Steelseries had the awesome Arctis Nova Pro a few months ago and it’s still the current headset that I go to when gaming. But not everyone can afford the Pro version and that’s why Steelseries has gone and made the Arctis Nova 7 line, which excludes some of the features of the Pro version yet retain some of the design of the Nova Pro headset, with some improvements and at a more affordable price.
I was sent the Steelseries Arctis Nova 7X, which is a headset that’s usable on the PC, mobile devices, PlayStation 4|5, and the Xbox One - as well as the Xbox Series X|S. The ability to use this headset on pretty much every device makes it one of the more versatile headsets out there, and if you own multiple consoles and devices, this could be one headset to listen to them all.
The design of the Arctis Nova 7X is very, very similar to the Arctis Nova Pro. In fact, they look so similar that if you switch the headband and the side plates, you could mistake the 7X for the Pro. It has the same metal frame with a cloth headband that sits on top, making it comfortable to wear. The 7X’s headband is green to match the Xbox preference for this headset.
Each L-shaped arm that connects the ear cups is retractable on my pair, and is harder to slide in and out when compared to my Arctis Nova Pro. That’s not that big of a deal as I usually don’t adjust the cups once I have them in place, but you’ll know they’ll stay in place because of how much friction there is to keep them there. You’ll get about an extra 1½ inch extension on both sides, allowing for bigger heads to fit more comfortably. They are again made of hard plastic and the connection point to the ear cup bends out a little too easily for my taste, but there’s only a small flex when pushing the ear cup against the arm. I could see it snapping if say the ear cup gets caught on something and you pull on the headband, but we’ll see how they hold up over time. Clamping force isn’t too strong and should be good for most people.
The ear covers on the Arctis Nova 7X are cloth, which is different from the leatherette covering of the Arctis Nova Pro. I do know some people like the cloth style better and they do sit pretty comfortably on the side of my head. They are more breathable and definitely won’t sweat as much compared to the Arctis Nova Pro’s ear cups. You can take them off and change them out. I did find using a twisting motion on the covering made it easier to slide back on, but I still prefer some of the other headset that use a keyed insertion option or magnets.
Since these are over the ear headphones, I found the ear cups to have more than enough space inside so my ears weren’t touching the drivers. Additionally, there wasn’t too much of a clamping force so the area around my ears weren’t fatigued when wearing them for long periods of time.
Control wise, on the left ear cup there’s the mic mute button and volume dial. On the right ear cup sits the Bluetooth button, power button, and chat mix dial. The dials rotate smoothly and stop after a certain point, unlike the Nova Pro’s continuous dial. Also, the Nova Pro’s dial has a slight ratcheted feel when turning and I don’t think it feels as good during rotation compared to the Nova 7X where it feels more solid. I also didn’t like the placement of the Bluetooth button on top with the power button underneath, as I feel I would use the power button more and I think having it be the top most button would have been more intuitive and less prone to being missed. I sometimes pressed the Bluetooth button when I really meant to press the power button.
Under the left ear cup is a 3.5mm jack if you want to connect to a source using a wire. On the right is one of the improvements over the Arctis Nova Pro, which actually is a bit better than the Nova Pro. The USB-C charging port is located on the button on the outside, not behind a plate like the Nova Pro. It's in a lot better position and since there’s no battery to switch out on the Nova 7X; it makes sense to have the USB-C connector easily accessible. I still wish this was where the Nova Pro’s USB-C connector was, but I’m glad to see it is here on the Nova 7X.
You also have the extendable boom mic on the Nova 7X that now sits flush in the ear cup when retracted like the Nova Pro. The previous Arctis 7 line had the retractable mic, but the end jutted out a little when pushed all the way in. Here, making it flush looks so much nicer when put away and adds to the clean aesthetics of the Arctis Nova 7X.
Speaking of aesthetics, the Arctis Nova 7X also has removable side plates that you can switch out for other ones that Steelseries sells. The ones on the Nova 7X are matte black with the Steelseries logo, but there are some very cool colorful ones up on their website to purchase to decorate your headset if you so desire.
Connection with the headset is done with either Bluetooth of the included USB-C dongle. Since I have the Arctis Nova 7X, the dongle is made to support both Xbox consoles and every other device. There’s a small switch on the bottom of the dongle that lets you go from the normal 2.4GHz wireless operation to the Microsoft wireless protocol should you connect the headset to an Xbox. The dongle is a lot wider than the ole Arctis ones and with the USB-C plug in the middle rather than to one side, it will probably take up nearby ports on your computer. Thankfully, Steelseries includes a female USB-C to USB-A extension cable so you can plug it into most devices and have the dongle located somewhere else for both better reception and to not take up space near other ports.
As with the Pro version, the Arctis Noba 7X allows for simultaneous connection with a Bluetooth source such as your phone. This is nice when you want to keep track of incoming calls while you are playing and you can use your Arcis Nova 7X on the go with your phone this way. As mentioned in my Pro review, I do like that you get audio from the phone along with your current source, and you can easily answer the phone should a call come in with the Arctis Nova 7X. Only the SBC codec is supported, which is a slight disappointment as the other headphones that also have Bluetooth capabilities have higher quality codec supports like aptX. But for basic music listening, this is fine. You won’t be able to use Bluetooth for gaming though since there will be a delay using SBC.
If you still want to plug the headset in, the Arctis Nova 7X comes with a 3.5mm line that connects to the bottom of the left ear cup. That way if you prefer being connected by wire, Steelseries has provided that option as well and you don’t have to power on the Arctis Nova 7X in order to use it this way.
Connection to the Xbox was super simple. I plugged the dongle into my Xbox Series X and the console automatically found it and directed the sound through the Arctis Nova 7X. The mic was also working as well so for pure simple setup, the Arctis Nova 7X was easily enabled on my Xbox, Steam Deck, and PC.
Putting the Arctis Nova 7X through its paces, I was highly surprised at how good they sounded. They don’t use the same drivers as the Arctis Nova Pro from what I’ve read, so even though the 40mm neodymium drivers are different, I found them to sound really great, both for gaming and music. In games, the bass was really punchy but not overpowering with good mids and lows to highlight footsteps and gunfire. Voices were also clear and even though the drivers may not be as high quality as the Arctis Nova Pro, I thought the Arctis Nova 7X was very close to the Pros in terms of performance and sound quality. The sound stage on the Nova Pros are wider, but the Arctis Nova 7X’s soundstage is comparable.
The mic is OK and - like the Arctis Nova Pro - you can use the Sonar software to improve it a lot. It’s suitable for game chat, but you wouldn’t use it recording podcasts and streams. The default sound of the mic sounds a little flat and with the Sonic software, you can add a lot more depth to your voice.
Sonar is a software suite that you can use to really push the Arctis Nova 7X to sound better. There’s many different presets and you have a good amount of granularity on adjustments to tune the sound to your liking. Unfortunately, you can’t take the settings and use them on the console, but for the PC you’ll get some good control on how the sound is.
Like the Nova Pro, I would've liked better audio cues for things like battery life, muting, or Bluetooth operations. Just hearing tones doesn't really tell me what's going on and it would've been more helpful to have a voice say things like how much battery life I have left or when my mic is muted.
38 hours is what they are rated with around 26 if you also use Bluetooth, and I found it got around there. meaning I didn’t have to really recharge until near the end of my work week. 15 mins on the charger will net you 6 hours of listening time so you don’t have to wait long to get a good amount of time out of it should it die out. While the Arctis Nova 7X doesn’t have the ability to switch out batteries, the fast charging and more convenient location of the USB-C plug should allow for you to get back up and running quickly.
Overall at $179.99, I think the Steelseries Arctis Nova 7X is a nice upgrade over the Arctis 7+ line. With some refinements in the design, good sound, and increased battery life, the Arctis Nova 7X is a good solid choice for a headphone that’s very versatile in the variety of products it can connect to. It’s comfortable to wear for long periods of time and in conjunction with the Sonar software on the PC, will deliver great audio in gaming and music.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. As one of the original writers, I was tapped to do action games and hardware. Nowadays, I work with a great group of folks on here to bring to you news and reviews on all things PC and consoles.
As for what I enjoy, I love action and survival games. I'm more of a PC gamer now than I used to be, but still enjoy the occasional console fair. Lately, I've been really playing a ton of retro games after building an arcade cabinet for myself and the kids. There's some old games I love to revisit and the cabinet really does a great job at bringing back that nostalgic feeling of going to the arcade.View Profile