One of the fastest rising brands when it comes to gaming accessories this past couple of years is the SteelSeries brand. The manufacturer is steadily making waves with their affordable, yet highly reliable gaming accessories such as keyboards, mice, and headsets.
For this review, we will be taking a look (and listen) to the SteelSeries Arctis 3 headset.
Arctis 3 is another budget-friendly gaming headset that costs around $80.
Quite an affordable headset, indeed. But how does it fare when it comes to performance?
Will it be able to satisfy and enhance your overall gaming experience? Let's find out!
S1 Speaker Drivers
Airwave Ear Cushions plus Ski Goggle suspension headband design
Exclusive Clear Cast microphone with a sensitivity of -48db
The Arctis 3 headset might appear pretty simple at first glance. But it is when you pay attention that you will truly appreciate what it brings to the table.
With a rather subtle aesthetic, Arctis 3 provides an ergonomic design that will improve comfort and fit.
The headset features sturdy matte plastic for its headband and cans. The earpads feature a rubber finish that does not feel cheap at all.
The microphone uses a glossy finish to give it that much-needed contrast in design.
The Arctis 3 combines construction and material to enhance the wearer's comfort.
The headband is incredibly flexible to provide a snug fit.
The earcups also rotate so that they can lay flat on your chest when you wear them around your neck.
A nifty feature on the cans is its auto-pivot design which helps balance pressure as to prevent it from feeling to clamped down over your ears.
While the Arctis 3 headphone does feel snug, I wouldn't recommend it for outdoor activities such as jogging.
It wobbled and slipped off more often than I liked during a broader range of movements.
The headband itself has some shortcomings in terms of durability.
I feel that it might break with a considerable amount of pressure. I'm not saying that the headband construction is frail.
I don't feel like it would match up to the durability that some headsets within this price range can deliver.
Most of the controls are located over at the left can of the Arctis 3. The left earcup features a micro-USB port USB port, the 3.5mm slot, volume control, mute, and an 8-pin audio input connector.
The microphone is also found on the left earcup. Over on the right can is the Bluetooth power button.
The headset cable uses light rubber fittings that prevent it from generating too much noise.
The microphone is retractable and can be moved to a position that won't obstruct your face. It did feel like the microphone arm is designed for only a handful of specific positions though.
When it comes to comfort, the SteelSeries Arctis series holds its own. The headband provides just the right give to create a snug fit around the head.
The earpads are also quite large and will likely cover the entirety of your ears. The Airwave ear cushion is quite soft and won't strain your ears even after a couple of hours of gaming.
I want to note that the headband does feel a bit loose and may not provide the optimum seal around the ears for younger gamers or those who have smaller heads. This is not a deal-breaker, but something to ponder over.
Audio and Microphone
Since this is a budget-friendly headset, you shouldn't expect it to compare to what higher-end models can deliver.
That being said, for the price, it's not half bad at all. It's pretty good for an entry-level gaming headphone.
The bass response is where the Arctis 3 shine. The bass delivered by this headphone is booming and deep.
This makes it an excellent headphone for action games like Call of Duty and Uncharted, which is filled with explosions and gunfire.
It will also deliver that intense roar of the engines for racing games as well.
The low and mid-range are surprisingly good in the Arctis 3 as well.
It provides a right balance within this range and will allow excellent communication between players as the sound effects will not bleed into the microphone.
The high-end range is where the Arctis 3 falls a bit short. The audio detail is somewhat lacking and could have been a bit crisper.
Overall, this is still an excellent, well-rounded performance in the sound department.
The microphone is another highlight of the Arctis 3 with its substantial sound cancellation capability.
Communicating with your teammates online will provide a clear and understandable experience.
While it won't deliver impeccable clarity and I won't recommend it for podcast recordings – for gaming, it will suffice.
One of SteelSeries' biggest strengths lies with its SteelSeries Engine 3 software.
This allows users full customization of the sound, which makes this headset deliver a better experience when used on the PC.
You can fully customize your listening experience with this software, and you even get a 7.1 surround sound. For a below $100 gaming headset, a 7.1 surround sound feature is a great deal.
Given that you will need to tweak it a bit for each game and navigating the audio program can take a bit of practice.
I'd say the relatively complicated software is off-set with the wealth of customization options available.
We've tested the SteelSeries Arctis 3 with games on all genres, and we found it to be quite capable of improving gaming immersion on all fronts.
Overall, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 can be considered a "Jack-of-all-trade but a master of none" gaming headset. It is well-rounded enough to provide an enjoyable gaming experience, but some of the rougher edges are still noticeable.
It is a pretty decent gaming headset with 7.1 surround sound support which is pretty much the holy grail with gaming headphones within this price range.