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Tech Tom's Relies On: SteelSeries Arctis 5 Gaming Headset

My dog's favorite toy is a three-foot-long rope whose length is punctuated by heavy knots. Working at home means I often have this rope brought over to me, thrown on my lap, or forced into my hands whenever my dog wants to play. This is usually fine--who doesn't like the occasional distraction?--but last week I learned that it can also be dangerous. Yep. My dog managed to break my headphones with his rope.

Here's what happened: The headphones' cord hung slightly over the side of my desk. When my dog brought over his all-too-heavy rope, he accidentally dropped it on the cord, which put too much pressure on it. This messed up the 3.5mm jack, and when I accidentally pulled the headset away from my PC a few days later, the entire thing came apart and left part of itself inside my PC. (I managed to pry out the leftover.)

The problem is that I need headphones. Sometimes there's too much noise for me to work without them, and when I play games like Overwatch that require me to communicate or Prey that use a lot of ambient sound, I need to be able to hear. So I set out to find a new pair of headphones right away, and I ultimately decided to purchase the SteelSeries Arctis 5 gaming headset as an early birthday present to myself.

I'll confess that the Arctis 5 has some features, like programmable RGB lights, that I couldn't really care less about. I also haven't found myself using the "ChatMix Dial" that prioritizes in-game sounds or voice chat all that much, though I suspect that will change as I get more used to the feature. But the basic aspects of the headset, from its sound quality and comfort to its built-in microphone, have all been excellent.

The Arctis 5 features 7.1 surround sound, which means I can easily tell where someone's coming from in-game based solely on audio cues. It also sports what SteelSeries describes as the best microphone in gaming. I'm not willing to make that statement myself, mostly because I haven't used built-in mics before, but I will say that few people I communicate with online have noticed a drop in voice quality compared to the Blue Yeti microphone I was using before.

Most important, though, is the Arctis 5's comfort. I have a big head, and some headphones don't stretch enough to accommodate that big ol' noggin, making it feel like someone's just constantly squeezing on my temples. Other headphones rest more on my ears instead of over them, and that can quickly start to chafe during marathon game sessions. (I mean, um, long days at the office.)

The Arctis 5 doesn't have either problem. I barely notice the headset when it's on, the cups easily cover my ears, and the so-called AirWeave ear cushions don't get too hot even when the temperature in my office rises. Combine the solid audio, clear microphone, and comfortable design, and you get a clear improvement over the budget headphones I used before. Maybe I should let my dog break more of my stuff.