Hands-on Gear Review

SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review

If you want a wireless gaming headset, then the Arctis 7 should be your first choice
By: David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Aug 29, 2018
Price:   $150 List  |  $128.18 at Amazon - 15% off
Pros:  Great audio, decently comfortable
Cons:  Pricey, mic is so-so
Manufacturer:   SteelSeries
61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Comfort - 40% 6
  • Audio - 30% 7
  • Microphone - 20% 5
  • Ease of Use - 10% 6
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Top Pick Award

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a wireless headset, the Arctis 7 is our absolute favorite when it comes to cutting the cord. This headset offers decently high-quality audio and is comfortable enough to wear for longer periods of time. However, it is definitely a bit on the pricey side and scored quite a bit lower overall than some of the top wired models, which also cost quite a bit less. Despite this, the Arctis 7 should still be your first choice if you absolutely hate being tethered to your computer and need your headset to be wireless.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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While this headset is our top pick when it comes to wireless headsets, it scored a bit lower in the pack, tying with 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 inferior audio and microphone quality, though it is a tiny bit more comfortable than the Arctis 7.

Our Top Pick award winner the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
Our Top Pick award winner the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

Performance Comparison


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.

Poor sounding headsets can take away from your in game experience.
Poor sounding headsets can take away from your in game experience.

Comfort


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 — who also had some of the smallest ears and head out of the group. 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.

One of testers entranced in the Arctis 7.
One of testers entranced in the Arctis 7.

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 Arctis 7 has a unique headband adjustment.
The Arctis 7 has a unique headband adjustment.

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 microfiber mesh was quite nice.
The microfiber mesh was quite nice.

Unfortunately, this headset is also on the heavier side at 12.5 ounces, though it doesn't feel terribly weighty while wearing it.


The Arctis 7 has great sound for being wireless.
The Arctis 7 has great sound for being wireless.

Audio


Following our comfort metric, 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 did very well, meriting a 7 out of 10 for its strong showing.


This headset got off to a great start in our voice test, conveying other players voices loud and clear. The tone was quite realistic, but it sounded just a little bit flatter than they did in real life. The Arctis 7 also does a decent job of blocking out external noises, doing a bit better at reducing background music or TV than background noise.

The Arctis 7 also does 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.

The Arctis 7 is equipped with a "ChatMix dial" (left side) to balance voice chat and game audio without leaving the game.
The Arctis 7 is equipped with a "ChatMix dial" (left side) to balance voice chat and game audio without leaving the game.

This product did well in our driver matching benchmarking test, but quite poorly in the bass quality test, with tons of parasitic buzz. 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.

The bendy mic on the Arctis 7 means you can position it where you like.
The bendy mic on the Arctis 7 means you can position it where you like.

Microphone


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 mic can retract inside of the ear piece.
The mic can retract inside of the ear piece.

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 mic lights up red to notify you that it is muted.
The mic lights up red to notify you that it is muted.

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 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 onboard controls of the Arctis 7.
The onboard controls of the Arctis 7.

You also have the option to enable a mic sidetone, as well as adjust its volume.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

David Wise and Austin Palmer

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