Gaming headsets are generally quite pricey, but there’s a growing number of gamers refusing to spend hundreds on a headset. While that once meant a compromise in build and sound quality, that’s no longer the case.
Here, we take a look at some of the best budget gaming headsets on the market, with a limit of £100/$100.
Best budget gaming headsets 2021
1. Razer BlackShark V2 - Best Overall
It might not offer wireless connectivity, but Razer’s Black Shark V2 offers something unique when compared to other budget headsets in our chart; THX support. THX spatial audio simulates positionally-accurate sound that allows you to pinpoint, with accuracy, the direction and origin of gunshots, footsteps, voices and anything else you notice when gaming.
It’s an incredible thing to experience, offering a more immersive gaming experience than most other budget headsets, and Razer's set to take that further with the release of THX Game Profiles. Game Profiles offer game-specific audio enhancements for supported games. There will be 30 at launch on 6 August, with more to come over the coming months.
That experience is powered by Razer’s all-new 50mm drivers, the TriForce Titanium, sporting titanium-coated diaphragms to allow for better audio separation. It's the first in the Razer collection to sport the new drivers, and offers a noticeable upgrade over our previous first-choice, the Razer Kraken TE.
The THX smarts and improved HyperClear Cardioid microphone all powered by a small USB sound card, compatible with PC. That sound card also allows you to tweak the audio output via Razer Synapse (for PC) to either focus on immersion or spatial awareness, depending on the gaming experience you want. The 3.5mm jack makes it compatible with PS4, Xbox One and other consoles, but you won't get the advanced audio tweaking capabilities.
And, as is the case with most of Razer’s headsets, it’s an absolute joy to wear over long periods without a hint of pressure build-up. The full-ear enclosed cup design provides unmatched comfort, complemented further by soft-touch memory foam and a leatherette finish.
Simply put, it’ll keep your ears cool and comfortable during even the most intense gaming sessions, and that's something that many can appreciate.
2. Razer Nari Essential - Best Budget Wireless Headset
As you might expect from Razer, this stretches the limits of ‘budget’ ever so slightly, but if you want a relatively affordable entry point into Razer’s gaming gear, this is a great starting point.
The stellar features here are build and comfort: the basic design is the exact same as you’ll find in Razer’s much more expensive flagship headsets, which are among the most comfortable on the market.
This is undeniably bulky, but deceptively lightweight, thanks to a combo of light materials and a headband that does a great job of distributing the weight.
Sound quality is where you this really differs from Razer’s more expensive headsets, with smaller 40mm drivers rather than 50mm – but the sound quality is still very solid and includes simulated surround sound. It also delivers wireless with a USB dongle, and sound quality over the wireless system is great too.
There’s also no support for Razer’s Chroma lighting, but with a budget-friendly focus, would you really expect that?
3. Xbox Wireless Headset - Best for Xbox gamers
Microsoft's Xbox Wireless Headset is the ideal option if you play on a recent Xbox console or PC, offering similar features and audio quality to headsets almost double the price, but the lack of a 3.5mm jack means it's a no-go if you also play on a PlayStation or Switch.
Still, if you are primarily an Xbox gamer, there's a lot to love about the new headset; aside from the simplistic, dongle-free wireless connectivity, the headset looks and feels the part, complete with green highlights and rotating outer cups to adjust overall volume and chat/game mix on-the-fly. There isn't a proper boom microphone like most alternatives, but we've not found this to be a problem during testing.
Most importantly, the audio quality is exceptional. Sporting 40mm drivers, the bass response is strong, feeling the oomph from explosions and the rev of a red-lined engine, but that doesn't detract from the clarity, allowing you to pick out finer details like the footsteps of approaching enemies. That's enhanced further by support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but both require a separate subscription for use.
Essentially, the Xbox Wireless Headset's compelling combination of features and value make it a no-brainer for Xbox gamers.
Read our full Xbox Wireless Headset review
4. EKSA E900 - Multi-platform on a budget
The E900 is a relatively inexpensive way to deliver significant upgrades to your gaming experience. If you can look beyond the rather cheap-looking plastic build, it provides everything most people are looking for in a gaming headset.
It excels in the most important area of all - sound quality. The built-in 50mm speakers deliver a rich, full-bodied sound that is throbbing with bass. This is not at the expense of range; I was able to hear subtle nuances in music and gameplay that weren’t picked up on similarly priced headsets. This could give you a crucial upper hand in PvP games.
The E900 also provides crystal-clear vocals, so you’ll be able to hear from friends and on-screen characters without any issue. The included mic provides superb clarity, making it an excellent option whether you just want to chat to teammates or start content creation of your own. It simply plugs into the 3.5mm jack, and can easily be swapped out for something more advanced if you’d prefer.
The earcups themselves have a nice level of padding, although can become uncomfortable if you’re planning on extended gaming sessions. They do have a tendency to leak sound slightly, although the immersive sound experience more than makes up for it.
The E900 has compatibility with all platforms, so it will work well whether you’re on PS4, Xbox or PC. Although this does mean there’s no wireless compatibility, it’s an expected compromise at this price point. The 2m cable should be plenty for most people, and houses an inline remote for adjusting volume and toggling the mic on and off.
5. Trust GXT 310 - Great entry-level headset
The GXT 310s are one of the cheapest dedicated gaming headsets you can buy, and in return, you get a surprisingly complete experience.
The design is functional if a little basic, but the all-plastic build means the headset can remain lightweight and portable. As on-ear headphones, it can take a bit of adjustment to get the right fit, but once you do the GXT 310s are particularly comfortable. The padded headband and ear cups mean wearing these for extended gaming sessions shouldn’t be a problem.
However, sound quality is the true star of the show here. It’s extremely impressive to see 7.1 surround sound at this price point, and the GXT 310s benefit hugely as a result. Audio is rich and full-bodied, with a nice balance to the sound on offer. This is particularly apparent when gaming, with the headset making for a truly immersive experience.
If we had one complaint here, it would be that the bass is slightly lacking, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most people. A more important factor here is that there is relatively little sound leak, even at high volumes. You can therefore enjoy your gaming session without disturbing people nearby.
The low price does mean you’re missing a few premium features, most notably the lack of a wireless option. Connecting via the included 3.5mm headphone jack could be an issue if you’re planning on using the headset with modern smartphones. There is also no inline remote or controls on the ear cups themselves, so everything will have to be controlled from the connected device.
However, it’s easy to look beyond these gripes when they sound so good and cost so little. If you’re a regular gamer and looking for an easy way to upgrade your experience, the GXT 310s are a no-brainer.
6. Turtle Beach Recon 70 - Best wired PS4 headset
Sporting the official colours of the PS4, the black-and-blue Recon 70 is a cheap wired headset designed with Sony’s console in mind. It features not only an adjustable headband, but swivelling earcups to help find a comfortable fit, although we must admit that even with soft padding on the headband, we started to feel pressure building after longer gaming sessions.
The Recon 70 is wired and not wireless, rather unsurprisingly when you consider the budget price tag of the headset. The 1m-long 3.5mm cable is perfect for use with the DualShock 4, but some people may find the cable a little too short and restricting to use it with a 3.5mm-enabled smartphone or PC. It should do Switch and Xbox users just fine though.
There are no in-line mic controls on offer thankfully, with Turtle Beach opting for a flip-mic and volume controls on one of the earcups, making it easy to adjust volume and mute your mic in the heat of battle.
Like other budget headsets on the market, the Recon 70 sports 40mm drivers opposed to larger 50mm drivers favoured by premium headsets, but despite the size reduction, the quality of the headphones is still great, providing booming bass during Earth-shattering explosions and crisp vocals during those heart-wrenching emotional gaming moments.
Essentially, the Recon 70 is a no-thrills headset that’ll get the job done, with surprising sound clarity for a headset for this price.
7. PuroGamer - Best for protecting your hearing
While most of the headsets in this chart go up to ear-splitting volumes that can cause permanent hearing damage, hearing-sensitive audio brand Puro has created a volume-limited headset for gamers. It's apparently the first in the world to create such a product, offering a safe alternative not only for adults but teens and children too.
It's capped at 85dB, and although long-term exposure to 85dB can still potentially damage sensitive ears, at least you know it won't go any higher. It's an odd thing to get used to initially; we wanted to crank the volume up to feel the bass of explosions and gunfire, but after a few minutes, we actually enjoyed the comfort of not being deafened every time a gun was fired.
It doesn't come at the cost of overall audio quality either. The bass is still booming and the clink of ammo hitting the floor is still crisp, it's just not as intense as some of the other options in our chart.
You've got other gamer-centric features like a detachable omnidirectional microphone, thick vegan-leather clad earcups and a cool blue LED ring light on the cups and on the microphone. You've also got the option of connecting via USB or 3.5mm, making the headset compatible not only with PC but just about every console with a 3.5mm headphone jack too.
8. MSI Immerse GH30 - A comfortable gaming headset
The MSI Immerse GH30 is the latest budget-friendly gaming headset from the company, and offers a decent setup at a cheap price point.
The headset has a distinct gamer-y look, complete with dark colours, an angular body, bright red MSI branding and a chunky boom mic, but it’s the small details that make the headset stand out. For one, it’s incredibly comfortable, featuring soft-touch earcups and a padded headband to relieve pressure over longer periods of play. It might sound heavy at 222g, but it’s certainly not something that we noticed during testing.
It features a unidirectional that helps pick up the sound of your voice and not the clicky-clack of mechanical keys on your keyboard, and although it’s not quite as impressive as what you’ll find on flagship headsets, it’s decent enough for a headset at an affordable price point. It doesn’t flip into the headset when not in use, but it is detachable so you can remove it completely when not required.
Sporting 40mm drivers, the MSI GH30 provides great sound quality for the price – certainly enough to feel the booming bass of nearby explosions and the ricochet of bullets off a nearby wall – but you don’t get that clarity on offer from more expensive headsets. Again, that’s not necessarily a negative given the wallet-friendly price.
Oh, and a 3.5mm headphone jack (with PC splitter included) means it’s compatible with PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and just about any other device with a standard headphone jack.
9. ADX 7.1 Gaming Headset - 7.1 on a budget
The ADX AFSH0419 7.1 gaming headset is no-thrills, but that’s not a bad thing; rather than focusing on branding and other aspects that don’t really matter, ADX has focused on providing core headset features usually exclusive to headsets double the price.
The headline feature is virtual 7.1 surround sound support, providing 360-degree directional audio that helps you pinpoint the location of enemy players and other interesting elements in your environment, be it the dripping of water on a concrete floor or the intense roar of a helicopter above. It’s an immersive feature that makes all the difference to gameplay, allowing you to proactively prepare for enemy contact before you actually see them.
There is admittedly a lack of clarity in the high-end, meaning sharp, high-pitched sounds like the clink of ammo hitting the floor seem a little more muted than other gaming headsets, but that’s an acceptable compromise for a headset that costs so little.
The wired nature of the headset may put some off, but the long, braided USB-A cable should stand the test of time. You’ll also find in-line controls not only for volume but the microphone and LED effects too, allowing you to control just about every aspect of the headset in one place.
There is what looks like a large button to mute your mic, but much to our surprise, it only displays whether the mic is muted or not - the actual mute button is located on the side of the control unit. It’s an odd design choice, but again, it’s not a dealbreaker at such a competitive price. The only real annoyance is the microphone; it can’t be retracted or removed when not in use, and gets in the way when we’re not playing multiplayer games.
The decision to include USB connectivity limits the AFSH0419 to PS4, PC and Mac, although there is a 3.5mm variant available too.
10. Turtle Beach Battle Buds - Best mobile gaming headset
Unlike any other headset in our chart, Turtle Beach’s Battle Buds are designed primarily for use with smartphones, giving you an edge in the ever-more-competitive mobile gaming scene. The earbud nature of the headset means it’s incredibly lightweight and easy to transport, and comes with a carry case full of eartips and wings to find the right fit for your ears.
Of course, a major part of gaming is communication – with your team, your party or with your viewers during a live stream. An in-line mic simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to communication in gaming, which is why Turtle Beach offers a removable high-quality boom microphone with the Battle Buds. You can use the boom mic during intense gaming sessions, then unplug it and use the buds to listen to your favourite tunes during your travels.
The quality is decent for small earbuds in this price range, although you have to really spend the time to find the right size eartips for your ears to create the perfect seal. It’s good enough for mobile gaming, but we’ve found that we prefer traditional headsets when gaming on console or PC. It can double up as a chat headset too, for those that want to chat with friends with game audio playing through speakers.
The only real concession is the inclusion of in-line controls, something fairly standard for earbuds.
What should I consider when buying a budget gaming headset?
Whether you’re a casual or hardcore gamer, the design of the gaming headset you purchase is very important; it can sound incredible, but if it’s uncomfortable to wear over long periods, chances are you’ll ditch it fairly quickly. There’s already enough going on when gaming without having to worry about the dull ache at the top of your head, or sweaty ears.
Though overall comfort can vary between manufacturers, we’d recommend opting for headsets made from soft, breathable materials. If you’re a glasses wearer, it’s also good to keep an eye out for headsets with dedicated eyewear channels to alleviate the pressure of your glasses against your head when worn. Adjustable earcups and length-adjustable headbands are always a plus too, allowing you to find the perfect fit.
You’ll also have to decide whether you want a wired or wireless gaming headset, as this can have an effect on other factors too. With regards to budget gaming headsets, you’re more than likely going to get a better deal with wired headsets when compared to wireless headsets.
The budget price tag means that, generally speaking, manufacturers will skimp on other features to accommodate wireless connectivity. If you really want the best sound and performance available for your budget, we’d recommend a wired headset. You can get amazing wireless gaming headsets that do everything you’d need and more, but these can cost upwards of £150.
You should also make sure that the headset you want to buy is compatible with the PC or console you want to use it with. Generally speaking, any PS4, Xbox One or Switch headset should also work with PC, but it’s not the case when going from PC to console due to different connection methods amongst Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo’s consoles.
The good news is that you can avoid compatibility issues by opting for a headset with a standard 3.5mm output. This is supported not only by every console and PC on the market, but smartphones, tablets and anything else that offers a standard headphone jack. If you opt for a USB-powered or wireless headset, be sure to make sure you’ve got the right version for your setup.
For a look at more premium headsets on the market, check out our selection of the best gaming headsets.
Find out how we test audio.