1. Check the PC’s Physical Audio Output
The first step is locating your computer’s audio ports and making sure they are not physically damaged. If you’re using a laptop, the audio-out ports will typically be located on the sides or the front. Desktop PCs, on the other hand, may have these ports on the front or back of the CPU box.
There are three main types of PC audio ports and which one you use will depend on the connectors of your gaming headset. These are:
- Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0
- High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
Let’s take a closer look at each one so you can understand how the connections are made.
3.5mm Audio-in and Mic Ports
These are the ports to use for wired gaming headsets with 3.5mm Jacks. This headphone jack belongs to a family of electrical connectors used for analog audio signals and is typically known by other names like audio jack, phone jack, and aux input. Gaming headsets that use 3.5mm jacks need two audio ports – mic input and audio output (pictured below).
Note the color differences between each port. Your gaming headset should have corresponding colored connectors so you know which plug goes where. Some laptops don’t have color-coded ports. So instead, look for an image of headphones next to the audio-in port and the image of a microphone next to the microphone input.
USB 3.0 Port
Also known as SuperSpeed USB, the USB 3.0 is a specific generation of USB ports designed for faster transfer rates and better power efficiency. The location of your USB 3.0 on your computer will depend first on the age of your computer. If your computer was manufactured before 2008, then it won’t have a USB 3.0 port.
Other than that, the USB port locations tend to vary from computer to computer, but you’ll normally identify a USB 3.0 by the blue color of the plastic inside. USB 1.0 features a white plastic color inside while the USB 2.0 is black. USB-powered gaming headsets usually offer enhanced experiences thanks to inline amplifiers and simple controls.
Not all PCs USB 3.0 ports are colored blue, especially in newer PCs where there is no longer a need to differentiate between USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. The foolproof way to be sure is to check your computer’s Device Manager by following these steps:
1. Right-click the Windows icon and select Device Manager from the list.
2. Select Universal Serial Bus controllers in the Device Manager window.
3. Locate the USB port by its type (e.g. 2.0, 3.0, 3.1). If there aren’t 3.0 or above ports, then it means your computer is not USB 3.0 enabled.
An HDMI cable transmits both digital video and audio signals between electronic components. The connection point for this cable is the HDMI port which can typically be found on the back or sides of laptops, or the front or back of desktops. At first glance, it may look like a USB port, but you’ll notice the angled edges and flatter appearance. Plus, there’s usually “HDMI” written beside it.
The pins in the port are capable of transmitting high-definition (HD) video and up to eight channels of digital audio.
2. Check the Gaming Headset Connectors
Now that you have an idea of the various PC audio ports, it’s time to check your gaming headset to see the available connector. What if my PC doesn’t have the audio output for my gaming headset? No problem! You can always get an audio adapter/converter from Amazon.
For example, if your headset has only one 3.5mm jack, then you can get a 3.5mm Jack Headphone Splitter that lets you “split” the jack into distinct headphone and mic jacks. Or perhaps your headset comes with the newer USB Type C and your computer doesn’t have the right port. You can get a USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter as a solution.
3. Plug the Connector Into the Port
Make sure you double-check that you have the right ports matched, otherwise you could cause some damage to your equipment.
4. Configure Sound Output on the PC
Once you have connected your gaming headset to the PC, it’s time to make sure the sound levels are configured properly for the connected device.