Best gaming headsets in 2023

Best gaming headset hero image with two headsets and the PC Gamer recommends logo.
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The best gaming headset can make a big difference to your gaming experience, though audio is one of the most overlooked parts of PC gaming. If you want to be completely absorbed in a game world, then the soundscape has almost as much to do with it as the visuals.

When it comes down to it, the best gaming headset is the Razer Blackshark V2 (opens in new tab) thanks to it's incredible audio, comfort, and styling all for under $100. Similarly, the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless (opens in new tab) is always on our radar for much the same reasons, plus its fantastic wireless capability. The more premium options sound pretty incredible, though, if you have money to burn. 

Great audio can be a genuine help in competitive games. Whether you're trying to place an enemy's footsteps as they run past, or want to listen to some tunes while you work, it's down to your headset's drivers to make it all sound excellent. Quality drivers ensure you get the best audio, and we're against gaming headphones that overdo low frequencies, as it provides terrible bass in most cases. The best gaming headsets offer more balanced drivers that require minimal tweaking on your end, and you won't need to spend hundreds of dollars.

At the end of the day, some just aren't up to scratch. That's why we rigorously test as many gaming headsets as we can squeeze our ears into. The headsets on this list are chosen from the dozens the PC Gamer hardware team and myself have tested. The best headsets offer the best sound for gamers at each end of the budget spectrum, and our guide to the best wireless gaming headsets (opens in new tab) will deliver some great untethered options if you're looking to go no-strings-attached.

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Best gaming headset

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The best 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

Reasons to buy

Restrained styling
Great audio
Often under $100

Reasons to avoid

Cable hardwired into headset
Mic doesn't retract

Dethroning the HyperX Cloud Alpha (opens in new tab) from the top spot was no easy feat. Razer's BlackShark V2 gaming headset manages to do just that by offering killer audio quality, great price, and easy-to-use software. From the moment Razer first started talking about the BlackShark V2, it was clear this was main focus of the headset, and the design of the drivers themselves is effectively doing what the impressive Cloud Alphas do.

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 than a standard set, and keeps it on par with HyperX's 50mm dual-chamber neodymium driver headset. They're like a tribute to HyperX's own design, and no worse for it.

And it gives a level or aural clarity to the BlackShark V2 that makes me doubly surprised to hear it from a headset that costs just $100. If I'm being very picky I'd maybe say that I can hear a little more separation of the higher frequencies with the HyperX Cloud Alpha—mostly when the THX software is enabled— but there is a richness to the mids, and some velvety bass notes, that you only get with the BlackShark V2.

I'm feeling kinda shellshocked after an explosive Battlefield V tour of duty.

For me, the sound is one of the stand-out features of the BlackShark V2, and is far and above what you will get with most other sets in this price point. I'm also a big fan of the restrained design of the headset, and I've found them to comfortable enough to wear for marathon gaming sessions. 

I'm a teeny bit of an audio snob; sporting an obsession with Tidal's Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) offerings, and I don't quite have the words to express the slap-bass joy of Rage Against the Machine's Take the Power Back when played loud on really good audio equipment. My usual headphones are the Audeze LCD-3, a particularly lovely open-back pair of cans rocking planar magnetic drivers. They're great, for music and gaming, but those advanced drivers make them expensive.

The BlackShark V2 may not quite have the glorious clarity of a well-worn planar magnetic set, but the tonal quality of the TriForce drivers, surprisingly with the THX software in music mode, makes for a fantastic experience.

And they're great in-game too. Where there's a warmth to the musical experience that means I've been oscillating between the melancholy of Swift's Folklore and the toe-tapping of Seasick Steve's latest, I'm feeling kinda shellshocked after an explosive Battlefield V tour of duty. 

There's only one reason I no longer use them as my daily drivers, and that's the arrival of the wireless version, the rather more expensive BlackShark V2 Pro (opens in new tab). They use the same drivers, but use a lag-free wireless connection, with a great battery life... but they are pricey. Though it has to be said that we've seen deals as low as $130 so it is worth looking at.

But overall price is the other stand-out feature of the wired BlackShark V2 headset; you'll often find them for under $100 and that makes them an absolute bargain. 

Read our full Razer Blackshark V2 review (opens in new tab).

The best wireless gaming headset


Wireless: Yes
Drivers: Dynamic, 50mm with neodymium magnets
Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless dongle
Frequency response: 15–21,000Hz
Features: Bi directional detachable mic

Reasons to buy

Battery life that can only be described as witchcraft
Excellent for listening to music
Precise, powerful audio is great for gaming
Very comfortable

Reasons to avoid

Microphone isn't up to par with the rest of the headset
They aren't the loudest headphones

The HyperX Cloud Alpha is perhaps the most praised thing to exist on this site. We all love it on the team and now HyperX has cut the cord on its best pair of cans. The biggest drawcard for this headset is the new huge battery. You're looking at up to 300 hours of battery life in wireless mode while still keeping the headset relatively light and comfortable. It's a pretty massive feat and I feel HyperX has pulled it off.

Out of the box, this unit was reporting having about 80% charge, so I decided to leave it there to see how well that held. I spent a workday listening to music and checked the battery again: I swear it still said 80%. I have been using this thing for gaming and music listening pretty consistently for the past week and we aren't even at 50% battery yet.

That impressive battery life is, of course, a best-case scenario. A lot of that has to do with the volume you're running the headset at, and volume is probably my only real complaint. It's absolutely loud enough but I can listen to it at full volume and still be fairly comfortable.

Definitely one of the better gaming headsets I've used to listen to music.

But the sound quality truly is incredible. Music sounds amazing. It's always fun to listen to some of my favorite sound-heavy songs on a good pair of cans and try to pick the different instruments or bites used. These do an excellent job and are definitely one of the better gaming headsets I've used to listen to music on. 

When playing games the directional sound is also very nice. I was able to easily locate hidden batteries by directional beeps in Deep Rock Galactic and had a wonderful time bouncing along to the tight beats of Shadow Warrior 3. I loaded up some Doom Eternal and promptly terrified myself. If you've ever wanted to know what it sounds like having a Cacodemon suddenly show up and whisper sweet blah-things into very specifically your left ear then these can absolutely deliver.

The Cloud line is always touted for comfort and despite the hefty battery this still definitely fits the bill. I'm someone who struggles with too much weight or tightness on my head, and I have a real sensitivity to uncomfortable headsets. The top band is thick and has soft padding underneath. This coupled with the equally soft ear cups makes for a very cozy experience, and does an excellent job of blocking out noise.

Sadly, the mic is your fairly standard affair and while it will work just fine for chat in games, it's very basic and uninspired when it comes to sound quality. 

Though all things considered, I struggle to imagine a customer who wouldn't be happy with these as a wireless gaming headset. They're pricey, but within reason for their specs, and they certainly deliver on everything you could want for gaming, and listening to music, on your PC.

Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless review (opens in new tab).

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The best budget gaming headset


Wireless: No
Drivers: 50mm, Neodymium magnets
Connectivity: 3.5mm
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20,000Hz
Features: Flip-up mic

Reasons to buy

Superb microphone quality
Flip-up mic arm
Light and comfortable
Good value

Reasons to avoid

Mic arm can be fiddly at times
Older HS50 feels a touch more premium

The HS55 headset is much comfier than Corsair's previous budget models. The plush earcups on the HS55 make for a stark comparison to the HS50's stiff and unbudging foam. The HS55 is also lighter, at 284g, which has a big impact on comfort over long periods. I wore this pair for the better part of a week, 8 hours a day, and I didn't feel the urge to throw them off at any point. They can be a little sweaty on hot days due to the leatherette material they're covered in, but that's a pretty common drawback among gaming headsets in this price range.

The biggest shake-up is the microphone arm, which is now attached permanently to the HS55's left earcup and can be flipped up and out of the way if no longer needed. This is definitely an improvement over the previous HS50, which had a removable mic via 3.5mm jack. 

Don't judge me, but I've lost my fair share of headset microphones in my career, but I'm not a huge fan of leaving the mic in front of my face all day when it's not in use. A flip-up mic is a much better option, so glad to see one make the cut with the HS55.

The microphone is the real star here.

The microphone sounds great, anyways, and that's what really counts here. I'm really impressed with just how clear the HS55's microphone is: the subtle tones and nuance of my voice's luscious timbre (in my opinion) come through accurately in testing, which you can listen to below. There's a surprising level of clarity in this mic, even in the lower ranges, and it's a really great solution for a budget headset. 

This is a 3.5mm wired headset, however, so just bear in mind that both the microphone and audio quality could be adversely affected by your motherboard's DAC/amp or whatever sound card/external device you plug it into. It shouldn't make a huge difference nowadays, even the cheapest motherboards have relatively decent audio, but worth sparing a thought for your holistic audio setup.

You're getting a comfier and lighter headset in the HS55 over the HS50, and ultimately I feel it's worth the slight price bump for those improvements. The HS55 feels a little cheaper than the HS50, however, with more of a plasticky feel to it. Thankfully it still feels robust and is clearly well put together nonetheless. 

But Corsair's own is far from this headset's only competition. You've Razer's Kraken (opens in new tab) and BlackShark V2 X (opens in new tab) cans, which both make for a good contest, and HyperX can be found selling a few models for roughly the same price, including the Cloud II (opens in new tab) when on offer. That's stiff competition, though the Corsair delivers enough to warrant consideration by any gamer looking to pick up some new cans.

The microphone is the real star here. It's superbly clear and offers a great end result. You shouldn't struggle to be heard on Discord or in chat in-game, and you won't be that player with the muffled and scratchy microphone no one wants to play with. While the mic's design isn't quite bang-on how I'd like it, it's both convenient and sounds great. That really puts the HS55 in contention at this price.

Read our full Corsair HS55 Stereo review (opens in new tab).

Best high-end wireless gaming headset


Wireless: Yes
Drivers: 40mm
Connectivity: 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth,
Frequency response: 10–40,000Hz
Features: Game DAC with 2 USB Type-C inputs, 2x 3.5mm audio in/out, Bluetooth and wireless simultaneous connection
Weight : 338g
Battery Life: 30 hours x2 (swappable batteries)

Reasons to buy

Smashing bass and audio quality
Intuitive and informative new Sonar parametric EQ
Comfortable, light, and highly adjustable
DAC is an amp and fast-charging spare battery dock
Noise cancellation for mic and ear cups

Reasons to avoid

Can only skip or pause music with headset buttons over Bluetooth
Frightfully loud glitch noises when going out of range
AI noise canceling is a bit weak at the moment

SteelSeries' Arctis Nova Pro wireless gaming headset comes in with an entirely new design, a far cry from previous Arctis models. That's not just in terms of audio and quality of life features, but also style and overall craftsmanship. The Nova nomenclature comes from the Latin novus, meaning new. Appropriate for a gaming headset that manages to branch out into somewhat uncharted territory, though you'll be paying a premium for the privilege of gaming at the cutting edge. Think in the region of $350 (£330). 

In order to make that price worth it, SteelSeries' plan is to make the Arctis Nova Pro your 'everything' headset—not just the one you use for gaming. The real champion feature here is the multi-system connect feature, which lets you connect to two different devices via 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth simultaneously. The freedom to listen to a podcast on your cell while playing games on your PC, then switch off the Wi-Fi and walk out the door, listening uninterrupted, is kind of revolutionary for SteelSeries, though there are many headsets out there that do offer it. 

The Arctis Nova Pro's made even more portable with a pair of hot-swappable, lithium-ion batteries. These charge up in under an hour slotted into the side of the ESS Sabre Quad-DAC, or through USB Type-C charging cable connected to the headset. I've not had to plug in once in the month I've had it; I just swap the battery over when one's about to die, which takes a good two and a half days of full use. 

The Nova pro beats out every headset on our list when it comes to quality of life features, but it's also a heck of a lot more expensive than your average wireless gaming headset. Still, the absolute torrent of functionality really has me wanting to recommend the Nova Pro.

The DAC for both the PlayStation and Xbox versions is well designed (each one's slightly different looking) and keeps a lot of these settings close at hand so you can switch them around in the game, without alt-tabbing out. On both, there's a 3.5mm line in and out, as well as two USB Type-C connections for a 'first in gaming' multi-system connection, so you can keep your PlayStation 5 and your PC connected at all times.

The Nova pro beats out every headset on our list when it comes to quality of life features, but it's also a heck of a lot more expensive than your average wireless gaming headset. here

Also, the DAC serves as a 96kHz/24-bit amplifier, similar to that of the Arctis Pro (opens in new tab)+ which also touts a wide 10-40kHz frequency response. Coupled with the Sonar equalizer, the quality of the newly designed drivers becomes immensely clear. 

On the one hand, you could bag this super high-spec gaming headset that's been thoughtfully redesigned considering the successes and failures of previous generations; or you could essentially pay yourself $100 dollars to get a cheaper gaming headset, but forgo the utterly untethered, exemplary connectivity and sheer craftsmanship of the Nova Pro. Honestly, I'd rather blow the full $350, and screw the Nova Pro to my head for good.

Read our full SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro review (opens in new tab).

The best audiophile headphones for gaming


Wireless: No
Drivers: STELLAR.45, Dynamic
Frequency response: 5Hz – 40,000Hz
Features: Open-back

Reasons to buy

Incredible audio performance
Supremely comfortable
Handsome and solid construction
Works with just about anything

Reasons to avoid

No detachable or in-line mic
Initial clamping is too tight
Cut the cord...

(Image credit: Steelseries)

Best wireless gaming mouse (opens in new tab): ideal cable-free rodents
Best wireless gaming keyboard (opens in new tab): no wires, no worries
Best wireless gaming headset (opens in new tab): top untethered audio

The new DT 900 Pro X Studio headphones by Beyerdynamic is not a gaming headset (opens in new tab). They don't have a mic, USB connectivity, fancy haptics, or even RGB. Actually, you're more likely to find them on an audio engineer who masters all the music and cues that are critical in games. However, the very same qualities that make the DT 900 Pro X perfect for long hours of critical listening, mixing, and mastering of audio are perfect when gaming.

While they may not have a mic, you get everything needed in a gaming headset. The incredible velour earpads that are stinkin' cosy, and the spring steel headband has memory foam padding and keeps those muffs well clamped to your head which gives the excellent sound seal despite the open back nature. I had to manually stretch them out over a few days and now they're perfect for me, but they were a bit too clampy at first. Just something to be aware of.

The DT 900 Pro X Studios are clean, minimal, and professional. They look nothing like gaming headsets but I'm all for that.

Beyer includes two different cable lengths cables; 3m and a shorter 1.8m for console gamepads, Nintendo Switch. or smart devices. These cables didn't make any noise, which was something that was present on the MMX 100.

The impressive clarity and fantastic audio positioning make it easy to identify the location and relative distance of opponents.

As an open-back style headset, the DT 900 Pro X surprised me with how punchy the audio is unlike the somewhat anaemic, airy audio I've experienced in other open backs. The STELLAR.45 driver employed here is perfectly tuned for a flat profile that slaps whatever you're listening to. From classical sonnets to Snoop Dogg bass hits, nothing sounded bad.

In competitive shooters like CoD Warzone and Apex Legends, the impressive clarity and fantastic audio positioning make it easy to identify the location and relative distance of opponents. Every bullet sings and whines, explosions boom and shake and environments come to life.

As good as these are for gaming, they aren’t a gaming headset so you forgo a microphone that you’d need for game chat. A standalone mic is a better option anyway. It’s definitely not a complete package but I dare say the trade-off for the exceptional audio performance, all-day comfort, and build is well worth it. In fact, it's a steal.

Read our full DT 900 Pro X Studio review (opens in new tab).

Best gaming headset FAQ

What does a gaming headset need?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a gaming headset. A good price and sound quality are foremost, but comfort is up there, too. Also, noise-cancelling mics are crucial for coms, so most of the headsets we've listed here include this feature. You want decent voice quality and a microphone that won't pick up every single keypress on your mechanical keyboard.

How does PC Gamer test gaming headsets?

You can read all about how PC Gamer tests hardware in our how we test guide (opens in new tab), but here's a quick breakdown.

Each headset that we test we use daily for at least a week. We record a sample of our voice in Audacity and compare it to previous recordings from other models, then head to Discord to get some feedback from our friends on how we're sounding. You can hear a lot of the microphones and headsets we test on our Soundcloud (opens in new tab) (I promise it's not PC Gamer's homemade rap).

During that week, we aim to test each headset in a number of different game genres—shooters, battle royales, and racing games make for particularly good testing scenarios since the former tends to test the low-end and reveal muddiness and distortion, while PUBG et al are great for positional audio tracking. Oh, and we listen to a lot of music, obviously. 

Are wired or wireless headsets better for gaming?

This really comes to down to preference, but if you're going the wireless route what you want to look for is for decent battery life (20 hours or higher). The last thing you want to have a headset that's constantly needing to be plugged in because the battery life is bad. It kind of defeats the purpose of being wireless. For wired headsets you want to make sure you the cable is long enough to reach your PC without feeling like it's tugging on your head.

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.