SteelSeries has been a major contender in the headset market for years, thanks to its Siberia V2 headset. The DNA of the V2 still exists in the company's slightly higher-end V3 model (look for a review from us soon) but this time around SteelSeries decided it could go for the even more budget-minded consumer with the new RAW Prism--a real bargain of a headset at $60.
And if that price makes you wonder what's the catch? Well, it's actually "catches," plural.
The adage "You get what you pay for" isn't always true in the gaming headset market. There are definitely some low-quality headsets masquerading behind an absurdly high price tag and vice versa. That being said, the RAW Prism is most definitely a $60 headset.
Looking at the design from afar, you can't really tell. It's sleek, and the single band of adjustable-LED lighting on each ear makes the RAW Prism fit in with its older (and more expensive) siblings. It's not a work of art, but it looks designed. Truth be told, I probably like SteelSeries headsets the best because they universally look like something I could wear in public, in the office, or around non-gaming friends without immediately calling attention to the fact that these are first-and-foremost gaming devices.
The RAW Prism's fancy looks are all a show, though. This is the headset equivalent of a pleather jacket: Sure, you'll look the same if you wear it on your motorcycle, but when you finally test it out and the jacket hits the pavement it's going to shred apart into a million tiny pieces and you're going to feel sad you cheaped out.
Phew, what an analogy.
As you might expect from the price, the RAW Prism is not the most solid-feeling device in the world. It's constructed from white plastic, and when held in your hands it just feels unremarkable. The cord is a stiff white rubber, terminating in a USB connection that powers the LEDs and delivers audio. The cord is also pretty short for a USB device (five feet), which might be tolerable on a laptop but could be a pretty huge hassle depending on your desktop setup.
Wearing the headset, you're immediately conscious of two things: 1) This thing is seriously lightweight, which is great for marathon gaming sessions, and 2) the earpieces on this thing are really cheap. If you want to know the cheapest thing about this cheap headset, it is the earpiece coverings. Both are covered in some sort of mesh fabric that, while breathable, feel like a basketball jersey rubbing against your face. I don't like it.
Next we come to the sound itself. If there's one thing I want to commend the RAW Prism on, it's that these things get loud. Deafeningly loud. It's also nice of SteelSeries to include the SteelSeries Engine 3 software with the RAW Prism, albeit in limited form. You can only tweak a few settings, but hey--customization is customization.
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