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Best Gaming Headsets 2019

(Image credit: Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock)

Shopping for a gaming headset is tough, and that's partially due to market oversaturation. With the ever-rising popularity of eSports and the relative ease of combining off-the-shelf audio hardware with flashy RGBs, cushy earcups and some software wizardry, we're currently looking at a market overflowing with options. A quick search of a few popular online retailers yields hundreds of choices across dozens of companies, ranging from under $10 (£8) to over $600 (£468).

You may already have a sense of where your budget falls, but whether you’re shopping with a tight budget or are willing to spend the big bucks, there are still a lot of other things--and headsets--to consider. 

Luckily, we’ve been testing numerous gaming cans and have distilled down the best here. To see every model we've tested, check out our gaming headset reviews page

Quick Shopping Tips

 Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a gaming headset.

  •  Wired or wireless? First and foremost: Wired headsets generally cost less and don’t need to be charged. So if you’re a PC gamer who games at your desk, you may want to stick to wired options for cost savings and simplicity. A wired headset won’t die on you during a tense moment of battle—unless (maybe) you run over the cable with your chair. Then again, there’s no denying the convenience of being able to run to the kitchen for a snack without having to remove your cans. 
  •  A key Bluetooth spec: APTX. If you do go the wireless route and opt for a Bluetooth headset (no USB dongle needed), look for headsets that support Qualcomm’s aptX tech, a compression tech (codec) that’s been used for decades in TV and movie voice-work, movie theater audio and by thousands of radio stations. If you’ve heard Bluetooth audio in years past and hated it (it definitely was bad for a long time), give an aptX-enabled headset a listen. As long as the underlying hardware is good, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the sound output. 
  •  Audio and mic quality. These are very important but impossible to evaluate on the one or two floor models at your local superstore. We focus on these aspects in detail in our deep-dive reviews. In short, detailed reproduction and good spatial resolution, specifically when it comes to complex noises and environments with multiple sound sources, are more important than any attempt at simulated surround sound. For fine-tuning and sound modification, a flexible equalizer is always better than a fixed sound design that you can’t change. 
  •  All about the look. Of course, you have some aesthetic elements to consider, as well, which will be purely subjective. Not everyone needs or wants RGB lights around their head, or for their headset to look like a sci-fi prop. But if you’re going to pair your headset with a gaming keyboard and gaming mouse from the same company, and all the lighting effects can be synced across the peripherals, the effect is eye-catching. This can also be helpful when gaming if the software lets you correspond in-game events or statuses, (such as inflicted damage or cool-down meters), to specific lighting effects. 
  •  Headband and earcup comfort. Comfort is obviously more subjective than measuring audio output and input, and you should be wary of plush gaming headsets with thick bulges, cheap foam and cloth covers. They might look good and feel comfortable, but our testing of these types of headsets often reveals disappointing acoustic performance. The ear-cushion material can make a huge difference in what your ears actually perceive. 

Best Gaming Headsets

Best Gaming Headset

(Image credit: HyperX)

HyperX Cloud Alpha

Best Gaming Headset

Driver: 50mm neodymium | Impedance: 65 Ohms | Frequency response: 13–27,000Hz | Mic: Unidirectional electret | Connectivity: 3.5mm | Weight: 0.7 pounds

 Neutral sound quality
Solid build quality
Good material choice
Comfortable fit
 
 High price
Somewhat heavy
Small dips and peaks in frequency curve 

The HyperX Cloud Alpha is the best gaming headset for most gamers, offering nearly perfect sound quality. The reproduction of noise sounds natural on these cans. The drivers avoid things like overly aggressive bass or highs. It's not revolutionary, but for under $100 it's a fantastic value. 

Plus, the headset earns its cloud branding with a light, comfy fit. That's thanks to quality materials. This includes thick memory foam padding on the headband and earcups and HyperX's decision to opt for aluminum over plastic in some important areas. The overall look and feel is one of quality. 

Read Review: HyperX Cloud Alpha

Best Budget Gaming Headset

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair HS35

Best Budget Gaming Headset

Driver: 50mm neodymium | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz | Mic: Unidirectional noise cancelling | Connectivity: 3.5mm | Weight: 0.6 pounds

Attractive pricing
Understated looks
Well-padded
Serviceable mic
Loose bass response
Uncomfortable on bigger ears

The best budget gaming headset the, Corsair HS35, is sometimes available for as little as $30, but it doesn’t look it. Details like matte and gloss finishing and brushed metal logos stop the peripheral from looking cheap, and the build quality is excellent. 

Audio-wise, this headset does take some shortcuts, like a harsh tone that doesn't sound good outside of gaming and a slightly tinny sounding mic. And don't expect luxuries like software control or accessories. 

But the Corsair HS35 sounds great in areas that matter to gamers, including with eSports, shootouts and explosions. 

Read Review: Corsair HS35 

Best Wireless Gaming Headset

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

Best Wireless Gaming Headset

Driver: 40mm neodymium | Impedance: 32 Ohms | Frequency response: 10-40,000Hz | Mic: Bidirectional electret condenser | Connectivity: Wireless 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.1 | Weight: 0.8 pounds

 Comfortable headband design
Peerless swappable battery system
Crisp hi-res audio
Feature-laden base station 
 Hasn't evolved at the pace of other Arctis models
Expensive
No ChatMix thumb wheel on earcups
Needs base station to charge
Headband durability concerns 

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is the best wireless gaming headset, offering reliable, lag-free connectivity without any dropouts during our testing. In addition to working with PCs, its Bluetooth option means you can use it for consoles or on long commutes. 

With its base station you get virtual 7.1 surround sound, easy EQ preset toggling, ChatMix and other mic features and more. 

Meanwhile, audio quality is fantastic across different types of media, even without messing with EQ presets. The Arctis Pro Wireless also supports hi-res media, making it sound especially immersive with beautiful highs.  

Read Review: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

Best Splurge Gaming Headset

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

HyperX Cloud Orbit S

Best Splurge Gaming Headset

Driver: 100mm neodymium | Impedance: Not disclosed | Frequency response: 10-50,000Hz | Mic: Unidirectional electret condenser | Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB Type-A, USB Type-C | Weight: 0.8 pounds

 Immersive and loud 3D audio
Soft, squishy headband and ear cups
Clear mic
Good battery life
Accurate head tracking 
 A little heavy
Head tracking’s audio impact varies depending on game
Expensive 

The HyperX Cloud Orbit S is an expensive premium gaming headset, but with it you get a discernible gaming advantage, thanks to its customizable 3D mode with head tracking. When you're gaming with head tracking, the location of enemies is apparent and the auditory environment moves with you. You can also use head tracking as game controls, freeing up your hands for more action. 

There are lower-priced headsets with true surround sound (instead of the Orbit S’ virtual surround sound) and wireless capability. But the Orbit S, which bears the same cozy memory foam headband and earpads as other headsets in HyperX's Cloud line, provides a gaming edge you’ll actually notice.

We also love the versatility of this headset. In addition to offering hi-res, virtual surround and 3D audio, you can use the headset with a 3.5mm jack, USB Type-A port or  USB Type-C port.

Read Review: HyperX Cloud Orbit S 

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3668647/gaming-headsets.html
    Reply
  • floppyedonkey
    probably not a good idea to publish an article about a headset model that is no longer in production and has been replaced.
    Siberia 800 is no longer in production and has a new replacement model

    Doing so really eats up credibility.
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    Or, as an alternative, you could get a far superior sounding set of dedicated headphones and get a clip on or base stand mic. I suppose it all depends on what the user prefers based on the primary focus. To each their own.
    Reply
  • ElectrO_90
    What happened to - Tech Tom's Relies On: SteelSeries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset

    Strange it wasn't mentioned at all..... and/or tested in the article like this one....

    Proof that it was a paid advert after all.
    But Tom's just won't admit it. News websites have to now say that this "fake news" is an advert...
    Reply
  • lun471k
    No mention of the Arctis 7 with its GameDAC ? it's mentioned of almost every other side.
    Reply
  • KD_Gaming
    You people need to realize when it comes to testing something like audio, 1) there is a very small selection actually tested. It's not like toms is a audio site that tests thousands. Also 2) audio is subjective, what sounds good to one person can be bad to another person, usually do to the type of cone materials used.
    Personally if your going wired you might as well get a true dedicated mic and a good normal headset (non gaming) obviously prices can jump very quickly so you have to pick better audio vs not sounding like crap sometimes depending on your budget
    Reply
  • giovanni86
    Siberia ones only lasted me 3 months. After that headset wouldnt turn on. I'd get warranty with those if i ever bought them again. Great when they worked though no argue there, Music and games. Was too good to be true.
    Reply
  • sebastien.gaggini
    The Siberia 800 is a nice headset but it can be really uncomfortable to wear for a long time.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    20977676 said:
    Or, as an alternative, you could get a far superior sounding set of dedicated headphones and get a clip on or base stand mic. I suppose it all depends on what the user prefers based on the primary focus. To each their own.

    This is the strategy I go with. My new motherboard has a built-in headphone amp (Asus Prime Z370-A) and the sound has never been better. I just use my webcam mic. It's been a great setup.
    Reply
  • ph.homer
    Old model and if your looking for a complete wireless experience, look at Turtle Beach 800x/Stealth 700 series.

    They have a headset for every device and I find these the perfect choise, still in 2018!!!
    Reply