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The best gaming headsets in 2021

The best gaming headsets
Hear every subtle detail with the best gaming headsets. (Image credit: Future)

The best gaming headset will feed some super accurate, rounded sound into your brainhole, direct from the far-away worlds of your favourite games. It's one of the few accessories that can really deliver a sense of immersion. In order to appreciate those glorious game scores, and ever-improving voice acting, a good gaming headset is a necessity—particularly if you find yourself playing competitive games.

The best gaming headset will help you pinpoint directional audio cues, so you can react swiftly in crucial life-or-death situations, rather than firing in the general direction of that useless onscreen damage indicator.

We know adding one of the best gaming headsets of 2021 to your set-up shouldn't cost the earth. You can grab our top pick, the Razer Blackshark V2, for $100, giving you a sturdy headset with excellent sound quality. Alternatively, if you want to go wireless and have the money to spare, you could do a lot worse than the HyperX Cloud II Wireless

Our list of the best gaming headsets we've tested has something for everyone, regardless of budget. If you're determined to cut down on cord clutter, our guide to purely the best wireless gaming headsets may be more to your taste.

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1. Razer Blackshark V2

The best wired gaming headset

Specifications
Wireless: No
Drivers: 50mm, Razer TriForce, Titanium
Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB soundcard
Frequency response: 12Hz – 28,000Hz
Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic, in-line cable controls
Weight: 262g
Reasons to buy
+Restrained styling+Comfortable+Great audio+Only $100
Reasons to avoid
-Cable hardwired into headset

Dethroning the HyperX Cloud Alpha from last year's the top spot was no easy feat. Razer's Blackshark V2 gaming headset manages to do just that by offering killer audio quality, great price, and easy-to-use software. 

The 50mm TriForce Titanium drivers are designed with discrete ports to separate bass, mid, tremble tones from interfering with each other. The result is a richer sound and keeps it on par with HyperX's 50mm dual-chamber neodymium driver headset. 

The $100 price point is not a big financial ask for anyone who wants a quality gaming headset. The Blackshark V2 Pro's recent release gives players a wireless option though, $180 seems a bit steep.

Read the full Razer Blackshark V2 review.

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HyperX

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2. HyperX Cloud II Wireless

Best wireless gaming headset

Specifications
Wireless: Yes
Drivers: 53mm, Dynamic, neodymium magnets
Connectivity: USB Dongle
Frequency response: 15Hz – 20,000Hz
Features: Detachable mic
Weight : 300g
Battery Life: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Powerful but clear sound+Exceptional build quality+Great mic
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre bass

Bearing the fruits of HyperX Cloud's long legacy of excellence, the Cloud IIs presents excellent sound and build quality with the essential features done well and no feature-flab inflating the price. This closed-back design's stereo soundscape is punchier in the low end than we'd usually go for. 

Still, the extra bass doesn't interfere with overall clarity—and frankly, in games and music environments, it sounds great. The 53mm with neodymium magnets is intended to give low, medium, and high frequencies space to resonate without interfering with each other, and you do get a sense of that while listening to them. 

Elsewhere it's the usual impressive build quality, generous padding, clear mic, and high comfort levels over longer play sessions that the Cloud II design has always offered.

Read the HyperX Cloud Alpha review for a more modern, wired alternative.

Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best graphics cards 

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EPOS

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3. Epos H3

The best sounding gaming headset

Specifications
Wireless: No
Drivers: 40mm, Dynamic
Frequency response: 10Hz – 30,000Hz
Features: Bidrectional mic, 7.1 Dolby Surround
Weight: 270g
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound quality+Great microphone+Much improved design and feel
Reasons to avoid
-Earcup coverage might be small for some-Wire tangles easily

Replacing the hilariously bulky Sennheiser GSP 300 series, the Epos H3 design shifts away NFL head coach headset into something a bit leaner and stylish. What didn't change is the stellar audio quality we've come to know and love. 

Despite the name, the Sennheiser DNA is all over this headset. In our review, we were blown away by the powerful bass that never spoils the mids and highs, which isn't surprising with a frequency response of 10Hz – 30,000Hz, making it a killer headset for gaming and listening to music. 

Read the full Epos H3 review.

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SteelSeries

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4. Steelseries Arctis 9X

The best multi platform gaming headset

Specifications
Wireless: Yes
Drivers: 40mm, Neodymium drivers
Connectivity: Wireless USB dongle, 3.5mm wired, Bluetooth
Frequency response: 20Hz – 22,000Hz
Features: Retractable noise cancelling mic, DTS Headphone:X, 7.1 surround
Battery life: 20 hours
Reasons to buy
+Solid gaming sound+Comfortable 'ski goggle' headband+Great Mic +Bluetooth 
Reasons to avoid
-Just under $200 is a lot-Weak Bass

We like best about the Arctis 9X because you can easily forget it’s a wireless model while you’re using it. There’s none of the muddiness or audio artifacts that have historically ruined the party for wireless headsets. The added Bluetooth compatibility means that you can use this headset on your mobile devices, too, perfect is you plan on gaming on your phone or tablet. 

The great battery life clocks in at over 20 hours out of the box; you can keep playing while you charge, too, simply by connecting the headset to your PC with a USB cable.

The distinctive ski goggle headband is really effective at keeping the weight of the headset away from your head, and even after playing for hours, we’ve never felt it digging in.

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5. Razer Kraken X

The best cheap gaming headset

Specifications
Wireless: No
Drivers: 40mm, Neodymium magnets
Connectivity: 3.5mm
Frequency response: 12Hz – 8,000Hz
Features: 7.1 surround sound, ultra lightweight
Reasons to buy
+Can find under $40+Excellent 7.1 virtual surround sound+Comfortable leatherette head cushion
Reasons to avoid
-Non-detachable mic-Base audio is a little clunky

As a cheap alternative to the tricked-out Razer Kraken, the Kraken X is a budget-friendly option that excels on PC for one simple reason—virtual 7.1 surround sound. Available via an app, this elevates the headset's already good audio thanks to superior depth, clarity, and definition. It also makes going back to the X's standard audio mode difficult.

When you throw in enviable comfort and a stylish, understated design, this version of the Kraken offers tremendous value for money. There are niggles to dampen the party, of course (a non-detachable mic being chief among them), but you can't complain when you're getting excellent 7.1 sound for such a low cost.

Read the full Razer Kraken X review.

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Creative

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6. Creative SXFI Gamer

Best headset with surround sound

Specifications
Wireless: No
Drivers: 50 mm Neodymium magnet
Connectivity: USB-C, 3.5 mm Stereo Input
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20,000Hz
Features: Positional Audio
Weight: 336g
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Pretty good virtual surround sound+Low-key and comfy design design
Reasons to avoid
-Cumbersome software-Lack of wireless support-That red microphone light
Cut the cord...

(Image credit: Steelseries)

Best wireless gaming mouse: ideal cable-free rodents
Best wireless gaming keyboard: no wires, no worries
Best wireless gaming headset: top untethered audio

The Creative SFXI Gamer headset is a good headset with a hilariously bad name. That being said, it shouldn't deter anyone looking for a great overall listening experience. The positional audio, aka Battle Mode, is perfect for anyone looking to immerse themselves into their favorite Battle Royales like Call of Duty: Warzone for less than $150. 

The 50mm neodymium drivers provide some good bass between both stereo and with surround sound modes. The microphone works well for competitive gaming (though that red light at the tip is infuriating) if you want to be heard loud and clear. 

Read the full Creative SXFI Gamer review.

Best gaming headset FAQ

What does a gaming headset need?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a gaming headset. A good price and sound quality are foremost, but comfort is up there, too. Also, noise-cancelling mics are crucial for coms, so most of the headsets we've listed here include this feature. You want decent voice quality and a microphone that won't pick up every single keypress on your mechanical keyboard.

How do we test gaming headsets?

Each headset that we test we use daily for at least a week. We record a sample of our voice in Audacity and compare it to previous recordings from other models, then head to Discord to get some feedback from our friends on how we're sounding. 

During that week, we aim to test each headset in a number of different game genres—shooters, battle royales, and racing games make for particularly good testing scenarios since the former tends to test the low-end and reveal muddiness and distortion, while PUBG et al are great for positional audio tracking. Finally, good racing sims feature a very particular mix designed to help you hear brake lock-up and tires losing traction. It's often in Project CARS 2 (seriously!)  where great headsets are separated from merely good. Oh, and we listen to a lot of music, obviously. 

Are wired or wireless headsets better for gaming?

This really comes to down to preference, but if you're going the wireless route what you want to look for is for decent battery life (20 hours or higher). The last thing you want to have a headset that's constantly needing to be plugged in because the battery life is bad. It kind of defeats the purpose of being wireless. For wired headsets you want to make sure you the cable is long enough to reach your PC without feeling like it's tugging on your head.