Best Gaming Headset of 2021
$329.00 at Amazon
$129.00 at Amazon
$179.99 at Amazon
$119.00 at Amazon
$79.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Professional mic quality, Bluetooth functionality, great audio||Comfortable, great microphone and audio quality||Comfortable, wireless, good sound quality||Great audio, very comfortable, designed for lengthy wearing||Incredibly comfortable, great value, solid sound quality|
|Cons||Expensive, lack of onboarding||Expensive, doesn't block background noise||Expensive||No sidetones, no software||Harder to mute, no mic sidetone|
|Bottom Line||This premium headset stands out for its exceptional sound quality, noise-canceling capabilities, and microphone clarity||The best of the best when it comes to headsets; this model boasts comfort, a great microphone, and stellar audio quality||If you are looking to cut the cord when it comes to your headset, this is your best bet||A very modestly-price headset considering its high performance||An excellent and affordable all-around gaming headset that's extremely comfortable, even for long sessions|
|Rating Categories||Bose QuietComfort 3...||EPOS GAME ONE||Razer Black Shark V...||EPOS H3 Closed Acou...||Kingston HyperX Clo...|
|Ease Of Use (10%)|
|Specs||Bose QuietComfort 3...||EPOS GAME ONE||Razer Black Shark V...||EPOS H3 Closed Acou...||Kingston HyperX Clo...|
|Wired or Wireless||Wired||Wired||Wireless||Wired||Wired|
|Measured cable length||Total: 12.4 ft
Controller knob to mic 3.8 ft
PC to controller knob: 8.6 ft
charging cable is 5 ft
|PC: 6.5 ft
3.5mm: 4.92 ft
|How to mute the mic||Switch||Lift mic||Button||Lift mic||Switch|
|Measured weight||8-11/16 oz||9-5/8 oz||11-3/8 oz||10 oz||10-7/8 oz|
|Measured ear cushion size||1-3/4" X 2-1/2"||1-5/16" X 2-5/8 "||1-3/4" X 2-1/2"||1-1/2" X 2-1/2"||1-1/2" X 2-9/16"|
|Ear cup shape||Oval||Oval||Oval||Asymmetric oval||Oval|
|Ear cup fabric type||Protien Leather||Velvet||Flowknit similar to microfiber mesh||Suede / leatherette||Leatherette
Best Overall Gaming Headset
EPOS GAME ONE
The front-runner of our favorite gaming headsets is the Epos Game One. It provides some of the best audio we've ever heard, producing crystal-clear conversations between players and ensuring that the in-game music and sound effects sound remarkable. Games with rich orchestral soundtracks are highlighted brilliantly, and the positions and directions of various in-game sounds are accurately conveyed (for example, a character talking on the left side of the screen sounds like it's coming from the left side of you through the headphones). The Game One headset isn't just easy and intuitive to use, it also offers optimal comfort. Your all-night gaming marathon can easily go uninterrupted as this headset allows for optimal airflow. The ear cups have an open-back, which encourages ventilation and keeps you from getting sweaty even when the game gets exciting.
If you're in a noisy room, the open-back design might cause you to be distracted, as it won't block out background noise as well as a closed-back design. It also has a slightly airier tone that some people aren't fans of. If this sounds like you, consider the close-backed headset that trades some ventilation for more passive noise reduction. The Game One comes at a higher price tag than most, which renders this pair less versatile, as not every gamer has such a frivolous budget for headsets. Regardless, the Game One is our favorite headset that we have seen so far, and we highly recommend it.
Read Full Review: Epos Game One
Best Wireless Headset
Razer Black Shark V2 Pro
If you are looking for the convenience of a wireless headset, then we highly recommend the Razer Black Shark V2 Pro. Throughout weeks of testing, this model stood out as the best model that cuts the cord. To some, a dangling wire can bring you out of an otherwise submerged gaming experience. For those folks, this model is our strong recommendation. This headset is exceptionally comfortable, too — one of the few models that we would happily wear for eight or more hours. It has above-average sound and microphone quality and offers a variety of convenient features for hassle-free operation. These headphones are a touch lacking in bass, but they excel in being able to accurately locate the source and direction of sounds during gameplay, similar to the Epos Game One.
Unfortunately, this wireless headset is a bit more expensive than some of the comparable wired ones, making it hard to recommend to those shopping on a budget. It also has a fairly short charging cable, so don't forget to charge it, or you will be on a short leash when you have to plug it in mid-session. Still, the impressive 24-hour battery life should be sufficient for all but the most epic gaming sessions. Though we think the corded Epos Game One edges out this model in overall quality, the Black Shark V2 Pro is definitely our top recommendation in the world of wireless models.
Read Full Review: Razer Black Shark V2 Pro
Best Bang for the Buck
Comparing prices, the highest performance per dollar you can get in a gaming headset comes from the Razer Kraken. We love wearing this headset and had virtually no issues with comfort, even for the longest gaming sessions. It did well in our audio and microphone tests and has a decent number of the convenient features that you would find in a top-tier headset. In all our tests and scoring, the Kraken comes in right behind the top-shelf products while saving the consumer significant greenbacks.
Despite their closed-back design of the ear cups, some background noise still made its way through. It also presented a bit of buzz when pushed to the max in our audio benchmark tests. The audio and microphone suffice for gaming, but we wouldn't say it's our favorite model for solely listening to music nor making a conference call. Still, even though it's not our favorite for those things, it fared above average in almost every test we performed. The Razer Kraken is a high-performing, affordable headset that we recommend first to anyone shopping on a budget.
Read Full Review: Razer Kraken
Best on a Tight Budget
Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger
If you're on the hunt for a new headset with a very conservative budget, consider the HyperX Cloud Stinger. Even at its extra budget-friendly price, the Stinger kept up with products that were more than triple its price tag. Its microphone quality was especially impressive, earning some of the top overall marks in that test metric. This headset offers some of the better audio quality out of all the products in our test fleet, is fairly comfortable to wear, and retails for less than the majority of quality products on the market.
While it blew a lot of its competitors out of the water with its price tag, that discount doesn't come without some compromise. After extended wear, the Cloud Stinger begins to feel uncomfortable. The audio quality also doesn't compare to some of the top competitors; however, those headsets will cost you a lot more. This model has many great qualities, making it a great value for those who are looking to spend their money on the games and not gaming accessories.
Read Full Review: HyperX Cloud Stinger
Best Premium Gaming Headset
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
If you're on the hunt for a new gaming headset, and money is no object, then the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is the best headset we have ever tested. With an incredibly comfortable design, high-quality audio, and a professional quality boom mic, our testers love practically everything this headset has to offer. On top of everything, the Bose QuietComfort can double as Bluetooth headphones by just removing the boom mic, providing added two-for-one value. Our testers easily wore this headset for more than ten-hour stretches, and with noise-cancellation capabilities, they considered this the perfect product for gaming and leisure.
However, despite being incredible, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II does have a few setbacks. All of the adjustable settings are running from the PC desktop controller in wired mode, yet the cord length might be limiting depending on your gaming rig setup. And although the Bluetooth mode does have an inline mic, it is terrible in voice chat, so wired play is the name of the game. Moreover, this product is exceptionally expensive, which is the main reason we don't recommend it for most consumers. But, when you are essentially purchasing two headsets for the price of one, this is a premium product that should not be missed.
Read Full Review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
Why You Should Trust Us
We did extensive research, combing through other reviews and customer experiences to determine which headsets had the best shot of being crowned king. To test gaming headsets, we enlisted the help of Austin Palmer and David Wise. Both have extensive experience testing tech gadgets and products and spend just a little too much time playing video games. Austin is a particularly avid gamer, having extensively played video games for nearly three decades on most, if not all, major consoles and systems. Of all those, PC games are his favorite, with the vast majority of his free time devoted to 100% completion, climbing the leaderboards, or pursuing the most difficult content and challenges each game has to offer. Throughout all that, he has spent an inordinate amount of time with a gaming headset on, coordinating raids, leading dungeons, or even just hanging out on voice chat with his friends. This all gives him plenty of expertise and insight into what makes a gaming headset great.
We have a panel of diverse users with wildly varying head shapes try out each headset to grade and score the comfort level of each one. Their responses are then averaged to determine scores. We spend hours listening to music, other players' voices, and in-game sound effects with each headset to judge audio quality. Other players are enlisted to rate the quality and tone of our voice as it is picked up by the microphone of each product. Finally, we take note of all the different features and capabilities these gaming products offer to make them easier and more fun to use.
Related: How We Tested Gaming Headsets
Analysis and Test Results
We spend countless hours testing and comparing the performance of each gaming product. Our tests are divided into four weighted testing metrics: Ease of Use, Comfort, Audio, and Microphone. These metrics are then weighted based on their importance to overall performance, and scores are determined based on the results of various head-to-head tests in each metric.
Related: Buying Advice for Gaming Headsets
Claiming the overall top score of all the headsets we tested was the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Top-of-the-line performance is usually paired with a premium price tag, and this is no exception. This headset is not in the realm of what an average gamer may want to spend on a gaming accessory. The Epos Game One and HyperX Cloud II are almost as good as the Bose QuietComfort, and although they were better in some respects, they nonetheless don't offer as premium an experience, suffering from lower audio and mic quality. Luckily, the compromise in audio and mic quality comes with a nice little break in the price. It's also worth noting that our favorite wireless headphones, the Razer Black Shar V2 Pro, land squarely in the middle of the price range for most cordless models, with multiple wireless options costing more but falling behind in performance.
If these two recommendations are out of your budget, take a moment to check out the Razer Kraken or the HyperX Cloud Stinger The Kraken feels almost on par with the best models when compared side by side. If you don't have the better models for comparison, many will likely be quite pleased with the Kraken's robust performance. The Cloud Stinger is our top recommendation if you are shopping on the tightest of budgets, costing a fraction of the top models and still delivering respectable results, however, you may find it to be less comfortable after extended use.
By far the most important set of tests of our review, comfort is king when it comes to these products — accounting for nearly half of the overall score, this metric has a larger effect on product rankings than sound or microphone quality. To test for this metric, we had a panel of judges of various ages and genders wear each headset for as long as it was comfortable, up to a full workday, and then noted their general opinions and observations. On top of that, we had every judge conduct a side-by-side comfort test of each model to get a read on which headbands and ear cups offered the most comfort. Finally, we noted if any got particularly sweaty while in use and if there were any uncomfortable pressure points created when wearing glasses with each headset. While we have done our best to find the most comfortable headset for most people, nothing can compare to trying on a headset before you buy it, or at least purchasing from a retailer with a liberal return policy to give you the option to send it back if it's uncomfortable for your head and ears.
Tying for the top spot overall, the HyperX Cloud II, the Razer Kraken, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and the Razer Black Shark V2 Pro are our absolute favorites when it comes to comfort. These gaming headsets routinely scored at the top of the list for each of our judges and can easily be worn for eight to 10 hours without issues, even for those with larger ears.
The Cloud II has a leatherette padded headband that does a good job stay snug to your head, even when you are thrashing around with excitement, without giving you a headache from the pressure. The Cloud II is a great option to wear with glasses and since it is one of the lighter options in our test suite, we didn't hear any complaint from our judges regarding its weight. The oval-shaped ear cups offer plenty of room, measuring about 1.5" wide and a little over 2.5" tall on the inside — more than enough space for our testers with the largest ears. On top of that, the Cloud II comes with two sets of interchangeable semi-soft memory foam earpads — one set of leatherette and one set of velour, allowing you to customize the fit and style to match your personal preference.
The Razer Kraken has a mesh fabric on the headband and sits lightly on most heads. The ear cups are quite large, measuring 2.25" x 2.5" (57mm x 64mm) and have very soft padding. Each ear cup is also covered in heat transfer fabric with cooling gel that should keep you from getting overly sweaty, even on the hottest of summer days.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II has suede padding on the headband which sat comfortably, although it might be better with a little less padding along the ridge. The protein leather ear cups are comfortably designed, as the drivers have been moved into a plastic shell, greatly accommodating the pointier parts of the ear. The biggest issue with the Bose QuietComfort is that the protein leather padding does get sticky in hot temperatures, so use in a consistently hot climate is not recommended. This is a common complaint about any over-ear headphones and headsets.
The Razer Black Shark V2 Pro's ear cups and headband are both covered in a microfiber mesh-like material. The padding is very comfortable, and the ear cups have ample room for most people. Being wireless, it also does not impede movement nor uncomfortably tickle necks with its cord. We also like that the headband on this headset feels like it accommodates a wider range of head sizes than some of the other options.
The Game One got a bit of a mixed response, with the bulk of our judges more than happy to wear this headset for an extended gaming session. There were a few testers, however, that disliked the tighter fit of the Game One, finding it too uncomfortable to continue wearing after only 30 to 60 minutes. Aside from the differing opinions on the fit, everyone agreed that the velvet ear cups felt awesome and provided ample space. Additionally, the open-back design allowed significantly more ventilation and kept you from getting too sweaty, even when the room temperature rose above 80°F.
The Cloud Stinger had our testing panel split — half of them were fine wearing it for a full workday while the other half topped out between four and five hours. The leatherette padded headband and semi-soft ear cups didn't feel too tight for any of our judges when they first put the headset on, but after a while, they began to notice some discomfort and felt the need to readjust or simply remove the headset every so often as it grew more and more uncomfortable. The Stinger's ear cups are decently large with more than enough room for most people, but a few of our judges weren't fans of the fit and wouldn't want to wear this headset for extended periods.
The Arctis 7 elicited even more of a split response from our judges, with people either totally loving it or finding it completely unbearable. The headband adjustment is done through an elastic band, which makes the range of different heads that it can comfortably fit much lower. The ear cups are about average in size, but we found that the elastic band caused most of our testers to abandon this wireless headset after four to six hours, with a few noting that the pressure on the bottom of their ears was the primary cause of their discomfort. The updated version features a tiny bit more padding than its predecessor, but it was not enough to make much of a difference in the opinions of our judges. It is also a tiny bit lighter, at 12.25 oz. versus 12.5 oz., but this difference is practically imperceptible.
Next, we moved on to assessing the sound quality of each headset, which is responsible for a little less of the total score than comfort, but still a significant amount. In addition to rating how well we could hear our teammates talking, in-game sound effects, and how music sounded, we also did a handful of audio benchmark tests that assessed everything from the quality of the bass to how well we could identify the position of noises with each headset. Additionally, we judged how well they blocked out ambient noise. After all our tests, there was one headset that stood above the rest.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II offers the all-around best audio quality. Teammates' voices come through nice and clear with a full, airy sound. With a closed-back and noise-canceling capabilities, there is extremely little external sound creeping into the headset once you're in the game. No other headset provides the audio and gaming immersion this model offers. The Bose QuietComfort aced our benchmark audio tests and played music with incredible quality. It is definitely to this headset's advantage that it is also a wireless Bluetooth headset. The Bose QuietComfort only performed slightly weaker in our positional sound tests, offering a solid showing, though having a little difficulty with noises immediately behind.
The Epos Game One, the Epos GSP 600, the Beyerdynamic MMX 300, and the Epos H3 are all tied for second place with their excellent audio qualities. These headsets distinguished themselves by portraying our teammates' voices exceptionally well, with the conversation coming across clear, crisp, and full-sounding — nearly to the point that it was indistinguishable from having a face-to-face conversation, though the Epos GSP 600 is just a fraction less clear and full sounding than the other three.
All four provide an immersive experience when listening to music or the soundtrack of a game. They are all very well balanced, with a slight emphasis on the mid-range sounds, particularly with the Epos GSP 600 and Epos H3. We liked that the Game One had a lighter, more airy sound due to its open-back ear cup design. However, this also means that the Game One lets in significantly more ambient noise than the Beyerdynamic MMX 300 or the closed-back Epos GSP 600.
The Epos GSP 600 was the best at cluing our testers into the location of an in-game sound, doing slightly better with quieter sounds, like footsteps, than louder sounds, like gunfire. The Epos GSP 600 just barely beat out the Game One and Epos H3 in our positional sound tests, but all did quite a bit better than the Beyerdynamic MMX 300. Our testers only had a roughly 50-60% accuracy rate at identifying the origin of a sound correctly when wearing the Beyerdynamic MMX 300.
Next, the HyperX Cloud II, the HyperXCloud Stinger, the Razer Kraken, the Logitech G332, Razer Black Shark V2 Pro, and the Logitech G635 all followed the upper-tier models in our audio tests. Of this group, the Razer Kraken impressed us the most with how well it made other players' voices sound — performing just a small amount worse than the best overall headsets, with the Black Shark V2 Pro coming in just a bit behind it.
The Cloud II matched the quality of the Epos models in its crispness, but the sound wasn't quite as full-bodied or realistic. The Cloud Stinger did a little worse than the Cloud II — the conversation was understandable but was much less full-bodied and realistic.
Moving on to our music and soundtrack tests, the Cloud Stinger is our favorite out of this group. It delivers high-fidelity, balanced sound, but it's still less immersive than the Epos or the Kraken. The Cloud II, the Logitech G332, the Razer Kraken, and the Logitech 635 are all just a bit behind the Stinger in terms of music quality. The Cloud II and the Kraken are both hindered by the fact that the bass and treble tend to wash out mid-range tones a bit, usually causing a voice to get a little lost but still providing a highly immersive experience. Unfortunately, we weren't huge fans of listening to music on the Black Shark V2 Pro's default setting, as the bass seemed quite weak, though this did improve a bit when we adjusted the equalizer.
For the next round of tests, we evaluated how well each gaming headset picked up our voice, as well as how well it filtered out background noises or conversations. Altogether, this metric accounts for a smaller portion of the total score than comfort and sound, but again, still significant.
Easily differentiating itself from the competition, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II offers unbeatable microphone performance. With off-the-charts quality that sounds incredible, this headset easily passed our quality tests with no feedback. Every phoneme was present and accounted for across transmission, and we never experienced a garbled message. The Bose QuietComfort filtered out external noises with ease, even the crinkling of a chip bag right in front of the mic. Loud ambient talking was practically silent across the voice chat. Our testers repeatedly considered this headset to have the most professional-sounding microphone.
Five headsets tied for second in this metric, with the Epos Game One, the Epos GSP 600, the Epos H3, the Beyerdynamic MMX 300, and the HyperX Cloud Stinger. Out of this group, the Beyerdynamic MMX 300, the Epos GSP 600, and the Game One provide some of the best microphone quality, with only a tiny bit of buzz. The recording audio sounds almost identical to our tester's voice in real life. However, these models were upstaged by the HyperX Cloud II, which created a recording that was essentially indistinguishable from talking to the person in real life.
The Cloud Stinger had a little bit more buzzing present compared to the Game One or the Beyerdynamic MMX 300. It also tended to overemphasize B's and P's and made the recordings of our testers' voices sound a tiny bit flatter than they did in person. However, the Cloud Stinger, the Beyerdynamic MMX 300, and the Epos H3 did the best job at filtering out non-speech noises, like eating crackers, typing loudly, or a fan or air conditioning running in the background. The Game One and the GSP 600 both did okay at this, but people on the other end of the line would usually notice if we were eating something or running a fan, even on low.
The story changed dramatically, however, if someone else was talking in the background. The Beyerdynamic MMX 300 would transmit the entirety of the background conversation, even if it was 10-15 feet away. In contrast, people on the other end could only hear a side conversation if it was happening right next to you when using the Epos GSP 600, Epos H3, Cloud Stinger, or the Game One.
The HyperX Cloud II, the Logitech G332, the Logitech G Pro X Wireless, the Logitech G635, and the Razer Black Shark V2 Pro all followed the top headsets. Although we think the Cloud II does the best job of the entire group at transmitting realistic voices with no additional buzzing, this gaming headset is dragged down by the fact that it performs the job a little too well, picking up the noise of anyone talking within about 25 feet of you. The transmission is so clear that the person on the other end of the line could make out the words of the side chatter even if they were 20 feet away. The Cloud II does a decent job of filtering out other background noises from being transmitted, but this might be a bit too problematic if there are often people nearby talking while you are playing.
Neither the Logitech G332 nor the Logitech G635 picked up our voices as well as the Cloud II. The Logitech G635 and the G Pro X Wireless and the Black Shark V2 Pro both have a small amount more buzzing and static than the Cloud II, and the Logitech G332 has even more. None of these three headsets are particularly sibilant, but the Logitech models do exaggerate a "t" sound just a little compared to the Cloud II.
We thought the Logitech G635 and the Logitech G332 were better than the HyperX Cloud II at cutting down distracting external noises, almost eliminating things like a fan or mechanical keyboard clicking. However, all three of these struggle to block external conversations.
In our experience, the Logitech G Pro X Wireless and the Black Shark V2 Pro both tended to pick up quite a bit more background noise, but they were better at filtering our side conversations, with the G Pro X doing slightly better than the Black Shark V2 Pro in both cases.
We found the Razer Kraken to do a reasonably good job of transmitting our voices to other players, though it would make them sound a little less realistic and sometimes had a bit of feedback. It also does an alright job of filtering out background noises but will usually pick up side conversations if they are happening within 10 feet of you.
Ease of Use
For our final assessment of these products, we rated and scored how convenient it is to operate each headset. This contributed to a small amount of the total score for these products, but we still felt that this metric has the ability to set certain models apart from the pack. While there weren't a ton of differences between many of these products, there are a few that stand out from the rest when it comes to hassle-free operation.
Following that top-notch headset are the Cloud Stinger, the Logitech G635, and the Epos Game One. They all proved exceptionally easy to use. The majority of these models have controls right on the headset. These wired headsets have more than adequate cord lengths, with the shortest being the Logitech G635 at 9.35'.
Muting the mic is easy on the Game One and the Cloud Stinger, accomplished by simply rapidly lifting the mic. The Logitech G635 offers both options, allowing you to mute the mic by hitting the button or by lifting the mic.
All three have a detachable cable, while the Cloud II also has a detachable mic. None of these, except for the Logitech G635, have the option to enable a mic sidetone, but the open back design of the ear cups of the Game One render one unnecessary.
Next, the Razer Nari Ultimate, the Epos GSP 600, the Corsair Void Pro, the HyperX Cloud II, the Logitech G332, the Razer Kraken, Black Shark V2 Pro, Logitech G Pro X Wireless, and the SteelSeries Arctis 7 all are just a bit above-average when it comes to ease of use. These all have onboard controls to mute the mic and adjust the volume. Most of these have their controls on the headphones, except for the Cloud II and Razer Kraken, where they are found on the cord. The Razer Black Shark V2 Pro, the Razer Nari Ultimate, the G Pro X Wireless, the Corsair Void Pro, and the Arctis 7 are all wireless, with five, 5.05, six, 6.95, and 10-inch charging cables, respectively.
The Cloud II, the Razer Kraken, the Epos GSP 600, and the Logitech 332 are all wired models with long enough cables that we never felt constrained. Each gave us ample room to move around while playing. The HyperX Cloud II, the Epos GSP 600, and the Logitech 332 all have fully detachable cables, and the Cloud II even has a detachable mic.
However, the cable is only partially detachable on the Razer Kraken, split in the middle with a 3.5mm connector. The microphone doesn't detach, but it can retract up into the headset for storage. Additionally, you also can enable an adjustable mic sidetone through the software for this headset.
Regardless of whether you are a professional streamer or a casual gamer, we hope that you found this review to be a helpful and informative resource for selecting your next gaming headset. Although we know it can be frustrating trying to sort through the many possibilities, the comfort and audio quality benefits will be well worth it.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Conrad Salonites