One of the most common questions we get asked on our Facebook and Twitter pages is what are the best gaming headsets (or what are the best headphones for gaming). Well, you are in luck because as ashamed as I am to say it, in my mid 30’s, I game a lot. I have done so for the past 30 years.
Now, of course, PC gaming has seen an exponential rise over the past few years thanks to the popularity of twitch and professional E-sports. Thanks to increased internet speeds, things are a lot less casual now that people are competing on a global stage. The sound of gaming headphones is no longer just about immersion; it also significantly improves performance.
Your headset is a crucial piece in the puzzle that could be crucial to you blowing ballknocker74’s brains all over a wall or viewing your own avatar’s corpse lying in a pool of digital sweat and blood.
So when we were searching for the best gaming headset for 2021, we went to town. We sought out recommendations from pro and amateur gamers and chose to test out some of the more prominent name brands. The results were quite surprising in that the performance you can get for very little money comes amazingly close to those of the more expensive offerings.
What Headphones Do Famous Gamers Use?
RGB lights don’t make a good gaming Headset
There are a lot of factors that come together to make a good gaming headset, and I am going to tell you right from the get-go that style and RGB lighting are not one of them. Let’s face it, you are not wearing your headphones out of the house, and for that reason alone, there is absolutely no point in choosing a gaming headset based on how they look.
Get that into your head right now, as hard as it might be to understand. All the fancy RGB lighting and crappy graphics won’t make you play better. Oh, and you can be damn sure no girl will ever mention how excellent your gaming headset is. Look for sound performance as a key deciding factor as well as comfort.
Build Quality Does Matter on Gaming Headphones
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty careless with my gaming gear. When I get something new and shiny, I treat it well for the first couple of weeks, and after that, I’m not surprised if I have left my headset lying on the floor or even raged and thrown it off a wall. Oh, and let’s not pretend any of you haven’t stood up without taking your headset off and proceeded to drag your entire PC to the bathroom with you.
Chances are, over time, your headset will get beat up, so it’s a good idea to have something that is well made and up to the abuse. Key areas in our testing for durability were the headband sliders, earcup swivel points, and cable. However, we also gave extra points to headphones with durable pads and finishes. Higher quality plastics and the use of metals in critical areas of the headphones were also greatly received.
Comfort Is Important When PC gaming
Realistically, we are talking about multiple hours of gaming in single sessions, so we don’t want to spend that time with an uncomfortable headset on our heads. We want to focus on two things when it comes to comfort. The gaming headset must have comfortable cushioning on both the earpads and headband. We also need to pay attention to the amount of clamping force exerted in a lateral direction.
When testing these headphones, we have found that full over-the-ear (circumaural) headphones worked better than the more compact on-ear variety, and as such, we only included such designs in this list.
Clamping force is down to personal preference but just be aware that if you are using headphones with intense clamping action, they are great if you move around. Still, pressure points can become irritated after multiple hours of usage.
Audiophile headphones can be used for gaming with in-game chat through the use of additional microphones!
In our list below of the best gaming headsets, you will notice that some options do not have an inbuilt microphone.
This doesn’t mean that they cannot be used for in-game chat. It just means that you have to use them with an add-on gaming microphone. The good thing is that these expand your options to some genuinely exceptional sounding headphones. That works well for both your gaming fix as well as music listening. You don’t even have to spend a fortune as most of these add-on microphones are very reasonably priced. We have listed two of our favorites below.
Sound is extremely important when choosing PC Gaming Headsets – Key to positioning and ambiance
The sound matters more than anything. There are three things that we found to be important regarding sound and the best headphones for gaming.
- Immersive audio – If you are not looking for a competitive gaming headset and are just trying to immerse yourself in the experience then headphones with enhanced low-end frequencies tend to work best.
- Clarity and Sensitivity – Low background interference and low hiss were important but the overall feeling of sound being accurate and identifiable (footsteps, cans, pills etc) being audible from a distance could give you the edge over your opponents.
- Space and positioning – Being able to identify the direction of sounds was key in certain games like PUBG and other FPS platforms. Knowing not only which direction your enemy is coming from but how far away they are can be key to improving.
The best headphones for gaming in 2021 – Top 10
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro – The Gaming Headphones Ninja Use
Im sure you are shocked to see an audiophile headphone top of the list of the best gaming headsets. But I have been using them for the past year and can’t give them up. When used in combination with an external microphone, they rival any of these headsets for sound quality.
They also tick all the other boxes and criteria we set. They are well made with materials designed for studio music production and monitoring. They are super comfortable with velour pads that help prevent sweaty ears.
The biggest testament to how good they are is in the number of top pro and amateur gamers using them. For example, Ninja has used these headphones as a gaming headset for a long time, even though he could easily make millions of dollars endorsing a custom headset of his own.
Logitech G Pro X Wireless – What Headset does Shroud Use?
Yes, the G Pro X Wireless by Logitech is the headset of choice of Shroud, and he even has a signature edition with his logo on the side. However, that’s not why they make the list of best headsets this year. It’s because they are the most comfortable, best-sounding wireless gaming headset I have ever tested.
Considered a Pro wireless headset, they are packed full of crispy technology to improve your gaming experience. Lightspeed wireless tech keeps lag speed way down, and the significant 50mm drivers sounded fantastic clear and spacious. They also deliver superb bass and create a great atmosphere with the 7.1 surround sound switched on.
They look good for a dedicated gaming headset and are comfortable to wear for hours on end.
Roccat Stealth 700 Dr Disrespect Headset
Suppose you demand violence, speed and momentum while gaming. There is only one choice. Use the same headphones as Dr. Disrespect. The Roccat 700 is an iconic set that has graced the head of the two times for the past few years.
It’s not just style over substance either because they are a seriously good wireless headset that costs 25% less than the G Pro X headset listed above.
Features we loved were the stability of the Bluetooth system which never dropped out in our testing. I loved the cool gel pads which helped stop my ears from sweating mid-game. Most of all it was noted by all the testers that the sound quality from the microphone was fantastic.
Razer Barracuda X – Best Budget Gaming Headset
The Razer Barracuda X is this year’s best budget gaming headset. It’s proof that you don’t need to break the bank to get all the features of the more expensive models. Razer needs no introduction. Masters of the gaming peripherals know how to make gear for gamers.
The Barracuda X is another wireless model that operates over 2.4ghz displaying low lag and great range. The inbuilt microphone was far better than we had expected and the build quality is good sacrificing only a bit of metal over the above models in this list.
You have solid battery life and weigh just 250g making them one of the lightest gaming headsets on the list. If that wasn’t enough just know that Razer even had time to fit inbuilt controls to this headset so you can control video and music playback as well as the volume.
Arctis Pro Wireless – Advanced Hi-Res Gaming Headset
The Arctis Pro Wireless is bonkers. Damn, I wish I could have kept them after this review because I’m not sure I’m a good enough gamer to justify the price tag. However, if you have deep pockets and want the best headset possible this makes a hell of a case for the crown.
The materials are as premium as it gets. Lost metal and leather accents make them look good but they feel even better in hand. No creaks no cheap plastic they are pure class. They aren’t just wireless but instead dual wireless giving you options to connect to your PC, Playstation 5, or Xbox via wifi or Bluetooth. In Wifi, they produce lag-free lossless audio that is a first in the category.
The base station has an LED to show status and levels and I love that they have a large and easy-to-find volume dial. The earphones themselves don’t need to be charged, they actually have an interchangeable battery that you can remove and charge that means if you have a few batteries in rotation you should have zero downtime.
The best PC gaming headset in the world if you can afford them.
Sennheiser HD800s – Audiophile Headphones
If you want to use headphones as a gaming headset you will never find them better than the Sennheiser HD800s. This legendary audiophile headphone is one of the most loved and highly detailed headphones of all time.
The design is futuristic and super cool. They are open back with velour pads so your ears keep fresh and clean. When set upright with a good amplifier the sound is immense. You have never heard detail as you hear with the 800’s but that’s not the only thing that will make them appeal to gamers.
The imaging and soundstage are the stars of the show here. The headphone delivers a massive lifelike realism to the spacing and setting of the sound. Then the imaging lets you clearly position your opponents.
The other advantage of this as an option is that if you buy them you will have one of the best sounding headphones on the planet for listening to music in high definition.
So we go back to wireless headsets with the Razer Man-O-War which is a mid-top tier priced headphone. I will be honest they weren’t my favorite on the test but some of our other reviewers did quite like them.
My biggest gripe with them was the sheer size of them. They are bulky and awkward on the head and not very easy to move about with despite the lack of wires.
On that subject there is also no way to use the Man-O-War wired like you can with other wireless headsets… that’s weird and annoying. They are comfortable though with generous padding and the build is also very good despite the heft. S
surround sound was on point and one of the best we have heard in a wireless form and the mic is damn near perfect in both position and sound.
Steelseries Arctis 7
This is a mid-priced headset from the Steelseries Arctis lineup but it offers a lot of the same design on its big brothers for a fraction of the price.
It doesn’t do too much fancy but it does get the basics down and get them down well. The best marks go to the sound, style, build, and microphone performance.
We did however find them hard to drive if not used with our gaming rig so if you are just using them to commute or game on your phone it would be best to have some sort of external amplification.
Razer Blackshark V2
The Blackshark is a very very very cheap gaming headset so forgive us if we went into the review expecting it to be bad. It wasn’t.
We were in for a shock because you know what for the price this is impossible to beat and if you don’t want any of the fancy features from the headsets above and just want a good quality inexpensive headset to get some gaming done then this is a very good buy.
Mic and sound performance were solid and you get headset controls and a detachable mic. Hell, there is no RGB lighting, thank god just tasteful green and black combo with the cables. Nothing fancy but it definitely can get the job done and let you spend money elsewhere.
Hyper X Cloud Stinger
It’s pretty hard to have a list of the best gaming headsets without including the Cloud Stinger. They are every man’s headset with a good build, acceptable comfort, and decent sound.
They are a good-looking headset and a good competitor to the Razer Headset listed above.
The fact that the price is still very appealing we can see why this is one of the most popular gaming headsets on the market in 2018.