You know one of the most common questions we get asked on our Facebook and Twitter pages is what are the best gaming headsets (or alternatively what are the best headphones for gaming). However, you word it you are in luck because as ashamed as I am to say it in my mid 30's I game a lot and I have done for the past 30 years. PC was always my preference over consoles and a big part of that was the immersive sound quality that you just didn't get on an Xbox or PlayStation.
Now, of course, PC gaming has seen an exponential rise in uptake over the past couple of years thanks to the popularity of twitch and professional E-sports. Things are a lot less casual now that people are competing on a global stage thanks to increased internet speeds. The sound is no longer about immersion, it also has a huge effect on performance. A key piece in the puzzle that could be crucial to blowing ballknocker74's brains all over a wall or viewing your own avatars corpse lying it a pool of digital sweat and blood.
So when searching for the best gaming headset we went to town. We sought out recommendations from pro and amature gamers and then chose to test out some of the bigger name brands. The results were quite surprising in that the performance you can get for very little money comes amazingly close to those of the more expensive offerings.
Flashing lights don't make a gaming headset good?
There are a lot of factors that come together to make a good gaming headset and I am going to tell you right from the get-go. The style and RGB lighting are not one of them. Let's face it you are not wearing your headphones out of the house and for that reason alone there is absolutely no point in choosing a set of gaming headphones based on how they look. Get that into your head right now. All the fancy RGB lighting and crappy graphics won't play better and you can be damn sure no girl will ever mention how cool your gaming headset is. Look for sound performance as a key deciding factor.
Build Quality Does Matter on Gaming Headphones
I don't know about you but I am pretty careless with my gaming gear. When I get something new and shiny I treat it well for the first couple of weeks and after that, I'm not surprised if I have left my headset lying on the floor or even raged and thrown it off a wall. Oh and let's not pretend any of you haven't stood up without taking your headphones off and proceeded to drag your entire PC to the bathroom with you.
Chances are over time your headphones are going to get beat up so it's a good idea to have something that is well made and up to the task. Key areas in our testing for durability was they headband sliders earcup, swivel points, and cable. However, we also gave extra points to headphones with durable pads and finishes. Higher quality plastics and the use of metals in key areas of the headphones were also greatly received.
Comfort really matters when PC gaming
Realistically we are talking about multiple hours of gaming in single sessions so we don't want to spend that time with an uncomfortable set of headphones on our heads. We want to focus on 2 things when it comes to comfort. The gaming headset must have comfortable cushioning on both the earpads and headband and also we need to pay attention to the amount of clamping force exerted in a lateral direction.
When testing these headphones we have found that full over the ear (circumaural) headphones worked better than the more compact on-ear variety and as such we only included such designs in this list.
Clamping force is down to personal preference but just be aware that if you are using headphones with a strong clamping action they are great if you move around but pressure points can become irritated after multiple hour usage.
Regular HiFi headphones can be used for gaming with in-game chat through the use of additional microphones!
You will notice in our list below of the best gaming headphones that there are some options that do not have an inbuilt microphone.
This doesn't mean that they cannot be used for in-game chat it just means that you have to use them with an add-on gaming microphone. The good thing is that these expand your options to some truly exceptional sounding headphones that will work well for both your gaming fix as well as music listening. You don't even have to spend a fortune as most of these add-on microphones are very reasonably priced. We have listed two of our favorites below.
Sound is king - Key to positioning and ambiance
The sound matters more than anything. There are three things that we found to be important with regards to sound and the best headphones for gaming.
Immersive audio - If you are not looking for a competitive gaming headset and are just trying to immerse yourself in the experience then headphones with enhanced low-end frequencies tend to work best.
Clarity and Sensitivity - Low background interference and low hiss were important but the overall feeling of sound being accurate and identifiable (footsteps, cans, pills etc) being audible from a distance could give you the edge over your opponents.
Space and positioning - Being able to identify the direction of sounds was key in certain games like PUBG and other FPS platforms. Knowing not only which direction your enemy is coming from but how far away they are can be key to improving.
The top 10 gaming headsets / Gaming Headphones 2018
These are the headphones that Shroud from Cloud 9 wears and for good reason. The G533 ticked every single box for what we wanted in a gaming headset and as such, we pick them as our winners.
The G533 has a tonne of features such as 7.1 surround sound and pro-grade wireless technology to transmit a clean and accurate signal. But we liked most that they were insanely comfortable, had an excellent built-in microphone and were nice and lightweight.
Bonus points, of course, had to be added for styling and the fact that they are built like a tank.
If you want a set of true audiophile grade headphones for listening to music and at the same time want to be able to use them for gaming then the Beyerdynamic DT990 are becoming super popular with professional and amateur gamers.
They have the legendary build quality and crystal clear sound and don't even get us started on the padding. Lush velvet pads and open back design make them by far one of the most comfortable headphones on the list.
If you were wondering these are the headphones that Ninja uses on his twitch streams. There we said it so stop asking us.
Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless
Ok so the Arctis Pro Wireless gaming headset is not in the slightest bit budget friendly but quite simply they are my all time favorite set of headphones for use with my PC setup. ts kind of hard to pin point just one thing I like so I guess I'll just list everything. T
he comfort is incredible thanks to the refinements of the headband and extremely generous earpads. Build is on point thanks to the high standard of materials used in the build. The wireless is second to none and can be used via 2.4ghz wireless or Bluetooth.
Finally, there is the connectivity with the ability to plug the included base unit into a PC and Playstation simultaneously and also being able to switch outputs between line out wireless and your stereo system. A bloody incredible set of headphones if you have the cash to spend.
Astro A50 Wireless
Not quite as refined as the Arctis Pro but still one of the best wireless gaming headsets you can buy in 2018 is the Astro A50 Wireless. The sound is excellent and every bit a match for the Steelseries headphones and so is the cofort thanks to the lightweight design, perfect clamping force and soft, breathable pads.
The setup is a little bit easier than with the Arctis and the surround sound is also incredible creating a fully immersive environment. The only negatives we could find are its proximity in price to the better Steelseries cans and the terrible looking paint jobs.
Corsair Void Pro RGB WIreless
Yet another wirless gaming headset and this one is from another big player. The Corsair Void Pro RGB is a very good looking set of headphones with an clean aesthetic and angular lines.
In terms of bang for the buck these are probably the best on our test with a mix of solid build, good looks, excellent sound and reasonable comfort.
The thing I really liked in the design was that the RGB lighting is not overdone and it looks kind of classy. One other thing to not was that in our tests the microphone was extremely clear and crisp.
Hyper X Cloud Revolvers
The Hyper X Cloud Revolver headset is wired and as such its simpler to setup and operate. Just plug and play. That also means that the price is lower than with wirless gaming headsets but very little is sacraficed on quality from more expensive models. These are a ridiculously comfortable set of headphones and I feel we could wear them for days on end without too much heat build up and absolutley no pressure discomfort. The build quality is excellent and the sound with its Dolby 7.1 surround was pretty good but not excellent. There was enough there for rough positioning but not on the dot life like accuracy. For the price and considering the total package the Cloud Revolvers are an excellent buy.
So we go back to wireless headsets withe the Razer Man-O-War which is a mid-top tier priced headphone. I will be honest they weren't my favorite on the test but some of our other reviewers did quite like them . My biggest gripe with them was the sheer size of them. They are bulky and awkward on the head and not very easy to move about with despite the lack of wires.
On that subject there is also no way to use the Man-O-War wired like you can with other wireless headsets... that's weird and annoying. They are comfortable though with generous padding and the build is also very good despite the heft. Surround sound was on point and one of the best we have heard in a wireless form and the mic is damn near perfect in both position and sound.
Steelseries ArcTis 3
This is the cheapest headset from Steelseries Arctis lineup but it offers a lot of the same design on the its big brothers for a fraction of the price.
It doesnt do too much fancy but it does get the basics down and get them down well. The best marks go to the sound, style, build and microphone performance.
We did however find them hard to drive if not used with our gaming rig so if you are just using them to commute or game on your phone it would be best to have some sort of external amplification.
Kotion Each G1000
The Kotion Each G1000 is a very very very cheap gaming headset so forgive us if we went into the review expecting it to such bad.
Well we were in for a shock because you know what for the price this is impossible to beat and if you don't want any of the fancy features from the headsets above and just want a good quality inexpensive headset to get some gaming done then this is a very good buy.
Mic and sound performance were solid and you get headset controls and a detachable mic. Hell there is even some RGB lighting via a separate usb power source. Nothing fancy but it definetley can get the job done and let you spend money elsewhere.
Hyper X Cloud Stinger
Its pretty hard to have a list of the best gaming headsets without including the Cloud Stinger. The are the every mans headset with good build acceptable comfort and decent sound.
They are a good looking headset and better on almost every level than the Kotion.
Consider them the next step up and the fact that the price is still very appealing we can see why this is one of the most popular gaming headsets on the market in 2018.