Gaming headsets are generally fairly pricey, but there’s a growing number of gamers refusing to spend hundreds on a headset. While that once meant a compromise in build- and sound quality, that’s no longer the case.
Here, we take a look at some of the best budget gaming headsets on the market, with a limit of £100/$100. For a look at more premium headsets on the market, take a look at our selection of the best gaming headsets.
Whether you’re a casual or hardcore gamer, the design of the gaming headset you purchase is very important; it can sound incredible, but if it’s uncomfortable to wear over long periods, chances are you’ll ditch it fairly quickly. There’s already enough going on when gaming without having to worry about the dull ache at the top of your head, or sweaty ears.
Though overall comfort can vary between manufacturers, we’d recommend opting for headsets made from soft, breathable materials. If you’re a glasses wearer, it’s also good to keep an eye out for headsets with dedicated eyewear channels to alleviate the pressure of your glasses against your head when worn. Adjustable earcups and length-adjustable headbands are always a plus too, allowing you to find the perfect fit.
You’ll also have to decide whether you want a wired or wireless gaming headset, as this can have an effect on other factors too. With regards to budget gaming headsets, you’re more than likely going to get a better deal with wired headsets when compared to wireless headsets.
The budget price tag means that, generally speaking, manufacturers will skimp on other features to accommodate wireless connectivity. If you really want the best sound and performance available for your budget, we’d recommend a wired headset. You can get amazing wireless gaming headsets that do everything you’d need and more, but these can cost upwards of £150.
You should also make sure that the headset you want to buy is compatible with the PC or console you want to use it with. Generally speaking, any PS4, Xbox One or Switch headset should also work with PC, but it’s not the case when going from PC to console due to differing connection methods between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s consoles.
The good news is that you can avoid compatibility issues by opting for a headset with a standard 3.5mm output. This is supported not only by every console and PC on the market, but smartphones, tablets and anything else that offers a standard headphone jack. If you opt for a USB-powered or wireless headset, be sure to make sure you’ve got the right version for your setup.
Best budget gaming headsets of 2019
1. Razer Kraken TE
It might not offer wireless connectivity, but Razer’s wired Kraken Tournament Edition offers something unique when compared to other budget headsets in our chart; THX support. THX spatial audio simulates positionally-accurate sound that allows you to pinpoint, with accuracy, the direction and origin of gunshots, footsteps, voices and anything else you notice when gaming.
It’s an incredible thing to experience, offering a more immersive gaming experience than most other budget headsets.
That experience is powered by Razer’s own custom-tuned 50mm drivers, and can be personalised via a physical mixer that gives you control not only over volume, but THX, bass, game/chat balance and your microphone output.
And, as is the case with most of Razer’s headsets, it’s an absolute joy to wear over long periods. Though you do notice a bit of pressure build-up over long periods across the top of the head, it’s nowhere as noticeable as some budget headsets we’ve seen in the past.
A lot of thought was put into the earcups too, featuring cool-to-the-touch gel nestled in memory foam alongside indented eyewear channels for glasses-wearers. It’ll keep your ears cool and comfortable during even the most intense gaming sessions, and that's something that many can appreciate.
2. Razer Nari Essential
As you might expect from Razer, this stretches the limits of ‘budget’ ever so slightly, but if you want a relatively affordable entry point into Razer’s gaming gear, this is a great starting point.
The stellar features here are build and comfort: the basic design is the exact same as you’ll find in Razer’s much more expensive flagship headsets, which are among the most comfortable on the market.
This is undeniably bulky, but deceptively lightweight, thanks to a combo of light materials and a headband that does a great job of distributing the weight.
Sound quality is where you this really differs from Razer’s more expensive headsets, with smaller 40mm drivers rather than 50mm – but the sound quality is still very solid and includes simulated surround sound. It also delivers wireless with a USB dongle, and sound quality over the wireless system is great too.
There’s also no support for Razer’s Chroma lighting, but for £100/$100, would you really expect that?
3. Turtle Beach Battle Buds
Unlike any other headset in our chart, Turtle Beach’s Battle Buds are designed primarily for use with smartphones, giving you an edge in the ever-more-competitive mobile gaming scene. The earbud nature of the headset means it’s incredibly lightweight and easy to transport, and comes with a carry case full of eartips and wings to find the right fit for your ears.
Of course, a major part of gaming is communication – with your team, your party or with your viewers during a live stream. An in-line mic simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to communication in gaming, which is why Turtle Beach offers a removable high-quality boom microphone with the Battle Buds. You can use the boom mic during intense gaming sessions, then unplug it and use the buds to listen to your favourite tunes during your travels.
The quality is decent for small earbuds in this price range, although you have to really spend the time to find the right size eartips for your ears to create the perfect seal. It’s good enough for mobile gaming, but we’ve found that we prefer traditional headsets when gaming on console or PC. It can double up as a chat headset too, for those that want to chat with friends with game audio playing through speakers.
The only real concession is the inclusion of in-line controls, something fairly standard for earbuds.
4. Turtle Beach Recon 70
Sporting the official colours of the PS4, the black-and-blue Recon 70 is a cheap wired headset designed with Sony’s console in mind. It features not only an adjustable headband, but swiveling earcups to help find a comfortable fit, although we must admit that even with soft padding on the headband, we started to feel pressure building after longer gaming sessions.
The Recon 70 is wired and not wireless, rather unsurprisingly when you consider the budget price tag of the headset. The 1m-long 3.5mm cable is perfect for use with the DualShock 4, but some people may find the cable a little too short and restricting to use it with a 3.5mm-enabled smartphone or PC. It should do Switch and Xbox users just fine though.
There’s no in-line mic controls on offer thankfully, with Turtle Beach opting for a flip-mic and volume controls on one of the earcups, making it easy to adjust volume and mute your mic in the heat of battle.
Like other budget headsets on the market, the Recon 70 sports 40mm drivers opposed to larger 50mm drivers favoured by premium headsets, but despite the size reduction, the quality of the headphones is still great, providing booming bass during Earth-shattering explosions and crisp vocals during those heart-wrenching emotional gaming moments.
Essentially, the Recon 70 is a no-thrills headset that’ll get the job done, with surprising sound clarity for a headset for this price.
5. Enhance Scoria
While most of the headsets in our chart are broadly similar, the Enhance Scoria offers something slightly different. 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.
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 V.
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.
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.
6. Venom Nighthawk Chat
This stands out a little from most of the other headsets on the market because it’s strictly mono, with only one ear cup. That might sound like a bad thing – and for plenty of use cases it will be – but there are benefits too.
For one, it means that if you want to have in-game chat through the headset and the rest of the game audio come through your TV or PC speakers then you can – ideal if you want to play while someone else spectates.
It’s also useful if you’re worried about blocking out too many of the real world sounds – this is the headset for you if you want to play online while still listening out for the doorbell, your partner, or your children.
Audio quality isn’t the best of course, though it’s crisp and clear, if lacking in bass response. It’s not super comfortable – the ear cup padding is a bit thin, and it sits slightly awkwardly on the head – but the target market here is probably people expecting to play for shorter sessions anyway.
7. Roccat Noz
While Roccat is fairly well-known for providing high-quality gaming peripherals at a range of price points, we’re not sure that the company’s latest budget gaming headset, the Roccat Noz, keeps that theme going.
On the surface, the Noz offers what gamers are after; large 50mm drivers to deliver loud, immersive audio along with a high-quality detachable microphone and a largely comfortable design with soft-touch fabric, but after using the headset for some time, we were left wanting more from Roccat’s budget headset.
The Noz is largely comfortable; that soft-touch material featured on the earcups and headband is breathable as well as soft, which keeps your ears from sweating during intense gaming sessions. It’s a very light headset too, weighing in at only 210g with the detachable boom mic included.
You’ll also find split microphone and speaker jacks for use on PC, along with an adaptor that merges them into a single 3.5mm jack for use with consoles and smartphones. That’s all fairly standard for a £60 headset, but after gaming with the Noz, we can’t say the same about the quality of the audio on offer.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s not bad, it’s just not the best we’ve ever heard. The bass levels aren’t powerful enough to create the immersive boom of explosions and gunshots in first-person shooters, offering a treble-focused audio experience. That’s more than enough for casual puzzle games and even some open-world games, but it’s lacking the impact needed for high-octane shooters.
Still, it’s one of the cheapest headsets in Roccat’s range right now and if you’re in the market for a no-thrills headset, the Roccat Noz is an option worth considering.
8. Onikuma II
The Onikuma II might be one of the cheapest headsets in our roundup, but we think it’s a steal for the price. The build quality is decent and it doesn’t feel like a cheap pair of headphones in the hand or on the head, and it even sports a Blue LED for that typical gamer look.
The large, soft memory-protein earmuffs and headband provide a comfortable gaming experience and help alleviate pressure on the head and ears, but we must admit that they did become a little sweaty after prolonged use. The thick earcups also provide passive noise cancellation, helping you to drown out the environment and focus during intense gaming sessions without pumping the volume up too much.
You can crank it up if you want though; the audio provided by the 50mm drivers is loud and clear, and while they don’t boast the clarity of some premium headsets, the headphones don’t suffer from distortion at any volume.
The main draw of the Onikuma II is the compatibility it offers; the wired nature of the headset means that it’s compatible with PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, 3DS, iOS and Android smartphones and essentially any headphone jack-touting device.