So much of what makes PC games outstanding is their sound design, and so it’s only fitting that we should pay credence to this oft-overlooked art with the best gaming headset to listen in more carefully. For a very long time, wired headsets were our only option, and perhaps in our ignorance, we found bliss without the paralysis of choice. Fortunately, we now live in a time when wireless gaming headsets exist. But it’s not as simple as saying that wireless cans are always better, or as easy as just picking one or the other because you love cables or you don’t.
In this guide, we’ll compare wired vs wireless gaming headsets to help you decide which is right for you when playing and working.
There are many factors to consider when buying a gaming headset. Features like noise-canceling have gone from just high-end headsets to reasonably priced midrange options. Open-back designs are also far more commonly found in the gaming space, no longer relegated to the realm of high-end hi-fi enjoyers.
Consider too your budget and how much use you want to get out of your headphones. You may find the best value option to be a headset you can take anywhere with you, gaming or not. But do you care if you can’t remove the mic?
We’ve collated some pointers to help give you an idea of what options can be found in both the wired and wireless gaming headset market, and how they might suit you so that you can make the best-informed decision. We’ve also included links to some great headset options for multiple price points to give you an idea of what’s out there.
The difference between wired and wireless gaming headsets is that one is wireless and the other is not, but there is more to it than that.
|Wired headset||Wireless headset|
|Cables can get in the way||No cables to tangle|
|Tethered to one spot||More freedom to move|
|Best audio quality||Can be more expensive|
|No need to charge, ever||Decent battery life|
Wireless headphones have received more attention over the years with features such as active noise-canceling, transparency modes, and being able to be connected to multiple audio sources – be it via Bluetooth or a 2.4 Ghz dongle for lower-latency audio, or both at the same time such as in the Sony Inzone H9 gaming headset.
Wired headphones don’t have any sort of delay between what you see on your screen and what you hear. They can also have far more data going through the cable than is possible over Bluetooth or 2.4 GHz wireless, allowing for a higher bitrate, meaning better audio quality to tickle your ears.
- You should buy a wired gaming headset if you want better sound quality or a cheaper headset.
- If you don’t want to worry about battery life, you may find a wired headset more convenient to live with.
Depending on the quality of construction and the audio drivers used, wired headsets can offer superior audio because the signal transmits straight from the audio source via the cable, rather than via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You’ll often see pro gamers using a wired headset for this reason.
If you’re a certified audiophile, the audio quality of wireless headsets is never going to appease you. As far as we can tell, it’s impossible to get an open-back wireless headset so if you demand an open soundstage then you will absolutely have to stick with wired audio. A great choice for a gaming-orientated open-back headset would be the Epos H6Pro whose simplicity and versatility won us over during testing.
Another reason to buy a wired gaming headset is if you want the most significant amount of choice for quality, up and down the price scale. It is easier to make wired peripherals, so you’re more likely to find exactly what you are looking for. One such option could be the venerable Razer BlackShark V2’s which surprised us with its subtle styling and quality drivers at a reasonable price.
Due to the cheaper costs associated with wired headsets, you are going to see (hear) good audio quality at a lower price point relative to wireless counterparts. That means you should still be able to notice an appreciable difference even when spending under $100, as with the ASUS TUF Gaming H3 headset which is deceptively premium feeling despite its low asking price.
You should buy a wired gaming headset if you:
- Want a cheaper headset
- Want better audio quality
- Want an open-back design
- You should buy a wireless gaming headset if you don’t want cables running from your computer to your head.
Wireless gaming headsets are perfect for those times when you need to get up to do or grab something but don’t want to miss out on anything. 2.4 GHz wireless connections have pretty long ranges, so trips to the fridge to grab some snacks shouldn’t leave you missing the punchline or discussing new tactics when your whole team has just been wiped out. You’re also only inducing a minimal amount of latency and most won’t notice it at all.
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, a wireless headset, especially those with removable mics, could serve as your headphones when you’re out and about too.
As we said earlier, some headsets like the Sony Inzone H9 can connect to 2.4Ghz and Bluetooth simultaneously which we found to be very useful for taking calls from your phone (or watching Tik Toks) without missing a beat from what’s coming from your computer.
You can absolutely get a cracking pair at the lower end of the scale like the Roccat Syn Pro Air, which is very light and has a great detachable microphone.
We also mentioned noise-canceling and transparency modes. With so many people remotely working these days, home spaces for a lot of us have become louder as a result. Even if you’re locked away in a different room, you can still hear others you live with on calls, washing machines whirring away, and pets scratching at your door.
Noise-canceling will do away with all that and allow you to focus on your games or work without distraction. When you do need to listen out for something, transparency modes let the nose filter in without having to take your headphones off. Great for if you’re expecting a delivery or have kids that are up to no good. These features are typically found in wireless headsets because there is a crossover with the wireless headphones market. If you can remove the mic and take them on the go, you are more likely to find yourself in noisy environments so it makes sense for them to be included.
You should buy a wireless gaming headset if you:
- Don’t want any cables
- Want to be able to leave your desk but still hear what’s going on
- Want features such as noise canceling, transparency mode, and multipoint connectivity