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Hardware Review

SteelSeries Arctis 7X Review

Gaming never sounded and felt so good

As the PS4 and Xbox One generation was coming to a close, my trusty Astro A50 headset that I had been using since the PS3 days was on its way out – the battery no longer living the life it once had. A new console generation represented a great chance for me to replace the headset, and with the A50s serving me so well it seemed natural to upgrade to the latest version. But after consulting with WellPlayed’s Assistant Editor Kieron Verbrugge and some other mates on what headset I should go with I was encouraged to check out SteelSeries’ headset range, specifically the Arctis 7.

SteelSeries is a company that is synonymous with not just gaming peripherals such as headsets, mice and keyboards, but also with quality, and the SteelSeries Arctis 7 series sits in the upper echelon of the company’s smorgasbord of audio offerings. In October 2020, the Danish company announced Xbox and PlayStation variants of the Arctis 7 – the Arctis 7X and 7P. Despite being released in 2020, the Arctis 7X and 7P are not yet available in Australia, but thanks to the fine folk at SteelSeries ANZ, I’ve been able to go ears-on with the Arctis 7X for the past few months to see whether they’re all they’re cracked up to be.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7X

There’s actually a bigger difference between the 7X and 7P than I was expecting. The 7X comes in black and has green streaks across the headband, while the 7P utilises blue streaks across the headband and also comes in white (no blue streaks but does have blue colouring). However, the major technical difference is in the units’ compatibility, with the 7X compatible with the PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Android devices, whereas the 7P lacks compatibility with Xbox consoles. It means that the 7X is a far more versatile unit and makes it a more attractive purchase if you game on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms.

Inside the box you’ll find a micro-USB charging cable (1.5m), a 4-pole 3.5mm audio cable (1.2m), a USB-C female to USB-A male adaptor (1.2m), and the USB-C wireless dongle. Using a USB-C dongle over a USB-A dongle means that it has a greater range of compatibility as it just plugs directly into devices that utilise USB-C connections such as Android phones and tablets or the Nintendo Switch.

The dongle is relatively compact (laptop users may find it covers other ports though) and features a switch with Xbox and USB options, with the latter used for platforms outside of the Xbox ecosystem. But what if you don’t have a USB-C port? That’s where the USB-C to USB-A adaptor comes in, just plug the dongle into the adaptor and utilise the USB-A ports of your device. The other boon is that the dongle delivers lossless and lag-free audio up to 12 metres from the input device.

Connecting the headset to your PC and downloading the SteelSeries Engine application will see you able to tinker around with the unit’s settings, such as default EQ and mic settings. You can even set the unit to have different EQs when specific programs are running. For example, when Chrome is running I have the unit utilising a music EQ for Spotify, or when using Winamp I use its own EQ settings (which really whip the llama’s arse), so I have it set to flat (no EQ). One slight oversight is that you can’t set a configuration to override others, meaning that when you’re flicking between Chrome and Winamp you’ll hear the headset change configurations which can be distracting.

The USB-C wireless dongle means the Arctis 7X is a versatile unit

When it comes to the headset’s primary purpose of delivering audio into your earholes, the Arctis 7X is an aural delight

The design of the Arctis 7X is impressive and intuitive, with the ear cups utilising a nice matte black finish. On the left ear cup you’ll find the headset’s microphone and the mic on/off mute button, the main volume control wheel, micro-USB charging port (why is this still a thing in products made in 2020?), a 3.5mm audio port, and an 8-pin port, while the right side houses the power button and the ChatMix wheel that balances the game and chat volume. Separating the two volume wheels means that you won’t accidentally adjust the wrong one if they were to be on top of one another. Build-wise the frame of the headset is supported by an aluminium band that has great flexibility, never feeling like it’s going to snap, and the sturdy plastic hinges give it a premium feel.

From a comfort perspective, the Arctis 7X may be the comfiest headset I’ve ever worn. The cups utilise the company’s Airweave ear cushions which feel great when wearing for long periods. Instead of utilising sliders on either side to adjust the headset, the Arctis 7X (like the Arctis 7 before it) has what they call a ‘ski goggle headband’ design that is easily adjusted by simply tweaking the velcro strap on the elastic band to find the right fit.

When it comes to the headset’s primary purpose of delivering audio into your earholes, the Arctis 7X is an aural delight – using 40mm neodymium drivers to treat the user to high-quality audio. Whether it’s the pumping synth-laden soundtracks of Cyberpunk 2077 and Ghostrunner, the explosive gunplay of Doom Eternal, or the immersive soundscapes of Resident Evil 2 or The Last of Us Part II, everything sounds punchy, crystal clear and razor-sharp.

As a lover of music, I had to see how well the Arctis 7X handled the riffage of Breaking Benjamin, the grooves and cowbell of Don Broco and the catchy pop tunes of Nightly. As expected it did a decent job even though it sounded a little muddy at times, especially in the low end. Toying around with the EQ settings did improve things, however audiophiles will prefer something more tailored for music playback.

SteelSeries has nailed comfortability with their Airweave cushions and ski goggle headband

Almost as impressive as the headset’s audio quality is the battery life, which boasts up to 24 hours of use from a single charge, an improvement on its predecessor. While it would be easy to mark this claim as a bit of puffery, I can vouch for the longevity of the battery, it took me nearly three weeks of use before I needed to charge the unit for the first time. The only bummer here is the lack of USB-C charging.

The headset is packed with a Discord-certified bidirectional noise cancelling ClearCast microphone, which instead of utilising a pull down/pull up system to turn it on or off like most headsets, is built into the left ear cup and is retractable. It’s probably not as easy to tuck away on the fly like the other aforementioned mic type but it hides away easy enough. The mic’s quality is solid and is fine for gaming sessions, however those that make content will find it won’t replace a standalone mic.

If there’s one more minor detractor it’s the glowing red light on the mic that lets you know whether the mic is on or off. If the mic is on, there will be no light, but if the mic is off – yep, you got it, the light will be on. Why is this a problem? Generally, if you’re gaming by yourself or with mates online it’s not going to be, but if you’re a streamer or are like me and do a weekly podcast on camera where you use a separate mic, a glowing red light tends to stand out. Frustratingly, there’s no option in the SteelSeries Engine application to change this.

The noise cancelling mic is solid, but the red light when the mic is off a bit of a bummer

Final Thoughts

The two most important elements for a gaming headset to get right is audio quality and comfort. I mean there’s no point having the world’s best-sounding headset if it is uncomfortable or even painful or to wear, and vice-versa. Thankfully, the SteelSeries Arctis 7X excels in both these facets – it’s hands-down the best gaming headset I’ve used to date. It won’t come cheap though, with it likely to cost around $349, but it’s an investment that is worth it.

Review unit supplied by the manufacturer 

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SteelSeries Arctis 7X Review
Everything I Arctis For
The SteelSeries Arctis 7X delivers outstanding audio quality, comfort, battery life and compatibility, making it an excellent choice and worthy investment for anyone who games.
The Good
Excellent audio quality
Super comfortable and easy to adjust
Juicy 24-hour battery life
Compatible with pretty much everything
The Bad
No USB-C charging
No way to disable red light when mic is off

SteelSeries Arctis 7X Review
Everything I Arctis For
The SteelSeries Arctis 7X delivers outstanding audio quality, comfort, battery life and compatibility, making it an excellent choice and worthy investment for anyone who games.
The Good
Excellent audio quality
Super comfortable and easy to adjust
Juicy 24-hour battery life
Compatible with pretty much everything
The Bad
No USB-C charging
No way to disable red light when mic is off
Written By

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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