 are not compatible with Xbox One, and vice versa, so a headset that also features 3.5 mm connectivity could be helpful in this case.
How we test gaming headsets
In order to find the best gaming headsets out there, we typically test each peripheral with a mix of shooting, fighting and action/adventure games.
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 use voice recordings to evaluate each headset's microphone, as well as listen back to any Twitch broadcasts we've conducted with them on.
We generally wear each headset for at least two full days to assess comfort level. We almost always get a second opinion from someone else on staff, as what's comfortable to one gamer could be unbearable to the next.