Why the SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth Is My Favorite Gaming Headset

I didn't know I needed a headset until the night I found out that my TV supported Bluetooth connections. Energized by my discovery, thinking of all the things I could watch while my roommates were sleeping, I connected my AirPods to my TV, only to discover a big problem.

I couldn't control the volume from the TV, so I had episodes of My Hero Academia blasting at full volume through my AirPods, an experience I turned off in mere minutes. So, the next day, I turned to my colleagues to talk Bluetooth headphones with inline volume controls.

The more I looked up and down the market, though, my demands grew. This was at the height of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate mania, so I realized I wanted a headset with a microphone, and one that could work with both my Switch and Discord on my iPhone.

So, I came away with a list of necessary headphone features — volume controls, Bluetooth connectivity and a wired headphone cable — and a hope I could get all of these things for a decent price. Oh, and comfort would be really nice.

When my colleagues pointed me in the direction of SteelSeries’ popular Arctis’ headsets, I almost clicked buy immediately on the priciest, the $149 Arctis 7. Its Amazon listing mentions "Nintendo Switch" and "Lag-Free," which made it sound like the slightly-pricey, but worth-it investment that was right for me.

MORE: The Best Headsets for Immersive Gaming

But then I clicked through to the Arctis 7 and found it was missing my biggest requirement: Bluetooth. Turns out, it's a "Wireless Gaming Headset" because it uses a USB adapter, the same way many wireless mice work. So I kept looking.

While it may seem that there are 3 versions of the Arctis headsets, the $69 Arctis 3, the $99 Arctis 5 and the $149 Arctis 7, there's also the $99 Arctis 3 Bluetooth. Which is somehow the only model with Bluetooth.

Yes, somehow the $99 — $50 cheaper than the 7 Series — headset packs the most commonly used wireless audio technology, and its pricier sibling doesn't.

Sure, the Arctis 7's got the neater design, with an elegant metal frame, and its ChatMix Dial helps you balance game and chat noise. But the Arctis 3’s Bluetooth support makes it a much better lifestyle device than its pricier sibling, since it works seamlessly with just about every gadget I own.

Not only is my late-night TV watching not an issue anymore, but the Arctis 3 Bluetooth edition also packs an extension cable that lets me stay connected from a distance. This way, I can kick back with the Arctis 3 plugged into my Switch while the headphones are connected via Bluetooth to my iPhone, allowing me to talk smack on Discord while still enjoying the sweet sounds of Smash.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.