SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless review: Hotswappable Headset
- Dual battery system
- Fun to customise
- Lots of bits and pieces
- Sometimes uncomfortable for longer sessions
Although expensive, the Arctis Pro Wireless is a versatile and polished product that gets the job done and promises to last.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
With the Arctis Pro Wireless, SteelSeries bestow the gift of cable-free usage upon their most-expensive headset. It’s a fine addition to a formidable formula but one that almost doubles the price. The baseline Arctis Pro is a hefty $349. The Arctis Pro Wireless is a whopping $549. Unless you’re flush with cash and looking to downgrade from a set of Sennhesiers, that’s a pretty big surcharge.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is, for most intents and purposes, the best gaming headset that SteelSeries offer but I suspect that many of the benefits here are going to be difficult to justify even if the experience itself is excellent.
Dimensions: 8.99 x 16.63 x 18.71 cm
Drivers: 40mm neodymium
Software: SteelSeries Engine
Price when reviewed
Right now, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is approximately AU$500 through online resellers like Amazon.
Design & Performance
In terms of design, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is, unsurprisingly, a dead-looker for the SteelSeries Arctis Pro. Like that headset, the Pro Wireless features an aluminum alloy headband, airweave fabric ear cushions, 40mm neodymium drivers, a ClearCast microphone and support for DTS Headphone:X v2.0 and hi-res audio.
Unlike it’s untethered rivals, the Arctis Pro Wireless incorporates a unique take on cord cutting. Sure, you can just pair and use it as a regular Bluetooth headset. However, the way that SteelSeries wants you to use the thing is by connecting it to a bundled-in base station accessory. This can be used with either a PC or PS4 and setup is as simple as plugging it into your source device and turning on the headset.
The advantages of this setup are that there’s not nearly so much fussing around with Bluetooth settings. The disadvantages are that there’s quite a bit of extra cabling involved. Even there isn’t a huge difference between plugging in the base station for the Arctis Pro Wireless and slotting a Wi-Fi-capable USB connector into your PC, the bits and pieces that come with it add to the overall amount of space the unit takes up.
Another weakness is the button and connection layout on the headset itself. It’s a bit chaotic and not all that intuitive. I could usually guess where the volume slider was without too much trouble but anything beyond that was a stretch. I’d often have to take the Arctis Pro Wireless off to make sure I could properly see what I was doing with it - which kinda defeats the purpose of having buttons that are within an arm’s reach.
Another weakness to be touched on here is that the Arctis Pro Wireless can start to feel a little heavy on your ears over time. After about an hour of wearing it, even minors shift in the headset's grip can be quite uncomfortable. This issue isn't unique to the Arctis Pro Wireless. I encounter it in most modern gaming headsets but it's safe to say that the Arctis Pro isn't the exception.
There are two other things worth noting about the design here.
The first is that the Arctis Pro Wireless benefits from a few extra dimensions of customizability that some of its rivals lack. As opposed to something like the Razer Nari, the faceplates on the earcups of the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless (and even the fabric on the headband) can be swapped out for new styles and colors. Some people are inevitably going to care more about this than others but I dug how much it helped make using this headset feel different to the usual high-end gaming headset.
The second part of the Arctis Pro worth touching on is the unique twist it puts on the wireless side of the equation. Like other wireless gaming headsets, it relies on a 2.4G connection for low-latency audio playback and voice communication. However, unlike most other gaming headsets, the Arctis Pro relies on a set of rechargeable and removable batteries. The idea here is that you stick one battery into the base station for charging and then swap that with the one in the headset whenever it runs out of battery. It’s a neat solution, even if it’s a tad more involved. I don’t know if I’m convinced that it’s a better solution than just plugging the headset into recharge it but it definitely feels better.
Still, while most of the story here concerns the ways in which the Arctis Pro Wireless learns from both its contemporaries and cousins, the core experience of using this headset for gaming is great. I’ve been playing a lot of Valorant while using this headset and I’ve been constantly impressed with how it handles sound in Riot’s tactical first person shooter, where hearing and discerning the direction of a faint set of footfalls can be the difference between victory and defeat.
The Bottom Line
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro is a great gaming headset that delivers awesome audio and finds a few fun ways to put a twist on the formula. It’s probably more expensive and more capable than most usually need but if you’re intrigued by the dual battery setup and don’t mind accommodating the extra space demanded by the base station - it’s a versatile and polished product that gets the job done and promises to last.
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