A Guide to Buying the Best Chair for PC Gaming

Alex

An often-overlooked part of a PC gaming setup is what gaming chair to buy. Most modern “gaming” chairs are more form that function, lined with bright colors and shaped like race car bucket seats. But the truth is that you might not need one of those “gaming” chairs. In fact, you’re usually better off buying a quality office chair.

For most PC builders, getting the right chair is easy to forget, but think about it: you’ve spent hours pouring over component comparisons and recommended build guides, but rarely is that same attention placed on where you’ll be sitting. A good chair can often outlast those PC components, so you should give it some thought.

Office chairs are designed for hours of sitting, focusing on ergonomics (instead of flashy neon colors, cheap leatherette, and pointless plastic); these are our favorite gaming chairs. If you just want to skip to our recommendations, you can scroll to the chart below.

Why You Should Find the Right Chair

Sitting for hours on end in a poorly designed chair can lead to discomfort, posture problems, and circulation issues. A good chair should have several adjustable parts, such as arm rests, tilt, and height—allowing you to fine-tune each individual adjustment to your specific body dimensions and comfort.

A chair should support the natural curvature of the spine, providing lumbar support and a relaxed, upright posture. Your feet should rest flat on the ground, with your knees approximately the same level as your hips so your thighs are parallel to the ground. Proper positioning will allow you to sit for hours on end for uninterrupted gaming (or working, I suppose).

 

“Office Chair” vs “Gaming Chair”

The main difference between office and gaming chairs is aesthetics. Gaming chairs are designed with a “professional gamer” styling in mind—that is, bright colors and prominent branding. They’re usually shaped like race car seats, with padding that wraps around the back of the torso.

Office chairs, on the other hand, are frequently more spartan in design. Mesh and fabric cushioning are generally the norm.

What to buy is almost entirely up to personal preference. Many people do like the flashy appearance of gaming chairs, while others prefer the more tame design of office chairs. There are great chairs in both categories, just as there are poorly designed or overpriced chairs in both categories.

The only consideration that may tip the scales for some neutral buyers: on average, a good office chair will be more comfortable than a similarly priced gaming chair (or, to put it another way, an office chair costs less than a gaming chair at a given level of comfort). You’re usually paying a premium for that “gamer” styling.


What to Look for in a Chair

Your primary concern in a chair choice should be comfort. Does it fit your body? Can you adjust enough aspects of the chair to satisfy your needs? But there are several other things you should consider when looking at an office chair:

Material

Leather, PU (synthetic leather), fabric, and mesh are the most common types of chair material. Leather is often the most expensive, and fabric or mesh are generally cheaper.

I recommend avoiding synthetic leathers, as those materials often don’t hold up in the long run—peeling, cracking, and flaking are common ailments of an aging fake-leather chair.

Real leather is very smooth and durable, but can be warmer over a long period when compared to more breathable mesh and fabric materials.

Mesh and fabric are light and affordable, but also have potential drawbacks to keep in ind: highly variable material quality between chairs, and usually less cushioned support.

Headrest

If you’re going to be spending much time in a relaxed position—say, watching movies or playing laid-back games—you should consider chairs that feature a headrest.

Often, gaming chairs extend the torso support up into a headrest; these gaming chair headrests come with a pillow to provide extra neck support, but I recommend avoiding these, as a pillow here can force your body to hunch over.

Office chairs frequently don’t come with a headrest, since office workers are generally expected to be upright or leaning forward while on the job.

Lumbar Support

Anyone who’s sat in a chair with bad lumbar support (i.e. lower back support) for long periods of time can tell you how important good lumbar support is. There are three types of lumbar support: static, pillow, and adjustable support.

Static lumbar support uses a bar or bridge that forms the back of the chair; pillow support adds in an extra pillow that the user can adjust to comfort; and adjustable support allows a user to change the height or degree of support.

Pillow support is common in gaming chairs. Office chairs often rely on static, with bridges that provide lumbar support.

Armrests

A good armrest should be able to move up or down to match the level of your desk and elbows.

An armrest with this kind of up-and-down movement is called a 2D armrest. A 3D armrest can also slide forward and back or swing in and out, providing extra adjustability for a wider range of body types. Static armrests don’t move at all.

Price

A top-of-the-line Herman Miller office chair will exceed $1200. These chairs are designed for a full day of sitting, usually in an office environment.

On the other hand, there are several good options for sub-$250 chairs that provide adequate comfort, support, and design for a gaming chair.

Warranty

Hours of sitting and standing, day after day, will wear down even the best-made chair. A solid chair can exceed the price of a midrange GPU, or in some cases even the cost of your whole build, so it should come with a warranty.

Most budget chairs come with a 2-year limited warranty (meaning they don’t cover wear and tear), while some high-end chairs will come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.


Our PC Gaming Chair Recommendations

Staples Hyken IKEA Markus HON Exposure Secretlab Omega Herman Miller Sayl
Type Office Office Office Gaming Office
Material Mesh Leather and mesh Varies PU leather Mesh and fabric
Headrest Yes Yes No Yes No
Lumbar support Adjustable Static Adjustable Pillow None
Armrests 2D Static 3D 3D Static
Price $150 $230 $230 $360 $510
Warranty 7-year limited 10-year limited 5-year limited 3-year limited 12-year full

 

Staples Hyken Mesh Chair ($150)


The Staples Hyken manages to be the right blend of function, aesthetics and budget for a modestly priced office chair. The chair provides good lumbar support and adequate cushioning that’s comfortable for hours of sitting. A tilt-lock allows you to recline to a comfortable position or remain upright. A comfortable mesh headrest also provides head and neck support for relaxed gaming sessions.

Adjustable armrests also give you the ability to set the desired height to match the level of your desk. The mesh material keeps you cool by allowing air to circulate between your body and the chair. An elegant, modern design makes this a good pick for someone still concerned about aesthetics.

However, this chair isn’t the right pick for those with longer torsos, as the adjustable headrest can dig into the top of the shoulders.

 

IKEA Markus ($230)


Everyone’s favorite Swedish furniture store offers the Markus as a solid budget option. The slick design fits the Nordic-cool vibe, and a range of adjustable elements make this a solid pick for various body types. The mesh backrest provides air circulation, while the genuine leather seat provides maximal comfort. Height and tilt is adjustable (and you can lock the tilt function), and safety casters utilize a pressure-sensitive brake that locks the wheels in place when you get out of the chair.

The main drawback with the Markus is that the armrests are static, so you can’t adjust them to your preferred height.

 

HON Exposure Mesh Task Chair ($230)


What the HON Exposure Mesh Task Chair lacks in appearance, it makes up for in comfort, price and adjustability. The seat “depth” is adjustable in and out, meaning you can scoot the seat forward and backward, which can accommodate users of various heights. The 3D armrests are adjustable up and down and in and out to give a wider range of comfort, while the lumbar support slides a good 3 inches up and down for maximal range of torso heights. Tilt tension can be easily adjusted by turning an easy-to-access telescoping adjustment handle.

The chair comes in full leather, mesh back and leather bottom, or mesh back and fabric seat.

Reviewers report that the chair cushion can be very firm, but it softens up after a few weeks of use.

 

Secretlab Omega ($360)


Secretlab is a favorite among gaming-chair enthusiasts. The Omega is a racing-seat-style chair that merges gaming aesthetics with durable materials, ergonomic design, and high adjustability. The chair is wrapped in an upgraded version of PU (polyurethane) leather that’s designed to withstand sweat, humidity, and abrasion from even the most intensive gaming sessions. Moreover, the company says the cushioning is made of a foam that’s not cut, but cold-cured and individually molded to increase both support and comfort that will last.

Its other details make this a great gaming chair as well. The armrests raise up and down, move forward and backward, and swing out or in, giving a full range of truly 3D adjustability. Included memory foam pillows can provide extra lumbar and neck support. And the whole thing reclines nearly flat for ultra-relaxed gaming. Importantly, because Secretlab sells directly to consumers, they can charge a price that competes with other chairs in the “office” category, thereby avoiding the “gaming premium” to some degree.

 

Herman Miller Sayl ($510)


Okay, hear me out: the Sayle is a great chair. It might look like a cross between a spaceship and a fishing net, but the Sayl has been engineered with ergonomics in mind. The Sayl isn’t as adjustable as some of our other picks, but the unique design and durable materials make this a great option for anyone with a little more to spend.

The rubber mesh back forms to your body and stretches as you move around in it, providing plenty of support through the day. There’s an optional “PostureFit” system that adds additional adjustable lumbar support, but the tension from the mesh back should provide enough support for most people.


Conclusion

A good gaming chair should be comfortable, durable, and adjustable (or at least flexible). Although it’s an often-overlooked part of a full PC setup, it can be one of the most important.

Unless you’re after that particular “gamer” aesthetic, you don’t need a typical gaming chair with bright neon coloring and conspicuous branding. Frequently, a solidly built office chair is the right choice for most PC gamers.

 

Sources and Further Reading