Second to the visuals and actual gameplay, quality sound is probably the most important part of any gaming experience. Quality sound is what can take you from just playing a game to being truly immersed in the game. Depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for, this may or may not be important to you, but the statistics certainly don’t lie—people want good sound.
But what does that mean? What makes for good sound? When it comes to gaming, the right headset is what will give you that fully immersive experience. Of course, the “right” headset could mean a lot of things. With so many headsets on the market (not to mention how outrageously expensive a lot of them tend to be), it can be hard to figure out which one is exactly right for what you’re looking for.
For the most part, people tend to look primarily at the design or appearance of a headset to determine whether or not they’d like to buy it, but there are so many other things that factor into the overall quality. Of course, it can be hard to pay attention to all those other things when you’re on a budget. The high costs of quality headsets can be overwhelming and discouraging. But luckily, there are plenty of great headsets with great features that fall under the $100 mark for anyone looking for a deal.
What to Look for In a Gaming Headset
When you’re on a budget, every dollar counts, and every dollar needs to go to the best features and quality possible. Knowing what to look for ahead of time is the best way to make sure that you get the best deal for your money. Before you start to look into any kind of features, though, you need to know what platform or console you’re looking to use your headset with. Thanks to how different each platform is, a gaming headset designed for PC will likely be a lot different than one designed for the PS4™—just like how a headset for Xbox will be a lot different than one for Mac.
Gamers buy headsets for many different reasons, but sound quality tends to remain the number one priority across the board. There are two types of sound you’ll see primarily on the market—surround sound or stereo sound. Stereo sound is more like your typical headphones, while surround sound would give you the immersive, hear-everything-around-you experience that a lot of gamers love. Of course, surround sound may not be entirely necessary for you, depending on the types of games you like to play.
If you play online, you’ll probably need a great microphone attached to your headset, as well. When you’re communicating with other players in-game, you don’t want any static or outside noise getting in the way of what you’re trying to say. A good quality microphone and noise-cancellation will help here. You might also want to look for a headset that has easy controls to quickly mute your microphone while playing if you’d like to go off the air for some reason. The best microphones tend to be a bit more costly, but you should still be able to find a great one for a deal.
Finally, you have comfort. Compares to the other important features, comfort may even be at the top of the list for some gamers. Great sound quality and a great microphone can only do so much for you if you hate wearing the headset for more than a couple minutes at a time. You’ll need something that fits well and feels good on your ears, especially if you’ll be gaming for long sessions at a time.
When you put all of these features together for the best quality, you could end up paying several hundred dollars for a headset. Of course, this price isn’t in most people’s budgets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice quality for a better deal. There are still plenty of great headsets—for under $100, even—that combine great features with great quality to give you a product that makes you wonder just how you could have gotten it for as low as you did.
The Best Gaming Headset (for Under $100)
So which headset can actually deliver the features and quality of an expensive headset for under $100? People’s opinions may vary depending on their own preferences, but even subjectivity hasn’t gotten in the way of the true winner in this category—the SteelSeries Arctis 5. SteelSeries has received a lot of praises for their products, especially for their Arctis line. The Arctis 5 headset, in particular, has had plenty of great reviews, as well. By far, this will be the headset of choice for anyone looking for great quality and an immersive gaming experience without spending several hundred dollars on a top-of-the-line headset.
- Widely recognized as the best mic in gaming, the Discord-certified ClearCast microphone delivers studio-quality voice clarity and background noise cancellation
- The sound is your competitive advantage with the S1 speaker drivers, engineered to produce ultra-low distortion audio so you hear every detail
Overall rating: 3.8 out of 5
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 offers essentially everything you need for a great gaming experience, and you can get it for just under $100. It comes with soft ear cushions, DTS 7.1 surround sound, 40mm dynamic speaker drivers, and a noise-canceling microphone. The microphone also has a bidirectional design that allows it to only pick up audio delivered from the front and the back of the microphone.
The comfort of the earcups is perhaps the most praised feature of the Arctis 5. Nearly every review, regardless of any complaint they may have had otherwise, has commented on how comfortable the headset is and how easy it is to use for hours on end. In fact, the comfort (as well as the quality of the microphone) is why the Arctis 5 has surpassed other budget headsets on the market.
The headset also gives you the ability to connect to a PC or a console without requiring any additional adapters. And, if you’re using it on PC or Mac, you even have the ability to adjust the volume balance of the game audio compared to the chat audio so you can hear your friends over any in-game sounds—thanks to the SteelSeries ChatMix USB soundcard. So no more voices being drowned out by explosions and gunfire.
Another cool feature offered by the Arctis 5 is “Prism RGB Illumination”, as dubbed by SteelSeries. This gives the outer case of the earcups a cool illuminated ring for extra style. The best part is that you can choose from more than 16 million different colors for the light ring, and you can make it even more specifically styled by separating the configurations for the left and right earcup and even adding special effects.
- Designed for everywhere your game, with superior sound, comfort and style on all gaming platforms, including PC, PlayStation, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, VR and mobile via detachable 3.5mm cables
- Widely recognized as the best mic in gaming, the Discord-certified ClearCast microphone delivers studio-quality voice clarity and background noise cancellation
Overall rating: 3.7 out of 5
Maybe you love the Arctis 5 and what it has to offer, but it’s a little too high in the “under $100” range for your budget. Luckily, SteelSeries has an earlier Arctis model that has received just as much praise, and you can get it used for around $30 less. The SteelSeries Arctis 3 comes with all the great features of the Arctis 5 that make it a quality headset—just without some of the bells and whistles that give the Arctis 5 that extra edge.
With the Arctis 3, you still get 7.1 surround sound, 40mm drivers, noise-cancellation, and a ClearCast microphone. The only thing you don’t get, compared to the Arctis 5, is the RGB light on the earcups and the USB connect and soundcard. If you’re not too worried about the extra bells and whistles, though, the Arctis 3 delivers the same level of quality for a much lower price. You can find them used in “like new” state for around $60 on Amazon.
Of course, there are other great gaming headsets for under $100, as well, and a lot of them can certainly deliver the same quality as the SteelSeries Arctis 5, give or take a couple features. The number one spot for “best gaming headset under $100” has been argued by many sources, typically falling to one of two headsets—the SteelSeries Arctis 5 or the HyperX Cloud Alpha, with a few others thrown into the mix here and there. For the most part, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 takes the number one spot, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha has a lot going for it, as well.
- HyperX Dual Chamber Drivers for more distinction and less distortion
- Signature Award-Winning HyperX comfort. Impedance: 65 ohms
- Durable aluminum frame with an expanded headband. Sound pressure level : 98dBSPL/mW at 1kHz
- Detachable braided cable with convenient in-line audio control
Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5
The main judgment seems to be that the SteelSeries Arctis 5 is your prime choice for comfort, and the HyperX Cloud Alpha is best for sound quality. The Cloud Alpha is one of many in a long line of headsets known for their superb quality. Each headset in the Cloud line has the same general style and base specifications—balanced audio with lots of bass, an aviation-type style, memory foam padding, and a pretty decent price that keeps it relatively safe within the “budget” category. While not much has changed between each new release, the developments have certainly been enough to see an obvious improvement in quality along the line.
The audio quality of the HyperX Cloud Alpha follows the guidelines for every good gaming headset on the market, regardless of the price. It delivers punchy low-end bass, but, unlike many other headsets, it doesn’t sacrifice the higher end sounds for that bass quality. This balance is what will let you hear all aspects of the game you’re playing, whether it be a grenade’s explosion or the whistle of wind around you.
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 may have great sound quality, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha takes it one step further with a new design within the 50mm drivers in the headset. Here a two-chamber specification allows frequencies to reverberate in their own spaces inside the driver. This was designed to increase the articulation of the sound and decrease overall distortion, and it certainly did a great job.
Otherwise, however, there isn’t anything particularly special about the rest of the specifications. The headset does come with a detachable microphone, though, which is great if you’re wanting to wear it out in public as a normal pair of over-the-ear headphones without it having too much of a “gaming” feel. The cable is also able to detach, making it easy to replace in case anything might happen to it.
Overall, this might be runner-up to the SteelSeries Arctis 5, but the HyperX Cloud Alpha can hold its own just as well. In the end, it’ll just come down to personal preference and what you’re looking for most in a good, inexpensive gaming headset. If comfort is more your thing, the Arctis 5 will probably be a better choice, as its a bit more breathable compared to the leatherette contact points around the ears of the HyperX Cloud Alpha. Of course, if you’re an audiophile on a budget, the HyperX Cloud Alpha would probably be more your speed.
Even though certain headsets may take the spotlight primarily, there are still plenty of others that deserve a bit of attention. These headsets may not be the best of the bunch, but they are certainly made with great quality and could stand up against any other on any day, especially given their prices. Remember that these may not come with all the features that higher-end or higher rated headsets, so weigh the pros and cons and consider what price is worth more in the end.
- Compatibility: PC with a USB port and OS compatibility (Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Internet connection (for CUE software download)
- Legendary CORSAIR build quality ensures long-term durability. Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20 kHz. Sensitivity: -38dB (+/-3dB)
Overall rating: 4.1 out of 5
The Corsair Void Pro RGB has actually been argued before as the best gaming headset under $100. Depending on what you’re looking for, it may or may not stand against others like the SteelSeries Arctis 5 or the Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha. Of course, given that it’s a wireless headset at its price, this headset is more than worth some consideration—even with the few disadvantages. With that said, if you’re not a PC user, this may not be the best headset for you.
This wireless headset is designed specifically with PC users in mind, with Dolby Headphone 7.1 surround sound and special software required to run it. In fact, the sound quality as a whole has been essentially fine-tuned to fit Dolby Headphone surround sound. The Void Pro may not let you adjust the way the surround algorithm produces sound, but Corsair has found a way to match the quality of this software to the quality delivered by far more expensive systems. You can, however, adjust the equalizer settings, if you’d like.
Without surround sound turned on, the Void Pro does fall kind of flat, but it makes up for it in some of its other features. Although the design of the headset itself has been commented as being a bit strange and forward-sitting, the earcups are quite large and leave plenty of room for ears of any size. With that said, the headset is a bit loose and may not be great for people who move their heads around a lot. Like the earcups, though, it does have a lot of extra adjustment room for people with larger heads. If your head is smaller, however, it may end up being too big even on the smallest adjustment setting.
If you’re looking for a decent microphone, you won’t be entirely disappointed with the Void Pro. It’s not the best, but it’s definitely not the worst, either. The microphone also easily mutes by either flipping it up or pressing a button on the earcup. With that said, the microphone isn’t detachable, so you’ll have to deal with how it looks flipped up if you want to wear the headset out in public.
Overall, the Corsair Void Pro RGB definitely has its flaws, but they’re pretty minor as a whole. The sound quality is great when you turn on surround sound, and the headset design is roomy enough for larger heads are people who want a bit of space around the ears. The battery life is okay—about 16 hours with the lights off, but, with the RGB lights turned on, it only gets around 5 hours of battery. This definitely isn’t ideal, but you can still use it while it’s plugged into the USB charger, so it isn’t too much of a big deal.
With such a wide wireless range—around 40 feet (even going through some walls)—and such a low price for a wireless headset, it’s hard to deny why the Corsair Void Pro RGB deserves a fair bit of recognition. Of course, it might not be for everyone, but, depending on your preferences, this could definitely be a great headset to look at if your budget is under $100.
- Logitech G gaming headset for Windows 7 and later delivers the advanced audio performance normally found in high end audiophile headphones, Custom Sound Profiles settings require Logitech Gaming Software
- Patent pending Pro G drivers and DTS Headphone: X 7.1 Surround Sound accurately recreate the in-game environmental effects and positional audio that game designers intended you to hear
Overall rating: 3.9 out of 5
Next, to the Corsair Void Pro, the Logitech G533 has often been noted as the best wireless gaming headset under $100. Basically, it all comes down to these two if you’re looking for a wireless gaming headset on a budget, and only a few things set them apart. To put it simply, what sets them apart, for the most part, is battery life and sound quality. If you’re looking for longer battery life—which is likely, if you’re wanting a wireless headset, the G533 is a better choice. But if you’re wanting better sound quality, Corsair does have a bit of an edge over Logitech here.
Little things here and there, however, are what give the Logitech G533 that winning edge over the Corsair Void Pro. For example, the Void Pro is missing noise cancellation and, therefore, won’t be as good as the G533 when it comes to eliminating background noise. The microphone is also able to be slightly concealed when flipped up, making it a bit easier to wear out in public without it being too obvious that you’re wearing a gaming headset.
The sound quality is good on the G533, although possibly not as good as the Void Pro, depending on what you like. Logitech tends to stick to sound quality that sounds a bit more flat than what other brands go for, so you won’t get a whole lot of bass from this headset. Of course, you can still adjust the equalizer settings yourself or use some premade settings designed by Logitech. There is actually a premade setting designed to increase the bass—called “Drop the Bass”—that you could choose and then adjust further to your liking.
With that said, the surround sound of the G533 seems to fall a bit flat based on customer reviews, and the stereo sound is even worse. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad, but it does mean that audiophiles may not be too happy with this one. If you’re looking for a wireless gaming headset for under $100 with good comfort, beautiful design, long battery life, and a slightly concealable microphone, the G533 would probably be a good choice to look into. But if you’re not too into it, the Corsair Void Pro may just win you over, instead.
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ve probably felt the pressure of seeing the price tags of every great piece equipment way out of your price range. Those price tags can be pretty discouraging, but you’re not out of luck. Even past just the ones mentioned here, there are plenty of great headsets for under $100. You could even find some for under $50, but know that they may be missing some of the quality features that the slightly more expensive models offer. Either way, there’s no need to worry because there’s sure to be a gaming headset out there for what you’re looking for—regardless of your budget.