May 17, 2022


Technology Forever

The best PC headsets for gaming 2021

The best PC headset for gaming is a must-have for those who value audio highly. Incorporating one of the best PC headsets for gaming into your setup is such an easy win given it is – genuinely, and we know we say it often at GamesRadar+ – the easiest way to elevate your immersion in games and often better your playing performance too, depending on what games you play. It’s also one of the best value methods into an ‘enhanced’ gaming setup, given that you don’t – even though you can – have to spend a fortune to get one of the best PC headsets for gaming, and to buck ratio is extraordinary. It’s true that some of the best gaming monitors have decent built-in speakers, and there are some great PC speaker sets too, but nothing really compares to the sound presented directly to your ears and brain from one of the best PC headsets for gaming. 

a close up of electronics: The best PC headsets for gaming 2021

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The best PC headsets for gaming 2021

However, the gaming headset market is quite full. It’s one of the most saturated peripheral markets right now, really, and that’s in some part because headsets cross platforms, generations, and connection types. This means there is an enormous multitude of headsets vying for your attention (some are bad, some are great) but also that pricing is very competitive from manufacturers and retailers alike. This means you, generally, win as the prices will usually come down to try and get you to pull the trigger.

Where there can be a place for owning a budget headset – there are some budget gems – if you want to redirect overall budget to other parts of your setup, or have a second one that you don’t mind getting knocked about on the commute, you’ll need to be sure of what you’re after. And that is one of the best PC headsets for gaming. But how do you separate the best PC headsets for gaming from the poor ones? Well, this guide is a start. And with the Black Friday gaming headset deals and Christmas holidays basically upon us, now is as good a time as ever to consult our list and get one of the best.

Whatever you choose, when you team it with your favorite machine, such as one of the best gaming PCs – like the ASUS ROG GA15 PC that I use in my setup – the results are fantastic.

Razer headsets | Best PS4 headsets | Best Xbox One headsets | Best Nintendo Switch headsets

The best PC headsets for gaming

Only recently released but easily one of the best, if not the best, gaming headset I have tested in, well, ever, and a very worthy inhabitant of this top spot, finally taking the crown from the Kraken Tournament Edition.

With a new spin on the original BlackShark’s design – from eight years ago – the V2 packs brand new tech, a lightweight design, and Razer quality and stylings into a great value, exquisite PC offering. Its design is lightweight and comfortable; its audio quality is seriously excellent thanks to brand new Titanium drivers; its microphone is one of the best I’ve ever used – and is brand new too; and through a companion app, it’s got features and customization coming out of everywhere. The stars have really aligned with this headset and I can’t wait to use it every time I sit down to play.

Teamed with the recently-released THX Spatial Audio app, and a whole new world of game audio, customization and refinement will be open to you, taking the already-excellent audio of the headset to greater heights. And with a price tag of $100, you get enormous value for money. If you have the budget and you want one of the best, this is it.

Read more: Razer BlackShark V2 review

Astro’s A50s have been a high-tide mark not just within the manufacturer’s own product range but in console-compatible wireless headsets for the better part of a decade now. A few minutes with the latest version of the A50 and it’s clear why – peerless comfort and build quality, twinned with a rich sound even the most tedious audiophile would be impressed by. This version’s had its wireless base station slimmed down to take up less space on your desk and charges the headset to about 15 hours of charge, which is about the standard for current wireless models. Charge time is comparatively slow, but you do have the option to hook up via USB and keep using while you’re juicing. 

Astro’s Command Center software isn’t quite befitting of such a top-end product, but it still provides a choice of EQ profiles and tweaks within its simple interface. Not that tweaks are really necessary here – the sound you get by default is really special. 

It’s authoritative but tight in the low end, making those low resonant frequencies felt without drowning out the subtler details higher up the frequency range. In fact, it might be the single best for sound articulation on the wireless market right now. 

It’s still a gaming headset of course, so it’s not a truly flat response. It’s just flat enough to excel in music as well as games, but ‘scooped’ enough to make the bombast extra-exciting when you’re in the virtual trenches. 

If you’re looking for a mix of quality and great value, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition is the best PC headset for gaming right now. You can pick it up for less than $100 / £90 at the moment, and that’s a hell of a lot of headset for your money. Essentially, this is a PC-optimized version of the Razer Kraken Pro V2, which is our top pick in both our best PS4 headset and best Xbox One headset guides. You actually get enhanced audio with the Tournament, which offers THX Spacial sound instead of the Kraken Pro V2’s regular stereo audio. The result is that the surround sound, and your placement within the gaming world is better here. This headset comes with a USB connection too, which is handy for PC play.

What sets the Krakens apart is their comfort and value. You can wear this headset for hours and it feels better than most other gaming headsets you can buy, even the vastly more expensive high-end models. And the sound the Kraken TE delivers punches well above its weight when you consider how cheap (relatively) this is. There’s even a volume control box that you can stick to your PC desk, to stop it shifting around if you move your head. 

There are downsides – the mic isn’t the highest quality (a problem with all modern Razer headsets), and the volume control button is the least well-designed aspect of the whole headset. But if you’re looking for something top value and high quality for your PC set-up, this is tough to top unless you start spending way more money.

If you’re looking for a higher budget headset, designed with PC in mind, the Steelseries Arctis Pro with GameDAC is the one to buy. While the drivers are smaller, they deliver an excellent frequency response range (10-40,000Hz), which is actually more than the human ear can perceive. The result is audio far richer than most other gaming headsets, which makes the Arctis Pro a great all-rounder, ideal for anyone who switches between gaming and other PC usages. Which we all do, right?

The design of the Arctis Pro is unusual too, offering more of a headband style than other headsets, which makes it comfortable in a different way. It’s still very wearable after hours of play, although it becomes a little looser after months of use (the headband can be replaced cheaply and easily, however). What makes this model stand-out, however, is the GameDAC, which fulfills a number of roles. It not only lets you change volume and audio settings, but it also takes the processing of the headset away from your PC’s hardware, so you don’t have to take any knocks in performance while you use it.

The mic is great too – a smidge better than even the Razer headsets – so if you’re doing a lot of talking in team-based games, or you want better personal audio for streaming, the Arctis Pro performs better than the competition. A great PC headset, then, but one that comes at a serious price.

Haptic headphones are still a bit of a new frontier, and perhaps a lot of us still regard it with some suspicion. Force feedback audio sounds like a great way to get a splitting headache, and while Razer and Sony have made early experiments, it’s definitely not mainstream yet. Corsair’s HS60 Haptic is a bit niche, then.

But as it turns out, it’s a very enjoyable niche that it occupies. The haptic feedback here feels like nuanced rumbles and jolts from a gamepad resonating through your temples, in a way that reflects the audio cues impressively. Shooters are a natural fit to show it off, and in Battlefield 5 with all its intelligent sound design you get a really exciting added dimension to all the auditory chaos. Through your skull. 

Otherwise this is largely an HS60 as it existed before – solid build, premium materials, smart control layout. But there’s a price premium here, and before you take the plunge you should consider whether you’re happy to reserve this just for using with those bombastic shooters, and using a cleaner stereo headset for music and movies. Because although the haptic stuff can be turned off, the audio alone isn’t world-beating. 

The JBL Quantum One represents the veteran audio company’s bid to carve out a  niche in the world of premium headsets. One look at the specs sheet could bring a tear to the eye to even the most jaded of PC gamers, not least the hefty price tag.

With a gaudy, if absolutely solid build, the JBL Quantum One is definitely a departure from the increasingly subtle and subdued recent entries from the Sennheiser and Logitech lines. It’s a statement – the name of the game here is LEDs, and lot’s of them. If you can look past that, however, you’ll find plenty to like with these lavishly specced out cans, not least the incredibly comfortable memory foam equipped ear cups and a dizzying array of customisable features.

Active noise-cancellation, DTS sound profiles (complete with an 8-band EQ), and full LED customization mean the sky’s the limit in regards to personal taste. That said the much-acclaimed QuantumSPHERE 360 head-tracking does have a faint whiff of the gimmick with slight calibration issues, but, all in, this is a great PC headset for gaming. 

The Razer Nari Ultimate is a wonderful, feature-packed wireless headset that – unlike many other PC headsets – actually justifies the asking price. And that’s saying something, because this is an expensive piece of kit. Let’s start with the sound. It’s not just loud, but crisp, and there is virtually zero artefacting (little incidental noises or sound cut-outs) from the wireless connection, thanks to an impressive 2.4GHz connection. The THX spacial means that the sensation of being inside the gaming world you’re playing is near unparalleled, and you can pinpoint where each sound is coming from in your game – whether they be incidental noises, or approaching enemies hoping to shotgun you in the back.

What sets the headset apart is the haptic feedback, which means the ear-cups actually vibrate as you play. It’s not the most essential feature, but it’s a cool extra that does slightly enhance the way you listen. While you undoubtedly pay a little extra over the regular Razer Nari for the Hypersense tech, there are enough boosts over the vanilla model to justify the Ultimate’s 25% higher price. The drivers are bigger, and frequency response range better, and the Ultimate’s mic is retractable, so you can remove it completely from view if you’re not using it. We’re not keen on the mic, and did have a couple of issues with our voice cutting out, but it’s not a huge issue. The charging time of the headset’s battery has been decreased too, and now takes about 4 hours from zero to full.

It’s an exceptional headset that only loses out to the Razer Kraken Tournament on account of its higher price making it a more ‘luxury’ purchase. If you can afford a great, high-end wireless headset, this is the one to get.

If you’re in the market for a new gaming headset but you don’t have the budget to fork out on one of the high-end products, look no further than the Alienware AW510H. A sleek, matte black shell encases one of the most impressive headsets we’ve used at this price point. With 7.1 virtual surround sound audio and a noise-canceling, retractable microphone, this is a great catch-all headset that is great for both competitive and single-player gaming experiences.

Combine the performance with the fact that it’s light with some of the comfiest material I’ve worn on a pair of headphones and it makes you wonder how these can be beaten without hitting much higher price points. You’re looking at spending less than $100/£80 on this, making it ideal for anyone wanting to upgrade from a cheap headset or looking for a replacement for their old one.

The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas is a headset aimed squarely at PC players, but at a reasonable price. It’s a little cheaper than the Elite Pro and Pro 2, but very much cuts down on the frills to deliver in areas that truly matter. It’s a super comfortable PC headset, especially if you wear glasses (thanks to the actually good Glasses-relief system), and the sound quality is high thanks to some quality 50mm drivers. No, it doesn’t quite match the Razer Kraken in this department, or the Steelseries Arctis Pro, but the audio is still above average for a mid-priced pair of gaming cans.

As ever, the mic is good quality – something Turtle Beach does well – so this headset is perfect for team-based online play. Combined with the Windows Sonic sound, which gives excellent directional audio, this makes for a great eSports and competitive gaming choice. Although, to be honest, we’d recommend it for everyday players too. The only real drawback is that the sound range can’t match better ‘mixed use’ headsets, so this isn’t as great for video and music audio. As a pure gaming headset, at a competitive price, it’s a winner.

The HyperX Cloud Alpha is an archetypal gaming headset. While it isn’t pretty, or filled with fancy features, what it does is deliver superior sound and comfort at a reasonable price. You could just as easily pick up the HyperX Cloud 2 and get a similar experience, but we recommend the Alpha for a couple of key reasons. The biggest one is that the frequency response range is slightly better in the Alpha, so it offers a slightly richer sound for all different uses. While it doesn’t have the 7.1 audio of the Cloud 2, its stereo sound is pretty much as good, so there’s no issue with working out where sounds come from in the gaming environment. The audio is further enhanced here by the dual-chamber drivers, which essentially separate the bass from the other sound types, allowing for a slightly richer audio.

It’s a comfy headset too, and feels nice and chunky, so you’re unlikely to break it. There’s an in-line control, instead of a separate box, and it’s fully adjustable for all head-sizes and shapes. The mic, which performs well, can be detached too if you’re playing offline. This is a good mid-range pick, with audio and durability at the heart of the design, making it perfect for everyday PC play.

There’s a lot to love about this mid-range wireless gaming headset. The Steelseries Arctis 7 is an elegantly designed wireless PC gaming headset, but one that has enough versatility to be used with any of the wireless (or wired) audio devices in your home. While it isn’t the very best gaming headset on this list, it’s one that can be taken outside the PC and into the wider world. Or at least used with your game consoles… So what’s the deal with it?

As with most Steelseries drivers, the 40mm ones in this gaming headset perform extremely well, although this doesn’t have the frequency response range of the Arctis Pro, so the audio isn’t quite as rich. What does seriously impress is the battery life, which offers nearly 20 hours of use before you need to charge it again. Combined with the decent wireless connection – where the audio isn’t quite as pure as the Pro, but is still excellent – this is a great wire-free option for busier PC set-ups. The headband design is comfy, the price is great for what you actually get, and the design of this headset is so lovely you could wear it out and about. It’s a great wireless option.

Creative is a big name in gaming audio, and the H6 represents its mid-range play in the current PC headset market. And it’s a cracker. While it isn’t quite the best at any one thing, the Sound BlasterX H6 does everything remarkably well, and all at one of the most competitive prices out there. Audio quality is great, and while the H6 can handle bassy explosions and loud shooters, it’s also refined enough to pick up the nuances of dialogue in more RPG-like games. The 7.1 surround is perfect for shooters like Apex Legends and Fortnite, and the in-built mic is clear enough to communicate in any team-based game.

What’s more, the H6 is very comfy to wear, and can – at a push – be mistaken for a regular pair of headphones if you want to listen to it on the move. On the downside, the design is quite basic, and there’s a lack of extra features here to really vary the sound according to the games you play. That’s little concern, though, as the headset is such an excellent all-rounder, you won’t need to mess with it regardless of how it’s used. For the price, this one comes highly recommended.

As I said in my review “Getting a Sennheiser-quality headset like this, at this price point, and with this device-versatility, is an excellent proposition and one that is easy to recommend.” If you’re desperate to get some Sennheiser-level audio quality without paying the premium price tags, then the GHSP 300 is just that headset. It’s compatible with every device and provides detailed audio, excellent surround/directional accuracy, and great overall richness. Its microphone is great too though it being non-detachable does perhaps preclude it from being a good match for mobile players

In an ideal world, it’d be nice to have some features but the stripped-back approach helps to keep the costs down too. Its sheer bang for buck value cannot be denied though and this is one of the top headsets going for less than the three-figure mark.

How we test the best PC headsets for gaming

We test gaming headsets almost every day, constantly thinking about what it takes for them to be considered one of the best PC headsets for gaming out there – the lucky few make this list. Each member of this esteemed club has good sound quality and is comfortable for those longer playing sessions. Some offer more features and better audio than others, but usually, that bump in quality comes with a bump in price too. It’s easy to get hung up on stats like frequency response, range, and the size of the drivers inside each headset, but there’s no real substitute for putting the headset on and seeing how it performs with actual games. That’s what we do. We test headsets in online shooters, to see how the surround sound performs, and we test in epic single-player games to see how the music comes through. We test with shooters for the depth of the bass, and RPGs to see how rich the dialogue is. Finally, we look at the price and decide whether or not you’re getting actual value (and not just buying an overpriced headset).