Take a load-off, friend. We all probably spend way too much time in front of computers, whether you're a gamer or not. So it makes sense that you'd want a comfy chair to make that experience as pain-free as possible. While there are plenty of options that have the gamer aesthetic and are available from a local office retailer, odds are you're paying more for the look than actual premium materials. These chairs may look alright, but if your butt is falling asleep after just a few hours, you owe it to yourself to invest in a chair that won't be doing irreparable damage to your body.
Your posture probably sucks, and that's okay, mine does too. But dropping some decent bucks on a chair with some decent neck and lumbar support will make sure that it doesn't get any worse. Making sure your chair supports these areas is a solid start, but you'll also want to look at the materials and adjustment options too. Any gaming chair worth its salt should have armrests that can be heavily adjusted in nearly any direction, this will make sure you don't run into any issues when you're trying to cozy your chair up to your desk. It may seem obvious, but you'll want to make sure there are adjustment options for the seat back and bottom as well. These will let you fine-tune the fit of your particular char, and there's nothing more frustrating than having to adjust your chair a couple of degrees one way or the other with no way to do it.
Aesthetics and materials of a particular chair is going to be the deciding factor for most people outside of the actual price. While paying more generally nets you better materials, checking what you're going to be sitting on will make sure you don't overpay. While it's tough to beat the feel and smell of genuine NAPA leather, ultimately going with a mesh or breathable fabric option can mean a more comfortable chair for extended gaming sessions. It's easy enough to get a chair in an inoffensive black, however, there are options like the Secretlab Omega and NZXT SL5000 out there if you really want to make a statement.
Best gaming chairs
The best gaming chair of 2019
Seat type: Racing seat | Recline: 165 degrees | Weight capacity: 240 lbs | Weight: 66 lbs | Available colors: Stealth, Classic, Amber, Royal, Ash
The Omega is one of the most well-made chairs we've tested. From the casters to the base, lift mechanism, armrests, and seat back, Secretlab clearly used some of the best materials available. The Omega has also recently been upgraded with Secretlab's 2020 series of improvements, including premium metal materials in the armrest mechanism, making it silky smooth to adjust and even more durable, and the company's ridiculously durable PU Leather 2.0.
The chair features a high-quality cold-cured foam that provided support which was a little bit firm at first but became really comfortable after longer gaming periods. What really made the Omega stick out from the crowd is the included velour memory foam lumbar and head pillows. These were so comfortable that we could easily fully recline the chair and take a nap if we wanted to. If you're looking to treat your body with a chair that will truly last, the Secretlab Omega is worth every penny.
2. NZXT x Vertagear SL5000
The best gaming chair for making a statement
Seat type: Racing seat | Recline: 130 degrees | Weight capacity: 330 lbs | Weight: 62 lbs | Available colors: Purple/Black/Green/White/Red/Blue/Grey
It's not the cheapest gaming chair you can find, but if you're looking to correct your computer neck, the SL5000 is the chair for you. The dual cushions can be adjusted to support both your lumbar and cervical spines simultaneously so you can settle back into this chair with ease. The backrest is completely independent and adjustable, which also lessens the strain on your neck and back. The 4D customizable armrest allows for a wide variety in terms of width and height adjustments to better support your wrists and arms.
The quality of the chair's materials can't be denied, either. The entire exterior is made of PVC leather that's stain and water-resistant, with extra thick foam padding. The base of the chair is made of aluminum alloy. Plus, the SL5000 stands out, as it strays from typical gaming chair colors of red and black or black on black. The royal purple is eye-catching and rich and the color even lines the inside of the wheels - this thing is a beauty.
It's wildly easy to put together, too. The only qualm we have is that the seat cushion leaves a little to be desired when compared to the extra cushy backrest. Otherwise, it's a beautiful, comfortable chair that is well worth the cash.
3. Noblechairs Hero
The best gaming chair for back support
Seat type: Office chair | Recline: 90-135 degrees | Weight capacity: 330 lbs | Weight: 61.7 lbs | Available colors: Black, Black and Red / Blue / Platinum / Gold
When buying a gaming chair, it's easy to forget your health. After all, most are advertised as luxurious, cushioned thrones that soothe your every ache as you smash the crap out of enemies in Apex Legends. But that simply isn't true, and for some it's important to pick a chair that takes back-support seriously. With some of the team having used it on a daily basis for almost a year, we can thoroughly recommend the Noblechairs Hero, in uPVC leather. While not the most exciting of chairs, or the sportiest, it definitely takes care of your back.
The Hero is easy to assemble, with the exception of the bit where you attach the back to the seat, so make sure you have a buddy for that. It's firm and supportive, and extremely sturdy. As a word of warning: it is very firm, so if you prefer a softer chair that isn't as good for your lumbar, this maybe isn't for you. Aside from that it has a decent recline, can withstand frames of up to 330 lbs, and it has fully adjustable wrist-rests. It's heavy, but glides pretty easily on the supplied casters. It'll look just fine in both an office or gaming setup, so you're getting a chair that can do both. Not bad, if you can afford it.
4. Arozzi Verona Junior
The best gaming chair for smaller frames
Seat type: Racing seat | Recline: 165 degrees | Weight capacity: 130 lbs | Weight: 40 lbs | Available colors: Black, Blue, Red, White
Whether you're a kid or just shorter than the average human, Arozzi has got you covered. The Verona Junior's racing-style chair is made just for individuals under 5-feet, 2-inches tall, which means you can count on this chair molding to the proportions of your body—and you can finally touch the floor with your feet without having to reach upward for your keyboard. Win, win.
It's possible to curl up into a larger chair, but sitting for long periods of time with your body contorted into such a position can put stress on your joints, especially your back. That's not healthy in the long run. A smaller chair allows shorter individuals to get proper support to their lower back, which helps maintain a neutral spine posture. The included lower back pillow actually sits right at your lower back, so the chair helps to hold you up—no fatigued back muscles from trying to maintain a dancer-like posture for eight hours a day.
The shallower seat back allows you to sit all the way back in the chair, which means added support for the hips and other joints that may have become achy with age if you're a short adult. The Verona Junior also reclines to an impressive 165 degrees, so you can nap fearlessly.
5. X-Rocker Pro Series H3
The best gaming chair with built in sound
Seat type: Baseless rocking chair | Recline: Fixed 115 degrees | Weight capacity: 275 lbs | Weight: 17.34 lbs | Available colors: Black
If you're looking to save some cash on your PC battlestation (and still get your hands on a ridiculously comfortable gaming chair), consider the X-Rocker Pro Series H3. It bundles a slick looking, extremely cozy baseless rocker chair with a 4.1 sound system, packing four speakers and a powerful subwoofer inside the body of the chair. And because it's a rocker, you can really kick back while you're lining up headshots in Apex Legends or ganking in Dota 2.
The sound quality is surprisingly good for a system bundled inside a gaming chair. The speakers and woofer do a great job of combining to immerse you in whatever game you're playing, and while it doesn't replicate a proper surround sound setup, it does include a feature that will vibrate the chair when things start to really pop off in-game. Detailed stitching and high-quality vinyl combine with the futuristic presentation of the audio panels and speakers, and make the H3 a proper conversation piece.
Best office chairs
The best chair for offices
Seat type: Task chair | Recline: 85-130 degrees | Weight capacity: 240 lbs | Weight: 64 lbs | Available colors: Silver, Obsidian
If you're the sort of person who prioritizes functionality over flash, the NeueChair is an excellent option. Which isn't to say it's not stylish—quite the opposite, the NeueChair comes in a sleek, muted obsidian or flashy chrome/silver, both with bold, sweet curved supports on the back and an attractive black mesh. But more importantly, the NeueChair is built to last, with a heavy, sturdy industrial construction. Even the weight of the chair in the packaging indicates that this is a solid piece of carefully constructed industrial art: it's heavy and substantial.
Assembling it is a breeze, as it comes in two discrete pieces and is simply a matter of inserting the casters and pushing them together. And almost every aspect of the seat is adjustable, from the armrests (which you can move in three dimensions to perfectly suit your elbows and forearms) to the adjustable lumbar support system that lets you change the height and depth of the backrest. It's one of the best office chairs I've ever had the pleasure to sit in and, if you can afford the admittedly steep price tag, well worth the investment.
7. Steelcase Gesture
The best gaming chair for ultimate comfort
Seat type: Task chair | Material: Breathable fabric | Recline: 116 degrees | Seat height: 16-21 in | Weight capacity: 400 lbs | Weight: 78 lbs
The Steelcase Leap 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.
Imagine your butt and back being perfectly cupped by the giant ever-loving hand of the deity of your choice. That's what the Gesture is like. Or, as it became known amongst us testing it: 'the dream chair.' Anyone that spends a significant amount of time in a chair should seriously consider splurging on this one. The steep price buys you a lifetime warranty and your butt the most comfortable embrace it’ll ever experience.
8. Herman Miller Embody
The best gaming chair when money is no object
Seat type: Task chair | Material: Multi-layer fabric | Seat height: 16-20.5 in | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Weight: 51 lbs
If money really is no object, Herman Miller has the exorbitant Embody. It's the most obviously high-end looking of the chairs we've tried. Viewed from behind its dramatically-shaped backrest has a biomechanical look that seems like it came straight from a sci-fi cockpit. According to its maker, "Embody is so advanced that it actually lowers your heart rate and reduces stress by stimulating blood and oxygen flow while you sit."
We can't confirm that, but what the Embody's flexible matrix design definitely does offer is superb support in the lower back area. The higher part functions like a more sophisticated version of the OM5, automatically adjusting to your posture and sitting position. The puckered fabric used for the seat material also stays pleasantly cool during extended gaming sessions. The Embody is clearly an excellent chair, especially if you have lower back problems, but the sky high price tag means you might end up spending more on your chair than your actual gaming PC.
9. Office Master OM5
The best gaming chair with a self-adjusting mechanism
Seat type: Task chair | Material: Polyflex back, fabric seat | Seat height: 14.7-25 in | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Weight: 64 lbs
On the face of it, the Office Master OM5 sounds like the snake oil of seating. The marketing materials describe it as "a self weighing chair that intuitively responds to a wide range of body weights and sizes without the need for manual tension." Essentially: don't worry about all those levers and knobs on the other chairs, this one will magically work out what your butt and back need, no problemo. Our skepticism didn't last long, though, because when it comes to the OM5, sitting is believing.
There are a couple of manual adjustments possible, but all of the magic happens around your back and hip. As you lean back and apply pressure, the seat pan shifts forwards while the backrest reclines in response, articulating smoothly thanks to wheels on runners that function much like the ones in desk draw sliders. It takes a little getting used to, but transitioning from upright work mode to relaxing whilst playing or watching swiftly becomes a cinch. If you want comfort and can't be bothered with levers and adjustments, the OM5 is one of our favorites because it gives you high-end quality and comfort at a mid range price.
10. Office Star ProGrid
The best gaming chair for high-end features at a reasonable price
Seat type: Task chair | Material: Mesh back, fabric seat | Seat height: 17-20.5 in | Weight: 41 lbs | Available colors: Black
Office Star's range of chairs don't look noteworthy at first glance, but the customer reviews are consistently good. We like the ProGrid Back Managers Chair a lot because it offers the kind of tweakability usually only found on much more expensive models.
Using its daunting array of levers, you can adjust the height and tilt of the chair, plus slide the seat pan forwards or backwards. The backrest can also be shifted up or down, and the armrests raised or lowered and slid back and forth until you find the perfect position. It may take a while, but once tune it to your liking the chair becomes incredibly comfortable. With so much customization, the ProGrid is a strong choice, and very hard to beat at this price.
How we test gaming chairs
Between recent articles about the effects of sitting down on your body, and our experimentation with standing desks, you might think PC Gamer has fallen out of love with the humble chair. Dear reader, that could not be further from the truth. As gamers and office workers, our writers spend a significant chunk of each day sitting on their money makers in front of screens. Given that most of us don't plan to change that anytime soon, it only makes sense to do so in a great chair. So that's what I set out to find.
I wanted to find chairs that maximized comfort, support, and value. I knew I needed expert advice to help narrow my search, so I spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS CPE, a Senior Principal Ergonomist with VSI Risk Management & Ergonomics, Inc. who specializes in workstation setups. "Absolutely chairs are still okay," she told me. "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."
When searching for a new chair, aside from essential-but-obvious tweakable elements like seat height and armrests, Melissa told me 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 feature to look for, though it tends to be found on more expensive models, is a seat pan slider. This enables you to slide the positioning of your butt forwards or backwards relative to the backrest. "The nice thing about that," explained Afterman, "is that if you’re tall you can get more support behind your legs, and if you're short it can be set more shallow so you can actually sit all the way back in the chair." Unfortunately this seems to be a feature found only on office-style chairs so far, somewhat accounting for their higher price tag over their racing-style counterparts.
When it comes to fabric and other materials, it's pretty much a purely aesthetic decision—though whether you prefer plush leather or breathable mesh should be dictated by how hot you are. No, really. Afterman explained: "Some people run cold, some people run warm, and I think that when you talk about the fabric choices it depends on personal comfort and aesthetics." As for what you should definitely avoid, Afterman recommended steering clear of overly rigid seat pans and fixed height armrests—both are likely to lead to discomfort.
In terms of how much you should expect to spend, she suggested that in order to tick all the boxes an ergonomist would hope to find, $300-400 ought to be enough for a supportive chair that looks and feels great. Below that, there are going to be trade-offs. Likewise, if you're willing to spend more, you can open up greater levels of customization and luxury.