Not every headset is the same. We’ve tested countless headsets and know what it takes to make the perfect PC headset for gaming. A good headset makes a huge difference. Choosing a high-quality headset will allow you to hear all sounds clearly in-game while having the ability to communicate with friends and clanmates using your favorite VoIP client. That’s why we recommend the SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC: you’ll get all of that and more.
Best Overall: SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
|Frequency response||10Hz – 40,000Hz|
|Features||Retractable mic, DAC|
When looking for a good deal or bargain headset, this isn’t going to be on your shortlist, but if you happen to have the budget and seek the best-sounding headset for gaming and more, look no further than the Arctis Pro by SteelSeries. The Arctis Pro isn’t wireless, so you will need to deal with cabling, but because everything goes through the bundled amp unit, it sounds awesome. As highlighted in my review, you really do get what you pay for.
Not only do you have excellent sound quality with 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res certification, but also enhanced durability, supreme comfort, and a noise-canceling microphone. There’s essentially everything a gamer requires from a headset for the latest titles, movies, and music.
Specifications of the version with the GameDAC:
The look of the Pro line headsets shares similar features to other Arctis headsets, which isn’t a negative as I believe the Arctis headphones are some of the best-designed gaming cups out there. Taking full advantage of premium materials and the ski-band design, SteelSeries continues to make some of the most comfortable headphones to wear during long gaming sessions.
Whether you want to game on PC or console, you’ll be able to take the Arctis Pro along for the ride, which makes it even more attractive to gamers who enjoy titles on more than one platform. You’ll struggle to find a gaming headset that sounds better for the price.
- Sleek design
- Solid DAC
- Hi-Res audio
- Doesn’t fold
- Not wireless
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
Amazing sound in a tight package
The Steelseries Arctis Pro + GameDAC isn’t cheap but offers some incredible functionality. It’s a quality Hi-Res certified headset for gamers.
Runner-up: HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout
|Frequency response||13Hz – 27,000Hz|
|Features||Detachable mic, braided cable with in-line remote, dual-chamber audio set up|
HyperX makes some compelling gaming headsets. They’re among the best in the business, and we’ve recommended plenty. The Cloud Alpha S Blackout is essentially the same as the Cloud Alpha, but with the addition of a mixer remote that delivers 7.1 surround sound and a new “Blackout” color scheme. It costs a little more, but it’s worth it.
The Cloud Alpha S Blackout sports a sturdy aluminum frame with replaceable ear cups, and you have the choice of leatherette or foam. Regardless of which you opt for, both options are comfortable for even longer gaming sessions. Utilizing dual 50mm drivers and HyperX’s “dual-chamber” design, you’ll be able to enjoy music and in-game effects without the headset mudding the highs and lows.
The bass is pretty punchy, too, though you can control it by using physical switches on each earcup to set your desired level. Overall, the audio quality, especially given this mid-tier price for gaming headsets, is amazing. The microphone is pretty good too, which is handy when you plan on communicating with friends and guildmates.
What you may find annoying with the Blackout is the rather long cable. Usually, this isn’t an issue, but this cable is long. Some optional customization software would have been welcome too.
- 7.1 virtual surround, remote/mixer
- Stunning sound reproduction
- Great microphone
- Signature HyperX comfort
- High-quality construction, new black color
- The cord is too long for the remote
- Some optional customization software would be nice
HyperX Cloud Alpha S Blackout
Amazing sound quality
The Cloud Alpha S builds off the original Cloud Alpha by adding 7.1 surround sound and a nifty remote, and it mostly makes it worth the higher price tag.
Best Immersion: Razer Nari Ultimate
|Frequency response||20Hz to 20,000Hz|
|Compatibility||2.4GHz over USB
|Features||Retractable mic, haptic drivers|
Razer is well-established in the PC accessories space, producing some of the best keyboards, mice, and more for gamers. With the latest line of Razer Nari headsets, its flagship brings something fresh to the scene, with the ability to feel your game. While the Razer Nari Ultimate‘s haptic feedback isn’t a gimmick, its implementation isn’t for everyone in the high-end headset market. Like vibration in controllers, HyperSense is better excluded in competitive scenarios, likely hindering tense shooters and other high-stakes titles.
Furthermore, the haptics won’t play perfectly with some titles out of the box, though tweaking various game settings often does the trick. Despite touting support for a wide variety of platforms, the best experience is limited to PC gamers. Between the lack of wireless beyond USB devices and Razer Synapse tuning, non-PC gamers can find better solutions elsewhere. When running Windows and playing titles with full support for the onboard haptics vibration technology, you’ll have a blast.
While the Razer Nari Ultimate sells an unusual proposition, its HyperSense haptics aren’t only fun; they make immersive games even more impactful. Paired with excellent audio, high build quality, and considerable flexibility via software, this headset is an ideal companion for any PC gamer.
While you’re certain to appreciate the impressive audio quality, you may find wireless over USB a little restrictive, and the highlight feature isn’t really useful for anyone who doesn’t play games often.
- HyperSense haptics are game-changing
- Great audio
- Long battery life
- Wireless over USB only
- Not great for non-PC gamers
Razer Nari Ultimate
Feel the action
Excellent audio and build quality make for a strong PC gaming headset, but Razer takes the whole experience to another level with HyperSense haptics.
Best Value: HyperX Cloud Alpha
|Frequency response||13Hz – 27,000Hz|
|Features||Detachable mic, braided cable with in-line controls, dual-chamber audio set up|
HyperX is widely renowned for high-quality headsets with solid audio that do precisely what they say on the tin. Great sound, great comfort, and great microphones typify the HyperX lineup, all at great prices. The Cloud Alpha is a little different from some of its similarly-priced brethren, rocking a dual-chamber speaker design that adds a whole new dimension to sound I felt very familiar with.
There aren’t any frills that go with this headset — no 7.1 surround sound, no mic monitoring, and no customization — but if you’re looking for a headset that does the job, and does it exceptionally well, then look no further. With some of the most impressive audio at this price range we’ve ever heard, with HyperX’s signature comfort and a stellar microphone, this is without a doubt one of the best affordable wired headsets on the market right now.
If the price of the Arctis Pro series or Cloud Alpha S Blackout knocks you down, HyperX can easily pick you back up with the Cloud Alpha. The only drawback to this headset is the rather basic array of features. It won’t make you suffer in-game, but you will need to part with considerably more cash for 7.1 surround sound, wireless capabilities, etc.
- Stunning sound reproduction
- Great microphone
- Signature HyperX comfort
- High-quality construction
- Basic feature set
HyperX Cloud Alpha
Solid build quality with ace sound
The HyperX Cloud Alpha is an excellent gaming headset for PC gamers with a dual-chamber driver design for optimal audio performance.
Budget-friendly: Plugable Performance Onyx HS53
|Frequency response||20Hz to 20,000Hz|
Plugable makes some excellent PC accessories and general gadgets, including USB port hubs, Bluetooth speakers, and even some adapters. The company is now moving into the realm of gaming headsets with the Onyx HS53, an affordable, budget-friendly headset that promises an exceptional audio experience. Priced aggressively, the company states the design team took out everything that wasn’t required for a great audio experience, and it almost did it.
The HS53 sounds good enough for gaming, but you may want to look elsewhere if you’re serious about music and other media. You should buy the Plugable Onyx HS53 if you’re looking to buy a new gaming headset and don’t wish to spend more than $50. What sets this headset apart from other similar offerings at this price point or lower is the sturdy design, durability, ergonomics, and sound drivers.
There are even in-line controls, which allows you to manipulate audio without having to do so through the OS. There are a few drawbacks, however. One is the lack of any USB connectivity, and the microphone itself cannot be detached from the headset. But for a budget headset, Plugable did an amazing job.
- Comfortable and light
- Solid sound
- Cross-platform support
- Sturdy construction
- In-line controls
- No option for USB
- No detachable mic
Plugable Performance Onyx HS53
Stunning value for PC and console gamers
Plugable has made a $50 budget-friendly headset for gaming that’s worth considering, even if you’re not looking to save money on your audio.
Best Wireless: Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero
|Frequency Response||12Hz – 20,000Hz|
|Compatibility||PC (Wireless, USB dongle)
Consoles (Wired 3.5mm)
Phones, etc. (Wired 3.5mm)
|Battery life||30-hours (listed)
15-20 hours (in testing)
The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero is an excellent all-round gaming headset. It does precisely what the marketing starts, allowing you to utilize audio tuning to gain the upper hand in shooters, whilst enjoying ultimate comforts for long sessions. Best of all, it’s wireless.
It’s the little things Turtle Beach added that really sets this headset from the rest. It’s easy to spot the small touches that shows they cared about the design, like the dongle that stops flashing after a short while when not in use. The software is also pretty good, which is not something we can say for all PC accessory makers. You can fine-tune the Elite Atlas Aero to your liking.
The battery life is also really good, especially so if you happen to play for more than a couple of hours. It’s not all amazing, however. The volume dials are just … weird. There’s the limited wireless versatility in that it’s only really good for PC gaming. Then there’s the fact it’s a little pricey. But it’s a sound headset (pun intended) overall.
- Rich audio
- Decent mic quality
- Solid battery life
- Superb comfort and build quality
- Volume dials feel “sticky”
- Limited wireless versatility
- Tad pricey
Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Aero
For what it lacks in versatility it makes up for with big sound, all-day battery life, and rock-solid build quality. This is one headset purchase you won’t be disappointed with.
Best Versatile: SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless Xbox
SteelSeries makes great headsets, and the company brought lossless 2.4GHz wireless features to the budget-friendly Arctis 1 range. To make this headset even more awesome, SteelSeries threw in Xbox Wireless compatibility, making this one versatile gaming headset. Whether you game on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or even Switch, this will be a fine companion.
The Arctis 1 Wireless Xbox requires a dongle to connect to consoles. Now, before you freak out about the prospect of using a dongle, it’s not that big of a deal. This is simply because while it may be annoying if you frequently move between platforms with a single headset, this does mean you get amazing audio without being tethered to the device.
If you don’t want to use the dongle, there’s a 3.5mm cable that can be used. As well as this cable, SteelSeries includes a USB-A to USB-C converter for the dongle, and USB-A to micro USB cable to charge the headset itself. For the design, it’s very much an Arctis headset. The only significant difference between the Arctis 1 and other headsets from SteelSeries is the lack of a ski-band.
This is a bit of a bummer, but understandable given the price of the Arctis 1. It’s still a comfortable headset to use, just not as comfy as say the Arctis Pro. There’s also the microphone, which is a little underwhelming, but so long as you’re not planning to start streaming, you should be good to go.
- SteelSeries headset comfort
- Design (with Cyberpunk 2077 editions)
- 20-hour battery life
- Same drivers as Arctis Pro line
- True cross-platform support
- Only one dongle
- Mic is just OK
- A little cheap feeling
- Micro USB port for charging
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless Xbox
Great headset with Xbox
Whether you’re an Xbox, Switch, or PC gamer, the Arctis 1 is a headset you can take with you everywhere thanks to its lossless wireless quality and awesome sound drivers.
Choosing the best gaming headset for you
Choosing a headset is a personal decision that should take into account what you want from a pair of cups. Do you want a wireless option, or is wireless fine for you? Do you need the absolute best in sound quality for competitive play (that way, you can hear all those footsteps and which direction they might be coming from), or are you alright with a budget headset with solid sound for general play?
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro + DAC is our pick for best gaming headset in 2020.
There’s plenty more to fact in too, even if you limit your search to gaming headsets alone. This is why we put together this collection of headsets from top vendors. There are some high-end, premium options, as well as more affordable and budget orientated cups. You can’t really go wrong by choosing one of our recommendations. We’ve tried them all and enjoyed each experience.
If you’re after wireless connectivity (or Hi-Res audio with the DAC version) and have enough money to spare, the Arctis Pro from SteelSeries is an excellent choice. It’s not going to appeal to people on a budget as it’s the most expensive option on this list, but it makes up for that in quality that justifies the price.
Not only do you get excellent sound quality with 7.1 surround sound and Hi-Res certification, but you get even more with enhanced durability, supreme comfort, and other features not typically found in other headsets. The DAC is our top pick, though a wireless version of the same headset is available, should that be more up your street.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user. When he has some free time, you can usually find him practicing the guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say “Sorry!” it’s only because he’s Canadian.