AOC is a brand that's more synonymous with the best gaming monitor market than the gaming headset market. But, with the release of the AOC GH300, this Netherlands-based company is looking to take a crack at the cheap-end of the best gaming headsets (opens in new tab) market. Priced at £49 (US price pending at time of writing) with RGB lighting plus 7.1 surround sound, the AOC GH300 certainly look good on paper. However, how will they hold up in a market that's absolutely flooded with choices from more established brands in that budget, around-$50 category.
Design & Features
Build-wise, the AOC GH300 features a solid central red anodized steel band that joins the rather generously accoutred soft faux-leather cups. The housing for the cups themselves is plastic, although there's a really nice steel mesh covering over the center which houses an illuminated LED AOC logo with RGB lighting. A little bit of extra flair is afforded by the embossed AOC logo on the headband, which also features a red-braided trim - both nice little additions.
Type: Wired (USB)
Sound output: Stereo, 7.1
Microphone: Detachable boom
Compatibility: PC (7.1), Mac
Controls: Volume, mute, LED on/off
Impedance: 32 ohm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Tested on PC.
At first glance, the AOC GH300 rock a design that’s suspiciously similar to another very popular, albeit more expensive gaming headset - the HyperX Cloud Alpha (opens in new tab). The red band and trim are especially blatant 'borrowings' here, although it's easy to see why they took inspiration from the Cloud Alpha, being that they are one of the best mid-range gaming headsets out there.
It's a solid design too. The steel band especially gives the AOC GH300 a fairly robust feel in the hand - definitely more so than the usual no-brand cheap gaming headset fare that you’d find on Amazon. For the price, I could definitely see these lasting a few good years if looked after well.
When worn, the cups felt pretty loose around my ears personally, not exactly snug. However, the headset itself is very comfortable with the pads feeling sufficiently soft over long periods of use. I was, for example, able to indulge in lengthy games of Total War: Warhammer 2 (a common addiction) without any discomfort whatsoever; a good sing in the search for the best PC headset for gaming.
Other features include a detachable microphone and a handy in-line dial that allows you to easily control volume, mic activation, and LED activation. The AOC GH300 is USB powered, and also features support for 7.1 surround sound if you install the PC-only AOC Audio Center app. Sorry console gamers, this one's definitely more for the budget PC crowd, so you won't find the next contender for best PS5 headset or best Xbox Series X headset here.
On a side note, I actually found it quite difficult to find the relevant software on the AOC website. There’s basically no mention of gaming headsets on there and going to the support page doesn’t yield any results despite the manual stating clearly that’s the page you need for the software. Instead, you have to find the specific product page itself, which is weirdly easier to find via google than on the AOC site.
The software is, quite frankly, barebones to say the least. The interface looks like a motherboard boot menu - that is to say decades old. You’ve got a very basic menu to customize the volume, RGB lighting, and mic activation, which are at least functional. You’ve also got buttons for 'Hi-Fi', which I assume is the 7.1 surround sound, and an odd hand symbol that simply says "manual". Both these buttons look like they do something, but clicking them does nothing. I suppose they’re there to reassure you that 'Hi-Fi' is enabled but the whole interface is in dire need of a facelift, to be honest.
For a $50-ish headset, the AOC GH300 sounds pretty damn good. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not exactly the cleanest or most open-sounding headset on the market, but they do thump along rather nicely for the price. There’s no harshness in the highs, and the bass is sufficiently powerful enough to bring out that oh-so-satisfying clunk of gunplay in your favorite shooter - CS:GO in my case.
Wearing the AOC GH300, heavier single-shot weapons like the sawed-off shotgun or AWP all sounded suitably authoritative and everything tracked well enough thanks to that 7.1 surround sound. The mic also performs well enough for the price, coming through loud and clear with fairly good sound isolation it has to be said.
If I had to bring a criticism in here it would be the overall clarity of the sound. It’s not exactly bad (especially for a $50 headset), but compared to some of the more premium best gaming headsets on the market, there’s definitely a certain crispness or fidelity to the sound you’re missing here.
You will of course still be able to hear footsteps and gunplay absolutely fine with these on the vast majority of games, but for absolutely nail-biting tense moments in games like Escape from Tarkov, it might be worth saving up a bit more pocket money for something a little more premium. That said, I found the AOC GH300 to offer up a very strong and pleasing sound overall and for casual gaming they're fantastic.
Conclusion - should you buy it?
Bizarre software choices and a fairly safe iterative design hold back the AOC GH300 from being a truly fantastic gaming headset. However, for a bargain price point, the headset gives good sound and they’re also exceptionally comfortable. All-in-all, these are a solid first effort from the monitor manufacturer and a good choice for those on a budget alongside more established mentions like the Corsair HS35 (opens in new tab) and SteelSeries Arctis 1 (opens in new tab) - and also definitely have it over their even-more-budget brethren, the AOC GH200.