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SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X (2020): What’s the Difference Between the Wireless Gaming Headsets?

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X have a lot in common. However, they do have some key differences—besides price and connectivity, that is. According to SteelSeries, they provide the same sound quality and comfort. What makes the Arctis 9X different is it’s made for the Xbox, but that doesn’t seem to be painting the whole picture. We made this comparison to get to the bottom of things and help you decide which wireless gaming headset you should buy.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X Comparison Chart

ModelSteelSeries Arctis 7SteelSeries Arctis 9X
SteelSeries Arctis 7 - Lossless Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone:X v2.0 Surround - For PC...SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless Gaming Headset – Integrated Xbox Wireless + Bluetooth – 20+ Hour...
PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon
Frequency Response20 Hz – 20 kHz20 Hz – 20 kHz
Drivers40 mm Neodymium40 mm Neodymium
Positional AudioDTS Headphone:X v2.0Windows Sonic Spatial Audio
MicrophoneRetractable, Noise Canceling, ClearCast BidirectionalRetractable, Noise Canceling, ClearCast Bidirectional
ConnectionUSB, 4-Pole 3.5 mm Analog, Lossless 2.4 GHzUSB, Bluetooth 4.1, Xbox Wireless
Battery Life24+ HoursUp to 20 Hours
Wireless Range40 ft.20 ft.
Onboard ControlsChatMix Dial, Microphone Mute Toggle, Volume Control, Power ButtonChatMix Dial, Microphone Mute Toggle, Volume Control, Power Button, Bluetooth Button
CushionAirWeaveAirWeave
SoftwareSteelSeries Engine 3SteelSeries Engine 3
Weight0.8 lbs0.8 lbs
CompatibilityPC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, MobilePC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Mobile
Year of Release20182019
ColorsBlack, WhiteBlack

Design

SteelSeries’ iconic Arctis design shines through the Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X Design
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 (left) and Arctis 9X (right) look more or less the same, except for some green accents on the Arctis 9X.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 has an understated design that’s also sleek. Build quality is solid as well. The headband is made with durable steel, floating above the woven ski goggle fabric. The ear cups are where you’ll find the onboard controls, and they’re huge, to say the least. They’re large enough that you’ll naturally assume they can hug your ears for a secure fit. All in all, not only does it feel premium but it also looks like it.

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Meanwhile, the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is pretty much the same. After all, it’s only building on the Arctis 7. But SteelSeries teamed up with Microsoft to make it, so it looks more “Xbox-y.” That’s evidenced by the green accents on the headband.

Both headsets have a retractable mic, so you can tuck them away when you’re not using them. Couple that with their polished design, you likely won’t attract any weird looks during, say, your commute.

Comfort

Neither the SteelSeries Arctis 7 nor the Arctis 9X are uncomfortable.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X Comfort
The combination of the ski goggle suspension headband and AirWeave cushions makes the SteelSeries Arctis 7 (left) and Arctis 9X (right) comfy to wear.

As mentioned earlier, SteelSeries fitted the Arctis 7 and the Arctis 9X with its trademark ski goggle suspension headband. Mix that with the AirWeave ear cushions, and you’ve got yourself some really comfortable gaming cans.

The clamping force of each headset is just right as well. That makes either one the ideal audio companion for long gaming sessions.

Performance

Both the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X come with 40 mm neodymium drivers and a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X Performance
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 (left) has DTS Headphone:X v2.0 surround sound, while the Arctis 9X (right) only has Windows Sonic Spatial Audio.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X deliver the same sound quality. Considering their specifications, that’s not too surprising. They’re both equipped with 40 mm neodymium drivers, and they have the same frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

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That said, the treble on the two isn’t too sharp. The bass doesn’t get muffled and cloudy. Also, there’s no sign of crackles or distortion. In short, you’ll get a rich and clear audio experience on either one.

It’s worth mentioning that the SteelSeries Arctis 9X can connect to the PC via Bluetooth or an Xbox Wireless Controller Adapter. The good news here is you get some flexibility. The bad news is audio quality suffers when using Bluetooth. That means you’ll have to pay extra for the adapter to get a better sound on the PC.

Now surround sound is one of the defining differences between the two. The SteelSeries Arctis 7 has 7.1 surround sound support using DTS Headphone:X v2.0 technology. On the other hand, the Arctis 9X only relies on Windows Sonic Spatial Audio, which is decent but can’t really compare.

Features and Battery Life

ChatMix controls and ClearCast microphones on the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X make chatting with teammates super easy.

SteelSeries Arctis 7 vs 9X Features and Battery Life
On a single charge, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 (left) can last over 24 hours, while the Arctis 9X (right) can go up to 20 hours.

The ChatMix Dial is among the SteelSeries Arctis line’s best features. That’s because it saves you from the hassle of going to the options menu just to balance in-game and chat audio. Another noteworthy detail is the ClearCast microphone that helps make sure you sound clear and natural. In other words, these add a lot to how you can communicate effectively with your teammates.

Battery life on the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X is par for the course for headsets in this price range. To be exact, the Arctis 7 can last more than 24 hours, while the Arctis 9X can last up to 20 hours.

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Verdict

Put side by side the SteelSeries Arctis 9X, the Arctis 7 comes out on top.

Across the board, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and Arctis 9X are similar in more ways than one, from sound quality to comfort. The main differences are that the Arctis 7 is more affordable and has better surround sound.

However, if you primarily use PC and Xbox platforms, then the SteelSeries Arctis 9X is worth considering. But that’s pretty much the only reason, which doesn’t really say much.

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vincent Lanaria
Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.