Hands-on review: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 gaming headset
With the Arctis Nova 3 headset, SteelSeries has produced a gaming audio solution that works across PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Switch, and mobile platforms. It offers a simple plug-and-play wired connection without the need to pair devices, charge batteries, or risk lost connections.
The box contains the headset, a 1.25m USB Type-C cable, a 2.5m USB Type-C to Type-A cable, and a 1.25m cable with a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s also the quick start guide and a sheet of stickers.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 is more than just a wired headset. Plugging the headset into a PC, using one of the included USB cables, creates a new audio device on your system. Using the free SteelSeries GG software, which can be found on the company’s website, PC owners have access to a 6-band equaliser with preset configurations and sidetone adjustments.
The GG software can also be used to update firmware and customise the headset’s RGB rings on the side of each earcup. The illumination can be coordinated across all connected RGB-enabled SteelSeries products. Whilst it’s not something that you are going to see when playing, the RGB lighting adds a little flair to your setup.
The headset has the volume control and microphone mute on the left earcup. The right side has a switch for the RGB lighting, which came in handy to stop the lighting from reflecting on my monitor during my late-night gaming sessions.
Rather than any adjustment for head size by extending the headband, or a cushion for comfort, the headset uses an adjustable elastic strap. I found it a bit off-putting at first as it doesn’t look particularly nice, but does the job. It offers a bit of head size adjustment and is also very comfy.
The earcups twist 90 degrees on the horizontal and have a little bit of play vertically. This makes them easy to put on and a good fit for my average-sized head. I found the headset to be just tight enough over my ears to shut out background noise whilst still feeling comfortable.
The plastic construction feels solid and tough enough to take a knock. The outer parts of the earcups and under the headband have a rubberised finish. The inside of the earcups are of a soft foam with cloth covers and a pleather inner panel. The driver covers are clearly marked “L” and “R”.
The headset shares many of the design features of its bigger brother, the Arctis Nova Pro. It too has the very cool adjustable boom microphone that can be completely stowed away within the left earcup.
The inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack connection means that the headset will work with most devices. Whilst not specifically mentioned on the packaging, the headset will also work with an Xbox One/Series X|S as well as PlayStation, Switch, and mobile devices.
I tested the headset on PC, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and my Huawei Android phone. For PC, I plugged in the headset and tested it with both the USB Type-A and Type-C cables. For the Xbox Series X, I used the 3.5mm jack inserted in a controller. For the PlayStation 5, the headset works with both USB directly into the console and the 3.5mm jack plugged into the DualSense controller. The Switch was connected via the USB Type-C, as was my phone.
Using the 2.5m USB Type-C to Type-A cable gives you almost 4m of cable length. This should be more than enough for most to connect the headset directly into your console whilst playing in the lounge. Plugging the 3.5mm jack cable straight into your Xbox or PlayStation controller is also an option if you don’t want wires trailing across the floor.
The Arctis Nova 3 is a noise-cancelling headset perfect for getting the best out of your games. Playing The Last of Us Part 1 on the PS5 whilst wearing the Arctis Nova 3 allowed me to really appreciate the ambient sounds of the game’s remastered audio. Over on the Xbox Series X, the roar of the crowd in Madden NFL 23 created a great atmosphere, but without drowning out the sounds of the players thumping into each other on the field.
Using the headset with EA’s Battlefield 2043 on PC I was able to discern the enemies’ direction of fire as well as the sound of footsteps when playing the close-quarters maps. As well as games the headset is perfect for shutting out the world and listening to your favourite songs, podcasts, and audiobooks on your phone.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 is a one-size-fits-all headset solution that’ll work across all your devices. I found it particularly good as a no-nonsense but fully-featured audio device when plugged into a PC. But its versatility across all the popular consoles is also a massive bonus. The long cable made it easy to relax in front of a console at a good distance. It’s a robust smart-looking headset with the RGB setting it off nicely. If you are looking for an easy-to-use all-around gaming headset the Arctis Nova 3 comes highly recommended.