The best wireless gaming headset

The best wireless gaming headsets for 2019

The best wireless gaming headsets for 2019

What is the best wireless gaming headset in 2019? Well, right now, we think the Razer Nari Ultimate balances performance, cost, and features to come out on top. However, just because it's an all-rounder, that doesn't necessarily make it the best. When it comes to wireless gaming headsets, you tend to get exactly what you pay for in terms of sound quality, customization options, comfort and more. Sure, the $250+ headsets are a good chunk of money, but you usually get exactly what you pay for, and—to be honest—a great wireless pair of cans will make a huge difference to your gaming experience.

What do we look for when picking the best wireless gaming headsets for PC? Well, sure, sound quality is the main factor, but we test for plenty of other things too. You can have the best frequency response range, delivering intense, rich sound, but if the headset isn't very comfortable or durable... well, that's a big problem. We test wireless headsets by actually using them for hours at a time, playing games in hot little rooms and at open-desk set-ups to see how they feel on our ears after an intense gaming session. You also need to think about the quality of the wireless connection itself, as it can be annoying if the sound breaks up while you play, and the effectiveness of the in-built or detachable microphone. If you're looking to wear the headset outside the PC set-up, then a detachable or retractable mic is a must, because you don't want that sticking out while you're listening to Ed Sheeran (if you must, but we are judging you) on the train. 

Finally, yes, price is a factor. We know how expensive the best gaming PC set-ups are, and while getting the best wireless gaming headset is essential, it's also yet another cost. Here are the top cans in 2019. And if you're ok with wired, here are our best gaming headsets for the year.

Razer Nari Ultimate

Razer Nari Ultimate

1. Razer Nari Ultimate

The best overall wireless gaming headset

Drivers: 50mm neodymium | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: Retractable unidirectional mic, LoFelt L5 haptic drivers, game/chat balance, THX Spatial Audio

Haptic feedback works in its favor
Balanced sound quality
Limited wireless compatibility
No support for noise-cancelling

Although we initially gave Razer nothing but side-eye over the Nari Ultimate for its seemingly frivolous integration of haptic drivers, hear us out: it's actually quite good. Because its vibrating effects technology—dubbed HyperSense—comprises a wide range of frequencies, it doesn't let off a static rumble on your ears reminiscent of holding a controller to your face in the midst of an intense shootout. Rather, the short bursts of pulsation the Nari Ultimate provides feel natural and unobtrusive. That said, the Razer Nari Ultimate is no one-trick pony. 

It sidesteps a lot of traditionally software-bound personalization features in favor of buttons and scroll wheels found natively on the headset itself. On the left side, you'll find a button for muting the mic and a game/chat balance control wheel while, behind you right ear, is a volume scroller and a garage for storing your 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle. Speaking of which, wireless support on the Razer Nari Ultimate is a little disappointing given that only PC and PS4 support it. Nevertheless, those who also own an Xbox or a Switch aren't completely left out, as a 4.3-foot 3.5mm aux cable is included as well. 

Steelseries Arctis 7

Steelseries Arctis 7

2. Steelseries Arctis 7

The best multifaceted wireless gaming headset

Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Battery life: Up to 24 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: Retractable noise-cancelling mic, chat mix control, customisable earcup plates and headband

Great battery life
Comfortable floating headband
Headband does slacken over time
Average mic

Whatever you’re listening to through the Arctis 7s, there’s none of the muddiness or audio artifacts that have historically ruined the party for wireless headsets—it sounds just as good as the best wired models we’ve tested at this same $150 price range. The extraordinary battery life clocks in at over 20 hours out of the box, and after almost a year of heavy use that figure’s hardly dropped off. You can keep playing while you charge, too, simply by connecting the headset to your PC with a USB cable.

The Arctis range’s distinctive ski goggle headband is really effective at keeping the weight of the headset away from your head. After a year of daily usage, the headband does slacken which makes for a looser and slightly less comfortable fit, but the bands themselves are replaceable. We’re big fans of the control placements at the rear of the headset, too: volume wheel and mic mute on the left, chat/game mix and headset on/off on the right. The retractable mic is a little quiet, but it remains perfectly usable. 

Corsair HS70

Corsair HS70

3. Corsair HS70

The best budget wireless gaming headset

Drivers: 50mm | Battery life: Up to 16 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: Available in black or white finishes, detachable mic

Great construction
No-nonsense package
Headband could be comfier
Metallic finish

This is seriously impressive work from Corsair, which has channelled all its expertise in higher-end models and somehow kept costs right down without compromising... well, anything detectable. If you’d told us the HS70 was a $150 headset when we first unboxed it, we’d believe it. 

Stereo spread and overall sound articulation are the highlights here, the drivers tuned in line with the modern trend for flatter EQs and thus better versatility when you close down PUBG and bring up that doom metal playlist you’ve been working on in Spotify. The build quality is what really baffles us about the HS70’s wonderful budget pricing though—they feel sturdy enough to last years, but light on the head and well-padded. The slightly under-padded headband is the only exception. We’re not wholly onboard with that perforated metallic finish on the earcups either, but that’s literally a small price to pay for nailing everything that counts.

Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless

Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless

4. Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless

Best high-end wireless gaming headset

Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Battery life: Up to 10 hours (per battery) | Frequency response: 10Hz-40,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: USB audio station, virtual surround, swappable batteries, Bluetooth

Brimming with features
Battery hot-swapping
Expensive
Little sound difference to cheaper Arctic models

Old meets new in the Arctis Pro Wireless, in the best possible way. The wireless transmitter station is almost identical to that of the older Steelseries 800 model, acting as a controls menu, wireless receiver via lossless 2.4G and Bluetooth, and battery charging station all at once. Meanwhile, the new Arctis headset design (lavished with a more luxurious finish than the 7 series) delivers on the comfort and sound. Winning combination. 

Being able to pull out a depleted battery and switch it for a fully charged one from the transmitter box isn’t just convenient, it’s a game changer in the wireless market. And with battery life times in excess of 9 hours, it’s perfectly viable to make use of that Bluetooth functionality by pairing the headset to a smartphone. Although the excellent sound quality is largely identical to the 7-series, there are sufficient bonuses in the Pro Wireless package to reinforce the extra spend. If you're looking for the top of the line, this is it.

ASUS ROG Strix Wireless

ASUS ROG Strix Wireless

5. Asus ROG Strix Wireless

A great wireless headset for real surround sound

Drivers: 60mm | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: USB audio station, true 7.1 surround, detachable mic, on-headset controls

Distinctive looks
True 7.1 surround
A bit bass heavy
COnfusing audio station

If you want to stand out while wearing a pair of headphones, these are your dream. An unorthodox design intended to highlight its enormous drivers defines the ROG STRIX. While it might look a bit Angry Birds, there’s no denying the power of its low end or spaciousness of the surround sound. 

Front and rear 40mm drivers are joined by a 30mm center and two 20mms at the side and rear. Dolby’s virtual surround gives true surround a real run for its money these days, but the articulation within these earcups is really impressive. And when you want a more precise sound, you can pare it down to a stereo headset—if you can figure out the USB audio station’s controls.  One problem, unfortunately: even in this configuration, the bass ends up being a shade too powerful for everyday use, and can muddy music by being overbearing. 

Astro Gaming A50

Astro Gaming A50

6. Astro Gaming A50

An alternative from a wireless mainstay

Drivers: 40mm neodymium | Battery life: Up to 15 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: Charging base station, virtual surround, detachable mic

High class looks
Flawless construction
Battery issues
Annoying short cables

Another candidate that missed out by a whisker for our ‘best overall’ pick. Flawless in-game sound and bomb-proof build quality are the headline acts here, as you’d expect of a model bearing the Astro name. The A50 might be geared up for consoles as much as PC, but there’s no real drawback to that when you do get it setup with the latter. As with several other of our picks, the A50 comprises a headset and USB base station which acts as a set of controls as well as a wireless receiver/transmitter. Few do it with quite this much style, though.

The chink in its armor is in the battery charge, however. There have been issues with battery draining while the headset’s off, and with some users unable to properly charge in the first place. It’s hard to gauge how widespread these issues are, but they do tarnish an otherwise exemplary package.

How we test wireless headsets and competitors

Many of the qualities you’re looking for from a wireless headset are the same you’d hope to find in any audio equipment—tone, build quality, and reliability leading the charge. As such we listen to each review model while playing different genres of game, listening to music, and watching movies with bombastic sound effects and surround mixes—think less Werner Herzog, more Chris Nolan. We also run a simple sine wave ‘swoop’ across the stated frequency response range (almost always the full 20Hz-20KHz these days), and in the case of surround headsets we’ll listen to positional audio tests like DTS Headphone-X test. There’s also our old favorite, the Virtual Barber Shop. YouTube’s compression does limit the overall sound quality, but it’s still a great way of separating the wheat from the chaff in surround sound earphones.

There are a few wireless-specific elements we need to test for, too: battery life, charge time, range and latency. The former is pretty self-explanatory, though in addition to an ‘everyday use’ battery life test we also run the headset at full volume to discover how quickly the charge drains under those conditions. To ascertain charge time, we… well, we charge the headsets and note how long it takes.

Range and latency are trickier to test in a scientific manner. However, having a good old walk around the house gives a good indication of range, and latency ultimately comes down to perception. With all that taken into account after several days of use, we’re in a good place to make the call on a headset.

Most of the big players in USB/3.5mm gaming headsets have a wireless option, but usually just one. As such the current market competitors list is a bit slim. The range expands when you look as far as console-specific wireless cans, but in the interest of ensuring full compatibility we’ve stuck to officially supported PC models. 

The wireless end of PC gaming audio gear offers less choice than that of wired peripherals, but it’s still a big marketplace—and it’s populated by models with incremental improvements and price hikes from the same manufacturers. We haven’t tested every single model available, but done our best to seek out the cream of the crop. And from that cream, we’ve cherry-picked a) the absolute best options available right now, and b) a really odd, food-themed mixing of metaphors.

It’s also a marketplace that moves fast—so we’ll be keeping our eye on it and updating it as promising new models are released.

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