SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless review: "a solid headset elevated by its unique software features"

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless gaming headset held by reviewer against a white wall
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 wireless is an excellent addition to the series. Of course, the notion of adding pre-made profiles to a device’s software isn’t new but being able to swap between so many presets at the tap of a button on console certainly is. Pair that with a boosted battery life, excellent build, and an already-solid soundstage straight out the box and you have one of the best options for console users out there.


  • +

    Excellent EQ support for console users

  • +

    Comfortable over longer sessions

  • +

    Durable build quality

  • +

    Extendable microphone

  • +

    Fantastic detailing in audio


  • -

    Not all presets are equally useful

  • -

    No direct control over EQ settings in-app

  • -

    Less powerful audio straight out of the box compared to competition

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The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless doesn’t want to be your PC companion. This device is taking on the console world. With a companion app opening up your PS5 or Xbox Series X experience to a massive range of custom presets (over 100, all finely tuned by developers and sound engineers), this is a step forward for PS5 and Xbox Series X die-hards. It’s not without its competition, though. The Razer BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed is my go-to in this price range (it has exactly the same $129.99 / £129.99 MSRP). It’s currently the best gaming headset on the market for most people, but the Nova 5’s console focus could ruffle a few of the BlackShark’s feathers.  

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless | Now available at SteelSeries

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Key Specs
Price$129.99 / £129.99
Connection2.4GHz / Bluetooth 5.3
Frequency response20Hz - 22kHz
MicrophoneBidirectional noise cancelling
ControlsPower, volume, Bluetooth quick switch, mic mute, chat mix
Battery60 hours
CompatibilityPC, PlayStation, Xbox (on X model), Nintendo Switch, mobile


SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless gaming headset laid flat on a wooden table with microphone extended

(Image credit: Future)

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless isn’t tearing up the range’s rulebook here. You’re still getting smaller, more circular cups than you’ll find in models from Razer or Logitech, with a matte black plastic finish, and ski-style headband running across the top. In fact, aside from some additional controls on the right cup and a slightly different pattern running across the headband, this headset is visually indistinguishable from the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4. That design certainly wasn’t broken, though, so why fix it? 

This is still a fantastically well-put-together device, with a rock-solid plastic chassis, sturdy (if a little stiff) headband sliders, and absolutely no creaking no matter how far it’s pushed. The Nova 5 retains a flexibility that keeps it safe; I can push and pull these cups around without ever feeling like something was going to snap and they would simply jump back to their original positions like it was nothing afterward. 

The cups themselves are made out of a meshed fabric material and therefore stay nice and cool even during a spout of hot weather during my testing. The cushioning underneath was plush enough to ensure long-standing comfort during heavier sessions, and I was surprised that the smaller cup size didn’t lead to ear pinching. I have fairly small ears, but there was still plenty of room in between them and the padding itself, which meant everything was comfortably housed next to the driver rather than being crammed against the headset itself.  


This is where the Arctis Nova 5 Wireless gets interesting. I enjoyed my time with the previous release, the Nova 4, but its lack of Bluetooth and low battery life meant it couldn’t compete with others in its price range. This is the headset we should have had instead. It’s a little late, but with both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth 5.3 connections (and an easy smart switch button on the headset itself) you’ve got easy access to both your console and your phone and the ability to toggle between them. There’s no wired option here, though, so you are locked into a cordless experience (unlike the Razer BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed which gives you a USB cable to play with). 

You’ll be using that Bluetooth connection more often than you think as well. The Arctis Nova 5 comes with a companion app (available for both iOS and Android) which offers a whole wad of different EQ presets to choose from. Between your standard bass boost and FPS settings you’ve got hard-coded presets for a number of different games all created with developers, esports professionals, and sound engineers in tow. From Fortnite to Fallout 76, Elden Ring to Escape from Tarkov, Lies of P to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, there’s a massive selection of games to choose from here (full list available below). 

Yes, pretty much all of the best wireless gaming headsets offer up EQ settings, but none that I’ve tested have this number of pre-developed profiles straight out of the box. Not only that, but you’ll generally be creating these presets on PC before saving them to onboard storage (if you’re lucky enough to have such a feature). That means constant moving back and forth between your computer to fine-tune that sound or even swap your profile in some instances. I was a little disappointed to find that the companion app doesn’t offer an EQ graph to further fine-tune the experience. Considering this is something Razer routinely offers in its own mobile app when catering to lower mid-range gaming headsets, it seems like an odd exclusion. If you want direct control over exactly how your headset sounds, you’ll need to opt for something else.

That said, if even a couple of the games in your current rotation are on here, the Arctis Nova 5 Wireless is well worth checking out - and hopefully we’ll continue to see this feature supported for future releases as well. 

Close up on controls and ports of SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 WIreless

(Image credit: Future)

You can select a different preset for either 2.4GHz or your Bluetooth devices, and quickly swap your preset with a few taps in the app as well. The actual connection process is quick and easy - I was up and running with just a couple of in-app buttons when running on iOS and repeat pairing is as simple as opening the software. You’ve also got a couple of extra microphone controls in here, with sliders for your own volume, sidetone, and the brightness of the indicator LED on the side. 

Aside from the software, the Nova 5 Wireless features all the usual controls you would expect on the headset itself. The addition of a chat-mix scroll wheel is new for this model compared to the 4 before it, but otherwise everything runs pretty much exactly the same. The volume wheel is handily placed on the left side, with your chat-mix on the right, so it was easy to make sure I was hitting the right control. 

An extendable microphone runs out from the left cup, with a nicely flexible stem that snapped straight to the correct positioning with just a hand flick during my initial setup. 

The battery will see you through up to 60 hours of playtime. That’s a vast improvement on the Nova 4’s 36 hours, and while it doesn’t hold up against the BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed’s 70 hours (or the slightly more expensive HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless’s 300 hours) it’s above the average in this price range. 

Full game preset list at launch



Let’s not forget this is still a SteelSeries headset. The natural audio profile straight out of the box is still impressive, with fantastic balancing, a robust texture to the soundstage and plenty of detailing in the mids and higher ranges. This is a similar profile to the Arctis Nova 4, excelling in picking out the finer points of each range but still holding back in terms of raw power. There’s not quite the bassey richness of the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless in these cups, and straight out of the box the BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed sounds far more full-bodied. 

But the Arctis Nova 5 Wireless wasn’t designed to be used straight out of the box. There are some presets that make sense in this list; running through Apex Legends and CS:GO with their own profiles enabled was a pretty standard affair. Individual footsteps and gunshot sounds were elevated to the extent I could differentiate between different weapons, locations, and movements with ease. These are must-have presets for competitive affairs, so I was curious to see what the Mario Kart 8 option could bring to the table. To my surprise, I did notice a punchier, brighter soundstage with more emphasis on giving twinkly melodies robust support, while also giving each kart and bike a crunchy, gravelly engine roar. The Baldur’s Gate 3 preset brings smaller environmental details to the fore - the sound of echoes dancing off cave walls or goblins arming themselves in the distance.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless gaming headset beind held by reviewer

(Image credit: Future)

I was particularly interested to try out the Horizon Forbidden West preset - this is a go-to testing game for me. For some reason, very few headsets can balance these sounds of machinery with finer environmental details in a way that feels natural. The dedicated profile still couldn’t quite make these heavier sounds fit into the rest of the landscape, but was able to balance the clunks of a nearby ravager a little better than it did out of the box. 

I wouldn’t call all of these presets game-changing. I didn’t exactly notice too much of an improvement in Fall Guys or Super Mario Odyssey, for example. However, there are enough games on this list that do benefit from some additional EQ tweaks. 

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless isn’t doing anything that others can’t here. The power of its audio is a little behind the Razer BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed (though only audibly so when used side by side) and those EQ settings could be configured on a PC if you have the time to do the research into others’ profiles. It’s the ease of use, specifically for console players, that keeps the Nova 5 competitive.

Should you buy the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless?

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless headset laying on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless is a solid headset elevated by its unique software features. There aren’t many gaming headsets targeting console players with this kind of EQ ease-of-use and if you’re looking for a more tailored audio experience across each game you play I wouldn’t recommend anything else. It hopefully goes without saying, this is the better buy over the Arctis Nova 4 - and the latter is going to struggle with the 5 breathing down its back. 

However, there is a case for the BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed still. While you’re dropping those ready-made presets, Razer’s option packs higher-quality audio overall, with a better microphone and direct control over individual EQ sliders. You’re boosting your battery life, adding a wired connection option on top of 2.4GHz and Bluetooth, and paying exactly the same amount of cash. If you mostly play on PC and you’re happy building your EQ profiles there, this is still where I’d recommend you put your money. 

However, the better build quality, companion app, and extendable microphone (the BlackShark is non-detachable), means the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless is the go-to PS5 headset and the best Xbox Series X headset for players who want more from their game audio without spending hours messing around with sliders.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless | Now available at SteelSeries

How we tested the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless 

I received the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5X Wireless for testing, so used the headset across PS5, Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. In that time, I tested with pre-made presets across Baldur’s Gate 3, Apex Legends, CS:GO, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Fall Guys, Super Mario Odyssey, Horizon Forbidden West, and Starfield. I also tested the Nova 5 Wireless’s audio straight out of the box with each of these games for comparison, while also testing directly against both the Razer BlackShark V2 Hyperspeed and SteelSeries Arctis Nova 4. For more information on how we test gaming headsets, check out the full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy

We’re also rounding up all the best PC headsets on the market, as well as the best Nintendo Switch headsets and best gaming earbuds for something more portable. 

Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards, headsets and mice that come with them), PS5, and trying to find the perfect projector.