Last Updated on March 3, 2020 by Jake
While many gamers spend a lot on GPUs, CPUs, monitors, and even memory cards, the audio aspects of PC gaming are often ignored. However the audio element is one of the most important in the gaming experience and cannot be forgotten. High fidelity sounds allow you to fully submerge yourself in the game’s world and narrative.
In this post, we’ve done the research and compiled a list of all the best amp for pc gaming choices out there. Read on to see which ones are our top picks!
In a Rush? Here’s Our Top Picks:
|Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming Audio Amplifier, 7.1 surround sound, PC and MAC, Gaming DAC and EQ, for Windows, Mac, Laptops and Desktops||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res 130dB 32bit/384kHz Gaming DAC, External USB Sound Card with Xamp Headphone Amp, Dolby Digital, 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound, Sidetone/Speaker Control for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo||Check Price on Amazon|
|Audioengine D1 24-Bit DAC, Premium Desktop Digital To Analogue Converter and Headphone Amplifier||Check Price on Amazon|
|AudioQuest - Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier||Check Price on Amazon|
|iFi xDSD Portable Bluetooth DAC and Headphone Amplifier - for Smartphones/Tablets/Computers/Digital Audio Players||Check Price on Amazon|
Do You Need a Headphone Amplifier?
The short answer? Yes, you need a headphone amplifier. Headphones and speakers require amplification to produce sounds at a level that is audible and clear. While PCs generally contain miniature amps, they are not powerful enough to produce sound levels and clarity that can be appreciated by an audiophile.
An external amp allows you to hear sounds the way they were meant to be heard. The purity and richness are not only appreciated by audiophiles but also by any and all gamers.
Most amps come in the shape of a small box and act as a hub between your headphones and PC. There are a few amps that are as small as a thumb drive. The sounds produced by the PC are passed through the amp which processes the sound before sending it forward to your headphones.
This all happens so quickly that there is no latency. And sounds amplified are not necessarily louder, rather there is minimal distortion. The sounds are richer, more detailed and warmer on the best amp for pc gaming.
This is what you go for when you use an amp. The amps reviewed here are solid-state amps that use microchips with circuity to process the sounds instead of vacuum tubes.
Best Amp For PC Gaming Reviews
There are a lot of headphone amps designed specifically for gaming on the market. However, not all amps are made equal. Here are the choices for best amp for pc gaming currently on the market.
These amps include tiny thumb drive sized amps, amps with prices under $100, and more expensive amps with prices over $400.
Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming Audio Amplifier
- BINAURAL RENDERING ENGINE WITH 7.1 SURROUND - The proprietary high-tech audio engine delivers exceptional spatial awareness and positional game audio. Delivers the game audio details and positional audio cues.
- QUICK SETTING CHANGES – save up to 4 customized sound settings on the LED touch panel that allows one-touch mode switch, also between headphone and speaker listening and make fast adjustments with a large aluminum volume Ring
- EQ SETTINGS – Get precise control of your game audio with a dedicated DAC chip and EQ presets. Specially attuned audio presets for competitive gaming focus and balance sound frequencies where they are needed
- SIDETONE - Sidetone control lets you adjust the loudness of your own voice in your headset: you know what you are saying, tune in to your teammates.
- GAMING DAC – Get precise control of your sound with a dedicated DAC chip that requires no additional drivers, for easy setup. Just plug and play.
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16-150 Ω
Frequency Response: 0-48.0 kHz
Connectors: 3.5 mm headset socket, 3.5 mm microphone socket, 3.5 mm loudspeaker socket, mini-USB socket
Sennheiser is known for its range of high fidelity audio products such as microphones, speakers, headphones, and amplifiers. As a renowned company that specializes in high-end products, you should only expect the best from Sennheiser. The Sennheiser GSX 1000GSX 1000, which is marketed as a gaming audio amplifier, is a high-end amp and is probably the best amp for pc gaming on the market.
For starters, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 expertly combines an amp and a DAC (digital to analog converter) to deliver an audio experience that is rich and immersive. The 7.1 Sennheiser Binaural Rendering Engine ensures you get the best as it delivers breathtaking 7. 1 surround Sound in HD Audio.
Also, you can store 4 customized audio settings on the amp. Gamers can quickly switch from one setting to another. The dedicated DAC chip included in the amp ensures you have precise control of your sound. It also features a one-touch mode that allows gamers to switch between speaker and headphone modes.
Similarly, you can adjust the loudness of your voice in your headset with a touch of the touch panel. Connectors include 3.5mm ports for both a mic, a loudspeaker, and a headphone, as well as a mini-USB.
The controls can be accessed via an LED-lit touch display and the amp/DAC build is solid and of premium quality.
- The Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming Audio Amplifier is a well-built device.
- It produces gorgeous immersive sounds.
- It is designed with gaming in mind.
- You can store several EQ settings on the device’s memory.
- The amp features an eye-catching modern design.
- It is a bit expensive.
Sound BlasterX G6
- UPGRADE YOUR GAMES ON PS4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH, AND PC | Get immediate increased enjoyment over basic motherboard and controller audio! Apart from incredible audio quality, the Sound BlasterX G6 boasts gaming-centric features such as Sidetone volume control and easy-to-reach profile buttons
- INDUSTRY-LEADING AUDIO PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY | Enjoy full audio customization and enhanced audio realism with immersive 7.1 surround virtualization, accurate cues, bass boost and in-game voice communication enhancements. It also has Scout Mode than enhances in-game audio cues, letting you hear your enemies before they hear you
- 7.1 VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND AND DOLBY DIGITAL | Enjoy the latest in immersion technology with Dolby Digital decoding or Sound Blaster’s proprietary surround sound perfect for games and movies
- DISCRETE HEADPHONE AMP | Custom-designed Xamp headphone amplifier features discrete components through all stages of amplification in a bi-amp design. Each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver a whole new level of pristine audio fidelity in an authentic, unaltered lossless model. The ultra-low 1 Ohm output impedance perfectly drives performance-grade sensitive 8W in-ear monitors all the way to studio-grade 600W headphones
- 130dB DNR, 32-bit 384kHz DAC Advanced 32-bit oversampled multi-bit modulator with mismatch shaping technology eliminates distortion, ensuring audio is streamed with the highest level of detail and fidelity
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16-600 Ω
Native Resolution: 32bit/384kHz
Output: 3.5 mm headset socket
Input: USB socket, optical socket, 3.5 mm mic socket
Gaming consoles and PCs also benefit from powerful DAC/amp such as the Sound BlasterX G6. This is especially true if your system doesn’t have a high-end sound card. With an amp, you are sure to access high-end sound.
The Sound BlasterX G6 focuses on sounds that are most essential to gamers such as in-game voice chat, strong volumes, and rich distinct sounds. The Scout Mode feature enhances audio cues such as gunshots, footsteps thus making it easier to hear and pinpoint your enemies.
In MMOs, this advantage can be the difference between life and death. The Sound BlasterX G6 also uses a proprietary 7.1 surround virtualization, Dolby Digital decoding, and bass boost to provide the ultimate gaming experience.
When it comes to headphone amplification, each audio channel is discreetly amplified to deliver crisp audio fidelity in an unaltered lossless model. This amplifier works with Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PS consoles as well as PC. Connectivity options include line-in, USB, and optical.
- It features a Scout Mode which is perfect for gaming.
- It’s portable and simple to use as it accepts a variety of inputs.
- The Sound BlasterX G6 is both a bi-amp headset amplifier and a DAC.
- The Sound BlasterX G6 is designed with gaming at its core.
- You cannot store custom settings on the device.
- EQ settings are only available on PC.
- The D1 is a premium 24-bit DAC and headphone amplifier for your computer, TV, allowing you to bypass your computer’s sound card or headphone output and send audio through USB or optical
- FEATURES High-performance DAC and headphone amp, USB and optical inputs, stream bit-perfect 24/96 HD audio, desktop or portable DAC, use with Mac or PC, no driver to install.
- WORKS WITH Mac, Windows, and Linux Computers—plug-and-play with USB. Any TOSLINK Optical connection from CD/DVD Players, TVs, and more! Powered speakers, Stereo/AV Receivers, and your favorite headphones.
- WHAT’S INCLUDED: D1 24-bit DAC/Headphone Amp, 2 foot USB cable, setup guide, microfiber bag.
- WARRANTY: Audioengine builds quality audio equipment that they stand behind. All Audioengine products come with a 3-year transferable warranty. Coverage: Stellar US based customer support and 3 year product coverage is included. Based in Austin, TX, Audioengine has been changing the way people listen to music since 2005. Our passion is creating products that sound great, are easy to use, and make people want to listen to music every day.
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 10-150 Ω
Frequency Response: 10-25kHz
Native Resolution: 24bit/192kHz
Input: USB socket, SPDIF optical socket
Output: 3.5 mm headset socket, RCA L/R stereo
The Audioengine D1 is a clean looking DAC with a builtin amp. Its clean design ensures it fits in with any gaming rig. It features a robust metal housing with rear plates.
The Audioengine D1 is powered by a USB port and connectivity options include line-in, USB, and optical. Although it works best for PCs, you can use it with gaming consoles such as Xbox and PS, smartphones, tablets, and even TVs. The built-in amp powers anything up to 150 ohms. As such, it is perfect for headphones.
When used for gaming the difference in the sound produced is noticeable. When you connect it to your pc via a USB port, the Audioengine D1 bypasses the sound card. It processes digital audio up to 24-bits and the same rate up to 192kHz. The treble is crisp and the sound produced has more details overall. As such, each sound is more distinct.
The Audioengine D1 is a clear choice for best amp for pc gaming and a perfect for gamers who wish to get the best out of their top-end gaming headphones.
- The Audioengine D1 produces high-performance audio.
- Its clean and robust design ensures it fits in with any gaming rig.
- It’s a plug and play system.
- It processes digital audio up to 24-bits.
- It is convenient and easy to use.
- It’s expensive for what it offers.
AudioQuest – Dragonfly Cobalt USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier
- Native Resolution up to 24-bit / 96kHz
- DAC Chip ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound
- Plays All Music Files: MP3 to MQA and Hi-Res
- Compatible with iOS Mobile Devices (requires Apple Lightning-to-USB adaptor) and Android Mobile Devices (requires USB adaptor)
- Dimensions: 57mm (l) x 19mm (w) x 12mm (h)
Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz/45kHz
Native Resolution: 24-bit/96kHz
Input: USB socket
Output: 3.5 mm headset socket
The Dragonfly Cobalt is a headphone amp and DAC that is the size of a thumb drive. However, this nifty little amplifier packs a lot of punch. Thanks to its patent DAC Chip, the sound produced is of the highest quality.
The Cobalt is a portable headphone amp that features a USB input and a 3.5 mm audio output. This singular input and output may be limiting, but the Cobalt makes up for it by being small and portable. The internal DAC chip handles all types of audio formats, including high-resolution audio streaming formats such as from Qobuz and Tidal.
It also works great with YouTube, Vimeo, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud. It also supports native resolutions of up to 24-bit/96kHz. According to AudioQuest, tweaks to internal circuitry ensures there is a reduction to electrical noise interference from Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
Other features include 64-Bit Bit-Perfect Volume Control, DAC chip with minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural sound, and Windows/Apple/Linux OS compatibility.
The main selling point of the Dragonfly Cobalt is its small form factor. It can fit in any pocket and can easily be swapped from one device to another. You can even pair it with your phone so you can listen to music on the go.
- The Dragonfly Cobalt supports a wide range of headphones and audio devices.
- The Dragonfly Cobalt works with Apple and Microsoft OS.
- It is small and portable.
- It boasts impressive audio quality.
- It’s a plug and play system and works with mobile devices as well.
- It processes digital audio up to 24-bits.
- It’s the most expensive amp/DAC on the list.
Schiit Fulla 2 DAC/Amp (Best Amp for PC Gaming for the Money)
- WIRELESS OR WIRED - Improve the sound from any smartphone, laptop, tablet, or DAP to your wired headphones with a built in CD quality Bluetooth streaming receiver, or connect directly to your USB device with an Android OTG cable or Apple Camera Connection Kit. S/PDIF, optical, toslink, and coax are options as well. Our S Balanced 3.5mm headphone output brings the benefits of the balanced connection to single ended headphones and cuts crosstalk
- POWERFUL AMPLIFIER - Experience the full dynamic range and unleash the full potential of your headphones, 32ohm to 600ohm, with an impressive Dual-mono headphone amplifier consisting of 500mW of power per channel. Make sensitive IEMs super quiet thanks to our Cyberdrive circuit design that puts the analog volume under digital control for the best of both worlds, while retaining full bit resolution at all volume levels.
- HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - Playback any hi-res audio format natively with our signature Burr Brown digital to analog signal processing chip, which means file formats or information remain unchanged for the truest sound. Supports native PCM 384 quad, DSD 256, and MQA straight out of the box, or choose high resolution audio up to PCM 768kHz and DSD 512 with a quick firmware update
- PORTABLE DESIGN - With an internal Lithium Polymer Battery, playback time is up to 6 to10 hours, depending on the headphones you are driving and what settings you enable
- TECH PACKED - Low end bass frequencies are no problem thanks to our XBass + analogue bass correction system which corrects headphone bass frequency to deliver a deep, tight and prodigious bass. You will feel the music all around thanks to the wide soundstage from our 3D+ Holographic dual-analogue matrix create a more immersive, deeper soundstage that puts the artist with you in the room, not just in your headphones
Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16 Ω
Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Native Resolution: 24-bit/192kHz
Input: 3.5 mm socket, micro-USB socket
Output: 3.5 mm socket, 6.3 mm headset socket
If you are looking for an affordable and yet powerful headphone amp for gaming, then the Sennheiser GSX 1000Schiit Fulla 2 is your best bet. With a price range of under $100, the Schiit Fulla 2 is the most affordable amp on the best amp for pc gaming list.
Of course, sacrifices are made to the audio bitrate and volume boosts could be higher. However, the Schiit Fulla 2 performs admirably and is a wonderful piece of equipment.
The Schiit Fulla 2 is both a DAC and a headphone amplifier. For non-amplified signals, an aux 3.5 mm output is used. The headphone amp, however, uses a 6.5 mm headphone jack and a volume knob that can boost digital signals by as much as 4.6 dB, which is quite impressive.
6.3 mm headphone output has an impressive low output impedance of 0.5 ohms. While the Schiit Fulla 2 works amazingly with most headphones it will struggle to keep up with high impedance headphones. Both the amplifier and the DAC have a low noise floor. It also features bright LED lights.
Inputs include a 3.5 mm and a micro USB. Output options include a 3.5 mm socket and a 6.3 mm headset socket.
- The Schiit Fulla 2 has a low noise floor and low output impedance.
- The Schiit Fulla 2 is an affordable choice.
- It is highly portable and easy to use as a headphone amp.
- The amp struggles to boost volume for high impedance headphones.
Best Amp for PC Gaming – Wrap Up
Dedicated DAC/amps function better than internal sound cards found inside computers and other devices such as smartphones. They have better output circuitry, power supply, and DAC chips. Of course, as you can see all the amps reviewed here are paired with DACs.
Together, an amp & DAC unit improves all aspects of sound including dynamics and sound staging. If you are an audiophile on a budget, then you can add any of these amps to your PC gaming rig. The combo of a DAC and an amplifier ensure you find high-quality sound at a reasonable price.
I hope this article has been helpful to you in your search for the best amp for pc gaming! Which one did you end up with? We want to hear about it in the comments section below.
Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API