Gaming chairs have jumped in popularity in the past few years, and this raises the question if gaming chairs are worth it or not.
You may not even be a gamer but a regular office or home worker that wants a comfortable chair to sit on without feeling in pain after multiple hours of regular use.
Do gaming chairs make good office chairs? Are gaming chairs good for your posture, or help prevent back pain? As a gamer, do gaming chairs even improve your performance? If gaming chairs aren’t worth the money, what’s a good alternative?
A short history of gaming chairs
The first modern gaming chair was launched to market in 2006 by a company called DXRacer.
Up until then, they had produced luxury chairs for car manufacturers such as Chrysler and Oldsmobile. However, in the mid 2000’s car sales slumped because of high oil prices, and as a result, DXRacer was left with many chairs in stock without clients to buy them.
Their stroke of marketing genius was to attach wheels to the seats and call them gaming chairs.
Around that time, eSports started to take off, and a few years later, Twitch appeared on the scene. Having a gaming chair became part of the identity of eSport players and Twitch streamers. It set them apart as different from regular office workers and was a sign they’re part of the broader gaming culture.
8 reasons gaming chairs are NOT worth it
The best streamers don’t use gaming chairs
For all the hype surrounding gaming chairs, it’s surprising that very few of the biggest names in streaming actually use them on a day-to-day basis. Instead, the biggest streamers choose ergonomic task chairs, of various brands.
First example is Dr. Disrespect, who showed off his new ergonomic chair (which he didn’t name) in a non-sponsored video:
Another smaller streamer and YouTube called Stodeh uses a second hand Herman Miller Aeron he bought at half the price.
Then you have Shroud, a highly successful FPS streamer who also uses a Herman Miller Aeron. Below is a direct quote on why he uses that particular brand of office chair. If you’d like to see the actual YouTube video of it, go to this link and start at 11:47.
They [Herman Miller chairs] are like office chairs that are used for people who sit 8 to 10 hours a day, you know? That’s like, what their main market is really. So, if you’re a gamer, and you game that much, you should get it. Like anybody who sits on their a** for 8 to 10 hours a day needs a good chair, whether that’s Herman Miller or some sort of Herman Miller clone or some [expletive]. I really think everybody needs it. And if you don’t think you need it, just wait a couple years, just wait a couple more years. You’ll need it.Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek
Big streamers use ergonomic chairs for simple reasons: better price to quality ratio, increased comfort and bester posture when sitting for 10 hours plus a day.
But if most big streamers gravitate towards ergonomic chairs, why do so many streamers and eSport players use gaming chairs? Expensive marketing tactics that include celebrity endorsements and sponsorships, especially for eSports tournaments.
Gaming chairs are designed for cars, not offices
As mentioned before, gaming chairs trace their lineage to car seats.
This is important, because your posture in a car seat is different from one in a gaming chair. While in a car, your body naturally sits in a more neutral and open position that encourages blood flow so you can sit comfortably for longer periods.
Next, a car seat must meet certain safety requirements. As a result, car seats are built from stronger materials and wrap around your body, fixing it in place to prevent excess movement at high speeds, or crashes while also cushioning the impact. This is called a bucket seat design.
You can technically use a car seat as an office / gaming chair, but that’s not what the car seat was designed for.
To be fair, gaming chairs have evolved somewhat, but they’re still closer to their car seat roots than to ergonomic task chairs designed for 10+ hours of continuous use.
Gaming chairs force you into uncomfortable sitting positions
From a visual perspective, gaming chairs have numerous elements that stand out when compared to an office chair. However, these design elements do not help your posture or provide comfort.
The most obvious ones are wings on the sides of the backrest. Those features come from racing cars and are meant to hold your upper body in place when doing sharp turns at higher speeds.
You don’t need those features on a chair unless you plan on speeding down the highway with it.
On the contrary, those wings are bad for your back and posture because they touch your shoulders and force them inwards towards the chest – especially true if you’re broad-shouldered. After longer periods, this will lead to upper back and shoulder pain.
You might even end up with the dreaded programmer neck.
Another poor example of ergonomic design on gaming is the lumbar support area, or better said lack of it.
Quality ergonomic chairs are designed so they have a groove at the intersection of the seat and backrest.
When sitting, this groove helps your body naturally fall into place, with the slightly bulging backrest providing lower back support . This helps you have a natural sitting position that properly distributes weight along your spine.
This lumbar support area is so important for overall comfort and correct posture, ergonomic chairs let you move the support up or down, and even adjust tension, to find the perfect fit for your back.
If you look at gaming chairs, you’ll notice the backrest is straight as a wood plank. Many gaming chairs don’t even offer a lumbar support. The ones that do simply strap on a pillow and call it a day.
Depending on your body and sitting position, the lumbar support pillow can range from being a perfect fit, to actually harming your back forcing you to remove it. Some chairs allow you to adjust the position of the lumbar support pillow, but do so with flimsy straps that iften fall out of place during use.
Other features taken from gaming chairs are the wings on the side of the seat. Cool to look at, but they restrict your movement as you shift about in your seat looking for a comfortable position.
The movement restricting features on gaming chairs isn’t good for your posture in general. When sitting on a chair for longer periods, you need to shift positions to release blood flow to certain areas and relieve pressure in others. Gaming chairs don’t allow you to do this, so you’ll have aches from overuse or numbness from cut blood flow.
Gaming chairs heat up and catch bad smells
Most gaming chairs are covered in leather, either polyurethane, polyvinyl or even genuine animal leather. Despite its more luxurious feel, leather isn’t a good material to sit on because it captures your heat instead of releasing it.
As a result, both the backrest and the seat will heat up, increasing your body temperature and force you to constantly shift sitting position to find a cool spot or else risk sweating.
Other disadvantages of leather gaming chairs are that they gather smelly odors and will easily tear or break apart.
For this reason, you’re much better off with chairs covered in fabric since they dissipate heat better and don’t tear as easily.
From a temperature perspective, the best material for chairs is mesh since it allows air to circulate around the body and dissipate heat away from your back, legs, and bottom keeping you nice and cool.
Other benefits of mesh, especially high quality mesh chairs, is that it can hold its shape and firmness for much longer periods than foam chairs. That being said, mesh is a polarizing material, with users either hating or loving mesh chairs, with little in between.
Gaming chairs are not very adjustable
Gaming chairs have far fewer adjustable features compared to office chairs in the same price range.
Here’s an adjustability comparison between two chairs at almost the same price of $350: the ErgoChair 2 (office task chair) and Secret Lab Omega (best selling gaming chair).
The ErgoChair 2 comes with the following adjustments:
- Move the seat of the chair forwards or backward.
- Tilt the seat of the chair up or down (without the backrest).
- Adjust the lumbar support area up or down.
- Adjust how tense or soft you want the lumbar support area to be.
- Adjust the angle of the backrest.
- Move the headrest up or down.
- Tilt headrest at different angles.
- Chair height.
- Adjust armrests up or down, forward and backward and even side to side.
The Secret Lab Omega can adjust the following:
- Adjust armrests up or down, forward and backwards, some side to side swiveling.
- Chair height.
- Tilt the seat of the chair up or down, including the backrest.
- Adjust the angle of the backrest.
For many people, a gaming chair simply doesn’t provide sufficient adjustment options to find a correct and healthy posture. This is important because the difference between a comfortable or painful sitting position can sometimes be a few inches on a certain chair part.
The brand costs more than the product
Very few gaming chair sellers have their own in-house design team that creates proprietary chair designs. Most chair sellers just partner up with an overseas chair manufacturer, choose a design from a catalogue, add flashy branding and graphics (dragons, symbols, lightning strikes, pink bears etc.), and then sell the chairs to unsuspecting customers at a big markup.
This is why so many gaming chairs on Newegg look virtually identical.
If you think the idea above is an exaggeration, then consider browsing the list below and find which manufacturer produces which chair on Newegg.
For your convenience, here are some screenshots of the gaming chairs you can contract a factory to produce, and the minimum number of chairs you can buy.
In this situation, the biggest differentiator between one gaming chair and another are the designs you can put on them.
That’s why some chairs sellers choose to advertise the dozens of design variations they offer, not actual functionality.
Gaming chairs don’t offer good warranties
Gaming chairs command a premium price, but don’t back that up with the premium warranty of a quality product that’s built to last.
- Razer Iskur – $499 – 3 year warranty.
- Secret Lab 2020 Series – $349-449 – 3 year warranty.
- Cougar Argo – $499 – 2 year warranty.
- Corsair T3 Rush – $299 – 2 year warranty.
- Thermaltake CyberChair E500 – $599 – 2 year warranty
By comparison, task and office chairs in the same price range offer fantastically better warranty policies.
- HON Ignition 2.0 – $349 – Limited Lifetime Warranty (lifetime warranty for chair frame and mechanisms, 5 year for upholstery).
- Ergohuman Chair – $699 – Lifetime warranty for chair itself, 5 years for upholstery and seat foam.
- Steelcase Series 2 – $449 – 12 year warranty.
- Staples Hyken – $150 to $230 – 7 year warranty.
- IKEA Markus – $229 – 10 year warranty.
- Herman Miller Aeron – $1395 – 12 year warranty.
Young people can adapt to any chair, that doesn’t mean they should
If you’re under 30 and reasonably healthy (no back or spine problems), your body is capable to adapt to pretty much any chair you throw at it and hide any pain or discomfort you might experience.
You may feel some soreness and pain after prolonged sitting, but you can quite literally shake it off in a couple of minutes by walking around and doing some stretches.
However, your body may be able to hide the strain at first, but the damage from incorrect posture will slowly accumulate over time. This can lead to many problems you wouldn’t even connect to your chair, such as:
- Poor digestion.
- Pinched nerves that cause pain in seemingly random parts of your body.
- Headaches and migraines.
Gaming chair alternatives, from most to least expensive
Ultimately, is gaming really that much of a different activity compared to regular office work? If you can work for long periods in an ergonomic office chair, it’s safe to assume that the chair is just as good for gaming.
With that being said, below are the 5 best ergonomic chairs, ordered from most to least expensive.
To be sure, a brand new Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap 2 are outside the budget range for most people, but because of their build quality and long warranties, you might also be interested in them at second-hand. In this case, they might come at half the price or even lower in some cases.
Herman Miller Aeron | $1395 New | $200-700 Second Hand
|12 year warranty for anything||Expensive (much more affordable when used)|
|Free 30 day return period||All mesh is a polarizing material, some love it some hate it|
|Comes in 3 sizes||Needs an aftermarket headrest|
|Manufactured in USA|
|Comes fully assembled|
|Excellent resell value|
|Move lumbar support up or down, adjust lumbar support tension / firmness|
|Exceptional build quality|
|Adjustable backrest recline tension, tilt and tilt lock|
|Strong, breathable mesh for backrest and seat|
|Seat height, adjustable forward tilt of seat|
|Adjustable armrest height, forward and backwards, side to side|
The Herman Miller Aeron is one of the most expensive office chairs you can buy, and for most people, the best office & task chair on the market.
At first glance, the mesh on the backrest and seat seems flimsy, but the Aeron is designed to support users who weigh up to 300 pounds (135 kg), 24 hours a day, every day, for years on end. It comes with a 12 year warranty, so Herman Miller will either replace or repair the chair if anything breaks.
In terms of actual use, the mesh has a very slight give to it and adapts to your body. Unlike foam, it doesn’t create pressure points that push against your body and block circulation. The seat has a gentle downwards lip, so it doesn’t dig into your legs. These features combined allow you to stay in certain positions for longer periods without feeling uncomfortable or in pain.
It has numerous adjustability features that help you tailor the chair to your exact body type and desired position.
A disadvantage of the Aeron is it doesn’t come with a headrest. If you want one, you’ll need to get it on the aftermarket.
The price, however, is its biggest downside
Steelcase Leap 2 | $899 New | $200-500 Second-Hand
|Limited Lifetime Warranty (lifetime for the seat itself, 12 years for individual components, 5-12 fabrics)||Expensive if new|
|Free 30 day return period||Some tall people (taller than 6’1 / or 185 cm) find it a bit uncomfortable|
|Manufactured in the USA||The headrest is a $150 separate add-on|
|Comes fully assembled|
|Good resell value|
|Excellent build quality|
|5 backrest tilt positions + backrest reclining tension|
|Move lumbar support up or down, adjust lumbar support tension/firmness|
|The backrest can flex a bit, while lumbar support stays fixed|
|Mesh backrest/fabric + high-quality foam for seat|
|Adjustable armrest height, forward and backward, side to side|
Steelcase is one of Herman Miller’s biggest competitors in the ergonomic chair market. The Leap is their mid-market chair, the Steelcase Think and Gesture being their flagship chairs priced similarly to the Aeron.
Unlike the Aeron, the Leap 2 uses the more traditional fabric and foam combination. The foam itself is of high quality, with the front of the seat being particularly adaptable. This allows the front of the seat to mold itself to the back of your legs, preventing fatigue.
Where the Leap shines is the lumbar support. First, the Leap offers two sets of adjustments:
- Move the lumbar support up or down, so it matches your back.
- Tension adjustment, or how hard or soft you want the lumbar support to push against your back.
Another neat feature of the backrest is that the lumbar support area can stay fixed, while the upper part of the backrest can flex and adapt to your back.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to the Leap 2 is that it’s hit or miss for very short individuals (5′1 / 155 cm or less) as well as tall ones (6’1 / 185 cm or more). This is because, according to Steelcase, they designed the chair so it would properly fit the 5th to 95th percentile of heights.
If you’re in these extreme percentiles, the Leap 2 might work for you, depending on your sitting preferences, but it’s something you should test within the 30 day free return period.
Steelcase Series 1 | $400 New
|Limited Lifetime Warranty (lifetime for seat itself, 12 years for individual component, 5-12 fabrics)||Armrests don’t have locking mechanism for side to side, forward and backwards|
|Free 30 day return period||Only 3 backrest tilt settings|
|Manufactured in USA|
|Can be assembled in less than 10 minutes|
|Adjust height of lumbar support|
|Seat height, slide seat forward or backwards|
|Excellent for taller and heavier users|
|Mesh backrest / fabric + high quality foam for seat|
|Adjustable armrest height, forward and backwards, side to side|
The Steelcase Series 1 is one of Steelcase’s more budget-friendly options, but it still offers its signature high-quality construction and extensive adjustment features.
The chair is easy to assemble, with clear instructions, and shouldn’t take more than 1-2 minutes to set up. The backrest is made of mesh, with the seat a combination of fabric and high-quality foam.
In terms of adjustments, the Steelcase Series 1 allows you to adjust chair height, move the seat forward and backward, move armrests up and down, side to side, forward and backward. The lumbar support can be moved up and down.
The Series 1 is a slightly bigger chair in terms of dimensions and can comfortably hold people with taller and heavier builds.
In terms of disadvantages, one that stands out is the somewhat limited backrest tilt settings: 1) free recline, where the backrest always reclines when you put your weight on it; 2) free recline but with increased tension and resistance, meaning you have to push your back more for the chair to recline; 3) near fixed, where the backrest mostly stays fixed, but with some give as you lean on it.
Most of the time, the 3 settings should be enough for daily gaming use, especially since you want an upright posture, but it’s something to be aware of if you want more flexibility.
Another minor complaint is that the armrests cannot be fixed into place (except for height), so they’ll move around if you apply too much pressure on them during use.
HON Ignition 2.0 | $309 New
|12 year warranty||No return policy, must rely on Amazon or seller return policy|
|Good for taller users||Doesn’t offer a headrest option|
|Adjustable lumbar support, up or down||Could use more adjustment options for lumbar support|
|Multiple backrest tilt positions + backrest reclining tension|
|Mesh backrest / fabric + foam for seat|
|Seat height, slide seat forward or backwards|
|Adjustable armrest height, side to side|
HON is one of the biggest and most reputable workplace furniture producers globally, and the HON Ignition 2.0 is their best-selling ergonomic office chair.
For the $309 price, you will get a breathable mesh backrest that offers both good support and sufficient adaptability, so it molds on your back. The seat is made from a fabric and foam combination and is comfortable to sit on for long periods. Like the Leap 2, the lumbar area stays fixed, while the rest of the backrest can flex.
Another benefit of the Ignition 2.0 is that it’s a big chair, that can comfortably hold people taller and heavier than the average person.
Besides standard adjustability features such as chair height and backrest lean, the Ignition 2.0 comes with a seat slider, meaning you can move the seat forward and backward. Other adjustability features are the armrests, which you can adjust on height, and how wide or narrow you want the armrests to be relative to your body.
Perhaps the most significant disadvantage of the Ignition 2.0 is the lumbar area. The lumbar support offers limited up/down adjustments; because of this the back support doesn’t cover all the possible angles of someone resting their back on the chair.
As a result, some people might find the back support on the Ignition 2.0 to be excellent; for others it will be good, and for a few, the back support might be poor.
Another disadvantage is that it comes with no headrest.
Like the Leap 2, the backrest is will flex even while the lumbar support stays fixed.
Staples Hyken | $150-230 New
|Excellent price-to-quality ratio||Wheels are not the carpet friendly kind|
|14-day return policy||Hit or miss for tall people (6’ / 180 cm or more), may require headrest removal if over 6’1 / 185 cm|
|7 year’s warranty||Some users might find the seat and backrest mesh somewhat hard, with too little give|
|Excellent comfort for the money, breathable mesh for seat and backrest||Armrests are narrow, hands may slip away sometimes|
|Excellent adjustability for the price range||Some materials will feel cheap to the touch|
|Headrest with both tilt and adjustable height||Gathers dust easily|
|Adjustable lumbar support, height up or down|
|Adjust seat height, 3 backrest recline levels and locking|
When it comes to office chairs, Staples usually focuses on the budget segment of the market. This requires sacrifices in terms of quality and comfort, which hasn’t been very kind to the company’s brand power.
However, one exception to this is the Staples Hyken. It comes in at a very affordable price but offers most of the adjustability and customization features found in more expensive, premium ergonomic chairs.
For example, the Hyken comes with an adjustable lumbar support area, height seat, headrest with both tilt and adjustable height, as well as seat tilt.
In terms of construction, the Hyken is all mesh, but has some foam in the seat’s front lip.
That being said, a chair in this price range does come with some negatives:
- Hit or miss for people in the 5’9-6’ (180-184 cm) height range. Any taller than that and you might have to remove the headrest.
- The mesh is quite hard and firm and has little give.
- The armrests are very narrow, meaning your arms and elbows might slip off.
- Build quality is mostly solid but comes with minor annoyances such as occasional squeaks and creaks.
- Because of its design, it gathers a lot of dust in hard-to-clean places.
- Wheels are not carpet friendly; they can shred your carpet. You can however replace them with carpet friendly aftermarket wheels.
- Only a 14 day return period.
Frequent questions about gaming chairs
Are gaming chairs worth it?
No, gaming chairs are not worth it. Gaming chairs were adapted from racing car seats, and as such are designed to hold your body in place during high speeds or crashes. A better alternative to gaming chairs is ergonomic task chairs designed for comfort and correct posture during long hours of use.
Are gaming chairs comfortable?
Gaming chairs are not comfortable chairs since they prioritize looks instead of comfortable ergonomics. Office chairs within the same price range are better designed for long hours of comfortable sitting, since they use better materials, more adjustment features and have designs that help your body naturally sit in a comfortable posture.
Are gaming chairs good for posture?
Gaming chairs are not good for posture since they have multiple design elements that prevent users from sitting correctly, such as: no lumbar support, backrest wings that push shoulders inwards, seat wings that prevent leg movement, numerous pressure point areas, and few adjustment options.
What are gaming chairs?
Gaming chairs where created when a luxury car seat manufacturer lost its biggest clients, so they attached wheels to their unsold car seats and marketed them as “gaming chairs”. This marketing strategy plus the chairs’ racing seat looks brought it quick adoption in the gaming community.
Are gaming chairs good for your back?
Gaming chairs are not good for your back since they do not have good lumbar support, backrest wings that push shoulders inwards, seat wings that prevent leg movement, numerous pressure point areas that cut blood circulation and few adjustment options for finding a correct posture.
Why are gaming chairs so expensive?
Gaming chairs are expensive because most of the price comes from the brand and marketing expenses, rather than the chair itself. Most gaming companies simply contract an overseas manufacturer to build their chairs on the cheap, then markup the price significantly to actual customers, even if the materials and construction quality do justify the cost.
Are gaming chairs better than office chairs?
Office chairs are better than gaming chairs because they are built specifically for long, uninterrupted hours of constant sitting. Gaming chairs are mainly designed to look good and sacrifice numerous features that improve comfort and sitting posture, even compared to ergonomic task chairs with similar prices.