SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X review: Powerful sound in a lightweight headset
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X marries the power of the manufacturer’s long-running lineup with a light form factor that makes for excellent audio across all platforms.
SteelSeries is one of the biggest manufacturers around right now, and with that comes some undeniable pressure to stay at the top. Thankfully, the company’s latest Arctis Nova range offers a little something for all budgets without compromising on quality — and nowhere is that felt more than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X.
Taking its place near the top of the pricing pyramid, it’s an excellent headset whether you’re playing on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, or mobile. While there are some minor nitpicks (mainly with the dongle), it deserves a spot in SteelSeries’ ever-expanding gaming headsets line.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, 2.4GHz Dongle, Detachable 3.5mm wire (Headset jack/combination jack)
- Driver diameter: 40mm
- Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Weight: 325g
- Compatibility: Anything with a 3.5mm combo jack, headphone jack, and mic jack
- Features: ClearCast Gen 2 noise-canceling microphone, SteelSeries Sonar Audio Software Suite with Pro-grade Parametric EQ, 360° Spatial Audio
- Price: NA $179.99 | EU €199.99 | AP $199.99
- Where to buy: Amazon, Best Buy
What’s in the box: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X gaming headset, 3.5mm to 3.5mm jack, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, USB-C to USB-A extension, USB-C dongle.
If you’ve seen any SteelSeries headset in the last decade, you’ll no doubt find the Arctis Nova 7X very familiar to the eye.
In line with its ‘Xbox-first’ branding, it comes in a sleek black with a green inner headband that can be adjusted — although not without some fiddling with the notches. The outer headband is a more rigid plastic, and while it has some flexibility, it’s designed to keep the headset on, well, your head.
The ear cups slide to adjust, and unlike other headsets, they’re not particularly easy to do so. That’s no bad thing in our eyes, though, and while we don’t know how it’ll hold up in the long-term, for now, it’s easy to “set and forget” without having it constantly needing readjusting.
Both cups fold flat for storage (and there’s a small cloth carrying case included, although it doesn’t offer a great deal of protection), and each is adorned with the SteelSeries logo (which can be swapped out for custom options, should you so choose). While many headsets tend to put almost all of the controls on one side, the Arctis Nova 7X equally distributes things to prevent either ever feeling cluttered.
You’ll find a charging port (USB-C, thankfully) on the right-hand side, as well as a power and Bluetooth button snuck on the back and a chat mixing wheel. On the left, you’ll find a volume wheel, mute switch, 3.5mm jack cable for wired connections, and a very well-hidden mic (we’ll get to that shortly).
Perhaps the most impressive factor is just how light the headset is, coming in at just 325g. With the weight so well-distributed it’s easy to wear for long periods, although we’d argue that something like the Logitech Pro X Wireless offers similar comfort and feels a little more premium thanks to its more industrial design.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X’s audio features feel like a laundry list of “wants” for many companies, but the manufacturer has fit as many clever technologies inside as possible while also coming in at a lower price point than many of its rivals.
For one, the Arctis Nova 7X offers spatial audio that feels just as good here as it does on Sony’s Pulse 3D headset, while Xbox and PC players can enjoy Microsoft Spatial Sound, too.
We’ll cover more about the platform-agnostic nature of the headset shortly, but it’s rare to find something so all-encompassing on all platforms.
It’s no slouch when it comes to powerful audio, either. We tested it across multiple devices with impressive results. Playing Valorant, footsteps were clear and guns easily identifiable in tough, bullet-filled rounds (the Vandal feels particularly throaty), while car engines sounded positively symphonic in Forza Horizon 5. We’d also argue that the Battle Rifle in Halo Infinite has never felt more impactful than it has through this headset.
The light weight also meant that the Arctis Nova 7X is ideal for streaming music, too. In an average workday, this headset hops between bassy rap and breakdown-laden metalcore, and both absolutely sing on this headset. As an added bonus, podcasts are impressively clear, too.
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That clarity of incoming voices is reciprocated with the mic, too. The ClearCast Gen 2 mic is absolutely crystalline, although the lightweight headset body means you can expect to hear yourself at least a little over everything else as your own voice reverberates.
In the midst of Destiny 2’s Vow of the Disciple raid, we found we were able to formulate strategies with minimal fuss, even while chatting through Bungie’s occasionally problematic in-game chat.
It’s not quite as clear as a bespoke mic like a HyperX Duocast or something similar, but as far as headset mics go it’s one of the best we’ve used in a while.
It may seem an odd thing to pick up on when everything else is so positive, but the biggest issue we have with the Arctis Nova 7X is in its dongle.
Being able to connect to anything (and we mean anything) is a huge boon, of course, but the thin, wide USB-C connector definitely plays better with some than others. On Xbox Series X, for example, you’ll need to plug into a USB adapter and have the cable dragging out, while on the Switch you can pop it straight into the bottom of the device in handheld mode.
It’s a small price to pay to be able to use it across platforms, but at the same time, it may mean you’ll need to rejig the USB setup in the back of your PC as we did.
If you do happen to connect to a PC, you’ll get access to SteelSeries’ impressive audio suite through Steelseries GG, which includes a series of powerful equalizers. As with many recent headsets, you can also connect a Bluetooth device while you’re using the dongle, meaning you can listen to music while playing or connect to the Discord mobile app.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the excellent battery life. The Arctis Nova 7X hits 38 hours according to the manufacturer’s estimate, and that’s pretty much on-the-money in our testing, even with regularly switching platforms. 15 minutes of charging offers 6 hours of use, too.
Should you buy it?
If you’re a multi-platform gamer looking for a wireless headset, you’ve struck gold. Between the excellent battery life, subtle but clear mic, 360-degree audio, and excellent soundstage for gaming and music alike, there really is a lot to like.
It’s also cheaper than many of its rivals, like the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 Max, despite going above and beyond in terms of the features and functionality offered.
Whichever platform you’re on, the Steelseries Arctis Nova 7 is worth the price of admission and will likely be your go-to for the next few years, whether you’re playing casually or competitively.
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