PC and console gaming continues to rise at incredibly high rates. As more and more people get into the world of gaming, it is only natural that there are more people out there in search of a chair to game in. When you begin your search you will quickly realize that there are hundreds of different gaming chair variations available from dozens of companies. It can be overwhelming to try to navigate through the differences. It can also be difficult to tell what you are getting out of a gaming chair compared to a typical office chair.
There are many gaming chair opponents out there. There are YouTube videos, blog posts and Reddit threads dedicated to dissuading people from buying gaming chairs. The truth is, gaming chairs may not be the best choice for everyone.
We have been selling office chairs ranging from low end computer task chairs to high end ergonomic 24/7 chairs for over 10 years on BTOD.com. We recently started selling pc gaming chairs under our brand, Nxt Levl Gaming. Today, I will be talking about what characteristics make a chair a gaming chair and how this differs from office chairs.
Full Disclaimer: We are an office furniture dealer and sell some of the products we review. To learn more about the products we sell, our review process and why you can trust us, please visit: Why we’re different. Who is BTOD.com and The Breakroom Blog?
Table of Contents
- Defining a Gaming Chair
- Racing Style Bucket Seat
- Multi-color Design with Logo
- Full Backrest Recline
- Basic Mechanism
- Limited Adjustability
- Import Quality
- Short Warranty
- Final Thoughts
Defining a gaming chair
Any office chair that you can sit in comfortably will work for gaming. In today’s world there is a big difference between a chair that you can game in and a gaming chair. Gaming chairs have carved out a unique niche and they typically share the following characteristics:
- Racing style bucket seat
- Multi-color design with logo
- Full back recline
- Basic mechanism
- Limited adjustability compared to office chairs
- Import quality
- Short warranty
Racing style bucket seat
The history of the gaming chair originated from racing games like Need for Speed. The original idea was to replicate the feel you have when driving a sports car. This is why almost all gaming chairs are designed to look like a car seat. They have very high backrests and flared out sides. The sides of the seat will typically have additional padding. The sides of the backrest will be slightly curved inward. Most models will also have some type of cutouts in the backrest to help add to the sporty look.
The sitting experience is quite different compared to a typical office chair. The side padding on the seat, combined with the inward curving backrest, will make you feel much more like the chair is holding you than a task chair or executive chair will. The height of the backrest will be similar to an executive chair or even higher.
Multi-color design with logo
Most gaming chairs are not in a professional office setting. This leaves a lot of leeway to create a unique and eye catching chair in a color combination that suits your taste. Most gaming chairs will have a main color and an accent color. Gaming chairs are available in a wide range of color combinations. Everything from neutral colors like black and white, to loud colors like orange and pink can be found.
Many popular gaming chairs will also feature a logo on the headrest. This helps to add to the sleek look of a gaming chair. A normal office chair does not have obvious branding because most office chairs are being used in business or school settings. Adding the brand stitching is an extra expense that most businesses would rather not have to incur to have a logo. A gaming chair is meant to look cool. Adding on a nice logo in the matching accent color and your chair will have a unique appearance.
Full back recline
Most gaming chairs are designed with full backrest recline. This allows you to lay almost flat on your back if you wish. This feature is in place because most gaming chairs are in homes. The recline function allows the gaming chair to also function as a recliner when watching TV or streaming on your PC. This is also useful in racing simulator applications that require you to be tilted backwards.
Full back recline is almost non-existent in the office furniture world. I do not remember ever coming across this function prior to being introduced to gaming chairs. The main reason that this function is not present on office chairs is that it is a safety concern. Fully reclining the backrest may cause the chair to tip, especially if you are taller or weigh more than the average individual. The other reason that this function is typically not useful in an office setting is because rarely will employees need to recline all the way backwards. The money spent on this functionality can be spent elsewhere to improve the chair.
Gaming chairs typically have a swivel-tilt or knee-tilt mechanism. They are the two most basic mechanisms found on office chairs. They are the least adjustable, so they are found on the least expensive office chairs. Higher quality chairs will have synchro-tilt, multi-function or even self-adjusting mechanisms.
Typically used in the least expensive office chairs. You can lock the chair upright in the normal seated position. You can also unlock the seat to allow the chair to rock. The pivot point will be the middle of the seat. As you rock the chair backwards, the front of your seat will raise making your knees move upwards. This may cause your feet to come off the floor.
An upgrade to swivel tilt. The pivot point for the rocking motion is moved toward the back of the knee; this allows you to rock in the chair without having your feet come off the ground.
A system in which the seat angle changes as the back reclines. The chair does not rock like swivel or knee tilt. The movement is much more controlled and allows the user to stay in an ergonomic position when reclining the backrest.
This is a mechanism that allows the seat angle and back angle to adjust independently; this is one of the few mechanisms that allow your seat to tilt forward if you wish.
Self adjusting mechanisms are designed to properly adjust based on your position and weight. They do not feature knobs and levers but instead adjust automatically.
One thing that I’ve noticed since getting into gaming chairs is that they are often advertised as being highly adjustable. Compared to low end office chairs found at big box stores, or leather executive chairs, gaming chairs are pretty adjustable. Tilt function, seat height, back recline and adjustable arms are usually the functions found on gaming chairs. But, your normal office chair will be more adjustable than a gaming chair. The limited adjustability found in a gaming chair will start with the more basic mechanism used, but it continues throughout the chair.
Backrest – The only adjustment found on the backrest for gaming chairs is the recline function. You can recline the backrest, but you need to lock it in place when you get to the spot that you like. Most office chairs will allow the backrest to recline freely and the tension will be controlled with a separate knob so that you can be moving whenever you’d like. This allows for more freedom than a gaming chair. Some office chairs also include back height adjustment, which allows you to adjust the backrest to the position that provides the best support for your lumbar and upper back.
Lumbar – Gaming chairs will be void of built-in lumbar support or integrated adjustable lumbar support systems. This is one of the biggest differences between gaming chairs and office chairs. Some gaming chair brands make up for this lack of lumbar support by providing a lumbar pillow. These will often offer height adjustment but there is no other way to customize the lumbar support so these support pillows often go unused.
Seat Slider – A seat slider lets you adjust your seat horizontally, which allows you to have the correct distance between the back or your knees and your seat. This is typically a function found on multi-function task chairs and ergonomic office chairs. This function is expensive and is not found on many gaming chairs.
Armrests – There are a wide range of armrests used on gaming chairs, but most of the time they are pretty basic. Some lower priced models will have fixed arms that are not adjustable at all. Others have flip-up arms, which allow you to move them up and out of the way if you do not want to use them.
Armrests on ergonomic chairs, in today’s market, are adjustable in almost every way you can think of. They will be height and width adjustable. They will also have arm caps that can adjust in almost any direction. The adjustment ranges are also wider on higher quality arms. Some gaming chairs do a better job than others, but the overall quality will not be the same as an office chair.
Something that most people don’t know is that almost all gaming chairs are made in China. This includes brands like DxRacer, Maxnomic, AK Racing and even our own brand Levl Gaming. Chinese made products have far less testing standards and quality control compared to products made in North America or Europe. Chair parts may not go together as smoothly as an American made product. You may also see minor errors in things like stitching or colors not matching up.
Gaming chairs are typically sold for $300 or less. For $300, you will be looking at an entry level ergonomic office chair, with higher quality chairs being $500 or more. In order to keep the price of gaming chairs low, it needs to be imported from a country that can produce it for far less than North American or European companies can. China is that country. We will discuss gaming chair prices in-depth in a future post, but it is important to understand that gaming chairs are inexpensive in the world of office chairs.
Short warranty length
The warranty on gaming chairs is typically a lifetime on the frame and two years or less on the rest of the chair. If you’ve read my post on The Worst Five Office Chair Warranties, then you know that two years of coverage is a pretty lackluster warranty. There are two reasons for such poor warranties on gaming chairs.
The first reason is that lack of quality control with the Chinese manufacturer increases the chance for parts to be damaged. This increases the risk that the manufacturer will be replacing parts; therefore, the time frame needs to be limited to keep their replacements predictable and their costs down.
The second reason is that the environment that a gaming chair is going to be used in is unpredictable, which makes it difficult to provide a warranty for such a vast range of users. With normal office chairs, the warranty will be limited to a specified period of use. This is usually eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. This directly correlates with the most standard work shift, so it is easy for the manufacturer to predict the amount of usage the chair is going to get. It is also easy to predict the kind of usage the chair is going to experience. The manufacturer knows that the chair will be in a standard office environment.
A gaming chair is not going to be used for a set amount of hours per day or week. A gaming chair will also be in a home environment which means that it will be putting up with more abuse as compared to an office. Gaming chair manufacturers know that a large percentage of their customers are going to be kids, teenagers and young adults. For this reason, it has to be assumed that gaming chairs will be putting up with more abuse than an office chair and cannot be warranted as long.
Gaming chairs are a very cool product to hit the market. They offer a very unique option for people that want something that feels customized for their gaming experience. Opponents of gaming chairs are correct. Office chairs will typically provide a better value if your sole concern is getting the best functionality for your dollar, but that’s not the world we live in. People don’t always buy things for their pure functionality. If that were the case, then brands like Beats by Dre, Hollister and Hummer wouldn’t be in business. At the end of the day, if you like the way a gaming chair looks and you feel good about sitting in it, then it is a great option for you.