So if 70% of taste comes from smell, then 80% of gaming experience comes from hearing. Okay, so I made that up. But you have to admit it, my logic is sound. Pun intended. I may not know the exact statistics of it, but the point is to get the best of your game, you need to have the best audio drivers.
by Yoshi Kihano | Last Updated: May 17, 2018
Most of us just don’t have the budget to casually go into a store and pickup the latest Razer headset like shopping at a grocery. Luckily a number of budget gaming headsets have been popping up recently. But now the challenge is which ones are worth your hard-earned cash? We’ve rounded up a few of these for you in our best budget gaming headset review.
Table of Contents
Best Budget Gaming Headset for PC
115±3db at 1khz
Best Cheap VR Headset for PC
Best Cheap Wireless Headset
-40dBV (Frequency Response)
For PS4 & XBox
114dB +/- 3 dB at 1kHz
Best Headphone And Mic Combo
Mic: 4.5 mV/Pa (1 kHz)
The Sades SA810 is a little gem in the world of cheap gaming gear. At under $30 you get surprisingly great sound, I wouldn’t go so far as to say you get crisp audio but it’s pretty well balanced between the highs and low bass.
Like most other gaming headsets, this one features an all plastic build with a glossy finish. I especially like how they didn’t feel the need to put LEDs on a headset, which I believe to be over-the-top and totally unnecessary to be the best budget gaming headset.
In fact, the style is very simplistic, something I very much appreciate. Personally, I prefer a non-glossy finish but you can’t have it all. And for the price point, there’s really very little to complain about.
The headband padding doesn’t press into the skull as it sits comfortably on my head. The ear cushions are large and deep so there’s nothing pressing on my ears, and even though the material is some sort of rubbery leather it’s still comfortable even for long hours. The microphone is decent enough, although a bit far, but it’s a small price to pay for a very low price.
WHAT I LIKE
If you didn’t already know, Logitech had acquired Astro Gaming just a few months ago. Smart move on Logitech’s part since Astro Gaming has been making premium gaming gear for some time. A spin-off of Astro Studios, they’re product line revolves around the acclaimed Astro A40 audio system, in which this headset is just a slice of the whole pie.
At just under a $100, the Astro gaming headset is a little on the pricey side. But you are getting a whole lot for what you’re paying. First thing I gotta point out is how comfortable it is. I especially love the cloth cushioning since it’s so much more breathable than faux leather adding to the comfort level.
Although the build itself is a all plastic, it seems durable enough, so long as you don’t have fits of rage when you get sniped from across the map. The thing about the Astro gaming headset is that it’s strength is also quite possibly it’s weakness as well.
As part of the Astro A40 audio system, this gaming headset is tailor made to be part of the set. Not to say the headset sound quality is bad without the mixamp, but in order to really get the full audio experience the mixamp is recommended. Sadly, that adds another $100 or so to the overall price tag.
WHAT I LIKE
We’ve included this one in our best budget gaming headset list because with a name like Logitech, there’s little reason not to.
Logitech has been aggressively rushing the gaming scene, and with good reason since eSports has been getting a lot more traction in mainstream popularity.
They’ve been around for a long time in the peripheral market, and you’d expect them to bring all those years of experience into the dedicated gaming market. Sadly, it’s clear they belong in the upper echelon of premium gaming gear and not in the budget arena.
A design issue I have about it is that the mic doesn’t exactly hide away properly. Being an already odd shape, it can rotate up when you’re not using it but ends up looking like the headset is raising its hand for a question.
But the deal breaker on the G430 headset is the fact that the all-plastic build is poor. The cloth ear cushions is a very nice touch, but it doesn’t do justice to the fact that the plastic used in the overall build is quite brittle. The sound quality is spot on, but I can’t help thinking that if they had dropped the 7.1 DTS maybe they could have put more money into the build.
WHAT I LIKE
One of my biggest gripes about budget gaming gear is why manufacturers feel the need to put LEDs into everything.
It’s true that LEDs can really transport you to another dimension when done right, but most of the time it’s just slapped on there in order to call something “gaming”. That’s my issue with the VersionTech G2000 gaming headset.
Aesthetically, it already looks great with a sleek glossy black finish and blue accents in the right places. I don’t see the need to add LEDs which only result in an additional USB cable you’ll have to connect or otherwise figure out how to keep away.
For under $30, the sound quality is surprisingly good. The cushioning is also comfortable even after a few hours, however of course they did opt for the faux leather material as usual. Meaning you should expect to sweat a bit if you’re playing for extra long hours.
Other than that, you can’t really complain since you are getting your money’s worth. Considering it’s compatible for all gaming platforms, you won’t have to worry about getting another headset for your Xbox or PS4. Although the jack splitter to use the headset and mic on a computer is not included in the purchase, but that’s not such a big deal.
WHAT I LIKE
Of the two dedicated VR headsets, the cheaper of them is the Oculus Rift. Not counting more portable VR platforms like Oculus Go, Samsung VR, or Google Daydream.
We don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of virtual reality, it’s really an experience you need to try out for yourself. There’s a reason it’s hit or miss right now.
Now putting aside the motion sickness and limited game library, there are other uses for the Oculus Rift headset. You can find instructions online how to use Oculus even for non-VR games, and even as a monitor or display. And if Zuckerberg gets his way, Facebook Reality may actually become - for lack of a better term - real.
But unlike the typical gaming headset where the main features you look for is the audio first then the mic second. The Oculus main feature is the display, then the audio, and no mic. For the most part audio quality is great, although earpieces built-into the headset are on-ear type so it can get bothersome after awhile.
Moreover, as a full sensory experience, VR will completely take you away from reality making you pretty much blind and deaf to your actual surroundings. Obviously this could have potentially dangerous consequences.
WHAT I LIKE
Unfortunately there is no cheap VR headsets. The lowest-priced item is the Oculus rift at around $400.
The HyperX Cloud stinger is one of the most highly recommended gaming headsets because of the value for your money, which could easily make it the best budget gaming headset.
The design of the headset is one of my favorites, with a very sleek black matte finish that gives off a very premium look to it.
Coupled with the very minimalist approach to style as the only coloring on it is the red logo on the sides Personally, it just simply looks sexy.
On the side of comfort, there’s very little to complain about with it’s own signature HyperX memory foam. If I had to, I’d just complain that they still opted for faux leather cushions, which I don’t like. But on this piece of hardware it’s just so comfortable that I didn’t even bother about it after a few hours.
The mostly plastic build hides a steel adjustment slider in the headband, I like this too because the metal parts give me more confidence on the durability of the headset. But the best thing about the Hyperx Cloud Stinger is the swivel-to-mute mic. I love the fact that I don’t have to fumble around with control dongle on the headset cable, and just have to lift the mic boom to instantly mute it.
Not only that, but the mic is curved inward as well, which brings it much closer to your mouth so as to eliminate the open room esque voice found in cheaper headsets that place the mouthpiece a couple of inches too far. Of course this can result to picking up breathing sounds, but with a decent software you can easily make the proper adjustments.
WHAT I LIKE
Considering I’m biased against LED lighting on headsets, I had to concede to the SteelSeries Arctis 5, which has a tasteful LED lining. The cabling uses a USB mini-B 8 pin interface, which is as rare as the number of times I’ve won a chicken dinner. Yes, I am that bad.
The detachable mini-B cable connects directly to the ChatMix soundacard which in turn connects to your gaming rig on a regular USB, which in turn powers the LED lighting as well. The ChatMix soundcard is especially useful if you are heavy on voice chat multiplayer gaming. You can easily adjust the game-chat balance on-the-fly, which is usually a complicated thing to do with typical budget headsets even with some sort of third-party software assistance.
The ear cushions are very comfortable, made from an “Exclusive Airweave” fabric. I’m sure the name is just some marketing stunt to jack up the price, but it does help with longer gaming sessions nonetheless since it’s a lot more breathable than faux leather.
WHAT I LIKE
Usually, I associate Sennheiser with home theater or studio equipment, so it was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that they have a few products that are dedicated to gaming. I really don’t think we need to go over the audio quality of this headset, the name should speak for itself. And trust me, they don’t disappoint.
The thing I love the most about this headset are what I like to refer to as quality of life controls. Most gaming headsets opt to have the volume and mute controls on a separate dongle along the cable. That’s usually the better option because controls on the headset piece itself tend to be awkward or difficult to reach.
Not with the Sennheiser GSP 300. A large knob is conveniently placed on the right earpiece and the mic immediately mutes itself when raised up. Say goodbye to fumbling with extra long headset cables trying to find the control dongle when your wife bursts in the room asking why your briefs have holes in them. True story.
Honestly, I don’t feel the need to go over the other aspects of comfort and ergonomics on the GSP 300. 70 years of audio engineering is more than enough to get these fundamentals spot on, although I do wish they used fabric on the ear cushions instead of the faux leather. It would be more breathable and less prone to cause sweating.
WHAT I LIKE
Let’s be honest, cables can get in the way of the gaming experience, one of the reasons I’m so obsessed with nylon cable ties. Of course, one option is to go wireless and eliminate them all together.
Since we are trying to build a list of the best budget gaming headset - emphasis on budget. We had to go with the Corsair Void Pro RGB which is surprisingly under $100, a relatively cheap price in the wireless headset department. But to call it cheap is an overstatement.
First off, I cannot stress enough how much more comfortable fabric is compared to faux leather. And the microfiber mesh of the Corsair Void Pro lives up to my expectations. The headset is built in all-plastic and I would have prefered that they extend the matte finish all-around, but the glossy ear cups is a small price to pay for a minimalist style.
The style is only broken by an RGB lighted logo on both ear cups that can be adjusted or completely turned off, which is my recommended setting as it eats up a shocking amount of power. For the actual battery life, this is one of the main reasons I don’t go wireless. It’ll last for about a day or so, and it gets tiring ot have to keep remembering to recharge the device at the end of the day in preparation for tomorrow.
WHAT I LIKE
best ps4 headset under $50
For under $30, the Onikuma gaming headset is clearly made for gaming. More specifically, console gaming. Usually for a PC gaming headset, you’d have to separate 3.5mm jacks. One for audio and the other for mic input.
The Onikuma by default has a single multi-channel 3.5mm jack suitable for the PS4 and various other devices that only use one jack.
With a just a single jack for audio, the cable is a lot cleaner if it weren’t for the additional USB for the LED lighting. Honestly, it just lights up a stylized G on the ear cups which probably stands for gaming, like it needed any more emphasis. For me it’s just an additional cable split that dangles around.
The audio quality is good for gaming, you get a strong bass and a good grasp of directional audio. Not the best mind you, but for the price you’re paying, it’s pretty good. Mic quality on the other hand is what you’d expect for a budget gaming headset, and the mouthpiece position is set pretty far as is commonly seen on these sort of headsets.
It’s generally comfortable, but I don’t see myself wearing these for any longer than a couple of hours. The faux leather ear cushions and bionic protein - what the heck is that?? - headband padding easily get warm if you’re not in a properly cooled environment.
But you can’t argue with the price, and for that price you do get something very simple and relatively durable considering it’s an all-plastic build. The headband is rigid and I have some confidence that it could probably survive a few fits of rage when things get super intense.
WHAT I LIKE
The Nubwo N2 looks easily belies its ridiculous price range. Just looking at it, I would have guessed it was easily twice or even three times its $20 price range. From the suspension style head strap, to the metal headband, and matte black finish on the ear pieces. Sadly, as the saying goes, looks are only skin deep.
Although the Nubwo N2 has a lot going for it, they also come up short in other areas. I was hoping that the suspension headband would make it comfortable on the top of my skull, but my expectations were quickly destroyed by the fact that the faux leather of the headband is so thin you can actually start to feel the internal metal piece pressing on your skull.
The good news is that the headset is very light, so you may be able to bear with it if your have a lot of hair for some little extra cushioning. The earpieces are on the small side, so I wouldn’t recommend it for people with larger ears, but if it fits for you then at least you won’t be disappointed with the sound quality. Admittedly it lacks some bass power, but for online gaming with voice chat, the sound is clear and crisp enough to ensure you’re heading the same direction of your teammates.
The mic is a bit of an oddball. The boom arm is completely flexible, which is totally awesome since you can literally position the mouthpiece anywhere that’ll work for you. But what completely confounds me is that the mute switch is located directly on the mouthpiece, which is also covered by a foam wind guard. What?!
So in order to mute the mic to avoid inappropriate audio to go through to your teammates, you have to make excruciatingly irritating sounds just to switch it off. It makes no sense whatsoever why they couldn’t place the mute switch on the earpiece next to the volume - which thankfully is a knob.
WHAT I LIKE
The Bengoo X40 is another under $30 headset that has decent quality for the price tag. If you’re thinking it looks eerily familiar to the G9000, you are not the only one who thinks so too. The build quality of the X40 is very similar to the X40 in terms of material and durability.
Aside from some aesthetic differences, I’d say they’re probably the same in terms of comfort and ergonomics. Of course this means that the faux leather cushioning is also not breathable, which will result in some sweating around the ears. Not to say they aren’t comfortable, the padding is sufficient in that you will be able to bear with it for long hours.
But just like it’s older brother, I really don’t see the need for the LED lighting on the earpieces and when you’re using this for console gaming it means there’s a dangling USB cable since there’s really no place to put it. On that note, the headset seems much more suited for use with a console since it has a single multi-channel 3.5mm which is compatible for most two-way platforms like consoles and mobiles phones.
You can get an audio splitter jack in order to split the audio and mic inputs for a computer, but you’ll have to get it separately as is it not included in the package. But for console gaming, there’s very little to complain about when considering the price is under $30. The sound quality is great for the price and the mic audio is clear and crisp enough to ensure proper team coordination.
WHAT I LIKE
So maybe you’re more of a music buff and the headphones you already own perform well for gaming as well. But then you need a mic that’ll provide the crisp audio to ensure your teammates don’t mistake your suggestion to overwhelm the bombsite as a comment that you got a rash from a bee.
The Blue Yeti microphone is a favorite among content creators and there’s a reason for it. Not only will this serve you well in the battle arena, but for anything audio recording you may want to try your hand at.
Not only does it look good on any desk, but the engineering is spot on. Multi-pattern selection allows you to choose how you want the mic to pick up sounds around it. And with built-in gain control and a mute button, you don’t have to fumble through a myriad of program windows when your mom suddenly yells for you to throw out the trash.
The drawback being more of a professional mic, it’s not exactly plug and play. Sure, you can plug it in and start using it right away, but getting your voice to sound properly may take some time and the proper software. It can get pretty overwhelming if you’re not an audiophile, luckily there are a lot of tutorials on how to get the best out of the Blue Yeti.
WHAT I LIKE
I say “Sennheiser”, you say “Money!” Sad truth, but you are paying for a top-end brand. Thankfully, the price of these headphones is much lower than the model number. This is truly in the upper echelon of quality.
Sennheiser are at the top of the audio game, you just hear the name and already your eardrums tingle with anticipation. And even though these headphones are not specifically designed for gaming in mind, there’s no question they’ll take your gaming experience to the next level.
Of course, having been designed for audiophiles, it means there’s no built-in mic and you’re gonna have to get some additional equipment in order to get the full potential. The jack is all wrong so you’ll definitely need to buy a 3.5mm adapter to start off, but that’s only if your gaming rig is capable of providing enough juice for full audio sensation. In that case, you may need to pick up a compatible amplifier as well.
WHAT I LIKE
So what does frequency response actually mean? Well, as long as you haven’t been exposed to gamma radiation, mutant genes, or alien artifacts and whatnot your average human ears can hear sounds within the 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency. Interestingly enough, that is exactly what the vast majority of headset manufacturers tend to list their products frequency response as.
So supposedly, that indicates their particular headset can reproduce every possible sound the average non-super human ear can hear. Even if that is in fact true, and not some lazy marketing on behalf of the manufacturer, the truth is, even the best budget gaming headset may not be able to produce certain frequencies levels as well as other levels.
And this, my friend, is where we get the terms like “super bass” or “hi-fi” from. Headsets that claim to have super bass tend to put emphasis in the lower frequencies, whereas hi-fi headsets will focus more on the mid levels, or a more neutral frequency response range, since the goal of high fidelity headsets are to reproduce sound as close as it was recorded.
Impedance refers to a headsets resistance to electric current, more specifically, the amount of power needed to get the audio drivers booming. Budget headsets or even those that are designed to work on portable devices like mobiles phones and laptops, tend to have an impedance of around 35 ohms or less. This is perfectly acceptable for the use case scenarios. Once impedance starts to rise above 55 ohms, you may need to consider getting an amplifier in order to provide enough juice for the headset.
The thing is, you’ll discover that the best budget gaming headset will be around the reasonable impedance of 35 ohms and rarely higher. But for frequency response, you can’t always take it at face value because they tend to stick to the average human hearing range. The only way to get a better idea of the actual frequency response is to test them out yourself.
Many budget gaming headsets, will try to market themselves but claiming some sort of surround sound capability. If you own a home theater of some sort, you know that surround sound is usually achieved by the placement of multiple speakers.
So you may be wondering how do they get 7.1 speakers into the best budget gaming headset. The truth is, most of the time, they only have stereo audio drivers. Meaning there are only two speakers, one on the left and one on the right. What they are referring to is virtual surround sound.
I’m not gonna bore you with all the scientific stuff, the point is that technological advances have reached a point where even two speakers are enough to create the illusion of a surround sound system.
Personally though, I end to find virtual surround sound as a gimmick and totally unnecessary for gaming. If you’re gonna be using the headsets for binge watching as well, then you may want to make that little more investment. But for the essential gaming experience, it’s not as vital since a lot of modern games have built-in algorithms in their game engine that can simulate surround sound on stereo headsets.
The deal breaker for me for any dedicated gaming gear is the level of comfort. And it should be your priority as well. Feeling uncomfortable can completely ruin the gaming experience, which is why the best budget gaming headset should put emphasis on user comfort.
The most important factor in gaming headset comfort are the cushions, especially on the ears. Although it’s also important to ensure the headset of your choice doesn’t press down on your skull or squeeze your sides too much, most of the pressure will be on the ear area.
Personally, I place fabric ear cushions at the top of my must-have list when shopping for the best budget gaming headset. Faux leather may be cheaper, better at noise cancellation, and easier to clean. However, I find that the breathable comfort of fabric or cloth easily trumps all three factors of faux leather. Primarily because I find the seaty build up around my ears to be extremely irritating.
Just like any other gaming peripheral, you need to make sure you define the primary purpose of what you’re getting. In terms of the best budget gaming headset, you’ll have to decide on what platform you’ll be using it more often. Sure, most of the budget headsets in the market today feature that they are multi-platform compatible, but the difference is in the core design of the headsets.
Gaming headsets designed for console gaming will only have a single 3.5mm jack that serves as both audio and mic input. This is obviously because consoles usually only have one multi-audio jack, and you can get an audio splitter adapter in order to separate into dedicated jacks for audio and mic.
But without addons it just makes sense that a gaming headset primarily designed for the computer will, by default, have a two jack design. Of course some computer gaming headsets may opt for more dedicated computer usage by using USB input or special accompanying gear like an external sound card.
Even if most gaming headsets will have adapters and stuff included in their packaging in order to have multi-platform capability. On the side of convenience, it’s better to get the headset with the more appropriate design to what you’ll be using it for primarily. In any case, the sound profiles tend to be the same anyway, since what are consoles than dedicated gaming computers?