SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X Wireless Gaming Headset: It’s Still Got It

Completing the revamp of its popular Arctis line of gaming headsets, which began with the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, SteelSeries filled out the rest of the line with the $180 (£175, AU$200) Arctis Nova 7 Wireless, $100 (£100, AU$110) Nova 3 USB plus analog wired model and the $60 (£60, AU$70) analog wired Nova 1.

The headsets share the generational changes of the Nova Pro, including the fully retractable mic, updated high-fidelity drivers and Sonar software support (for the spatial audio, parametric equalizer, mic noise cancellation and more). The Nova 7 Wireless comes in three versions: The 7X for the Xbox, 7P for the PlayStation and 7 for PC. The Nova 1 is also available in three versions.


  • Big bump in battery life over previous generation
  • Dongle works with almost all USB devices, including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation as well as Xbox and PC
  • Excellent mic sound and noise cancellation with Sonar software
  • Simultaneous Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless

Don’t Like

  • More difficult to get a good fit than I’d like
  • Many of the software-based features only work on the PC
  • Requires the bundled adapter to connect USB-C dongle to USB-A ports on Xbox
  • Retracting the mic isn’t as easy as flipping one up

Though they’re intended for Xbox and Windows users, these headsets are compatible with the PS5 (including Tempest 3D support). The 7P and 7 models aren’t likewise compatible with the Xbox Series X and S, but you can connect to the Xbox through the analog jack on your controller. There are few audio controls on the Xbox — it doesn’t even report the name of the headset or the battery level — but that’s not really SteelSeries’ fault. And if you don’t need the wireless, you can save $80 on the Arctis Nova 3, which is similar — plus it has lighting.

My favorite of the previous generation was the Arctis 7, with its combination of comfort, features and quality. SteelSeries has fiddled with the comfort: The fabric plus memory foam ear cushions still feel great, but now it’s too loose on me, even with the headband elastic at its smallest and the earcups unextended. That’s falling-off-if-I-lean-my-head-forward loose. The Arctis Nova 1 turned out to be the best fit this Goldilocks go-round. 

On the upside, that means it was quite comfy with my glasses on. The headset has lost quite a bit of weight, as well — about 28 grams — putting it at a moderate 325 grams. That’s always a good thing for a headset. Another great change is the battery life, which jumps from 24 to 38 hours, plus it gets 6 hours on a 15-minute charge.

The on-earcup controls include separate 2.4GHz and Bluetooth power/pairing buttons and a game/chat balance dial.

Lori Grunin/CNET

One nitpick is with the dongle. It’s the same wide USB-C dongle that SteelSeries uses for other headsets, but given that this model is specifically for the Xbox, and part of the Designed for Xbox program, it’s a bit annoying that you need to use an adapter (it comes with an adapter and extension cable) to plug it into the USB-A port. More pieces equals more things to lose.

I tested these right after the Arena 9 speakers, so while the headset sounded a little thin overall, that’s probably because it lacked a speaker subwoofer or DAC like the pricey flagship Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. And as with most surround headsets, you can expand the sound by enabling spatial audio or tweaking it with Sonar’s equalizer (which I discussed in depth in the Nova Pro review
). In general, the headset’s spatial rendering is quite good, as is its frequency separation; I could clearly hear different vocals in tight harmonies and if I pumped the bass a little could make out specific low-frequency instruments

Cranking the volume all the way up, with some extra gain thrown in and the volume limiter turned off, didn’t produce any noticeable distortion. It did give me a headache, though, so not really recommended. The signal didn’t have a huge range, but managed a reasonable 30-ish feet (with obstructions) before it started popping a little. And the simultaneous Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless worked pretty seamlessly.

Despite some nitpicks, the Arctis Nova 7 series maintains the excellent reputation earned by its predecessors.

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