SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless Headset Review – Light And Easy

Gaming peripheral makers Steelseries has extended its line of gaming headsets with the new SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 wireless headset. Gaming headsets are usually a premium-priced product, moreso its wireless counterparts.

The Arctis Nova 5 is poised as the entry point for SteelSeries’ wireless headsets. But with its long-life battery, compatibility with many devices and excellent sound quality makes for all the compromises it has done to keep the price down worth it.


The first thing I notice about the SteelSeries Arctis 5 Nova is its packaging. It is designed to deliver an unboxing experience. Getting these pair of cans out feels like something you get out of a premium headset. And it’s generous with the freebies. A USB Type-C cable (to charge the headset) and a USB Type-C to Type-A converter? How nice. There’s a sticker sheet as well. And a manual.

The headset itself is where you will notice how prices are kept down. It is made out of APS plastic, which should be durable, but stretching it out a bit gives that sense of dread that it may eventually snap into half if you’re not careful. It’s a bit too plyable. But it’s also pretty lightweight, lugging it around or having the headphones on the head feels like nothing really weighing you down.

Build Quality

At least there’s no PU leather covering anything here. I used to rock a SteelSeries Siberia headset, and that poorly age as all those pleather and plastic coverings disintegrated by its third year of use. So hopefully the matte material on the Nova 5 can retain its sleek look of the headset for longer than just three years. The underside of the headset has a rubbery soft touch though, which can catch dust and lint.

The ear cushions and the elastic band can be removed and replaced, which is nice. Those definitely will wear out and it’s cheaper to get a replacement part than buying a whole new headset if you don’t intend to upgrade.

The ear cushions themselves are plush and comfy, and when the headset is adjusted correctly the cushions encloses your ears so good that it drowns out a good portion of outside noise, enough to not hear a loud rainstorm outside or when someone talks to you. The earcups swivel from the back to a full 90 degrees so ears of any angle and width should be able to fit. The volume knob at the back is a bit slidey not to the point that it can go free-wheeling. The knob works fine, you can quickly slide it to mute or maximum volume with one good roll of the thumb.

The less good bit is adjusting the headset. The retractable bits don’t feel retractable enough- it’s so rigid that I feared this thing might break apart if pulled, but that’s by design. I only found out it can be adjusted by reading the manual. Trying to fiddle the retractables and then manually adjusting the band is a bit cumbersome. It’s not easy or quick to get that snug fit for my wide-ish head compared to other headphones and headsets I’ve used. But once you got the right fit, it’s a set-and-forget situation. Never need to fiddle around with it again.

The Mic And Button Build

There are three buttons on the back of the headset. The power button has a tiny bump so you know that’s not the other button, the Quick-Switch. And on the left side is the big microphone on/off button along with the volume slider.

Each of the buttons produce an audible sound when clicked. The power on/off has specific jingles. The Quick-Switch button has lady saying out loud “2.4 mode” or “Bluetooth mode”. The microphone… just has one sound. You can’t tell if the mic is on or off by the audio cue alone. Sure, the button sits higher slightly that you can see a red colour from the gap under the button, but you can see that when the headphones are on the head.

And yes, the Nova 5 has a microphone, thus it’s a headset rather than a pair of headphones (but for this review I purposely using the terms interchangeably). The mic is elegantly tucked on the left side, though to use the mic properly you’ll need to pull it out of its housing and place it close to the mouth. It looks slick, the microphone nub blends with the shape of the headset. Pulling it out and pushing it back is effortless to do.

You can turn off the red glow on the mic which is on by default for some reason. The Nova 5 doesn’t have customisable RGB lighting but it sure likes to emit lighting. The LED light that indicates the battery life and connection type (which you cannot see when wearing these as they’re on the back of the headphones) sure are bright. Other people in your home or workspace will know when you have the headset turned on.

The Dongle Has One Quirk

The USB-C dongle, for the 2.4GHz wireless connection, is small and looks nice. The fact that it’s a Type-C connection means you can just plug it to any supported device with ease. The Nova 5’s wireless dongle supports PS4, PS5, PC, mobile, VR headsets but not Xbox consoles (you’ll need the Nova 5X headset for that, which has a wider dongle).

There’s one problem with using the USB-C dongle, and that is that it will block any other port next to the USB-C port. If plugged on the launch PS5, it will block the other USB-A port at the front. On my laptop (Lenovo Legion Y740 2019), it blocks the 3.5mm jack. It shouldn’t be blocking any other ports on the Switch, but rest assured, any port close by the USB-C port will be blocked by the dongle’s width. The manual suggests that you can also use the USB-C to USB-A converter and plug it to a typical USB port instead, so it’s nice there’s a workaround. But that defeats the effortless plug-and-play nature of the dongle.

The Nova 5 doesn’t come with a casing, but if you’re storing this headset when travelling, it’s good to know that you can attach the dongle to the headset’s USB-C charging port.

Build quality-wise, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 has made good compromises. It remains to be seen how well its plastic housing holds up over time, but the rest of the hardware feels well-made and designed.


The Arctis Nova 5 line of headsets has one killer app. And it is a literal app. The Nova 5 Companion App allows you access to hundreds of equaliser (EQ) presets designed for specific games, or specific usage cases. Some game presets were made by the developers themselves like Destiny 2. Some are tuned by esports competitors like for CS2 and F1 23. There are even also very specific presets like one that boosts footsteps in FPS, as well as music-based presets like bass boost and clear vocals.

And since it works via an app, that means you can use these EQ presets on consoles as well, not just on PC. Which is quite the game-changer. Having the surround sound boosted in Elden Ring on the PS5 really helps with the immersion (i.e. oh god what’s that loud noise it’s going to kill me isn’t it) as well as giving an edge (I have an easier time finding those pesky scarabs when their dingaling noises is delivered via spatial audio). Playing Forza Horizon 5 with its preset on makes the engine sounds punchier (especially if the game audio settings are set to favour engine noise) but also can make the music sound boomier (if you set the in-game settings to favour music). The scenic drives in the open world sure feels better with a good pair of headphones- or headset in this case.

The app works well, and the presets I’ve tried do make a difference, but I can’t tell if it’s the case with the many other games I didn’t use the presets with. And also, navigating a drop-down menu with 100+ options is too fiddly. If the app can group up the settings, or even better, let users save a list of favourite presets, that would be much better.

Sonar Is Powerful… Too Powerful…

On PC, you can even make your own EQ presets via the Sonar app housed within the SteelSeries GG app. It functions just like the companion app but with more options to play around.

Though I don’t recommend using the Sonar app unless you are a power user, as it’s is also a virtual mixer. That is a powerful tool that allows you to route audio from specific apps to specific audio output, which is a handy tool for streamers and content creators. But it’s something a typical user is better not using. Trust me, you don’t want to look at a long list on the sound output menu just to find which one is the one you need to connect to when all you do is just gaming on your own. Stick to the companion app.

Though you should still have GG installed for firmware updates, and changing EQ presets on PC can be done via the Engine section of the GG app.

The Quick-Switch Party Trick

The Arctis Nova 5 can connect to two devices simultaneously- one via the 2.4GHz dongle and one via Bluetooth. You can’t hear both channels simultaneously, but you can switch between them with the press of the Quick Switch button. Which brings us to the Nova 5’s party trick: it can answer voice calls.

If you have your phone connected via Bluetooth and have the headset connected on another device, you can answer an incoming phone call from the headset’s buttons alone. But you need to know that Nova 5 plays a specific sound in the headset when your phone’s ringing- something I wasn’t aware and mistakenly thought was some weird sound effect in Elden Ring. When the call is answered, you’ll use the headset mic to talk, so you have to pull that out and have it near your mouth before answering a call.

While the usual use case for the Nova 5 is to have Bluetooth connected to a phone or mobile device, you technically can mix-and-match what connection goes where. Though the PS5 continues to not play nice with other Bluetooth headphones and headsets. You have to plug the dongle to use the headset on that console.

Sound Quality

The dynamic drivers on the Arctis Nova 5 are solid stuff. It can produce deep bass in intense DNB and jungle music while also providing clear, crisp vocals on podcasts. These pair of cans is good enough for general music listening, in particular if you’re not an audiophile who can pick up the particular minute differences of more expensive headphones. These sounds good in general.

It also supports 3D audio, which is nice for immersing into a game, or better yet, gain an advantage for having more situational awareness. The EQ presets I’ve used are pretty good at enhancing a game’s experience.

That said, the Nova 5 is sadly a wireless only headset. The USB port is only for charging and firmware update, and cannot output audio via a wired connection. That means it is prone to interference, where the sound cuts out or glitches out on occasion. I have this issue occur regularly with the 2.4GHz connection, as my room where I use this headset mostly is literally next to the home’s wireless router, which also emits signal on the 2.4GHz band. So your mileage may vary, but expect the occasional sound hiccups to happen. That’s just the nature of these wireless headsets.

The microphone included sounds crisp and clear. It’s not boomy, rather the sound is thin and concentrated so it’s not really something you want to use to record a podcast with. Rather, the mic audio cuts through the ambience of a video game audio or a livestream when you’re talking with your friends on Discord for a game session or a watchalong. The mic’s main use case is for online gaming, so in that regard, the Nova 5 delivers a good mic.


And on a separate note, the battery life is pretty darn good. My testing wasn’t able to reach the claimed 60-hour battery life as regularly as I thought, but it still takes a long, long time before the notification light at the back starts rapidly glowing like near-death Ultraman.

Out of the box, I used the Nova 5 for four days straight before it requires a recharge. And a quick 15 minute charge can top it up to 50% battery life. The fact that I don’t feel like I am regularly charging the headset like my Xbox controller and the PS5 DualSense controller is such a relief. If you use the Nova 5 like I have been, in 3-4 hours sessions, battery life won’t ever be an issue, until a couple more years later that is.


At RM699, the Arctis Nova 5 is a tad bit pricey when it comes to wireless headsets. Wired headsets, and wireless headphones (sans mic) can be found cheaper, of course. But if you’re a gamer, you’d likely would want a headphones with a built-in mic.

The Nova 5 offers the ability to connect to two devices and switch between the two. It has specific use cases and more of a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. But it is s unique feature.

Its long battery life and compatibility with so many different devices makes it really desirable. And if you’re thinking in the long term, the Nova 5 is one of the rare headsets with replaceable parts available as an accessory purchasable from the manufacturer. So if you’re thinking of buying or upgrading to a wireless headset and want to make it last, you can with the Nova 5, as long as you’re careful with using it.

In SteelSeries’ current headset offerings, the Arctis Nova 5 sits in the upper mid-tier. It’s the cheapest wireless headset within the Arctis range, though SteelSeries wants you to see this as an “affordable luxury”. Just enough of the features shared from the more expensive Nova 7 and Nova Pro wireless headsets. That nice-to-have Quick-Switch is a luxury in that way. Though if you ask me, I’d rather say you’re getting a lot of value for money with this pair of cans.

That said, I’m still not quite sold with the plastic casing for the headband, I’m still perceiving as “cheap” due to its overtly elastic ability. The little voice in my head keeps saying that I pull these headphones off my head in a funny angle one day it might snap into two, but if you’re okay with babying these just to be extra safe, or able to shake off this sense of dread I have when using the headset which might just be a personal gripe rather than a real issue, then it’s worth it.


The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 provides a new entry point to the world of wireless gaming headsets. The lower price point meant that the build of the headsets has been significantly changed though the materials used here feels solid, for now at least.

What was not compromised was the audio quality. And it can be paired with a powerful app with many useful EQ presets to make your gaming session immersive or possibly provide a slight advantage. It serves just as good for the casual music listening as well as for hardcore gaming sessions. And the Quick-Switch is a nice-to-have feature.

A good mic, comfy fit and long battery life makes the Arctis Nova 5 an ideal gaming headset for those looking to dip their toes into wireless headphones, but not ready to spend big bucks for them. You’re getting a lot out of the RM699 price tag the Nova 5 asks for.

Review unit provided by SteelSeries.


SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless Headset

A good mic, comfy fit and long battery life makes the Arctis Nova 5 an ideal gaming headset for those looking to dip their toes into wireless headphones, but not ready to spend big bucks for them. You're getting a lot out of the RM699 price tag the Nova 5 asks for.

  • Hardware And Equipment 8.5
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Value 9.5

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