For as long as I can reasonably remember (since 2015, a quick search has told me) there’s been one headset among many that’s commanded a great deal of respect and recommendation in the sub-$200 gaming headset space, and that’s the HyperX Cloud II. Since its original iteration and through various tweaks and new SKUs in the eight years following, it’s remained a staple in its weight class, and for good reason. Pairing better-than-average sound with good long-term comfort at a very reasonable price point has kept this thing in the mix for longer than most tech products could ever hope to stay on shelves.
Nothing lasts forever though, and the reign of the HyperX Cloud II might finally be over, succeeded by the brand-spanking-new HyperX Cloud III.
The king is dead, long live the king.
Yes, HyperX has done the thing that I wasn’t sure they’d ever do and outright replaced their standard-bearing headset with a new iteration. More than just a change in connectivity or colour, it’s a shift in design alongside a hardware upgrade that brings the ageing Cloud II into a new generation. Importantly, it’s a successful venture. HyperX has managed to give their golden child the coming-of-age story it deserves in the Cloud III, with smart revisions that haven’t undermined what made its predecessor special.
Unboxing the HyperX Cloud III reveals a fairly stock-standard offering, with the headset itself along with the detachable microphone, small printed start guide and a 3.5mm AUX-to-USB-C adapter with an optional USB-A converter. The headset runs out to a fixed 3.5mm AUX cable so it can be plugged into the vast majority of PC/console/mobile devices either with an analog connection or with the USB adapter.
Design-wise, the Cloud III takes the same basic look of the Cloud II and gives it a bit of a modern refresh. Using similar materials throughout, it retains the rough size and construction of the previous model and its red, metallic arms but with slightly more rounded and sleek lines. The band and ear cushions are still using memory foam and leatherette material and while leatherette isn’t my first choice for these things it’s in keeping with tradition and noticeably softer than before. The microphone no longer wears a foam hat, but instead has a built-in mesh filter and comes with a handy LED mute indicator. A very basic combo of a volume scroll and a quick mute button embellish the cups on either side.
All told, it’s a great little modernisation of the Cloud II’s look without completely sacrificing the existing visual identity. Importantly, it’s also still incredibly comfortable – much more so than the vast majority of other gaming headsets in its price class or even above. I’m someone whose ears heat up quite quickly, and I’ve always appreciated a good breathable fabric in that regard, but in terms of pure on-the-head fit and the comfort of the big, plush cups these are so good that the material feels like a non-issue. At just under 300g it’s a pretty standard weight, but never felt overbearing or tight on my unremarkably-sized noggin.
But while design and comfort are undeniably important in a headset, the true test is in the audio. The HyperX Cloud III has both the fortunate and unenviable position of following a headset that offered incredibly decent sound for its price point, with great balance and accuracy backed up by a better-than-average soundstage. Thankfully the Cloud III carries the torch superbly, once again building on the foundation laid without radically changing what people expect from it. With bigger, angled 53mm drivers and the introduction of DTS Headphone: X Spatial Audio the in-game experience is a whole level better while retaining the balance and positional chops that made the Cloud II so good for competitive PC gaming.
If you’re looking for a headset to really wow you in single-player blockbusters or the occasional movie, the Cloud III isn’t really working any harder than its predecessor, which is to say it’s probably not the best-geared for the task. This really is something for the competitive shooter crowd, offering a precise and clear auditory window into everything your opponents are doing. Footsteps, gunshots and everything in-between are clear-cut and easy to pick when it comes to direction and distance, proving why the Cloud II was an immediate go-to among the eSports elite.
Even if you’re not using the headset with a PC and getting DTS:X Spatial Audio there’s a very nice width and depth from the Cloud III that makes it a great wired option for something like a console, but it’s definitely good to have the option to further tweak the audio experience on Windows with the (admittedly fairly basic) HyperX NGENUITY software. NGENUITY doesn’t really stand up to some of the fancier software solutions from brands like SteelSeries or Razer, but luckily the headset sounds fantastic out-of-the-box which makes it a great multiplatform option.
The Cloud III’s microphone is an improvement on paper, going from a 6mm diameter to 10mm and offering “improved clarity” according to HyperX, and so far that seems to be a fair claim. It’s still a pretty standard headset mic among other pretty standard headset mics, but for the average person speaking with an inside voice it comes through nice and clear and actually does a pretty decent job of not picking up a lot of background noise. I was able to chat with friends with a TV going right near me and none of it bled into my comms, which is good. I tried shouting for a bit (sorry, pals) and it seems to blow out pretty easily at a raised volume but your mileage there will vary depending on how obnoxious you are.
At $159 AUD when it launches in Australia on May 31st, the HyperX Cloud III keeps confidently in step with the headset it’s replacing when it comes to bang-for-buck. There was little that could beat out the Cloud II in its price bracket, and that’s just as true here. That said, if you have a Cloud II that’s still going strong it probably doesn’t change the game enough to justify upgrading, but if you’re newly in the market for a sub-$200 gaming headset that works with a variety of devices and offers a genuine competitive edge with long-term comfort – don’t hesitate for a second.
The HyperX Cloud III proudly carries its predecessor's legacy by offering the same fantastic value-for-money, great competitive gaming audio and supreme comfort at an agreeable price point. Small but smart revisions where it matters put this much-needed refresh in a great position to don Cloud II crown.
Updates the Cloud II form factor without losing anything in the process
Still has a great soundstage, now with bigger drivers and DTS:X
Good connectivity options for multiple platforms
Eclipses its competitors for quality at $159
Still a little flat-sounding for blockbuster games or movies