Audio is a key component of any gaming experience. A quality PC gaming headset makes you feel like you're part of the game. Nothing is quite as satisfying as being encircled in sound and having the ability to keep tabs on enemies because you can hear exactly where they are positioned. The best headsets let you know everything going on around you at all times and communicate with your teammates.
A good PC gaming headset, such as the Astro A40, Turtle Beach Ear Force Z Seven and Kingston HyperX Cloud, can be especially advantageous in first-person shooter games. You will want to not only be aware of where the enemy is at all times, but effectively communicate with your teammates at the same time. Having both components is vital, and a quality headset gives you both. For more information on headsets, check out our articles on PC gaming headsets.
When we compared the best PC gaming headsets, we found some features that every gamer should look for. You will want a headset with audio that works well as a hearing device and a communication device. The design is also very important: It should be functional, comfortable and nice to look at. Most PC gaming headsets include a few extra features aside from those directly linked to audio quality and design, which are typically for convenience. Lastly, look for a company that has a good help and support system.
For headphones, we look at the type of output they are capable of, the level of impedance, the size of the drivers and a few other things. Advancements in surround sound in recent years have given gamers the ability to isolate certain areas of the sound landscape and really get a leg up on the competition as a result. But more affordable headsets often have quality stereo sound, which is more than adequate for most situations.
Microphones can be unidirectional, omnidirectional or bidirectional, though the vast majority of headsets are unidirectional to cut out distracting ambient sound. We also looked at the sensitivity, impedance and frequency response range. PC gaming headsets are not just headphones with a mic. They need qualities such as positional audio technology, whether that be on a stereo or surround-sound set, and precision bass levels that will not drown out your teammates and other environmental noises in the game.
The physical design is quite important. A well-designed, comfortable PC gaming headset allows hours of gaming, and you will hardly be aware of the cups surrounding your ears. You will be even less aware of the noise in the world outside. We looked at the comfort of the headbands, the type of ear coupling, whether or not the microphone can be removed or retracted, and the weight of the headset. We only looked at wired headsets, and so we took note the length of the cord and the connection type.
This category covers all the features that make using and adapting these PC gaming headsets more convenient and multifunctional. Specifically, we looked to see if there was a USB connection. Look for gaming headsets that have separate microphone and gaming volume controls. A protective carrying case for traveling is important if you travel a lot and like to game on the road.
Professional gamers would never be without a carrying case, since they go to gaming conventions and many other activities on the road. You'll want to know if the mic is detachable or retractable, because there will be times you want to game without your mic. The primary purpose behind these features is to give you a headset that does everything you need without requiring you to buy accessories.
Help & Support
Nothing is more frustrating than shelling out money for a headset that doesn't work when you get it in the mail. It does happen sometimes, so take into consideration the amount of support available to you should there be a manufacturing defect. Also consider the information the manufacturer provides to help you understand and use your PC gaming headset properly and the different kinds of support it provides. Live chat is a service we would like to see more manufacturers provide in the future.
This is the information you will want to have before deciding what PC gaming headset works best for your needs. While the look of the headset is not the most important thing, if you are deciding between two that are virtually the same in terms of the overall feature package, the look might be the deal-maker when it comes to your final decision. Fortunately, there are a lot of great headsets out there to meet the needs of just about any gamer. Our lineup of PC gaming headset reviews should make your decision a little easier.