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SteelSeries Arctis 5: Is It Any Good?

SteelSeries Arctis 5: A Top-Notch Mid-Range Gaming Headset

Hey there gaming aficionado! If you‘ve been on the hunt for a high-quality gaming headset that won‘t break the bank, allow me to introduce you to the seriously impressive SteelSeries Arctis 5. As a passionate tech and gaming expert, I‘ve tested out more headsets than I can count. And let me tell you, the Arctis 5 is an absolute standout in the sub-$100 price range.

In this in-depth review, I‘ll give you the full scoop on what makes the Arctis 5 so special – from its sleek design to its immersive surround sound. By the time you‘re done reading, you‘ll know exactly why this headset deserves a place in your gaming setup. Let‘s dive in!

Arctis 5 Overview & Specs

First off, let‘s cover the basics. The SteelSeries Arctis 5 is a wired gaming headset compatible with PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices. It launched back in 2017 for an MSRP of $99.99.

Here are the key technical specs:

  • 40mm neodymium drivers
  • 32 ohm impedance
  • 20-22000 Hz frequency response
  • Retractable bidirectional noise-cancelling mic
  • USB ChatMix dial
  • 16.8 million color RGB illumination
  • 3.5mm and USB connectivity
  • Weighs 280g

While the core design has remained the same, SteelSeries has released the Arctis 5 in different color variations over the years, like black, white, and a slick-looking Dota 2 edition.

Compared to the rest of SteelSeries‘ lineup, the Arctis 5 sits firmly in the mid-range. It offers an appreciable step up in audio quality and features from budget models like the Arctis 1, while still coming in at a much lower price point than premium offerings like the Arctis Pro.

Sleek Scandinavian Design

One of the first things you‘ll notice about the Arctis 5 is its gorgeously minimalist design. Unlike many gaming headsets that go overboard with aggressive angles and garish colors, the Arctis 5 keeps things simple and classy.

The smooth oval earcups are made of a matte black plastic, with tasteful RGB light rings around the edges. The flexible ski goggle-style suspension headband is remarkably comfortable, evenly distributing the headset‘s light 280g weight.

I‘m a big fan of how the retractable microphone seamlessly tucks into the left earcup when not in use. It maintains a clean side profile – no awkward mic boom sticking out.

While the permanently attached 3m cable isn‘t ideal (I would have loved to see it be detachable), it‘s a minor quibble. The braided cable is plenty long and has a premium feel to it.

Overall, the Arctis 5 absolutely nails it in the style department. It‘s a headset you can confidently wear for hours, both for gaming marathons and work video calls, without looking like an extra from a sci-fi flick.

Immersive DTS Headphone:X v2.0 Surround Sound

Of course, a gaming headset lives and dies by its sound quality. And I‘m happy to report the Arctis 5 is no slouch in this department.

The star of the show is the DTS Headphone:X v2.0 surround sound. This technology takes stereo audio signals and virtually positions them in a 3D space around your head, simulating a multi-speaker surround setup.

Watching films with the Arctis 5 is an absolute treat. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while ambient environmental effects are realistically placed. When gaming, the positional cues are incredibly helpful for pinpointing enemies in shooters or fully soaking in the atmosphere of story-driven games.

To my ears, the 40mm drivers have a relatively neutral sound profile, with a touch of extra low-end oomph. The bass is punchy and impactful without overpowering the mids or highs. Explosions, gunshots, and rumbling engines all have a satisfying weight to them.

The soundstage is expansive, with instruments and effects given plenty of room to breathe. While it‘s not quite on the level of open-back headphones, it‘s impressive for a closed-back gaming headset.

If I had to nitpick, I‘d say the virtual surround effect can sound a tad artificial in certain games compared to true multi-channel setups. And audiophiles may crave a bit more treble sparkle and microdetail.

But make no mistake, the Arctis 5 sounds incredible for a sub-$100 headset. It punches well above its price point.

Crystal Clear Microphone

Another big checkmark in the Arctis 5‘s favor is its excellent microphone. The bidirectional noise-cancelling mic does a fantastic job of clearly capturing your voice while minimizing background noise.

In my tests, the mic sounded natural and full-bodied, without any annoying compression or tinny harshness. Even in loud environments, my voice came through loud and clear to my teammates. No complaints about sounding muffled or far away.

The mic‘s subtle red LED light is a nice touch, letting you know at a glance when you‘re muted. And as I mentioned earlier, I love how cleanly it retracts back into the earcup when not needed.

While it‘s not a replacement for a standalone USB or XLR mic for streaming or podcasting, the Arctis 5‘s mic is more than serviceable for gaming. It‘s easily one of the best headset mics I‘ve tested.

Robust SteelSeries Engine 3 Software

To get the most out of the Arctis 5, you‘ll want to install the free SteelSeries Engine 3 software on your PC. It‘s a powerful suite of tools to customize your headset and dial in your preferred sound.

The first tab lets you tweak the RGB lighting on the earcups, with a wide range of colors and effects to choose from. While it‘s a neat feature, I do wish the lights were a bit brighter and more visible from the front. As is, you can‘t really see them while wearing the headset.

The second tab is where the real magic happens. Here you can enable DTS surround sound, set dynamic range compression, and choose from a variety of EQ presets for different game and media types. You can also create your own custom EQ curves.

Other handy settings include mic volume, sidetone, and an on-screen overlay for adjusting ChatMix. This lets you find just the right balance between game and chat audio on the fly.

While not as robust as some other gaming software suites, SteelSeries Engine 3 covers all the essential bases. It‘s intuitive and easy to use, with audio enhancements that make a noticeable difference.

How Does It Stack Up?

The sub-$100 gaming headset market is fiercely competitive these days, with compelling options from brands like Razer, HyperX, Logitech, and Corsair. So how does the Arctis 5 compare to its rivals?

Honestly, I think it more than holds its own. The build quality and comfort are top-notch, on par with more expensive headsets. The audio quality is a clear cut above most budget offerings, thanks to its high-quality drivers and DTS surround sound. And the noise-cancelling mic is one of the best in its class.

The main area where competitors have a leg up is in wireless connectivity. The Arctis 5 is a wired-only headset. If you‘re after a cable-free gaming experience, you‘ll need to look elsewhere (or step up to the pricier Arctis 7 or Pro Wireless).

Some headsets like the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition or HyperX Cloud Alpha S also offer more robust bass adjustment and audio control options. But the Arctis 5‘s sound profile is so well-balanced out of the box, I rarely found myself wishing for more tweaking.

At the end of the day, I think the Arctis 5‘s combination of premium design, impressive sound, clear mic, and unbeatable comfort make it one of the very best gaming headsets you can buy for under $100.

The Verdict

Still with me? If you skipped ahead to the conclusion, I don‘t blame you. Here‘s the TLDR: the SteelSeries Arctis 5 is an outstanding mid-range gaming headset that I wholeheartedly recommend.

It looks fantastic, with a sleek understated design you‘ll be happy to wear all day. The sound quality is a major step up from budget headsets, with detailed, immersive audio and surprisingly good virtual surround. The noise-cancelling mic is clear and natural-sounding. And it‘s all wrapped up in one of the most comfortable headset designs I‘ve ever tested.

While there are a few small caveats, like the permanently attached cable and slight limits to surround sound performance, they do little to detract from the overall experience. The complete package SteelSeries offers with the Arctis 5 is seriously impressive.

Whether you‘re a competitive esports player, an immersive sim junkie, or just someone who wants a reliable, great-sounding headset without spending a fortune, the Arctis 5 fits the bill perfectly. It‘s versatile enough to be your everyday headphones and even stand in as a work-from-home headset.

Still on the fence? SteelSeries offers the Arctis 5 with a 2-year limited warranty. And I‘ve always found their customer support to be top-notch if any issues arise.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up an Arctis 5, and treat your ears to an awesome upgrade over whatever cheap pack-in headset you‘ve been making do with. I confidently predict it‘ll be the best sub-$100 you‘ll spend on your gaming setup this year.

Thanks so much for reading! If you found this review helpful, I‘d really appreciate you sharing it with your gaming buddies. And I‘m always happy to answer any other questions you might have about the Arctis 5 or other SteelSeries gear.

Until next time, happy gaming!