Best cheap gaming headsets 2021: experience crystal clear sound quality for less

When searching for the best cheap gaming headset, it not only needs to sound fantastic but be comfortable and stylish as well. It’s just as important to be heard during high-octane gaming sessions, too; no one wants to be drowned out when the action kicks off.

© Provided by GamesRadar Arctis 3

You can sure that the best cheap gaming headsets are all made by trusted brands such as SteelSeries, Razer and Logitech, with many of them containing features such as surround sound, noise-cancelling microphones and a few special tricks of their own for good measure. 

It’s worth remembering; these are very much budget options so the quality of some of these headsets isn’t always going to be up to scratch with the more premium build quality or finish as sound in some of the best gaming headsets you can buy. If this concession is a little too far for comfort, you may need to bump your budget up a bit. 

The best cheap gaming headsets around

Broadly speaking, there are only really minimal differences that separate the X variant from its full-fledged counterpart. Compared side by side, the first thing to note is the variability in terms of sound quality, but rest assured – while the X model doesn’t quite sound as rich as its sibling, it’s still a great sounding headset with, arguably, a better microphone – save for the fact it cannot be detached. 

The important thing is the 7.1 surround sound, which just works; it’s as simple as that. It all comes down to the 50mm ‘TriForce’ drivers at the end of the day – the levels of audio distinction are clear and layered, and the microphone sounds as you would expect.

It’s the most simple and straightforward of the Arctis line, but it’s built with seamless compatibility with consoles in mind. Similar to how the BlackShark V2 X borrows tech from pricier models, the Arctis 1 features the same audio drivers as found in the Arctis 7 headset – which retails for three times as much. 

The commitment here is about being as clean-cut as possible without impacting the core features of what makes a quality gaming headset. This time, the microphone features active noise canceling – and can be detached – as well as muted with a physical slider onto the side for ease of access.

If you spend a lot of your gaming life in virtual chatrooms and lobbies, these cans could be for you. Tested with Discord servers, they’re designed out of the box to be ready to jump in calls with your friends and party members alike – if you play on PC. 

Console gamers are in luck too, as this headset works with Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S – though the Xbox platforms require the Microsoft 3.5mm adapter to operate. In such a case that you are an Xbox user, it may be best to find a headset tailored for your system of choice instead of spending a surplus. The bottom line, however, these headphones won’t set the world alight, but they’re unlikely to fail on you either. 

It’s a name that’s lesser-heard these days when cheap headset discussions come up for consoles, but – in the 7th generation – it seemed that Turtle Beach was everywhere. Not only are these the cheapest headsets on our list, but they’re also designed with Xbox Series X – and by extension PS5 and Nintendo Switch – in mind. 

With 40mm drivers, it’s a little smaller than everything mentioned above, but the sound quality should be more than serviceable when running straight through an Xbox controller for chatting to friends whilst on a raid or participating in a battle royale. It’s rudimentary through-and-through, and unlikely to turn many heads, but for the asking price – you could certainly do worse.

I’ve personally sworn by the Kraken line for a while now. While it isn’t the most advanced or blissfully brilliant sounding headset on the market, for the asking price – especially as they’re almost always on sale – they’re a tough act to follow. 

The same principles align well with the budget X rendition; 7.1 Surround sound with the 40mm drivers included. It’s also a fair amount lighter than just about any other Razer-made headset of its elk, ideal if you don’t want to feel chained to your chair.

This company is no stranger to compelling audio tech and it shines through even in its mid-tier Quantum line. Sandwiched comfortably between the 100 and the 800 – for both price and performance – the 300s strike a balanced middle ground with the best of it all.

It comes down to JBL’s in-house software drivers utilizing over 50 years of audio experience for a realistic soundscape when branching out to 7.1. At the same time, consoles are also very much considered, being a 3.5mm jack connection, after all, working with all the major consoles and – of course – PC through a USB audio adapter where applicable.

There’s obviously no accounting for taste, but we think that this Logitech headset could be the most stylish out of them all with its lean blue trim and understated design. You’ll notice also that they carry a slightly larger-than-average physical presence. We won’t go quite so far as to call them bulky, but the added heft should amount to an encompassing feel – if so desired. 

The major concession with the G432 is in its construction – the cups are made from leatherette – faux leather – so they may not feel as good as the genuine article. The microphone may also not be quite as loud as can be found on some other entries in our list; two factors to bear in mind if considering these.

There’s no reason why you can’t get a comfortable, great-sounding headset on an even tighter budget and Corsair seems to agree with its HS35. Similar to the stellar – but slightly pricier – HS50 Pro mentioned above, this will plug straight into the controller’s 3.5mm port if you’re playing on consoles. 

For the asking price, you’re getting an attractive looking and larger than average unit complete with those large 50mm drivers for a full, rich sound for a sum that won’t break the bank. The trade-off here is the construction of the cups themselves – while memory foam – they are made of a cloth fabric which is backed up by the aluminum frame – which could cause a dampening effect on overall loudness. 

If you glanced at the Arctis 1 and found it a little lacking for your taste, then a minor bump in the asking price with its successor may be more your speed. Not only does this iteration feature a detachable cable, but also passive noise reduction and native support for Dolby Digital. 

The main difference comes down to the build quality is slightly better on the Arctis 3 headsets, as you would expect considering they are a touch more expensive overall. If you’ve got a little more cash, and consider its construction and extra inclusions to be worth it to you – you may very well find that the Arctis 3 line will serve you proud – on your PC or console of choice.

This cheap headset really does live up to its price point of just $25 / £25, but is frequently on sale and found even cheaper. The Ear Force Recon 50 features everything that you would expect from a gaming headset including an omnidirectional microphone (that’s removable) as well as controls built right onto the cable for on-the-go volume control and mic-muting. The 40mm drivers are substantial enough but aren’t going to be quite as vivid as 50mm, which can be found in the more expensive headset. 

As you may expect from a headset of this ilk, the build quality is the main thing that suffers to keep the costs down. That’s not to say that it looks poor – it doesn’t – but its light and plasticky feel may be off-putting for some; it lacks the design and build quality that more premium models, and brands, offer. Still, a great cheap headset to get you out of a bind for not much money.

A lesser-known company perhaps than some others in our roundup, but Astro Gaming has been making gaming headsets like the A10 for a while, and that experience shows brightly through the very positive reception online, which is especially impressive as it was the company’s first attempt at a sub-$100 gaming headset. 

Such praise is likely due to the 40mm custom audio drivers in each cup, which the company claims pulls duties for not only streaming and conventional gaming but VR, too. Now, as it’s a 3.5mm wired headset, there’s no surround sound support, though that’s not unheard of in headsets in this price range of $60 or so.

If you have a particular console in mind, take a look at our best PS5 headset, best Xbox Series X headsets, and Nintendo Switch headset guides. The Xbox and PlayStation picks will work on the older-gen consoles too. 

Liked a few entries in our roundup but found things a little too swayed towards console gaming for your liking? That’s not an issue – we’re PC gamers too – we hope that our best PC headsets for gaming guide will be more your speed to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re done with cables, check out our best wireless gaming headsets guide.

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