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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Review

This headset offers affordable pricing, good audio quality, and a decent microphone — resulting in a good offering
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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 Review
Credit: SteelSeries
Price:  $60 List
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Manufacturer:   SteelSeries
By Austin Palmer and Ryan White  ⋅  Jun 30, 2023
64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 18
  • Comfort - 40% 6.0
  • Audio - 30% 6.2
  • Microphone - 20% 7.5
  • Ease of Use - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1 strikes an approachable price point, and it holds its own as far as audio and microphone quality goes, but you might be left wanting a bit more in terms of features and comfort. The positional audio isn't quite as effective as it should be, and the elastic headband could prove a bit weird for some users to get the fit just right. Nevertheless, we find it to be a perfectly adequate device for gaming.
REASONS TO BUY
Good mic quality
Filters most background noise
REASONS TO AVOID
Ineffective positional audio
Lackluster mute button

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $60 List
$49.00 at Amazon
$130 List
$129.99 at Amazon
$100 List
$93.95 at Amazon
$50 List$60 List
$39.99 at Amazon
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Bottom Line Despite some shortcomings, this headset still delivers above average audio qualityThis headset offers great audio, superior comfort, and a fantastic microphone –- the only knock against it is that it is cordedIf you want a great headset that does well across the board and won't blow your budget, look no further than the Cloud IIThis headset is a great bargain option, holding its own with the top models while costing considerably lessDespite its affordable price, lacks comfort and features, leaving much to be desired
Rating Categories SteelSeries Arctis... Kraken V3 HyperSense Kingston HyperX Clo... Kingston HyperX Clo... Astro Gaming A10 Gen 2
Comfort (40%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Audio (30%)
6.2
8.6
6.6
6.9
5.2
Microphone (20%)
7.5
8.3
6.8
7.7
6.6
Ease of Use (10%)
6.0
4.9
6.2
7.1
6.2
Specs SteelSeries Arctis... Kraken V3 HyperSense Kingston HyperX Clo... Kingston HyperX Clo... Astro Gaming A10 Gen 2
Connection Type 3.5mm USB USB or 3.5mm 3.5mm 3.5mm
Measure Max Cordlength 9.1 ft 6.4 ft 10.6 ft 10.5 ft 7 ft
Wireless or Wired Wired Wired Wired Wired Wired
How to Mute Button Button Switch Lift mic Lift mic
Detachable Microphone No Yes Yes No No
Mute and Volume Control Location Headphone Headphone Inline (USB only) Headphone Mute: Headphone
Volume: Inline
Measured weight (cable hanging) 8.8 oz 13 oz 10.9 oz 9.5 oz 9.4 oz
Measured Inner Ear Cup Opening 1-3/4" X 2-1/4" 1-1/2" X 2-1/2" 1-1/2" X 2-9/16" 1-5/8" X 2-9/16" 1-3/16" X 1-3/4"
Ear Cup Shape Oval Oval Oval Oval Rectangle
Ear Cup Fabric Type Fabric mesh Memory foam, leatherette, cooling mesh Leatherette
Velour included
Leatherette Fabric mesh
Downloadable Software No Yes No No No
Surround/Spacial Audio No Yes Yes No No
Manufacturer Stated Platform Compatibility PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox (Series X, S, and One), Mobile PC, PlayStation, Switch (docked mode) PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One (older version controllers may require an adapter) PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One (older version controllers may require an adapter) PC, Mac, PS5, Switch, Xbox (Series X and S)

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Steelseries Arctis Nova 1 is an affordable headset, and we found it to be pretty good in its basic functionality. It doesn't do much to set itself apart from the pack but could prove useful if you're on a budget but still need decent audio and microphone quality.

Performance Comparison


Gearing up with the Nova 1.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


We found this headset comfortable enough to use for a few hours at a time without significant issues. The elastic connected to the headband ensures a proper fit, although it may require some adjustment to get it just right. However, considering the potential longevity concerns of elastic materials, there is a slight worry that the headset's fit could be compromised if the elastic wears out over time.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - the elastic band takes a little getting used to.
The elastic band takes a little getting used to.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The ear cups are comfy enough, albeit a tad warm, which isn't uncommon for most headsets.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - the ear cups are a little wider, making them more comfortable.
The ear cups are a little wider, making them more comfortable.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Audio


Coming in a close second to comfort, we have sound quality making up 30% of the overall rating. The Nova 1 produced a mixed bag here, but definitely has some advantages over other headsets at this price point.

We put the headset through a series of benchmark tests to assess its performance, covering aspects such as bass quality and harmonic distortion. The sound produced by the headset was well-balanced, perhaps leaning slightly towards a flat profile, but still delivered pleasing tones.

When it comes to positional audio, however, the results were less impressive. We conducted tests using scenarios like gunfire and enemy footsteps in games like CS:GO, as well as the Razer Helicopter test which simulates being circled by a helicopter without visual cues. Unfortunately, we had a tough time detecting where sounds were coming from. It may not provide the competitive edge you seek in terms of positional accuracy.

With music, the headset delivered a slightly above-average rating. The bass quality is somewhat dull, accompanied by occasional crackling at higher volumes. It still manages to produce satisfactory treble and mid tones when adjusted to the appropriate volume, though. While it may not offer an exceptional music experience, it can still provide audio enjoyment within certain parameters.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - the detachable cord is a nice touch.
The detachable cord is a nice touch.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Microphone


Accounting for 20% of the overall score, the microphone brings mostly positive news. The mic excels at minimizing external noise, prioritizing the user's voice above all else, thanks to its noise cancelling AI algorithm. As a result, your voice will come through with clean and slightly above average quality. While we weren't blown away by the overall quality of the voice itself, it does the job just fine.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - the retractable mic stays put without much effort.
The retractable mic stays put without much effort.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The unit comes fully equipped for plug-and-play functionality, providing everything you need right out of the box. Software is available for fine-tuning the mix to your preferences, but it's not essential to get rolling.

The mute button is positioned on the left side of the headset, which can be challenging to locate quickly. Additionally, it lacks clear feedback to indicate that it has been successfully activated.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - tap to mute - if you can find it.
Tap to mute - if you can find it.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The 3.5mm headphone jack can be removed for easier travel when you want to get mobile, which we appreciate. Overall, this headset incorporates thoughtful features, but it likely won't impress the diehard gamer.

steelseries arctis nova 1 - simply put, this headset does the job.
Simply put, this headset does the job.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should You Buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1?


For its price, this headset delivers a solid performance. It's a good option for those starting out in gaming on a budget. However, if you require a competitive edge in gaming or prioritize audio quality for movies and music, we can't fully endorse it.

What Other Gaming Headsets Should You Consider?


The Kraken V3 HyperSense comes in a little higher in price, but the jump in performance was worth it in our eyes. If price is indeed a sticking point for you, check out the Kingston HyperX Cloud Stinger.

Austin Palmer and Ryan White