SteelSeries Arctis 9X review

SteelSeries Arctis 9X review

Increasingly, gaming headsets such as the SteelSeries Arctis 9X are appearing for a variety of platforms. This time it's Xbox One and Windows 10, but there are plenty of other headsets out there designed for both PS4 and Windows or Nintendo Switch - and anything with a 3,5mm audio jack.

The thing is, most gaming headsets should work well with Windows 10 these days. And while the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is indeed one of the best Xbox One X headsets out there, its odd selection of connectivity options keeps it from entering the upper echelons of PC gaming peripherals.

And at $199 (£179, about AU$290), the SteelSeries Arctis 9X comes in a highly competitive price range with the likes of the Razer Nari Ultimate at $199 (£199, about AU$349), not to mention its own $179 US (AU$179) Arctis Pro - although the latter is not a wireless headset.

So, should you choose the SteelSeries Arcitis 9X for yourself? Well, if you play games mainly on Xbox One, this might be a great choice. However, if you're looking for a companion for the best PC games, you might want to look elsewhere.


One thing we can never take away from SteelSeries is the skill of its peripheral design. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X has some design cues that we personally don't like, like the green headband accents, but overall this headset is just another entry in a long line of pristine peripherals.

SteelSeries Arctis 9X - from the steel headband to "premium ski goggle woven fabric" that can be used to adjust the fit, to extremely comfortable ear cushions - from top to bottom.

Of course, this smoothly turns into comfort. We have to admit that after pulling the SteelSeries Arctis 9X out of the box and noticing that you can only adjust the fit through the fabric tape, we were skeptical. But sitting with this headset on your head for hours is a dream. Trust me, no matter how long your epic game lasts, you won't feel uncomfortable.

The SteelSeries Arctis 9X also looks impressive. Aside from the weird green accents on the fabric headband, the discreet black design of the ear cups is an aesthetic that won't make you hide them in shame when people approach you.

Most of the buttons, dials, and ports are located on the right side, where you get a Bluetooth pairing button, a power button that also pairs the headset with an Xbox One, a microphone mute button, volume controls, and a USB charging port. There is also a 3,5mm audio input. On the left side, you'll find a single dial that controls game and chat balance, as well as a retractable microphone.

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All in all, most of the features we want in a gaming headset in this price range are present, but we would have loved the ability to use that USB charging port to connect to our PC for reasons we'll explore shortly.

After all, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is yet another example of fantastic design from SteelSeries. This is a solid gaming headset that will last you years and look good. In addition, it is also quite convenient.


The combination of Xbox wireless and Bluetooth immediately means you can listen to music from your phone while still hearing in-game audio. And, well, that's where the SteelSeries Arctis 9X shines.

Playing through the familiar Halo 2 campaign while listening to Amil and the Sniffers' "Got You" through our headset is a great experience that we recommend to just about anyone. This will especially appeal to those who are still playing Destiny 2, as you can get some work done while listening to music without fiddling with some dumb menus.

SteelSeries claims the Arctis 9X has 20 hours of battery life. While we haven't subjected the headset to rigorous battery life testing, it definitely lives up to it.

Audio quality is also excellent on the SteelSeries Arctis 9X - at least on Xbox One. Halo 2 sounds as rich and compelling as ever, and every detail comes to life. The bass is also quite deep, so it sounds close to the real thing when blasted.

For the most part, this continues when we connect it to the phone to listen to music. The music is crisp enough to be bearable, especially for a gaming headset, so we have no major complaints.

The microphone also does its job effectively. Our voice sounds nice and clear, and we haven't heard any complaints from anyone on the other end of the line. It also has active noise cancellation, but we weren't able to test it in particularly noisy areas.

However, as soon as we plug this headset into our PC to play some Division 2, things start to go awry. Bluetooth support in Windows 10 is no longer the best, and the fact that you can't connect via USB means that audio dropouts happen more often than they should.

It's hard to tell if it's on SteelSeries or Microsoft, but this problem could be worked around with a USB connection.

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However, audio in Windows 10 is also relatively quiet. Even at maximum volume, we can hear our gaming keyboard and even the (admittedly loud) fans on our PC. The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is being sold as a headset for both Xbox One and Windows 10, so it's a pity that Windows 10 doesn't work as well as it does on Xbox One.

Basically, if you're looking to buy an Xbox One headset, you're in for a great experience. But any would-be PC gamer might want to look elsewhere. We'd recommend the SteelSeries Arctis Pro as you don't need wireless peripherals when you're playing at your table anyway.


As is usually the case when it comes to products from SteelSeries, the headset sounded great - for both gaming and music.

On the low end, the headset offers decent bass response, which is useful for explosions and crashes in games and snare and bass when listening to music. The headset didn't go overboard with the bass - if you're a serious bass fan, you may find yourself wanting more, but for most users the headset is capable in the bass department.

The mid range on the headphones is very well tuned, with what appears to be a slight high average bump for in-game chat and other spoken words. That said, the bump isn't too pronounced - which is good news for those planning on using a headset to listen to music.

The highs are very clear and detailed for a natural-sounding sound. Highs are often overlooked through headphones, but SteelSeries has managed to avoid this problem entirely.


The quality of the microphone is good, although your mileage will vary depending on how you plan to use the headset. If you're using a wireless headset on an Xbox, you may find the quality of the microphone is lacking, but if you're using it with an Xbox Wireless Adapter, you'll find that the microphone sounds good.


The SteelSeries Arctis 9X is a fantastic gaming headset if you're an Xbox One gamer. The sound quality is top notch and the headset is truly built like a tank, with a subdued styling that we were seriously impressed with.

But once you try to use it to play some PC games, it becomes harder to recommend it. Sound quality and reliability are not on the same level on a gaming PC.

However, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X might be one of the best Xbox One headsets out there, and if that's enough for you, this headset is definitely worth your time and money.

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