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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless review: a new mid-tier contender

The SteelSeries Nova 5 Wireless headset has 100 game specific sound profiles, but its performance is sometimes held back by design choices.

SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless Review

Our Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless is a gaming headset that focuses on game-specific sound profiles to enhance your audio experience rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re trying to keep to a budget, few headsets provide as much depth as the Nova 5 thanks to its easy-to-use companion app, but some design flaws left me frustrated.

Reasons to buy
  • The companion app is simple to use
  • Fast-charge battery
  • Simple connection switching
  • Spatial audio across all platforms
Reasons to avoid
  • Loose fit
  • Matte finish is easy to damage
  • Audio bleeding through earcups

SteelSeries has built up quite the reputation in the headset market over the years and while its premium offerings are where you will find the best overall experience, the revised Arctis Nova 5 Wireless is a surprise package that won’t break the bank. This new headset takes the focus away from being a plug-and-play device, instead releasing alongside a companion app, packed full of over 100 game-specific sound profiles.

The SteelSeries Nova 5 has all the makings of one of the best wireless gaming headsets and is priced just right for where the market is at the moment. However, every time it does something great, like the pre-baked sound profiles, there’s a contradicting niggle that stops it from feeling like the total package, such as only being able to edit these profiles on PC.

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SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless
Drivers 40mm Neodymium
Connections 2.4 GHz & Bluetooth 5.3
Frequency Response 20Hz – 22,000Hz
Weight 265g
Battery Life Up to 60 hours, 15-minute fast charge (for 6 hours use)
Colors Black (With blue or green trim in P and X models)


The headline feature of the Nova 5 Wireless is its companion app that comes with over 100 pre-configured sound profiles, many of which are tailored to specific games like Baldur’s Gate 3, Counter-Strike 2, and Warzone 2. These are mostly designed to provide either the most immersive and engaging atmosphere in single-player games or a competitive edge in multi-player titles.

Elsewhere, the Nova 5 Wireless includes 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth 5.3 connections, but it doesn’t have simultaneous audio, despite being able to hold a connection to a mobile device and the 2.4GHz adaptor at the same time. This is to allow changing of audio profiles via the app while still active in a game but can become awkward if your mobile tries to play audio and the headset changes the audio stream automatically.

Steelseries Nova 5 wireless flat against a table

Thanks to these connectivity methods, the Nova 5 is compatible with PC, Mac, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, iOS, Android, Switch, and Meta Quest 2. If you are buying for consoles, you can show your allegiance by purchasing console editions of the headset, which apply a green or blue trim (5X being green, 5P being blue) to the fabric headband and in-ear left and right identifiers. Ultimately the USB-C adaptor is no different inside the box and will work with both headsets if needed.

The headset features a retractable mic, meaning it’s convenient to store the mic away when it’s not being used. The mic itself slides in and out with ease, and not been any awkward instances of it getting caught up or bent out of shape while adjusting it. The Nova 5 also has three quick controls for connectivity switching, power, and mute. AI noise cancellation is present to help keep your audio output clear and eliminate background noise.

Like many SteelSeries headsets, the headband can be removed to adjust the fit, plus it can even be replaced. However, the earcups’ outer plates are not replaceable, so the customization kits are ultimately a little redundant at the moment unless SteelSeries starts selling headbands separately.

Steelseries Nova 5 Wireless with microphone extended


The Nova 5 Wireless looks at first glance to be basically identical to the Nova Pro, Nova 7, and previous Nova 5 iterations, with its largely matte black finish, ovoid earcups, and fixed headband. So, it doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before from SteelSeries, but I feel this is a positive given that this design has already proven to be among the most comfortable currently available. Not every new release needs to reinvent the wheel.

The headband features adjustable sliders for the earcups, while the fabric internal headband does a great job of distributing the weight of the headset evenly over your head. The build quality of the Nova 5 feels good, but its matte texture scratches very easily, which is something to consider should you want to use the Nova 5 on the go.

From a comfort perspective, when static at my desk working or gaming, the Nova 5 feels fantastic. It’s light and airy, meaning long sessions cause no strain, and the open-back design means you can still hold a conversation with someone without needing to take the headset off.

A weakness in the design shone through when I first moved around with the Nova 5 on as it became apparent that it sits oddly loose over the ear. This isn’t so severe that it feels like the headset will fall off, but it’s annoying to feel it moving around on your head, especially when adjusting the earcups results in all comfort being lost as the fixed headband then sits flush against the top of my head. As a headset that pushes its Bluetooth capabilities, it’s odd that such a problem should arise when not sitting still at a desk. The Arctis Nova Pro Wireless’ closed-back design prevented this from being an issue as it sat a lot tighter over my ears, but not to the point where it became uncomfortable.

Another gripe comes not with the design on the headset, but the 2.4GHz adaptor. When plugged into my PC, it blocks off the use of a USB port. I have also seen images of the adaptor plugged into a PS5 and the same occurs there. This feels like a basic oversight that could and should have been avoided. However, a long adaptor extension cable is included, it’s just not very visually appealing to look at compared to the flush nature of an adaptor plugged straight into a PC.


Thanks to its 40mm Neodymium magnetic audio drivers, the SteelSeries Nova 5 Wireless provides really deep bass and clear highs, with higher than usual 22KHz max frequency. General audio quality is quite high and everything inside the Nova 5 Wireless is on par with much more expensive wireless headsets like the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro and SteelSeries’ own Nova Pro Wireless.

controls of the Steelseries Nova 5 wireless

However, the line between premium and mid-range is drawn in how the headset design impacts the audio quality, and due to the open-backed nature of the Nova 5, it is prone to letting outside noises become a distraction at lower volumes. Likewise, headset audio will bleed out of the earcups at high volumes, problems not typically found in closed-back headphones. That’s not to say that open or closed-back design determines quality, but here the decision to pursue an open-backed design has led to some situational weaknesses.

On a hugely positive note, the custom sound profiles have a big impact while gaming, with only a few of the general music and movie profiles being poor. Specifically, the clear vocals EQ effectively sounds like it places all non-vocal audio in a box, resulting in an unbalanced final product. This is where the ability to edit and save the sound profiles in the mobile app would be really useful, but alas this is only possible on PC via the SteelSeries GG software, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to send saved profiles back to the app.

The Nova 5 wireless has 360-degree spatial audio, a feature that has dripped down from being available in premium headsets and is now much more widely available. Here, it’s utilized particularly well, as in most first-person shooter game profiles, like CS2, key audio queues are incredibly crisp, and it’s easy to discern the direction and distance of footsteps or gunfire.

The retractable mic quality is good, and the AI noise cancellation works well. SteelSeries claims to have tested its technology against jet planes, and while I can’t speak to that degree of noise, I can confirm even the loudest keyboard clicks are muted.

Battery life

At 60 hours, the SteelSeries Nova 5 Wireless is on the higher side compared to competitors, but where it has most other headsets beat is the fast charge feature, offering six hours of battery life on just 15 minutes of charge time.

This is useful should you be caught short and need just enough juice to get you through one gaming session before a full charge can be done. Alternatively, the Nova 5 Wireless can be charged while using it as your primary audio source, but the included cables aren’t nearly long enough to use comfortably.

Steelseries Nova 5 wireless flat on a table showing the insides of the earcups


The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 5 Wireless has an MSRP of $129.99 (£129.99) and is available from the SteelSeries website, Amazon, and Best Buy.

The 5X and 5P models are only available from SteelSeries direct but may appear at other online retailers as has been the case with previous headsets like the Nova 7.


Razer Blackshark V2 Hyperspeed

Razer’s entry-level alternative to the Pro, the Blackshark V2 Hyperspeed is less flexible in its design, with a fixed microphone that is always on display, but the microphone itself is high quality and has the audio to back it up all while maintaining a reasonable price.

Roccat Syn Max Air

Bringing a little more style thanks to its RGB earcups, the Roccat Syn Max Air is a lightweight wireless gaming headset that places a huge emphasis on audio performance, taking a lot of cues from the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro with which it shares its audio drivers and tech like Superhuman Hearing.


The SteelSeries Nova 5 is a good wireless headset that feels like it is lacking in only a few, ultimately significant, areas that will prevent it from being a hugely memorable release. However, the companion mobile app is genuinely useful, particularly if you switch between different games regularly – especially competitive ones. SteelSeries isn’t alone in offering game-tuned profiles but the range of games and the ease of switching via the app are certainly convenient.

The audio and microphone quality is good, which alongside the well-tuned sound profiles, an impressive battery life, and quick charge time means the Nova 5 Wireless is really good value for money at its $129.99 (£129.99) MSRP.