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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X review

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset is a sound investment in wireless versatility.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Headset compatibility
PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Android
Connectivity
Bluetooth or 2.4GHz wireless
Noise cancelling
Passive
Nathan Lawrence
May 23, 2024
Icon Time To Read5 min read
Quick verdict: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset is the budget younger sibling of the almighty Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. For half the price of the Nova Pro, you get a gaming headset that works with every major platform. Plus, it has mammoth battery life and all-day comfort. Given the price, there isn’t active noise cancelling, and it’s a shame there’s no 3.5mm port. If you’ve got a larger noggin, you may wish for a few more millimetres of head space, and the dreaded flat dongle design can be a pain to connect.
pro
Pros
pro Multiplatform versatility
pro All-day comfort
pro Loads of practical presets
con
Cons
con No 3.5mm audio
con Flat dongle connection woes
con A mite on the small size

Too often these days gamers are forced to swear allegiance to specific platforms when buying a gaming headset. You wanna play on Xbox? Oh, forget about PlayStation compatibility. Keen for a Switch headset? Forget about most other platforms. Then along comes SteelSeries to say “stuff that noise” and offer the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless with a straightforward pitch: buy the Xbox version, cover all platforms. Simple. But the less simple part is the RRP, which is an eye-watering $735.

Sure, the value is there but that’s a lot of money to invest in what’s still the best gaming headset I’ve used to date. If only there was a cheaper option. “Hold my beer,” says the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset in a box

How much does the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X cost in Australia?

Competitively priced mid-range wireless gaming headset ($299 RRP).
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset - out of the box

Gamers seeking to go wire-free can expect to spend at least around $200 for a decent wireless gaming headset. The $300 price point for the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X puts it at the same RRP as the Sony Inzone H5 Wireless, Turtle Beach Atlas Air Wireless, RIG 800 Pro and Astro Gaming A20 Wireless headsets. The thing is, those competitors are typically for one or a couple of platforms.

A lot of the value of the Nova 5X is in its multiplatform versatility, which includes Bluetooth, making it a viable choice for mobile phones, tablets and everyday audio playback. In terms of its feature set, the Nova 5X is competitively priced. I highly recommend buying the X version as the other Nova 5 models don’t work with Xbox (but the Xbox version works with the other platforms).

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset design and comfort

Multi-day battery and all-day comfort.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset

The overall design of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset will be familiar to anyone who’s seen or used anything from the Nova line. Controls are split between left and right earcups, with mute and volume on the left, and the power button, mode-cycle and a chat/volume mixer dial on the right.

The power button on the right is still upsetting for me because my Nova Pro Wireless muscle memory is locked in on it being on the left earcup. There’s also a retractable microphone on the left earcup and a USB-C port on the right. SteelSeries says you can trade 15 minutes of charging time for five to six hours of use. All in, expect between 50 (2.4GHz) or 60 hours (Bluetooth) of juice, which is heaps.

I’ve been testing across platforms and wireless modes for dozens of hours over the last week and the Nova 5X is still at 52% charge. Yeah, the longevity hype is real. Battery life is all well and good but only if it has the comfort to support long gaming sessions. The extender arms on the Nova 5X feel about half a centimetre shot for my potent large noggin + bushy hair combo with the default head strap configuration. While less supported with a single groove attachment on the adjustable head strap, shifting it up eliminated my initial minor comfort woes for comfort during multi-hour tests, including times when I was wearing glasses.

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What is SteelSeries?
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SteelSeries has bragging rights to being the original esports-focused peripherals brand, which started in Denmark in 2001. Despite being a popular provider of esports peripherals, SteelSeries makes a range of keyboards, mice and headsets for everyday gamers, too.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X sound and setup

Well-balanced audio with plug-and-play connection.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset is incredibly easy to use and offers good sound out of the box, even with the default flat preset. Bear in mind that SteelSeries advises using the flat preset to avoid potential audio distortion. That said, one of the big bullet point items of the Nova 5 range is the 100+ audio presets, so what’s the point of limiting yourself? In fairness, I only experienced minor distortion during my tests and only at max or close-to-max volumes.

Hardly a deal-breaker. Besides, the presets are extensive and noticeable, particularly those made by pros or the devs themselves for specific games. It’s great to see that even less big-name games like my beloved Hell Let Loose now have audio presets. That preset in particular is even more immersive than the ‘FPS Footsteps’ one I used to mainline.

Where the Nova 5X stands apart from the rest of its Nova siblings is a special chip designed to liaise with the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 companion app. While barebones and frustratingly dominated by the preset drop-down menu seemingly wherever you touch, it does make preset switching a breeze. It’s also great that SteelSeries lets users pick separate equaliser presets for 2.4GHz and Bluetooth modes, meaning I can jump between a game-specific preset on 2.4GHz and my favourite music preset (Music: Deep Bass) for Bluetooth tunes on my Google Pixel 7 Pro.

The only trick with the 5X version specifically is the little switch on the 2.4GHz dongle that toggles between Xbox platforms and the USB mode for everything else. That dongle, regrettably, follows a gaming headset trend of being flatter rather than longer. This causes issues with certain platforms. You may experience a loose fit with certain phone cases, while the dongle outright blocks the power button and part of the vent on the Steam Deck and the solitary USB-A port on the front of the PlayStation 5.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X settings and versatility

App-based personalisation and multiplatform ease of use.

As touched on above, I wish there were more settings to tweak in the companion app. Thankfully, the 2.4GHz preset replicates across the app and Engine/Sonar screens in the SteelSeries GG PC software.

I highly recommend using SteelSeries GG software on PC at least once, if only to get firmware updates that seemingly can’t be done via the companion app. That drop-down menu issue in the companion app may be frustrating, but it’s a constant reminder that you really only want the app for on-the-fly preset changes, which it translates almost instantly.

The true versatility of the Nova 5X is its platform compatibility. Flick the Xbox switch on the dongle for low-latency audio on Xbox One or Xbox Series consoles. Alternatively, toggle it to USB for PC, PlayStation, Switch or Steam Deck. That retractable microphone may not offer amazing comms but they will be clear. Tucking away the mic makes the Nova 5X a viable pair of everyday headphones, so long as you’re not sitting next to a plane engine.

Is the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X gaming headset worth buying?

A competitively priced investment in great-sounding versatility.

If you’re in the market for a wireless gaming headset for multiple platforms, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X is a no-brainer purchase. While it has some quirks, none of them are enough to stop the Nova 5X from being a wholly recommendable gaming headset thanks to its long battery life, all-day comfort and lots of practical audio presets.

How we review gaming headsets

We factor in price and connectivity when reviewing a gaming headset, then put it through the motions of testing during hours and hours of gaming and everyday use. This also lets us determine the battery life and extended comfort of a gaming headset, as well as garner feedback on how the microphone sounds when playing games with others.

Everyday testing includes video calls and music playback, and we favour headsets that are more than single-function devices. In fact, the headsets that tend to score the highest are those that marry big sound (including oomph-tastic bass) with all-day comfort. Wired and wireless gaming headsets are generally more closely compared in their respective connectivity categories, except where there’s crossover for things like comfort and sound performance.

Then we take a look at the nice-to-haves. Companion software isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker if it’s average, but it can help elevate the usefulness of a headset. We also appreciate easy-to-reach physical controls for the main functions on a headset.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 frequently asked questions

Yes, the Arctis Nova range of SteelSeries headsets are better than their Arctis predecessors in terms of comfort, longevity and versatility.
No, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 doesn’t have active noise cancelling. You’ll to pay almost double the RRP for the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless gaming headset if you want active noise cancelling.
Yes, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 range has spatial audio surround sound, which can be personalised (with specific game presets) via SteelSeries Sonar or the Nova Companion app.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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