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Published May 4, 2022 11:00 AM

When you’re looking to spend $100 or less on a gaming headset, it’s best to keep things simple. At this price, you can find a very simple headset with decent speakers and a solid microphone, but the quality isn’t a given. Most budget headsets that we really like tend to rely on a simple wired connection via a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is universal across PC, phones, and every game console. There are also some wireless options in the mix but don’t expect audio processing features or best-in-class battery life. Even with a budget limited to $100, you can find an excellent gaming headset for everything from competitive gaming to streaming to simple video calls. The best gaming headsets under $100 offer reliable basics for less.

How we picked the best gaming headsets under $100

To pick the best gaming headsets under $100, we leveraged our collective audio expertise at PopSci, as well as professional reviews and consumer impressions from across the internet. We considered the myriad of qualities that go into the perfect gaming headset, including comfort, connectivity, intuitive controls, and, most of all, clear audio. We focused on offerings from the most popular, reliable brands, to ensure that picking a less expensive headset means simple, rather than low-quality.

As a critic covering games and related gear for Popular Mechanics and NBC Select, I have tested and reviewed tons of gaming headsets and peripherals. I am constantly looking to optimize my equipment for both professional and personal comfort.

What to consider before buying a gaming headset under $100

Shopping for a gaming headset can be tricky. Their specs often don’t translate into a reasonable understanding of how music or games sound through their speakers. Luckily, picking a headset in the lower, sub-$100 price range narrows the field quite a bit. Here are some factors you should keep in mind when picking your next:

Is it compatible with your system(s)?

Many gaming headsets are not universally compatible across PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles. If a headset connects to a game console via USB or wirelessly, chances are that you need to buy the version that caters to your devices specifically. Make sure you know where and how you’ll connect your headset, so you can be sure you’re buying a device that works as intended.

Luckily, many of the top options in the sub-$100 budget headset range support a wired, 3.5mm connection. While it doesn’t allow for advanced controls and features, a 3.5mm will work on any device with a headphone jack. If you have many consoles and want to use one headset for everything, a 3.5mm headphone jack is the way to go.

Wired or wireless?

Wireless gaming headsets let you ditch the cables and give yourself a clutter-free gaming space. They give you the freedom to position yourself without worrying about cables connecting to your console, PC, or controller.

While that’s an obvious advantage, wired headsets have perks as well. What they lack in premium features and software customization they make up for in simplicity. As we mentioned, you don’t need to worry about what console you own when buying one. Also, wireless headsets require battery power, which means they need to be charged.

If you opt for a wireless headset, make sure you look for one with solid battery life. On more expensive headsets, we recommend 20 hours or better, but for a budget headset you may need to be more flexible. If you plan to connect to a console or gaming PC, we recommend relying exclusively on a Wi-Fi connection enabled through a USB receiver dongle. Many headsets support Bluetooth wireless, but the connection generates more audio lag than you want for most games. That said, we recommend Bluetooth headsets for smartphones, as most receiver dongles require a USB-A port.

Comfort

You want your headset to be comfortable, especially if you plan on using it for long gaming sessions. Every headset allows you to adjust it in some way to ensure the earcups line up with your ears so it fits correctly. Some headsets feel better than others when properly adjusted, though. The best gaming headsets feel balanced on your head, without weighing you down. They don’t move when you shake your head, but they don’t grip too tight, either.

During long gaming sessions, a heavy headset can start to feel uncomfortable, particularly against the top of the head. A lighter headset will weigh on you less but that isn’t the only solution or even the best one. A design that distributes the weight of the headset across your head can make even a heavy headset wearable for many hours.

Proper padding can also make all the difference. Most gaming headsets use some form of memory foam padding in the earcups, and often under the top band of the headset. You’ll often see the most padding in the ears and top band of a headset. Some top bands feature a strip of an elastic material called “floating” or suspended headband that evenly distributes the weight across the top of your head. Suspended headbands usually work better than simple padding. Both ways, however, can produce a very comfortable headset.

The padding that covers the pads can matter just as much as the padding itself. The padding is usually covered with either a mesh fabric or synthetic leather called leatherette. There are good arguments for both materials, so it all comes down to what you feel comfortable in.

How do you want your headset to sound?

Gaming headsets may look similar, but they can sound very different. Depending on the product, you can enjoy a bass-heavy, immersive soundscape or a warm, neutral one. Many headsets come with software that allows for equalization and virtual surround sound.

While audio quality in gaming headsets has improved dramatically over the past two console generations, optimizing for audio quality will lead you to spend more than $100 on a headset. Our list ensures you get the best possible basics, but fans of high-fidelity audio or 7.1 surround sound will want to shop for the best gaming headsets, including more audiophile-grade options like the Audeze Mobius, Audeze Penrose, or Master & Dynamic MG20, which can cost several hundred dollars.

The best gaming headsets under $100: Reviews & Recommendations

The best gaming headsets under $100 come from a few big-name gaming and peripheral brands, namely SteelSeries, HyperX, and Logitech. All of them deliver quality audio and long-lasting comfort. Your preference will depend on design elements like connectivity, controls, and form factor.

Best overall: SteelSeries Arctis 5

SteelSeries

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Arctis 5 offers impressive USB features on both PC and PlayStation while still being widely compatible thanks to solid 3.5mm connectivity.

Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-A, 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC, PS5, and PS4 via USB, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and mobile via 3.5mm cable
  • Microphone: Bidirectional, noise-canceling, retractable
  • Weight: 277g
  • Battery Life: N/A

Pros

  • Wide compatibility with USB and 3.5mm
  • In-line physical audio mixer
  • Retractable microphone

Cons

  • Microphone does not mute when retracted

SteelSeries’s Arctis line includes options for every price point and feature set. Many of them are the best in class, regardless of their competition. Case in point, the Arctis 5 carries many of SteelSeries’ more luxurious features without the premium price tag.

More specifically, PC and PlayStation 4 users can connect the headset over USB to use DTS Headphone:X 2.0 virtual surround sound, enhancing gameplay with immersive spatial audio. (On PS5, all headsets get positional audio through the console’s Tempest 3D audio.) The USB connection also lets you use its inline “ChatMix” dial makes audio adjustment easy, adjusting game and voice volume instantly.

While you’ll get the most out of it on PC and PlayStation, the Arctis 5 works perfectly well on Xbox and Nintendo Switch over a 3.5mm headphone jack, providing a comfortable listening experience with balanced audio and a clear microphone. The Arctis 5 isn’t our favorite SteelSeries headset—for that, check out the Arctis 9—but it’s a strong option you can get on the cheap.

Best wired: HyperX Cloud Alpha

HyperX

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Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: With an excellent design and clear mic audio, the HyperX Cloud Alpha is the epitome of quality and affordability.

Specs

  • Connectivity: 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, mobile
  • Microphone: Bidirectional, noise-canceling, detachable
  • Weight: 298g
  • Battery Life: N/A

Pros

  • Durable build
  • Excellent microphone
  • Wide compatibility

Cons

  • Lacks additional features

There is something to be said for getting a headset that just works. Regardless of what it’s plugged into, the HyperX Cloud Alpha delivers long-lasting comfort, clear audio, and excellent communication.

While it doesn’t have a standout special feature, its sturdy construction ensures that the comfort and quality sound won’t fade for many years. The adjustable aluminum frame feels solid and durable, and alongside the comfortable leatherette padding, feels comfortable during long gaming sessions or virtual get-togethers.

The HyperX Cloud Alpha also features an excellent detachable noise-canceling microphone, especially for this price range. Microphone quality is often overlooked in headsets in this price range, so even subtle improvements really stand out.

For PC players who like the sound of the HyperX Cloud Alpha, we recommend spending a little extra to pick up the USB-enabled HyperX Cloud Alpha S, which opens the door for virtual 7.1 surround sound and an inline controller to the mix. It costs just over $100, but it’s worth the extra spend.

Best wireless: SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

SteelSeries

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless brings low-latency 2.4GHz wireless connectivity and wide-ranging compatibility, making it one of the best wireless headsets for people using multiple devices.

Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-C wireless dongle, 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile via wireless dongle, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One via 3.5mm cable
  • Microphone: Bidirectional, noise-canceling, detachable
  • Weight: 252g
  • Battery Life: 20 hours

Pros

  • Low-latency 2.4GHz wireless
  • USB-A and USB-C connectivity
  • Balanced sound signature

Cons

  • Poor headband padding

When picking a wireless headset, cross-compatibility is a major issue. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless mitigates this as much as possible by offering a wide range of wireless and wired connection options. Like our top pick, the SteelSeries Arctis 5, it features a low-latency 2.4Ghz wireless dongle that can connect via USB-C or USB-A via an included adapter. This dual coverage expands the range of devices it can connect to via wireless, including the Nintendo Switch and Android devices with USB-C. This feature alone makes the Arctis 1 Wireless an easy budget headset recommendation.

Outside of connectivity, the Arctis 1 Wireless has a utilitarian design with few bells and whistles For example, it lacks the self-adjusting headband found on higher-end Arctis headsets, so you may feel its weight on your head moreover long stretches. That said, it sounds perfectly serviceable and will let you get your point across clearly, no strings attached.

Best Bluetooth: Logitech G435 Lightspeed Bluetooth Wireless

Logitech G

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The incredibly lightweight Logitech G435 is comfortable for gaming, remote work, and anything in between.

Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-A wireless dongle, Bluetooth 
  • Compatibility: PC, Mac, PS5, and PS4 via wireless dongle, Nintendo Switch and mobile via Bluetooth 
  • Microphone: Dual-beamforming mic array
  • Weight: 165g
  • Battery Life: 18 hours

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Fun color options

Cons

  • Average sound quality

In Popular Science’s Logitech G435 review, we said that the headset may not have top-of-the-line sound but it exceeds expectations everywhere else. It is one of the lightest headsets around, often weighing 100 grams less than its competitors. (That’s a lot; many of our picks weigh between 200 and 300 grams.)

Lightweight and colorful, the Logitech G435 is an easy, breezy option for casual play. It offers a dongle-based Wi-Fi connection for console and PC players. The ability to switch between the two gives players the freedom to play where they want, when they want. One small caveat: The G435 relies on a multi-mic beamforming array, like you’d find in many wireless Bluetooth headphones, rather than a boom mic. It works quite well, though doesn’t isolate your voice as well as other headset mics.

Best value: HyperX Cloud Stinger

HyperX

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Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: For just $50, the HyperX Cloud Stingers provide the essentials: a comfortable fit, wide-ranging compatibility, and clear listening and microphone audio.

Specs

  • Connectivity: 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, mobile
  • Microphone: Unidirectional, noise-canceling
  • Weight: 275g
  • Battery Life: N/A

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Widely compatible
  • Ample padding

Cons

  • Non-detachable mic and cable
  • Bulky

For just $50, it doesn’t get any better than the HyperX Cloud Stinger. It’s a bit bulky and the plastic doesn’t feel great, but you’re getting a competent-sounding headset for less than the cost of a new AAA game.

Like its mid- and high-end counterparts from HyperX, the Cloud Stinger maintains a comfortable fit with top-band and earcup ample padding. Its bass-centric sound follows the classic gaming headset mix. It isn’t the height of audio precision but it gets the job done given its price.

Despite its affordable price tag, the Cloud Stingers manage to cram in one luxury feature: a sliding boom mic that automatically mutes when you lift it away from your mouth (this isn’t an uncommon feature but very helpful when you can’t detach your mic). Many companies have a similarly no-frills headset at this price point, but HyperX’s overall quality as a brand makes it a safe choice for any player.

Best for Xbox: Xbox Wireless Headset

Microsoft

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Why it made the cut: Xbox’s newest headset has a robust feature-set and intuitive controls.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Compatibility: Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One via Xbox Wireless, PC and mobile via USB-C and Bluetooth
  • Microphone: Unclassified dual mic array on a built-in boom arm
  • Weight: 312g
  • Battery Life: 15 hours

Pros

  • Easy pairing with Xbox
  • Three connectivity options
  • Intuitive controls

Cons

  • No 3.5mm connectivity

The days of Microsoft’s tiny, one-sided Xbox 360 headsets are long gone. The current Xbox Wireless Headset is a worthy wireless headset for most players, especially those of us on a budget.

Comfortable, robust, and convenient, the Xbox Wireless Headset can connect wirelessly to Xbox Series and Xbox One consoles without a wireless dongle via Xbox Wireless, the company’s proprietary wireless standard. Its bass-heavy sound amps up action games, while its clear and even microphone helps you stay in touch during co-op play.

With the Xbox Accessories app, you can adjust sound equalization, mic levels, and add virtual Windows Sonic surround sound— features usually reserved for PC users. You can also adjust the sound balance on the fly with the rotating dials on each earcup: right for volume adjustment and left for game and chat balance. After a long stretch without a strong first-party headset, the Xbox Wireless Headset is an easy selection for players who want an easy audio solution on Xbox One, Series S, or Series X.

Best for PlayStation: Sony Pulse 3D Wireless

PlayStation

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Buy it used or refurbished: Amazon

Why it made the cut: Designed to showcase the PS5’s immersive 3D audio, Sony’s Pulse 3D Wireless is a great companion to the PlayStation’s more immersive single-player video games.

Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-A wireless dongle, 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC, PS5, and PS4 via wireless dongle, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and mobile via 3.5mm cable.
  • Microphone: Dual noise-canceling mic array
  • Weight: 294g
  • Battery Life: 12 hours

Pros

  • Emphasizes PS5 Tempest 3D audio
  • Wired and wireless connectivity
  • Simple setup

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Underwhelming microphone

PlayStation’s Pulse 3D wireless headset is a very solid headset for its price. Designed to pair with the PlayStation 5’s Tempest 3D audio technology, which adds 3D audio to any headset, it enhances the immersive soundscapes of PlayStation’s impressive exclusives, such as Horizon Forbidden West and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Design-wise, the Pulse 3D looks sleek and curvy, matching the PS5’s aesthetic. Despite the PS5-focused feature set, this headset does support wide-ranging connectivity with its USB wireless dongle and 3.5mm cable. 

The Pulse 3D is one of the best PS5 headsets, largely thanks to immersive Tempest 3D audio. But be warned: Its rounded ear cups are not a great fit for folks with larger ears.

Best for PCs: Logitech G433

Logitech G

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: For around $70, the Logitech G433 offers a versatile wired headset that’s easily customizable and well-suited to a wide range of media content, from games to TV shows.

Specs

  • Connectivity: USB-A, 3.5mm audio cable
  • Compatibility: PC via USB, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and mobile via 3.5mm cable
  • Microphone: Unidirectional, noise-canceling, detachable
  • Weight: 259g
  • Battery Life: N/A

Pros

  • Customizable via Logitech software
  • Virtual surround sound
  • USB and 3.5mm connectivity

Cons

  • Weak noise isolation

More than other applications, PC gaming headsets need to be versatile. Potentially your primary audio source for everything you do on a computer, it needs to sound good while gaming, listening to music, watching videos, and anything else that comes up. Logitech’s G433 is a well-rounded PC recommendation with solid customization options and even-keeled sound.

The G433 sounds more balanced than many of the gaming headsets on this list. Rather than bumping up the bass, it features a relatively flat mix that’s fitting for games and music alike. Using Logitech’s G HUB software, you can tweak settings like virtual DTS Headphone:X 7.1 surround sound, audio equalization, and custom sound profiles for different game types or tasks. Clear audio, combined with an affordable price, makes the Logitech G433 a great choice for PC users.

FAQs

Q: Which headset brand is best?

We recommend picking a headset based on its features, rather than the brand. That said, there are many great brands making excellent gaming headsets. Companies like SteelSeries, HyperX, Corsair, Razer, Astro, and Logitech, all have a strong track record of making solid gaming audio gear.

Q: Does Razer make good headsets?

Razer makes some solid gaming headsets. Case in point, the Razer BlackShark V2 headset is among our recommendations for the best gaming headsets of 2022. They tend to be slightly more expensive than other brands in many cases, though, so the company may not be the best choice for very budget-conscious players.

Q: What are the best cheap gaming headsets?

As it happens we have a whole separate list of the best cheap gaming headset for players who want to find a headset that works well and doesn’t cost a fortune, but has a slightly more flexible budget.

Final thoughts on the best gaming headsets under $100

The best gaming headsets under $100 punch far above their price point, delivering simple, high-quality audio and communication. Whether you’re gaming on a console or PC, a great headset allows for easy listening and clear communication. There’s always room for improvement but you don’t need to spend a ton to find something good enough to play games with friends worry-free.