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Gaming accessories across the board have been improving in leaps and bounds over the last few years, so it's a perfect time to be shopping for one of the best gaming headsets for under $50. Spending less doesn't mean you have to settle for trash-tier quality, and in many cases some of these less expensive headsets can compete with even the best headphones for music lovers in terms of features and functionality. A lot of times the major sacrifice you're making is in brand name: some of the best headsets for gaming are produced by lesser-known manufacturers, which often translates to a lighter impact on your wallet.
So what should you prioritize when you're shopping gaming headsets? If you play a ton of multiplayer games and aren't just looking for a more intimate listening experience, a great microphone is key. That doesn't mean audio quality isn't important, however, so you should also consider how balanced the sound a pair of cans produces is, and how well it does with positional and environmental audio. We've evaluated a swath of the best, affordable headsets available so you want have to come with grips with any crippling buyer's remorse.
No native surround sound
If you're looking for a great gaming headset, but don't want to spend a fortune, the Corsair HS50 Pro is the best on the market. The headband and ear cups are cushioned with memory foam for long-lasting comfort even during all-day gaming sessions. Aluminum yokes attach the earcups to the headband for lightweight strength and durability. The 50mm audio drivers give you deep, responsive bass and crisp, clean mid and high tones.
The headset is compatible with Windows Sonic for virtual surround sound when playing PC games. It's also certified for use with Discord voice chat for clear communication with friends. The microphone is detachable for storage when you don't need it, and features noise-canceling technology to isolate your voice during chat. The headset is compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, and even mobile devices, making it a versatile headset that can be used for gaming as well as conference calls or listening to your favorite music.
Virtual 7.1 channel surround sound
Noise cancelling mic
No memory foam on ear cups
Ear cups don't rotate
The HyperX Cloud Stinger Core 7.1 is a solid runner-up when shopping for a budget-friendly gaming headset. It's optimized for both PC and console gaming with a PS4, Xbox One X, or Nintendo Switch. The headband features stainless steel sliders for strength and durability while remaining lightweight. The ear cups are made of foam and cloth for breathability and long-lasting comfort. With on-board game and chat volume controls, balancing your audio is quick and easy.
The built-in microphone features a swivel-to-mute function for quick side conversations and noise-canceling technology for crystal clear chat. The included adapter gives you a virtual 7.1 channel surround sound experience so you can pinpoint in-game sounds like gunshots, footsteps, and other audio cues for that extra edge. The 40mm audio drivers produce rich audio with punchy bass notes and crisp mid and high tones for a more immersive listening experience.
Awesome 50mm neodymium drivers
Virtual surround sound
Lightweight and comfy
Requires additional software for customization
No matter what platform you love, the budget-friendly Mpow EG3 gaming headset will probably work for you; these headphones are compatible with PCs (Windows 7, 8 and 10), PlayStation 4 and any devices with USB audio support. Advanced 50mm neodymium drivers provide a surround sound-like effect to help you really get into your gaming experience. The immersive sound environment lets you hear enemies before they sneak up on you and ensures that you don't miss any loot drops.
After purchasing these headphones, you can download the Mpow gaming software in order to fully customize the sound profile, and even create different sound profiles for each of your favorite games. Made from lightweight metal, these headphones were designed with comfort in mind, thanks to tension controls that allow you to adjust the tightness of your headphones based on what feels good to you. Plus, memory foam earpads feel cool and soft on your ears even after you’ve been wearing them for hours.
Anti-static, noise-canceling mic
Comfortable for long sessions
Are you playing a game where you need to hear which direction sounds are coming from to stay one step ahead? With the Onikuma gaming headset, you’ll enjoy surround sound that helps you track both friends and enemies. The 50mm driver and incredible sensitivity of these headphones will blow you away — it can pick up sounds from 20Hz to 20KHz. Thanks to the cutting-edge anti-static design the noise-canceling microphone provides smooth in-game communication.
The ear cups are made from soft, durable memory foam smoothed over with a bionic protein cushion coat and the over-ear design promotes long-term comfort. Plus, the ONIKUMA gaming headset is compatible with many of the most popular gaming systems, including Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Windows PCs, Mac OS PCs, iOS devices, Android devices, PS4, PS Vita and PSP. With additional accessories, it can also work with the Xbox One.
No real-time mic monitoring for chat
PS4 users can get PC quality audio with the Razer Kraken X. This headset is designed for long-haul gaming sessions; weighing just 250 grams and with gentle clamping force, this headset reduces pain and fatigue when used in all-day gaming sessions. Each ear cup features memory foam cushions with eyewear channels, making it more comfortable to wear with either blue light filtering glasses or prescription eyewear.
They also have custom-tuned 40mm audio drivers that balance in-game audio like dialogue, sound cues, and music for a more immersive experience. The attached microphone features a bendable arm for custom positioning and a unidirectional cardioid pickup that blocks sound entering from the sides or rear to isolate your voice. On-ear volume and mute controls make adjusting audio quick and easy. The Kraken X comes in three different color schemes (black, black and blue, and white) to suit almost any style.
No custom lighting options
For gamers looking to add a bit of flair to their setup, the Ziumier Z20 headset has style in spades. This headset features bright, brilliant LED lighting that cycles through a range of colors for a true chroma effect. With 50mm audio drivers, you'll get deep bass notes as well as clean, crisp mid and high tones for excellent sound for both game and chat sound.
The microphone has an omnidirectional pickup with noise-canceling technology to isolate your voice for clearer communication. It also has 120-degrees of swivel range for a customized position or to move the mic out of the way when not in use. The 6.5-foot cable has a braided coating to prevent breakage and tangling for a hassle-free gaming experience. The headset has multiplatform support so you can use it with a PC, PS4, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, or Nintendo 3DS.
3D spatial sound
May not work with older versions of Windows
PC gaming buffs will appreciate the SteelSeries Arctis 1. This headset is built from the ground up to provide the signature SteelSeries sound that PC gamers have come to know in a more affordable package. The headset features 3D spatial soundtracking to help you better pinpoint in-game audio cues to give you an extra edge against opponents. The on-ear volume and mute controls let you adjust your game and chat audio on-the-fly as well as quickly mute your mic for in-room conversations.
The mic is bidirectional and noise-canceling to isolate your voice for clearer chat. It's also detachable for when you want to use the headset for listening to music or videos. The headband is reinforced with stainless steel for long-lasting durability while remaining lightweight for all-day comfort. The headset features a compact, folding design that is great for anyone who takes a gaming laptop with them on trips or to visit with friends. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 headset is also compatible with Apple laptops and desktops so Mac gamers won't get left behind.
The Nintendo Switch is designed for both home and on-the-go use, and players need a headset that can fit in both environments. The HyperX Cloud Earbuds are designed with mobile gaming in mind. The 3.5mm audio jack features a 90-degree angled plug to prevent wire breakage and tangles for a hassle-free mobile gaming experience. It comes with three different sizes of silicone ear tips for a custom fit and enhanced comfort.
If you play games like Fortnite or Overwatch with friends, the HyperX Cloud Earbuds have an in-line, omnidirectional microphone for in-game chat. There is also a multifunctional button that can be used for quick muting your mic or adjusting your game volume. The headset weighs just 19 grams, making all-day gaming sessions more comfortable. The earbuds come with a travel case to prevent damage while in storage or during travel.
Xbox Series X support
Xbox One X users will love the Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 50X headset. This headset is officially licensed by Xbox and designed for optimal compatibility. The 3.5mm audio jack can be plugged into the new Xbox One controllers for easier use. The omnidirectional mic features an omnidirectional pickup that detects your voice from a variety of positions so your in-game chat is always crystal clear. The mic is also removable for when you don't need it or just want to watch movies and shows on your Xbox One X.
The ear cups and headband are made with foam and synthetic leather for comfort, style, and durability. The ear cups also rotate flat for better storage and to provide a better fit for almost anyone. With in-line controls, adjusting audio volume and muting your mic is quick and easy. The headset is also future-proof with guaranteed support for the upcoming Xbox Series X.
The Corsair HS50 Pro headset is a great top choice when looking for a budget-friendly gaming headset. Optimized for Windows Sonic, you get 7.1 channel surround sound audio with both PC and Xbox One X games. It's also Discord certified for voice chatting with your friends so you'll get consistently clear communication. The HyperX Cloud Stinger Core 7.1 headset is a solid runner-up: it comes with its own 7.1 channel virtual surround sound amp that can be used with PC and Xbox One X games. The Cloud Stinger Core 7.1 may lack Discord certification for voice chat, but it features on-ear controls for volume and mic muting.
None of our budget picks for best gaming headsets have been put through their paces by our team of trusted experts just yet. However, their hands-on testing will consist of logging significant hours on their computer or console, paying attention to the overall input and output quality, as well as how comfortable they are during extended gaming sessions.
Patrick Hyde has been covering tech for a number of major outlets for more than four years now. He specializes in headphones and earbuds (as well as Android devices and other consumer electronics), and was a perfect fit for our best affordable gaming headphones roundup.
Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.
Audio quality - Regardless of how you plan to use them, audio quality should always be a critical consideration when you're picking out a new headset. The drivers powering the audio output are one of the most important elements in sound reproduction, and you'll also want to look for a set that's well-balanced across low, mid, and high tones.
Microphone - Mic quality can make or break a gaming headset, particularly if play with others online a ton. If you game a lot in a really noisy environment, be sure to prioritize a headset with a noise-canceling or noise-isolating mic (like several of the models on our list).
Fit and comfort - If you're like the staff at Lifewire, chances are you're prone to marathon gaming sessions, in which case a cozy pair of cans is key. For extended play, you want something that's built of lightweight materials and padded and plush enough to sit comfortably on your dome while you frag bad guys.