While this headset is our top pick when it comes to wireless headsets, it scored a bit lower in the pack, finishing slightly behind the Cloud Revolver S and the Artemis Spectrum. The Cloud Revolver S costs about the same and has slightly inferior audio quality, but does have superior microphone quality. The Artemis Spectrum is also a wireless headset, but it costs about $50 more and has roughly the same audio and microphone quality, though it is a tiny bit more comfortable than the Arctis 7.
The Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
To see which wired and wireless gaming headsets are really the best, we consulted a handful of long-time gamers, as well as pored over all the existing user reviews that we could find. We then had a pretty good idea of which headsets even had a shot at winning, then bought all the best and tested them head-to-head to find our winners. We divvied up our battery of tests into four weighted testing metrics, with the Arctis' results described below.
The Arctis is decently comfortable for those with larger heads.
Our most important metric of the entire testing procedure at 40%, comfort is an immediate make or break point for deciding if a headset is worthy of an award. While comfort is a highly subjective trait, we had a varied panel of testers try out each headset for a full day, then aggregated their scores. The Arctis 7 was received somewhat favorably, but a handful of our testers weren't totally in love with it, earning it a 6 out of 10 overall.
Only one tester was comfortable wearing this headset for a full 10 hours, with the rest of our testers were split between being fine enduring the Arctis 7 for 7-8 hours or only being able to make it 4-5 hours.
Some of our testers had no problems wearing this for marathon gaming sessions.
The main cause of this is the elastic band on the headband. This only has a limited range of adjustability that in our experience only fit a small selection of heads comfortably. The headset is held in place relatively securely if it does fit you, but otherwise can be quite wobbly or create undue pressure. The newer edition of this headset makes the headband into more of a "U" shape, making it much more accommodating for those with larger heads. Unfortunately, this seems to be at the expense of those with smaller heads, as our more petite testers that liked the earlier version of this headset can't stand the newer model.
We weren't huge fans of the strap system on the Arctis.
The ear cups have semi-firm padding and are a bit on the smaller side, measuring about 1.875" across and 2.5" tall. These cups are covered in microfiber mesh, so at least there is plenty of ventilation for playing on warm days.
The ear cups on the Arctis are quite comfortable.
Unfortunately, this headset is also on the heavier side at 12.5 ounces, though it doesn't feel terribly weighty while wearing it.
We found the Arctis' audio quality to be mediocre at best.
Following our comfort metric, the sound quality is the next most important, making up 30% of the total score for each product. We tested out each headset with both voice and music, as well as evaluating each one's performance at conveying the position of a sound and in a series of benchmarking tests. The Arctis delivered an overall lackluster showing, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its results.
The 2019 edition suffered a significant decline in voice quality compared to its predecessor, with other players' voices sounding much more muddled and hollower, making them much less realistic sounding. We also noticed that this edition did a poorer job at blocking background noises.
The Arctis 7 does do a great job of conveying the position of sounds, with all of our testers being able to correctly identify the origin of both soft and loud sounds, like another player walking behind them, a helicopter flying by, and gunfire.
Unfortunately, this product didn't do as well when listening to music. It is decently well balanced at higher volumes but becomes more and more unbalanced as the volume drops. The treble is so-so, with a slight emphasis on the mid-range, and the sound overall is just mediocre, sounding less immersive than the top products, with a flatter sound and more muddy sound. However, it does have a solid low range, with a slightly deeper and better-sounding bass than the earlier version.
We did like you can adjust some of the audio balance with the onboard controls.
This product did well in our driver matching benchmarking test, but quite poorly in the bass quality test, with tons of parasitic buzz to the point where the headset would rattle. The first unit of this headset we got was a dud, which we discovered when trying the binaural test, as there was some wiring issue. However, the replacement model we got sounded great, doing a great job of making the position of the sound — someone knocking on a wooden door — evident. We haven't been enamored with the quality control of the Arctis 7 having exchanged it something like four times and finding the performance to be quite inconsistent across the different models.
The microphone quality is about average.
Next, our microphone metric is worth 20% of the SteelSeries Arctis 7's total score. We based most of the score on the quality of voice transmitted but also took the ability to filter out undesirable background noises into account. This product didn't perform terribly well in this group of tests, earning it a 5 out of 10 for its lackluster efforts.
The microphone on this headset somewhat distorts your voice, with people that were listening to you never quite feeling like they were talking face-to-face with you. The sound is a bit louder and quite a bit more echoey, making it sound like you were talking to them from the stage in an auditorium, rather than casually conversing. It also occasionally had a slight crackle and a small amount of fuzz. However, we did approve of the fact that the mic on this headset doesn't overemphasize "S" or "T" sounds when talking and almost never had feedback, even when we tapped the mic.
The microphone does store out of the way when not in use.
This headset isn't the best when it comes to filtering out external noises, being the worst when it comes to picking up noises, so your teammates will definitely know if you are typing with a mechanical keyboard. It would also pick up other background noises, like if you are eating while playing or if you have a fan running, but it actually does alright at filtering out background conversations. As long as the source of the side conversation or the music was over 10' away and it wasn't at an excessive volume, other players couldn't usually hear it over the sounds of the game.
The Arctis is one of the easier headsets to use.
Ease of Use
For the final metric of our testing protocol, we looked at how much frustration any of these headsets caused when you are trying to get them all set up and use them. Worth 10% of the total score, we looked at how you mute the mic, if there are inline controls, how long the cord is or if it is wireless, and if the mic is detachable, as well as a few other things. The Arctis 7 did fairly well, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its performance.
This headset has controls to both mute and adjust the volume right on the side of the ear cups. The newer edition makes these even smaller, minimizing the chances of hitting them accidentally.
The mic turns red when muted and you can mute it fairly quickly if necessary. This headset is wireless, but the USB charging cable is a little on the shorter side at a little over 5', so it makes it quite hard to wear while it is charging. However, the wireless feature is quite nice, as it gives you full mobility while playing. The mic isn't detachable but does slide into the headset for storage when not needed.
The full set of onboard controls make this one of the more convenient headsets to use.
You also have the option to enable a mic sidetone, as well as adjust its volume.
The Arctis 7 is a solid headset, but isn't the best value, as there are comparable or better headsets that cost less — you may just have to forgo the wireless models if you are shopping on a tight budget.
While the Arctis 7 wasn't one of the overall top performers, it is by far our favorite of the wireless headsets, offering the best combination of performance and price, without any major drawbacks.