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The best racing-style gaming chair

Is your seat as stylish as it is comfortable?

If there’s one piece of gaming hardware we’ve seen a whole lot more of this year, it’s gaming chairs. Ever since DXRacer introduced the racing-style gaming chair to the masses ten years ago, more and more competitors have popped up each year to claim their piece of the lucrative pie. Corsair launched a line earlier this year, and now furniture company OFM has launched RESPAWN.

Bucket-style gaming chairs aren't intrinsically better than traditional office-style desk chairs for PC gaming (check our guide to the best traditional gaming chairs here), but they do feature a distinctive style and set of features that clearly appeal to gamers.

We've spent the last year sitting in a variety of new racing-style gaming chairs to determine the most comfortable and high-quality pick. The Vertagear SL5000 still remains our top choice, but the new RESPAWN 200 gives it a serious run for its money.

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The best racing chair

  • High-quality construction and materials
  • Balanced comfort and support
  • Good overall design
  • Multiple color options
  • Racing firmness may not be suitable for all bodies
  • Premium price for premium quality

I've tried a few new chairs since this guide was created, and the Vertagear SL5000 is the best new addition. True to Vertagear's name, the SL5000 features top-notch materials and build quality. And thankfully, it's much more comfortable than the SL4000 we hated so much. The cushions are on the firmer side of things, but in a way that feels supportive, not uncomfortable.

When you're going for a racing-style chair, you have to keep in mind that style takes precedent over comfort. For more comfortable support, you may want to look into Vertagear's Triigger chair, which is more like a Herman-Miller office chair. We spoke to a variety of manufacturers, including Vertagear's own founder, who indicated to us that bucket-seat chairs aren't really made for comfort.

Despite this, the SL5000 is one of the most comfortable bucket-seat chairs around. If you've ever sat inside a race car's seat, you'll know that these types of chairs are designed to hold you in tightly to prevent your body from moving around during high speed cornering. 

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How we test chairs and others we tested

For this guide, I mainly built on the great information started by Tim in his original chairs buying guide. In his research, he spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS CPE, a Senior Principal Ergonomist with VSI Risk Management & Ergonomics, Inc. who specialises in workstation setups. “Absolutely chairs are still okay,” she told him. “Yes we know that sitting too long is bad for you. The reality is that standing too long is just as bad for you, and so the answer is movement. Taking breaks, getting up at least every hour and moving, or changing your position from standing to sitting every hour so that you’re not standing too long either.”

Afterman also made a point that a key element to consider is the backrest: "If you’re typing and working at the computer, you really want more upright support so that you can maintain neutral spine posture and let the chair hold you up,” she said. “But when you switch to gaming mode, you may want to recline a little bit to relax your lower back, while still having good support in that position. So a locking backrest and/or some sort of tension control is important." 

Another thing to look for in a good chair is a seat pan slider, but as far as I can tell such feature is only available on high-end office chairs. Our top pick, the Auroza, doesn't slide in the pan, but it's tension-controlled reclining backrest is about as close as you'll get on a racing-style chair. 

RESPAWN 200

While the Vertagear SL5000 remains our top choice for the best racing-style gaming chair, the recently launched RESPAWN 200 comes in at a close second. If price is a concerning factor for you, we would absolutely recommend the RESPAWN 200 at its more affordable $214.99. The design certainly brings a lot to the table but will likely be a dividing point for some. There’s a lot of plastic- including the base, but we found the build quality to still be better than some more expensive options we’ve tried.

Looks aside, what really impressed us with the chair is its comfort. This shouldn’t be too surprising since the manufacturer OFM has been creating ergonomic office furniture for quite some time now. What sets the RESPAWN 200 apart from the competition is its reinforced mesh backing. Combined with the leather seat cushion, the chair stayed comfortably cool during extended gaming sessions.

DX Racer Elite Series OH/EA01

One of the most well known names in the racing-style chair business, DXRacer produces racing chairs in a wide range of styles. The one we tested was the from the Elite Series, which costs $300 direct from DXR. It has a decent build quality and is one of the more comfortable chairs we tested for sitting upright at the computer, but isn't the most comfortable for leaning back and relaxing during long gaming sessions.

Vertagear SL4000

I had high hopes for Vertagear, as they're known for excellent build quality, but the SL4000 we tested was extremely uncomfortable to everyone who tried it. Vertegear tells us that its since modified its SL4000 to be less firm and more cushy. We'll retest the SL4000 when we get our hands on one. If the top-pick SL5000 is any indicator, we're looking forward to the new SL4000.

E-Blue Auroza Gaming Chair

E-Blue's Auroza was previously our pick but after longer use and inspection by more people, we found the build quality to be questionable. There are interested features such as LED-lighting—really—and the ability to independently control the recline but manufacturing quality remains a concern. Speaking directly to the OEM factory that makes the Auroza, we learned that chairs from other manufacturers are probably better long-term choices. 

E-Blue Cobra EEC307

The Cobra is one of the cheaper chairs we tested, available for $180 on Amazon, and it shows in lack of features. The back, armrests, and seat are all screwed together into a single piece, meaning you can't make any adjustments other than height. Sitting is about as comfortable as a standard office chair—one that you can't adjust.

Noblechairs EPIC Series

The EPIC series from noblechairs is another of the more comfortable chairs we tested. Marketed as a luxury office chair, it features high-quality faux leather and suede, and all the standard adjustments except for the tension-controlled back on the E-Blue Auroza. Its cushions were also the most firm of all the chairs we tested, which is somthing to consider if that's what you're looking for in a chair. All in all, it's a great, high-quality chair, but at $500 on Newegg, it's also the most expensive.

Future testing

Inevitably, we weren't able to comprehensively test every single gaming chair out there (it's a booming sector), so we plan to continue updating this guide as more chairs pass under the judgments of our butts. 

In the future we'll also expand this guide to include a budget pick, though most racing chairs come with a price premium of a few hundred bucks anyway. Expect any chair under $200 to be pretty bare-bones when it comes to features.
 

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