Best gaming headset 2017: The best PS4, Xbox One and PC gaming headsets you can buy
Picking the best gaming headset can be tricky. Do you want wireless or wired? How about noise-cancelling microphones, or options for add-ons when you start taking your gaming more seriously? It can seem as if the options are endless.
Well, worry no longer: there’s a healthy glut of high-end gaming headsets on the market right now, and we’ve tested a bunch to see which are worth your money. Not all gaming headsets should break the bank, but don’t expect to snap up a pro-level pair of cans for next to nothing; some things are worth spending money on.
How to buy the best gaming headset for you:
Should I go wired or wireless when buying a headset?
In most situations, this decision is really down to personal preference. Having a wireless headset is far more convenient for those who plan to sit down on the sofa in front of their TV and don’t want to deal with trailing wires or having to sit too close to their console/TV/computer. The downside is that they’ll need recharging, or have to come with an easily swapped battery.
Wired headsets are better for those who sit closer to their TV, or at a computer on a desk. Generally these can deliver clearer, less-laggy sound – although the difference is basically imperceivable. Wired headsets tend to be cheaper than wireless units, but they’re somewhat more inconvenient.
Stereo, 5.1 or 7.1?
Stuck wondering what’s best for you? Most of the time you’ll want to go for a headset that offers more depth than simply stereo – especially if you’re paying a high price for them. Generally speaking, though, all headsets are stereo, and the 5.1 and 7.1 “surround sound” is entirely digital smoke and mirrors. But it does make a big difference while playing, and if you’re looking to use your headset for competitive play – even at an amateur level, after work on the sofa – then opting for a surround-sound headset can make all the difference.
Why do gaming headset prices vary so much?
You may have noticed that prices for gaming headsets tend to vary quite wildly. On the whole, any decent headset is at the higher-end of the price spectrum, with lower-end devices being cheaper. Price isn’t necessarily an indication of sound quality – branding definitely comes into it – but it can help you understand device build quality and how long a set of cans may last you. Rule of thumb: pay for a headset that’s at the upper-end of your price bracket and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
What are driver sizes about?
Wondering what 30mm, 40mm and 50mm drivers means on headset specification sheets or boxes? Well, it’s all about the size of the speaker that’s next to your ear. To put it simply, the larger the diameter, the better the sound quality. It’s also worth paying attention to the metal used for driver magnets. Most are made of ferrite or cobalt, but more exotic materials – such as gaming headset favourite neodymium – can offer up better sound.
Do I need a noise-cancelling microphone?
Noise-cancelling microphones aren’t an essential addition to a headset, but if you tend to play in a noisy environment then they can be a godsend for other players. Not only do they offer your voice more clarity when playing online, they have a voice feedback function so you don’t end up shouting in whatever room you’re sat in.
Does my headset have to be officially licenced to work properly with Xbox One and PS4?
Licensed headsets may contain slightly more functionality than non-licensed units – but ultimately, there’s little difference. Most of the extra functionality boils down to small things, such as not needing to plug yourself into a controller for game chat to work, or game-based sound optimisations. We don’t advise making it a priority to buy a licenced headset if it isn’t something you’re already interested in buying.
Best gaming headsets 2017: The 6 best headsets available right now
SteelSeries Siberia 800: The best wireless gaming headset
Price: £225 | Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, mobile
The SteelSeries Siberia 800 is the daddy of wireless gaming headsets, and even under its old name of the H Wireless, it’s been sitting at the top of the pile for a while now. You may be tempted to pick up the newer Siberia 840 over the 800, and that wouldn’t be a terrible decision, but since the only major difference is the welcome addition of Bluetooth support, you have to consider if you think the feature is worth an extra £55.
That aside, both the Siberia 800 and 840 support all platforms wirelessly via a digital receiver that doubles as a replaceable battery charger, audio equaliser and chat channel mixer. SteelSeries has also cleverly integrated all the audio controls – including menu navigation – snugly into the headset itself; even the microphone can be tucked away into the earcup when not in use.
In terms of sound quality and mic audio, it’s up there with the best headsets on the market. Bass is punchy and satisfying, and even the most generic of action games will sound a world better when your head is wrapped in these cans. It may be one of the more expensive options on this list, but it’s unrivalled in what it can do.
SteelSeries Arctis 3: The best all-round gaming headset
Price: £90 | Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, smartphone
SteelSeries’ second headset in our list is another strong contender. Compatible with all formats, including the Nintendo Switch, the Arctis 3’s affordable price makes it an enticing choice if you want something that’s light on features but high on comfort.
It’s capable of delivering digital 7.1 surround sound on PC and equaliser settings via the SteelSeries Engine 3 software; on every other platform it’s an excellent pair of stereo cans with clear chat audio. All three headsets in the Arctis range (the 3, 5 and 7) use the same high-end driver units as the Siberia 800, and as a result sound great, but they cost less because the features aren’t as comprehensive.
However, the Arctis 3 is perfect for those who want a basic, decent-quality PC headset that can can also be used for their Switch, smartphone and home consoles.
Thrustmaster Y-350X 7.1: Best gaming headset for cost-conscious gamers
Price: £80 | Platforms: PC, Xbox One
You may think Thrustmaster is an odd entry for a gaming headset roundup, but the French peripherals company isn’t just about third-party gamepads and joysticks. It also makes some fantastically affordable gaming audio equipment.
Chief among these is the Thrustmaster Y-350X, a digital 7.1 surround-sound gaming headset for PC and Xbox One. Thrustmaster doesn’t seem to produce an unthemed version of the Y-350X – the current model is a Ghost Recon Wildlands Edition – but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s well worth considering. Thrustmaster’s headset has brilliant audio quality, crushing bass, clear chat audio and excellent comfort for long gaming sessions. Not bad for £80.
Astro A40TR: The best gaming headset for aspiring pros
Price: £200 | Platforms: PC, Mac, PS4
Astro consistently produces some of the best gaming headsets around, and that doesn’t change with the Astro A40 Tournament Ready. The A40TRs are open-backed cans with fabric cushions and a detachable microphone – great features for a general-purpose pro-level headset.
Astro also offers “mod” packs to transform the A40TRs into competitive-grade headphones with closed-back earcups, comfortable leather cushions and a noise-cancelling microphone.
In fact, the only reason this isn’t up there as the de facto pro-level headset is because its included breakout mixer unit – the MixAmp Pro TR – isn’t as versatile as that of the Turtle Beach Elite Pro. Sure, it comes included in the box and has four equaliser presets, but it isn’t totally customisable to your individual gaming preferences.
Turtle Beach Elite Pro: The pro gamer’s choice gaming headset
Price: £170; £140 for TAC; £27 for noise-cancelling mic | Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The Turtle Beach Elite Pro is a champion among gaming headsets. It would be the best wired gaming headset out there if it weren’t for its rather absurd price. Built specifically for professional gamers, Turtle Beach has created the Elite Pro to be perfect for long gaming sessions, and endlessly customisable for tournament-style play.
The Elite Pro isn’t just about comfort and features – it’s also using beefy 50mm spears to deliver excellent, super-crisp audio. Using the Elite Pro without the optional Tactical Audio Controller (TAC) still pumps out pleasingly sharp highs and rumbling lows. However, it’s with the TAC’s ability to unlock the Elite Pro’s DTS 7.1 surround-sound capabilities that the headset comes into its own.
The breakout TAC box may cost extra, but it adds plenty of features for those who really want to tweak audio to perfection, including reducing background noise and mic-monitoring capabilities. You can also pick up a noise-cancelling microphone to keep team chat clean and crisp when you’re in a tournament hall. If it’s the pro option you’re looking for, the Turtle Beach Elite Pro is for you.
PlayStation Platinum: The best PS4 gaming headset around
Price: £130 | Platforms: PS4
It’s impressive to see Sony squeeze so many features into a £130 device, when many of its closest competitors cost almost twice the price.
Thanks to the two beefy 50mm drivers, bass has plenty of punch, highs are crisp and sharp, and mids don’t feel flat – exactly what you want from a gaming headset. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to consider the PlayStation Platinum headset, its use of developer-built equalisation profiles, 3D audio technology and total wireless play (meaning no cable between headset and controller, as with many other headsets) more than make it worth the asking price.