For any gamer, a quality headset is essential. It’s your portal to the game world, letting you lose yourself in the immersive soundscapes and strategize with your teammates. But let’s be honest, high-end headsets can cost a fortune. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the best gaming headsets under $100.
What to Look for in a Budget Gaming Headset
Before we dive into specific models, let’s talk about the key features you should prioritize when choosing a budget headset:
- Audio Quality: This is your top priority. You want crisp sound with good balance across the highs, mids, and lows. Avoid headsets with muddy or tinny audio.
- Microphone: Clear communication is crucial for online gaming. Look for a headset with a detachable or boom mic that picks up your voice well without too much background noise.
- Comfort: You’ll be wearing this headset for hours, so make sure it’s comfortable. Lightweight designs with breathable ear cups are ideal.
- Compatibility: Ensure the headset is compatible with your gaming platform (PC, PS5, Xbox, etc.). Some headsets offer wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or proprietary dongles, while others stick to wired connections.
Top Picks for Gamers on a Budget
Now, let’s explore some of the best gaming headsets under $100, categorized by their key strengths:
Best Overall: HyperX Cloud Alpha
The HyperX Cloud Alpha ticks all the boxes for a fantastic budget headset. It boasts clear, well-balanced audio with strong bass that won’t overpower the mids and highs. The detachable boom mic delivers clear voice chat, and the memory foam ear cups and headband ensure a comfortable fit for long gaming sessions. Plus, it’s compatible with PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Best for Comfort: HyperX Cloud Stinger 2
If comfort is your top concern, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is your best bet. Its lightweight design and plush ear cups make it feel like you’re wearing nothing at all. The audio quality is decent, with enough punch for casual gaming. The integrated mic isn’t the best, but it’s serviceable for basic communication. And at around $50, it’s a steal.
Best Wireless Option: Logitech G435 Lightspeed
For budget-minded gamers who crave the freedom of wireless, the Logitech G435 Lightspeed is a great choice. It uses Logitech’s LIGHTSPEED wireless technology for low-latency connectivity and up to 28 hours of battery life. The audio quality is clear and well-balanced, and the mic does a good job of picking up your voice. Just note that it’s best suited for PC and PlayStation as Xbox compatibility is limited.
Best Audiophile Choice: Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Audiophiles who game will appreciate the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. While not primarily a gaming headset, these studio headphones offer exceptional audio quality with clear highs, rich mids, and tight bass. They’re also incredibly durable and comfortable for long listening sessions. The downside? No built-in mic, so you’ll need a separate one for online gaming.
What About Surround Sound in a Gaming Headset?
Surround sound can greatly enhance immersion in gaming by giving you a better sense of directionality and space. However, true multi-driver surround sound systems are rare in sub-$100 gaming headsets. Instead, many headsets use virtual surround sound software to simulate a surround experience.
Virtual surround can still improve your gaming experience, but it relies on psychoacoustic tricks rather than accurate reproduction. So don’t expect an equivalent experience to a dedicated surround sound system. Still, if you want surround effects on a budget, virtual solutions get the job done.
Wired vs Wireless Gaming Headsets
Should you go wired or wireless? Both options have tradeoffs:
- Wired gaming headsets typically offer better audio quality and lower latency since they don’t encode and transmit the audio signal. They also don’t require charging. However, you do lose some freedom of movement and deal with cable clutter.
- Wireless gaming headsets give you more flexibility and freedom but may have worse audio quality, higher latency, interference issues, and lower battery life. The best wireless headsets use optimized low-latency transmission protocols to mitigate these downsides.
In general, I recommend wired headsets for competitive multiplayer gaming where every millisecond counts. For more casual gaming, wireless headsets offer a better overall experience if you get a solid low-latency model like the Logitech G435.
Gaming Headset vs Headphones + Mic
Instead of a traditional gaming headset, you could purchase high-quality headphones plus an auxiliary microphone. This gives you more flexibility to customize your setup. For example, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro recommended above plus a V-MODA BoomPro mic would make a killer combo.
Just keep in mind open-back audiophile headphones may leak sound, while closed-back studio monitors isolate better. Make sure to match your headphones, mic and even amp/DAC setup to your specific needs and budget.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Headset Under $100
Finding the right sub-$100 headset comes down to identifying your must-have features and narrowing from there. Follow these tips:
- Determine your budget limit first as that eliminates ultra premium options.
- Decide if you want wireless freedom or can live with wires.
- Consider compatibility with your gaming platforms.
- Prioritize either audio quality or mic quality depending on your needs.
- Don’t overlook comfort since you’ll be wearing them for potentially long sessions.
- Read online gaming headset reviews and forums to see real user opinions.
- Stick to reputable gaming brands like HyperX and Logitech that offer quality headsets across all price tiers.
If you methodically evaluate headsets while keeping your personal priorities in mind, you’ll find the best model to take your gaming to the next level.
For more great headset recommendations, check out these guides: