Best PC gaming headset for 2021

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You’re likely gaming more than ever these days, so it may be time to think about upgrading your audio. After all, you probably can’t find a graphics card to spend your money on right now and you’re already spending more time on video calls, so treating yourself to a new PC gaming headset is a way to satisfy your work brain and your play brain without blowing a ton of money. To help narrow down the options, here’s our first wave of recommendations.

Read more: The best Xbox gaming headset for 2021

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“First wave?” you ask. Yup. We’re still gearing up for evaluations of ultracheap models, expanding to more companies and winnowing through some additional models we’ve tested. So just because your favorite model’s not on here yet doesn’t mean we won’t eventually recommend it.

Also, if you’re looking to update other aspects of your gaming rig, be sure to check out our picks for best gaming keyboards, gaming mice, gaming laptops and other gaming essentials, like a fast VPN.

Read more: The best VR games for escaping to other worlds

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The ability to monitor your phone (or other audio) via Bluetooth with your headset while simultaneously using a separate, lag-free connection for gaming is a useful capability, but that frequently adds a premium onto the price. By adding Bluetooth to an otherwise wired headset — usually it’s only available in wireless models — Corsair manages to avoid that trap. The stereo HS70 supports USB for laptops and desktops, along with 3.5mm analog cabling to connect to all consoles. The battery is rated for about 30 hours, and the noise-canceling microphone is detachable. The company’s iCue app for Windows or MacOS to access EQ presets or adjust mic and sidetone levels. Though it’s not as pricey as most gaming headsets with Bluetooth on the side, it is relatively expensive for an otherwise basic model. And oddly, the HS70 Wireless, which lacks Bluetooth but incorporates a 2.4GHz connection, is the same price.

Read Corsair HS70 first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

This excellent wireless headset supports both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz connections for simultaneous lag-free gaming and audio monitoring, with a bunch of excellent perks. These include the ability to use it wired or while it charges over USB, a Discord-certified noise-canceling retractable microphone, swivel ear cups to let it sit on your shoulders, and support for DTS Headphone:X v2.0 and Windows Spatial audio. Its pucklike dongle has an analog 3.5mm input for game audio and a line out to the headset, which expands its usefulness. My only significant quibble with the Arctis 9X is it feels a little too tight on my head (which is odd, since all the other Arctis models feel fine). Its big brother, the Arctis Pro Wireless, garners rave reviews as well, but it’s significantly more expensive as well as relatively old; it’s due for an upgrade and I think it’s a bit overkill for many gamers, anyway.

Read SteelSeries Arctis 9 first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

The Level Up’s comfy, retro-ish style — with on-ear cup illuminated VU meters, full-bodied stereo and 7.1 virtual surround sound for music and gaming — lead me to recommend it for people who aren’t necessarily looking for cutting-edge gaming features, but who want something cool and different. You can use it with any 3.5mm-jack-bearing console or system, but you don’t get customizable surround setup option, unless you’re connected via USB on Windows, since it requires a proprietary app.

Read Meters Level Up first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

These aren’t the absolute best in gaming headsets, but the newest generation of Razer’s BlackShark headsets — the wired BlackShark V2 ($99) and V2 X ($50) and the Wireless V2 Pro ($180) — offer well-rounded option if you need a single headset for both work and play. I prefer the V2 over the V2 X for its extra PC features, like support for THX Spatial Audio, microphone settings in Razer’s Synapse utility and a USB dongle. Plus, it has a better cord, removable mic with foam cover and breathable fabric on the ear cup padding. But if you’re on a tighter budget, the analog-only V2 X has all your platforms covered for half the price.

Read BlackShark V2 and V2 X first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

It’s priced on the high side for a virtual 7.1 surround headset lacking in many features, but what the lightweight Cloud 2 Wireless is missing in capabilities it makes up for in comfort and performance, such as a 60-foot signal range and good battery life. You can use it wirelessly with a PS4/PS5 and Nintendo Switch as well as a PC.

Read HyperX Cloud 2 Wireless first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

Even though it has some design and feature quirks, for $100, the Xbox Wireless Headset is a good deal. Simultaneous wireless and Bluetooth and chat-mix balance are usually only found in more expensive models, so here the performance and sound quality are worth the money. At the last update of this story, it was strangely out of stock at both Microsoft and Amazon; I left the Microsoft link in just in case it comes back.

Read Xbox Wireless Headset first take.

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The G733’s generally an above average lightweight wireless gaming headset, but it’s got one advantage over much of the competition: an excellent mic backed by an insane level of customizability via Blue Yeti-powered software.

Read Logitech G733 first take.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

Though it’s part of the Designed for Xbox program, the 7X also works wirelessly at 2.4GHz with the PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation (through PS5) rather than resorting to an analog wired connection for those secondary platforms. It has the great audio and design of the more-expensive 9X, but feels a tad more comfortable.

Read Arctis 7X first take.

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