Best gaming headset 2018

What is the best gaming headset? We've tested the top sets, from wireless headphones to cheap gaming headsets

Best gaming headset

The best gaming headset can make a big difference to your gaming life. Whether it’s giving you the best in-game soundscape or simply making sure your housemates/significant others aren’t driven to distraction by the sounds of simulated warfare blazing from your PC speakers, and rumbling from your sub-woofer, at all hours of the day and night.

Making sure you’ve got the right aural setup for your gaming rig is absolutely vital to getting the ultimate experience, and a quality gaming headset has a massive part to play in the overall immersion of PC gaming. We’ve tested the latest and greatest from the top manufacturers in the land, from Turtle Beach headsets, Razer, HyperX, SteelSeries, Sennheiser, and more, all to help you figure out what the right set of cans is for you and the games you play.

But the best gaming headset can mean different things to different people. Do you want a versatile headset which will make your music and movies sound just as good as your games? Are you an isolationist who needs a pair of cans to block the outside world or a set which will deliver the most natural soundscape possible, regardless of leakage?

And can you cope with being wired for sound or do you absolutely, positively have to go for a wireless gaming headset?

Do you even need a dedicated gaming headset at all? If audio quality is the be-all-and-end-all for you it might be interesting to note there’s a growing trend of using audiophile headphones, coupled with discrete desk-based microphones, so you can still yell abuse at your gaming buddies while enjoying the absolute best aural experiences money can buy.

The best gaming headsets are:

Check out the best gaming headset prices at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Best gaming headset - HyperX Cloud Alpha

Winner: Best gaming headset

HyperX Cloud Alpha

Approx. $100 | £93

Vital stats

A simply stunning package of outstanding audio, great design, and fantastic value-for-money.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range13Hz - 27,000Hz
  • Weight298g

The HyperX Cloud II was our pick as the best gaming headset since it launched, and it’s only fitting that the direct successor to this headset, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, should knock it off its pedestal.

Improving on everything the Cloud II got right, the Cloud Alpha offers an even more immersive experience at the same price. The drivers are beyond impressive, and for the sub-$100 price point, they offer frequency ranges rivaling the $250 Razer Threshers.

The noise-cancelling on the microphone has been improved, specifically tuned to block out the sound of HyperX’s very own Alloy keyboard and the famously piercing sound of Cherry MX blue switches. The Cloud Alpha headphones also feature very noticeably improved noise isolation, preventing any chatter around you from ruining the listening experience.

HyperX managed to improve all the features customers were looking for with the Cloud II, adding removable cables (with two cable options included), improved ear cups, and a more robust design. The improvements have led to a slight weight increase, but in return they feel exceptionally sturdy and durable.

The HyperX Cloud Alpha offers excellency in design, durability and quality, while maintaining a fantastic price. Kingston took their time redesigning the Cloud headset, and with good reason. The HyperX Cloud II needed something utterly spectacular to justify a redesign, and they’ve delivered just that with the Cloud Alpha.

Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha review.

Best gaming headset runner-up - Roccat Khan Pro

Runner-up: Best gaming headset

Roccat Khan Pro

Approx. $80 | £78

Vital stats

It's not the most flashy of gaming headsets, but it's got it where it counts on the audio side.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range10Hz - 40,000Hz
  • Weight230g

Roccat has taken aim directly at the reigning champ with the Khan Pro headset. It’s created an exceptional product with a sound and build quality that is only bested by its value

The lightweight build encases 50mm drivers capable of an impressively broad 10 – 40,000Hz frequency response – far and away beyond what any non-audiophile headset on our roundup can produce. They live up to the expectation, too. The headset offers rich and crisp sound which is plenty capable of producing solid bass without sacrificing a complete soundscape of more than acceptable mids and highs along the way.

The Khan Pro isn’t a flashy headset in design, but it’s comfortable and lightweight at only 230g. The cable is flexible enough that it won’t drag you down, and the headset is available in black, grey, and white to match your setup. So, you’re asking, what’s the catch?

Well, it’s not the price, that’s for sure. Its MSRP is $100 / £90, but you can find easily find it for considerably less on a regular basis. Roccat has aimed this straight at the HyperX Cloud Alpha’s price point, and it hits the nail right on the head for price and performance in that bracket, and easily breezes past the competition if you find it for a good deal less.

Roccat has created some incredibly well-design products as of late, and the Khan Pro headset is just another example of why this is a company you need to look out for when buying your PC peripherals. At this rate, one or two generations down the line, the Roccat headset will be the one to beat.

Since we’ve been fans of the Khan Pro, we saw it fitting to give the RGB-infused Khan Aimo headset a whirl, too. These feature a similar build and design to their understated sibling, although with two RGB LED lighting zones on each earcup.

They also feature USB connectivity, in lieu of the 3.5mm found on the Pro – this USB DAC is also capable of 7.1 surround sound. Overall, the sound quality carries over from the Khan, however, if you aren’t fussed on the RGB of it all, you are still best off opting for the cheaper Pro headset as the Aimo will cost you $120 / £106.

Best gaming headset runner-up - Sennheiser Game ONE

Runner-up: Best gaming headset

Sennheiser GAME ONE

Approx. $144 | £149

Vital stats

A great set of open back cans, with serious detail even at the highest volumes... where you'll deafen everyone else too.

  • Drivers35mm
  • Frequency range15Hz - 28,000Hz
  • Weight300g

Designed for audiophiles as much as gamers, the Game One brings Sennheiser’s decades of experience in professional audio and enthusiast markets to a pair of stereo cans that reproduce sound with incredible accuracy.

You’ll blow out your eardrums before finding a volume at which these start to distort. Don’t do that, though. It’s also worth noting that these cans are open-backed, which means more sound leakage both into and out of the earcups.

Runner-up: Best gaming headset

Sennheiser GSP 300

Approx: $99 £85 

Vital stats

Comfortable, with balanced, detailed audio... but an awkward mic.

  • Drivers~50mm
  • Frequency range15Hz - 26,000Hz
  • Weight290g

Sennheiser is no stranger to top-end audio headsets. It’s already had success in the gaming world with its Sennheiser GAME One headset, but for those who want to spend a little less and prefer a closed-back design, the GSP 300 headset might be for you.

This lightweight and comfy design keeps your ears snug for long gaming sessions, and the large volume wheel on the earcup keeps the cable controller-free and as light as possible. The only downside to the headset is the immobile microphone, which could have benefitted from a removeable design, and ideally the rubberised mid-section swapped for some more malleable material as it currently adds very little in the way of adjustability.

The sound is well-balanced, without too much bass blowing out the mids and highs. Sennheiser seems to have prioritised the right components for rock-solid audio at this price range, and the broad frequency response gives this headset an edge over the competition.

Winner: Best high-end gaming headset

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x

Approx. $299 | £279

Vital stats

A fantastic update to what was a so-so gaming headset. With a stunning level of detail the AG1x delivers a superbly rich gaming soundscape.

  • Drivers53mm
  • Frequency range15Hz - 35,000Hz
  • Weight320g

Take a note of the ‘x’ at the end of the name of this Audio-Technica ATH-AG1x headset – that single character is important because there is also an ATH-AG1 headset. It was the forerunner to this updated version and was a set of cans which failed to build on Audio-Technica’s high-end aural heritage. Don’t mix up the two because you’ll be seriously disappointed and be missing out on one of the best gaming headsets around.

Granted, it’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of dedicated gaming headphones, but this time Audio-Technica has brought its audiophile origins to bear in its design, making the sound reproduction of the AG1x fantastic. Like the HyperX Cloud, we’re talking about 53mm drivers, but the AG1x offers a slightly wider frequency response, ranging between 15Hz and 35KHz, adding extra clarity to the high tones.

That broad soundscape really brings games to life. Whether it’s the richly detailed world of The Witcher 3 or the terrifying war-zones of the Battlefield games, the increased level of immersion will have the hairs on your arms standing tall.

Sometimes I even found myself quickly pulling the headset off during a late-night gaming session because of some in-game sound I thought was coming from the next room. That’s an indication not just of a nervous disposition but of a headset that’s able to deliver a realistic, broad, and natural audio experience.

There is one caveat to the audio, though, and that’s to do with what you’re plugging the ATH-AG1x headset into. The Audio-Technica cans only use a 3.5mm connection and they really come into their own when plugged into a dedicated discrete sound card (remember them?!) or an external DAC/ headphone amp like Creative’s Sound BlasterX G5. If you’re spending this much money on a quality headset you’ll really benefit from making sure the rest of your audio setup is capable of matching it.

But as much as I’ve been rather blown away by the audio quality I’m not such a fan of the overall design. The wing support concept is a little too wacky for my tastes and means the headset doesn’t feel like it’s sat too securely on your head. There’s no real headband, just two tensed paddles which rest on top of your bonce. It’s definitely comfortable, and I’m not saying I want my headphones to have a vice-like grip on my skull, but a robust brain-cuddle is certainly more reassuring.

Those strange design notes aside, the Audio-Technica ATH-AG1x is one of the most impressive-sounding gaming headsets I’ve used. There is an open back version – the ATH-ADG1x – which I was expecting to sound even better, but I have to say this closed back version is my still personal recommendation. They’re easy to find Stateside, but can be a little tricky to track down online in the UK, so it’s worth checking out the actual Audio-Technica site first.

Best high-end gaming headset runner-up - Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament

Runner-up: Best high-end gaming headset

Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament

Approx. $200 | £139

Vital stats

A PC-specific version of one of Turtle Beach's best gaming headsets, with a neat design for the glasses-wearer too.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range12Hz - 22,000Hz
  • Weight390g

The Elite Pro headset is a comfortable, good-sounding set of cans using Turtle Beach’s gaming heritage to great effect, and is now available in a PC specific design too. As a speccy nerd it also gets my vote because of its innovative ProSpecs Glasses Relief System – a simple system which creates temporary dimples in the ear-cups to stop them pressing your spectacles into your head.

Comfort aside, the audio is also impressive, with the 50mm drivers delivering a relatively broad frequency range of 12Hz – 22KHz. It’s not perfect, though; the PC version has a longer cable than the console design, but the in-line controls are at the perfect height to knock against the desktop, echoing through the left earcup.

Best cheap gaming headset - Corsair HS50

Winner: Best cheap gaming headset

Corsair HS50

Approx. $49 | £52

Vital stats

These well-priced cans deliver a genuinely surprising level of audio quality.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Weight319g

Corsair has been a world leader in high-quality gamer peripherals, and its HS50 headset is no exception to the rule. This low-cost headset skips the usual metric ton of RGB lighting in favour of a far more subtle and understated look.

The 50mm drivers offer shockingly crisp and detailed sound, despite the limited 20 – 20,000Hz frequency range, and the bass isn’t too overpowering as is the case with many gaming audio peripherals.

The build quality is exceptional at this price, with a design not dissimilar to our favourite HyperX headset. It’s comfy, lightweight and it doesn’t clamp down on your head like an alligator snapping turtle, unlike some headsets we’ve tested. The built-in controls on the left earcup are a welcome touch – preferable to in-line controls – and keeps the cable nice and light. The mic is removeable, sounds decent enough for party chat, and features great manoeuvrability.

All in all, Corsair really knocked it out of the park with this headset – simple, good quality, comes with a rubber grommet to cover the mic input when it isn’t in use (it’s all in the details), and an absolute steal at that $50 / £55 price tag.

Read our full Corsair HS50 review.

Best cheap gaming headset runner-up - Cougar Phontum

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming headset

Cougar Phontum

Approx. $49 £46

Vital stats

The comfy, chunky earpads and quality audio belie the price of these excellent Cougar cans.

  • Drivers53mm
  • Frequency range20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Weight368g

It’s hard to argue with the value proposition of Cougar’s Phontum gaming headset. The overall quality – both sound and build – easily outweigh this headsets price tag. Cougar would’ve taken the top spot only months ago with the Phontum, but Corsair’s HS50 headset just about edges the competition.

These chunky gamer cans are suitably padded, and come with an extra slimline set to cut down the headphones profile on-the-go. The headset is marginally adjustable utilising the rubber grommet sliders on the side of each ear cup, which is likely fine for most users – just be wary of this if you often prefer a larger fit.

The sound is close to superb at this price range. You can find better, but it can be difficult at this level to find build quality to match. Sound is well-balanced, and the bass doesn’t tend to obfuscate the rest of the audio – a common symptom of gamer cans. For the most part audio remains consistent and clear from the 53mm drivers even at higher volume levels, too.

Best cheap gaming headset runer-up - HyperX Cloud Stinger

Runner-up: Best cheap gaming headset

HyperX Cloud Stinger

Approx. $61 | £45

Vital stats

Building on the audio heritage of the brilliant Cloud Pro headsets, the Stinger brings that detail into a more affordable space.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range18Hz - 23,000Hz
  • Weight275g

The HyperX Cloud Stinger is trying to build on the audio heritage that the outstanding Cloud Pro began all those years ago, but this time from a more budget-oriented standpoint. And that much is obvious from the thin cushion on the headband and the lightweight, rather plasticky frame.

Pulling them from the packaging I was a little concerned about how they might sound. My prejudices were quickly dismissed as soon as I started using them. The 50mm directional drivers deliver an impressive, balanced sound, with a decent amount of separation in the audio. The Stinger, then, is a well-priced headset with a surprisingly detailed sound.

Best wireless headset - SteelSeries Arctis Pro

Winner: Best wireless headset

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

Approx. $329 | £300

Vital stats

The same simple Arctis design, but with the original Siberia wireless functionality. Simply the best cable-free gaming headset around.

  • Drivers40mm
  • Frequency range10Hz - 40,000Hz
  • Weight371g

SteelSeries hasn’t revolutionised the Arctis design with the Arctis Pro Wireless, but it has torn out the insides and replaced the usual innards with flawless wireless tech, audiophile-grade drivers, and more ports than you could possibly want.

The Arctis Pro Wireless is all about premium. It features a lightweight aluminium and steel design – which only weighs 371g – and utilises the famed Arctis adjustable headband design. SteelSeries have also chucked in their Airweave ear cushions that make for some seriously comfortable cans.

The Arctis Pro is seriously versatile, too. Wireless is provided by both 2.4G to and from the base station, and Bluetooth 4.1 from the headset itself. If your device is a little older, or you simply run out of juice, you can always wire up the Arctis Pro using one of the many included cables.

The headset is powered by a single battery, but you don’t have to worry about battery life during any midnight gaming marathons as the base station also acts as a charging bay for the second battery included in the box.

That’s good an’ all, but how does it sound?

Simply put: the Arctis Pro Wireless sounds spectacular. It features a naturally flat and well-balanced sound, accurate reproduction, and offers a vivid soundscape that makes for an incredible listening experience – good enough to make even a die-hard audiophile crack a smile. The microphone isn’t your run-of-the-mill unit either, and eliminates background noise exceptionally well.

It’s capable, connected, comfy, and crystal clear. All the C’s you could ever want in a gaming headset… except for cheap, I suppose. But, while it may not be the most affordable headset on the market, as far as wireless gaming cans go, you’ll find few better that check all the boxes like the Arctis Pro Wireless.

Read our full SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless review.

Best wireless headset runner-up - Razer Thresher Ultimate

Runner-up: Best wireless headset

Razer Thresher Ultimate

Approx: $217 | £250

Vital stats

Razer doesn't have the most established name in high-end audio, but the Thresher Ultimate is a great piece of engineering and design.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range12Hz - 28,000Hz
  • Weight408g

We’re suckers for great audio, so Razer’s excellent Thresher Ultimate, with its broad frequency range and clarity of sound, was always going to knock the more pedestrian-sounding SteelSeries set off the top spot.

The Thresher Ultimate cans are available in either Playstation or Xbox trim, but as both work happily with the PC via the base station, it just becomes a choice of whether you want the classic Razer green trim or the blue. I like the blue… I wasn’t massively taken by the headband at first, but having used the set for a while now they’re mighty comfortable, only pressing in a little around the bottom of the earcups. They are a touch heavier than the SteelSeries Siberia 800s, but the floating band does take most of the strain.

But in sheer aural terms there is only one other wireless headset capable of matching the quality of the Thresher Ultimate. They maybe don’t have the tonal separation of the stunning HyperX Cloud Alpha, or the same super broad soundscape, but they still deliver incredible crisp, detailed sound. And even though it’s a Razer gaming headset the bass response isn’t overblown and doesn’t crush the highs or mid-tones. Where they do stand out is in the addition of Dolby Surround, accessible via a discrete button on the base station, and the easy on-ear controls.

The battery life is decent, rated at around 16 hours, which bore up during our testing. But one of my real bug bears is there seems to be no easy way to tell how much capacity is left in your battery – having a level indicator would be nice. The wireless connection, however, is strong and stable and the audio excellent, so they definitely get the win for us.

Read our full Razer Thresher Ultimate review.

Best wireless headset runner-up - Corsair HS70

Runner-up: Best wireless headset

Corsair HS70

Approx: $99 | £100

Vital stats

Good wireless gaming audio doesn't have to cost the earth, and these Corsair cans are testament to that.

  • Drivers50mm
  • Frequency range20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Weight330g

Corsair’s HS70 is a wireless gaming headset that not only competes with wired headsets in quality and sound, but also in price.

This low-cost wireless set features the same comfortable design, simple styling, and clean audio reproduction as the wired HS50 headset from Corsair – which is our current favourite cheap gaming headset. The price for cutting the cord from its tethered sibling isn’t too dear, either.

This headset offers a solid microphone to compliment the clear audio from those two 50mm drivers, and the battery life is a hefty 16 hours to keep you gaming without distraction.

Read our full Corsair HS70 review here.

Best wireless headset runner-up - SteelSeries Arctis 7

Runner-up: Best wireless headset

SteelSeries Arctis 7

Approx: $138 | £128

Vital stats

A more affordable version of the Arctis wireless design, but missing the detailed audio and the Pro's always-wireless, battery-swapping functionality

  • Drivers40mm
  • Frequency range20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Weight281g

The Siberia 800’s plucky younger brother comes fitted with the same 40mm drivers and 20Hz – 20,000Hz frequency range, as well as a solid and stylish lightweight alloy frame. And for a lot less.

Where the Arctis 7s lose out to the pricier option are in their design. While the 800s rock a solid, comfortable headband, the Arctis 7s have a ‘ski goggle’ elasticated strap that gives you a sore head in long play sessions. And don’t get us started on the easily nudged wheels on the back of the cups ruining your volume settings every time you put them on…

Despite the less involved sound editing options (you’re stuck with basic software rather than the 800s’ desktop transmitter) and the aforementioned design issues, the Arctis 7s still manage to be a dependable and complete gaming headset. The mic is brilliant at cutting out sound, the effective range is outstanding, and considering their much lower price than the 800s they make a wise mid-budget pick.

Read our full SteelSeries Arctis 7 review.

Best audiophile headphones - Focal Utopia

Winner: Best audiophile headphones

Focal Utopia

Approx. $3,999 | £3,083

Vital stats

A more affordable version of the Arctis wireless design, but missing the detailed audio and the Pro's always-wireless, battery-swapping functionality

  • Drivers40mm
  • Frequency range20Hz - 20,000Hz
  • Weight281g

The headsets we’ve picked so far are all gaming-focused models. Sometimes that can mean an uneven approach to audio which puts too much emphasis on the bass response to the detriment of everything else. The Focal Utopia headphones, however, are all about the most perfect, the most detailed, and most accurate representation of audio.

And for this much cash you’d hope so too. These are not stocking filler kinda headphones, the Focal Utopias are all about high-end reference sound, and are genuinely the most detailed cans I’ve ever had on my ears. But that comes at a cost, and I’m not just talking financial either – they’re not the most comfortable to use when listening to music.

Because of their detail they can be a little harsh on the high end, but that also makes them incredible with in-game audio. The open-backed nature of the Utopias means that any open-world game’s soundscape becomes hugely expansive. So often I’d have to take them off, so sure was I that someone was talking to me from the real world when it was just another NPC just out of sight.

That does mean they’re most definitely not noise-cancelling, or at all sound insulated. It’s a two-way audio street…

But they sound amazing, though you absolutely will need a dedicated sound card to get the best out of them. Though if you’re into spending three grand on a set of headphones then chances are you can afford it.

The Focal Utopias are aspirational audiophile headphones, but there are cheaper alternatives out there from Focal and others…

Best audiophile headset runner-up - Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

Runner-up: Best audiophile headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

Approx. $599 | £391

Vital stats

With the OPPO PM3 headphones no longer available the DT 1770 Pro cans are the more-affordable end of the audiophile landscape.

  • Drivers45mm
  • Frequency range5Hz - 40,000Hz
  • Weight368g

Beyerdynamic’s studio grade DT 1770 Pros are another beautiful-sounding set of headphones. Again, they sport a broad frequency range of 5Hz – 40KHz, and complement that with some of the crispest bass tones you’ll hear. That robust bass is so well controlled that it doesn’t touch the mid-range one jot. And they’re also considerably cheaper than the mighty Focal pair.

If only Oppo’s incredible PM3 headphones were still available they’d still have top spot…