A PC gaming headset isn’t only an essential buy if you want to play competitively – it’s also a great investment if you want to indulge in a little late-night gaming without waking up the whole neighbourhood.
You don’t need to spend a fortune, either: regardless of whether your budget is £30 or £300, there are plenty of great-quality headsets to choose from. We know this because we’ve hunted high and low for the very best PC gaming headsets, tested them to destruction and taken our pick of the very finest.
Below you’ll find our pick of the best PC gaming headsets available to buy today. If you don’t know where to begin, our in-depth buying guide can be found at the bottom of the page.
The best PC gaming headsets to buy
1. Venom Sabre
Venom Sabre Universal Stereo Gaming Headset (PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC / Mac) (PS4)
£28.93 Buy now
“Budget” doesn’t have to mean poor quality and the Venom Sabre headset is a case in point. Its impressive build quality belies its price tag and the design looks sleek with discreet Venom logos adorning the outside of the large, round earcups. The earcups themselves are lined with soft leatherette and contribute to a comfortable fit, which is further enhanced by the self-adjusting, suspension-style headband.
Despite lacking the noise-cancelling properties of some of the microphone’s on this list, voice clarity is more than adequate when communicating using the Venom Sabre’s mic. But what’s really great about it is that it’s retractable, so you can simply stow it away inside the plastic housing of the left earcup when not in use. Detachable mics are all well and good but can be easily misplaced; there’s no danger of that with the Sabre. In terms of its audio, the Venom Sabre again exceeds expectations given its cost. Detailed mids make dialogue easily intelligible and action games thrive on the Sabre’s powerful bass reproduction, which packs plenty of punch.
It would have been nice to see a travelling pouch included with the headset but the lack of one doesn’t detract from what is an excellent headset for those on a tight budget.
Key specs – Drivers: 50mm; Wireless: No; Illumination: No; Connection: 3.5mm; Cable length: 1.2m + 1m splitter cable; Weight: 285g
2. Razer Blackshark V2
Razer Blackshark V2 with USB sound card – Premium Esports Gaming Headset (wired headphones with 50mm driver, noise reduction for PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One and Switch)
£99.99 Buy now
If you’re the type that likes to tinker with audio levels through granular control, then the Razer Blackshark V2 could be just the ticket. This wired headset allows you to fully customise various audio frequencies, with the ability to adjust the overall tone of your audio output in up to five different modes.
The sound output is truly astonishing, too. The large 50mm drivers deliver a wide soundstage, and THX Spatial audio (enabled via the tiny 7.1 channel USB sound card) helps maximise your spatial awareness, allowing you to better identify where your foe might be lurking. The detachable mic also sounds great, blocking out unwanted background noise while boosting vocal clarity and it also works with PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and smartphones with a 3.5mm headphone socket.
Likewise, the Blackshark V2 is among one of the most comfortable headsets we’ve ever tested. The ultra-soft memory foam ear cushions and padded headband makes for a lightweight, breathable headset that feels just as comfortable at the end of your four-hour gaming binge as it did at the beginning. The only downside is that this isn’t a wireless headset, although the included 1.8m cable should be long enough for most gaming setups.
Key specs – Drivers: 50mm; Wireless: No; Illumination: No; Connection: 3.5mm, USB sound card; Cable length: 1.8m; Weight: 262g
3. HyperX Cloud Orbit S
HyperX HX-HSCOS-GM/WW Cloud Orbit S – Waves Nx 3D Audio Gaming Headset with Waves Nx head tracking technology
£272.82 Buy now
This feature-rich headset from HyperX simply oozes quality. The build quality is top-notch, with plush earcups providing a comfortable fit while blocking out a significant amount of external noise.
But what truly sets the Cloud Orbit S apart is its audio. HyperX teamed up with Audeze to create the headset and it incorporates the brand’s renowned 100mm planar magnetic drivers. These produce the crispest, most detailed audio we’ve heard from a gaming headset across each of its three modes: 7.1, Hi-res and stereo. There are eight EQ profiles to choose from, including Music, Racing and RPG and each is expertly crafted, with nuances that make them feel perfectly suited to their specific genre. There’s also 3D audio and head tracking courtesy of Waves Nx. While it’s engaged, what was already an exceptional audio experience becomes truly immersive, with gunshots, explosions and dialogue coming at you from all angles. The quality of the detachable boom mic quality isn’t quite as impressive, with some distortion occasionally creeping in, but it wasn’t frequent enough to be an issue.
Physical buttons on the left earcup give you control over every facet of the Cloud Orbit S experience and, though they take a little getting used to, soon become intuitive. There’s plenty of flexibility in terms of connections too, with USB-A, USB-C and 3.5mm all supported and the corresponding cables included in the box.
A lack of Bluetooth connectivity and average mic aside, the Cloud Orbit S is a truly exceptional gaming headset with audio, comfort and connectivity to justify its premium price tag.
Key specs – Drivers: 100mm; Wireless: No; Illumination: No; Connection: 3.5mm, USB-C, USB-A; Cable length: 3.5mm cable – 1.2m, USB-C – 1.5m, USB-A – 3m; Weight: 359g
4. SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless For Xbox – Wireless Gaming Headset – USB-C Wireless – Detachable Clearcast Microphone – For Xbox, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Android (Xbox One)
£99.99 Buy now
Although its name implies that it’s an Xbox-only peripheral, this wireless SteelSeries headset is capable of so much more. The Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox comes boxed with a USB-C transmitter that links up to the headset with a wireless 2.4GHz lossless connection and, in addition to the Xbox, it can be plugged into a PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch or Android device. Don’t have a USB-C port to spare? The bundled USB-A adapter has you covered.
This is one of the most comfortable wireless headsets we’ve tested and can be happily worn for hours on end. Its steel-reinforced, cushioned headband ensures a snug fit, and the foam-padded earcups and pleather interior make it feel plush around the ears. The low-latency audio quality delivered by its 40mm speaker drivers is excellent, and the same can be said of the recording and noise-cancelling capabilities of the ‘Discord-certified’ detachable boom mic.
SteelSeries promises a battery life of up to 20hrs on each charge and, if you do run out, you can always switch to a wired connection using the provided 3.5mm cable. To cap it off, SteelSeries also throws in a one-month code for Xbox Games Pass Ultimate worth £11.
Key specs – Drivers: 40mm; Wireless: Yes; Illumination: No; Connection: USB-C 2.4GHz (wireless), 3.5mm (wired); Cable length: 1m; Weight: 254g
How to buy the best gaming headset for you
How important is sound quality for a gaming headset?
A headset’s frequency response and overall clarity will impact your ability to hear enemies coming – and that’s why we pay close attention to a headset’s sub-bass, mid-bass, mids, highs and soundstage (which is how far sounds spread left and right) when we’re testing. Headsets that provide the clearest, most spacious soundstage will aid you in locating the enemies you can’t see, and those with the best microphones will ensure your teammates hear you loud and clear in the heat of battle.
As headsets have to pack in a bundled microphone and gaming-friendly features, you can end up paying a premium over a bog-standard pair of headphones. But while headsets might not provide the audio refinement of a comparably priced pair of dedicated headphones, you can expect the best ones to perform well for both games and music.
How do I connect my headset and do I need a soundcard?
PC headsets have three ways of communicating with your PC: digitally via USB, a 3.5mm audio jack (and sometimes two) or a wireless connection.
If you’re looking at a headset that connects via a 3.5mm jack (some also use two 3.5mm connections, one for the headphones and one for the microphone), you might want to look into purchasing a dedicated soundcard. Onboard soundcards found on either desktops or laptops can potentially pick up static noise due to poor shielding or dodgy power supplies, which will negatively affect the sound quality.
To bypass your onboard soundcard, you can purchase a cheap USB soundcard. This will completely eliminate static noise from your 3.5mm-connected headset. If you want the best performance from a headset used via an analogue connection, however, it may be worth investing in a pricier external or internal soundcard.
Do I need a wireless headset?
Wireless technology works well in headsets as there’s no perceived audio delay. But it’s worth remembering that you may lose a little audio fidelity via a wireless connection – it all depends on the headset and its specifications. Of course, if you want to go wireless, there are other issues to consider: you’ll pay a premium for the privilege and will have to remember to charge your headset.
Should I worry about build quality or weight?
A well-built headset should last you several years. It all depends on how often you use it, how you treat it (and its hinges) and, of course, how well it was manufactured. Pricier headsets often add sturdier-feeling hinges and materials in addition to improved sound quality and fancy features.
Weight is another key consideration as the heavier the headset, the less comfortable it will be for epic gaming sessions. Another comfort factor is the size of the earpieces. As not everyone’s ears are the same, the earpieces on certain models may potentially press on the earlobe or around the ear and cause pain. What might be comfortable for a few minutes may be extremely uncomfortable after an hour.
Is software important for gaming headsets?
When it comes to headsets, there isn’t much in the way of essential software. Unlike gaming mice and keyboards, a headset doesn’t need to be configured. However, some manufacturers bundle software to allow you to change microphone characteristics, EQs, lighting and even the programmable buttons on wireless headsets.
What about LED lights?
Lighting is a feature that’s a little more recent, with even cheaper headsets now offering basic lighting capabilities. Since the headset will be on your head most of the time, though, you won’t get the same benefit as you do from LED lighting on gaming mice and keyboards – you won’t be able to utilise its lighting capabilities to provide you with visual prompts, for instance.