The difference the best gaming headsets can make to gaming is incredible. Crystal-clear audio can help you pick up the sound and direction of enemy gunfire should you find yourself surrounded in Call of Duty: Warzone. Or perhaps you prefer to hear the bone-crunching guitar riffs as you rip and tear through demons in Doom Eternal. Whether you’re looking to gain a competitive edge in a first-person shooter or just want to improve your overall gaming experience, bagging a quality gaming headset should be high up on your to-do list.
There are a few points that you’ll want to consider when choosing a gaming headset. Price and sound quality are arguably the two most important factors, and we’ve taken both of these into account when picking our favorites for this list. Comfort is another thing you’ll want to think about as even the best sound quality won’t do you a lot of good if you always have to adjust your headset—or remove it altogether—during longer gaming sessions. Lastly, the majority of the headsets we’ve listed here boast built-in noise-canceling mics which are crucial for chatting with your teammates.
Adding one of the best gaming headsets of 2020 to your set-up shouldn’t cost the earth either. You can grab our top pick, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, for less than $100, giving you a sturdy headset with excellent sound quality. Alternatively, if you have the money to spare and want to go with a wireless option, you could do a lot worse than the Razer Thresher Ultimate.
Our list of the best gaming headsets has something for everyone regardless of budget. Alternatively, if you’re determined to cut down on cord clutter, our guide to purely the best wireless gaming headsets may be more to your taste.
Bearing the fruits of HyperX Cloud’s long legacy of excellence, the Cloud Alpha presents excellent sound and build quality with the essential features done well, and no feature-flab inflating the price. The stereo soundscape in this closed-back design is punchier in the low end than we’d usually go for, but the extra bass doesn’t interfere with overall clarity—and frankly, in games and music environments, it sounds great. Each 50mm driver’s dual chamber design is intended to give low, medium, and high frequencies space to resonate without interfering with each other, and you do get a sense of that while listening to them.
Elsewhere it’s the usual impressive build quality, generous padding, clear mic and high comfort levels over longer play sessions that the Cloud design has always offered. The inline controls are the only exception to that rule—they feel flimsy by comparison to the rest of the package. We recommend the Alpha over the Cloud II (only just) because of the better frequency response range and overall sound quality, though there’s very little separating the two models.
High-res audio is on the up thanks to lossless streaming from Tidal et al, and games such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus offering full support. The Arctis Pro GameDAC makes full use of that crystalline high-res sound with a 10Hz-40KHz frequency response range—a spec that also makes the drivers sound great for everyday audio usage, though you will start noticing the difference in really compressed files. But if you’re planning to use a gaming headset for watching videos and TV on your PC, or music, this is a great choice.
The GameDAC itself is a combination of a digital-to-analog converter that takes the strain away from your CPU, a preamp, and a control center. With a press of its button and a roll of the dial, DTS Headphone-X surround can be enabled or disabled, chat/game mix tweaked, and EQ settings perfected. The subtle ring around each earcup on these cans ticks the RGB box without ruining the overall aesthetic. Our only reservations with the GameDAC model are that it requires an adapter for smartphone usage, and that its cables feel cheaper than a $250 headset should.
The more recent Nari Ultimate might grab the headlines with its divisive haptic feedback feature, but while it looks the same it has arguably weaker audio than the classic Thresher Ultimate. For our money, that’s the best gaming headset Razer has created, and it’s one we still use today.
I’d much rather have the detailed, robust audio of the Thresher’s more aurally acute drivers than something that feels like you’re being prodded in the side of the head every time an explosion goes off in-game.
The wireless connection is solid, the fit comfortable, the battery life decent—though not class-leading at around ten hours—and if you grab a pair of the optional pink cat ears off the Razer store you can make them look just fabulous.