15 best PC gaming headsets 2016

Looking to kick your gaming cans? Check these out

Updated: There's a new king of headsets in town – the Astro A50 Wireless, straight in at #1.

No PC gamer worth their kill/death ratio would skimp on a decent headset. Arguably more important than a mechanical gaming keyboard or mouse, a worthy pair of cans make the difference between guessing where enemies are and hunting them down like a sonically-enhanced ninja.

Pick the right pair and you'll hear the sound of bullets envelop your ears while explosions rock your eardrums, and dialogue in games takes on a new level of clarity.

Whether you need a USB or 3.5mm headset, a surround sound or stereo pair, or simply one to communicate with friends online, we've picked out the very best PC gaming headsets for your needs.

1. Astro A50 Wireless

The best all-round headset just got better

Interface: Wireless | Features: Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound; Works with PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and mobile; Astro Audio; 5.8GHz wireless tech with MixAmp; 6.0mm uni-directional noise cancelling mic; USB charging with base station

Full-bodied Dolby 7.1 Surround sound
Supremely comfortable 
Requires precise insertion into charging cradle

We called the original Astro A50 a "game-changing, experience-enhancing headset", and thankfully its wireless successor follows the "ain't broke, don't fix" rule. Astro's latest headset does what it says on the tin and adds wireless connectivity to an already stellar package. Though not the cheapest headset on the block, the Astro A50 Wireless has transferred amp controls from its predecessor's cable right into the headcups themselves, giving you the ability to balance in-game audio and voice chat on-the-fly.

Add to that the A50's solid aluminum construction, effective noise-cancelling microphone, booming bass and impressive mid-range sounds, and you have one headset that's ready to rock on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It's also suitable for using with the HTC Vive and other VR headsets thanks to the accommodating shape of the headband. We've found that few headsets can rival the A50's comfort's plush ear cups, which are large enough to give you a realistic sense of sound coming from all directions.

Siberia 840

2. SteelSeries Siberia 840

A fantastic all-rounder that's hugely comfortable

Interface: Wireless or wired | Features: Closed back earcups, Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound, Retractable directional mic with mute indicating light, Two hot-swappable Li-Ion batteries, Sound share audio recording, Click wheel, Memory-foam ear cushions, Works with Xbox 360, PS3/4, PC/Mac, Apple TV/Roku, Home entertainment and mobile devices

Dolby 7.1 surround sound
Comfortable
Pricey

Sometimes you're prepared to pay a premium for a PC gaming accessory that does the lot, and in the headset category that's the Siberia 840. Following on from the already impressive Siberia 800 (and the H Wireless before that from 2014), the upgraded Sibera 840 now works with Bluetooth and is lag-free within games. It also supports SteelSeries Engine 3 - a gorgeous and user-friendly app that lets you manage and tweak every element of the Siberia 840 – from profiles to equalizer settings and what to show on the OLED display on the side of the accompanying base unit.

All of that is, of course, secondary to the Siberia 840's sound qualities which are nothing less than sublime. Activating Dolby 7.1 surround sound is like dropping you into the game. Enemies' footsteps can be picked out across a room including behind you, leading to some heart-in-mouth moments in shooters like DOOM.

3. Sennheiser PC 373D

A typically fearsome set of Sennheiser cans

Interface: Wired (3.5mm or USB) | Features: 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound, Customizable surround sound software, Ear-mounted volume control, Velvet ear pads, Angled baffle plate, Padded headband, Sennheiser Transducers, Pro Noise Cancellation adjustable microphone, 2-year warranty

Extremely comfortable for long periods
Superb noise-cancelling mic
Great 7.1 surround sound
No wireless functionality

Expectations around any Sennheiser gaming headset are already high considering the brand's expertise in audio equipment. The company's flagship PC 373D doesn't disappoint thanks to its high-end Dolby 7.1 Surround sound that lets you pick out enemies from afar. We went for hours with minimal discomfort wearing the headset, which keeps your head cool using breathable plush velvet ear pads that offer surprisingly decent sound isolation.

Our in-game team-mates had no trouble hearing us speak thanks to the noise cancelling microphone, which is decked in a red material that matches the inside of the ear-cup. The PC 373D's design is refreshingly demure, decked in matte black material and free of the ostentatious "gamer" features often found on other headsets. While it may not feature wireless connectivity, a combination of supreme comfort, flawless sound quality and a stellar retractable microphone add up to make one of the best premium gaming headsets on the market.

V MODA

4. V-MODA Crossfade Wireless

Stylish with powerful bass-driven tones

Interface: Wireless or wired (USB) | Features: Bluetooth connectivity, built-in microphone (Boom Microphone available for gamers), Lithium-ion battery with up to 12 hours of continuous music, Dual-diaphragm 50mm driver, Metal construction with leather, Military-level MID-STD-810 tested

Huge, eardrum-filling sound
Comfortable padded cups
Divisive design
Don't fold

If you're more interested in the sounds coming out of your gaming headset, rather than glowing LEDs, macro keys and other nonessential extras, then the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless is the headset for you. These stylish cans are a treat for the ears, emitting booming sound that's bass-heavy with fantastically crisp treble at the other end. Whether you're being rocked by explosions in Battlefield or can hear the roar of the crowd in Fifa, they bring games to life and are equally suited to listening to music; You'll be able to pick out parts of your favorite tracks that you never previously thought existed.

Stepping out of the soundscape for a moment, the V-MODA Crossfade Wireless feature comfortable memory foam ear cups that don't irritate the ears even after hours of use, and you'll get around 12 hours out of its battery life when connected via Bluetooth. This headset's rugged build quality, funky travel case and optional USB connectivity add up to make it one of the best headsets on the market.

Read the full review: V-MODA Crossfade Wireless

5. Turtle Beach 350 Stealth VR

The best gaming headset for virtual reality

Interface: Wired (3.5mm) | Features: Battery-powered amplification (30 hours on a single charge), Variable bass boost, Full-range audio, Mic monitoring, Removable noise-cancelling microphone, Ergonomic VR design. Swappable cable system

Ergonomic design suits VR headsets
Battery amplification provides full-bodied sound
Mic monitoring lets you hear yourself
Feel flimsier than more expensive headsets
No surround sound

With VR headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift making their way into PC gamers' rooms, specially-designed audio headsets for virtual reality were bound to follow. The Turtle Beach 350 Stealth VR is one of the most flexible out there, featuring a generous amount of adjustability thanks to its sturdy headband which can fit over the top of VR headsets worn on even the biggest heads. Sure enough, the 350 Stealth is designed for practicality rather than sharp looks. Its black-and-white color scheme isn't the most exciting design out there, but an abundance of features makes up for that. There's mic monitoring, which allows you to hear your own voice inside the headset, bass boost for booming lows, a detachable noise-cancelling headphone mic, and a groove in the ear cups that lets you tuck the audio cable out of the way. While it's perfectly suitable for owners of PC-based VR headsets, it's quite literally a great fit for PSVR gamers too.

6. SteelSeries Arctis

High performance with a low profile

Interface: Wireless or wired (3.5mm) | Features: 2.4GHz wireless technology (Arctis 7 only); 15-hour battery; built-in digital audio control; Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound; Steelseries Engine software, Compatible with PC, Mac PS4, Xbox One, smartphones, tablets and VR

Sterling bass and treble quality
Professional design
Ugly suspension headband

Unlike some of its competitors, SteelSeries stresses subtlety in its headset designs. The Arctis continues this trend by flaunting sound quality and comfort over gaudy appearances. 

When you pop an Arctis on your head, the goal is for your audience to see a professional environment rather than, say, a Dorito stain on your chair. The customizable lighting, however, gives you plenty of wiggle room, though, if the monochrome look isn’t your thing.

The SteelSeries Arctis comes in three distinct flavors: Arctis 3, Arctis 5 and Arctis 7, each one more expensive than the last. The Arctis 3 is pretty analog protocol while the 5 ships with an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and the Arctis 7 is wireless with 2.4GHz connectivity. Each model comes with digital audio control built-in, with an app available for those looking to take this one step further.

The only drawback, then, is a less-than-attractive suspension headband.

Razer ManO War

7. Razer ManO'War

Surround sound without the fuss

Interface: Wireless | Features: Software-based 7.1 surround sound, Earcup-mounted controls, Chroma RGB multi-color lighting, 14-meter range (using an extender, 12 meters without)

Great surround sound
Easy to set up
Multi-color lighting
Slightly bulky
No wired option

Quick and easy to setup using an inconspicuous wireless USB receiver that stores inside the headset for transportation, the Razer ManO'War is a user-friendly unit that's primed for surround-sound gaming. Sure, it's a little chunkier than most other headsets, but two soft leatherette ear cups make it comfortable to wear for extended periods. They're easy on the eye too thanks to customizable Chroma RGB backlighting configured through Razer's Synapse software.

Though delivered through software, the ManO'War's 7.1 channel virtual surround sound does a fine job of ramping up immersion in-game. Doom's Imps are no longer somewhere around you – they're breathing down your neck. The ManO'War's range can reach up to 14 meters using the supplied USB extender, and its battery life is capable of stretching to just as many hours.

As a more affordable alternative, Razer has launched the ManO'War 7.1 Wired Gaming Headset. It comes with a USB digital-to-analog convertor (CAV) that provides superb surround sound and the same eye-catching design as the wireless edition (only without the RGB lighting).

Read the full review: Razer ManO'War

Best gaming headset

8. HyperX Cloud Stinger

Great sound at a price for everyone

Interface: 3.5mm analog wired | Features: Closed back earcups, Swiveling noise-cancellation microphone, Onboard volume slider, Multi-platform compatibility, Memory foam earcups

Lightweight
Excellent ergonomics
Unremovable microphone
Light on bass

Arguably one of the most affordable gaming headsets available today, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is designed to give players eSports quality audio at a bargain. While there isn't much to write home about with the red on black plastic design of the headset, the stereo sound is superb. It also feels comfortable to wear for extended play sessions thanks to a set of memory foam earcups. Although this isn't the ultimate gaming headset, it's a great starting point if you're trying to game on a budget.

9. Sennheiser GSP 350

Stellar Sennheiser audio quality for less

Interface: 3.5mm and USB (for 7.1 surround) | Features: Closed acoustic earcups, Memory foam ear pads, Right ear cup volume control, 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound, Broadcast quality noise-cancelling microphone, Automatic mic mute, Split headband design

Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound
Sturdy build quality
Comfortable memory foam earpads
Dolby surround only works with PC

More affordable than Sennheiser's flagship PC 373D while still packing an audible punch, the GSP 350 carries over that headset's stellar 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound and closed ear-cup design. It's equally a suitable for marathon  gaming sessions thanks to its huge comfortable ear cups, with the right cup once again featuring a volume dial. The headset uses a closed-back design with an adjustable split headband, rather than the PC 373D's more solid and thicker continuous band. The GSP 350's noise-cancelling microphone is equally as good and once again mutes when lifted up while blocking out breathing sounds, much to the relief of your in-game team-mates. If you like the look of Sennheiser's flagship gaming headset but can't quite stomach its price tag, this one is a little lighter and slightly less solid, but still superior to many of its rivals.

G33 Artemis Spectrum

10. Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum

A command center on your head

Interface: Wireless or wired (3.5mm) | Features: 7.1 Surround Sound, Cup-mounted G-Keys (macro), Programmable RGB mutli-color lighting

Attractive design
Cup mounted macro keys
Comfortable
Average battery life

Logitech's flagship gaming headset packs in plenty of bells and whistles, the most useful being its cup-mounted G-keys that provide handy shortcuts to performing actions in-game. In terms of design, The G933 is certainly one of the snazziest headsets around and oozes gamer appeal, and if you're fed up of round ear-cups on headsets then you'll appreciate its large and comfortable ear-shaped ones. Logitech has ran a multi-colored lighting strip all the way down the cup, rather than placing a flashing logo on the side, which in our eyes is more appealing than the small glowing areas on Corsair's and Razer's flagship headsets. On the negative side, this cuts down battery life to around 10 hours. Turning off the flashing goodness will help you eke out a few more,

Corsair Void RGB

11. Corsair Void RGB

Lights up the room and your ears

Interface: Wireless or wired (USB) | Features: 7.1 software-based surround sound, 2.4GHz wireless, 40-feet wireless range, 16-hour battery life, Mic on indicator, RGB lighting, Corsair CUE software, 50mm neodymium drivers, Noise-cancelling microphone

Well-built
Long wireless range
Surround sound works well
Cloth (rather than leather) ear cups
Microphone isn't great

If you're looking for a pair of 7.1 surround sound cans with RGB lighting that won't break the bank, Corsair's latest entry should be high up your list. Its excellent 40-meter wireless range means you can go for a wander without your team-mates' chatter cutting off, and the Void is capable of emitting fist-pumping bass that's powerful without muddying the mix. You can configure its lighting colors using Corsair's intuitive software and even make it dance in tandem with the company's K65 or K70 mechanical keyboards. Unfortunately, there isn't any way for adjusting the fold-down mic so its clarity often suffers, but it doesn't put us off what is a solid and affordable option for surround sound gaming.

Cloud Revolver

12. HyperX Cloud Revolver

Affordable and comfortable with punchy bass

Interface: Wired (dual 3.5mm) | Features: 53mm drivers, Ear cup memory foam, Noise cancellation mic, Audio volume and mute controls, Detachable microphone

Good value
Decent build quality
Punchy, bass-driven sound
No surround sound
No headset controls

Here we have a no-frills headset that offers build quality that comes close to pairs that cost almost twice the price. You may have already come across Kingston's HyperX Cloud Revolver headset. Used by a number of eSports teams, its large interchangeable over-the-ear memory foam cups help block out unwanted noise, and the retractable mic allows clear and distortion-free communication with team-mates.

Despite its affordable nature, the Cloud Revolver is ready to rock. Its 53mm drivers have been tweaked to blast out punchy mid-range tones and pounding bass that's best described as in-your-face. Subtle they ain't. There's no surround sound support or RGB lighting to be found here, and you'll have to reach for the Cloud Revolver's braided cable to get to its in-line volume and mic controls. If those factors don't bother you then this value-focused headset comes highly recommended.

ROG STRIX WIRELESS

13. Asus ROG Strix Wireless

Low-input lag makes these great for gaming

Interface: Wireless | Features: 2.4GHz wireless technology; 900mAh battery; Headset-mounted control buttons; Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound; Sonic Studio software' Compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One, smartphones, and tablets.

Great 7.1 surround sound
Soft padded earcups
Bulky plastic design

Looking like something straight out of Quake 2, Asus' Strix 7.1 wireless gaming headset immediately caught our eye thanks to its large black-and-orange ear cups that are decked in a circular pattern resembling an owl's eye. Those oversized ear cups makes them comfortable to wear for extended periods but there's no RGB lighting on them, which on the plus side provides up to 10 hours of continuous gameplay using 2.4GHz wireless to connect.

Asus claims that it provides lower latency than Bluetooth, and while it's difficult to verify that, bullets whizzing past our head in-game synched up pretty well thanks to virtual 7.1 surround sound being blasted into our ears from all directions. Asus' Sonic Studio software provides an easy method of tweaking sound settings, and we found cranking up the (already sufficient) bass in the app's equalizer particularly satisfying for both gaming and listening to music.

Turtle Beach

14. Turtle Beach Elite Pro

Like kicking back on your favorite comfy couch

Interface: Wireless or wired (3.5mm) | Features: 3.5mm upstream and downstream jack, 50mm drivers, Memory foam earpads, Glasses relief system, Optional Tournament Audio Controller, Standard microphone included

Comfortable
Tactical Audio Controller
No surround sound
Pricey with TAC

Aimed at PC and console gamers, using Turtle Beach's Elite Pro feels like sitting down at a command station and gearing up for war. This headset oozes gaming appeal, right down to the subtle orange ruler-type markings on the headset's automatically adjusting headband. It's a funky piece of kit that's reassuringly chunky while remaining supremely comfortable at all times thanks to its gel-infused Aerofit ear cushions. Most importantly, they sound great in the heat of battle. That's down to Turtle Beach's 50mm NanoClear drivers, which do an especially great job of bringing you into the heart of the action in shooters.

If you're particularly hardcore, you might want to shell out for the Tactical Audio Controller. At $199 (around £149) it's not cheap, but it grants an intuitive and fun of adjusting settings such as the game/chat mix, your own microphone level, in-game sounds, and there's also a mute button to cut game sound out completely. It also lets you chop and change between four surround modes (Game, Music, Movie and off), which is a lot easier than fiddling around with controls on the headset itself.

15. Logitech G430

Surround sound without the price tag

Interface: Wired | Features: On-cable controls, Dolby and DTS HeadphoneX surround sound, Multi-positional ear-cups, Lightweight design, Noise-cancelling mic

Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound
Lightweight and comfortable
Plastic build quality

Featuring an eye-catching black-and-blue color scheme, Logitech's G430 is one of the more affordable surround-sound headsets out there. Featuring both Dolby 7.1 and FTS HeadphoneX surround sound, they allow you to detect enemies before they clock you.

They can be worn for hours thanks to their sports-like cloth on the ear cups, which pivot and rotate flat to a 90-degree angle for easier transportation. There's also a noise-cancelling mic that helps to cut out background noise, and you can easily mute yourself using audio controls located on the 2.3-meter cable.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.