Once you go wireless, it’s tough to go back, but the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is one of few wired gaming headsets I'd actually recommend to friends.
For $99, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime delivers booming, bright audio for gaming and music, and comes with comfortable leatherette ear cups and a solid noise-cancelling microphone in a sleek design. However, there’s no SteelSeries software support, which should come standard. It’s truly a missed opportunity, especially at this price. And it would be nice if there were a wireless option.
Overall, if you’re looking for a wired set of cans, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is one of the best gaming headsets on the market.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime design
The SteelSeries Arctis Prime features a discrete premium aesthetic with lovely pleather cups and soft-touch black painted shells.
The cups are round, thick and flaunt a magnetic plate with a gray SteelSeries logo stamped in the center. On the interior, you’ll find premium synthetic leather ear cups, which rotate inward, as you'd expect. Since the headset has a retractable microphone, it doesn’t get in the way, even with the included pop filter.
The top of the cups are held in place by a metal shell that protects the wires and feeds them to the steel band that connects the two cups. It’s wrapped in a ski-goggle-esque headband that you can adjust for a tighter fit.
All of the inputs are located on the left cup of the SteelSeries Arctis Prime. From top to bottom, there’s the mute button, the volume rocker, the SteelSeries proprietary audio jack, a 3.5-millimeter audio jack and the retractable microphone.
In the box, you’ll find the proprietary headphone jack cable (1.2 meters), the dual 3.5mm extension cable (1.8 meters) and a pop filter for the microphone.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime comfort
SteelSeries has been using the same airweave cushions in its headsets for a while, but the SteelSeries Arctis Prime forgoes those in favor of pleather cushions. They feel more snug than the other cushions, but they’re just as comfortable. Meanwhile, the headband is the same one used in the rest of the premium Arctis line, so it felt familiar and super comfortable against the top of my head. It’s also easy to adjust thanks to the velcro.
If you don’t like a tight fit, you might not like this headset. It took a bit to get used to. I wish SteelSeries included two different sets of cups like HyperX does with some of its headsets.
At 12.1 ounces, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is a little heavier than Razer Barracuda X, which comes in at 8.8 ounces. While the Barracuda X has wireless capabilities, the Arctis Prime is built with metal materials.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime gaming performance
The SteelSeries Arctis Prime’s 40-millimeter neodymium drivers produce bright and loud audio, which is great for gaming.
I played We Were Here Together, a co-op puzzle game with a really bangin’ soundtrack. The melodic strings of the guitar in the main menu sent chills down my spine as the headset captured the fullness of the mids and lows. In the game, the voice of the NPC that is going to lead me to my death sounded crisp and clear. When I was attempting to solve the puzzle with the Tesla reactor, the ball of electrical death produced a lovely shocking sound when it killed me.
In Resident Evil Village, I made my way through Lady D’s infested courtyard only to unload my pistol into someone’s face. And while the gunshot was loud and decently satisfying, it could’ve used a little more bass for that weighty oomph you expect from firing a gun. However, the sound effects from those flying monsters on the roof were properly sharp, and thanks to the Arctis Prime, I could pinpoint where they were. The Arctis Prime also captured the full scope of Lady D’s voice as she seductively threatened me.
I also played Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and when I unleashed a torrent of arrows into my enemy, each snap was thick and bold. Even when I charged him and went full Mike Tyson on this dude’s face, each punch was rich and meaty. Meanwhile, the stringed tunes of the Viking voices serenaded my ears with sweet highs and mids.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime music performance
While the SteelSeries Arctis Prime was built for gaming, it has enough bass and the balanced audio needed to provide a pleasant music-listening experience.
Listening to Gotye and Kimbra’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” the percussion was bright and lively. The vocals fell slightly behind the other instruments, but they still sounded clear. When Kimbra goes full blast, her vocals were resounding and present. All of the instruments were distinguishable from one another thanks to the generous soundstage.
In Bo Burnham’s “All Eyes On Me,” the vocals were a bit piercing and slightly congested. The percussion also leaned on the sharper side as well, not pumping enough bass to create a well-rounded performance. The piano was mellow, but not to its own detriment.
I listened to Dream State’s “I Feel It Too,” and the introductory guitar was bright and hypnotic. The following vocals were deep and rich, full of life. However, during the chorus, the electric guitar was overtaking the vocals a bit. Despite that, between the vocals, guitar and percussion, each instrument stood out in the song, creating a wonderful melody.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime microphone
The SteelSeries Arctis Prime’s retractable boom microphone is decent, albeit quieter than I would prefer.
You might have to speak up when you talk, as my voice sounded distant according to my coworkers, but other than the volume levels, the sound was good. My basement was getting waterproofed at the time of testing with people jackhammering the floor, and my coworkers said they could only faintly hear the drilling and it was only when I spoke. That’s some pretty good noise cancelling in my book.
SteelSeries Arctis Prime features
Unfortunately, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime doesn’t pack any features, meaning it cannot connect to SteelSeries' software. That’s inexplicable for a headset that costs $100. Let people tune the sound.
If you want a premium gaming headset that’s not going to break the bank, the SteelSeries Arctis Prime is a great choice. It offers awesome sound, sweet comfort (once you break them in) and a premium metal design. However, you are going to be wired in, and there’s no included audio software, so you have to be comfortable with what it sounds like out of the box.
For the same price, you can pick up the Razer Barracuda X, which offers full wireless support across four platforms and features good sound quality and comfortable ear cups. However, it doesn’t feel nearly as premium as the SteelSeries Arctis Prime.
The SteelSeries Arctis Prime is an excellent gaming headset for those who are OK with being plugged in.