A few months ago, I praised Logitech's G810 mechanical keyboard for offering everything needed in a premium keyboard without all the extra frills that tend to outline a "gaming" product. Now Logitech is applying that same design restraint with the new Logitech G533 gaming headset. Much like the G810 took the G910 keyboard and stripped out all the all the additional bells and whistles, the G533 has many of the features that went into the high-end Logitech G633 or G933 Artemis Spectrum headsets without all the extra shiny.
I like to spend time with hardware to truly gauge how it will fit into my overall lifestyle. Having spent a few weeks with the G533 headset, I can safely say that it's just as good as the G810.
The G533 is professional and quite sleek in its design. The cloth mesh earcups, comfortable headband, lightweight configuration, and the powerful Logitech Pro-G drivers from the G633/933 make a return here. Gone is the harsh angular design and the RGB lighting, which makes less sense to me on a headset than a keyboard or mouse. The available hardware inputs on the G533 are minimal: the power switch, a volume roller, and a programmable G-button. The G-button defaults to mute, but you can change it to whatever you want in Logitech's software. There's a single, tiny LED on the headset, denoting power or charge status.
There's no 3.5mm audio jack here; unlike the G633/933, the G533 is USB-only. In fact, it's wireless only, with the connection coming purely from the attached USB dongle. There's an included USB cable, but it's just for charging; trying to connect the USB cable without the dongle doesn't accomplish anything. This means the G533 is only for Windows PCs, unlike the wide compatibility of its higher-end brethren. Logitech rates the maximum wireless range of G533 at 49 feet (15 meters actually, but this is America!) and while I can't back up the exact distance, I'm able to go to my kitchen or upstairs and still get a clear signal.
The battery life is rated at 15 hours and I tended to get rather close to that in practice. The G533 has built-in power management, meaning the headset will eventually shut off it doesn't detect audio coming from your desktop PC. The battery is also user-replaceable, which is good given that rechargable batteries have a certain shelf life.
The new additions to the G533 are all things you can't really see. The Pro-G drivers have been refined for sound quality. Logitech says the new drivers allow for cleaner sound with less distortion, but I personally couldn't feel much of change from the G633/933 in my music, web video, or basic gameplay. The G533 comes with 7.1 DTS Headphone:X surround sound support though and on Battlefield 1, the surround sound profile was great. Explosions, gunfire, and the noise of soldiers running about came from the correct position, increasing immersion. There are also other sound profiles available in Logitech's software equalizer and you can set them per application.
The built-in noise-cancelling microphone now has a tiny pop filter, making for an improvement over the G633/933 mics. This still isn't a mic that you want to use for recording, but in my long sessions of Overwatch, the G533 performed admirably. I do wish it extended slightly longer, as it doesn't quite get in front of my mouth at full extension.
The only real problem with the G533 is the price. It's $149.99 at retail, which is the same price as the G633. The latter headset supports Dolby 7.1, has a 3.5mm audio port, and sports a host of programmable buttons. It's a better choice, given that it can currently be found as low as $99 at some online retailers. Hell, the G933 can be found at $139-149. This means you're paying for slightly improved drivers, a better mic, better battery life, and a cleaner design. That's a hard choice to make, but I think once the price comes down a bit, the G533 will be in a better place.
The magic of the G533 is that it just does what it's supposed to. It's lightweight, not weighing down your head, even after long gaming sessions. The wireless quality is great, battery life is solid, the sound quality is damned good, and it's easy to use, given there's only the headset and the wireless dongle. There's something to be said for a device that does just what it's supposed to and nothing more. The Logitech G533 is that kind of device and I can recommend it as much as the G810 keyboard before it.