SteelSeries headset buyer’s guide
Considering a SteelSeries headset? Here's what you need to know about their line-up
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SteelSeries headsets are among the most coveted gaming headsets in the PC gaming community. They cater to all budgets, platforms, and connectivity needs. SteelSeries was born in 2001, originally named ‘Soft Trading’, and started out producing mousepads. After some shrewd investments and acquisitions, the company experienced a meteoric rise to eventually become one of the most successful gaming peripheral companies out there.
SteelSeries headsets are the most venerated category of the SteelSeries product lineup, which also includes gaming keyboards, mice, and controllers. The Arctis line of gaming headsets covers every step of the pricing spectrum, from budget sub-$50, all the way to dizzying prices exceeding $300. Let’s have a closer look and see which SteelSeries headset suits you the best.
Why buy a SteelSeries headset?
Over the last few years, SteelSeries headsets have garnered a reputation for quality, performance, and comfort. Not to mention the numerous esports endorsements and partnerships with some of the biggest boys in gaming, like Valve, EA, and Blizzard entertainment. Handily, we’ve reviewed a fair few SteelSeries headsets here at WePC and they’ve reliably impressed us so we can fully recommend them as a gaming headset brand overall. But which SteelSeries headset is the best pick for you?
Which SteelSeries headset should you buy?
As with any gaming peripheral purchase, it generally comes down to two factors: Price and features. As mentioned earlier, SteelSeries headsets cover all price ranges, and the features of each specific headset generally scale with the price. The lineup comprises a lot of headsets with varying features, let’s get into it.
SteelSeries Arctis 7+
But what if you don’t have upwards of $300 to spend on a headset, but you still want comfort, quality, and reliable wireless connectivity, The Arctis 7+ might be your best bet. With the same 40mm neodymium drivers as the Arctis Pro you get all the same sound quality, and similar wireless performance, at almost half the price of the Arctis Pro.
You don’t get the functionally limitless battery life of the swapping system, instead, you get impressively rapid fast charging via the USB Type-C port. The battery life of up to 30 hours means that unless you’re on some kind of mad multiple-day gaming binge, you’ll be more than provided for. Check out our full SteelSeries Arctis 7 review for more info.
SteelSeries Arctis 7
20 – 20,000 Hz
Other cool features of this SteelSeries headset, include the 7.1 virtual surround and the ability to balance gameplay and chat volumes individually, so you can specifically dial them in to get the most out of both. It continues to puzzle us that this feature isn’t standard as games have famously poor audio mixing, and a way to easily mitigate it should be ubiquitous. If you don’t feel the need for the dual-battery system of the Arctis Pro, this is a stellar headset with almost all the features, and you don’t have to flog two or three organs on the black market to pay for it.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless gaming headset
Of course, the jewel in SteelSeries’ crown is the Arctis Pro Wireless. It’s feature-packed and has the price to match. So if you’ve got the cash to splash, it’s definitely the one to go for. The most notable feature of the Arctis Pro Wireless is the included base station, not only does it act as a DAC, but it’s got a few tricks up its sleeve too.
We’ve seen Base Stations moonlighting as chargers and DACs before, such as the dock included with the Astro A50, but what we haven’t seen is the dual-battery system. Essentially, the headset comes with two batteries, as one drains with use, the other is charged by the base station, once the headset runs dry, you simply swap the batteries and resume gaming. This makes for practically unlimited wireless performance. Additionally, the base station is where you’ll find the volume control, I/O, and a handy OLED screen displaying all the relevant info you’ll need.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro
10 – 40,000 Hz
The headset itself is special too, with a novel floating headband design that allows for less pressure on the user’s head and more comprehensive adjustability. We also like the retractable mic, instead of being removable, or flipping up as we’ve seen before, the flexible mic arm literally pulls back up into the earcup in a manner akin to a vacuum cleaner’s power cable.
The dynamic drivers are capable of a downright ridiculous 40,000Hz maximum frequency response, despite only having a 40mm diameter, proving that bigger isn’t always better. Additionally, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro wireless comes in either white or black, meaning that it’ll smoothly integrate into the aesthetics of your gaming setup with ease.
Arctis Pro + GameDAC
Fancy a DAC, and don’t mind being tethered to your PC? The Arctis Pro + GameDAC might just be what you’re looking for. Featuring the same internals as the base station of the Arctis Pro wireless but in a more compact form factor. The DAC bypasses the typically low-quality internal DACs found in consoles and motherboards and produces audio with higher fidelity. Additional benefits of the GameDAC is the additional control it affords, typically headsets are only controlled by the on-headset controls, or via the companion software. Having a visible physical interface with tactile inputs is a game-changer for us. Additionally, the I/O options on the DAC make for seamless integration with the rest of your audio setup.
Like the rest of SteelSeries’ headset lineup, the Arctis Pro features 40mm drivers and the same novel retracting mic system. SteelSeries headsets all follow the same styling conventions, with all but the most budget choices featuring the floating headband and minimalist oval earcups.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Wired Gaming Headset
DTS virtual surround sound once again makes an appearance here, simulating a full seven-speaker + one-subwoofer setup with considerable fidelity. This allows you to accurately ascertain the location and direction of enemies and teammates. All but SteelSeries’ most budget offerings feature virtual surround sound and it’s invaluable for online gaming, particularly FPS games such as CS:GO and Rainbow 6 Siege where tactics and situational awareness are paramount. If you’re needing more info, check out our full SteelSeries Arctis Pro review
SteelSeries Arctis 1
Typically, all peripheral companies make an entry-level product so as not to alienate the more budget-conscious consumers out there. SteelSeries is no exception to this rule and their offering in the budget price bracket is the Arctis 1. Some might call it basic, but it’s got what you need, with no added frivolities. Additionally, it’s got some of the broadest compatibility out there, courtesy of the universal 3.5mm jack.
While it lacks the floating headband we are such fans of, it’s still functional and comfortable, and for a price that regularly dips below $40, it’s one of the best headsets if you’re on a budget. And SteelSeries’s reputation for quality inspires confidence in even their cheapest products.
SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wired gaming headset
The Arctis 1 does lack the huge 40,000Hz maximum response found in their higher-end offerings, but the 20,000Hz is still respectful and perfectly cromulent for a beginner gaming headset. Given that 20k is pretty standard for the gaming headset industry, the Arctis 1 gaming headset will serve you well. Check out our full SteelSeries Arctis 1 review for more info.
SteelSeries headset buyer’s guide: Final verdict
There we have it, folks, a quick rundown of some of our favorite SteelSeries headsets. We’ve covered the best and most premium Arctis Pro Wireless, The equally capable, yet more accessibly priced Arctis Pro + GameDac, and the budget-friendly but capable Arctis 1. We like SteelSeries here at WePC, so it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to their comprehensive range of gaming headsets. Regardless of your budget, platform, or feature preferences, SteelSeries has got something to offer.