You may think of gaming headsets as the sort of purchase limited to the hardcorest of the hardcore gamers, but there are actually plenty of people who could benefit from a decent set.
Whether you want to play online and trash talk your competition, get great audio from your Switch while you play on the go, or just plug in to save your family or partner from listening to the sounds of gunfire while you game, a decent gaming headset is worth the investment - though it doesn't have to cost a fortune.
Still, it's not always a straightforward decision, and you'll have to bear a few factors in mind. First, there's the console you want to use it for. The Switch and 3DS only support wired headphones, so that rules out Bluetooth if your main aim is playing on a Nintendo console.
The PS4 will work with either, and the Xbox One depends entirely on which controller model you have - the most recent support Bluetooth, older models are wired-only, and the oldest even require an adapter. If you're a PC gamer, your PC may or may not have Bluetooth support - though you can always grab a Wi-Fi headset, or pick up a Bluetooth dongle for your computer.
Wired sets also tend to boast better response times and audio quality, and you also need to think about whether you want an in-line or boom microphone, whether you need them to be lightweight and portable or not, and how much muting and audio mixing functionality you need built in.
That's not even getting into aesthetics - while gaming headsets have traditionally been pretty garish, more and more companies are designing understated sets that you'd be equally happy to take on the go as your default audio gear - though check out our guide to the best headphones if you want to keep your gaming and music separate.
In our reviews below, we break each headset down by audio quality, features, design, and price, to offer buying advice no matter your budget or requirements. Before you buy, make sure to check out our best headphone deals to grab the cheapest price.
Best gaming headsets of 2018
Astro A50 wireless
Astro’s A50 may look fairly pricey with a price of £250, but with the impressive design, quality of the audio and comfortable fit, we’re not too shocked.
The Astro A50 is wireless, featuring a 5GHz transmitter that provides low-latency audio playback with no compromise on sound quality, with an average battery life of around 15 hours. The headset features 7.1 Dolby surround sound so you’re always aware of your immediate surroundings, and can give you the edge in gameplay. The headphones pick up every last detail, from fragments of glass smashing to the sand crunching underneath footsteps, making them great for use in VR too.
The headphones also feature MixAmp technology, and when combined with Astro Command Center for PC and Mac, allows users to tweak audio settings for different games and scenarios. While previous iterations of the Astro A-line have featured physical mixers, the A50 has a switch on the rear of the cup that allows you to switch between three presets on-the-fly.
While some headphone manufacturers allow limited customisation, Astro has gone one step further and allows you to swap out various components of the headset, from the earcups to the headband – although not the microphone, like the A40TR. Users interested in customising the headset can buy additional accessories from the Astro website, allowing users to personalise the function of the headset depending on what they want. You can swap out the default ear cushions for noise-cancelling leather cushions, for example.
We can also vouch for the headphones in terms of comfort, as we used them for extended periods of time (up to 5/6 hours on some occasions) and didn’t feel at all uncomfortable or sweaty, a prevalent issue for gamers. This is due to the soft material used in the earcups and headband that feels extremely soft to the touch. The only issue is that the headset isn’t universal – you have to buy one version for PS4/PS3/PC/Mac and another for Xbox One/PC/Mac, and these can’t be swapped out after purchase.
SteelSeries Siberia 840
The SteelSeries Siberia 840 is the upgrade to the Siberia 800 and is a strong contender to be one of the best wireless headsets we've come across. This comes from its sound quality, recording ability, comfort, intuitive battery system and multi-platform compatibility. The only down side? It's an expensive headset to purchase.
The Siberia 800 comes with a small transmitter box, various cables for connecting to PC, Mac, Xbox One and PS4, and an additional battery so that you don't run out of juice mid-game. As long as you put one battery on charge inside the transmitter while the other one is in use, the battery life is (in theory) infinite – the only down time is the 30-45 seconds it takes to swap the batteries. For the non-believers, each battery will get around 20 hours per charge – equally impressive.
That’s not all the transmitter can do either, as you can access various settings, from enabling Dolby audio to mixing game and audio chat to adding new sources, directly from the transmitter – no PC or Mac software required.
One change from the Siberia 800? The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity, meaning that along with your computers and consoles, the Siberia 840 can connect to your smartphone. This opens up opportunities like taking calls and streaming music while gaming, or chatting via VoIP clients on your smartphone.
The Siberia 840 also boasts SteelSeries Engine 3 support, allowing for advanced customisation of audio playback for the audio pros out there.
The headset is comfortable to wear thanks to memory foam earcups and with its retractable microphone, makes it ideal for all types of scenarios, from watching movies to live-streaming gameplay to thousands of fans on Twitch. Its biggest feature is its multi-platform ability, where you can use it on both your desktop and games console.
The headset's sound quality is also very impressive, with audiophile reproduction through all its frequencies. The lows are extended into the sub-bass regions, the mid-bass has a controlled and healthy slam and the mids, despite being slightly recessed are accurate. The highs provide a great sparkle at the top end and the soundstage makes you feel as if the headset is an open back headphone.
Finally, the recording capabilities are very good, with its mic not picking up background sound and focusing on your voice.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro is yet another headset targeting the competitive crowd, but whether you're taking part in tournaments or just whiling away the night gaming at home, it's one of the best audio options we've come across.
For starters, it's really, really comfortable. That's in large part down to the 'Aerofit' cushions, which are a combination of spandex fabric and gel-infused foam. There are also leather sidewalls, which not only help keep other noise out, but also let you enjoy the aesthetic of leather earpads without descending into a hot, sweaty mess after eight hours of League of Legends.
Beneath those cushions, the Elite Pro is packing 50mm speakers that offer crisp, clear audio (a must for online play), with some really impressive bass response - we couldn't really ask for much more. The microphone is removable, and offers great audio quality and never seemed to pick up too much background noise during our testing.
If you're willing to spend a little (well, a lot) extra, the Elite Pro really comes into its own when paired with Turtle Beach's Tactical Audio Controller. This is essentially a mini mixer for your headset, allowing you to adjust volume, game/chat audio balance, mic monitoring levels, and more.
It acts as an external USB sound card for your PC, offering 7.1 Surround Sound in case your rig doesn't already have a sound card, and you can even daisy-chain a few of the TACs together using ethernet cables for lag-free chat, making it a solid choice for any aspiring eSports teams.
The TAC is also a great investment if you play on console, allowing you to pull high quality audio from an optical out, and get the sort of full suite of audio controls that the consoles themselves just don't offer.
The only real downsides to the Elite Pro are the fact that it's wired only - great for performance, not so much for convenience - and the aesthetic: chunky, functional, and orange. Still, those are relatively minor niggles in a headset that's pretty much top tier when it comes to quality and comfort.
Razer Man O'War Wireless
At just over half the price of the Astro A50, how does Razer’s wireless Man O’War gaming headset compare? While the Man O’War features 2.4GHz technology rather than 5GHz for wireless transmission, the 2.4GHz band provides a more reliable signal without compromising on response time.
It also features 7.1 virtual surround sound via the Razer Surround engine and 50mm Neodymium magnet drivers that provide impressive audio playback, which can be further tweaked via the Razer Synapse app for PC and Mac. The first time you plug in the headphones, you’ll be taken through a virtual 7.1 surround sound setup that’ll tweak the audio output of the headphones based on your personal taste.
It doesn’t feature a base station like other wireless headsets, so how does it connect to your PC? It’s rather intuitive, actually. The USB receiver is built directly into the headset, and can be ejected with a push and be inserted into any PC, Mac or PS4 with plug’n’play support. Although it can only be charged via a USB cable, the battery life is fairly impressive – it lasts around 14 hours per charge, or around seven days with an average of two hours of playback per day.
In terms of look, the Man O’War looks like your standard wireless gaming headset with huge, soft earcups for use over periods of extended use. There is one unique feature though – not one but two volume dials, one on each ear.
This is because the headphones feature two inputs; voice and game. If set up correctly, you can mix game audio and chat audio on the fly, adjusting the volume level on the left for chat, and right for game. It also features a retractable microphone with a unidirectional boom that allows it to be positioned however you desire, along with an algorithm that provides clearer voice reproduction.
There’s also a mute LED indicator on the end of the microphone so you don’t accidentally say something you shouldn’t while live streaming or Skyping!
Oh, and in typical Razer fashion, there’s Chroma support allowing gamers to change the colour of the Razer logo on the headset or sync it up with other Chroma-supported peripherals.
Essentially, the Razer Man O’War is an impressive and rather intuitive wireless gaming headset that could easily take on gaming headsets double the price.
While many gaming headsets in our roundup 'look' like gaming headsets, the Logitech G433 headset is designed to be not only your headset when gaming but also when you're out and about. The design is simple yet effective, utilising a blend of plastic and fabric for a rather unique look. It's available in four colours too (Blue, Black, Red and Blue Camo) so you can find the one that fits your style.
Like many other 2017 gaming headsets, the G433 is modular. This means that you can switch out not only the earcups but also the cable and microphone. Essentially, when you're at home on a PC you can use the boom microphone and you can remove it when you're out and about listening to music on your smartphone. The cable can also be switched out from a long braided cable to a shorter cable with an inline media controls and microphone.
The sports-mesh ear pads are breathable and comfortable over periods of extended use, but can be swapped out for softer microfiber ear pads for those that prefer a more luxurious feel.
In terms of audio, the Logitech G344 comes with a USB-powered DAC that provides virtual 7.1 surround sound when gaming on a PC. It also features 'Pro-G drivers' that Logitech claim provides rich, booming bass, clear highs and precise treble with low levels of distortion.
In use, the Logitech G433 headset provides high quality audio for both gaming and music on-the-go. It's also one of the comfiest headsets we've worn over a long period of time thanks to the lightweight design (259g) and the large ear cups that don't sit on your ears.
It's also compatible with just about every multimedia device, from PC to PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, smartphones and tablets, although Xbox One users may need to invest in an additional dongle.
SteelSeries Arctis 3
SteelSeries is offering 7.1 surround sound on a budget with the Arctis 3, although all not as it seems. Priced at £89.99, the headset provides virtual 7.1 surround sound via the SteelSeries Engine 3 app available for PC and Mac. While this is great for PC gamers, those hoping to experience 7.1 surround sound on Xbox One/PS4/VR are limited to stereo capabilities.
However, the virtual 7.1 it provides for PC users is impressive, especially for the price. The quality of audio provided is superb, and we found it delivered a fairly balanced soundscape. This is also reflected in the bidirectional microphone, which provides decent background noise cancellation.
The headset features AirWeave Air Cushions that's inspired by athletic clothing, and helps to keep your ears cool, dry and comfortable over periods of long use. We found the headset to be extremely lightweight and comfortable thanks to the customisable Ski Goggle band distributing weight evenly.
In fact, we'd go as far as to say that it's one of the most comfortable headsets we've ever used. Despite not featuring noise cancelling capabilities, we found that the cushions have the unexpected bonus of aiding noise cancellation.
The most impressive feature of the Arctis 3 headset, though? It can be used as a standard pair of headphones, thanks to the interchangeable jack provided. Simply detach the PC jack and attach a standard 3.5mm jack to be used with smartphones and tablets on the go. Not bad for an £89.99 headset.
If you don't mind spending a bit more, we can also recommend the upgrade to the £159.99 Arctis 7 - this is essentially the exact same headset, but it boasts a ChatMix dial to quickly adjust the relative volumes of your game and chat audio, and offers lag-free wireless connection.
We found no noticeable drop in audio quality over wireless, and it worked at a solid range with no lag or interference - so if you're fed up of wires, it could be well worth the upgrade.
Enhance Scoria vibration headset
While the Enhance Scoria may not be as expensive as other headsets in our roundup, it doesn’t mean that it can’t bring something new and interesting to the table. You see, along with offering virtual 7.1 surround sound support, the headset features a vibration engine that allows you to feel the gunfire and explosions in the games that you’re playing.
As if the ability to hear enemies above, below and around you wasn’t enough, right?
The inclusion of a vibration motor provides an incredibly immersive experience and one that left us feeling like we were in the game, especially when bullets were flying around our heads and buildings were exploding in first-person shooters like Battlefield 1.
You can adjust the intensity of the vibration feedback on the in-line controller, allowing granular control without the need to install third-party software on the PC or Mac that you’re using the headset on. The in-line controls also provide not only microphone and volume controls, but media controls and a button that’ll let you switch the colour of the headset LEDs.
Yes, that’s right. Along with other features usually limited to more premium headsets, the Scoria also offers customisable LEDs on the cans of the headset. This allows you to match your headphones to your keyboard, mouse and even rig, giving PC gamers the LED-tastic experience they deserve.
As well as offering a unique gaming experience, the Scoria is extremely comfortable to wear – perfect for those all-night gaming sessions. The ear cups are padded with a soft pillow-like material and it sports an adaptive leather headband that helps alleviate some of the pressure on the top of your head.
Our only complaint? The cups don’t always sit flush on our ears, and take a bit of adjustment before the perfect fit is found.
The headset is incredibly great value for money, and even more so when you use our exclusive coupon code SCORIA33 to get 33 percent off when ordering on Amazon.
ROG Strix Fusion 500
In terms of design, the ROG Strix Fusion looks slick. Sporting metallic, glossy earcups and a thick fabric-and-plastic headband, it’ll certainly turn heads – and we haven’t even mentioned the built-in RGB lights.
The headphones feature RGB strips on the rear of each cup that can be customised via Bluetooth and a smartphone app (or the ROG app on your PC or Mac). The best part? You can sync the lighting to match other ROG peripherals, giving you a slick, futuristic look whether you’re an eSports player or a dedicated gamer at home. The downside is that the Bluetooth connectivity is exclusively for RGB syncing, and you can’t actually connect smartphones or other devices wirelessly.
The headphones feature a touch interface, removing the need for clunky buttons that can be hard to locate on-the-fly (and providing a much tidier overall look). Using swipe functions, you can adjust the volume and control media without having to leave your game.
It works well overall, though it requires multiple swipes to turn the volume up or down more than four percent, and it doesn’t always detect swipes. Oh, and despite boasting overall compatibility with PS4, the swipe features won’t work on the platform, meaning you’ll have to adjust overall volume on the PC beforehand and finetune it on the PS4.
Anyway, it’s in the audio department that the Fusion 500 really shines. Due to the wired nature of the headset, Asus could pack in some impressive audio tech that’d drain the batteries of many wireless headsets. First up, it boasts an ESS 9018 DAC that delivers 24-bit/96kHz lossless playback with an ESS 9601 amp on hand to provide punchy bass, making huge explosions and epic game soundtracks sound incredible.
You’ll also find virtual 7.1 surround sound developed with Bongiovi Acoustics that’ll help you locate the exact direction of those nearby footsteps. Overall, the audio is crystal clear with no noticeable distortion, even at high volumes, though we must note that it is pretty bass heavy (standard for gaming headsets).
You’ll also find a retractable digital boom mic that automatically mutes when retracted, negating the need to fiddle around with controls when you need to have a private chat (or accidentally leaving it unmuted for the whole party to hear!).
Fnatic Duel Modular Headset
Fnatic may be best known for its variety of eSports teams, but under its Fnatic Gear label it's also been busy building up a small selection of branded gaming peripherals, and the Duel is its first headset. If you're think that it looks familiar, that's because this is in fact a version of Danish company Aiaiai's TMA-2 modular headphones, modded with some (subtle) Fnatic branding.
As with other modular headsets, you can swap out the headband, speakers, ear cushions, and microphone to suit your preference, but the Duel comes with a few options from the get-go.
You don't get any choice on the headband or speakers, but you get on-ear cushions and an in-line mic for a portable travel set-up, and over-ears with a boom mic for gaming sessions (or you can mix and match as you prefer). Swapping components is quick and easy, and you also get a drawstring pouch to carry it all around with you.
Everything's made out of matt black plastic (other than the PU leather cushions) with just a couple of bright yellow-orange flourishes. It makes this among the most attractive, understated gaming headsets we've seen yet, with nary a jagged edge or unnecessary lighting effect - you genuinely could wear these on your commute without even a hint of embarrassment.
Sound quality is also great. The included 40mm speaker units (Aiaiai's S02s) have a lovely balanced sound profile, with clear mids - none of the bass-heavy focus of many gaming cans - meaning they're ideal for music, games, films, or whatever else you have in mind.
There are a few disappointments though. The included on-ear cushions are so thin that even with the headset's light weight, we quickly found them uncomfortable, and used the over-ears even while travelling - slightly defeating the point of the modular design.
While the boom mic offered fantastic audio quality, it was a bit too flexible - we struggled to get it to stay in place, and had to keep adjusting its position. There are also no audio controls beyond an in-line mic mute.
Given those complaints, the £180 price feels slightly steep - but to be fair, the same components from Aiaiai would add up to a lot more. There are also more Fnatic branded modules coming out in the future, along with full compatibility with the existing TMA-2 modules (including the crowdfunded Bluetooth headband).
At an RRP of £279/$299, Audio-Technica's ATH-AG1X is the most expensive gaming headset in our round-up, and one of the priciest we've ever come across. That price brings with it some very high expectations though, and while the AG1X is great, we're not quite convinced it justifies its price.
First, the good. With a sleek black finish and bright red accents, these are great looking headphones, and much less garish than much of the competition - one of the perks of buying from an audio company, rather than a gaming one.
The audio quality is also impressive. At low volumes it can feel slightly thin, but crank it up a little and you'll get powerful bass driven by the 53mm drivers, without any loss in definition at the higher end of the range. Mids can be slightly muddier, but if you're looking for something to drive the thuds of explosions and the whine of passing bullets, these definitely deliver.
The included microphone also records crisp, clear audio, with minimal background noise, and should be more than enough for chatting while playing or even recording audio for a stream. There's an in-line mute button and volume control, and the box includes an extension cable with split 3.5mm mic and audio leads for PC setups with separate plugs.
The biggest downside of the AG1X is also one of the headset's biggest innovations. Instead of using a traditional headband, it has a pair of padded 'wings' that rest on your head and adjust to fit. That means there's almost no weight at all pressing down, which means comfort over long gaming sessions, along with reduced pressure for anyone who wears glasses.
But it also means that these just feel constantly loose, without the reassuring snug-ness of traditional headsets. They also have a tendency to slip down the head and rest on your ears, and we found ourselves regularly trying to adjust them and push them back up.
The design might be a welcome compromise if you find yourself frustrated with the pressure or weight of traditional headsets, but for this price we'd expect something that manages to be comfortable without feeling loose or awkward, and Audio-Technica hasn't quite delivered. Still, when it comes to audio alone, this is one of the best headsets around - just be ready to pay for it.