Hardcore gamers often opt for a PC gaming headset to become immersed in a virtual world or get an edge on their online competition. The Logitech G430 aims to provide the best of both worlds, packing booming 7.1 Dolby Surround sound and a noise-canceling microphone that will keep your roommates' chatter at bay. For $79, this comfortable sports-cloth headset adds an engrossing layer of audio to any gaming session.
The Logitech G430 headset is made of black plastic, with light-blue sports-performance cloth padding at the top of the headband as well as around each earpiece. This mesh material closely mimics the makeup of sports jerseys, with perforations for minimizing sweat during heated gaming sessions.
The headset has a noise-canceling microphone under its left cup, which can be bent left and right or folded back when you'd rather not chat. Each earpiece sports the Logitech "G" logo and can be swiveled up to 90 degrees to lie flat on a surface.
The G430 measures 7.25 x 7.75 x 3.5 inches and weighs 9 ounces, with a headband that can be adjusted by several inches for a customized fit. The cloth padding around the earpiece can be removed easily, should you need to clean your ear cups. Overall, we liked the headset's black-and-blue aesthetic, though those who'd prefer a different color will have to look elsewhere.
The G430's light-blue cable has a switch that can be clipped onto your shirt, allowing you to adjust the volume and mute your microphone without taking a break from the action. At the end of the cable are individual 3.5-mm headphone and microphone plugs, which can be connected to the included USB adapter.
Although it's designed for PCs, the G430 can be used with any smartphone, portable console or any other device that has a headphone jack. However, you'll only be able to take advantage of the equalizer, 7.1 surround sound and voice-chat functionality when connected to a Windows-operated computer via the included USB dongle.
We found the 9-ounce G430 comfortable to wear, thanks to its lightweight design and generous amount of earpiece space. The sports-performance cloth on the ears and headband remained cozy throughout our testing, and we never felt as though our ears were brushing up against the interior of the two ear cups. After several hours of gaming and Web browsing, it was easy to forget we even had the headset on.
The Logitech G430 requires Windows 8, 7 or Vista, and will work as soon as you plug it in. However, you'll need to download the free Logitech Gaming Software from Logitech's website in order to take advantage of the device's 7.1 Dolby surround-sound capabilities. The utility also will allow you to manage any other Logitech devices you have plugged in, such as mice and keyboards.
After plugging in the headset and completing a few minutes of install ation, you'll have access to volume control for both your headphones and microphone, as well as a full equalizer for adjusting bass, treble and a variety of other sound parameters.
The interface will detect when surround-sound content is playing and allow you to adjust levels for seven different points, from right in front of your face to the back of your left and right ears.
The Logitech G430 has 40mm drivers and 32 Ohms of impedance, with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 KHz and a sensitivity rating of 90 dB SPL/mW. We put the headset through its paces on a variety of top PC titles and were very pleased with the results.
The headset fully immersed us in the lush world of the first-person shooter "Bioshock Infinite." The sound of wind sounded thick on the G430, making the soaring sensation of traveling through the game's skylines even more enjoyable. We could hear exactly which direction our foes' chatter was coming from, thanks to the device's 7.1 surround-sound capabilities. Plus, the rollicking sound of gunfire came through thunderously. The headset added a chilling layer of intimidation to the voice of villain Zachary Comstock, as his ominous words trembled through a speakerphone.
We had a similarly engrossing experience when playing "The Cave," an underground adventure title. At full volume, the G430 allowed us to hear the spooky, omnipresent rumble that persists throughout the cave world, and we could make out subtle floor creaks and tiny droplets of water hitting the ground. The headset's stereo functionality was sharp; we knew right away that a crackling fire was coming from the right of the screen, just as we were able to hear an enemy's shouts from the left side.
The G430 held up just as well in a multiplayer setting, as we committed a virtual heist in the gritty crime game "Payday 2." We had no problem hearing both the actual voices of our online teammates as well as the standard dialogue of their in-game avatars. As with "Bioshock Infinite" and "The Cave," we always knew the direction our adversaries were coming from.
Even when we blasted away in various games at max volume, the sound from the G430's earphones couldn't be heard by our nearby co-workers.
We tried out the same games using the $59 Logitech G230 , and the difference between the G430's surround sound and the G230's stereo sound was instantly noticeable. While the G230 still produces quality audio, we found that game sounds were somewhat blended together and got slightly muffled at full volume. The subtle sounds within "The Cave" were much harder to make out, and Comstock's grave voice in "Bioshock" didn't have the same impact.
When you're ready to take a break from saving the world or blasting away your friends, the G430 serves as a quality pair of music headphones. The thumping beat of Kanye West's "Blood on the Leaves" sounded satisfying on the headset, especially when we turned the bass up using the Logitech software. The device is just as capable when it comes to rock music, as the atmospheric guitars and pounding drums of Moving Mountains' "Burn Pile" came through the G430 in crisp detail.
The elastic 4-inch mic on the G430 is easy to adjust, whether you'd like to have it right next to your mouth or several inches from your face.
In order to put the G430's noise-canceling microphone to the test, we recorded ourselves speaking in the middle of our busy LAPTOP office. Even with a crowd of people around us, the microphone only registered the sound of our voice when it was bent toward our mouth. When we extended the microphone outward, we were able to hear a slight bit of external chatter. By comparison, the G230 picked up much more background noise under the same conditions.
Immersion is a key part of the gaming experience, and the Logitech G430 delivers truly engrossing surround sound for just $79. If you want the same design in red and can live with basic stereo sound, you can find the G230 for as low as $39. However, considering that other 7.1 surround-sound devices, such as the Turtle Beach DPX 21 and ASUS Vulcan Pro, will run you around $149, the G430 offers tremendous performance for its price. Whether you're a pro "Call of Duty" player or simply want to get lost in your favorite adventure title on your PC, the Logitech G430 is as impressive as it is affordable.