SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X review: SteelSeries strikes gold

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X review: SteelSeries strikes gold
Images via SteelSeries | GGRecon

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

22nd May 2024 13:13

SteelSeries has been quietly killing it with its headsets for some time now. I've been using the Arctis Nova 7X with my Xbox Series X for some time, and with my Pulse 3D headset looking a little worse for wear on the PS5, I was very pleased to hear about the arrival of the Arctis Nova 5X.

I thought I knew what to expect (especially given the two headsets look almost identical to one another) but what I wasn't prepared for was just how good this £129 headset could be. The Arctis Nova 5X is in a league of its own for comfort, audio quality, and the new companion app.

GGRecon Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 might be the best option for just about anyone in this price bracket. Whether you play on Switch, PS5, PC, or Xbox, it's a fantastic option with or without the app.

Adding that level of game-centric audio customisation, however, makes this one of the easiest headsets I've ever been able to recommend.

So far, so SteelSeries

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 on reviewer's head
Click to enlarge

Opening up the box and setting the Arctis Nova 5X next to the Arctis Nova 7X, I honestly struggled to tell the difference - to the point where I almost charged the wrong one up.

Both offer SteelSeries' trademark headband (albeit with slightly different colours on the fabric part) and layered cups, but there's no removable SteelSeries logo on these.

Just as with the 7X, everything feels well-built but surprisingly light. With rivals like Logitech moving to graphene drivers, I was curious to how SteelSeries would evolve its design. It shifted to neodymium magnetic drivers (try saying that ten times fast), and while it's not been beating its proverbial chest about how lightweight the headset is on a user's head, it really is.

That's helped by some really soft fabric earcups that not only feel good, but create a natural seal which mitigates the need for any onboard noise-cancelling tech.

Looking for a mic? As with prior models, you can slide out the ClearCast mic from the left cup, and I was certainly thankful to have the option to keep it out of the way.

Controls-wise, there's a mute button and volume wheel on the back of the left cup, while the right houses the Quick-Switch button (more on that shortly), power button, and game/chat mixer, as well as a USB-C charging port.

Whisper Sweet Nothings

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 mic
Click to enlarge

No real surprises on the outside, then, but as I mentioned, I was planning to use the Arctis Nova 5X on my PS5. You may remember, not so long ago, that SteelSeries would offer specific SKUs for Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

While that's still the case (you can apply this review to the 5 and 5P for PC and PlayStation), I had absolutely no issues when hooking up to my PS5, but I also tested it on my Series X and PC for good measure.

That Quick-Switch button also makes it nice and easy to switch between the included USB-C dongle and Bluetooth 5.3, although I will concede my fingers kept accidentally hitting it when switching it on. Something to consider depending on how nimble your digits are.

I decided to switch between a handful of PS5 games to test things out, kicking off with Destiny 2 in preparation for The Final Shape. While there wasn't quite as much nuance to things like the metallic shots of Outbreak Perfected as there was on the Astro A50 X I reviewed recently, that will cost you more than twice the price. The SteelSeries, though, offered a balanced soundscape with just the right amount of bass when needed.

The 360-degree audio offered remains killer. I jumped into Elden Ring and waited patiently, listening to the raindrops in the Lands Beyond, while also hearing patrolling enemies' footsteps as I planned my next move in Stormveil Castle (a great place to test directional audio).

The same could be said of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I know maps like Favela like the back of my hand, but find myself avoiding using headsets unless I'm playing with friends. The greatest compliment I can give the Arctis Nova 5X is that it's become my preferred way to play my PS5 collection - albeit to my partner's annoyance.

As for the mic, it's clear as day, with a higher bandwidth than many rivals that helps with clarity. It's not broadcast quality like you'd find in a desk-based podcast mic, but it's not a million miles off, either.

Appy Days

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 on table
Click to enlarge

One of SteelSeries' big pushes with the Arctis Nova 5 series is the inclusion of a delightful new companion app. The iOS and Android app offers over 100 presets, divided into a variety of gaming and non-gaming applications like specific music types or movie preferences.

I used the app to tailor my audio for Modern Warfare 3 (one of the included presets) and the difference was definitely noticeable; footsteps were more pronounced, while the bass-heavy explosions actually felt a little less overpowering. That's a good thing when you're trying to play somewhat competitively (1v1 me in Rust).

On PC you can still use the Windows app, but for changing settings on the fly the app is much more useful in my opinion. Some games even have multiple profiles, like CS:GO which has an audio profile from Valve as well as FaZe Twistzz.

Final Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X might be the best option for just about anyone in this price bracket. Whether you play on Switch, PS5, PC, or Xbox, it's a fantastic option with or without the app.

Adding that level of game-centric audio customisation, however, makes this one of the easiest headsets I've ever been able to recommend.

5/5

Review unit provided by the publisher. GGRecon uses affiliate links, if you purchase any products from our links we may earn a commission. 

Lloyd Coombes
About the author
Lloyd Coombes
Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.
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