The SteelSeries Arctis 3 may be one of the most comfortable headsets I've used and remarkably modular, which makes it a solid budget headset even with some slight trade-offs.
The Arctis series on the whole tends to sport a fairly large footprint, as opposed to smaller and more expensive offerings from the likes of Bose. That size actually made it feel more comfortable, though, as the ear cups never slid to pinch or press against my ears at an odd angle. The headset isn't so large that it's going to attract much attention, but it is slightly more conspicuous than some competitive headsets. A nicely designed volume wheel on the left cup gives fine volume control.
Its cushions help aide in the comfort, as the lightweight fabric breathes easily even when used for exercise or, in my case, doing chores. Its suspension band also kept it feeling light after prolonged use. As a wired headset it carries the issue of wire management, but to my surprise, the modular wire design didn't create additional issues. I expected the modular wire connections may come loose and cause multiple points of disconnect, but in my experience they stayed snugly fit.
The design is a minimalist black or white, which is posed as a "canvas" for users to outfit with their own choice of accessories. I prefer the minimalism, though, and to that end it's a simple solution that works by default.
Those modular wires are also a key component behind its positioning as a gaming-first headset. Being able to swap connectors quickly and easily makes it a very versatile headset across a wide variety of platforms, but it shines most on PC where SteelSeries' proprietary software allows for a greater degree of settings customization.
All of its creature comforts wouldn't mean much without sound quality, though, and on that front the Arctis is pretty good. It doesn't quite deliver the range of bass of higher-end headsets, but for a budget-priced model it's a solid performance. The ear cups aren't noise cancelling, but the foam-like surface that provides such a high degree of comfort does a fine job of dampening ambient noises.
The microphone, similarly, is pretty good but not great. The retractable feature is a nice touch for both style and flexibility, and the bidirectional microphone does surprisingly well for a lower-end model at filtering out surrounding noise. It isn't as high-quality as a dedicated microphone for audio production, but as an easy no-fuss solution for hoping on chat during an online game, it's pretty ideal.
Such an estimation essentially goes for the Arctis 3 as a whole. It isn't a high-end headset, and at a $79.99 MRSP, it simply has no aspirations of matching more expensive models–even those within the Arctis line. But as a sturdy and comfortable headset that can easily swap between multiple roles for those who own a wide variety of gaming platforms, it stands out nicely.
This review is based on a SteelSeries Arctis 3 headset provided by the publisher. The Arctis 3 is now available at an MSRP of $79.99.