Many have hailed SteelSeries over the past few years as making the best gaming headsets around, and for good reason. We didn’t award SteelSeries the top spot in our best gaming headsets guide, but the SteelSeries Arctis 5 certainly made the list. Now, the company is back again — but it’s not necessarily an all-new headset. Instead, it’s a revamped version of the Arctis 3, called the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth.
In other words, the headset takes the great work that SteelSeries did with the Arctis 3, and adds Bluetooth connectivity to it. That makes it a whole lot more versatile than the original headset. But is it still worth buying? We put the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about the headset is its design, and it’s a good-looking headset — though not all that different than the original Arctis 3. The headset is almost identically shaped to the standard Arctis 3, and perhaps the only way you’d know you had the Bluetooth version is through the label on the box and the Bluetooth button on the right ear cup.
Like the standard version, on the left ear cup you’ll find a microphone mute button, volume wheel, inputs and outputs, and a retractable microphone. On the left, however, you’ll find a Bluetooth button that you can use to power on Bluetooth and pair the headset to your listening device.
The headset comes in a range of colors, including black, white, blue, gray, and red. We’re reviewing the black pair, and we quite like the look of them.
Apart from that, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth is pretty much the same as the Arctis 3. It still features the great retractable microphone that you can pull out and put in with ease, and it still boasts the elastic head band that adjusts to your headset without any manual tweaking. It also still comes with cables, if you want them. SteelSeries is under no illusion that during gaming you may want to keep a wired setup — and you can easily do so with the included cables.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth isn’t just relatively well-designed — it’s extremely comfortable too. Much of that comfort level has to do with the elastic headband, which you’ll adjust to be the right size the first time and get the right fit every time after that.
The headset is also pretty lightweight, and offers plenty of padding for extended use — so gamers who might need to use the headset for a few hours at a time should do just fine with the comfort level of the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth.
Design and comfort are important enough, but in the end what really matters is how the headphones sound. Thankfully, they sound pretty darn great, both in Bluetooth mode, and in wired mode. For the majority of this testing, we’re using Bluetooth mode — but we’ll compare it to wired mode a little later.
For starters, the bass response is relatively nice and deep, though it could certainly use a little more of the ultra low-end. Still, it performed pretty well in our tests — you’ll be able to hear nice, boomy explosions, powerful gun shots, and so on.
The mid range is also well tuned. The low mids help give the headphones a nice warmth, while the high mids are enough to give gunshots a serious crack. That’s also good news for those that game with others — you’ll be able to hear teammates pretty well thanks to the slightly boosted high mids.
The high end is really well tuned. Highs are crisp and clean, offering plenty of sizzle in detail that you might otherwise miss. It really opens up a whole new world of sound. You’ll hear new sounds when boots hit the ground as you run, cleaner gunshots, and it will help a whole lot when listening to music.
Wired mode offered a pretty similar sound profile to Bluetooth mode, though there did seem to be slightly more low-mids and slightly less high-mids.
In general, the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth headset sounds great. We loved the high level of clarity and detail, along with the decent bass and well-tuned mid-range.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth headset connects through Bluetooth 4.1, which means you’ll get around 10 meters, or 33 feet, of range. We were able to connect the headset quickly and easily, and we never experienced any unreasonable dropouts or skips without wandering too far from the listening device.
The battery life on the headset is rated at a hefty 28 hours, which is pretty darn great. That should last most people at least a week or two of normal use, especially for those that intend to use the headset in wired mode while gaming.
Generally speaking, the microphones on gaming headsets have never been all that high-quality. The microphone on the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth sounds fine for most uses — your teammates should be able to easily hear your voice without issue.
Still, we would recommend a higher quality and dedicated microphone for those looking to get into podcasting or Let’s Play videos. For everyone else, the microphone on the headset will be fine.
The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth is a great headset with a lot to offer. It builds on its predecessor with a helpful feature that gives it a ton more versatility, while retaining the high sound quality and top level of comfort. In fact, we would argue that this is the best gaming headset for those who like the added helpfulness of Bluetooth connectivity and who don’t want to have to buy two headsets.
Still, it’s not the best gaming headset. That title still goes to the Astro A50 — though the A50 comes at a much higher price.
If you’re looking for an excellent gaming headset and don’t need the Bluetooth connectivity, then the SteelSeries Arctis 5 may be a better choice for you. If, however, the Bluetooth feature would be helpful, then we think the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth is an excellent choice — so much so that we’ve awarded it the Headphone Review Silver Medal.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 22kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||40mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Sensitivity||98dB||Earpad material||Memory foam|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||28 hours|
|Maximum input power
||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.1||Cable length||1.2m (4ft)|
|Weight||Unknown||Colors||Black, white, blue, grey, red|