Gaming periphery makers SteelSeries recently launched their new range of Arctis headsets, claiming them to be the best on the market. The Arctis 3, 5, and 7 are out in the wild now, and we’ve taken a closer look at the Arctis 3 headset to find out if they’re any good.
First things first then, what snazzy new features does the Arctis 3 have? Well, it comes packing beefy 7.1 surround sound, a sleek and unassuming design and a built in, extendable microphone for group chat. Retailing at £89.99, is it worth the price point?
As gamers, sound is incredibly important to us. It can give us the edge in competitive games as we try to place an incoming shot, or it can be the difference between terror and tedium when playing a creepy new game. With the Arctis’ 7.1 surround sound you get a really good sense of audible scope when playing your games, and it helps unlock everything the sound designers work so hard to create for us.
Although you’ll be able to hear everything well, the speakers do tend to make everything feel a little one dimension – surprising considering the headsets marketed versatility. I would have liked more definition in the peaks and troughs of sound, but I also understand my computer may have to shoulder some of that burden. I used my Arctis 3s as a daily music headset out and about, and found the problem to be the same.
There’s also quite a big problem with sound leaking, and was often very conscious of the fact people around me could hear everything I was listening to even on lower volumes. There’s a volume control wheel on the headset which makes avoiding overly embarrassing sound leakage easy to manage. To get the benefit of the 7.1 surround sound, you’ll have to register the product online too through SteelSeries’ software. It can be a bit of a pain in the arse setting up an account with a password and entering a product key just to get the benefit of the 7.1, and feels wholly unnecessary.
Outside of the issues with sound, the Arctis boasts an undeniably beautiful design across the full range. Some headsets can look garish and bulky, especially those targeted at the eSports scene and professional gamers. The Arctis series is much more subtle and is something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen wearing outside – which is something I did daily.
Thankfully, the headset is also extremely comfortable to wear. It has a ski-strap style headband to fit to the contours of your head keeping it snug, and it takes the weight away from your ears. The earpieces, too, are extremely comfortable and padded, making long gaming sessions a cinch.
The microphone hides away inside the left can when not in use and can be extended outwards and adjusted as needed. I found that I had to fiddle with it quite a bit for it to stay put and it had a tenancy to drift upwards away from my mouth and into my eye if I let it go long enough. SteelSeries say that the mic filters out outside noise but this is something I didn’t get a chance to test, as I only used it alone. What I can say is that I didn’t notice any ambient noise or feedback from my computer when I listened back.
My major gripe with the headset I received was that the wire was incredibly flimsy. After only a couple of weeks of normal use, the cable had become loose at the headset meaning sound frequently dropped out and forced me to have to fiddle with it to get it back. I don’t know if this is just something that happened to me, but if it’s a range-wide problem, SteelSeries should probably get it looked at.
The Arctis 3 is a good entry point for the range, and for the money you could do a lot worse. However, for £109.99 you can pick up the mid-range Arctis 5 and get a host of other features including better sound and subtle illuminations. In this respect, it really depends on your price point as to which you should pick up.