SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 review: Our favorite wireless headset for console gamers

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 review: Our favorite wireless headset for console gamers

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The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X wireless gaming headset next to a Nintendo Switch system.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X is a great midrange wireless headset that works with Switch, PS5, and Xbox consoles.

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 is an impressive midrange wireless headset that delivers all of the essentials that console gamers need. Though it’s available in a few different editions, we reviewed the Arctis Nova 7X variation. This model is officially designed and licensed for Xbox, but it also works with PlayStation consoles, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The Nova 7X has a battery life of nearly 40 hours, a retractable, noise-canceling microphone, and the ability to play audio from two sources at the same time. Its sturdy design and quality features make it our favorite wireless headset for consoles, and one of the best gaming headsets you can buy.

Customers should keep in mind that there are two other variations of this headset: the standard Arctis Nova 7 and the Arctis Nova 7P. All three are essentially the same headset but are marketed toward different systems. However, the 7X version is the only one that has Xbox wireless support. If you want full cross-platform capabilities, the 7X edition is the one to buy.

The Arctis Nova 7X has a sturdy, practical design that checks all the necessary boxes

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X wireless gaming headset
The headset’s design is basic but it’s well built and comfortable.

The Arctis Nova 7X has a simple but solid design with a metal frame, retractable microphone, and black color scheme. The ear cup cushions use a mesh fabric with memory foam while a green fabric headband adds a bit of extra color and comfort. You can also purchase different ear plate and headband colors (red, lilac, rose, mint) to replace the standard ones and add more customization to the headset.

The Arctis Nova 7X is easy to adjust to the correct fit, and the headband does a good job of retaining the correct size between gaming sessions. The mesh ear cushions feel light and breathable; personally I like them more than the leatherette cushions on SteelSeries’ more expensive Nova Pro Wireless.

The retractable microphone is a nice benefit during solo play sessions. Other headsets have a swivel to mute function or removable mics that are more difficult to store when the headset isn’t in use, but the Nova 7X’s retractable mic is both aesthetically pleasing and easier to manage.

You can listen to wireless 2.4GHz audio and Bluetooth at the same time

A person wearing SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X wireless gaming headset.
The Arctis Nova 7X can connect to a console and mobile device for simultaneous wireless audio.

Like several of the latest gaming headsets, the Arctis Nova 7X offers simultaneous listening with wireless 2.4GHz audio and Bluetooth. We recommend using the 2.4GHz connection for gaming consoles to maintain the strongest connection and reduce potential for lag. The headset’s Bluetooth connection is best used for mobile devices if you just want to listen to music.

The Nova 7X’s wireless 2.4GHz connection relies on a USB-C dongle that you can plug into one of the USB ports of whatever system you’re using. It has two modes: one for an Xbox connection, and another for standard USB audio devices including PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. Swapping the wireless mode is as simple as flipping a switch on the dongle. The 2.4GHz wireless range is about 30 to 40 feet, which is plenty for a home entertainment setup.

Bluetooth devices can connect directly to the Nova 7X using the Bluetooth pairing button on the headset, but there is a bit of sound delay compared to using 2.4GHz.  However, the Nova 7X’s Bluetooth range extends far beyond the 40-foot range of the 2.4GHz transmitter. Though we weren’t able to measure exactly how far, the Bluetooth range is at least several hundred feet.

The Nova 7X lasts 35 to 40 hours on a single charge, and 15 minutes of charging can yield six hours of play time. The battery life is comparable to other headsets in the same price range.

Though the USB-C dongle functions just fine, it blocks the front-facing USB-A port of the PlayStation 5 while plugged in, which feels like a bit of an oversight. While the PS5 does have backwards facing USB-A ports, they can be a hassle to reach depending on your setup. Xbox consoles don’t have a USB-C port at all so you’ll need to use the included USB-C to USB-A adapter to connect the dongle. The same goes for the Nintendo Switch dock. On the other hand, the USB-C dongle can be plugged directly into the Switch in portable mode.

Finally, if you do happen to want a wired connection, the Nova 7X has a 3.5mm port that can be connected to any device with a standard headphone jack, like the PlayStation and Xbox wireless controllers, and the Nintendo Switch.

The Arctis Nova 7X delivers impressive sound quality and works well with spatial audio

A screenshot showing performance of the SteelSeries GG EQ.
SteelSeries has PC software called Sonar that lets you manage your EQ and spatial audio settings.

When it comes to playback quality, the Arctis Nova 7X ranks alongside the best headsets we’ve tested. It’s fully capable of using spatial audio formats like PlayStation’s Tempest 3D audio, Microsoft’s Windows Sonic, and SteelSeries’s own Sonar spatial audio. Dolby Atmos spatial audio is also compatible, but requires a paid license to use on Windows and Xbox.

Like most gaming headsets, the Nova 7X has a bass-heavy sound profile, but deep tones rarely sound overwhelming or muddy. The headset also does a good job of isolating the direction of different in-game sounds, with or without spatial audio enabled.

SteelSeries offers a PC audio suite called Sonar that provides EQ and other adjustable sound settings. However, those settings don’t carry over when you use the headset with consoles. You’ll have to access the built-in EQs on Xbox or PlayStation to balance the audio on those systems.

Arctis Nova 7X’s microphone includes noise-cancellation to help eliminate background noise while you’re speaking, and it also features a built-in monitor so you can hear how you sound in voice chat. However, the headset doesn’t have active noise cancellation (ANC) for audio playback; that feature is reserved for the more expensive Arctis Nova Pro Wireless.

Should you buy the Arctis Nova 7X Headset?

A SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X headsets leaning on an Xbox Series X next to a smartphone.
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X is missing some high-end features, but it offers all the essentials for a reasonable price.

We consider the Arctis Nova 7X the best wireless gaming headset for console gamers, so if you play on Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch, it’s a great choice that features nearly everything you could want for a midrange price. 

However, there are a few bells and whistles missing that you could get on more expensive headsets. If you’re a content creator or have a complex home setup with multiple speakers, the $350 Arctis Nova Pro Wireless could be worth the upgrade from the Nova 7X thanks to its handy wireless base station. The Nova Pro also has active noise cancellation (ANC) to block out background noise when you’re playing games. 

Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget, you should consider the $60 wired Arctis Nova 1 which has a similar build to the Nova 7X but does not support a 2.4GHz or Bluetooth connection. You can plug it directly into Xbox and PlayStation wireless controllers, however, which makes its wired design less of an inconvenience. For more details about the pros and cons of wired headsets, check out our wired vs. wireless gaming headsets comparison. 

But for about $180, it’s hard to beat the overall value of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X. It delivers essential features, multi-platform wireless capabilities, and great sound quality, whether you’re gaming on an Xbox, PS5, Switch, or PC.

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