SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X is incredible, thanks to dual Bluetooth 2.4 GHz Wireless support, the new smartphone app, and outstanding audio.

Published
Updated
Manufacturer: SteelSeries (61676)
7 minutes & 14 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 92%
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The Bottom Line

With its mid-range price, great audio, dual wireless modes, and a dedicated smartphone app that taps into SteelSeries' powerful Sonar app on Windows, the SteelSeries Arctix Nova 5X is one of the company's best wireless gaming headsets.

Pros

  • + Dual Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz Wireless
  • + Dedicated iOS and Android app for customization
  • + Comfortable and lightweight
  • + Up to 60 hours of battery life
  • + 100+ finely tuned game presets

Cons

  • - The lack of complete EQ control in the Companion App
  • - No wired mode

Should you buy it?

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Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up

Recently, I reviewed the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4X Wireless Gaming Headset, a versatile gaming headset for PC and console, but one that fell a little bit short because you needed to connect it to a PC to get the most out of the sound. Without access to SteelSeries' excellent Sonar platform, the default audio tuning on the Nova 4X can feel a little flat and neutral. With a little bit of extra low-end, the sound comes alive.

At one point, I wrote that adding Bluetooth support and a dedicated smartphone app with Sonar-like features would elevate SteelSeries' Arctis line-up and bring the console experience on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch up to the same level as it is on PC. On PC, Sonar has one of the most in-depth and versatile audio customization and equalizer setups of any gaming headset - not to mention hundreds of presets tuned for specific games, often with input from game developers.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 5

With the new SteelSeries Arctix Nova 5X, you've got exactly that: dual Bluetooth and low-latency 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity with a dedicated 'Arctis Nova 5' app for iOS and Android that offers quick access to audio presets and a few other settings. At the same time, you're still connected to your PC, PlayStation, or Xbox console. Like other SteelSeries headsets, the X in the 5X refers to dedicated Xbox support, with the standard SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 being limited to every device apart from Xbox consoles.

Outside of the dual wireless functionality and the new (and very welcome) app, there are a few other key differences between the 4X and the 5X. Still, the audio, comfort, and overall feel are the same as what you get with the SteelSeries Arctix Nova 4X. But you know what they say: sometimes, the little things can make all the difference.

Specifications & Close Up

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 7
  • Product Type: Wireless Gaming Headset
  • Product Name: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless
  • Interface: Wireless 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth
  • Compatibility: Xbox, PlayStation, Windows, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
  • Form Factor: Over Ear Closed
  • Drivers: 40mm Neodymium Drivers
  • Headphones Frequency Response: 20 - 22,000 Hz
  • Microphone Type: Bidirectional Audio Cancelling
  • Microphone Frequency Response: 100 - 10,000 Hz
  • Surround: Sonar Spatial Audio, Arctis Nova 5 Companion App, Tempest 3D, Microsoft Spatial Audio
  • Cable: USB-A to USB-C charging cable, USB-C extender
  • Weight: ~ 265 grams
  • Battery Life: 50 hours (2.4 GHz), 60 hours (Bluetooth)
  • In the Box: SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4X Wireless, USB-C Dongle, USB-C to USB-A charging cable, USB-A to USB-C extender, Product Information Guide
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Kosta's Test System Specifications

  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR X670E HERO
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER Founders Edition
  • Display: MSI MAG 321UPX QD-OLED 4K 240 Hz
  • Cooler: ASUS ROG RYUO III 360 ARGB
  • RAM: 64GB (4x16GB) Corsair DOMINATOR TITANIUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 6000MT/s
  • SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
  • Power Supply: ASUS TUF Gaming 1000W Gold
  • Case: Corsair 5000D AIRFLOW Tempered Glass Mid-Tower ATX PC Case
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Buy at Amazon

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$129.00$129.00-
Buy at Newegg
$144.18$144.18-
* Prices last scanned on 7/11/2024 at 2:57 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Design & Software and Support

Design

Weighing around 265 grams, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X is lightweight and comfortable. It sports the same breathable fabric on the cups, ski band for head support, and lightweight plastics for the adjustable headband and hinges as seen on the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4X. Although mostly plastic, it doesn't feel cheap, and with the added Bluetooth support, it's easy enough to flatten and throw into a backpack for on-the-go audio.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 3

The addition of Bluetooth and dual wireless sees the introduction of a new button above the power button to change audio. After pairing with the USB dongle and your smartphone, switching between 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth audio is quick and seamless. While in 2.4 GHz mode, you can still access the Arctis Nova 5 app to make changes. Other on-ear controls include a dedicated volume dial, chat and game audio mix dial, and mute button.

Like all headsets in the Nova range, the microphone is fully retractable. Also, the USB dongle is still super wide for some reason. Once again, this means the USB extender included in the box is necessary for plugging the dongle into most devices with cramped port spacing. On the dongle, you'll find a USB to Xbox switch, which is included because Microsoft decided it would handle wireless Xbox audio differently from everyone else, so Xbox support needs to be spelled out.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 9

With its $139.99 USD price tag, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X sits in the upper mid-range - but there's a lot about the design that feels premium. Adding dual wireless support isn't the only change here, as the battery has also been upgraded to support up to 60 hours of usage on a Bluetooth connection or up to 50 hours on a low-latency 2.4 GHz wireless connection. Fast Charge support also offers 6 hours of game time after a 15-minute charge.

Software and Support

The new Arctis Nova 5 Companion App is intuitive and powerful, even if it doesn't offer direct control over the powerful 10-band Parametric EQ to make minor adjustments. That said, you probably won't miss it, as you've got over 100 audio presets for games, movies, and music sound profiles right out of the gate. These can dramatically change the audio to suit any situation, with most presets tuned for SteelSeries Arctis headsets and games like Destiny 2, Diablo 4, Edlen Ring, Overwatch 2, Starfield, and more. Diablo 4's preset was created in collaboration with Blizzard, while the Valorant preset was created with esports outfit FaZe.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 16

It's good enough to be a selling point, especially when you factor in the neutral and balanced default out-of-the-box sound. A flat or balanced audio tuning is better suited for customization, as there's more depth and flexibility. Naturally, the quality of the drivers plays a part, and SteelSeries once again delivers on this front with the Arctis Nova 5X.

Ultimately, the comfort and audio paired with the Arctis Nova 5 Companion App make this an excellent choice for PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch gamers - more so than other SteelSeries offerings. The app is simple to use and fast, with quick preset access. Microphone volume, sidetone, and even offers access to power/standby options.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 14

Interestingly, the one key feature that seems to be missing is Sonar's Spatial Audio or surround - which isn't too big of a deal when surround and spatial options are already available on consoles. Connecting the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X to a Windows PC and you've got the same access to the brilliant Sonar app, which offers a detailed 10-band Parametric EQ, the same countless game presets, with separate customization and tuning available for the microphone, and a separate interface (and audio device) for media.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 15

Like other SteelSeries headsets, one of the first things you want to do with the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X is disable the audio or volume limiter, which adds noticeable compression to the sound. In addition to this being an option in the SteelSeries GG app for devices, the limiter can be toggled on or off from within the Arctis Nova 5 Companion App, which is very cool.

Performance & Microphone

Performance

Customization isn't necessary; sound mixes in games and movies often pair well with headsets that offer a balanced and warm sound. Switching between different music, movies, and games presets is excellent. I can get away with two, one for music and one for games and films that deliver a more cinematic and immersive sound. Sacrificing bass for enhanced high frequencies might be helpful for esports players jumping into Valorant or Counter-Strike 2, but it's not something that all gaming headsets need to have to be viable.

As part of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X marketing, the company notes that the Arctis Nova 5 Companion App offers immediate access to over 100 game profiles. Overkill? Kind of, but there is a difference. Often, these are only minor differences when looking at similar 'genre' games. Still, in going through almost a dozen games and presets on the Xbox Series X, it's impressive how much difference the presets make. In Diablo, you can hear each weapon, demon, and musical note. In Red Dead Redemption 2, you can listen to the world and things from afar.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 4

Having access to all of the presets while gaming on the couch with an Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 is a game changer for SteelSeries headsets, and we can't wait to see how the app evolves and the dual-wireless tech makes its way into more Nova products. With added Bluetooth support, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X is also a decent pair of cans for music. Sure, there's no noise cancellation, but you have a crisp, detailed, warm, and customizable sound.

Microphone

The Nova 5X's ClearCast 2.X microphone is decent enough. Thanks to the separate mix dial, it's serviceable for in-game chat, meetings, or dialing into a group chat. The microphone has inbuilt noise cancellation, which does a great job of removing most subtle background noises, but the overall voice quality - like the audio - lacks a little low-end and mid-range oomph. We don't expect broadcast quality at this price range, but the good news is that you can get pretty close on PC with access to Sonar's dedicated microphone EQ.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 6

The microphone quality here is better than most mid-range headsets; it's impressive. It avoids sounding tinny or muffled, with clear frequency separation and tonal clarity. If it leaves you wanting, perhaps it's time to start looking for a dedicated microphone.

Final Thoughts

Even though the overall shape, comfort, and audio tuning are similar to headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4X, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X might be one of the company's best gaming headsets to date thanks to things like the addition of dual-wireless support and the long-lasting battery. Bluetooth and a dedicated iOS and Android app for changing the audio profile while you game makes the $139.99 USD price tag look extremely reasonable - this is an easy recommendation.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset Review 8

Best of all, it's seamless. Switching between 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth, changing the audio preset while you're mid-game, using the new Nova 5 Companion App, and connecting to your smartphone to listen to a podcast while you're out all work perfectly. These little things add so much to SteelSeries' great hardware.

Photo of product for sale

Performance

90%

Quality

91%

Features

96%

Value

92%

Overall

92%

The Bottom Line

With its mid-range price, great audio, dual wireless modes, and a dedicated smartphone app that taps into SteelSeries' powerful Sonar app on Windows, the SteelSeries Arctix Nova 5X is one of the company's best wireless gaming headsets.

TweakTown award
92%

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless Gaming Headset

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$129.00$129.00-
Buy at Newegg
$144.18$144.18-
* Prices last scanned on 7/11/2024 at 2:57 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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