Since YouTube, Twitch and other such streaming sites, a decent headset has become more important now than ever. Companies fight to attract budding YouTubers or live streamers with various pledges and promises that their product is the best on the market. They feature some long technical term about audio quality that they hope will impress tech-heads enough to buy the product. A lot of the time though gamers will usually just stick with the brand they know and, there a lot of beloved brands out there. Steelseries is one such brand and has been a popular choice for gamers of all kinds. Casual players, Streamers professional and amateur and Esports participants. Like all tech companies, there are various levels of products which will fit the need of the gamer purchasing them. From extremely expensive professional gear where Esports players will hear every single sound in striking detail to, entry-level more reasonably priced gear. The latter is what we will be looking at today as we review the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Gaming Headset.
Reviews for tech products on online shops such as Amazon can all come down to the packaging a lot of the time. I have seen countless reviews for products where the reviewer has praised that actual product itself but, has only given a 1 or 2 star due to the packaging. Thankfully this is not the case with the Arctis 3 as it came safely shipped in a sturdy box with the headset itself securely encased in a plastic mould. All the relevant cables were neatly packed underneath the headset along with the basic setup booklet. All in all, extremely well packed and shipped.
As the Arctis 3 is a wired headset, the setup was quick and easy. Just plug in the USB cable provided to the headset and then connect the PC cable (all labelled in the setup guide) to the USB and plug it all into the PC. You can download an advanced volume control from the Steelseries website where you can control the equaliser, bass and other such settings. The Arctis 3 will also work with the PS4 and Xbox One. With the two cables mentioned above, a standard headphone jack adapter is also shipped which simply plugs into the DualShock 4 or Xbox controller.
If you will be using it on the PS4 then a quick trip to the settings is needed as the PS4 will only detect the Arctis 3 as a mic, so you will need to change the settings to allow all the audio to go through the headset.
Priced at £89.99 the Arctis 3 was only ever going to be on the ‘cheap’ side in terms of design but, that is not always a bad thing. Instead of faux leather, the earcups are fabric which actually allows for prolonged use as your ears can breathe easier. Also, as the Arctis 3 is made from ‘cheaper’ plastic, it is actually extremely light so again, makes it easier for extended use.
The volume dial and mute mic button are easily found on the left-hand side above the mic. The volume wheel itself protrudes quite a way out from the headset which is great. You won’t have any problems trying to find the volume wheel to quickly turn the volume down is the game is getting too loud.
There is also a fabric ‘ski goggle’ headband suspended under the main headband which helps with distributing the minimal weight of the Arctis 3. Another great feature is the microphone is retractable which eliminates the need to take it out and losing it when it is not needed. You can wear the Arctis 3 for hours without it becoming uncomfortable which is great for those all-nighters.
Now, I am no self-confessed ‘audiophile’ but I can tell you the Arctis 3 does sound great on PC. I found the sound level to be perfectly adequate while playing various titles. Fans of FPS games will be glad to hear that the Arctis 3 will pick up a good range of noises from enemy player’s footsteps to the direction of gunfire allowing you work out where the opposition is. Using the SteelSeries engine programme to boost the base etc can help but I mostly found the default settings more than capable. For the price, the Arctis 3 is definitely one of better sounding headsets you can buy compared to similarly other priced bits of kit.
On the consoles, however, the Arctis 3 is on the quiet side. This being a cross-platform bit of kit I was looking to getting rid of my headsets for the Xbox One and PS4 but after a short time using the Arctis 3 on both, I will be keeping them after all.
Steelseries pride the ‘ClearCast’ mic as the ‘best in gaming’. A claim I’m afraid that isn’t backed up here. For the price, the mic is great, the best in gaming? not so much. The mic will pick up a lot of background noise unless you use the noise reduction option on the Steelseries engine programme. I used the inbuilt option I have on my PC and the mic did sound a lot better after this. Again, as this is an entry level option the mic does sound great for the price you will pay, as you’ll hear from the test below.