Even a few short years ago, venturing out to find one of the best wireless gaming headsets would have been considered a bit ambitious and likely to end with disappointment. Finding a set of wireless cans that were quality, reliable, and comfortable would have been quite hard given some early technical teething problems, a lack of genuine options, and the unreliable nature of wireless options—not to mention latency. But thank goodness those times are long gone and such problems are far fewer and less between as the qualms we once had with wireless gaming headsets, like dropout and battery life brevity, are almost absolutely absent in 2019. Some of the best headphones for gaming may offer a slight edge on sheer audio quality due to their music and studio focus; you may well one such example here. But if you're on the hunt for a truly great gaming headset and want to go wireless, this is the place to be.
The best 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
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.
Read our full review: SteelSeries Arctis 7
A brilliant wireless gaming headset with haptic feedback
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
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.
Read our full review: Razer Nari Ultimate
3. SteelSeries Arctis 9X
The best multi-platform wireless gaming headset
Drivers: 40mm | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-22,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: SteelEngine 3 compatibility, ClearCast retractable bidirectional mic, 20-hour battery life, Windows Sonic support
It's not every day you find a wireless headset that can work across multiple platforms. Touting support for Bluetooth, 3.5mm wired and Microsoft's proprietary Xbox Wireless protocol, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is an exception. Equipped with the same 40mm neodymium speakers and nylon ear cushions as the other, more PC focused headsets in the SteelSeries Arctis catalog, you can trust that the sound and comfort quality adhere to a higher standard than most. As for longevity, its creator promises a 20-hour battery life for the 9X. Mindblowingly, it meets that claim, too.
Granted, if you're on PC, odds are you'll find yourself shelling out for an Xbox Wireless Adapter, assuming you haven't already done so in order to pair a controller. That is, unless your PC has native Bluetooth support. You can always add a Bluetooth card to an empty PCIe slot for the optimal solution. Other than that, the only downside to buying the Arctis 9X, as opposed to one of SteelSeries' other wireless headsets is that it looks like it's made for Xbox, despite being platform agnostic in reality. Well, that and the mic is retractable rather than detachable. So while you can use it in public as a regular pair of headphones, you probably shouldn't. Still, it's a remarkable headset otherwise.
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
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.
Read the full review: Corsair HS70 SE
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
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.
Read the full review: SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC
6. Turtle Beach Stealth 450
A budget option with a big battery
Drivers: 50mm | Battery life: Up to 15 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: Mic monitoring, 7.1 virtual surround sound, audible voice prompts, mobile devices cable
$90 buys you a lot of headset in this surprisingly luxurious wireless headset from Turtle Beach. Build quality’s always pretty solid, and the combination of gloss and matt surfaces makes for a smart look here - until those greasy fingers get involved, at least. A wide headband design keeps the weight from digging in at the top of your head, and the mic - although non-retractable - stays where you place it, which is a boon not to be taken for granted when it comes to gaming headsets.
We’re impressed by the solid 15-hour battery life too, but the real star of the show is the 7.1 surround sound via DTS Headphone:X. It’s not unusual to see this on the spec sheet of a wireless set, but implementation does vary and the sense of space from these cans is really impressive. No - not just impressive. Important. If you play a lot of battle royales or online shooters in which sound cues are vital, this is a competitive offering for the price.
7. 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
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.
8. 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
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.
9. Bose QuietComfort 35 2
A brilliant non-gaming option
Drivers: unknown | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Frequency response: 10Hz-20,000Hz | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Features: noise-cancelling, carry case, Google Assistant and Siri compatibility
Well, why not? Increasingly, gaming headsets are used across all platforms including smartphones, so it only makes sense to consider a pair of headphones intended for multi-device usage for your gaming setup. It’s a particularly seductive idea because Bose does comfort better than, arguably of course, anyone else. It’s in the title, after all. The memory foam padding around each earcup here, along with a lightweight design and ultra-soft leatherette pads, make the QuietComfort 35 2s comfortable for mammoth sessions.
Sound quality is wonderful too, although as you’d expect it’s not a particularly flat frequency response. These headphones are designed to sound good, rather than as the sound actually is, and while that’s brilliant for listening to some music and watching films, there are certain games where all the low-end and the scooped mids become noticeable.
You can use the built-in mic on PC using Bluetooth HFP (hands-free protocol), but it’s a fiddlier solution than true gaming headsets offer, and making adjustments to chat/game mix is a real hassle by comparison so we’d advocate using a separate mic like the evergreen Blue Yeti if you do go down this route. The rewards, should you choose to do so, are fantastic comfort and sound, industry-leading noise-cancelling whenever you want it, and an all-in one solution across your devices.
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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