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SteelSeries Arctis 7 review: This is one wicked wireless headset

If it's a wireless headset you seek, look no further than the magnificent Arctis 7.

PC headsets are a dime a dozen these days, but many of them aren't worth the space they take on your ears. The wireless headset market continues to grow, with compelling options from some of the market's big players.

One of those is the Arctis 7 from SteelSeries. And it's 100 percent a headset you should consider buying. It's truly tremendous. Here's why.

First, the techy bits:

  • Neodymium drivers - 40mm.
  • Effective range - 12 m, 40 ft.
  • Headphone frequency response - 20Hz to 20,000 Hz.
  • Headphone sensitivity - 98db.
  • Headphone impedance - 32 Ohm.
  • Headphone total harmonic distortion - < 3 percent.
  • Microphone frequency response - 100Hz to 6,500Hz.
  • Microphone pattern.
  • Bidirectional.
  • Microphone sensitivity - 48 db.
  • Microphone impedance - 2,200 Ohm.

A unique design

The design of the Arctis 7 is unlike any other headset out there right now, and that's not just because of its striking white paint job — black is also available. It utilizes a ski-goggle-style headband — decorated in an arctic camo design — that wraps above and below the metal band across the top of the headset.

This is how you adjust the size to fit your head and also why the Arctis 7 is one of the most comfortable headsets you'll ever place upon your head. The fabric band supports the weight of the headset, removes all pressure points and acts like it suspends the heavier bits above you. It also makes it much more adjustable, to get that perfect fit. It's something you'll be able to wear for extended periods with ease.

It's probably the most comfortable headset I've ever used. The AirWeave ear cushions are a delight, too. You're also not limited to just the bits that come in the box; the Velcro bands can be swapped out to create a new look with ease.

It connects to a PC or PlayStation 4 through the included 2.4GHz wireless dongle, but in the box you also get a regular 3.5mm cable so you can use it with the Xbox One. You don't get the 7.1 surround sound effects on the consoles, but the Arctis 7 is very much something you can buy once and use everywhere. You can even use it with your phone, if you just want one set of headphones for everything.

Steelseries Arctis 7

Get inside the Arctis 7, and you'll find the same S1 speaker drivers used in SteelSeries' flagship headsets. What that means for you is that you're getting similar quality sound at a big price reduction. That sound promises to be well balanced and detailed in-game, and at a price that's right on the money. You get plenty of ear filling explosions, but without the overly bass-heavy characteristics found on some other headsets.

Of course, you do lose out compared to a wired alternative, that's just physics, but as far as wireless headsets go the Arctis 7 is up there with the best of them. The experience on a console compared to the PC feels a little watered down, but it's still very good. And on PC you get great positional sound from the DTS surround.

SteelSeries claims the wireless range of the Arctis 7 is 12m, and in my unscientific tests, it passed with flying colors. Even in the room farthest away from my PC, the sound remains crystal clear and without interruption. By contrast, the Razer Man O War is supposed to have a longer range, but it didn't work in the same position as the Arctis 7.

The goodness stretches to the microphone, or at least to the part of the microphone that records your voice. Steelseries calls it ClearCast, and again it's not a patch on a wired mic, but your raid buddies will be impressed with how good you sound.

Steelseries Arctis 7

The not so good bits

What you won't be impressed with is the giant red LED right beneath your eye that runs the length of the microphone. It's completely unnecessary and far too distracting. I have LEDs all over my office, and I still wanted to rip this one right off. The mic retracts when you're not using it, and the LED then goes away, but I still hate it.

What's also not particularly welcome is the proprietary nature of the cabling. The Arctis 7 charges over micro USB, which is fine. But there's another socket you attach the cable to for updating the headset's firmware and customizing its features, as well as connecting it to your Xbox One or mobile device.

So you have two cables to lose that you really don't want to lose. Honestly, whatever the technical reasons for it, there isn't an excuse good enough for not sticking with standards.

That aside, everything else that you find on the cups is good stuff. You have on-ear controls for volume, power, microphone muting and adjusting the mix of game sound versus chat audio. That you don't lose any of these features moving to wireless is a good thing, because there's still a tendency from some others to go back to basics when removing the cable.

Like all purveyors of gaming accessories these days, Steelseries has a software companion to its products. Engine 3 is where you'll customize and tweak your Arctis 7 and other assorted SteelSeries goodies, and it's mostly lightweight and easy to use.

You don't have to use it to get a great experience with the Arctis 7, but it's still a recommended download for one key reason: It's how you update the firmware.

Download Steelseries Engine 3 (opens in new tab)

Steelseries Arctis 7

The verdict: The Steelseries Arctis 7 is a terrific headset, truly one of the best you can buy right now. It's supremely comfortable, sounds fantastic and doesn't cost a ridiculous sum of money.

The negatives about it are more annoyances than deal breakers, and I'd have been happier if there was a carry case included to keep that sharp white paint job looking fresh. But it's impossible not to recommend the Arctis 7 to anyone who's looking for a new headset.

The fact that you can use it with any of your gaming devices alone elevates it above something such as the Razer Man O War, but how well it works is the real kicker.

Pros:

  • Ridiculously comfortable.
  • Great sound.
  • Well priced.
  • Works with PC, console and mobile.

Cons:

  • Proprietary cables .
  • Annoyingly bright LED on microphone.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

7 Comments
  • Was looking at this as my next headset as I currently use a Steelseries Elite that has seen better days. Great review fella.
  • How is the 7.1 in elder scrolls online ?
  • If I played ESO I might be able to tell you. But I don't :P
  • I've been wanting to get this headset for a long time now. I got the Siberia 800 as a Christmas gift, but complaints about he mic quality had me sending it back, with plans to get this headset. However, you touched on the exact reason I haven't gotten it: "3.5mm cable so you can use it with the Xbox One. You don't get the 7.1 surround sound effects" I only play light games on my PC, like Rocket League​. As such, surround sound isn't something I'm concerned with. I would really enjoy it playing Forza Horizon 3 on my XB1 or Shadow of Mordor​ on my PS4. Losing surround sound when I actually care if I have it, that sucks. I know the wired XB1 connection is on Microsoft (their proprietary for wireless is Apple nonsense), but it's still hard to buy a $150 wireless, surround sound headset and not get surround sound OR wireless out of it. I'm paying $150 for decent audio and a good mic, which seems really pricey. They built a great PC headset and taped on console support at the end because it was cheap and easy, I think. What really baffles me, though, is the Siberia line. Why do their flagship headsets come with a mic that everyone says is vastly inferior to not just the competition, but also their mid-range stuff? The $80 Arctis 3 has the Clearcast mic, but the $330 Siberia 840 doesn't? Unforgivable. I've stuck with my Turtle Beach X11, wires and all, because Steelseries is  inconsistent. I'd pay the $250+ for the Siberia line, if it had the Clearcast mic. I'd gladly buy the Arctis 7s for $200, if I could get surround sound from the consoles. Heck, I'd probably buy them at $150 if they paired to the XB1 without a cable. Instead, I'm waiting for either the perfect headset to come out around $300, or I'm waiting for the Arctis 7 to drop about $30 in price to offset the compromises. You're definitely right that this is probably the best you're going to find on the market, especially around $150. However, you're wrong on the color choice, black is DEFINITELY better, haha. I wish they had more/better band options though, I found the ones they sold on their site to be underwhelming (I wonder if you can buy a generic ski band and use that). I'm holding out hope there's an updated model sometime soon, so I can finally upgrade my headset.
  • My wife bought me a pair of Steelseries H Wireless a few years ago for my birthday. I LOVED them! They worked great up until shortly after the warranty had expired (I do not think it was related, just saying) and I started having a baffling issue. The sound effects (gun sounds, explosions, etc) started coming through the game chat channel. The game music still came through the game channel. This has pretty much made them unusable for multiplayer as I cannot hear anyone any longer. They are drowned out by explosions and gun fire. I contacted Steelseries about it and they said they had never heard of that before and had me try a factory reset on the wireless module. It didn't work. It really sucks, I love the headset. Super comfortable, sounded great, great features with chat/game mix and profiles. The only crappy part was that for game chat you still had to have a damn cable connected to the controller so it wasn't truly wireless playing multiplayer.
    Just thought I would let you know in case you were looking at them. Good luck on your search!!
  • The 800 I mentioned I returned above, they're a straight rebreand of the H Wireless. The exact same headset, and it was nearly unanimous that people considered it to have one of the worst mics on the high-end market. The new one, the 840, is the same thing, but with Bluetooth added. So, I'm waiting on Steelseries to upgrade the mic or someone else to have a universal, wireless headset that offers a full array of features or doesn't charge you to not get to use things. Apparently the older Astro headset pulled this off, but I think ou have to choose an Xbox- or PlayStation-specific model of Astros.
  • Love my arctis 7. It's great.