SteelSeries Arctis 3 Headset Review
I truly believe we are in the golden age of gaming. Video games have never been more intense, and pressure-filled. In-game maps are more massive than ever, enemies are increasingly ferocious and graphically games are more life-like than ever before. Games have become these rich and deep experiences making it nearly impossible for us to keep up with all the fantastic releases. As an example, in the past 30 days Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and NieR: Automata all hit retail. All three received amazing review scores from us and deservedly so.
With so many jaw dropping games at your disposal, you need to have good equipment. While 4K TV’s might not be necessary at this point, you’ll need at minimum a 1080p HDTV. You’ll also need a good audio set up. While many cannot afford an elaborate 7.1 surround sound home theater system, having a good set of cans is an easy affordable alternative. Fortunately, we have moved into an era where you have plenty of choices at your disposal. One such choice is the SteelSeries Arctis 3 headset.
The headset has been out for some time now but I specifically requested this headset for review as I was looking for a set to meet my Nintendo Switch audio needs. The headset can be used with other consoles, PC and mobile games; nevertheless, I wanted to secure a headset that is advertised as compatible with the Nintendo Switch. Given Nintendo’s latest console uses a simple headphone jack, the Arctis 3 certainly fit the bill. So, the bulk of this review centers around my experiences with the Arctis 3 on the Nintendo Switch.
“Overall, SteelSeries Arctis 3 Headset is a versatile and classy looking set of cans built for a variety of your gaming needs.”
In terms of the features, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 wired headset comes with virtual 7.1 surround sound, a 3.5mm adaptor and a bidirectional microphone. It is a midsize, over-the-ear model, all black, with large ear cups and a flexible ski-goggle like headband. The design is nothing flashy but it’s certainly comfortable and you won’t feel like a complete knob traveling with them on your head. They run for around $80 bucks (usd) which is about 20 bucks cheaper than the USB-enabled Arctis 5 and nearly half the price of its wireless cousin the Arctis 7. So price wise the Arctis 3 is a nice value based purchase.
The left ear cup has the volume control wheel, the mic-mute button and the retractable microphone. It seems odd everything is jammed into the left ear cup but this isn’t the first time I have seen this for the more affordable headsets. That being said, the buttons are easy to find when gaming in the dark.
Likewise I found the headset light and comfortable. The flexible headband and plush ear cups makes for a headset you easily forget you are wearing them. Also, during extended gaming sessions my ears and head did not get too hot either. The headset is easily adjustable so you are never really fiddling around with notches or settings that ultimately end up annoying us more than anything. Bottom line, the set fits very comfortably, and I get the sense that it would be a great fit for any size or shape of head, which is a plus.
As for sound quality, the Arctis 3 is good but not great. Before I jumped online and enabled the “virtual 7.1 surround sound”, I found I really needed to crank up the volume on my Switch console and the headset in order to really get the full impact. Yet once I installed the necessary software (which was a bit of a process and a pain) I noticed a significant boost to the sound. I could hear every little bird chip, footstep and nearby enemies when playing Breath of the Wild on my Switch. I was able to pick out individual sounds, and their physical location in relation to you. This will come in especially handy when playing multiplayer games on the Switch. I felt completely immersed in the game and much of that has to do with the rock solid sound. All in all, the Arctis 3 did perform well in the sound department but it is critical you set up the software on your PC, which is a bit of a process. I even had to look up a video online to make sure I was following the instructions properly.
The software is also supposed to assist with the noise cancelling feature but I really didn’t notice much isolation in terms of the sound at all. If you are in a loud room, you can hear other sounds. I would have preferred a set that was a little more isolating but again when you consider the price I didn’t exactly expect a ‘noise cancelling’ experience.
Overall, SteelSeries Arctis 3 Headset is a versatile and classy looking set of cans built for a variety of your gaming needs. In particular, it remains a solid option if you are looking for a comfortable gaming headset for your brand new Nintendo Switch console. For a headset that can be used with your mobile device, Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch the Arctis 3 is solid purchase that won’t exactly break your bank account.
***The Arctis 3 was provided by SteelSeries for review***
- Very comfortable
- Solid sounds
- No USB connection
- No color
- Finicky software
- Not the best headset on the market