SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless
SteelSeries

What to Look For in a Gaming Headset in 2021

When your goal is to pack a microphone into a set of headphones and make both sound great, the options become narrow. A gaming headset has a lot to handle in one package, and if any single part of a headset isn’t up to snuff, it becomes hard to recommend.

Gaming headsets need excellent sound quality and the ability to give you accurate response and spatial clarity for sounds like footsteps in a competitive shooter. Audio is vital to the way we play games, so there’s no place for headsets that have a narrow soundstage. Other bells and whistles, such as RGB lighting or how it looks, are secondary to this.

On top of that, you need a microphone that isn’t fuzzy or quiet. Microphones in headsets can be extremely hit or miss because often it’s much easier for manufacturers to include a weak one to keep the price low. The best gaming headsets have crisp microphones and are just sensitive enough to pick up your voice but not everything else in the background.

As such, it can be difficult to find a sweet spot when it comes to the price of gaming headsets. A lot of headsets are either overpriced or deceivingly cheap for how good they are. It takes a careful eye to determine whether or not a headset is solid, especially since there are so many different options out there.

But that’s what we’re here for! Below are the best gaming headsets out there.

Best Gaming Headset Overall: HyperX Cloud Alpha S

HyperX Cloud Alpha S on person's head
HyperX

Pros

  • Great sound
  • Clear microphone
  • Comfortable
  • Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series Consoles

Cons

  • Mostly pointless mixer controls
  • Wired
  • Sound quality isn't great for music

For most people, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is the gaming headset to get. It’s the kind of headset to pick up if you need something to work on everything you have, as it works with PC, PS5, and Xbox Series consoles. It’s the bread and butter for what you need in a headset.

The Cloud Alpha S headset is solid throughout, offering great sound for basic listening activities and an accurate microphone. They’re also comfortable, which is a huge plus since gaming headsets are often worn for hours at a time.

You might not think it, but the way headsets sound can add to user comfort as well. This HyperX headset lacks a bit in the bass department (considering they have unique bass sliders on the cups), but is otherwise solid and even. An even sound is necessary to reduce strain on your ears while listening to very dynamic audio for long periods of time. This also is a boon for keeping sound cues like footsteps clean in the mix, elevating your gaming experience.

Because it connects via USB, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S lacks an in-line mute control for console players. If you need to mute your microphone frequently, that could be a deal-breaker for you. The headset also includes a mixer that you can mess with, but the results are not spectacular.

That said, these small gripes don’t affect how good the Cloud Alpha S actually is. It’s a strong pick if you need a gaming headset that connects to everything and sounds great without any fuss.

Best Gaming Headset Overall

HyperX Cloud Alpha S

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is comfortable, sounds great, and works with the PC, PS5, and Xbox Series consoles. Combine that with the price, and it's the best of all worlds!

Best Budget Gaming Headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger

HyperX Cloud Stinger around person's neck
HyperX

Pros

  • Comfortable design
  • Solid microphone
  • Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series Consoles

Cons

  • Audio quality is sub-par
  • Wired
  • Chunky design

The HyperX Cloud Stinger headset is inexpensive for various reasons, but the price shouldn’t scare you away from it. For the price point, it’s incredible. The design of the headset is comfortable, and its microphone is surprisingly good. It’s not the kind of headset you’ll want to use for any reason other than gaming, but when you’re shopping for a gaming headset, that’s not really much of an issue.

For a fraction of the cost of competitor headsets, you get a wired headset that is solid and performs well in its own right. The Cloud Stinger is not a wireless headset, nor does it have outstanding audio, but it will handle almost anything you throw at it—includes platforms you play games on.

The reason it’s the best budget gaming headset is simply because of its capability and its comfort. Comfort is vital to gaming headsets, since you’ll typically be wearing them for hours on end, and that’s something you usually sacrifice as the price drops. However, the HyperX Cloud Stingers are true to the name and float over your ears for hours at a time. For gaming, that’s exactly what you want.

Best Budget Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud Stinger

It may not be as stylish as the Cloud Alpha S, but HyperX's Cloud Stinger is an inexpensive gaming headset that's solid and comfortable.

Best Wireless Gaming Headset: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

Arctis Pro Wireless on shelf
SteelSeries

Pros

  • Incredible sound
  • Fantastic microphone
  • Comfortable fit
  • Compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series Consoles

Cons

  • Neutral sound could be a problem for music listeners
  • No microphone volume controls
  • No noise isolation

SteelSeries doesn’t mess around when it comes to gaming headsets. As a result, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is unparalleled in a lot of ways. They’re pricey, but that cost comes with fantastic audio and microphone response, a long battery life, and a comfortable design.

The SteelSeries Arctis Pro suits a lot of gamer needs. You can connect them to any of the modern consoles or a PC and listen to Bluetooth audio on top of that. It’ll all sound great because the headset has a strong neutral sound and immersive audio that will keep game audio effects front and center.

That might not be a huge plus for someone looking to listen to music, but if you’re someone that wants a gaming headset that won’t let you down in a firefight, neutral sound is critical. Combined with the ability to simultaneously connect to multiple devices, the Arctis Pros rocket to the top of the wireless gaming headset list.

Aside from compatibility and audio, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless has great battery life. Wireless headsets are useful so you don’t have to fuss with cords and ports, but if the battery dies fast, you’ll be left feeling more frustrated than you would with a wire. The headset comes with two batteries that can be easily swapped out and each one lasts about 15 hours. No running out of juice in the middle of a gaming session here!

You also can check the battery level and turn them off automatically after a set amount of time. These are the sorts of things that really set a wireless headset above the competitors, and it’s why the Arctis Pros are the best you can get right now.

The only downsides to this headset are that they aren’t great at cutting out background noise due to their design, and have no physical controls for microphone volume. They’re not dealbreakers, but these are aspects to keep in mind when you’re going to pick them up.

Best Wireless Gaming Headset

SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

Wires are a pain, but so are audio issues from connection and Bluetooth issues. The Arctis Pro Wireless sounds great, looks great, and has a long battery life to boot.

Best Gaming Headset for PC: Razer BlackShark V2

Razer BlackShark V2
Razer

Pros

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Powerful microphone
  • Good sound isolation

Cons

  • Not compatible with consoles
  • Sound leakage
  • Limited audio controls

If you’ve dabbled in gaming peripherals, you’ve surely heard of Razer. Razer makes some of the best gaming accessories out there, and its headsets are no different. The Razer BlackShark V2 is perfect for PC gamers, with strong audio, a detachable microphone, and solid noise isolation.

Unfortunately, the Razer BlackShark V2 uses a USB sound card, so it isn’t compatible with any consoles. But for PC gaming, this headset is unmatched. The sound card creates stunning audio while also cutting out extraneous noise. This is ideal for when you need to put all your focus into the game. You can even keep the BlackShark V2s on for long periods because the padding on the cups is durable and soft.

The Razer BlackShark V2 headset also excels at producing neutral audio which is ideal for gaming. When you combine that with noise isolation, you get a headset that’s built for the ultimate gaming audio experience.

The knocks to this headset include some sound leakage that can happen based on their design. So if you play with high volume, other people might hear it. There’s also the downside that the physical controls on the headset are limited to muting the microphone and controlling the volume. There’s no way to split different audio sources or have full-on EQ control.

But all things considered, those are features that you don’t need to take full advantage of what the Razer BlackShark V2 offers.

Best Gaming Headset for PC

Razer BlackShark V2

Razer is well-known in the gaming accessory market, and their BlackShark V2 is a perfect PC headset. It has a USB sound card built-in that will make your game audio work great.

Best Gaming Headset for PS5: Astro A50 Wireless Headset + Base Station Gen 4

Astro A50 Wireless Headset
Astro

Pros

  • Superb battery life
  • Good sound quality
  • Great microphone with noise cancelling

Cons

  • Bulky design
  • Very expensive
  • Lacking noise isolation

The Astro A50 is the best choice out there for anyone looking for a stellar headset for their PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5. These headphones are a bit bulky, but they provide excellent audio and mic quality and great battery life. Like many gaming headphones, they’re largely built for gaming alone, so if you want to use them for listening to music, the quality might not be quite to snuff.

As purely a gaming headset, though, the Astro A50 Wireless headset is near perfect. It has a nice ring of foam on each ear cup that will keep them comfortably on your head for long periods of time. They also do a good job at eliminating noise from seeping into the microphone while you have it on—a feature not a lot of headsets can boast about. And of course, they work flawlessly with the PlayStation consoles.

If you’re worried about battery life, don’t be. The battery on this headset is unreal compared to its competition, lasting about 17 hours on a single charge. The A50s are also capable of fast charging, charging in about two hours via micro-USB or four with the Base Station Gen 4. Like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, the Astro A50 has an auto-off timer to conserve battery when not in use.

Because of how the PlayStation 5 interacts with USB devices, the dock (although expensive) is necessary to be able to change the volume of the game and chat separately. This is crucial if you plan on routinely playing with friends. There are reports of the headset working without the base, but several people said the audio can sound muted. When it comes to this headset, grabbing the base is worth the increased price.

The Astro A50 is the bar to meet when you look for wireless headsets. Any less, and you’ll spend way too much time and thought over the battery life and whether or not it’ll last through your session.

Best Gaming Headset for PS5

Astro A50 Wireless Headset and Base Station Gen 4

When it comes to a PS5 headset, it's go big or go home. The Astro A50 with the dock is expensive, but it offers the best experience for the console that you can get.

Best Gaming Headset for Xbox Series X: SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless

SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless
SteelSeries

Pros

  • Fantastic gaming sound
  • Noise cancelling microphone
  • Sleek design
  • Uses Xbox Wireless Technology

Cons

  • Tight fit
  • Locked to Xbox consoles
  • Inadequate bass

Xbox Series X or S console owners will be more than happy to see a headset made almost exclusively for Microsoft’s consoles. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless is tailor-made to work exceptionally well with Microsoft’s hardware.

Namely, it uses Xbox Wireless Technology to communicate to the console, reducing audio delay. While that might not seem like a big deal at first glance, this makes a big difference in competitive games where ambient sound and reacting to it is important.

On top of that, the Arctis 9X has all the things you’d expect in a powerful gaming headset. The sound quality is great and comes with EQ presets you can tweak to your liking. You also get a great microphone that broadcasts your voice clearly. The battery life goes up to a whopping 28 hours, and it’s comfortable to boot.

The headset can be a bit tight for people with larger heads, and some reports suggest the wireless connectivity can be a bit spotty, but this issue doesn’t seem widespread. If you’re someone who loves to crank up the bass in their music, these headphones won’t necessarily deliver on that either. But for pure gaming, SteelSeries Arctis 9X should accurately emit the kind of audio you want.

Best Gaming Headset for Xbox Series X

SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless

The Arctis 9X has more than an Xbox aesthetic, it also has Xbox Wireless Technology to make sure your headset works flawlessly with the Microsoft consoles.

The Best TVs for Gaming of 2021: PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC

Best TV for Gaming Overall
LG G1
Best Budget Gaming TV
Hisense U8G
Best Gaming TV for PC Gaming
LG CX
Best Gaming TV for Consoles
LG G1
Best LED TV for Gaming
Samsung QN90A QLED
Best 8K TV for Gaming
Samsung QLED 8K QN900A
Profile Photo for Tyler Colp Tyler Colp
Tyler Colp is a freelance writer at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience covering gaming and technology across the internet. His work has been published on Wired, Windows Central, Polygon, and more.
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