When you’re building or upgrading your rig, make sure you leave room in the budget for the best computer speakers. Just like the best gaming headsets, good speakers can transform your gaming experience into something much more immersive. Surround sound, greater clarity, and deeper lows are some of the benefits you could be taking advantage of with the perfect audio setup. We’ve listed our favorites below, and PC Gamer’s team of experts have tested each one to make sure they’re up to scratch. You’ll find bargain prices on our recommendations, too.
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But what should you be looking for when hunting down the best computer speakers? Firstly, you need to decide whether you want a soundbar or the traditional combo of bass-blasting subwoofer to go with left and right speakers (known as ‘satellites’). Both have distinct benefits; soundbars take up less space, while multi-speaker setups often provide superior depth of sound and positional audio. That’s pretty important in multiplayer when you need to know where shots are coming from, and fast. We’ve rustled up the best deals on each kind of setup here, complete with budget and high-end options to suit your needs.
Want to take your viewing experience to the next level too? Check out our guide to the best gaming monitors.
1. Logitech G560
The best RGB gaming speakers
Weight: 1.79kg (satellites) 5.5kg (sub) | Size: 5.8 x 6.5 x 4.6 in (satellites) 15.9 x 10 x 8.1 in (sub) | Drivers: 6.5-in subwoofer, 2-in tweeters | Supported Connectivity: USB, 3.5mm, Bluetooth
When it comes to RGB lighting you either hate it or love it. The PC Gamer office may be divided on this topic but there's one thing we can agree on: Logitech's G560 Lightsync feature is anything but gimmicky. If there's one RGB product we'd recommend that might actually impact your PC gaming experience, it's this one.
Logitech's software allows you to choose between two control modes for the speakers. Hardware control ditches the software and uses Bluetooth or AUX input devices for lighting. You get a nice rainbow color cycle that also acts as an audio visualizer that flashes and brightens to the beat of music being played. Switching over to software control allows you to choose between fixed color, color cycle, breathing, audio visualizer and screen sampler lighting modes.
Screen sampler is where the G560 really shines. Much like ambient backlighting products, the software takes user-defined areas of the screen and extends the colors outwards to create a very immersive lighting experience. Since a good portion of this effect relies on the rear facing LEDs, the speakers need to be positioned right beside your display with their back against a wall to get the best effect.
While the lighting was a huge factor in the immersion aspect, the precision of the positional audio really impressed us too. We don't normally like the virtual surround of 7.1 digital gaming headsets but were pleasantly surprised with how well DTS:X worked with the G560, especially while trying to pinpoint where we were being shot at in Fortnite. It's the perfect compromise if you want surround sound without the hassle of a 5.1 or 7.1 set. Even at $200 we think Logitech's G560 is a fantastic deal.
2. Creative A250
The best budget computer speakers
Weight: 258g (9.1oz) (left satellite) 361g (12.7oz) (right satellite) 1.56kg (3.44lbs) (sub) | Size: 2.83 x 5.79 x 3.11 in (satellites) 7.20 x 8.86 x 7.48 in (sub) | Supported Connectivity: 3.5mm
When you’re out shopping for cheap PC speakers below $50, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices out there. It also doesn’t help much when reliable brands have multiple options in the same price range. The differences between the multiple low-end speakers we tested were minimal, but the Creative A250 2.1 Speakers stood apart from the competition with big sound despite their compact size.
With a total power output of 9 watts, we were blown away to see the speakers pumping out crisper audio than some of their competitors using two to three times the amount of power. While they won’t produce the highest volume of sound, we found little distortion with the volume cranked all the way up. Despite being smaller and lower powered than a few of the other options we tried, such as the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602 or the Logitech Z313, the A250 subwoofer actually provided clearer lows. The only complaint here is a lack of bass control to complement the convenient volume knob located on the right speaker.
Wherever the A250 speakers lacked in volume, they made up for in clarity. This is why we highly recommend these speakers for students on the go. Pictured above with my 13” ultrabook, the speakers are small enough to fit on any cramped desk surface. They’re easily the most portable 2.1 system we tried and perform best in a smaller bedroom or dorm.
Like any other pair of speakers below $50, the Creative A250 2.1 Speakers are easily beat when compared to a mid-range set. If you’re willing to spend a bit more for a quality speaker system, the results when gaming can be very rewarding. But for gamers on a budget, we found these speakers to be the clear winner.
3. Klipsch R-15PM
The best high end computer speakers
Weight: 10.3 lbs (4.67kg) | Size: 12.5 x 7 x 8.11 in | Drivers: 5.25-in subwoofer, 1-in tweeters | Supported Connectivity: USB, Optical, 3.5mm, Bluetooth
Most users couldn’t imagine spending upwards of $500 on a PC speaker system, but audiophiles crave the high-end like any PC gamer lusts for the best graphics cards. High-end desktop speaker systems are typically composed of powered monitors and a separate subwoofer. And while many of them offer exceptional sound clarity, we found them lacking in consumer-friendly features PC gamers would benefit from. That is until we tested the Klipsch R-15PM powered monitors.
With up to five input options including Bluetooth, USB, 3.5mm AUX, digital optical, and analog RCA / phono, the R-15PM is the most versatile set of speakers we’ve tested. A small remote allows you to plug in multiple sources at once and switch them on the fly. The built-in amplifier eliminates the need for an external DAC to help keep your desk clean and allows you to forgo the a/v receiver when used in the living room.
On their own, the speakers already delivered consistent robust sound in all ranges. But once we added the Klipsch R-10SW subwoofer into the equation, the R-15PM monitors quickly entered a class of their own. While passive speakers have to be paired with an external amplifier engineered to work with a multitude of speakers, the internal amp inside the R-15PM was fine-tuned for one specific model. And the optimization shows as the system produced unmatched accuracy in all of our tests.
They aren’t the cheapest high-end speakers by far, especially when you consider the cost of adding a subwoofer. But once we consider their simplicity and consumer friendly features, the R-15PM monitors are our top choice for high-end PC speakers.
4. Harmon Kardon SoundSticks Wireless
The best designed computer speakers
Weight: 1.5 lb (0.7kg) satellites 4.9 lb (2.2kg) sub | Size: 2 x 10 in (satellites) 9.19 x 10.19 in (sub) | Drivers: 6-in subwoofer, 1-in tweeters | Supported Connectivity: 3.5mm, Bluetooth
When building a gaming PC or upgrading a battle station, speakers typically aren’t very high on the priority list. But jumping from the integrated set of speakers on your monitor to a $200 pair of external speakers can actually give you a sound quality boost similar to the performance increase you’d see when switching from integrated to discrete graphics. When moving on with our tests from our low budget speakers to the Harman Kardon SoundSticks, the difference was night and day.
Priced at $169.95 for the standard SoundSticks III and $229.95 for the SoundSticks Wireless with Bluetooth connectivity, the price tag on our top choice for mid-range speakers can be a tough pill to swallow. But when you consider their one-of-a-kind design and equally satisfying performance, these speakers are a worthwhile investment and great addition to any battle station. Among our speaker tests within the same range, the SoundSticks excelled in audio clarity with little distortion even when cranked to uncomfortably high volumes.
Unlike most Bluetooth speakers, the SoundSticks enter and stay in pairing mode as soon as they’re turned on. This made it easy for us to switch between audio sources at any time without having to touch the speakers. We also noticed little loss in sound quality up to the 30ft recommended range. Unfortunately for those that are using the speakers in an apartment complex or dorm, nearby strangers can connect to them at any time. This can lead to some awkward moments if you aren't already using the bluetooth connection yourself.
With their beautiful looks and satisfying sound, the SoundSticks were an easy favorite for PC gaming. But for big budget audio purists looking for the best of the best, the performance and expandability of powered bookshelf speakers or studio monitors are tough to beat.
5. Razer Leviathan Sound Bar
The best sound bar computer speakers
Weight: 4.4lbs / 2kg (soundbar) 5.1lbs / 2.35kg (sub) | Size: 19.7 x 3 x 2.8 in | Drivers: 5.25-in subwoofer, .74-in tweeters, 2.5-in full range | Supported Connectivity: Optical, 3.5mm, Bluetooth, NFC
One of the great things about gaming headsets is that they take up very little space. Unfortunately, if you're looking for a great set of speakers, chances are you'll have to sacrifice some of that real estate at your battlestation. Luckily, Razer has a solution for the modern PC gaming minimalist: the Leviathan soundbar.
The Razer Leviathan is designed to be placed directly underneath your monitor and features both wired and wireless input options to help reduce clutter. We especially appreciated the notch in the middle which allows you to cleanly run your keyboard and mouse cord underneath.
While it certainly won't match an actual 5.1 surround sound system, the Dolby 5.1 virtual surround sound built into the Leviathan performed exceptionally well in our tests. We found it quite easy to pinpoint gunfire and footsteps using the soundbar. Considering its compact nature, the Leviathan sounds fantastic.
Priced around $200, Razer's soundbar directly competes with several other options on this list. It may not match the sound quality and feature set of the Logitech G560, but the Leviathan remains a smart choice for PC gamers who want a simple single speaker setup.
6. Creative Stage 2.1
The best mid-range speakers
Weight: 1.2 kg / 2.64 lb (soundbar) 3.07 kg / 6.8 lb (sub) | Size: 115 x 250 x 420 mm (sub), 550 x 78 x 70 mm (soundbar) | Supported Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB, Bluetooth 2.1, Optical
A new entry to this list, Creative's latest subwoofer and soundbar combo is a competent mid-range sound system, with a pleasing number of connections. There's a 3.5mm, Bluetooth 2.1, Optical, and USB option, so it not only fits with most PC builds and laptops, but can be handy for other devices around the home. In terms of bass it rumbles away well, and if you're looking to crank out games at a decent volume this speaker system performs well via dual 20W speakers in the soundbar, and a 40W subwoofer.
The problem is that the speakers don't perform well with quiet sounds, and the frequency response is only average, at 55Hz-20,000Hz so you do lose a bit of subtlety in incidental game noises, which are the bread and butter of decent gaming headsets. There are a couple of other tiny issues, like a short power cable and a slightly flimsy remote, but overall the lower price makes up for this speaker set's shortcomings. At $80, it's well worth a look.
How we test speakers
Since our guide is called the best speakers for PC gaming, we kept the testing process simple and focused on gaming. We tested each set of speakers in-game for several hours through a wide range of games with rich soundtracks and sounds including Skyrim, Dark Souls 3, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and Furi. Afterwards, we ran listening tests which included snippets from the film Jurassic World and a variety of albums in lossless FLAC format such as Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Psychic from Darkside.
With gaming in mind, one of the most important features to test for was left/right balance. To test this in game we used the CS: GO Audio Test Chamber workshop project by geri43. It’s a simple map that allows you to reproduce all sorts of in-game sounds including ladder movements, sniper scopes, gunfire, footsteps and more. Moving around the map or behind a wall allowed us to manipulate the location of the sounds and test how easily we could identify their direction with the speakers.
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