Finding the right headset for your gaming sessions can be a truly daunting task. A myriad of price ranges, features, and other factors can heavily weigh the decision on what headset you should pick. Not to mention, there are offerings from a whole slew of companies that all clock in as fairly competitive against their peers.
Steelseries is a gaming peripheral manufacturer with a long and storied history in the industry itself. Whether it’s mice, keyboards, or even headsets they have a whole range of quality accessories to make game time an absolute blast.
The SteelSeries Arctis 5 is one such product, a mid-range gaming headset that is big on features and low on cost. Let’s take a look at the specs, features, and everything else that makes this headset tick.
SteelSeries Arctis 5: Best Deals Today
- SteelSeries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset (Amazon) – $72.99
- SteelSeries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset (NewEgg) – $71.66
SteelSeries Arctis 5: Overview
The Arctis 5 was originally launched in 2017 and retailed for $99.99. Its initial release was lauded by critics and gamers for providing one of the best headsets on the market for under $100 at retail. There have since been numerous iterations that build on the foundation that SteelSeries has set with the headset.
The Arctis 5 is part of a whole slew of products from SteelSeries. Contemporary Arctis headsets come in at a variety of price points, with the Arctis 1 fitting their low-end niche and the Arctis Nova Pro as a prosumer audiophile headset with an external DAC to get the best possible sound quality available. The Arctis 5 and newer Arctis 3 fit smack in the middle of these pricing options.
|Microphone Type||Retractable, noise canceling|
|Connectivity||3.5mm stereo audio, USB Type-A|
|Frequency Response||20Hz to 20kHz|
|Cable Length||10 feet|
SteelSeries Arctis 5 Review
The Arctis 5 occupies a space that is honestly red-hot in terms of competition. So, what does it do to differentiate itself from the pack?
The Dolby Theatrical Sound puts it above its peers in some regards, and the implementation of this feature makes for a wonderful listening experience with films and TV shows. It does stumble a bit in regards to using DTS with gaming, but depending on the game that’s easily alleviated.
It is an exercise in minimalism, the lighting is understated on the accents. The ear cups themselves aren’t bulky, and the built-in microphone retracts into the headset while not distracting from the looks themselves.
This sleek minimalism is extended further to the actual fit and finish of the headset on your head. Adjustable tension is available for the upper headband, all while maintaining the same sleek and elegant stylings throughout.
- Arctic 5 combines cutting edge audio technology with independent game and chat controls and RGB illumination for an immersive gaming experience.Specific uses for product : Gaming
- Arctic speaker drivers produce ultra-low distortion, paired with DTS headphone’s v2.0 surround sound for rich, immersive audio
- Widely recognized as the best mic in gaming, arctic clear cast bidirectional microphone delivers studio quality voice clarity and background noise cancelation
- The inline USB chat mix dial balances game audio and chat volume on the fly
- Padded air weave ear cushions and adjustable, steel reinforced headband provide long-lasting comfort and durability
It is a testament to the strength of the design itself, but the only real downfall is the implementation of the cabling. A removable or replaceable cable would help maintain the sleekness of the design. The cabling is ten feet in length, and to fully take advantage of the microphone on your PC, you’ll need to use the included USB adapter.
The most puzzling element of the Arctis 5 is the inclusion of RGB lighting. For keyboards, mice, and towers this is certainly an engaging feature. On a gaming headset, however, it seems to have little utility.
There is certainly some spectacle involved and prospective customers can set the lights to whatever settings they want. Most users aren’t going to be keeping an eye on their headsets while gaming in order to enjoy the visual spectacle.
The sound quality of the Arctis 5 is its real strong suit, but with certain drawbacks, you might not expect it. Surround sound capability is advertised and performs quite admirably given certain media. Films and music both benefit from the rich response in the low end and open airiness of the treble.
When gaming, you might find it to be somewhat lacking. The headset doesn’t reach down to the extreme lows for that simulated LFE response you might expect for a surround headset, but the bass is deep and punchy.
SteelSeries thankfully provides some software to load sound profiles onto the headset when in use on your PC. These come with a plethora of options, but their use could do with a little work. The deep bass and rich treble response in films come across quite well when using the surround sound options. When playing games, it becomes a more noticeable issue.
The richness of the sound certainly benefits games, but it isn’t quite a one-to-one experience like you’d get in an equivalent 7.1 surround sound system. Even other headphones with positional audio don’t seem to lose a bit of the liveliness of the sound when simulating surround sound.
While microphone sound quality is adequate, no one is ever going to laud gaming headsets for their broadcast-grade recording capabilities. If you’re looking to communicate with teammates or take part in Zoom calls, it is a clear and audible microphone. It retracts quite easily and SteelSeries had the foresight to implement noise-cancellation on the microphone’s input.
Drawbacks aside, the Arctis 5 is a well-designed and great-sounding headset. And, given the price range, you can forgive some of the more glaring issues present with the device.
Ports and Connectivity
There are really only two options for connecting the Arctis 5 to your home console or PC. Most console players will benefit greatly from the 3.5mm audio output jack, as it is a simple installation in the controller.
PC users can use it as a standard pair of headphones on the same 3.5mm audio jack but might want to take advantage of the USB adapter, which enables the usage of the microphone and more fully takes advantage of the simulated surround sound.
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- Adjustable for Perfect Fit — The ComfortMAX System includes height-adjusting, rotating earcups with AirWeave Memory Foam cushions and a stretchy band. The lightweight form of the headset keeps you...
- AI-Powered Noise-Cancelling Mic — The ClearCast Gen 2 mic silences background noise to give you crystal clear comms, backed by Sonar Software's powerful AI algorithms. Fully retract the mic into the...
- Dynamic RGB Lighting — Dazzle with customizable, dynamic 16.8 million color options that react to in-game events and sync with other devices. Show off your signature style on PC and console.
This can be a rather irksome arrangement, especially for PC users. For laptop users especially, USB ports are at an absolute premium, and having a device fully occupy one to function and provide sound functionality isn’t a favorable trade.
As mentioned with the sound quality, there are certain trade-offs made when considering a gaming headset. The ease of use of the core package — drawbacks aside, mind you — makes it worth taking a closer look at it.
SteelSeries Arctis 5: Pros and Cons
- Elegantly designed
- Great sound quality
- Comfortable ear cups and headband
- Compatible with all major consoles and PCs
- Cumbersome cabling
- So-so surround sound quality with games
- Requires use of USB port for surround capability
- RGB lights aren’t really visible when in use
SteelSeries Arctis 5: Is It a Buy?
Gaming headsets have made massive leaps in terms of quality. Stellar sound quality and a bevy of attractive features mark headsets from the very lowest tier all the way up to the high-end range. That said, should you consider the SteelSeries Arctis 5? Is it offering something over other headsets?
Buy it if…
If you’re in the market for a sub-$100 headset that punches well above its weight, look no further. The Arctis 5 offers up stunning sound quality for its given price range. Its elegant design is a great contrast to some of its other glitzier counterparts on the market.
SteelSeries has gone out of its way to make an affordable and easy-to-use package. The implementation of the surround sound capabilities makes it a great headset for sitting back and enjoying films and music. In-game positional audio also benefits from this and players might find themselves gaining sudden advantages in terms of spatial awareness.
The long cable makes sure there’s ample room to give you some flexibility in where you’re using the headset. For the price, it is one of the finest examples of a gaming headset on the market. You might consider looking elsewhere for lower or higher-priced counterparts, but SteelSeries has absolutely knocked it out of the park with the Arctis 5.
Don’t Buy it if…
If you’re looking for a one-to-one translation of surround sound, you might be left feeling disappointed. The implementation of the virtual surround sound is well done, but can be lacking with certain elements and games. Cabling considerations come into play if you have a limited number of USB ports to utilize, and the sheer length of the cable might bring the risk of damaging it.
There aren’t many drawbacks to the Arctis 5, but the ones it does have can be a bit of a dealbreaker. Beyond the cabling considerations, the use of RGB is unnecessary. For certain peripherals, it adds some visual interest, but it would be wonderful to see SteelSeries remove it for future iterations of the Arctis headsets.
These aren’t audiophile-grade headphones, nor should you expect them to be. They’re very much intended for the enjoyment of media, rather than any deep analysis of sound. The microphone is likewise perfunctory, and functions perfectly well. If you’re looking to do broadcasting or professional recording, it certainly isn’t in that niche.
It is a fantastic headset, but keep in mind its limitations.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Thanes.Op/Shutterstock.com.