The Fnatic React is a great gaming headset with only a couple of minor flaws
- Extremely comfortable to wear
- Excellent microphone
- Impressive stereo soundstage
- Ear cups don't create the best seal
- Uses the old Fnatic logo
Established in London in 2004, Fnatic is a big name in the world of eSports. Best known for its world-beating achievements in League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the organisation has amassed over 200 championship wins and $15 million in prize money over the past 16 years. So, you won’t be surprised to hear that Fnatic also produces a wide range of branded gaming gear that includes keyboards, mice and mouse pads.
Fnatic React review: What you need to know
The React is a wired gaming headset designed to provide clear communication and comfort while gaming. In the box you get a pair of Fnatic-branded over-ear headphones, detachable boom microphone and a 2m splitter cable that can be used to extend the 1.2m combo-jack which is permanently attached to the left ear cup. It’s compatible with all gaming platforms, meaning you can use it while playing on PC or your console of choice.
The gaming headset market is a crowded one – you’re certainly not short of options. If you’re specifically looking for a wired headset, the Turtle Beach Stealth 30 costs £60 and offers very similar functionality to the React.
Plantronics’ RIG 600 is another wired headset available for £60 and has the added bonus of being foldable for improved portability. The Logitech G Pro is a slightly more expensive wired option but justifies its price tag by excelling in the audio department and including a USB external sound card. The G Pro typically retails at £85 but you may be able to find it cheaper on Amazon.
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Fnatic React review: Design and features
Fnatic has gone big on the branding, with its name embossed on top of the headband and etched into the plastic sections above the ear cups. There are also white Fnatic logos on the outside of each ear cup, though they aren’t the iteration the company is currently using (it moved to a simpler design in January). The React was released before the logo change, so this isn’t a criticism, but Fnatic fanboys and girls might find it off-putting.
Otherwise, the React is pleasingly gimmick-free; this is simply a well-constructed and comfortable headset. It is comprised of black plastic built onto a metal frame, and is lightweight without feeling insubstantial.
The React’s detachable cardioid mic plugs directly into the left ear cup and a flexible arm makes it very easy to adjust. The mic itself is covered with a black foam pop filter which gives it a sleek, professional look.
Both the extendable headband and ear cups are lined with memory foam, which is some of the softest I’ve had the pleasure of wearing on my head. The foam on the ear cups is covered with faux-leather, which adds a more luxurious look than you’d expect for the money.
The cups themselves are very roomy, which means that the headset is extremely comfortable to wear during extended play sessions – and it doesn’t get too hot either. The seal around your ears isn’t as tight as it could be though, and this leads to some minor sound leakage and a slightly loose feel. It’s also a bit of a shame that the ear cups don’t swivel or fold down so that they take up less room in a bag.
The only other feature of note is a small in-cable remote with a volume control dial and mic-mute switch. This does look a little cheap but give it will be out of sight most of the time it’s not something to lose sleep over.
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Fnatic React review: Sound and microphone quality
Fnatic claims that the React’s 53mm drivers are ‘calibrated for esports’. In practice, this means that they tend to prioritise sounds in the mid and high ranges over ear-shaking bass. Maximum volume isn’t quite as loud as some gaming headsets either, which may be a negative for those wanting an overwhelming audion experience but didn’t affect my immersion in the slighest.
The focus on mids and highs is particularly evident when playing first- and third-person shooters. I often find bass-heavy headsets often drown out important details like enemy footsteps with the sound of gunfire or explosions, but that’s not the case with the REACT. That’s not to say the bass is lacking – lows are tight and well-presented – but at no point in testing did I ever feel it was overwhelming or dominated proceedings.
While playing the first Bioshock game (as part of Bioshock: The Collection on Playstation 4) I was taken aback by just how accurately all the on-screen action was articulated. The React is a stereo headset so there’s no 5.1 surround sound as part of the package, but the headset’s pinpoint soundstaging meant that I was able to locate enemies quickly and accurately time after time. My only criticism of the REACT while playing a single-player campaign
Playing a more frenetic, team-based shooter in the form of Apex Legends, the REACT performed just as well. Distant gunshots could be heard clearly and it was obvious which direction they were coming from. The pitter-patter of opponents’ footsteps gave away their positions as I crept through buildings but sadly those key audio cues were wasted on me, given my distinct lack of any twitch shooter skills.
While the React isn’t designed to excel musically, it also communicates game soundtracks beautifully. Bioshock has one of the most playful yet sinister soundtracks in gaming, featuring everything from jarring synth tracks to Perry Como’s 1954 pop hit Papa Loves Mambo, and it sounded exquisite throughout. I also plugged the headset into my laptop and gave a few Spotify playlists a whirl – suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality on offer.
The React’s microphone is equally impressive. It attaches to the headset via a 3.5mm port located on the left ear cup and the arm is flexible yet sturdy, allowing you to bend it into the position that suits you best. The mic picks up sound very well; I didn’t experience any dropouts or distortion during testing whatsoever.
Clarity when communicating while playing Apex Legends online was top-notch; my teammates didn’t miss a single exasperated sigh as I was shot down for the umpteenth time and my regular pleas to be revived never fell on deaf ears. The only issues I had were when there was significant background noise in my room. The REACT picked up a fair amount of the audio coming from the speakers in my room, which wasn’t a problem when playing casually with friends but did irk more competitive players in public lobbies. As a further test of the REACT’s mic capabilities, I made some recordings on my laptop using it and the quality of recordings was excellent.
There’s no way to control the volume of your mic but you can easily mute it via the in-cable control box. I’ve found that in-cable controls on cheaper headsets can sometimes be wired poorly and playing around with them creates crackling at the other end of the line but fortunately, despite its rather cheap appearance, this wasn’t the case with the React.
Fnatic React review: Verdict
It would be easy to dismiss the React as a Fnatic cash-in, but that’s not the case at all. The React excels in the two areas most important to a gaming headset: comfort and audio quality. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s affordable, too.
It’s not perfect – the large ear cups do lead to a bit of wobble if you move your head a lot and the Fnatic logos are out of date – but the quibbles are minor. Regardless of whether you’re a Fnatic fanatic or have never heard of them before, the React headset is a great gaming headset at an equally great price.