Not everyone wants their gaming chair to look like it rolled off the set of a straight-to-VHS ‘80s sci-fi film. Some of us have work to do too, especially in this age of the home office. If you want a chair that doesn’t fire on all cylinders in the gamer chic department, MSI isn’t the first brand you’d normally check in with, but the CH 120 I is probably the closest they’re going to get to muted, even if “True Gaming” is embroidered on it. Twice.
Max rec. Height: 200cm
Max rec. Weight: 150kg
Material: PVC Leather
Colors: black and grey
Launch price: AU$400
It’s a predominantly black PVC leather affair, save for its thick dark grey trimming lines that don’t stand out under most lighting conditions. Basically, it’s black. Like most gaming chairs it comes flat-packed and construction is relatively easy, even if the instructions do lack direction on where to apply the included thin washers (I winged it, at least).
You get a feel for the solidity of its components during the construction process: The molded foam base is very safely ensconced in its PVC veneer—it doesn’t feel like it’ll be prone to tear, at least after a good month of usage—though after a while the thick grey trimming bands do tend to collect dust and particles. The base isn’t as soft as other chairs I’ve been planted in, but it’s not punishingly firm. If you’re going to be using this all day, you’ll inevitably feel some very slight strain above the knees: that’s when you should go for a walk.
In concert with the height-adjustable lumbar cushion, this slight firmness seemed to encourage better posture over the course of the month I spent in it. The headrest pillow doesn’t have a huge amount of flexibility in terms of height, but it definitely feels more pliant, almost like memory foam, even though it uses the same EVA foam cotton as the lumbar support and base.
Like a lot of other modern gaming chairs, the CH120 I has “4D” customisable arm rests with 7 centermeters adjustability up or down, and about 4 centermeters back and forward. They can also fan outwards or inwards at roughly fifteen degrees either way. They definitely slot in very firmly, but if there’s one thing that seems prone to eventual failure with this model it’s the arm rests. They rattle softly when locked into position, and while this is probably unavoidable for something so modular, it’s slightly disconcerting given the bulletproof vibe the rest of the unit gives off. Its five-legged base, for example, is 100% steel and you could really hurt a large mammal with it, though it’s better used with its five lockable wheels.
The MSI CH120 I’s steel-framed backrest folds back a full 180 degrees (a great touch for budding dentists) from its default 90 degree position, and it can be locked firmly anywhere between. Given the way the lumbar support straps through the model’s backrest holes and under the base, it’s super easy to adjust the cushion—or to remove it—depending on your reclining angle. The seat sits 47.5cm off the ground by default, but using the gas lift piston you can elevate up to 55cm and anywhere in between. This is a decent chair for larger users: according to MSI’s specs it’ll accommodate humans up to 200cm high, and its max capacity for carrying weight is 150kg. I’d only note that if you’re relatively short, the strap-on headrest doesn’t have much wriggle room and may prove useless to you.
MSI has a handful of gaming chairs and, god bless ‘em, most appeal to an imagined majority of folk who love neon: bright fluorescents offset by PVC black and very conspicuous branding. The CH120 I feels like the Taiwan company’s attempt to issue a chair for those looking for an office chair that could also double as a gaming chair, rather than the other way around. The almost conservative aesthetic is mirrored by the featureset: there’s not much that screams innovation here, but at a time when some competitors are experimenting with lumbar support systems that seem more complex than useful, MSI’s focus on durable material and a rock solid build with familiar dressings is reassuring.
Still, this is a crowded market, especially at this price point. There’s enough on-the-fly customisation options here to please a lot of users, and while the chair itself doesn’t have an oversize footprint—68 x 66 x 130cm—it does claim to accommodate larger users. But if you’re like me, somewhere firmly in the middle, and keen for something you can spend all day in while you’re on the job (whether that job be work or winning), this model ticks those boxes more than comfortably.