Comfortable fit. Powerful sound.
Lacks wired connection options. Overwhelming bass.
- Bottom Line
The Logitech G533 is a comfortable wireless gaming headset with few connection options and perhaps too much bass.
Logitech's $200 G933 Artemis has stood as one of our favorite wireless gaming headsets for a year, thanks to its excellent audio performance and flexible connection options. The $149.99 G533 headset is a more affordable alternative to that model. It sheds the customizable lighting, which is no big loss, but it also loses the ability to connect with wired sources, limiting what you can use it with besides a PC. It also has a much more bass-heavy sound signature that can overwhelm high frequency presence. You're better off with the Steelseries Arctis 7, which gets you better sound quality and connectivity options for the same price.
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The G533 headset looks fairly unassuming. It eschews the lighting effects of the G933 in favor of unlit, plain black plastic. This doesn't mean the headset looks cheap, however. The earcups are a nice combination of textures, with attractive flat, glossy back panels raised over matte contours, which are in turn ringed with more glossy plastic. It's subtle and classy for a gaming headset, and feels notably more high-end than the wired Logitech G231 Prodigy.
The earpads and the padding under the headband are fabric-covered foam. The padding isn't very thick compared with the Turtle Beach Elite Pro Tournament Headset, but there's just enough material to let the headset comfortably rest around your head, and the fabric ensures your ears and scalp can breathe. The earpads are nice and large, completely surrounding your ears without touching them. It's a light fit you can wear for hours without issue.
The boom mic sits on the front of the left earcup. The microphone itself sits on a small, flexible metal arm that retracts into the boom arm, letting you adjust its position. When not in use, the mic flips up to sit unobtrusively against the earcup, automatically muting in the process.
The controls and connections are also on the left earcup, arranged around the curved matte side. A power switch and manual mic mute button sit above a large, textured volume dial. A micro USB port for charging the headset faces down.
Connection and Microphone
All audio must go through the USB transmitter. Unlike the G933 and the Steelseries Arctis 7, the G533 has no 3.5mm jack for wired use. That means you can't use it with your smartphone, tablet, or handheld game system. It doesn't affect the primary purpose of the headset—wireless gaming—but it's still a limiting factor.
Logitech designed the G533 as a PC gaming headset, and it works with the Logitech G software to adjust audio settings. It also worked perfectly fine with a PlayStation 4 in our tests, registering to the system as a headset as soon as the rectangular USB transmitter was plugged in. Because there's no wired option, you can't use the it with an Xbox One.
The boom mic is an important aspect of any gaming headset, and the G533's performs very well. Test recordings of my voice sounded clear and crisp, without too much sibilance or any noticeable popping. It's a solid microphone for voice chat both in games and out. While a separate, dedicated mic is preferable for recording, the G533 headset will serve in a pinch if you need to call into a podcast.
According to Logitech, the G533 can last up to 15 hours on a charge. The only way you'll run out of power is by either forgetting to plug it in to charge when you're done, or by engaging in extreme marathon play sessions.
Thanks to a bass-heavy sound, the G533 really brings out the sounds of combat in games. I played some Overwatch on a Razer Blade Pro, and the gunfire and explosions came through the headset with plenty of force. D.Va's guns sound thumpy but slightly muffled (a normal presentation, since her guns don't have a sharp report like McCree's or even Soldier 76's), and Phara's rocket barrages are powerful.
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The swelling, epic movie-style soundtrack of Overwatch kept its presence through the fighting, complementing the action with its bombastic horns. However, with all of this standing in the front of the mix, character voices ended up slightly in the background. This becomes a bigger concern when you add team voice chat to the mix. Headsets like the Steelseries Arctis 7 and the Astro Gaming A50 have dials or buttons that adjust the balance between game and chat audio. The G533 doesn't have any way to adjust the balance on the headset itself, so you'll want to make sure your levels are set correctly before jumping into a game.
Like the G933, the G533 produces simulated 7.1-channel surround sound by playing with the balance between each ear's 40mm driver. It can't create a genuine surround experience due to the use of stereo drivers and the acoustic limitations of headphones, but it does a laudable job of presenting some form of directional imaging. I couldn't discern sound sources from directly in front of or behind me in Overwatch, but the left-right sweep of the headset gave me a good sense of where action was taking place at my sides. I could hear teammates running around and in front of me, tracking their movements as they fought around corners.
The G533 is quite capable at playing music, which is almost unfortunate considering you can't use it with a smartphone. It handles our bass test track, The Knife's "Silent Shout," without a hint of distortion even at maximum and borderline unsafe volume levels. The kick drum hits sound suitably head-rattling, a feat many gaming headsets can't muster.
Bass is clearly the emphasis for the G533, which can be observed when playing tracks with less extreme sub-bass. The drumbeat in Erasure's "Chains of Love" overwhelms the track, pushing both the vocals and the synth riffs out of the spotlight, which they easily keep with more balanced headphones. Andy Bell's dulcet tones sound clear in the opening of the track, but as soon as the drums kick in they get overwhelmed by the thump. You can adjust the headset's EQ using the Logitech Gaming Software, but even set to the flattest setting, the bass is very strong compared with the rest of the mix.
This is also noticeable in Jethro Tull's "Aqualung." The track's signature distorted bassline stands in front of the vocals only slightly, and because the drums are less prominent than in "Chains of Love" and "Silent Shout," they don't completely overwhelm the mix. Ian Anderson can still be heard clearly, even if the lyrics fight a bit with the instruments for prominence.
Comparisons and Conclusions
The Logitech G533 is a comfortable PC gaming headset that pales in comparison with its pricier sibling, the G933 Artemis. It lacks the G933's high-frequency finesse and flexible, wired connection options, two of its most appealing aspects. What's left is a bass-heavy headset designed only for PCs. It's perfectly fine for what it is, but you're better off spending $50 more on the G933. In this price range, the Steelseries Arctis 7 offers a more balanced sound and 3.5mm input and output connections, all in a comfortable, customizable fit, making it an Editors' Choice.
Otherwise, you can save a great deal of cash by sticking with a wired headset like the aforementioned Logitech G231 Prodigy or the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger, which both offer very good sound for less money, and you can use them with your smartphone, tablet, or handheld gaming devices.
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By Will Greenwald Senior Analyst, Consumer Electronics
Will Greenwald has been covering consumer technology for a decade, and has served on the editorial staffs of CNET.com, Sound & Vision, and Maximum PC. His work and analysis has been seen in GamePro, Tested.com, Geek.com, and several other publications. He currently covers consumer electronics in the PC Labs as the in-house home entertainment expert, reviewing TVs, media hubs, speakers, headphones, and gaming accessories. Will is also an ISF Level II-certified TV calibrator, which ensures the thoroughness and accuracy of all PCMag TV reviews…. More »
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