Gaming headsets are often look pretty extreme, with flashing LEDs, neon coloring, and unreasonably large ear cups—SteelSeries rejects this standard with its tame, borderline stylish headsets. We’re breaking down the differences between two solid performers that forgo glitz and glam in favor of functionality. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is among our favorite gaming headsets, and even merits an Editor’s Choice award, so how does the new SteelSeries Arctis 7P compare?

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on October 21, 2020 to reflect the fact that the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless will support the PlayStation 5 built-in spatial audio features.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless vs SteelSeries Arctis 7P: design and features

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless and Arctis 7P share similar frameworks: a standard over-ear design and boom mic. The Arctis 7P shares the same suspension headband and retractable boom mic as the SteelSeries Arctis 7, whereas the Arctis 1 Wireless has a standard detachable boom mic and headband. The retractable mechanism is great for gamers with teething pets, but you can just as easily detach the Arctis 1 Wireless mic when it’s inactive.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P lays flat on a wooden table

The Arctis 7P spreads buttons out over both ear cups, and the suspension headband creates a comfortable fit.

However, while a lot of the design is similar, SteelSeries uses more premium materials for the Arctis 7P, and still keeps it lightweight. The Arctis 7P features a brushed aluminum frame, with a rubberized cushion for when the suspension headband stretches. Conversely, the Arctis 1 Wireless features a steel-reinforced,  more conventional plastic headband that can withstand twists and bends. The default Airweave ear pads on either model are replaceable, which extends the product lifetime. The Airweave fabric covers the memory foam ear pads, and promotes airflow to prevent heat buildup.

Related: Best wireless PlayStation 4 gaming headsets

SteelSeries knocked it out of the park with the Arctis 7P onboard controls; the buttons are cleverly laid out, which reduces unintentional adjustments mid-game. All buttons are easy to distinguish from one another, and are spread out between the two ear cups. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless controls deviate from this layout, as they’re more clustered and confined exclusively to the left ear cup.

Console compatibility: SteelSeries Arctis 7P is ready for PlayStation 5

A man sits on a couch playing a Nintendo Switch with the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless gaming headset.

Both headsets work with nearly every device, but the Arctis 1 Wireless isn’t supported by the PlayStation 5 spatial audio feature.

Both headsets work with PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Android, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. While only one headset is currently being pushed as a PlayStation 5 gaming headset, both the SteelSeries Arctis 7P and Arctis 1 will full support Sony’s new integrated spatial audio system.

Read on: Best wireless PC gaming headsets

No matter which headset you get, you’re afforded a USB-C 2.4 GHz RF dongle transmitter, a USB-A adapter, and a 3.5mm audio cable. Neither headset features integrated surround sound, but stereo playback on consoles and devices sounds great.

Which gaming headset has better software?

SteelSeries Engine 3 audio software on a computer.

SteelSeries Engine lets you turn on surround sound and customize the headset’s output and dynamic range.

SteelSeries’ headsets all use the same Engine software that acts as hub for all of your SteelSeries peripherals. You can create a custom EQ and enable power-saver adjustments, but otherwise, its headset utility is minimal. Gameplay is unaffected whether you do or don’t download Engine software, which is a huge plus.

SteelSeries Arctis 7P and Arctis 1 Wireless sound identical

You won’t find that audio quality has changed between the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless and Arctis 7P, because they share the same dynamic drivers.

A frequency response chart for the SteelSeries Arctis 7P gaming headset, which shows a slight boost in bass range sound.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P and Arctis 1 Wireless share identical audio drivers, which happen to be the same as the Arctis 7.

Bass notes are amplified and sound almost twice as loud as mids, which makes explosions sound louder. Some people prefer this, but if you want the greatest advantage, you should equalize the bass response down a bit. Doing so will make it easier to hear other spatial audio cues, like approaching footsteps, with ease. The de-emphasis from 1-5.5kHz is nothing to be worried about: this tuning is intentional and reduces unwanted harmonic resonances within the human ear canal.

Isolation performance is where the Arctis 7P pulls ahead of its elder relative: low-frequency sounds are slightly blocked by the 7P, and these same sounds remain unaffected by the Arctis 1 Wireless. This difference in loudness is just barely audible (3dB), but is valuable nonetheless. The Arctis 7P also blocks out high-frequency sounds, like a distant whirring refrigerator, more effectively.

Each SteelSeries headset works with virtually any device.

To be clear: neither headset blocks out noise as well as active noise cancelling headphones.

Both microphones are Discord certified, but which is best?

Your friends won’t be fooled into thinking that either microphone is a dedicated gaming mic, but the Arctis 1 Wireless boom mic sounds slightly better.

The sound quality discrepancy is strange since both are ClearCast noise cancelling microphones, but makes sense seeing how the Arctis 1 Wireless reduces low-frequency notes less aggressively than the Arctis 7P. The bass de-emphasis depicted by both charts is necessary to avoid the proximity effect. This is when bass notes are unpleasantly amplified as a speaker gets too close to the microphone.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless microphone demo:

SteelSeries Arctis 7P microphone demo:

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Which SteelSeries Arctis headset has better battery life?

The SteelSeries Arctis 7P lays flat on a cloth surface

The lack of any colored LED lights helps the battery life on the Arctis 7P.

The Arctis 7P lasts 27 hours, 19 minutes on a single charge, and the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless lasts 25 hours, 22 minutes on a single charge. The Arctis 7P has the edge over the Arctis 1 Wireless, but both are sure to last the entirety of your gaming session. To recharge either, you have to use the included microUSB cable.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless vs SteelSeries Arctis 7P: which headset should you buy?

Both headsets are very good but, unless you really like the suspension band, save a few bucks and get the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless instead of the Arctis 7P.

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless sitting on a headphone stand against a white wall.

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is more affordable than the Arctis 7P, and nearly as functional.

There’s no denying that the SteelSeries Arctis 7P is a great gaming headset, but the fact of the matter is that the upgrade from the Arctis 1 Wireless is nominal. Battery life and sound quality are very good—just not good enough to warrant a 33% price hike between the two models. If you’re waiting for you PlayStation 5 to arrive, you’re fine picking up the Arctis 7P or Arctis 1 Wireless. It really just comes down to whether you want a pretty comfortable headset or a very comfortable headset (and I guess if you want your headphones to match your new console).

Alternatives outside of the SteelSeries family

The HyperX Cloud Flight S leans on a Playstation 4 controller on a wooden table.

With the HyperX Cloud Flight S, you don’t need additional software to enjoy surround sound.

If neither of SteelSeries’ offerings impressed you, we have a few alternatives to look at. One of our favorite headsets for PC gamers is the HyperX Cloud Flight S: it’s more affordable than the Arctis 7P, sounds great, and features integrated surround sound that works on PlayStation 4 and PC. It doesn’t look as nice as the SteelSeries Arctis product line, but the functionality more than makes up for its relative deficiencies.

The Roccat Elo 7.1 Air is another very good gaming headset, and it costs just $99 USD. The ear pads make it comfortable to wear with glasses, and it features a suspension headband similar to the Arctis 7P. Roccat Swarm software lets you enable 7.1 surround sound on PC, and make adjustments to the EQ, LED light colors, and microphone settings.

Next: How to connect your gaming headset

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