SteelSeries launched its Arctis Nova lineup of headsets with a bang at the premium end, stunning us with first the Nova Pro and then the simply sublime Nova Pro Wireless.
That's not the extent of the lineup, though, and the lower price of the Nova 7 means that it represents a much more widely attractive option for those looking to pick up a new headset. Here's how we've found it to use for a few weeks.
- Headband supports some weight
- Available in black only, console variants have colour accents
SteelSeries' new look and feel for its Arctis Nova headsets means there isn't much variation between its various headsets - they all look the same, with a bit of change in how they feel and what they weigh.
The Nova 7 therefore looks a lot like the posher Nova Pro Wireless, but it weighs a bunch less thanks to shaving off features like active noise-cancelling and a few other bells and whistles.
That's a good thing - it's a sleek and simple look that has pretty subtle earcups and retains the core of SteelSeries' look with a headband suspended under a metallic band to suspend some weight off your head.
This means good news, in the form of a headset that's extremely comfortable to wear not just because of its low weight but also the smart design choices packed into it.
We've worn it for hours at a time without any clamping on our head, and you can also adjust the headband easily to make it a better fit for smaller heads.
If you pick up the versions aimed at Xbox or PlayStation platforms (both of which work with PC), you'll get headbands green or blue respectively to add a pop of colour, but broadly all versions look the same.
The headset has a retractable microphone that's unnoticeable when it's folded away, and really flexible when you pull it out, making it ideal for adjustability.
- 40 mm Neodymium Drivers
- 20–22,000 Hz frequency range
- Noise-cancelling bidirectional microphone
SteelSeries is this reviewer's chosen daily driver on the headset front not just because of its consistent comfort levels, but moreso because its headsets sound great.
The Arctis Nova 7 is another notch in the belt, with sound that really impresses at a lower price bracket than the unmatched Nova Pro Wireless.
You get clear, rich but balanced sound in basically every type of game. It was perfect for the dialogue and chilled-out audio of Marvel's Midnight Suns but also great for the more taut and explosive moments offered up by Warzone 2.0.
The Nova 7 can get impressively loud but also nice and delicately quiet, and in both cases we didn't notice a loss of detail at all.
The bass response is perhaps not the most booming that you can find, but that's a sound profile that we prefer, one that means you get a more balanced output overall.
You can use the headset with its including low-latency dongle (and that's by far the default way) but it also supports simultaneous Bluetooth, which means you can mix audio nicely, and this feature works easily.
Battery life and features
- 38-hour battery life, 6 hours from 15 minutes charging
- Wireless dongle is more powerful on Xbox version
We've said it before, but we're thrilled by how battery life has come on in the last couple of years for gaming headsets - we've gone from a dozen hours being par to expecting about double that at least.
The Arctis Nova 7 exceeds that bar, thankfully, with 36 hours of battery life as standard, measure that we found it met in testing.
What's also welcome here is a pretty rapid charging speed, which means that a 15-minute stint on the cable will get you fully six hours of playtime. That's great for the occasions when you find yourself stuck with low battery, although a wired connection is also there as your final backup.
This means you don't have the innovative battery-swapping that the Nova Pro Wireless offers, but it makes sense for that to be a high-end feature.
The headset comes with a diminutive USB-C dongle that's basically unchanged from previous headsets, and which connects it to low-latency audio.
It's small enough to stick out of your console, PC or phone without drawing notice, unlike the chunkier control hub of the fancy Nova Pro Wireless.
What's very weird here is that the PC and PlayStation versions have the same small dongle, while the Xbox version has a slightly bigger one with a small switch to change it from Xbox mode to a USB mode that will work on PlayStation, Switch, PC, mobile and more.
This means for the same price the Xbox version is the only one that will work with basically every device you might like, making it by far the best choice when picking up the Nova 7.
It's a shame that we don't have a one-headset-fits-all situation here for all versions, though - we'd love that to filter through SteelSeries' otherwise excellent lineup of options.