Testing Methodology and Results
In a test like this, I prefer not to run numerical benchmarks when it comes to a sound peripheral. I just want the most realistic results from the most realistic scenario. Going out to a store, picking up a headset, and coming back home to use it is exactly what most people do in the real world. I will conduct this test from the perspective of a regular consumer because this will yield the most realistic results.
I was very interested to see how well the HS-G850 stacked up with modern applications and games. Because this headset was built for gaming, it was best to focus specifically on first-person shooter titles because I felt that FPS games would be the best games to test out a headset like the HS-G850. A few games that I had played with this headset were Planetside 2 and Natural Selection 2. I also threw Grid 2 into the mix to test out the surround sound quality when it comes to racing games. I spent a lot of time listening to music from online websites and editing music files to see how it performed. Although I compared it to the Astro A40 headset, which was a complete overkill, I was rather impressed at how well the HS-G850 held up against the more expensive Astro A40. I will explain more in detail during the results.
On the test system, I used a dedicated sound card to get the most out of the HS-G850 and the Astro A40 headsets. The test system included the Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium 7.1 sound card. I tested the two headsets with default sound settings in the sound drivers then tweaked the audio settings to see how the two compared with each other. These are only my personal results, so your results may vary.
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 AM3+ Motherboard
System Memory: 2 x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaw X Series 1600MHz DDR3
Processor: AMD FX-8350 Eight-Core Processor @ 4.4GHz
Audio: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Video: Gigabyte Radeon R9-270X 2GB
Disk Drive 1: ADATA SP900 64GB SSD
Disk Drive 2: Seagate Momentus Thin 320GB HDD
PSU: Raidmax Hybrid II 630W Modular PSU
Monitor: Acer G226HQLBbd 21.5″ 5ms LED Monitor
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Professional 64-Bit
- GRID 2
- Planetside 2
- Natural Selection 2
- Virtual Barber Shop
- Generic Internet Browsing
In Windows 8.1 64-bit Professional with the Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium 7.1 sound card, I was playing the game at a volume level of 26 according to the main Windows volume control. From the Creative Labs sound drivers, I tweaked the sound settings to enable a reasonable level of bass. I also enabled the Creative Crystalizer and pushed it to 100%. In both Planetside 2 and Natural Selection 2, the games were an enjoyable experience with the HS-G850. The bass does not crack or cause the drivers to rattle when there are a lot of explosions happening in both games. I could hear just about everything that is happening in the surrounding environment, including the cars coming up from behind during a race in Grid 2. The sound quality is not too bad, but it does sound a little muffled compared to the A40. This is not extremely noticeable though. I also benchmarked using the Virtual Barber Shop, which is an excellent video to test out a new set of headphones or in-ear headphones! I was amazed at just how well the virtual haircut sounds with the HS-G850.
The bass was very deep and clear and does not overpower the treble. Having the bass overpower the treble especially while watching movies or listening to music can become unbearable. Playing at different volume levels and frequencies can often cause physical rattling that could become noticeable with cheaper built speakers. The HS-G850 met my expectations since it showed no noticeable rattling or distortion while playing music at a high volume and playing at different bass frequencies.
When comparing the HS-G850 to the more expensive Asrto A40, I was unable to hear much of a difference between the two while gaming. One thing that I did notice was that the HS-G850 was just a little louder than the A40 at the same volume level, but the sounds quality offered by the A40 was just a little bit crisper and did not sound as muffled as the HS-G850. Of course, this was not noticeable when I had all of my attention towards the game. The differences in sound quality between the two headsets were not noticeable most of the time. Ideally, a gaming headset should have a normal independence level of 50 ohm. Even at 32 ohm on the HS-G850, the sound quality still stacks up very well to the much more expensive A40.
The red LED strips did pulse to the bass of the music. This was the main attraction and looked great when it comes to appearance. The volume had to be adjusted slightly higher than my preferred listening level, but this was something common to most headsets and in-ear headphones with pulsing LED’s. At a much higher volume level, the LED strips would still light up but they would be completely lit on if the volume level was too high. Again, this was only a common issue to sound peripherals with pulsing LED’s.
The control box offered different controls to support the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, or PC. There was an on/off switch on the control box for the microphone and an LED that will turn green or red when the microphone was switched on or off. One thing I noticed about the control box was when I was connected to my PC with the USB power and 3.5mm headphone jack, the sound was quieter if I had the switch switched to “PS3.PC” mode. The sound was actually louder when in “XBOX” mode when connected to my PC. The microphone sounded clear enough for the receiver to understand the message but it could also pick up some unwanted background noises.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the results from the Genius Zabius HS-G850 Gaming Headset. I was not expecting it to sound as good as the more expensive Astro A40, but it sounds great for the price. A casual gamer will be very happy with this headset as it looks great and sounds great as well.