Kingston HyperX Cloud/QPad QH-90 PC Gaming Headset


U.S. Distributor: Kingston, Developer: QPad, $99.99 from NewEgg


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Based on our insatiable, unstoppable lust for consumer products, American gamers tend to have access to whatever peripherals are around. Headsets, mice, keyboards … the tech world is our oyster. But occasionally, some brands stay popular in Europe and Asia, never making the crossover to North American shores. Roccat was such a company up, as they’ve only made in-roads in the United States within the last 18 months or so. Others, like Zowie, haven’t been as lucky or persistent.

QPad is another Europe-centric brand, although they’ve been around for years. Some of their products make it to the United States through third-party Amazon retailers, but by and large they stick to countries across the pond. And that seems to be the long-term strategy for now, except for their deal with Kingston.

Kingston is bringing a new gaming headset to North America under its HyperX performance brand. The “Cloud” headset is a rebranded QPad QH-90 — all the same features, but with a new look. It’s a similar tactic to Kingston’s partnership with Steelseries, although this seems to be a more thorough rebrand. So how does the Cloud hold up to these American ears? Let’s find out.

Kingston’s presentation of the Cloud headset is pretty sharp. It’s reminiscent of how Astro tenderly packs its wares, from the soft feel of the sturdy box, to the materials inside. Break open the packaging, and you’ll find:

  • The Cloud headset (with leather earcups covers attached)
  • Detachable microphone (3.5mm, goes in left earcup)
  • Second set of cloth earcup covers
  • Dual 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm extension cable
  • Dual 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm cable with control box
  • Dual 3.5mm to single 3.5mm adapter (for mobile)
  • Single 3.5mm to dual 3.5mm adapter (for airplane use)

This is a 3.5mm headset — no USB option — meant for PC gaming and mobile use. One of the two included 3.5mm extension cables has a control box built in, complete with a volume wheel, mic on/off switch, and mic mute tap. The mute tap mutes the mic as long as you hold it down, which is pretty handy if someone walks in your office while you’re gaming. The control box is totally optional, too, in case you don’t need in-line volume and mic control. And because it’s a 3.5mm headset, setup only but a few seconds.

The detachable microphone connects through the left earcup, and there’s only one way to connect it (no room for error here). Based on the feedback I got from those in my TeamSpeak server, the mic quality is solid, if a little tinny. No feedback or distortion, although it likely ranks as an A- to my Astro A40’s A. The boom is essentially a metallic, wound wire, which means flexibility and placement are both at maximum. The mic also comes across the left side of my mouth easily, so there’s chance for awkward placement. All in all, the mic performs admirably, even if it’s not the best I’ve used.

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The Cloud’s build quality is fantastic, to say the least. Real leather, aluminum throughout, and soft-feeling plastics when necessary makes for a fantastic construction trio. The aluminum lives primarily in the headband, which is wrapped in leather. The whole headset weighs about 12.3 ounces, which is fairly light, considering the materials. The memory foam-filled leather earcups are quite comfortable, too, as is the headband, and the leather material helps form a more complete sound-proofing seal (meaning outside noise coming in, not vice versa). If leather on the ears isn’t your brand of vodka, cloth covers are also included. The cloth covers are pretty comfortable, and they let more noise in — great if you’re typically playing in your room or office. LAN party-goers should equip the leather covers, and switching out the covers takes under five minutes (depending on how nimble your fingers are).

On that same point, the Cloud is one of the more comfortable PC gaming headsets I’ve used. Even with the tighter aluminum construction, my large noggin and I have been wearing the Cloud now for about three hours on this latest run, and I have no desire to take it off.

Sound quality also makes the grade, thanks to the 53mm dynamic drivers found in each earcup. Many of the gaming headsets you’ll find out in the wild use 40mm or 50mm drivers, so that extra 3mm, coupled with some expert tuning, makes for a well-rounded audio experience. Game audio sounds just as good as on my A40’s. It’s scary how close the sound is to them, especially since there’s a $60 difference. Positional audio is top-notch, and following running in Battlefield 4 and CSGO was effortless, even with the chaos that ensues in the former. Media performance was just as impressive, as the Cloud brings plenty of bass without muddying up the mids. Highs are the weak point, but it’s a fault that only shows itself when crappy audio (YouTube) presents itself. With the right volume, and a quality audio source (game, movie, decent MP3’s), the Cloud is just at home with Netflix as it is with War Thunder or Civ V.

When it hits U.S. shores at the end of April, the Kingston HyperX Cloud will be one of the best $100 PC gaming headsets you can buy. Build quality, comfort, and audio quality are all fantastic, and the solid construction means you’ll be privy to its fidelity for years to come. The headband, while comfy, can get a little tight, and the mic’s tinny audio leaves it out of the arbitrary PC Microphone Hall of Fame I just invented. With those knocks in mind, someone less discerning, and with even a slightly smaller head, wouldn’t notice these negatives. Console gamers should look elsewhere, simply due to the lack of compatibility, but 3.5mm jockeys should definitely take a look, and a listen.

The Bottom Line: QPad has a brilliant product on their hands, and Kingston is making a very smart play by bringing it to North America. High marks all around make the Kingston HyperX Cloud a wise choice at the $100 price point. Prospective buyers won’t be disappointed.

Recommendation: It’s hitting the United States later this month. If you need a new PC headset, and $100 isn’t too steep for you, you’d be wise to check it out.

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