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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3: Hands-on first look

The new Arctis Nova 3 headset from SteelSeries is chock full of premium features like a noise-canceling mic and RGB lighting while still being relatively affordable.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
A SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 headset, MSI mouse, and Corsair keyboard on a desk.
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

SteelSeries has released their new line of Arctis Nova headsets, and the Arctis Nova 3 is an excellent option for PC, mobile, and console gamers. Between its premium features, lightweight design, and all-day comfort, the headset is well worth the higher price tag. And with USB-C, USB Type A, and 3.5mm AUX connectivity, you can quickly and easily switch between platforms when you want to play games, listen to music, or chat with friends.

Whether you prefer mobile platforms, consoles, or PC gaming, having a good headset can create a more immersive experience. The Arctis Nova 3 is designed to provide excellent audio, crystal-clear chat, and all-day comfort. 

The headset weighs in at 253g, which is about 9 oz, making it lightweight enough to wear all day for marathon gaming sessions, streaming movies, or even for remote work. The ear cups feature memory foam cushioning and woven cloth covers for better breathability, which is great for anyone who gets clammy ears after a few hours of wearing headphones. 

The headband uses SteelSeries' Comfortmax system, which is a suspended elastic strap that can be adjusted to give the perfect amount of cushion and a great fit. The ear cups also rotate outward to lie flat, which makes wearing the headset around your neck much more comfortable, and storage much easier. 

Close-up of a SteelSeries Arctis Nova 3 hanging from a HyperX QuadCast S microphone.
Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The Arctis Nova 3 works with the SteelSeries GG desktop app to provide you with the ability to create custom equalizer settings and spatial audio for personalized sound output and to pinpoint audio cues in games for an extra edge. The app also allows you to customize the RGB light effects on the ear cups. You can choose between three different effects, three color presets, or 16.8 million individual colors to show off your personal style, eSports team loyalty, or coordinate with your other RGB-enabled peripherals and PC components. Your RGB settings also carry over to console gaming, so you don't have to worry about wasted features or generic colors and lighting when you switch platforms.

The attached microphone features an ultra-flexible arm mount that makes finding the perfect position for clear in-game or Discord chat much faster and easier. It also completely retracts within the ear cup for a sleek look if you don't want to use the mic or use an external microphone for chat. The mic uses artificial intelligence and noise-canceling algorithms to eliminate background noise, so your teammates and friends never miss a word you say. This gives the microphone an almost studio-level quality of audio output, even when fully retracted into the ear cup or positioned relatively far away from your face. 

It even has an LED indicator to let you know when you're muted and automatic mic monitoring to catch and address issues like echo before they can cause problems in games. The biggest downside of the microphone is that it doesn't automatically mute when retracted into the ear cup; you have to press the mic mute button physically. And while this is a minor complaint, it could be a major inconvenience to anyone who is used to an automatic mute and needs to have quick conversations outside of Discord voice chats and games.

The Arctis Nova 3 retails for $99.99 (AU$109.99, €109.99), which puts it on the pricier end of gaming accessories. But the audio quality itself is well worth the higher price tag, so if you're looking for a dependable and comfortable gaming headset, I would recommend spending the extra money, even if you won't use all of the extra features (like the RGB lighting).

This headset is the same price as the Razer Kraken V3, while providing many more features and a lighter weight design. So if you've been on the fence about which gaming headset to buy, whether it's your first or an upgrade, I would highly recommend the Arctis Nova 3 for its comfort, connectivity options, and sound quality.

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