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Fnatic React+ Gaming Headset Review: Bargain Surround Sound With Premium Quality

Clear audio and a stellar microphone

Fnatic React+
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

With clear audio, a great microphone and an understated but attractive design, the Fnatic React+ is aimed at eSports gamers, but it’s a great all-around headset for media and working from home too. The bundled USB sound card adds great-sounding 7.1 virtual surround sound to PC gaming, and a 3.5mm jack means you can use it with other gaming devices too.

For

  • Very good virtual 7.1 surround
  • Simple, attractive design
  • Superb microphone clarity
  • Swappable ear cushions
  • USB-A and 3.5mm

Against

  • Vestigial inline volume/mic switch is redundant when using USB
  • No software
  • Earcups don’t swivel

The Fnatic React+ adds virtual surround sound to the feature set that made the original React popular with gamers: large, clear drivers with very good gaming audio quality and excellent stereo separation, a design that remains comfortable throughout long gaming sessions, and a microphone with top-of-its class clarity. All that is wrapped in an understated design that looks cool enough for eSports gaming but subtle enough for teleconferencing.

The React+ pairs the original React headphones with Fnatic’s XP USB sound card (no relation to Windows XP), which adds 7.1 simulated surround sound at the touch of a button, and an extra set of earpads. Yet, the cans are still cheaper than many of the best gaming headsets, at just $99.99 as of writing. The resulting package, while not without its quirks, offers superb performance for a headset in its price class.

Fnatic React+ Specs

Driver Type 53mm
Impedance23 Ohms
Frequency Response 20 - 40,0000 Hz
Microphone Type Cardioid boom, detachable
Connectivity3.5mm or USB Type-A
Cables3.9 feet (1.2m) 3.5mm cable
3.3 feet (1m) USB cable
6.5 feet (2m) extender/mic splitter
Weight 0.8 pounds (348g)
LightingNone
SoftwareNone
Extra1x extra set ear cushions

Design and Comfort

Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

For a design marketed directly at the eSports crowd, the Fnatic React+ headset has a tasteful, understated aesthetic that lacks any elements you’d likely describe as bling. There’s no RGB lighting here, just a tasteful matte-black plastic finish with white accents. There’s a Fnatic logo on each earcup, and the company name is subtly embossed on the side of and on top of the headband.

The one hint of color is the soft, bright orange mesh fabric inside the earcups, helpfully stamped “R” and “L” to assist in putting them on correctly when the microphone is unplugged. The React+ ships with comfortable, memory foam-filled, faux leather-covered earpads installed. But you can also swap these for the included velour earpads. Those will feel more airy, particularly helpful for gamers who get warm while playing.

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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The oval, enclosed earcups are mounted on adjustable metal hangers, which feel very solid and should hold up well to regular use. The earcups completely enclose your ears, providing very good passive noise isolation. They can swivel vertically for comfort when being worn, but there’s no horizontal swivel axis to fold them out and flatten them for easier transport or storage.

With either set of pads in place, the React+ headset was comfortable even on my rather large head. At 0.8 pounds, it’s not as lightweights as some wired headsets. The similarly specced MSI Immerse GH61, for example, is 0.6 pounds. Thankfully, the React+ didn’t feel overly heavy in use. The clamping force is solid enough to provide good noise isolation without becoming uncomfortable over time, which is not always the case with my big noggin. Meanwhile, a strip of memory foam padding across the inside of the headband aids in comfort.

When using the microphone, it snaps solidly into the left earcup, but if you’re playing a solo game, listening to music or watching a movie, you can easily pop it out.

The React+ also includes Fnatic’s XP USB sound card, which the company also sells separately for $23. The sound card is enclosed in a small, oval controller with a 3.5mm jack on one end and a 3.3-foot-long USB-A cable on the other. Its matte black design matches the headphones, with rocker switches for headphone volume and microphone level, a button to toggle 7.1-channel surround sound and a microphone mute switch on the side. The controller adds little weight to the headphone setup, and the rockers are well-positioned for quick adjustment when gaming.

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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Overall, it’s well-designed, but an additional analog volume dial and microphone switch near the top of the headphone cable (left over from the original design that didn’t include the sound card) can cause frustration if you accidentally brush the analog volume dial and wonder why the volume dial on the soundcard suddenly won’t go high enough. That said, if Fanatic had omitted the analog controls from the React+ bundle, they’d be unavailable when using the headphones sans soundcard with other devices.

The headset also comes with a 6.6-foot extension cable that splits the microphone and audio jacks for devices that don’t support both on a single connector.

The one design element I’d change, if given the chance, is that the 3.5mm cable is permanently attached to the headset. Without a removable cable, the headphones will be rendered useless if the primary cable is damaged by your cat, kids, or other sinister elements.

Audio Performance

The 53mm drivers Fnatic uses in the React+ are calibrated for gaming, with a separate chamber for bass frequencies to help separate them from mids and lows. This helps keep bass from explosions and gunshots from overwhelming other game sounds. Though the sound is relatively pure, mids and highs are slightly boosted, and the result is much better audio clarity from complex game soundscapes than you’d expect in headphones in this price range. Playing Metro 2033, Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends, environmental sound and voices remained clear even in heavy combat situations.

This clarity isn’t lost when engaging the React+ virtual surround sound by pressing the surround button in the center of the USB sound card controller. The effect is convincing and adds a more enveloping quality to the audio without changing it to the point where clarity is lost.

Playing Watch Dogs: Legion, the surround sound significantly enhanced immersion as I walked and drove around the city. Even in the sedate environment of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the directional audio as I panned around my plane in external views was noticeably more enveloping than the default stereo audio heard with surround disabled.

The in-game soundscape of the React+ is excellent because the bass separation, large drivers and clarity across frequencies means you won’t miss important dialogue or environmental sounds in the heat of play. It’s a significant improvement over using headphones geared for music playback while gaming, where heavy bass emphasis can muddy the audio.

These cans also sound great when watching movies on the PC, as those same characteristics also keep audio clear during film and TV action sequences.

Conversely, the one area where the cans are more pedestrian is music. Albums like Logic’s The Incredible True Story and Kenrick Lamar’s DAMN. benefit from the boosted bass on more music-oriented headsets, and Pink Floyd’s classic Dark Side of the Moon sounded off with emphasized mids and highs of the React+ when compared to my (admittedly more expensive) Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wired headphones.

With the leatherette ear cushions, the passive noise isolation from the large earcups is excellent; in my home office I only heard the loudest outside sounds when playing games. They also do a good job of keeping the noise from leaking out and disturbing others nearby. It is passive isolation, though, so if you use these to listen to music on your next flight, they can only block out so much. The velour cups are slightly less isolating than the leatherette.

Microphone

Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The detachable cardioid microphone includes a pop filter and has a flexible but stiff arm that stayed in position well and never came loose during gaming. There’s no noise cancellation, but it targets the mouth well enough that it didn’t pick up environmental sounds when I was gaming.

Fellow players reported that my vocals were very clear. And when I listened to audio from the microphone recorded on my PC, it sounded very pure, although perhaps a tiny bit higher in pitch than natural. As you’d expect from a headset marketed squarely at the eSports market, Fnatic does a great job with the microphone here.

In addition to a microphone mute switch, the XP sound card controller includes a mic level adjust rocker as well. This is great when you’re in-game, and your teammates complain about your mic’s volume. It’s much easier to quickly adjust mic sensitivity with the rocker instead of having to tweak it using audio settings on your computer.

Features and Software

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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fnatic React+

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The headset uses a 3.5mm TRSS plug to connect to the USB sound card. You can omit the sound card and use the plug to connect to other devices. Fnatic says the headset is compatible with Macs, as well as Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and (if you still have a headphone jack or adapter) mobile phones. The USB adapter is only fully supported under Windows, but we found the headset worked well plugged directly into an Xbox Series X controller and a Switch, though we missed the surround sound and the ability to adjust microphone levels.

There’s no bundled software, so you won’t be able to adjust equalization in-game. That said, the ability to toggle surround sound and adjust microphone and volume levels using physical buttons is more convenient when in-game than having to switch to an app.

Bottom Line

For a penny under $100, the Fnatic React+ performs like a more expensive headset. Audio is clear and sharp, both in your ears and coming from your microphone. The addition of effective, clear virtual 7.1-channel surround sound addresses the chief complaint about the original React (if you bought that, Fnatic offers a $29.99 bundle that includes the XP USB sound card and velour earpads to bring it up to React+ level), and the additional volume controls on the USB soundcard are a godsend if you need to quickly make adjustments during a frantic battle.

I’d love for the primary headset cable to be removable though. Not only would that make it less susceptible to being taken out by cable damage, but then we could omit the analog volume dial and microphone mute switch, which are redundant when using the USB sound card.

Overall, the Fnatic React+ offers superb audio for gaming and movies, decent--if unexceptional--music playback, and the headphones look cool without turning your head into a light show. So you’re not going to get strange looks if you’re wearing them during a Zoom call. The React+ also offers stiff competition to some of the best gaming headsets too, such as the HyperX Cloud Alpha. The React+ comes in at around the same price but adds 7.1 surround sound to the mix.

You can certainly find headsets with more features, but not in the React+’s price range. For gamers on a budget, this is a top choice.