Best Computer Gaming Headsets

Updated October 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best computer gaming headsets

If you’re ready to upgrade your gaming experience, a computer gaming headset can make a massive difference in perception, responsiveness, communication, and the overall gaming environment. Top gamers rely on headsets, especially in team setups, so they can quickly coordinate and strategize.

It’s not enough, however, to grab just any old computer gaming headset. You need to take into account several factors, the most important being whether a headset is right for you. The most expensive, stylish headset may not provide the exact gaming audio boost that you need.

computer gaming headsets1
A gaming headset with a detachable microphone is a great option for those who also want a premium listening experience between games or while traveling.

Key considerations

Compatibility

First, make sure the headset you’re considering is compatible with your computer system. If it has a wired connection, does the connector match a port on your PC? If it connects via Bluetooth, is your PC enabled with this technology?

Microphone

Does the headset have a microphone? A microphone is a must for gaming headsets. The collaborative environment of the most popular games out today requires players to be able to both hear and speak to each other.

Immersion level

Decide how immersive you want the sound experience to be. For example, if you’re a new parent who needs to keep an ear out for the baby crying, a noise-cancelling headset is not a good option. Conversely, if you’ve designed an entire game room, you want a sound experience that matches the immersion level you’re hoping for.

Style is as important as performance to many gamers, and the best headsets balance both aspects.

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Features

Gaming headsets offer many options that can be frustrating to sift through. To help with your decision, it’s important to consider some key features.

Wired vs. wireless

At first glance, wireless seems to be the way to go, right? But gamers are still split on whether to stay directly connected to their PCs or take a chance on either a Bluetooth or a 2.4-gigahertz wireless connection. The good news is that wireless headsets today deliver performance almost on par with a wired connection. The quality of the headset still plays a role in that sound performance, but even budget headsets are closing the gap.

The choice for many comes down to two options: price and how they game. Wired headsets cost less than wireless in most cases. Those who will use their gaming headsets exclusively for PC games don’t need a wireless connection because they typically sit close to the computer and monitor. For those who game on consoles or who port their game video to a TV, wireless is probably the way to go. Finally, gamers who want to use their headset for other activities like listening to music or watching movies might want to consider the wireless option for its convenience.

Comfort

A lot goes into the design of gaming headsets, especially at the high end. Finding the perfect headset ultimately comes down to personal choice and what fits your needs the best. But the following considerations are important:

Weight: Gamers spend almost 1.5 hours playing at a time, on average, and many can spend twice that much time or more. A big, clunky headset can feel pretty heavy by the end of a long session and even cause neck pain and headaches.

Material: Headsets need to be made of durable materials including plastic that can withstand being taken off and put on again frequently without failing at key stress points. All materials should resist water intrusion from sweat or accidental spills, be easy to clean, and dry off quickly.

Ear cups and padding: Ear cups need to cover the ears comfortably while aiming sound accurately. While the synthetic leather padding around the ear cups helps cushion the outer ears during long gaming sessions, ergonomic design of both the cups and the padding is key to isolating sound and getting the best surround experience.

Headband: The simplicity of headband design belies its importance: it needs to fit snugly over the head without being too tight.

Sound

Gaming headsets have come a long way from their origins as simple stereo headsets. Gamers have a choice of experience levels to help them achieve the ideal sound environment. Sound options fall into three categories: stereo, virtual surround, and dimensional.

Stereo distributes the audio on two sound channels.

Virtual surround uses software and algorithms to simulate sound distribution over seven “virtual” channels, providing a more directional sound experience.

Dimensional sound adds even more to the sound experience, using varied frequency and volume among other things. Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic are two examples of this emerging technology.

Communication

A microphone is essential to gaming today, as so many games are online, team-based experiences. In addition to comfortable placement and clear pickup of your voice, look for these features:

Mute: Look for earphones with a quick-mute button on the wire or the headset itself. Some earphones switch to mute when you lift the microphone into a vertical position.

Noise cancellation: This feature helps isolate sound input to just your voice so that other sounds, like traffic, kids playing, or your mom telling you to turn off the game and do your homework, are not heard by everyone you’re gaming with.

Instant on/off: Rather than fumbling for the mute setting in the game or on a headset’s wire, some headset mics switch off when they’re lifted into the vertical position, a convenient and fast option.

Adjustability: Being able to adjust the height of the mic and its distance from your mouth is important. A mic that’s too close is not only uncomfortable but will deliver distorted sound when you speak.

computer gaming headsets2
DID YOU KNOW?
Headphones are sometimes affectionately (and not so affectionately) called “cans” by audiophiles.
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Accessories

Headphone stand: EURPMASK PC Gaming Headphone Stand
Store your headphones safely, quickly, and in style by placing them on this stand near your gaming PC.

Windscreen foam: G433 Windscreen Mic Foam for Logitech G Pro Gaming Headset
This tiny accessory reduces popping and breathing sounds through your mic, but it tends to erode over time. Keep a replacement or two nearby to extend your microphone’s life.

Splitter cable: PELAT Headphones Splitter Cable
Your new sound board has dual 3.5-millimeter ports for stereo sound, but your headset has only one jack? A splitter adapter is the solution.

Pre-amp/DAC: FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier
Installing a pre-amp/digital-to-analog converter between the PC and the headset can boost the sound quality of budget headsets.

Computer gaming headset prices

Inexpensive: A two-channel stereo gaming headset can be had for as little as $11 to $49, and a range of stylish designs can be found at this price point.

Mid-range: If performance and key features like wireless connectivity are more important than looks, aim for headsets in the $51 to $210 range.

Expensive: For the top-quality, dimensional sound of premium PC gaming headsets, expect to pay from $219 to $329.

An equalizer (EQ) app allows users to safely manage the sound output of their headset. Many games have an EQ feature in their settings.

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Tips

  • Clean your headset. After each gaming session, wipe down the ear cushions with a clean cloth to remove sweat. If you spill a liquid on your headset, immediately unplug it from the PC, blot it dry as much as possible, clean the exterior with a mild soap solution, and hang it up to dry.
  • Coil the cable on a wired headset. Rather than crumpling up the cord when storing it, carefully coil it around your fingers and tuck it underneath the headset to prevent kinks and worn wires.
  • Store the headset in its carry bag. Keep it dust-free and ready to go in a drawer near the PC.
  • Reduce sibilance. Minimize that tinny or hissing sound when you speak certain words by adjusting the microphone output in a game’s settings or a EQ management app.
  • Store the headset on a stand. When taking a brief break from a gaming session, place the headset on a sturdy surface over or away from the desk (such as a shelf or stand) to avoid drops or spills.
  • Download the game’s audio files. Downloading rather than streaming the audio files, when allowed, can greatly improve the overall sound quality.
  • Boost bass and reduce distortion. Adding a pre-amp/DAC (digital-to-analog converter) setup between the PC and gaming headset can boost the bass experience and slightly reduce distortion due to electrical interference, but most gamers don’t notice much difference.
computer gaming headsets3
If you wear eyeglasses while gaming, a headset with smaller ear cups that don’t press the frames into your temples might be the best option.

FAQ

Q. I have a deep voice, but it sounds tinny through my headset mic. Is there a gaming headset available with a good-quality microphone?

A. The microphone is a weak spot in nearly every headset currently available, even high-end models. This has to do mainly with their small size, which is a compromise to make headsets a little bit lighter and more comfortable. They don’t process some frequencies very well, as deep-voiced gamers often lament. Their bass tones come out as metallic and even a bit distorted. You might be able to adjust this, but not on the headset. Instead, check the game settings. High-performance games allow not just controller adjustments but fine-tuning of headsets, including microphone output.

Q. I’ve never owned a gaming headset before and I’m not sure that I want to spend hundreds of dollars on a headset when I don’t know what features I really like. Where is a good place to start?

A. Now that you’re armed with some knowledge of the features that you should look for, you can narrow your choices to headsets with those features. After that, personal preference comes into play, and you still may not know which is perfect for you until you’ve worn a headset and played a few games with it. You will form an opinion of the headset quickly during gameplay. Shop from reputable dealers with good return and exchange policies in case your choice isn’t exactly right for you.

Q. Most headsets I’ve tried get really uncomfortable after about half an hour. The ear cups make my ears ache, and I feel like I’m fighting the headset, which takes away from the gaming experience. How can I extend playing time in a gaming headset?

A. Comfort is a big factor in a headset. Look for a headset with premium foam cushioning that has more give and lasts longer. Another option is to replace the cushions entirely. Some of the top-tier headsets allow for this. The trade-off may be a slight reduction in sound quality. Consider the weight of your current headset as well. Big, heavy ear cups or a too-tight headband could be the reason you feel like you’re fighting the headset. A lighter headset may be the best solution to extending your playing time.

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