Steelseries Arctis 3 Gaming Headset: A Thorough Breakdown for Serious Gamers

Hey there, fellow gamer! Looking to elevate your audio game? In your hands right now lies everything you need to know about the SteelSeries Arctis 3—one of the best wired gaming headsets you can buy for under $100.

Whether you‘re a competitive esports athlete or casual player just trying to immerse yourself deeper into your favorite game worlds, quality audio makes all the difference. The Arctis 3 aims to deliver a comfortable, great-sounding experience on any platform thanks to expertise SteelSeries has built over nearly two decades of crafting gaming headsets.

In this guide, I’ll provide a comprehensive rundown of the award-winning Arctis line to help determine if this budget-friendly model has everything you need or if it‘s worth upgrading to a more premium option. Let‘s dive in!

SteelSeries Gaming Audio Legacy

Before reviewing the headset itself, it’s important to know SteelSeries’ gaming audio pedigree. Founded in 2001, the Denmark-based company focuses solely on crafting high-performance gaming peripherals used by over 95% of competitive tournament players.

They were among the very first to take esports sponsorships seriously back in the early 2000s Counter-Strike days, providing pros with specially designed equipment. This close work providing audio solutions for gaming’s elite gives SteelSeries unique insights into what works best.

The Arctis line launched in 2016 marks the culmination of this expertise into more mass market-friendly products for all types of gamers. Built for universal compatibility, intuitive controls, crystal clear communication and all-day comfort, Arctis headsets aim to enhance any gaming experience.

The Arctis 3 reviewed here arrives as the most affordable option in the lineup, originally releasing at $79.99 MSRP back in early 2018. Even at a lower price point, it retains much of the design DNA and signature sound developed over years of R&D.

But how do the specs actually stack up? Let’s dig into the details.

Arctis 3Detailed Specifications

Driver TypeCustomized Neodymium Magnet 40mm Drivers
Speaker Impedance32 ohm
Frequency Response20Hz – 22,000Hz
Microphone TypeBidirectional ClearCast Noise-Cancelling
Microphone Frequency Response100Hz-10KHz
Microphone Sensitivity-38dB
Battery LifeN/A Wired-Only
ConnectivityWired via 3.5mm + USB
Weight9.9 oz / 281 grams
CompatibilityPC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X

What‘s Under the Hood?

So those table specs look decent but what do they actually mean in terms of tangible audio performance? Let’s break down key components starting with the 40mm neodymium drivers. These engineered components convert electrical signals into the soundwaves that ultimately vibrate your eardrums.

Neodymium magnets here allow building smaller, lighter drivers than traditional ferrite magnets while maintaining power. Combined with the expanded frequency response range, the Arctis 3 reproduces even subtle in-game sounds with striking clarity across bass, mids and highs.

SteelSeries custom tunes the drivers specifically for gaming with extra emphasis on the critical 3-6kHz mid-range for stronger positional audio cues. Lower distortion allows pinpointing enemy locations more accurately to gain tactical advantage.

The company even developed custom engineered diaphragms with Japanese polyethylene terephthalate (PET) material normally reserved for premium audiophile models. This increases durability over standard Mylar diaphrams while enabling hi-fi playback.

Studio Quality Sound for Gaming

So with such precision components and tuning, how good can a sub-$100 headset really sound? Very impressive according to both specs and real-world testing!

Frequency response measures an ultra-wide 20Hz to 22,000Hz range. Human hearing reaches only 20Hz-20KHz max, so the Arctis 3 faithfully reproduces every audible tone. Most gaming headsets cut off bass around 100Hz losing thump and immersion.

Total harmonic distortion also scores an extremely low <0.05% at 1KHz/110dB SPL. Essentially only 1 out of every 2000 notes gets lost in muddiness. Everything comes through clean as a whistle.

We dove deep comparing the Arctis 3 against top contenders like the HyperX Cloud Alpha. While the Cloud Alpha carries a slight edge in resolution and spaciousness, the Arctis 3 holds its own an as intensely fun sound sig for not much more money.

Hear Soundscapes Like Never Before

So bass bumps hard in your shooter games with tight punchy kicks. Sparkling cymbals shine with crisp detail across the highs. And familar tracks sound pleasing too if not 100% studio reference neutral.

But this only scratches the surface of the Arctis 3‘s audio achievements possibile on PC. Remember that virtual surround sound feature? Using the included USB chat mixer unlocks Windows Sonic 3D spatial processing for breathtakingly immersive environments.

Suddenly you feel transported inside sprawling game worlds with sounds coming clearly from left, right, front, side and behind. Like a true VR escape immersing all senses.

Windows Sonic works wonders in first-person shooters, RPGs and other genres. Just slide on the headset, launch SteelSeries Engine on your desktop, and let the next level audio wash over you.

Communicate Crystal Clearly

Now let‘s discuss the ClearCast microphone since communication clarity is just as key as sound quality for online gaming.

The Arctis 3 again punches way above its class with a studio grade bidirectional mic. This means it picks up sound evenly from the front and rear rather than just one direction. So your voice captures fuller and more natural versus mics only sensitive to what directly faces them.

The mic also features a tight cardioid pickup pattern focusing solely on your speech. Ambient room noise gets rejected ensuring you broadcast loud and clear even when things heat up. I tested in my own noisy environment with fans whirring nearby and roommate sounds in the background. Yet my buddies heard only the pristine vocals on Skype as if broadcasting from a professional recording booth.

But mic quality means nothing if you can‘t quickly mute coughs, yelling parents or other embarrassing moments in the background. Luckily the Arctis 3 thought of everything positioning an easy-access mute button right on the headset. Just flip the mic arm up out of the way anytime to disable transmission. It even auto-mutes while retracted into the earcup a really nice usability touch.

Gaming Anywhere, Everywhere

The Arctis 3 ships ready for gaming on any device you own with the included cables. The 4-pole 3.5mm plug works great on PlayStation DualShock and DualSense controllers. Just plug and play with PS5 or PS4 consoles no dongle receiver required.

Xbox proves trickier requiring some adapter wrangling to split out separate mic and headphone channels. But follow the online guides to get everything configured correctly across Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One platforms. In about 5 extra minutes, I had game and voice chat perfectly mixed enabling those crucial enemy callouts to teammates.

The standard headphone jack connects easily to Nintendo Switch in handheld mode or mobile devices for casual gaming too. And you can hot swap to PC without missing a beat thanks to the USB cable with inline volume/mute controls.

Just note that fancy 7.1 virtual surround and customization options stay locked to PC only. Consoles simply enjoy the stellar out of box tuning. But nice having that versatility to use one headset for everything gaming!

Lightweight Long Haul Comfort

Even the best sound means nothing if the headset causes literal headaches after an hour. So SteelSeries specially designed the Arctis line with comfort top of mind starting with the unique ski goggle-inspired headband.

This breathable elastic strap adjusts perfectly to fit while eliminating pressure points. Generous memory foam ear cushions covered in airy fabric isolate external noise without heat buildup or sweat. The cushions contour around most glasses frames without squeezing.

Overall the Arctis 3 disappears in use as one of the most lightweight headsets out there barely noticeable on your noggin even after multiple back-to-back matches. No matter your head size or shape, expect cloud like support for those marathon all-night gaming binges!

Value Reigns Supreme

Taking everything into account from lush gaming audio to discord-certified chat clarity and unmatched long-haul comfort, I consider the Arctis 3 an incredible bargain buy considering humble $69.99 sticker price.

It makes some expected tradeoffs dropping fancy Bluetooth connectivity or more robust build found on premium SteelSeries models upwards of $150+.

But reader, if your goal involves amping up gaming immersion without breaking bank, the Arctis 3 should already have everything needed. This value-packed headset overdelivers impressively approaching twice the performance of similarly priced competitors.

The Last Word

The Arctis 3 gaming headset keeps up with headsets double the cost making it my top recommendation for budget-conscious gamers wanting better audio and mic clarity. Let me know if any other questions! I‘m happy to nerd out over headset specs anytime.


What devices can I use the Arctis 3 with?

The Arctis 3 works great with PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. You‘ll need to use the included cables for connectivity.

How does the mic sound?

Thanks to bidirectional clearcast pickup, the mic broadcasts your voice clearly, naturally and noise-free even in loud environments. It‘s certified by Discord and TeamSpeak for crystal comms.

Is the headset good for big heads?

Yes, the Arctis ski-goggle headband adjusts easily for larger heads without squeezing. Oval earcups avoid pinching most ear shapes comfortably.

Can I use my own headphones?

You bet! The mic conveniently detaches as standard 3.5mm allowing use with other headphones if desired. But you‘d be missing out on the awesomeness of the full integrated Arctis 3 package!

Did you like those interesting facts?

Click on smiley face to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

      Interesting Facts
      Login/Register access is temporary disabled