SteelSeries Arctis 5 Headset Review: Comfortability Sounds So Good
Steel Series' peripherals are known for being pretty great, and the Arctis 5 is a solid example of the company's consistency and emphasis on excellence. Part of the Arctis headset line, it's hardly surprising to learn that the Arctis 5 is designed to remain comfortable for hours on end while providing quality sound.
The Arctis 5 sits comfortably as a mid-tier option between the other headsets in the Arctis line. And while it lacks some of the more impressive features of the Arctis 7, it still ends up being a decent upgrade from the Arctis 3. Coming in at $100, it provides most of the bells and whistles you'd expect of a headset in its range, but most importantly, it provides the comfort and sound to back it all up.
Similar to other Arctis headsets, the Arctis 5 uses an adjustable ski band that helps distribute its weight across the top of the head, helping you wear these cans for hours on end without any discomfort. Easily one of the most comfortable headsets I've ever worn, the Arctis 5 was able to stand up to all of the gaming marathons I've been running recently.
The padded ear cups sit cozily without pinching my glasses, which is an impressive feat for a headset of any make or caliber. Even if you do run into problems with glasses, it's a simple matter to loosen the ski band a bit, readjusting to get things just right. In fact, the Arctis 5 is arguably one of the most easily adjustable headsets on the market.
For the most part, I've never been one to get hung up on sound performance. I had a set of speakers that worked well for the longest times, even if other people said that it wasn't the best quality of sound. Knowing that I say this: the Arctis 5 might not be the best in the Arctis headset line when it comes to sound quality, but when I first put the headset on, it was like stepping into a new world of gaming. The fidelity of sound was infinitely better than what I was used to, and I will never again accept anything of lower quality.
The upgrade in sound provided a new experience for some of my more-often played games. While playing League of Legends and SMITE, I found that I was able to hear certain champion abilities and ults being used nearby. But by and large, my favorite game to play with the Arctis 5 was Warframe. I was visited by the Shadow Stalker in a solo run and clearly hearing the unsettling whispers announcing his approach was a terrifying experience.
Like the other models in the SteelSeries' Arctis line, the Arctis 5 works pretty well if you decide to just go old-fashioned plug and play, but it really shines when equalized via the SteelSeries Engine 3 program. Through the software, you can change up myriad options to get the sound exactly where you want it. You can adjust treble, bass, mid. You can use either stereo or Dolby 7.1 surround sound. And you can use the headset's many presets for movies, games, and music if you don't want to get your hands dirty, making things a tad bit simpler.
On top of that, you can make sound settings for almost every game in your library. Boasting 150 individual configurations, you won't find a setting you don't like, even if some sound a bit similar to each other.
The Arctis 5's microphone was surprisingly effective and its bidirectional design actually comes with some pretty awesome capabilities. I tend to run into problems with microphones because I have a fan pointed right at me during almost all of my gaming sessions and consequently, mics always pick up that low drone. However, the Arctis 5 is different; impressively, it avoids those problems by using a microphone that ignores a lot of ambience coming in from the sides -- and I had a ton of people telling me that I wasn't allowed to use a different mic ever again.
Easily my favorite thing about the Arctis 5's microphone was the ability to slide it back into the left earpiece. This feature isn't new to the Arctis line, but it's fantastically useful and always worth noting. It was nice not having to move the mic around to keep it out of my face whenever I wasn't using it. Plus, if you ever decide to use the headset to listen to music on the bus ride to work or on an afternoon walk, you won't look like you're wearing a gaming headset -- which is pretty neat.
There aren't a lot of serious hang-ups for the Arctis 5. The sound quality is great and it's as comfortable as you could hope a headset would be. Honestly, the only problem I had was with the various cords getting tangled, which is just as much my fault for not doing a better job at keeping them tidy.
All in all, the Arctis 5 is a wonderful headset, especially at its price of $100. It's obviously outclassed by the Arctis 7, but if you can't shell out the $150 dollars for the top-tier model, then the Arctis 5 is a solid second option.
[Note: SteelSeries provided the Arctis 5 headset used for this review.]