Just five years ago, finding decent gaming headsets under $100 was difficult. At best, you’d have to spend at least half of that and still sacrifice tons of features. It wasn’t a fun time.
But the market has changed. Now you can find all kinds of headsets for gamers on a budget, and many of them aren’t that bad — much better than what you could’ve gotten five years ago. You just have to know where to look, what to look for, and be willing to settle for less than perfect.
What Do Good Budget Gaming Headsets Have?
First things first: A headset is nothing more than a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone. Second, there are no practical differences between a gaming headset and a regular headset except physical design and appearance. And third, some features are more important than others.
- Over-ear vs. on-ear vs. in-ear — For the most part, over-ear headsets are the only ones worth buying at this price level. On-ear headsets tend to cost more due to their refined designs, and in-ear headsets won’t have the sound or microphone quality that you need when gaming. Learn more about headphone terms and considerations.
- Physical weight — A massive headset feels good… for about five minutes. After that you’ll be dying to take them off, either because they’re pushing down on your ears or because they’re making your neck tired. Light and comfortable are what you want, especially for long gaming sessions.
- USB vs. 3.5mm — USB headsets include their own sound cards. That means they’re less prone to the radio frequency interference. 3.5mm jacks are more versatile and better for console gaming (though not for iPhone 7s). For PC gaming, go with USB whenever possible.
- Stereo vs. surround sound — Surround sound in gaming headsets is a sham. Not only do most so-called “surround sound headsets” lack the driver count to produce true surround sound but surround sound is designed to take advantage of room acoustics — something you can’t get in a headset. And since stereo drivers produce better quality, especially at this price level, go with that instead.
- Wired vs. wireless — You aren’t going to find wireless headsets in the sub-$25 range, and if you do, it’s guaranteed to be garbage. There’s a reason why wireless headphones are more expensive than wired headphones: it’s hard to produce a set that sounds good.
- Build quality — Don’t expect anything that feels great in your hands or on your head. The ear pads won’t feel luxurious, metal components will be rare, the plastic won’t be hefty or robust, and the cable will feel flimsy. Expect them to last 6–12 months, or slightly longer if you take good care of them.
- Brand name — You won’t find any Razer, SteelSeries, Corsair, or Sennheiser products this far down the barrel.
So is it possible to find a headset that fits all of the criteria above without spending more than $25? Not really, but you can get close enough. Here are the best currently-available options that we found.
I’ve used a handful of Turtle Beach headsets over the past few years, and they’ve all been satisfactory — that’s what this brand is about. You get great value for what you pay, in my experience, and it’s more than good enough for all but the most hardcore of gamers.
The Turtle Beach Ear Force Z11 Headset won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (the cups are weirdly too round). Even so, it fits well on the ears, produces pleasant sound, has a sensitive and flexible microphone, and comes with a volume control with a mute button.
2. Logitech H390 USB (UK)
Logitech is one of the most trustworthy and reputable brands you’ll ever come across. It does have several “gaming” product lines, but it isn’t a “gaming brand” so to speak. This particular headset is a general-use one — but it’s good, and we recommend it.
The Logitech ClearChat H390 Headset is an on-ear pair (the only one in this post). It features comfortable pads, a rotating noise-canceling microphone, and a volume control with a mute button. And thanks to its understated design. Overall, it’s probably the best option if you don’t want to look like a gamer.
The Plantronics Audio 355 Headset is one of the first gaming headsets I ever bought. And that was close to ten years ago, so it’s surprising that it’s still around. In fact, I suppose you could see that as a testament to its value. Based on the specs alone, it’s nothing special — but it’s cheap and gets the job done.
The stereo drivers sound great. On top of that, the noise-cancelling microphone is passable for always-on voice communications. The microphone also telescopes in and out for length adjustments, it comes with volume and mute controls, and the headset itself is very light. My only complaint is that the pads are tight and may hurt your ears during long sessions.
4. Sades A60/OMG USB (UK)
Sades remains a very much a hit-or-miss brand. They specialize in budget gaming headsets. All of its products’ prices fall short of $30. Even so, they all have surprisingly good ratings — even after adjusting for fake reviews. So instead of recommending one of the cheaper options, you might as well shell out the extra $5 for the best one.
The Sades A60/OMG Gaming Headset has a sleek design, sensitive microphone, volume and mute controls, and better-than-average drivers that produce excellent sound quality considering how much you’re paying. The comfortable cups also have a bit of noise isolation.
Bengoo is a recently-established Chinese off-brand manufacturer of various PC and mobile peripherals. Their wares include external DVD drives, portable fans, selfie sticks, and audio equipment. Few of these devices indicate audio excellence. So when looking to buy the Bengoo PC Gaming Headset, be aware that you get what you pay for.
In this case, you’re paying less for increased risk. It looks good and feels okay, but will it even make it to a year? The jury remains undecided.
Be careful when reading the reviews for this one. According to FakeSpot, close to 70 percent of them are fake or suspicious. However, even when you adjust the product rating for wonderful reviews, it still scores 4-out-of-5 stars. Whether to trust that or not, I’ll leave it up to you.
Which Gaming Headsets Do You Have?
We’d be remiss to end this post without mentioning the possibility of a headphones plus microphone combo, which many people claim offers better overall quality for the same price. That might be true when you’re in the $50-plus range but isn’t so true in the sub-$25 range. Even if you do find a good $10 microphone, good luck finding a pair of $15 headphones that isn’t utter trash.
Ultimately we recommend saving up for something that’s $100-plus if you can. But if you need something in the budget range, then you won’t find better than the ones listed above.
Did any of these headsets catch your eye? Which headset were you using last? Or simply tell us about the best gaming headsets you’ve ever owned. We want to know, so leave us a comment below!