The best gaming headset can make all the difference in your gaming experience. It can be the deciding factor in crucial life-or-death moments in multiplayer or competitive shooters, and make you far more comfortable during marathon gaming sessions. It may be easy to see how much impact dropping an Nvidia RTX 3080 can have, but it's tougher to quantify what crystal clear gaming audio can do.
For any competitive PC gamer, a quality gaming headset is essential to the experience, allowing you to easily pinpoint directional audio and react accordingly.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a gaming headset. Price and sound quality, of course—those are the biggest factors we weighed when picking our favorites for this list. Comfort is up there, too. Lastly, the majority of the headsets we've listed here include noise-canceling mics which are crucial for chatting with your teammates. You want decent voice quality, and also a microphone that isn't going to pick up every single keypress on your mechanical keyboard.
Adding one of the best gaming headsets of 2021 to your set-up shouldn't cost the earth either. You can grab our top pick, the Razer Blackshark V2, for $100, giving you a sturdy headset with excellent sound quality. Alternatively, if you have the money to spare and want to go with a wireless option, you could do a lot worse than the HyperX Cloud Orbit S.
Our list of the best gaming headsets has something for everyone regardless of budget. If you're determined to cut down on cord clutter, our guide to purely the best wireless gaming headsets may be more to your taste.
1. Razer Blackshark V2 The best wired gaming headset
Wireless: No | Drivers: 50mm Razer TriForce Titanium | Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB soundcard | Frequency response: 12Hz - 28,000Hz | Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic, in-line cable controls | Weight: 262g Check it out on Amazon right now!
Restrained styling Comfortable Great audio Great value
Dethroning the HyperX Cloud Alpha from the top spot wasn't an easy job. Razer's Blackshark V2 gaming headsets manages to do just that by offering killer audio quality, great price, and easy-to-use software.
The 50mm TriForce Titanium drivers are designed with discrete ports to separate bass, mid, tremble tones from interfering with each other. The result is a richer sound and keeps it on par with HyperX's 50mm dual-chamber neodymium driver headset.
The $100 price point is not a big financial ask for anyone who wants a quality gaming headset. The recent release of the Blackshark V2 Pro gives players a wireless option though, $180 seems a bit steep.
2. HyperX Cloud Alpha A well rounded, well-balanced headset for game audio.
Wireless: No | Drivers: 50mm dual chamber neodymium | Connectivity: 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 13Hz-27,000Hz | Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic, in-line cable controls Check it out on Amazon right now!
Powerful but clear sound Exceptional build quality
Bearing the fruits of HyperX Cloud's long legacy of excellence, the Cloud Alpha presents excellent sound and build quality with the essential features done well, and no feature-flab inflating the price. The stereo soundscape in this closed-back design is punchier in the low end than we'd usually go for, but the extra bass doesn't interfere with overall clarity—and frankly, in games and music environments, it sounds great. Each 50mm driver's dual chamber design is intended to give low, medium, and high frequencies space to resonate without interfering with each other, and you do get a sense of that while listening to them.
Elsewhere it's the usual impressive build quality, generous padding, clear mic and high comfort levels over longer play sessions that the Cloud design has always offered. The inline controls are the only exception to that rule—they feel flimsy by comparison to the rest of the package. We recommend the Alpha over the Cloud II (only just) because of the better frequency response range and overall sound quality, though there's very little separating the two models.
(Image credit: Razer)
3. Razer Thresher Ultimate The best Razer headset on the market.
Wireless: Yes | Drivers: 50mm neodymium | Connectivity: USB wireless, 3.5mm analog | Frequency response: 12Hz-28,000Hz | Features: Retractable unidirectional mic, RGB, 7.1 Dolby Surround
Detailed audio Comfortable Quality wireless connection
The more recent Nari Ultimate might grab the headlines with its divisive haptic feedback feature, but while it looks the same it has arguably weaker audio than the classic Thresher Ultimate. For our money, that's the best gaming headset Razer has created, and it's one we still use today.
I'd much rather have the detailed, robust audio of the Thresher's more aurally acute drivers than something that feels like you're being prodded in the side of the head every time an explosion goes off in-game.
The wireless connection is solid, the fit comfortable, the battery life decent—though not class-leading at around ten hours—and if you grab a pair of the optional pink cat ears off the Razer store you can make them look just fabulous.
4. HyperX Cloud Orbit S Comfy, premium headset with clean and clear surround sound.
Wireless: No | Drivers: Planar transducer, 100 mm | Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB Type A, USB Type C | Frequency response: 10Hz–50,000Hz | Features: Detachable noise cancellation mic with pop filter, Waves Nx fully immersive 3D audio Check it out on Amazon right now!
Incredibly clear sound 3D head tracking Nice, comfortable build
HyperX manages to deliver one of the comfiest, most durable headsets on the market while still having crystal clear audio. The Cloud Orbit S uses audiophile-level planar magnetic drivers, which reads as cool as they sound. Essentially a rebadged Audeze Mobius headset, the Orbit S looks super-sleek and its giant memory foam ear cushions are extremely comfortable to wear for long stretches of use with out weighing your head down.
The stellar sound quality alone is worth the investment. You can easily use this as your everything headset for mobile, console, and PC play. Using Audeze' Waves NX 3D sound tech, it tracks your head movement to simulate 7.1 surround sound and the results are impressive. Though, the software could be a bit overwhelming. It still doesn't change the fact this is a great sounding headset with a reliable sounding detachable microphone.
5. Steelseries Arctis 9 The best wireless gaming headset for most users.
Wireless: Yes | Drivers: 40mm neodymium drivers | Connectivity: Wireless via USB, 3.5mm wired, Bluetooth | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Features: Retractable noise cancelling mic, DTS Headphone:X, 7.1 surround Check it out on Amazon right now!
Solid gaming sound Comfortable 'ski goggle' headband Great Mic Bluetooth Pricey Weak Bass
What we like best about the Arctis 9 is that you can easily forget it’s a wireless model while you’re using it. There’s none of the muddiness or audio artifacts that have historically ruined the party for wireless headsets. The added Bluetooth compatibility means that you can use this headset on your mobile devices too, perfect is you plan on gaming on your phone or tablet.
The great battery life clocks in at over 20 hours out of the box, you can keep playing while you charge, too, simply by connecting the headset to your PC with a USB cable.
The distinctive ski goggle headband is really effective at keeping the weight of the headset away from your head, and even after playing for hours we’ve never felt it digging in. Our only big issue is that $200 seems a bit pricey considering the Arctis 7 only costs $150 sans Bluetooth.