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Review: The HyperX Cloud II makes the best sub-$100 headset a little better

Hayden Dingman | June 12, 2015
In 2014 we deemed the HyperX Cloud the best budget headset available. The Cloud II is Kingston's new "ain't-broke-don't-fix-it" upgrade.

HyperX Cloud II

Last year I called the HyperX Cloud "one of the best sub-$100 gaming headsets I've ever used." Apparently not content with that, Kingston went ahead and released the HyperX Cloud II this year--a little pricier, a little more refined.

"Little" being the operative word here. Not much changed between the HyperX Cloud and its successor, but the two do differ in some key ways. Namely, the addition of a built-in USB soundcard.

Lateral moves

In terms of the headset itself, the HyperX Cloud II is (as far as I can tell) identical to its predecessor. The colors have changed a bit, but it's otherwise the same premium-feeling metal-and-"leather" I loved from the first iteration. In my original HyperX Cloud review I said, "The solid metal construction gives this headset both a nice heft and a durability that's unmatched in the sub-$100 range," and I stand by that statement.

And it's just as comfortable as before. The designation for this headset might've come from Kingston's partnership with the Cloud9 esports team, but "Cloud" is equally appropriate for the feel of the device itself. It's so cushy.

Unfortunately sticking to what worked last time means the Cloud II carries over some of the same sins as its predecessor. You can't rotate the earcups, which is a pain if like me you have a habit of pulling your headset down around your neck. Also, the headset is fairly small--I had to extend the ears most of the way before it'd sit on my head.

Same pros as before. Same cons. Easy.

The main difference between the HyperX Cloud and Cloud II is the sound, thanks to the Cloud II's inclusion of a 7.1-ready USB soundcard. The original Cloud, by contrast, terminated in a 3.5mm jack, with no way to adjust the headset's sound.

To be honest, it didn't really matter. Part of why I was so enthralled with the original HyperX Cloud was because it had amazing sound quality right out of the box. In my previous review I actually said "Kingston makes no attempt at a surround' experience, but the sound profile of the HyperX Cloud is better than that on a lot of the headsets touting the feature anyway," which makes the inclusion of 7.1 support in the Cloud II kind of funny.

And out of the box, the HyperX Cloud II has the same great sound. You can still plug the Cloud II into a 3.5mm jack provided you leave the USB soundcard attachment off, though you'll lose inline controls that way.

The inline controls are actually where Kingston's improved most on the original Cloud. The USB soundcard features big rockers for both headset and mic volume, as well as a 7.1 toggle and mic mute. I wish the buttons clicked more distinctively, and the mic mute can be a bit hard to slide back and forth, but it's a huge upgrade compared to last year's tiny volume wheel and the mute button that made a loud "PING" noise when you tapped it.

 

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