Good gaming audio can be pretty pricey. In fact, it’s not uncommon to plop down $300-400 for high-quality headsets. So you might be surprised to find out that a great audio experience won’t require hundreds of dollars. Gaming headsets have continued to dramatically fall in price while offering more quality and variety under $100 than ever before.
That being said, bargain peripherals often have numerous cheap knock-off competitors that you need to avoid. That’s why we created this guide to the best headsets under $100. Despite the misperception that a good headset has to break the budget, we’ve compiled a list of options that’ll keep your wallet safe and make you happy.
Picking a headset generally involves knowing your intended use such as console or PC, and understanding a few technical details. For those who know a thing or two about audio equipment, skip on down to our top picks and you’ll find the best headsets of 2021 under $100. Wired, wireless, console, PC. We have something for everyone. For those who may feel a bit uneducated about audio equipment though, we’ve also created an in-depth buying guide that covers the tech behind headsets. We also answer your most frequently answered questions so that you can make an educated decision without any regrets.
Note: Due to minor variations in price, these items may slightly go above $100 or dip dramatically below but we’ve intended that to be the most likely price spot for the foreseeable future.
Best under $100
SteelSeries Arctis 5 RGB
The Arctis 5 has everything. 7.1 surround sound that actually sounds good. A Mic that is crystal clear. On-ear audio controls so you can tuck the cord away. You won’t be disappointed!
SteelSeries has taken the lead in the upper echelons of costly amazing high-fidelity sound gear. The best headsets are often attributed to them. It’s no coincidence that the lower-end version of SteelSeries products continually raises the bar. The 5 is mid-range in the budget line of SteelSeries but you wouldn’t realize that when looking at the feature-packed design of the Arctis. SteelSeries managed to wow with the Arctis 5, which is our selection for the best-wired gaming headset under $100.
The Arctis 5 has everything. 7.1 surround sound that actually sounds good. A Mic that is crystal clear. On-ear audio controls so you can tuck the cord away. It also has unique features like ChatMix, a dial that allows you to balance the sound between chat and game volume. The Arctis 5 is one of the best-wired gaming headsets under $100 that you’ll find. It’s becoming common knowledge that SteelSeries quality is second to none.
We loved the sound. Just loved it. It’s hard to compete with Hyper X but the Arctis 5 is pretty fantastic to listen to. It’s also just so affordable for the quality of what you get. As one of the most comfortable headsets on this list, its almost expected that it’d be deeply flawed in other areas but really almost anything you can think of, the Arctis nails.
The big downside is that the DTS Surround sound with the killer quality is only available for Windows. For a console or OSX, you’ll need a different headset. If that’s your reason for picking these up, be aware that they’ll perform in Stereo on the Switch or PS4. Also, they can only be used wired on Xbox and the Switch. A pretty big consolation for some users. Realistically though, very few if any cross-platform headsets exist at this price point. If you want to play on both console and PC, it’s either going to cost more or require a concession. So we don’t hold it against the Arctis that it is pretty PC focused in design.
Runner Up (under $100)
Hyper X Cloud II
Falling just below SteelSeries in our head to head showdown, the Cloud II is still a great choice if the price or look is more your style.
Hyper X has quickly outpaced almost all competitors with better iterations of iconic headsets year after year. The flagship series will usually run in excess of $100 but they have a ton of options that are budget minded and generally have all the features you’d want in a gaming headset anyways. Hyper X is going toe to toe with SteelSeries these days offering a dizzying assortment of competitive products that really keep the bar raised high.
The soundstage is one of our favorite parts of the Hyper X series. The care they put into the recent models of USB Audio Cards shows as you’ll be blown away when exploring distant planets and listening to diverse soundscapes. It’s one of those highlights of Hyper X. In our tests, using outside headsets with the USB Audio Card sounded pretty good as well but we didn’t test it well enough to say it was the driving force behind the audio quality with outside headsets. If it was though, it’s worth picking up the USB Sound card alone.
The sound feels deep and alive meaning that games like Rage 2 will make revving engines a blast. It also gives really good directional cues for most games. CS:GO did provide some difficulty though as the realistic surround sound made footprints just a touch too quiet compared to stereo. Overall it’s probably the best balance you’ll find outside of jumping to a $300 set of earpads. Solid design has always been a hallmark of Hyper X as well. You don’t feel like you’ll break this headset. We love that because many budget sets feel as if they come from cheap plastic in some distant factory.
While the Cloud II is becoming renowned as one of the best-wired gaming headsets under $100, we ultimately sided with SteelSeries. This is simply because the Cloud II is so good but so close to the other top-tier models in the Hyper X line (S, Revolver) that a simple $10 or $15 often pushes your headset options into a completely different league. That and despite amazing design, beautiful sound, and wonderful customer support, it has a really terrible looking mic. It looks like a boyband mic with an exaggerated pop filter. So it’s all the fixings with a dash of K-Pop career.
Best under $50
Hyper X Cloud/Core/Silver
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Truth be told the Cloud, Core, and Silver fluctuate between $40-100. As a series of headsets, they tend to be lumped into deals and purchases of other peripherals. Don’t let that discount them though. All the quality we expect from Hyper X manages to make it into the Cloud and Core series.
What sets them apart is the ability to select one for almost any need. Be it the stinger series for PS4 or Xbox respectively, a generic top-tier stinger for wireless gaming, Hyper X has a pretty diverse set of options. Instead of selecting a single headset, we suggest checking out these three model lines as they’re more suited for specific needs. Most come in black or white, wired or wireless, and with varying levels of support for 7.1 Sound.
The real 7.1 support comes in the form of the USB sound card but that isn’t sold with the cheaper $50 units. Despite the low price, they sound fantastic. A stellar line by Hyper X. With the Stinger series, you’ll find the best gaming headset for PS4 under $50 and the best gaming headset for Xbox One under $50. We selected this series as the best overall budget gaming headset because every model is good enough to pass our inspection and they have something for every gamer.
The biggest downside to this product line is that some features are lacking from the nicer models Hyper X offers but price-wise they are frustratingly close to top-tier. These are both technical features such as Virtual Surround Sound and physical features such as memory foam. The other downside is that the Prices fluctuate a lot. There are tons of different deals online or various sales that have these headsets dipping from $80 to $30 regularly. We suggest our link for the current pricing but it’s worth putting a bit of research into your model before purchasing. You’ll find something you like with them though!
Runner Up (under $50)
Turtle Beach Atlas One PC Gaming Headset
We enjoyed the way the Atlas felt on the head and it fits the niche well. All the games that we listened to had decent mids, lows, and highs.
Turtle Beach is normally associated with consoles and some of the cheaper options on the market. They also do pretty decent high-end options for Xbox and PS4 which makes them one of the most console-friendly options on the market. The Atlas stands alone as one of the few PC oriented options offered by Turtle Beach. We love this little headset for the comfortable feel and the sturdy design. It doesn’t feel cheap although it doesn’t feel like the steel heavyweight models that are poised to last for decades.
We enjoyed the way the Atlas felt on the head and it fits the niche well. All the games that we listened to had decent mids, lows, and highs. It wasn’t really a bass oriented headset. That’s to be expected at this size. The mic sounded clear enough for gaming but tinny. One of the best features is becoming more common, a simple flip to mute mic.
The one on the Atlas feels smooth and responsive. It wasn’t dramatic to get this thing silenced in an intense round of Apex Legends. For a PC gamer on a budget, it’s a pretty good device. It could be better but it’s good. The Stereo sounds deep enough to feel the edge of bass in some games. You can get good directional sound too as long as the game you are playing has designed the soundstage to work well in stereo. It’s a very good product. Did it wow us? I don’t know if there will ever be much wow factor under $50! But it’s one of the best we found in this range and did great.
To be honest about the Atlas. You get a good headset. A gaming headset that borders frustratingly on greatness but doesn’t reach those heights due to a lack of Virtual surround sound and just being slightly lower in quality. That’s not to say it isn’t a solid option, it’s just you can only get so much under $50.
Best Budget Wireless
Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset
It has excellent DTS 7.1 Surround sound, decent battery life, and an array of other features. It’s a solid headset.
Logitech knocks the feel out of the park with the G533. Like most wireless headsets, it has some compatibility issues with other systems and setups. Despite this, it has excellent DTS 7.1 Surround sound, decent battery life, and an array of other features. It’s a solid headset. Yet it’s originally not priced out under $100. Recently we’ve been seeing these at record low prices despite being a solid product. Whether its a new product entering the market or just a lack of desire to purchase this, this is creating an opportunity to get top-tier Wireless headsets at bargain prices.
One of the best parts of the G533 is simply the feel. It’s lightweight and gently hugs the ears without being too heavy or forceful. Many wireless sets today feel like old walkie talkies from the 1980s. They’re big, clunky, and painful after a short period. Logitech avoided this by investing in comfort and design in a light-weight form fashion. The G533 performs very well for 15-hours at a time and didn’t compromise on the audio quality by any means.
Getting past the physical weight and design, this headset is easy to use and just comfortable. The Flip up mic is quickly becoming a favorite feature of all headsets as it’s easier to find that then root around for a mute button when playing PubG (We all know missing a second in that game can cost you the round and 45 minutes of your life). It’s a simple feature that we love and are seeing more and more on the products offered below $100. As of now this is the best wireless gaming headset under $100 but there is no guarantee that low price will last forever.
The G533 has one fatal flaw. It’s hard to know when to buy it. We don’t like that the price is a bit unstable. The G533 is a premium product but often goes on sale for as much as 50% off. This bargain price is when you should pick this headset up as you’ll be getting a pretty pricey top-notch set for hardly any money. Yet it’s a bit confusing why it’s such a common occurrence. It’s possible a successor is coming down the pipeline. The G533 does lack compatibility with consoles meaning you’ll probably want to avoid this one if you don’t plan on PC gaming and get a dedicated Hyper X Stinger.
Corsair is leading the pack with RGB so it’s natural that they’d offer one of the best RGB wireless gaming headsets on the market without the price. The Void Pro combines some of the best features found in Gaming headsets without breaking the bank. 7.1 Surround sound, RGB, a mic you can mute with a touch of the hand. It’s beautiful in design, simple, and runs great. It’s a solid all-around mic.
Snagging that discord certification, the Void has been cleared for speaking online due to crisp incredible mic quality. It felt great to just speak without needing to repeat or complaints of too much background noise. We recommend this if you’re thinking about a wireless headset that needs one of the best mics around. The sound quality is really good but you’ll notice it’s muddier compared to some of the competitors when using 7.1 Surround Sound.
This could be due to programming or other reasons, stereo sounds world-class and 7.1 is really good in some games. Using Spotify or youtube videos though caused some of the wrong noises to be amplified and didn’t have that wow factor SteelSeries and Hyper X are known for. With competitive gaming though, the stereo sound and mic combo made it precise enough to play great while still offering quality.
So what’s not to like? First off the battery life is 16 hours, a generous amount. It isn’t terrible but on a long trip when using RGB plus virtual surround sound it goes quick. It didn’t feel like that was actual time. This is a minor concession if you keep it at home and are pretty disciplined in your charging. The second thing is that the 7.1 found here is a bit controversial. While Hyper X does a world-class job with simulated 7.1, Corsair still hasn’t made a fan of everyone. It’s fine, crisp, and pretty good but if you are pumping out money for the best sound stage, you may want to consider a different option. This is really going to depend on the specific gamer though.
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Hyper X Cloud Stinger Wireless (PS4)
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Hyper X has distilled all the best parts of its cloud stinger into a wireless form. Designed specifically for the PS4, the Wireless cloud stinger is the only headset you’ll ever need for Playstation. It has amazing sound and is light enough to fit comfortably on your head for hours. Whether it’s God of War or Spider-Man, PS4 gamers get a premium experience using the Stinger. We love the quality and it is at the higher range of budget headsets but it’s a quality piece.
First off it has a great range (40ft) which is pretty standard for wireless headsets as anything more is a bit overkill. This is useful though with consoles as you’ll normally be further from them than a PC gamer would from his rig. The battery lasts approximately 17 hours which is pretty good and with the LED indicator, you know when it will die.
This isn’t just one of the best PS4 gaming headsets under $100, this is one of the best wireless gaming headsets under $100. It’s just phenomenal for a wireless set at this price. The look is designed to go hand in hand with PS4 gamers and offers really rich sound for a console headset. One of our pet peeves with gaming headsets is that they often drop the quality for console connections. Not so with the Stinger. The noise canceling mic actually works pretty well in a crowded room as well. Since consoles are often in family rooms and more public places, this works wonders with keeping background noise minimal and removing a feedback loop if you just turn off the earpads and use the mic.
The biggest drawback is the singular focus on PS4. But that’s what makes this a great product as well, no compromise when it comes to the design and investment in the Sony ecosystem. Hopefully, we’ll start to see more products of this nature under $100 that can be used with Switch, Xbox, and everything else.
Best XBox One Gaming Headset
Razer Kraken Pro V2
Built for the Xbox, the Kraken Pro V2 feels great, has amazing sounds, and comes in at a great price.
A cursory glance at budget headsets reveals that the Xbox gets neglected when compared to the PS4. Razer though, renowned for the best left-handed gaming mouse and other niche peripherals, saw this need and created an epic budget headset that just sounds fantastic on Xbox One. As always, Razer creates products that are built to last with affordable quality. So you can expect to get another level of quality over some of the other brands out there.
This is one of the most comfortable headsets you’ll ever wear. It just feels fun to have on. Like a comfortable hat, or something you wear to enjoy. That’s pretty refreshing in a world of huge beastly headsets that just make your neck hurt. The aluminum headband is sturdy but pretty light, so you don’t need to feel like these will break easily either.
As for the sound. We used the stereo version which is designed for Xbox (PS4 users may have trouble using it with the controller) which was pretty great for the price. It wasn’t as accurate or put together as the 7.1 models but you can upgrade to a THX tournament grade model (Be aware that compatibility starts to be an issue with virtual surround and many consoles). It’s our favorite headset for Xbox and there are a few green models as well.
The biggest reason to choose another would be if you own multiple consoles. The PS4 doesn’t do well with the 3.5mm jack and power ratio. It is better with USB support. This might be a big issue for those who own every console but if you are a simple man of Xbox, this is the headset for you!
Gaming audio has come very far from the years of 8-bit midi tunes. In fact, modern AAA games have an entire soundstage that rivals that of the largest summer blockbusters. This audio quality is often lost without a premium headset. Buying an actual 7.1 surround sound set-up is not only wildly expensive, but it’s also hard to maintain in an environment such as an apartment or shared living space. Gaming headsets allow gamers to experience audio as the developers truly meant it. That means a living, breathing, immersive environment. The sound of motors is loud and deafening, gunshots feel bold and deep, birds and crickets fill the background as you wander different RPGs.
Picking out a headset can be a bit daunting, especially if you don’t have a ton of extra cash. We’ve laid out the different features and aspects you need to consider if you want to purchase the gaming headset of your dreams.
The technical terms involved with audio aren’t always easy to understand. We’ve gone ahead and broken down some of the most common audio terms and features you’ll come across, starting with the technical side. If you want to know why Hz, frequencies, and other aspects matter, this is the place!
Nearly every product review or item review for a headset will mention speaker drivers. It’s just assumed that those will matter to you despite most users lacking knowledge about them. Basically, speakers consist of a natural magnet and electromagnet working together. Using electrical current, the two magnets can be used to rhythmically vibrate back and forth. This creates sound and done correctly sounds that are controlled. So why does this matter? The larger, more powerful, and higher quality magnets are, the better they can produce sound. Often this is used for bass but outside of just bass, speaker magnets can also be used for volume and surround sound implementation.
Most gaming headsets fall into the closed back category. That means the sound is held within the headset and does not travel outside of it. This makes the sound feel a bit less natural (As it can’t echo) but minimizes the sound that enters into the outside environment from the user. Since sound can’t escape, the audio is usually pretty clear and rich. Closed back sound doesn’t have the physical depth of a concert hall or large room that open backed headsets produce. This is better for the immersive world of gaming though as Open Backs usually are reserved for music. By and large every gaming headset you encounter today will come in a closed back form.
Some headsets come with an opening on the outside of the earpieces. What this opening does is allow sound to travel out fo the headset and into the surrounding environment. This creates a more natural sound as it allows for a bit of the environmental play that music is designed for. The natural and bounces of sound feel good and vibrant. The downside is that this can defeat the purpose of using headsets in different environments as people can hear your music easier. Open back headsets are generally lighter and more comfortable too.
Simply put, the frequency response range is the overall range of your speakers function. The lower the number, the deeper and bassier the frequency. The higher the number the more high-pitched. A wide range of frequencies isn’t necessarily a sign that you have higher quality speakers or sound quality. In fact, before 20hz and after 20,000 Hz, many users stop being able to hear or experience the sound. Unless you are trying to create a digital dog whistle, you don’t need to hit above 40,000 Hz. It’s not super-important to focus on Hz but is necessary to hit those minimums of 20 and 20,000. For those who want a deep technical dive, check out the Soundguys.
Audio has to be processed to create the glorious tones and notes that we take for granted. All Consoles and PC gamers have some sort of sound card involved with the system they use. This may be an onboard Realtek system as commonly seen on most motherboards or a dedicated audio card that goes in a PCIe slot. USB Sound cards take the audio and process it directly into the headset. This allows a normal set of headphones to sound pretty great and gaming headphones to sound phenomenal. Most top-tier headsets will have some sort of audio card. This usually is in the form of something like a dongle and can often be confused for a simple volume switch. It’s pretty important for top-notch 5.1 or 7.1 audio simulations to have one of these. If you are interested in how Virtual Surround sound works, check out this article.
Headsets can come with a variety of connectivity features. In general, a 3.5mm or USB jack is the best. Some other form factors are meant for professional recording devices or won’t work with typical use. Be aware that many gaming headsets can’t simply plug into a phone. This may seem annoying but going for a jog with a Hyper X Revolver headset isn’t the best usage of them anyways.
Mics are naturally an amazing tool to have on a headset and in general, any modern gaming headset will have at least some form of a mic. They’ve been the norm since Halo 2 days and only improved over time. The best mics can detach or fold up for those who hate having a random mic there at all times. In fact, some mics like Logitech mute upon folding up making it a pretty casual physical way to control your audio cues. Others don’t detach and we urge you to consider that as it means you’ll always need to be careful of this dangly mic hanging off the side of the headset. Flip up mute and a mic that can be stored is a huge perk. It also prevents the unthinkable situation where the mic gets broken off by snagging a corner or something in transit.
Most headsets offer a 2, 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound option. Since it’s impossible to actually have that many speakers in a headset without being very expensive, most headsets simulate this with complex algorithms or unique driver configurations. Some love 7.1 surround sound while others don’t. Simulated sound stages can really help the audio in games feel real and lively. Competitive and multiplayer game users can be torn on simulated sound systems. They make the environmental directional sound more accurate but may actually make footsteps or other audio cues quieter. That means in competitive games, you may have trouble hearing some noises as they used to all be pushed into two audio channels and give you a pretty clear if not slightly imprecise indication of noise.
If you want fancy colorful lighting, you can still get it without spending a ton of cash. Many headsets offer some sort of RGB, such as colorful lights on the side. Light up logos. Glowing cords and more. This won’t affect much but is often a draw for gamers. Be forewarned that wireless headsets are impacted by the additional use of RGB and sometimes are better left dull looking than wireless and shiny.
Most headsets will be good enough that being certified isn’t a huge reason to pick them up. Discord certified mics are generally rated to be amazing and pretty recent (Usually 2016 or later). If you have a certified mic, it’s going to be GREAT. If you have an uncertified mic, it’ll likely be terrible. That’s because certification is a pretty big baseline for gaming headsets. Those on this list all have good to great mic options but for those shopping outside our product list, we suggest taking a moment and making sure the product you select has been approved by an outside board.
There are quite a few wired and wireless options out there. Wired is more dependable and generally always somewhat compatible (Worst-case scenario it cuts from virtual surround to stereo). Wireless mics have batteries, independent software and USB connection devices, and compatibility issues. That’s not to discourage you from them as it’s an amazing feeling to go cordless. Rather, be aware that you’ll want to double check compatibility before going wireless. They’re also not as cheap so some situations like using wireless under $50 for a Nintendo Switch isn’t recommended. It’s worth the investment to get something that works, lasts all day, and feels great.
Some of the best headset technology has been coming from SteelSeries, Hyper X, Logitech, Corsair, and other top tech peripheral brands. Logitech may have a cheap low-quality line for instance but also does top-notch peripherals that e-sports teams use. In general, the most famous peripheral designers will have good standards for any headset over $60. Also consider Turtlebeach, Razer, and others as well.
We all like to save a bit of cash but at some point, you’ll just be wasting money. Our list hit the best of the budget items and we refused to compromise with cheap knock-offs or Gaming headsets that couldn’t cut the mustard. That’s not to say a crazy price drop won’t happen or a new product will come out, we just recommend sticking with the brands we’ve shown off and also making sure headsets have a few key features (Like 50mmish drivers) that show you didn’t get some mass produced trash product.
Going wireless is actually pretty fantastic but the downside is as we all know battery life. They also tend to be more expensive. In general, a wired solution is the cheaper more solid option but those who need to go wireless shouldn’t fear as today’s headsets have come a LONG way from those seen years ago. Battery life is generous (15-20 hours) even with budget headsets but this can be drained faster if the model has superfluous features like RGB and unique digital aspects. In general, we think that Wireless is a fantastic route but it’s more complex, they often won’t work with consoles or every platform. Be very cautious when selecting a headset that is wireless and make sure it is compatible!
Yes and no. Games often don’t cater to realism as the most effective way to play. Having crisp clear 7.1 surround sound may make hearing footprints harder compared to that crunched up Stereo solution most of us have to listen to. Some audio software claims to make things clearer or give edges but overall the crowd is split. Many actually think that virtual surround is a huge negative in competitive play. That’s totally ok though. The realistic and clean sounds of the environment can often be better though in specific games and situations. Everyone will need to be individually rated.
Absolutely not. Due to a wide range of reasons (Drivers, quality of parts, wired versus wireless) compatibility issues are in Gaming headsets. Wired connections normally always work and just cut some features but wireless connections may never work at all with different setups. It’s important to double-check this and be aware as you could buy something that doesn’t work.
Buying a new headset isn’t a simple as it sounds. We here at Game Authority are grateful for your time to read and learn about Gaming headsets from us. Whether you want to play PS4 two rooms away or need a budget 7.1 solution, we have you covered. We curated this list to give you the gear that we ourselves love and would pick. You can trust that none of the products showcased are bad or low-quality, rather we selected ones that would make us happy no matter what. We hope this means you’ll get the best audio experience you’ve ever had while gaming! As always, we love to hear from you. Like, comment, and subscribe for more content on the peripherals you love.
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