I was really happy with how the SteelSeries Arctis 3 performed, overall. The Arctis 3 presents a fairly neutral audio signature that is close to the Arctis 7, with solid clarity in all ranges. None of my audio devices had issues driving the Arctis 3 and it was able to reach full volumes without distortion on my ST100, which provided very loud, clear audio that could have drowned out the loudest of LAN tournaments. The microphone quality, which SteelSeries touts as the best in gaming, is good, though I think the HyperX Cloud Alpha microphone sounds better overall, with more apparent range and better pop filtration. The on-ear controls for audio and microphone mute were very well-implemented on the Arctis 3, with the volume rocker in an easy to reach location and offering a nice, tactile response.
Comfort is where the Arctis 3 really stands out from other gaming headsets, as they offer the perfect amount of clamping force out of the box for users with medium to large sized heads and the AirWeave ear pads allow for the ears to breathe while feeling good against the skin. The out-of-the-box adjustment for the ski goggle suspension headband on the Arctis 3 was perfect, but users with smaller heads may feel the need to tighten things up. With excellent comfort and good sound quality on their side, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 nailed my two most important considerations for a gaming headset.
Though it is pretty solid headset and there isn’t any one area where I’d say they completely fall flat, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 certainly has a few areas where improvement can be made. Audio quality is good, but there is a lack of separation, with the sounds blending together rather than having a dynamic range. The sound is clear and crisp, but I just would like the audio to be more dynamic, allowing foot steps to stand out more from the rest of the audio. The bass is definitely on the neutral side, which I like, but it may turn off gamers who love a little thump and tingle on their ears. While most users are going to like the included AirWeave ear cushions, the Adidas basketball short-like material that SteelSeries is using may not feel good to some. Thankfully, SteelSeries has a full set of replacement ear cushions available for the Arctis 3 in different materials like velour and leather, so concerns about the ear cup material being uncomfortable, or long term wear, are easily addressed.
Right now, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 ($64.99 at Amazon) has some solid competition in the form of the Corsair Void Pro ($49.99 at Amazon), another stylish wired gaming headset that I use on a regular basis. I rank the Arctis 3 above the Void Pro in terms sound and microphone quality, with the Void Pro having a slight edge on style due to its sleek design and RGB implementation. I’d say comfort between the Arctis 3 and Void Pro pretty even, though the Void Pro have the least clamping force of any gaming headset I’ve ever tested at the expense of being somewhat loose on the head. For users who want the best build and sound quality, the Arctis 3 from SteelSeries is the clear choice out of the two. For $20 more than the Arctis 3, you can get into my personal favorite wired gaming headset, the Hyper X Cloud Alpha ($99.99 at Amazon). The Arctis 3 matches up very well with the HyperX Cloud Alpha, though, especially when you consider the extras that the Engine 3 software brings to the table.
It’s very easy to recommend the SteelSeries Arctis 3 at their current $64.99 price at Amazon, but if you want some extra features like a built-in sound card and RGB functionality, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 is currently available for $99.99. The awesome Arctis 7 wireless, which offer a low latency wireless connection and illuminated microphone are also available for $99.99. Users who want to support an anti-bullying charity and get a special color of the Arctis 3 like Boreal Blue or Solar Red can go to the SteelSeries website and buy directly. SteelSeries has done a great job with their Arctis lineup, offering quality sound on each unit, while differentiating each headset enough to give them a proper space in the market. Regardless of your choice, if you are looking for a quality gaming headset, you can’t go wrong with a SteelSeries Arctis.
Legit Bottom Line: The SteelSeries Arctis 3 is a comfortable, great looking gaming headset with good sound quality and a decent microphone.