HyperX earned an extremely rare 10/10 from us with its Cloud Alpha Wireless headphones. A decent set of gaming headphones has a battery life of 30 to 40 hours; the Cloud Alpha blew us away with 300 hours. Now, the company is back with the Cloud III Wireless. While it doesn’t get the same miraculous battery life of its predecessor, it still gets an overwhelming 120 hours and adds a couple tweaks that should broaden the base of customer appeal.
On its surface, the Cloud III Wireless isn’t much different from the Alpha. It has the same comfortable ear cups, sturdy but flexible aluminum frame, and red accents. (There is now an all-black option.) The differences are subtle but important. Besides the reduced but still incredible battery life, the wireless dongle makes the switch to USB-C and comes with a USB-A adapter. Internally, the Alpha uses dual chamber drivers, while the III uses more typical angled 53-mm drivers. Oh, and the III is about $30 cheaper.
The changes feel like two steps back, then two steps forward, in a different but still positive direction.
New Connection Options
We were so baffled at how HyperX managed to pull off over 300 hours of battery life that it inspired our friends at iFixit to do an investigative breakdown. Their informed guess is that HyperX achieved this unreal mark with a combination of really efficient chips and by cutting power-hungry features like active noise cancellation and generic Bluetooth connectivity.
While this makes the Cloud Alpha ideal for the narrow use case they’re designed for—wireless audio for PC or PlayStation gaming—it comes at the expense of other uses, like connecting them to your Switch, phone, tablet, or most other devices. The Cloud III Wireless expands that access, though maybe not quite the way you might want.
In the box, HyperX has included a USB-C dongle that has an optional USB-A attachment. It’s a minor difference but a significant one. If you use both pieces to connect these to a PC, it works just how the original Cloud Alpha did. However, with the USB-C dongle, you can now connect the headphones wirelessly to a phone, tablet, or portable handheld gaming console like the Switch.
Unfortunately, plugging the USB-C dongle into the Switch blocks simultaneous playing and charging. It’s not the most convenient way to pair headphones, but it’s still a welcome addition. The Cloud Alpha got such good battery life that I was more often annoyed that I couldn’t use it with other devices, and would’ve happily accepted half the battery life for more options. HyperX read my mind and delivered that trade.
The most important aspect of a pair of headphones is their sound quality. On that front, the Cloud III Wireless is a bit disappointing compared to its siblings—which shouldn’t be construed as disappointing overall. The audio on the Cloud Alpha was disproportionately excellent for its price. The Cloud III costs less than the Cloud Alpha, but due to its different drivers, it also sounds a little less rich.
The bass isn’t quite as deep as I would’ve liked, but it’s still pretty clear. I used it for gaming for a couple dozen hours, and once I got used to it, I hardly noticed the difference. I suspect I might not have even clocked the difference at all if I hadn’t gotten so used to the better sound on the Cloud Alpha.
The wireless range was as impressive as other HyperX headphones I’ve tested. I was able to get up from my gaming PC, walk to the kitchen to grab a drink, and make it back without a single break in my connection.