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 and compatibility with every major platform.
If you're looking to spend less than $50, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is our favorite value pick thanks to its cozy earcups and impressive audio quality for the price. Here are our top picks for every category.
Latest News and Updates (December 2018)
- Turtle Beach just launched its $29 Battle Buds, a gaming-focused pair of earbuds that feature a detachable boom microphone and compatibility with Switch, mobile and PC. We're eager to see how they stack up to HyperX's $49 Cloud Earbuds once we get in a pair to review.
- We got our hands on SteelSeries' 2018 Arctis series, which bring subtle but welcome changes to our favorite overall gaming headsets.
Flawless wireless functionality is just the tip of the iceberg for the SteelSeries Arctis 7. This attractive headset boasts excellent sound, deep customization features and an innovative headband that assures a perfect fit every time. You can also hook up the Arctis 7 to mobile devices via a 3.5 mm audio cable. No matter your platform or your genre preferences, the Arctis 7 is one of the best choices for it.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger redefines what you should expect from a $50 gaming headset, offering a sturdy design, incredibly comfortable earcups and convenient on-ear audio controls. The Stinger's 3.5mm connection makes it ideal for consoles and mobile, though there's also an included headphone/microphone splitter if you want to use it on PC. It doesn't hurt that the sound quality is pretty good. If your budget is tight, you won't be cutting many corners by picking up a Stinger.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha feels remarkably premium for a $99 headset, offering a striking and durable aluminum design in addition to a wonderfully cozy set of memory foam earcups that are perfect for marathon sessions. The Alpha delivers crisp highs and rich bass thanks to HyperX's new Dual Chamber technology, and includes a detachable cable and soft carrying pouch for easy travel.
The Razer Thresher Ultimate packs everything you could want in a wireless headset. It's supremely comfortable, it sounds great and it has a 16-hour battery to last through a long day of gaming. The headset's 7.1 surround sound makes it easy to hear enemies coming, while its handy on-ear controls allows you to effortlessly balance game and chat audio. It doesn't hurt that the Thresher is one of the slickest set of wireless cans around, with stylish PS4 and Xbox One variations and an included receiver stand that'll make the peripheral look great sitting next to your console.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth is an elegant solution to the Nintendo Switch's problem of requiring a separate mobile app for online chat. Thanks to the headset's Bluetooth and analog capabilities, you can be wired to your Switch for game audio while getting wireless chat from your phone or PC using apps such as Skype, Discord or Nintendo's own service. The Arctis 3 Bluetooth touts the same great sound and comfort as the standard Arctis 3, and makes for a solid pair of Bluetooth headphones thanks to its unassuming design.
The HyperX Cloud Flight boasts an incredibly lightweight and comfortable frame, which, combined with up to 30 hours of battery life, results in a cozy wireless PS4 headset that you can truly wear all day. The Flight also delivers rich, accurate sound for competitive and immersive games alike, features a crisp microphone, and touts slick LED earcup lighting. The USB-powered Flight offers easy plug-and-play compatibility with any PS4, and doubles as a great PC headset.
There are plenty of quality wireless headsets that work with Xbox One, but few are as fine-tuned for Microsoft's console as the Turtle Beach Stealth 700. This set of cans sports built-in Xbox Wireless technology, meaning it can sync directly to your Xbox One without the need for any dongles or transmitters. It's also simply a great headset, with rich, bassy audio, a clear microphone and a healthy amount of sound customization options.
If you're an audiophile that also loves to game, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC gives you the best of both worlds. This PS4 and PC headset features a premium metal version of the already-superb Arctis design, and includes digital-to-analog converter that supports 96-kHz/24-bit audio and a plethora of customization options. If you want to enjoy the same Arctis Pro design without being tethered to your desk, the $329 Arctis Pro Wireless is also an excellent option.
The Victrix Pro AF ANC lives up to its ridiculous name and then some, offering a truly premium experience that’s tailor-made for competitive gamers. The headset’s supremely comfortable leatherette earcups sport active noise cancelling technology for blotting out a rowdy crowd, and can even be opened up to keep your ears cool in between matches. Factor in a slick black-and-purple design and superb sound quality, and you’ve got a pair of cans perfect for folks aiming to play their Street Fighter or Call of Duty with maximum focus and precision.
How We Test Gaming Headsets
We typically test headsets with a mix of shooting, fighting and action/adventure games. Games such as Fortnite: Battle Royale and Soul Calibur VI give us a sense of how each headset holds up in a competitive setting, while titles such as God of War and Assassin's Creed: Origins help us evaluate how well each peripheral captures a game's 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 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.
What Gaming Headsets Cost
A decent wired gaming headset will run you anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the level of quality you're after. Wireless headsets typically start in the $100 to $150 range, though you'll be paying between $250 to $300 for a high-end surround model with all kinds of bells and whistles, such as the Razer Thresher Ultimate or Astro A50.
Compatibility and What to Consider
Any headset with a 3.5mm 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. Certain headsets, such as the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth and HyperX Cloud Mix, feature both Bluetooth and analog connections, allowing you to enjoy game sound on Nintendo Switch while still chatting with friends on Nintendo's separate Switch Online phone app.
Some PC-based headsets only connect to your computer via USB, while others have optional USB dongles that provide physical volume-control buttons.
If you love to tweak every last setting, you might lean toward USB-based headsets that are powered by software such as Logitech Gaming Software or Razer Synapse. Folks gaming on Xbox One or Windows 10 can utilize features such as Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic for Headphones, which allow you to enjoy virtual surround sound even on a stereo headset.
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