SteelSeries has recently refreshed the acclaimed design of its Arctis headsets, and the result is more cluttered. The main culprit is the addition of a secondary circular bump to the earcup, on top of the main lozenge shape. The controls are clustered on the sides of these bumps, making them convenient to find, but more visible than in the old Arctis design.
Magnetically-attached discs cap the earcups, and removing them reveals nothing. There’s no hole to store the USB dongle or a replaceable battery, for instance. Instead, the caps can be used to stylise your headset, with replacement packs of caps and elastic headbands (red, green, purple and pink currently available) available for $30.
Although build quality is solid enough, the look and feel of the earcups, arms and much of the headband is a little plasticky, with several mould seams visible – it broadly feels like a step down from the build quality of the older Arctis line, though no worse than the likes of the Corsair HS80 or Roccat Syn Pro Air.
The fit is also a step down. The Arctis range was on the slightly looser-fitting end of the spectrum and the Nova is worse. The fit is loose enough that the headset slides off when you’re leaning forward or back, and the earcups don’t tuck under your ears very well, hampering the natural noise reduction of wearing closed-back headphones. Sound quality is also affected, with the poor seal robbing the headset of bass – gently pressing in the bottom edges of the earcups provides a significant bass boost.
The Velcro-adjusted elasticated headband of the Arctis has also been dropped in favour of one that’s adjusted via three holes on each end of the band, which clip onto bumps on the inside of the outer headband. It’s a more awkward and less versatile system than before, but it’s comfortable and once it’s set you shouldn’t need to touch it again, plus the strap doesn’t hang down, getting in the way, like the old design. The earcup padding is pleasantly soft but a little shallower than some, so our ears just touched the driver cover.
For features, the Nova 7 Wireless wants for very little. You get a retractable microphone, volume wheel and microphone mute button on the left earcup, as well as a Bluetooth button, power button, game/chat mix volume wheel and 3.5mm analogue jack input on the right earcup. All the controls fall comfortably to hand, making for an easy control system. The analogue volume wheel is particularly welcome, as it makes for a more immediate response than digital dials.
Overall sound quality is good in terms of having a smooth, detailed presentation without an overly forced bass or treble response. However, because of the loose fit of the earcups, the headset can sound a little tinny, depending on how well you can get it to sit.
Battery life is also good, though, thanks in part to the headset having no lighting. A USB Type-C dongle and Type-A to Type-C extension cable are included in the box, plus you get an analog audio cable and a USB Type-C charging cable, along with a funky little Minecraft-esque 3D cardboard character for you to build.
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless pros and cons
- Useful combination of features
- Easy-to-use controls
- Decent sound quality
- Dull plasticky design
- Step down in build quality
- Loose earcup fit that kills bass response
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless specs
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless specs list is:
|Audio config||Stereo and virtual surround|
|Connections||2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, 3.5mm analogue jack, USB Type-C charging|
|Sensitivity/Sound pressure level||93dB|
|Microphone frequency response||100-6,500Hz|
|Battery Life||38 hours|
|Extras||Retractable microphone, USB Type-C charging cable, USB Type-A to Type-C extension cable, USB Type-C transmitter|
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless price
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless price is $130 (£145), making it a mid-range wireless gaming headset, but with plenty of features for its price .
Price: Expect to pay $130 (£145)
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Nova Wireless review conclusion
The SteelSeries Nova 7 Wireless is a decent gaming headset with good sound quality and plenty of convenient and easy-to-use features. However, its styling and build quality feels like a step back from the older Arctis headsets and its fit is a little loose, potentially compromising sound quality. It’s certainly not an ideal option for those with small heads. So if the Arctis 7 Nova Wireless isn’t quite the headset you were looking for, check out our best gaming headset list for more options.
A decent enough gaming headset, but it could do with a better fit.