If you're a hardcore PC gamer spending hours a day at your battlestation, it's important to consider ergonomics in your gear choices. Whether you're young or old, healthy or otherwise, the right gear and posture are crucial to preventing injuries and long term health complications. It's a topic we're always thinking about here at PC Gamer. Especially since we find ourselves sitting at a desk for both work and play.
We've conducted our own experiment with standing desks, and have even consulted ergonomics experts in choosing our best chairs for PC gaming. Expanding on the topic to cover a wider range of ergonomic gear was only natural. So we've scoured the internet and tested a variety of products to identify the best gear to promote an ergonomic lifestyle for PC gamers.
Some of the great references and resources we consulted on this quest include: esports physical therapists at 1HP, ergonomics professionals at ErgoCanada and specialists from VSI Risk Management and Ergonomics. Learn more about how we made our choices at the end of this guide.
The Steelcase Leap (opens in new tab) is one of the most iconic modern chairs with a price to match its performance. Wirecutter named it the best office chair a couple of years ago, but we prefer the newer Steelcase Gesture for a number of reasons. Foremost of which is, holy smoke, it feels good. If your eyes are still watering at the cost, know this: much as we enjoyed the other chairs singled out here, none of them came close to the comfort of the Gesture.
Butt comfort aside, the Gesture offers all of the adjustments you need to ensure your back, neck, arms and shoulders are in the best positions for PC gaming. A $1000 chair isn't affordable for most gamers, but feel it's a great investment to save up for. If you spend a majority of your day in a chair, a quality one with great ergonomics is definitely worth considering.
Although we gave the Evodesk standing desk a glowing review in 2016, things have changed quite a bit since then. The standing desk market has grown with several new players to the game. Fortunately, you no longer have to spend $700 for a decent standing desk with automated controls. Currently priced at $299, the Autonomous SmartDesk 2 Home Edition offers all the ergonomics you need at an accessible price point.
Are standing desks necessary for proper posture and ergonomic PC gaming? Absolutely not, but being able to switch between gaming while seated and standing on the fly is great. You can easily adjust the height of the SmartDesk to suit any of your needs. The most important thing to consider is that your arms rest at a 90 degree angle to reduce strain on the body, particularly your shoulders.
Another thing to consider is the distance and angle from your eyes to the monitor. Having a desk with some depth helps, but an adjustable monitor mount makes this even easier.
We've been using an Echogear monitor mount for a while now and couldn't be happier with our purchase. They certainly aren't the cheapest options on the market, but the build quality in Echogear mounts seem much better than the others we've tested and are light years ahead of stock mounts. Equipped with a dynamic gas spring, they can be adjusted in all sorts of directions, positions and angles with ease.
Experts recommend a full arm's length distance to your monitor to reduce strain on your eyes. Additionally, keeping your eyes at horizontal eye level with the upper quarter of the monitor is ideal to reduce strain on your upper neck. Both of these things can be easily achieved with an adjustable monitor mount. For those with a dual-monitor setup, the Echogear mount is also available with dual-arms (opens in new tab).
Microsoft's signature wave-like ergonomic keyboard has been a staple for as long as we can remember. This is because they promote a relaxed, neutral wrist and forearm position that encourages proper circulation and reduced strain. Ergonomic keyboards like these have existed for decades, but it wasn't until recently that we've started seeing options marketed towards PC gamers.
The Kinesis Freestyle Edge Split has to be our favorite choice for PC gamers. It features Cherry MX mechanical switches and a split design that allows you to adjust the position of two separate halves to your liking. It also features recognizable gaming features such as LED backlighting, n-key rollover, 1ms response time and programmable macro keys.
Our only complaint about the board is its price tag. For $180, we'd expect things like dedicated media keys and RGB lighting. Kinesis also sells a separate lift kit that allows you to tilt and create a "tent" between the two keyboard halves. This should probably be included at this price. Regardless, if you're looking for the best of the best, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge Split is a great option that allows you to adjust for the perfect ergnomic posture for gaming and typing.
We should preface this choice by saying this mouse, while a personal favorite of ours, might not be the best choice for everyone else. As just about every expert we could talk to has stressed, the mouse isn't anywhere near as important as how you're using it. There are plenty of mice out there marketed as "ergonomic" mice, but it's pretty universal among the field that those awkwardly shaped vertical mice don't necessarily provide any big advantage.
The most important thing to consider in regards to mice ergonomics is a neutral wrist position. That is, a position where your wrists aren't tilted or bent in any position that would cause unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles. Finding the mouse with the right shape for you is crucial for this. For us, the G502 provides a comfortable shape and weight that makes it easier to maintain that neutral position.
Logitech's G502 isn't too big or small and it provides an adjustable weight system, making it great for a wide range of gamers. Most of us in the office are fans of the shape, but others might prefer a lighter mouse or an ambidextrous shape. We recommend trying out different mice to find the best shape that works for you.
Read the full review: Logitech G502
Choosing the best ergonomic gear
When we first set out to find the best chair for PC gaming, we knew it'd be important to seek the help of an expert in the field of ergonomics. We spend a very large chunk of our day sitting in a chair as PC gamers and office workers. The thought definitely crossed our mind at one point as we wondered if ditching the chair altogether was the right choice.
We 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 said. “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.”
This brought us to a very important discovery in ergonomics: no amount of ergonomic gear will be able to correct bad habits and poor posture on its own. It certainly helps make things easier, but proper practices are critical. The physical therapists at 1HP who work with esports professionals published a great guide for PC gaming posture.
While choosing the best ergonomic gear choices above, we made sure to consider products that help achieve neutral wrist positioning, optimal monitor and chair height as well as promoting healthy shoulder and arm placement. We also considered features that appeal to gamers as well as overall value. Our goal was to find the best overall products that reduced strain while also providing benefits for all types of PC gamers.
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