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SteelSeries Arctis 9X vs. Astro A50: Which headset should you buy?

Overall, both of these gaming headsets are great, but they appeal to two different types of users. People who want maximum comfort or versatility will want to choose the Astro A50, while gamers that primarily use Xbox One for playing and want to save some money should choose the SteelSeries Arctis 9X.

Arctis vs. Astro: Versatility or value?

When it comes to overall design quality, the race is close. However, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X narrowly takes the cake. While it is true that the Astro A50's incredibly low weight (0.8 pounds) and excellent cushioning make it the king of comfort, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X headset sounds clearer and stronger overall thanks to its incredibly clear highs and mids that constitute most of the sounds you'll hear in games, though the Astro A50 has better lows due to its slightly lower minimum frequency response.

In addition, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X's thicker ear cups help to isolate the user from external noises better, which means that you'll be able to hear small in-game sounds like footsteps more clearly. It also has a retractable microphone for compactness' sake and a significantly larger battery life of 18-20 hours, which easily tops the Astro A50's 10-16 hour maximums.

SteelSeries Arctis 9XAstro A50
Speakers40mm40mm
Frequency response20Hz to 20kHz10Hz to 20KHz
ConnectionWireless (Xbox One and Bluetooth)Wireless (Base Station pairing)
CompatibilityXbox One, PC (Requires adapter), MobileXbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Battery18-20 hours10-16 hours

Where the Astro A50 starts to look like a winner is in the versatility category. Since it uses a Base Station (connected through optical cable or USB) in order to pair to a device, it can work with an Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC without any issues. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X, in comparison, can only be used with an Xbox One and a mobile device (via Bluetooth) without needing to buy an accessory. If you want to use them on your PC, you'll need to pick up an Xbox Wireless Adapter (opens in new tab). However, it is worth pointing out that if you only plan to use an Xbox One for your gaming sessions, the significantly higher price of the Astro A50's versatile compatibility options won't be worth it to you.

Arctis vs. Astro: Which should you buy?

The decision about which of these two headsets to buy ultimately comes down to personal needs, preferences, and budget. If you're looking for a headset with the best possible comfort, excellent versatility, and great sound, you should choose the Astro A50. However, if you're primarily an Xbox One player, want the best possible audio quality, and would like to save money, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is the perfect headset for you.

For most people, though, I think that the SteelSeries Arctis 9X will be the best choice simply because of the price difference. The Astro A50's cost a huge amount, and while it certainly earns its price in some respects, I think you're better off going with something that's easier on the wallet.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.