Fnatic REACT Review
Fnatic are perhaps one of the most well-known eSports teams in the world, and while virtually everyone who follows eSports (especially the LoL and CS:GO scenes) will have heard of this team, not a whole lot of people know that the Swedes also make peripherals. This makes sense: if you’ve got some of the world’s best gamers on your payroll you can definitely put their experience and skills to good use when designing products meant for competitive gaming, and that’s exactly what they did with this headset.
The Fnatic REACT is a headset meant for serious gamers, made with the help of some of the industry’s best pro gamers. Leaving out any unnecessary features or gimmicks and focusing just on performance it should be the dream set of ears for gamers at any budget, but of course theory isn’t the same as practice so read our full review to find out how it stacks up to the competition.
Fnatic REACT – First Impressions
Gamers with some experience in the headset department will immediately notice the fact that the REACT looks an awful lot like the QPAD and Cloud headsets of this world. Perhaps that’s to be expected, though. After all, this headset was built according to the specifications of eSports pros, and the Cloud line is by far the most popular line of headsets across our analyzed games.
As mentioned in their marketing materials the REACT is a performance-focused product, so it’s no surprise that there are no crazy color schemes or design elements to be found here. The whole headset has a matte black finish which gives it a sleek and subtle look.
Inside the box of the Fnatic REACT you won’t be finding mountains of paperwork or little extras; aside from the quickstart guide there’s just the headset, detachable microphone, and the audio jack splitter.
The box itself is your standard fare with some specs on the back and all of that, but an amusing aspect is the way they phrase their ‘Fnatic story’ on the back of the box. Rather than going for a standard ‘developed with gamers, for gamers’ variation there’s quotes such as ‘If we were modest, we’d probably tell you we’ve won a few tournaments and that our pro-gamers are kinda good at games. Luckily we’re not. The truth is we’re the greatest esports team of all time‘ and so on. Not everyone will love this I suspect, but in my opinion this is an amusing change of pace that stood out.
Build and comfort
As a competitive gamer, comfort is one of the more important aspects of a gaming headset. If you’re going to be spending hours upon hours behind your PC grinding away you don’t want to get headaches because of the fact that your cans aren’t comfy enough. Luckily the people over at Fnatic seem to be well aware of this; a thick section of memory foam on the headband prevents any sort of pressure on your skull and the cushions on the ear cups (which are made out of memory foam and protein leather) are super soft and a pleasure to use.
Almost straight after I received this headset for review I had a LAN where I wore it more or less continuously for about 8 hours and I never felt any discomfort whatsoever. The headset is not the absolute lightest I’ve ever seen but the combination of the thick padding and almost perfect clamping force makes this one of the most comfortable gaming headsets I’ve used in recent years.
One disadvantage of the thick faux leather padding on the ear cups is that there’s no real way for heat to escape once the cups have formed a seal around your ear so I can imagine that this can get somewhat uncomfortable in hot climates, depending on your tolerance for this kind of thing. You do get a very nice seal, which in turn means that the REACT is pretty good at shutting out any outside noise so it’s a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ type of deal since more breathable fabrics obviously allow for more sound leakage if there’s no active noise filtering going on.
Obviously I cannot possibly judge how a product will hold up over many years of usage but as far as I can tell the REACT is a really solid product. There’s a decent amount of flex to the (metal) headband so that you can get a comfy fit at all times but there is no creaking anywhere, nor are there parts of the headset that feel flimsy or brittle.
Sound and mic
The Fnatic REACT was made with one thing in mind: competitive gaming. Something that a lot of gaming headsets do ‘wrong’ in my opinion is that they go way too hard on the bass while trying to provide something that I would describe as a cinematic sound. This is all fine if you’re mainly playing single player games, but as a competitive gamer you don’t want the rumble of an explosion to overpower those critically important footsteps that announce that an enemy is coming, for example.
Luckily, the engineers behind this headset have been listening to the pros that they consulted. The REACT’s lower end isn’t overdone at all, with the overall sound of this product focusing more on the mid and high tones. This is great for competitive gaming; things like footsteps, reloading enemies, and scopes zooming in and out are all clearly distinguishable and the directional audio is nicely handled as well. If you’re coming from a subpar headset (or, God forbid, speakers) the REACT can definitely boost your game so as far as I’m concerned Fnatic have reached their goal with this product.
It’s all plug-and-play, though, so there’s no way to tune the EQ or boost certain frequencies. What you get out of the box is it. That’s not a real problem since it’s nicely tuned for gaming, but it’s as a result not the most amazing sounding headset for dedicated music or media consumption. It certainly does fine; I had no real complaints when I used the REACT to casually check out Netflix shows or listen to some music but it’s clear to me that the priorities of this headset don’t lie there. That’s not a knock, as this headset sets out to be a great product for competitive gaming at a competitive price and it achieves just that, but I thought I’d mention this for the more casual readers.
The mic, then. This is an area where companies often try to make some compromises but this isn’t the case here. The detachable microphone isn’t the absolute best at drowning out loud background noises but it is one of the better sounding mics I’ve heard on a gaming headset. The pop filter does a good job filtering out any sudden breathing sounds and the recordings sound nice, full, and natural. A mic with inconsistencies when it comes to volume, tone, or what have you is one of those things that can absolutely ruin a headset for me but the REACT does an absolutely stellar job here. I would be careful in really noisy environments, but apart from that you can easily use this one open without the need to go for PTT (Push To Talk) in order to avoid driving your friends crazy.
Features and ease of use
As you’ve probably already been able to figure out this isn’t the headset to get if you’re big into customizing your sound or anything like that. The Fnatic REACT is a straightforward product that goes right for its goal without any distractions and this also shows in the features.
There’s a tiny plastic controller unit on the cable that allows you to mute the mic and raise or lower the overall volume and that’s it. This unit does sadly feel a bit cheap. I’m not saying that I expect a metal finish or anything like that (that would only weigh it down and that’s annoying) but they could’ve gone for something that looks and feels a bit nicer if you’re asking me, and maybe include a tiny LED that indicates whether or not the mic is muted. Obviously I’m nitpicking here and the controls work fine but this is something that I noticed so I’m mentioning it.
On the headband itself you can see some tiny markings to indicate how far the band has been extended. This is a small but handy touch as it allows you to very quickly set the band to the perfect length after you’ve had to pack it in or loan it to someone else.
Before concluding I want to give a special shout-out to the flexibility of the mic. Quite often these ‘adjustable’ mics are a pain to position perfectly because of the fact that they tend to move away from anything but a neutral position after some time but the mic on this headset has an excellent range and it stays in pretty much the exact position you’ve put it in at the start of your session.
Much like their Counter-Strike team after the departure of pronax (pronax’s strats made me a fan of their CS:GO team to this day, so don’t think I’m dissing pronax here by the way) the Fnatic REACT goes straight for the goal without bothering with any sort of unnecessary distractions. This isn’t gonna be the headset for people who want a lot of customization options or for dedicated audiophiles but as a gaming headset it’s a definite hit.
The audio is almost perfectly balanced for competitive gaming; the lower end isn’t overpowering at all and while it’s obviously still there it doesn’t hamper your ability to hear the more important stuff ingame. Couple that with one of the best mics I’ve personally tested on a gaming headset and an extremely comfortable and solid design and you’ve got a very highly recommended gaming headset.