Videos games have been a big part of our society for decades but the days of going to the local arcade or having a group of friends over to play Nintendo are dying. With so many US households having gaming consoles and PCs, gaming has become even more accessible. PC gaming used to be an expensive investment because it wasn’t common for everyone to have a PC in their home. Now, with so many home computers available and the rise of free to play games, like League of Legends and Fortnite, PC gaming is becoming more and more popular.
A computer requires a desk and a chair so, naturally, the demand for gaming desks and gaming chairs is growing rapidly too. Searching for the right PC gaming chair can be an arduous task because of all the options out there. What is a gaming chair? How will I know which chair is best for me? How much does a gaming chair cost? These are questions that we will help you answer, while also providing you with a wide-ranging list of potential gaming chair options.
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?
Best Gaming Chairs For 2019
- SecretLab Omega – Best Overall Gaming Chair
- DxRacer RW106 – Best Racer Style Gaming Chair
- OFM Essentials ESS-6065 – Best Under $200 Gaming Chair
- OFM Essentials ESS-3085 – Best Under $150 Gaming Chair
- What was our testing process?
- How did we pick our best gaming chairs?
- 5 Things You Must Consider Before Buying a Gaming Chair
- Bottom Line
What is a Gaming Chair?
The history of the gaming chair originated from racing games like Need for Speed. The original idea was to replicate the feeling you have when driving a sporty 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.
While the racer style has become the standard for gaming chairs, they are not the only option for gaming. There are a lot of chairs, ranging from regular office chairs to high-end ergonomic chairs that will be great for gaming. Many of these options can provide better functionality for a similar price point.
The Best Gaming Chair List
1. Best Overall – SecretLab Omega
The SecretLab Omega is one of the best built racing style gaming chairs we have seen. The Omega comes with a steel frame, reinforced aluminum base and it is upholstered in PU vinyl. It also features the common high back style but SecretLab chose to go with less aggressive side bolsters. It does not feel like the bolsters are holding you, which can be restricting.
The knee tilt functionality gives it a leg up over its swivel tilt competitors. The armrests adjust in 4 directions and they are well padded. I also liked how soft the velour was that SecretLab used on the pillow and lumbar cushion were. This was a nice change compared to the PU cushions seen on most racer gaming chairs.
I think there are two glaring weaknesses with the SecretLab Omega gaming chair. The first is that the height range is limited to people that are 5’9” and under, per SecretLab’s specifications. I am 5’9” and can verify this to be true. My head is at the top of the headrest on the Omega.
The second major issue for me and the rest of my co-workers is how uncomfortable the seat is. This is solely due to how firm it is. The size is fine, and the side bolsters do not interfere. But the seat is so firm that it is like sitting on a wooden chair. The SecretLab Omega received the lowest score on our seat comfort test in our office with an average score of 31/100.
2. Best Racer Style – DxRacer RW106
DxRacer RW106 Summary
The DxRacer RW106 is one of the most popular chairs from their Racing Series. It has the style typically associated with a gaming chair. It features a bucket seat design with a high back. The chair is upholstered in a combination of mesh and PU vinyl with a lot of color options to choose from.
The RW106 features a full recline function to allow you to lay all the back while watching a movie or your favorite streamer. It also has 3 dimensional armrests that really help to get your arms in the most comfortable position. The lumbar and headrest pillows have good padding and helped to add to the comfort of the chair.
The biggest downside to the RW106 is that it will only fit a limited range of people. Per DxRacer, the RW106 is recommended for people shorter than 5’11” and under 180 lbs. The chair fit me well, but I could feel the side bolsters on both the seat and backrest. The side bolsters make the chair feel narrow, so you need to have a slim or athletic build to use this chair comfortably.
The 3-dimensional arms really help with the ergonomics of the RW106, but the mechanism is a bit lacking. With basic swivel tilt functionality, there are better options for people looking for good ergonomics.
The last thing that we did not like with the RW106 is that the seat was not very comfortable, compared to the other chairs we tested. It received an average seat comfort score of 55, which was in the bottom portion of the list.
3. Best Under $200 – OFM Essentials ESS-6065
ESS-6065 Price: $199.00 + Free Shipping!
Shop for the OFM Essentials ESS 6065 PC Gaming Chair >>
The ESS-6065 is a high back racing style gaming chair that features a handful of different color combinations in PU vinyl. It has a steel frame construction and the entire chair is backed by a solid limited lifetime warranty. The ESS-6065 has a bucket seat design but the shoulder bolsters were not in a position to make me feel constricted.
The ESS-6065 has the standard adjustments you will find on most race style gaming chairs. It has adjustable arms, independent back angle adjustment, tilt lock, and tension adjustment. It also comes with lumbar and headrest pillows that can be placed in different areas, depending on what is most comfortable for you.
The ESS-6065 has some basic functions with its swivel tilt mechanism but it is lacking a lot of functions that would make this chair a better choice for ergonomics. The seat comfort is also a concern I have because of how poorly it did when tested by everyone in our office. It received an average score of 48/100.
My final concern is that this chair is only going to work for a small segment of the population. I am not a large guy and I could feel the side bolsters on the seat. I was also most comfortable with the seat at its maximum height and I am only 5’9”. I think this chair is best designed for people that are under 5’10” and have a slim/athletic build type.
4. Best Under $150 – OFM Essentials ESS-3085
ESS-3085 Price: $149.00 + Free Shipping!
Shop for the OFM Essentials ESS 3085 Computer Gaming Chair >>
The ESS-3085 features a very basic high back design with limited functionality but it does have some good things going for it. The ESS-3085 was designed to look like a gaming chair, just not a racer style. This gives the chair a more open and free feeling while you are sitting. You are not held in place by side bolsters on a racing style chair.
While it does not look like a racer, there are still plenty of color combinations to give you the gaming chair feel. The seat and backrest are well padded, and the backrest has a nice lumbar curve naturally built into the chair.
The adjustment range on the ESS-3085 is suited for shorter people as well as people up to about 6’1”. This makes it a nice option for a shared space where adults and children will be using the same chair.
The ESS-3085 has a really low price point so the components are on the lower end. The mesh and vinyl used feel soft and are comfortable, but I question their longevity. The good thing is that the ESS-3085 is backed by OFM’s limited lifetime warranty, which is a great value, especially for a chair that costs under $150.
The next thing that may be of concern is that the ESS-3085 is lacking in the ergonomics department. The basic swivel tilt means there are not things like seat depth adjustment. The backrest and lumbar support are also not adjustable. The only thing that the arms do is flip up and out of the way. If you are looking for a gaming chair with good ergonomics, then this isn’t going to be the right chair for you.
Why Trust The Learning Center at BTOD.com?
Simply put, we are experts. We have been selling office furniture for 12 years and have seen the gaming chair market grow from the beginning. We are not a company that is simply dedicated to writing reviews on emerging markets in hopes of making a quick buck. Office furniture is our life and we have gained extensive knowledge about the products within our space. We know what to look for and what to avoid. Our goal is to share this knowledge so that customers are better informed when making their buying decision.
One thing that really separates us from almost every other review site is that we bring in all the products that we review. We do not do forensic reviews or reviews based on what other customers have said about the product. We order the product for ourselves so that we know how it performs. Some of the products we sell on BTOD.com, but many of them we do not. Regardless, we have tested every product we have reviewed.
What was our testing process?
All of the chairs on this list were purchased and tested in our office. The first thing that we do is document the condition in which the package arrives and assess the overall quality of the packaging. Then, we assemble each chair, taking notes on anything that’s helpful or troublesome. We note the total time needed for assembly and rate the overall process.
We then check the specs on each chair, looking for things like seat size and back height. We then check the functionality of each chair. This involves checking each adjustment to see how it functions and the amount of adjustability each chair has.
Our next step is to sit in the chair and actually use it. This gives us first-hand knowledge of how comfortable the chair is and how it fits different people in our office. This gives us the ability to know what body type is best for a given chair.
Our final step is to group all the chairs together in one room so that we can compare them all side by side. This gives us great insight into which chairs are better than others in terms of quality, functionality, and ease of use. When we feel like we know enough about the chairs, we score and rank them.
How did we pick the best Gaming Chair?
Below you will find a list of the different categories we chose to use to score the gaming chairs on our list. Under each category, you will find a brief description of what we were looking for and how we scored the category.
The ergonomics category is an evaluation of the overall ergonomic experience with the chair. We look at things like the chair’s ability to put your knees, hips, and elbows at 90°. We evaluate whether the chair keeps you in a proper position when you recline. We also look at the adjustability of the chair and how well it can adapt to various types of people.
The build quality score looks at the quality of the components and how well the chair functions. We specifically look at the quality of the foam and upholstery. We also look at the casters, base, cylinder, and frame of the chair. Finally, we use each function to see how well it performs and how easy it is to use.
The mechanism adjustability category is used to evaluate how functional the mechanism is for the given chair. It is also used to measure the quality of the mechanism. Chairs with swivel tilt mechanisms will have the lowest scores while chairs with multi-function or self-adjusting mechanisms will receive scores on the higher end. We will go into more detail on the various mechanism options below.
This score is really straightforward. There are chairs on our list with weight ratings as low as 200 lbs. and as high as 500 lbs. The higher the weight capacity, the higher the score.
The warranty score will depend on how long the coverage lasts, the number of hours you are allowed to use the chair, the weight rating allowed and any exclusions the warranty may have.
Seat comfort can be very subjective. It is not as cut and dry as evaluating a warranty or weight rating. We chose to poll our whole office to get a variety of opinions on the seat comfort. We had each person rank the seat score on each chair from 1-100. We then averaged each score to get the final number.
The lumbar support score reflects the chair’s ability to support the natural curve in your lower back. Some chairs have a lumbar support curve designed into the backrest. Some chairs have height adjustable lumbar support. Some have the ability to make the lumbar more or less pronounced. Chairs will good support, that is also adjustable, will have the highest scores.
When evaluating the armrests, we look at several factors. The first is the overall quality of the arms. We also look at how much surface area they have and how comfortable the arm pads are. We then look at how adjustable they are and how much adjustment range they offer.
For assembly, we consider the amount of time it takes to complete the installation and the difficulty in doing so. Are the instructions clear and easy to follow or are there small pictures with no words? Do the components go together easy or is it a struggle? These are all things that go into the assembly score.
After close to 100 hours of testing gaming desks, the results are in!
Five Things to Consider When Selecting a New Gaming Chair
1. Gaming chairs are very size dependent
One thing that is very important to consider when you start shopping for a gaming chair is that racing style chairs are very size dependent. The bucket seat design with side bolsters makes the fit very specific. Some chairs are designed for petite people or kids. The chair may look like a normal sized chair, but the specs may show that it is only good for people up to 5’3”.
There are also varying weight ratings for the different racing chairs available. Some models are recommended for weights as low as 130 lbs. while others will be suitable for 300+ lbs. It is very important that you check the specs if you are considering a racer for your next gaming chair.
2. Understanding what different mechanisms do
The mechanism is the portion of the chair that attaches to the underside of the seat. The mechanism is responsible for the main functionality of the chair. There are a few different mechanism types that most chairs will have.
Racer style chairs usually have a swivel-tilt or knee-tilt mechanism. These 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 self-adjusting mechanisms.
Swivel-tilt mechanisms are 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 and when you rock, the backrest and seat move in unison. This may cause your feet to come off the floor.
Knee-tilt mechanisms are an upgrade to the swivel tilt. When you rock back, the seat and back will still move in unison but the pivot point for the rocking motion is moved to the back of the knee. This allows you to rock in the chair without having your feet come off the ground.
Synchro-tilt is a system in which the seat angle changes as the back reclines. The most common ratio is 2:1. The chair does not rock like swivel or knee tilt because the seat does not move nearly as much. The movement is much more controlled and allows the user to stay in an ergonomic position when reclining the backrest.
Multi-function mechanisms allow 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 used on some of the most popular office chairs in the world, including the Freedom by Humanscale and the Aeron by Herman Miller. These mechanisms are designed to properly adjust based on your position and weight. They will typically be found on the highest end office chairs.
3. Foam Quality Makes Big Difference
The type of foam and its thickness are a big determining factors in the seats comfort and longevity. There are several different types of foam used in chairs but most fall into three different categories. The main types of foam used on office and gaming chairs are cut foam, molded foam and memory foam.
Cut foam is when a manufacturer cuts a chunk of foam out of a larger piece to fit the size that they need. This type of foam is on the lowest end in terms of quality, so it is also the least expensive. Cut foam does not last as long as the other foams on this list and it typically does not hold its shape as well.
Molded foam is a jump in quality compared to cut foam. Molded foam is made by creating a specifically sized mold for the exact piece you want to create. The best analogy to describe the difference between cut foam and a molded foam is to compare it to bread. Cut foam is like a slice of bread while molded foam is like the entire loaf. The entire loaf is going to be stronger and hold its shape better because it has a coat of crust around the entire loaf, and not just the edges, like a slice.
Memory foam is a high-density foam that forms to the shape of the person using the chair. This type of foam is typically considered high-end, but it is not always the best choice for an office chair. Some manufacturers make chairs with memory foam or the option to add a memory foam layer.
4. Upholstery matters for temperature
The upholstery you choose to go with will be a factor in determining how hot or cool you are while you game. Leather and vinyl are not breathable, so they will trap your body heat and will be warmer than other upholstery options. This can be good for people that find themselves getting cold while playing games but can also be a downside for those that tend to get hot or sweaty from long sessions.
Fabric will be a bit more breathable than leather or vinyl but will still hold heat pretty well. Mesh is going to be the most breathable option. Mesh is a good option for people that play for long hours or find themselves feeling warm after a while in a normal chair.
5. Hourly rating for office chair warranties
One thing to keep in mind is that office chair manufacturers base their warranties on a specific number of hours that the chair can be used. Typically, office chairs are limited to 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. Limiting the number of hours allows the manufacturer to extend the warranty length. This is a trade-off that benefits the majority of people using a chair.
For chairs that need to be used round the clock, manufacturers will offer a 24/7 warranty. Chairs with a 24/7 warranty will often be beefed up to withstand the constant workload. But the time will also often be limited compared to standard chairs.
Racing style chair manufacturers rarely specify the number of hours a chair can be used, so they typically default to having no limit, with a short time duration. The problem is that racer chairs are not beefed up to withstand the constant workload of 24/7 use. This can be a problem for people looking to use these racing style chairs in 24/7 environments, like call centers and dispatch offices.
There are more gaming chair options available than ever. They fill a nice need. People want to play in a chair that is as cool as the game they are playing. The gaming setup has become part of the gaming experience. It makes people feel better and it brings more enjoyment to gaming. Gaming chairs may not have the same ergonomic adjustability as similarly priced office chairs, but they are the only type of chair that offers a cool, customizable look that fits the look of a gaming setup. As long as you know what to look for and what to avoid, you should have no problem finding a chair that fits your needs in a look you’ll be happy with.