Best gaming headsets in 2024: I'd bet my ears on these headphones

The best gaming headset is one of the most surprisingly powerful upgrades you can make to your gaming setup. The impact good game audio can have on your experience can be huge. Surrounding yourself with a detailed soundscape, as the developers intended, will ground you in a game world like nothing else.

The headsets on this list are chosen from the dozens the PC Gamer hardware team and I have tested. Between us, we've got decades of experience of the best and worst audio gear ever made. Considering all the options, we've decided today's best gaming headset is the evergreen HyperX Cloud Alpha.

If you want to ditch the cord, the best wireless gaming headset is the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. With great audio and a class-leading 300 hours of battery life, it's an easy recommendation. If you prefer to spend a little less, the Corsair HS55 is the best budget gaming headset.

Curated by...
Dave James
Curated by...
Dave James

Dave's been an audiophile since his time running Techradar's Home Entertainment channel around half a million years ago (give or take). Having tested the whole spread of different quality gaming gear, including $51,000 headphones, he's best placed to say which budget cans still sound good, and which high-end headsets are worth the cash.

The Quick List

Recent updates

Updated May 14, 2024 to ensure our recommendations include the latest models we've tested, and made it easier to find the right audiophile headset for you.

Best gaming headset

HyperX Cloud Alpha headset on a gradient background.

(Image credit: Future)
The best wired gaming headset

Specifications

Wireless: No
Drivers: 50 mm dual chamber neodymium
Connectivity: 3.5 mm
Frequency response: 13–27,000 Hz
Features: Detachable noise-cancelling mic, in-line cable controls

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Great audio
+
Often superb value

Reasons to avoid

-
No flip-to-mute mic
Buy if...

✅ You want one of the best sounding gaming headsets: There's really no better option that the HyperX Cloud Alpha for the same money, providing you don't want to cut the cord entirely.

✅ You need a headset for work and play: You can wear the HyperX Cloud Alpha throughout a work day and still find it comfortable enough to game in after the work day is done. Trust us, we've done this plenty of times ourselves.

Don't buy if...

❌ You'd prefer a wireless headset: It may go without saying, but this isn't a wireless design. A wireless gaming headset is one of life's little luxuries, and if you'd prefer to pick one of those up then take a look at the best wireless gaming headset. Don't be surprised by what you find.

The best gaming headset in 2024 is the HyperX Cloud Alpha—that's right, the king is back and it's as great as ever. While Razer's BlackShark V2 gaming headset was able to dethrone the Cloud Alpha previously, it's no longer widely available in many regions. HyperX's headset, however, is easy to find and frequent discounts put this wonderful gaming headset back into the spotlight once again.

What's special about the Cloud Alpha gaming headset is how it sounds. That should be a given, right? Yet it's easy to get distracted by extraneous features that don't altogether matter much when looking for a gaming headset. The Cloud Alpha, however, is a simple beast. It delivers fantastic audio that's really difficult to match for the same money.

The 50 mm neodymium drivers produce a hearty bass response and that's key for gaming. It means you can feel the explosions or the hum of a sports car, and you absolutely get the best out of a game's soundtrack. But it's not only the powerful bass that impresses here, as this headset offers fantastic clarity and definition throughout mids and highs.

HyperX achieves such impressive audio quality thanks to the use of a two-chamber design on the Cloud Alpha. Each earcup's driver is separated into two chambers, which effectively reduces distortion that might muddy the bass with the mids and instead maximises articulation. The ability to deliver crisp and indulgent audio all at once is what separates the Cloud Alpha from the rest.

The Cloud Alpha also stands as a gaming headset for its other attributes, namely it's hella comfy. The padded earcups and headband are comfortable over long periods and we've used this headset day in and day out, for long periods, and never run into any issues with its comfort. 

Our one complaint in 2024 with this headset would be that it doesn't come with a flip-to-mute microphone, but the detachable one included is still a great quality unit and comes through loud and clear during online gaming or voice calls.

Don't be put off by how long this headset has been around. HyperX has gotten so much right with the Cloud Alpha, it doesn't need changing. That age actually helps us with pricing, as this headset is regularly available for under the asking price and further discounts are plenty. For a wired gaming headset, you really can't go wrong with the HyperX Cloud Alpha in 2024.

Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha review.

Best budget gaming headset

The best budget gaming headset

Specifications

Wireless: No
Drivers: 50 mm, Neodymium magnets
Connectivity: 3.5 mm
Frequency response: 20–20,000 Hz
Features: Flip-up mic

Reasons to buy

+
Superb microphone quality
+
Flip-up mic arm
+
Light and comfortable
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Mic arm can be fiddly at times
-
Older HS50 feels a touch more premium
Buy if...

✅ You want a quality all-round headset for less: The HS55 is a well-made piece of kit for the cash. There's no major drawback to any of it.

You value a quality microphone: If you're struggling to be heard over Discord, the HS55's microphone arm comes through loud and clear.

Don't buy if...

❌ You can spare a little more budget: If you can spend a bit more on your gaming headset, the Cloud Alpha is a really good get and often very affordable.

The best budget gaming headset going, the Corsair HS55 delivers an impressive package of quality audio, a handy microphone, and good build quality. Not often will you find such a well-rounded headset going for so little. 

It's much comfier than Corsair's previous budget models, such as the HS50. The plush earcups on the HS55 make for a stark comparison to the HS50's stiff and unbudging foam. The HS55 is also lighter, at 284 g, which has a big impact on comfort over long periods. Wear these for a week, eight hours a day, and you won't feel the urge to throw them off at any point.

They can be a little sweaty on hot days due to the leatherette material they're covered in, but that's a pretty common drawback among gaming headsets in this price range.

The biggest shake-up is the microphone arm, which is now attached permanently to the HS55's left earcup and can be flipped up and out of the way if no longer needed. This is definitely an improvement over the previous HS50, which had a removable mic via a 3.5 mm jack. 

We're really impressed by how clear the HS55's microphone is, accurately picking up and separating subtle tones and the timbre of your voice. There's a surprising level of clarity in this mic, even in the lower ranges, and it's a great solution for a budget headset. 

You're getting a comfier and lighter headset in the HS55 over the HS50, and ultimately we feel it's worth the slight price bump for those improvements. The HS55 feels a little cheaper than the HS50, however, with more of a plasticky feel to it. Thankfully it still feels robust and is clearly well put together nonetheless. 

But Corsair's own is far from this headset's only competition. You've Razer's Kraken and BlackShark V2 X cans, which both make for a good contest, and HyperX can be found selling a few models for roughly the same price, including the Cloud II when on offer. That's stiff competition, though the Corsair delivers enough to warrant consideration by any gamer looking to pick up an affordable gaming headset.

Read our full Corsair HS55 Stereo review.

Best wireless gaming headset

The best wireless gaming headset

Specifications

Wireless: Yes
Drivers: Dynamic, 50 mm with neodymium magnets
Connectivity: 2.4 GHz wireless dongle
Frequency response: 15–21,000 Hz
Features: Bi-directional detachable mic

Reasons to buy

+
Battery life that can only be described as witchcraft
+
Excellent for listening to music
+
Precise, powerful audio is great for gaming
+
Very comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Microphone isn't up to par with the rest of the headset
-
They aren't the loudest headphones
Buy if...

You want a long-lasting battery: Rated to 300 hours of battery life, this is one wireless headset that doesn't need constant charging.

Don't buy if...

❌ You listen at high volume: The Cloud Alpha Wireless is not the loudest headset, and if you're one to crank up the volume, look elsewhere (be careful with your ears, too).

The HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless is the best wireless gaming headset around, and that shouldn't come as a surprise as the best overall gaming headset is the wired version, the HyperX Cloud Alpha. Mostly the same headset, minus the cord. 

The biggest selling point for the wireless Cloud Alpha headset is the new huge battery. You're looking at up to 300 hours of battery life while still keeping the headset relatively light and comfortable. It's a pretty massive feat for any company to achieve this, but we feel HyperX has pulled it off.

Out of the box, this unit was reporting having about 80% charge, so we decided to leave it there to see how well that held. After a full workday listening to music, the battery still had 80% charge. Over a week of gaming and music listening, the Cloud Alpha Wireless still had over half of its battery's charge left.

That impressive battery life is, of course, a best-case scenario. A lot of that has to do with the volume you're running the headset at, and volume is probably our only real complaint. It's absolutely loud enough for us but at full volume, you never get the sense the headset could blow your eardrums out.

But the sound quality truly is incredible and music, especially, sounds amazing. It's always fun to listen to some favorite sound-heavy songs on a good pair of cans and try to pick the different instruments or bites used. These do an excellent job and are definitely one of the better gaming headsets we've used to listen to music on. 

When playing games the directional sound is also very nice. Locating hidden batteries in Deep Rock Galactic is easy, as you can home in with where the beeps are in your ears. Load up some Doom Eternal and you'll experience Cacodemons whispering sweet nothings, behind and around you, adding the demonic terror.

HyperX's Cloud line is always touted for comfort and despite the hefty battery this still definitely fits the bill. We don't like headsets that are too heavy or too tight on the head, and uncomfortable headsets never get rated well by us. The Cloud Alpha's top band is thick and has soft padding underneath. This coupled with the equally soft ear cups makes for a very cosy experience and does an excellent job of blocking out noise.

Sadly, the mic is your fairly standard affair and while it will work just fine for chat in games, it's very basic and uninspired when it comes to sound quality. 

Though all things considered, we struggle to imagine a customer who wouldn't be happy with these as a wireless gaming headset. They're pricey, but within reason for their specs, and they certainly deliver on everything you could want for gaming, and listening to music, on your PC.

Read our full HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless review.

Best wired audiophile headphones for gaming

The best wired audiophile headphones for gaming

Specifications

Wireless: No
Driver-type: STELLAR.45
Connectivity: 3.5 mm & 6.35 mm adapter for mini-XLR
Frequency response: 5–40,000 Hz
Features: Velour earpads

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible audio performance
+
Supremely comfortable
+
Handsome and solid construction
+
Works with just about anything

Reasons to avoid

-
No detachable or in-line mic
-
Initial clamping is too tight
Buy if...

✅ You want a punchy open-back profile: The DT 900 Pro X is a gorgeous blend of punchy audio and an open-back design, which tends to be easier on the ears for critical listening.

Don't buy if...

❌ You need a microphone: It may come as no surprise but these audiophile cans do not offer any sort of microphone. You'd have to use a desk mic or clip-on mic attachment, which will mean more cables.

The very same qualities that make the Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X the best wired audiophile headphones for long hours of critical listening, mixing, and mastering of audio are also great for gaming.

These are extremely well-built headphones with a level of comfort that is hard to beat. Forget even lambskin leather, these pads wrap your ears with heavenly comfort. The huge replaceable velour pads completely cover the ears and bespectacled gamers won't face any discomfort either.

The spring steel headband has memory foam padding and keeps those muffs well clamped to your head which gives an excellent sound seal despite the open-back nature. While you can hear your environment, it's not as transparent as something like the Drop PC38X. Initially, the clamping force was way too strong, making them too uncomfortable to wear for longer than an hour, but after manually stretching them out over a few days, that issue disappeared altogether.

Beyerdynamic includes two different cable lengths cables: 3 m and a shorter 1.8 m for console gamepads, Nintendo Switch, or other portable devices. These cables didn't make any noise, which was present on the MMX 100. The low power requirement of 48 ohms allows you to use the DT 900 Pro X on almost anything without needing an amplifier too.

As an open-back style headset, the DT 900 Pro X surprised us with how punchy the audio is. The STELLAR.45 driver employed here is perfectly tuned for a flat profile that slaps whatever you're listening to and the bass is almost surgical in precision.

Being open-back, the audio has room to breathe giving it a more natural sound that has you stopping to check if what you're hearing is in the game or the real world. The impressive clarity and fantastic audio positioning make it easy to identify the location and relative distance of opponents. Every bullet sings and whines, explosions boom and shake and environments come to life.

The only problem you'll have in competitive shooters or other multiplayer games is that there's no microphone for chatting with teammates.

With all the qualities mentioned above, it goes without saying that if you are into content creation, the DT 900 Pro X will help you create the most accurate audio for your audience. Since a lot of us are now dabbling in some form of creation be it streaming, podcasting or YouTube, these are a no brainer. 

Read our full Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X review.

Best wireless audiophile headset for gaming

The best wireless audiophile gaming headset

Specifications

Wireless: Yes
Driver-type: 90 mm Planar Magnetic
Connectivity: 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 5.3, USB-C, 3.5 mm
Frequency response: 10–50,000 Hz
Features: Hypercardioid boom mic

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning sound
+
Long battery life
+
Fast charging
+
Comfortable
+
Good mic

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor software
Buy if...

✅ You're a basshead: If you want plenty of bass but you're wise enough to know that cranking the bass up on an equalizer won't always cut it, the Maxwell is the headset for you.

✅ Planar magnetic is calling to you: There's a place in every headset collection for a pair of planar magnetics. We love them, and for good reason: they often sound absolutely fantastic.

Don't buy if...

❌ You're strapped for cash: The Audeze Maxwell don't come cheap. While they replace the need for two pairs of headphones, one for gaming and the other for wearing outdoors, they're still a lot of money.

The best wireless audiophile gaming headset is the Audeze Maxwell, and you can thank its planar magnetic drivers for that. The Maxwell delivers a gloriously rich and impactful sound that goes a long way in gaming and listening to music.

So, what's the big deal with planar magnetic? These drivers utilise an entirely different concept from dynamic drivers often found in gaming headsets. Each driver uses a large, flat diaphragm manipulated by magnets to produce audio. The end result tends to be a much more natural, broader sound than a dynamic driver with plenty of bass.

For the Maxwell, the benefit of planar magnetic drivers is apparent as soon as you listen to any music or play any game. The level of clarity and tonal separation is fantastic. It's possible to tune in and isolate almost any sound pumping through these planars at any one time. That's wonderful when you're trying to relax into your favorite album, but it's also crucially important when playing competitive shooters.

Audeze has opted for a closed-back design here, which is great for noise isolation but can usually lead to a more closed-in sound profile. That's not the case here, however, as the Maxwell sound impressively wide and expansive. That's likely down to the planar drivers working their magic.

However, you do have to be aware of a few drawbacks with the Maxwell. Firstly, this is a heavy headset thanks to those chunky drivers, and secondly, it's very expensive. The best wireless audiophile headset, unsurprisingly, doesn't come cheap. That said, we think they're worth every penny because you can use the Maxwell for a lot more than gaming on your PC.

Wireless connectivity means you're not locked to your desk while wearing them, which is pretty freeing, but the Maxwell also offers Bluetooth connectivity. You're free to take these headphones with you out of the house, and you won't be laughed at—at least not for your choice of headset—as the Maxwell looks for the most part like any other pair of over-ear headphones. It doesn't look like a PC gaming accessory. There are also heaps of quick controls to make using this headset out and about much easier.

Read our full Audeze Maxwell review.

Best gaming headset for streaming

The best gaming headset for streaming

Specifications

Wireless: No
Driver-type: 45 mm Dynamic
Connectivity: USB Type-A w/ Type-C adapter, Analog XLR
Frequency response: 15–28,000 Hz
Features: Cardioid condenser mic

Reasons to buy

+
Best headset mic I've tried
+
Excellent cans too
+
Plug and play

Reasons to avoid

-
No sound control on headset
-
Expensive for a wired headset
Buy if...

✅ You don't want a desk microphone: If you're a streamer or content creator, the ATH-M50x STS StreamSet is capable of fantastic mic quality without the dedicated mic.

Don't buy if...

❌ You're after a cheaper option: You could buy a gaming headset and one of the best cheap microphones for less than this all-in-one option.

The best gaming headset for streamers goes to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet. An awful lot of gaming headsets we've had the pleasure of wearing have had pretty poor quality microphones in comparison to a dedicated mic. They're mostly fine for game chats and yelling at your friends, but the second you want your voice to sound good they can get in the bin.

An average gamer probably won't mind too much, and would rather their headset delivers great sound and maybe forgoes the mic quality for a cheaper price. But there's a reason most streamers, podcasters, and content creators of many stripes will have a dedicated desk mic for those higher-quality recordings.

Even our absolute favourite gaming headsets fail to go toe-to-toe with an average-quality desktop microphone. Audio Technica's new ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet headset says hell no to that, spend all that money on me instead.

Listening to music is a lovely experience in the ATH-M50xSTS, which you'd expect for an Audio Technica headset. These are essentially a rebuild of the ATH-M50x so they're brimming with that good sound DNA. It's well balanced with little details shining through in songs. It's also a little bass-heavy in the way that all headsets tend to be, but it's fairly mild and the bright treble and warm tones are lovely to be immersed in.

With such a dedication to monitor mode, there are no buttons for anything else on the headset. It makes sense, especially for a headset that wants to make sure you sound good. All other audio is meant to be controlled through your PC. Remembering to reach for your PC volume controls as opposed to the headset itself takes a little bit of getting used to, but I think the trade-off in simplicity is worth it. 

The whole point of the ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet is to have a good mic, of course, but wow does it good. Audio Technica has packed a cardioid condenser, based on the brand's 20-series mics, into the attached boom and its recording quality is absolutely fantastic.

One thing that really stands out is how old-school-cool this gaming headset is. There aren't any real drivers to worry about, and certainly no blaring gamer software to have to not only install but also navigate. These are plug-and-play in the truest of sense and for people much cooler than us, there's even an incredibly uncommon analog XLR option, which feels like it goes further to show off audio reverence in these devices.

This headset/mic combination doesn't disappoint in any way, delivering amazing sound quality and recording that'll see your desktop mic gathering dust.

Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review.

Also tested

Razer BlackShark V2

Razer BlackShark V2
The Razer BlackShark V2 is a superb gaming headset that delivers on every front. It sounds great and has a simple, functional, and incredibly comfortable design that feels light on your head. It's just a shame it's no longer as widely available as it once was.

Read our full Razer BlackShark V2 review.

HyperX Cloud III Wireless

HyperX Cloud III Wireless
With frequent discounts, a sturdy build, and a clear microphone, you'd think the Cloud III would be a worthy choice. Unfortunately, it's uncomfortable and music playback leaves much to be desired.

Read our full HyperX Cloud III Wireless review.

Rode NTH-100M

Rode NTH-100M
The Rode NTH-100M is a fantastic sounding headset that is elevated even further by the addition of a surprisingly great microphone, though the price is beaten out by some stiff competition.

Read our full Rode NTH-100M review.

Razer Kraken X

Razer Kraken X
The X is a worthy addition to the Kraken range, and it impresses with its virtual 7.1 surround sound and low price. However, it drops the ball with a non-detachable mic.

Read our full Razer Kraken X review.

AceZone A-spire

AceZone A-spire
Superb noise cancellation is backed up by a fantastic microphone, and along with great comfort, these are perfect for long gaming sessions. Shame they're so expensive.

Read our full AceZone A-Spire review.

Cherry HC 2.2

Cherry HC 2.2
A decent all-round option for those looking for a no-frills headset. Comfortable, easy to use and with good audio, the Cherry HC 2.2 is one to consider.

Read our full Cherry HC 2.2 review.

Drop + Sennheiser PC38X

Drop + Sennheiser PC38X
The Drop + Sennheiser PC38X is one of the best gaming headsets I've used in terms of raw audio quality. Paired with a straightforward design, it's a real winner for gamers who don't mind a wire.

Read our full Drop + Sennheiser PC38X review.

Logitech G Astro A50 X Lightspeed

Logitech G Astro A50 X Lightspeed
Rich-sounding, comfortable, and with a great mic, the Astro A50 X is meant to be for gamers who use PCs and consoles. The result is an overly complex system that costs too much, unfortunately.

Read our full Logitech G Astro A50 X review.

How we test gaming headsets

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro 2023 Edition

(Image credit: Future)

How do we test gaming headsets?

You can read all about how PC Gamer tests hardware in our How We Test guide, but here's a quick breakdown of specifically how we test gaming headsets.

Each headset that we test we use as our daily driver for at least a week, that way we get to experience not just the sound, but what it's like to use each set of cans on a daily basis. 

We 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 Battlefield, PUBG, et al are great for positional audio tracking. 

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. You can hear a lot of the microphones and headsets we test on our Soundcloud (I promise it's not PC Gamer's homemade rap).

Oh, and we listen to a lot of high-res audio music, obviously. Listening to tracks we know well, that work through the bass, mid-tones, and highs, means we know how they should sound at their best. And if we hear things we've never heard before in a familiar track, that normally indicates a pretty damned good headset.

Where to buy

Where are the best gaming headset deals?

In the US:

In the UK:

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.

Are wired or wireless headsets better for gaming?

This really comes 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 needs 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 the cable is long enough to reach your PC without feeling like it's tugging on your head.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.

With contributions from