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A SteelSeries Arctis 7 gaming headset, taken on March 9, 2017. (Photo by Olly Curtis/PC Gamer Magazine/Future via Getty Images)
If you’ve been using a generic headset for years, the best gaming headsets can completely change your game. You’ll hear more detail in your games and better pinpoint your enemies, making for a more immersive gaming experience, and you a more competitive player. There are a lot of headsets to pick from, though, and while all of them offer something exciting, some offer far more than others for their price.
Right now, we consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7 the best option for most people, offering a great middle ground in price and performance. It has wonderfully balanced audio, with a comfortable fit and it even looks good too. Sadly, it only works fully wirelessly on PC and PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. If you have other consoles and devices, you can upgrade to the excellent Steelseries Arctis Pro. It’s a better all round headset and it’s even a little cheaper, but it is tethered by a wire, which does give it a very different feel and function. Whether you need wired or wireless, or something affordable but not necessarily built cheap, here are the best gaming headsets you can buy in 2021.
SteelSeries has long been one of the top players in the gaming accessories world, and for good reason. The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a well-balanced headset that offers a sleek design, extremely comfortable fit, and wireless connectivity (only on PS4, PS5 and PC, cable required elsewhere) that should retain a good connection for the length of your gaming session. The headset has a hefty 24-hour battery life, too.
Many people swear by SteelSeries sound, which prefers turning down the bass to more easily invite other subtle sounds into your ear. The retractable microphone is also one of the best you’ll find.
The DAC-less, far more affordable alternative to the Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless, the standard Arctis Pro is still the best wired headset you can buy and it’s now at a much more competitive price. It enjoys high-quality, hi-res speaker drivers which deliver a gorgeously rich sound for music, games, and movies, with twice the frequency range of most gaming headsets.
Supremely comfortable with foam cushioned ear cups and a ski goggle-style headband, this headset gives just about anyone a snug, comfortable fit without putting undue pressure on their head or ears. The steel and aluminum frame is light, and doesn’t creak when you move your head.
The ClearCast microphone is Discord Certified and provides incredibly clear audio for your teammates, so they’ll never miss a call from you again. That goes hand in hand with the Steelseries ChatMix dial which lets you tune the mix of game audio and voice communications with friends and foes alike. That way you can turn up your game audio when playing alone, and focus more on your teammates when that’s more important.
For the ultimate in wireless versatility, check out the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. Building on that award-winning Arctis sound, this gaming headset is one of the few on the market supporting hi-res audio with DTS Headphone:X 2.0. With a wide open frequency range, you’ll get crisp, clear sound over a lossless 2.4GHz connection. Alongside maintaining your wireless connection to the headset (there’s also Bluetooth available), the included base station has an OLED screen and physical nobs for dialing in your perfect volume and game balance, plus myriad audio ports for routing in your various sound systems.
That’s also where you’ll charge one of two included removable batteries, a choice design for those who worry about its longevity. They’ll last 10 hours each, and you won’t need to stay tethered when it’s time to top up. Add in a retractable noise-cancelling microphone and a steel headband with premium comfort straps, and the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless more than earns its lofty price tag.
You’re not doomed for having a meager budget with headsets like the HyperX Cloud Stinger Core. Its design is sharp, but unassuming, and HyperX makes the most out of its 40mm drivers with excellent tuning. The adjustable boom microphone is one of the best in its price range, to boot. This platform-agnostic headset works on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile.
If the Arctis Pro Wireless is too much for you, the SteelSeries Arctis 7P is more than half the price, but still delivers solid wireless sound. Designed to work with both PS4 and PS5, the Arctis 7P features the same steel frame (decked out in a slick blue-on-white colorway) and high-quality retractable microphone. You’ll also get better battery on a single charge at 24 hours, but you’ll need to recharge it with a cable.
With standard 40mm SteelSeries drivers, you won’t get the same level of sound the much more expensive option provides, but they get close enough. Besides, if you’re on PS5, you’re still getting a headset compatible with Sony’s Tempest 3D Audio, which heightens the realism of spatial audio in supported games. SteelSeries includes a USB-C dongle in the box that makes it compatible with Android devices, PC and Nintendo Switch, too.
The Astro A50 has been a top choice for gamers for years, and it’s now on its fourth generation. Long-time Astro fans stick around for the sound, which is nice and bass-rich, the perfect recipe for action games. This model’s base station has a cradle to charge the headset while showing off its bold design, plus it has a 30-foot lossless wireless range. That station also has an LED output to show battery level and an indicator for EQ modes, plus several audio ports, including line-in and optical to attach almost any device you want.
Build-wise, the Astro A50 is mostly plastic, but it’s sturdy, and there’s more than enough cushion for your ears and crown for comfort. That also makes it much lighter than you’d first expect given the overall size. The big boom mic is one of the best in the business from a clarity standpoint, too. Simply flip it upwards to mute yourself, and with Astro’s Command Center software on PC, you can tweak almost every aspect of your speaker and microphone audio. This particular model is built for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC, but you can also buy one compatible with PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Wireless headsets can be far more expensive than their wired cousins, but they don’t have to be. The Roccat Elo Air is an entirely wireless virtual surround sound headset priced under $100, making it less than a third of the price of our favorite wireless gaming headset. Even with such a steeply cut price, it offers decent sound quality, great battery life and a comfortable fit.
There are a collection of controls on the headset itself for turning it on, adjusting volume, and sidetone, with a greater array of customization options available in the capable Roccat Swarm software. There you can tweak the earcup LED color and lighting effects, as well as the headset’s EQ if you like a particular kind of sound for your gaming sessions.
One of the most impressive features with this headset is its battery life. Able to last a whole 24-hours with the LEDs turned off and around two thirds of that with them on, it’s not a headset you’ll constantly need to have plugged in for charging.
Capable gaming headsets all offer good sound and a comfortable pair of earcups, but some headsets have something that others don’t. In the case of the Corsair HS60, that’s a unique rumble function which delivers a new way to enjoy your games and music. It gives you a way to feel them.
Where rumble effects have been part of games controllers since the late ’90s, its inclusion in headsets is a relatively novel concept. Other headsets have done it before, but none quite as well as Corsair. The HS60 Haptic employs rumble motors in the earcups that provide a physical response to heavy bass with music and movies, and to specific low-frequency notes in games.
The effect is an immersive one, and you can dial the intensity up and down as you see fit, so you can find the perfect head-rattling rumble for your play style. It adds a new layer of immersion that just isn’t present with other gaming headsets, making the HS60 Haptic one of the best gaming headsets for a unique gaming experience.
Logitech is one of the best makers of wireless PC tech, and that reputation has only been strengthened by the G Pro X Wireless. With its proprietary Lightspeed wireless protocol, the headset delivers audio with near-zero latency up to 43 feet. Logitech packs its best 50mm Pro-G drivers, which support DTS Headphone:X 2.0 surround sound positional audio. The microphone is of high quality, as well, and it’s detachable. Both are customizable to find the perfect balance for your specific needs in Logitech G Hub.
The G Pro X is certainly the most stylish headset we’re featuring here. A steel headband holds a pair of matte oval cans with a brushed silver Logitech G cherry on top. The memory foam padding is generous and looks the part, as well, with reviewers swearing by this headset’s comfort. The Logitech G Pro X works on PC, PS4 and PS5; not the longest list, but it’s one of the best headsets you’ll find in this range if that’s all you’re gaming on.
Switch gamers should give this unique version of the Astro A10 a try. It’s black with golden print inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. A dapper presentation isn’t the the only reason you’re buying it, though. It’s really affordable, and you’d be surprised how well the 40mm neodymium magnet Astro Audio drivers sound for the money. Like the big brother A50, the Astro A10’s flip-to-mute microphone carries your voice in powerful fashion.
This headset attaches to your Nintendo Switch (and almost any other console or mobile device) over a standard 3.5mm connection, and if you want Switch Online voice chat mixed in with your game audio, Astro includes a splitter cable in the box.
There are a few things to consider before pulling the trigger on a new gaming headset. Notably, you’ll want to think about whether you want a wired headset or a wireless headset. Wired headsets sound slightly better and offer less latency, but wireless headsets are more convenient—and honestly, more wireless headsets employ special wireless tech to reduce latency anyway.
Compatibility is another important consideration. If you own just one gaming device, you can get away with highly specialized options like the Logitech G Pro X, which is one of the best available, but only works with PC. As a general rule of thumb, wireless headsets tend to work on either Xbox or PlayStation, but not both. Planning to play on multiple consoles and mobile? Make sure the one you’re getting can easily move between everything you own.
You’ll also want to think about whether your headset has a retractable microphone or a removable one. Ditto for the cable. No matter how well you care for your headset, these components can degrade in time. With removable options, you can skip the annoying warranty process and replace them for far less money than it’d cost to replace the headset entirely.
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure whatever you’re getting is comfortable. A headset can make you feel like you’ve traveled through time and space to the very setting of whichever content you’re consuming, but that doesn’t mean much if you can’t stand to wear it more than an hour.
Generally speaking, you can expect the most expensive headsets to have the best sound, but that doesn’t mean the sound coming out of lesser options is bad. Most gaming headsets from reputable manufacturers sound great no matter the cost, especially with many using the very same drivers as the costlier upgrades.
Much of the difference in cost for gaming headsets is attributed to material and build quality, extra features and wireless connectivity.