The best gaming chairs of 2023, tried and tested
The best gaming chair should be perfectly ergonomic, protecting your posture through long hours sitting in front of the PC
While many UK gamers now get their fix via mobile phones and consoles, there are still more than 10 million of us – according to research company Statista – who prefer PC gaming when we want to kick back. Given the long periods of time one can spend in front of a screen – especially if your gaming skills are as atrocious as mine – it’s clearly important to find the best gaming chair. But how?
I asked Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen, a former professional ‘League of Legends’ eSports player turned content creator and tournament analyst, what qualities I should be looking for.
“The most important thing is to choose a chair that’s been ergonomically designed to offer proper lumbar support,” Mads says. “Adjustable armrests and a comfortable headrest also help maintain good posture during those long sessions at the PC.
“I currently use a Secretlab gaming chair which I’m really pleased with. We often used the same chairs for League Of Legends tournaments held across the globe, but there are plenty of good quality alternatives.”
Finding the right chair won’t just up your game, it could help you avoid back and neck pain. “The biggest problem with gaming,” warns Catherine Quinn, President of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), “is the sheer length of time that you’re sat still in one position, with all your focus very much on the action in front of you. Inactivity is the real danger.
“Good gaming chairs are designed to give lots of support to your lower back and neck area. It’s vital you use all the adjustments provided, to help you comfortably sit back in them.”
I took onboard the experts’ advice and put some of the biggest-selling PC gaming chairs to the test. You can read my reviews below, followed by some more advice from Mads. If you’re time-poor and want to get straight to the recommendations, here are my hot picks:
With the help of my 6ft 3in high son – my regular gaming partner – I evaluated each chair over a period of a few weeks, mostly while he mercilessly hammered me at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The key assessment criteria I used, after input from our experts, were lumbar and neck support, adjustability and overall ergonomics/comfort. (If your workstation is giving you gyp, you may want to check out my guide to the best standing desks next.)
It’s worth noting that all the chairs arrived in two halves and none were particularly challenging to assemble; generally, the process took between 25 and 40 minutes. However, while most supplied instructions were clear, some manufacturers’ included tools were distinctly better than others. Easily the best was Secretlab’s ingenious combination T-bar Allen key/screwdriver, truly a thing of mechanical beauty.
Best overall – 10 out of 10
We like: Supremely comfortable, highly configurable
We don’t like: Premium price
Secretlab has turned the chore of assembly into something of an experiential art form with the Evo. Witness the huge, glossy sheet of instructions, large components enveloped in high-density foam, and loose parts packed in custom-designed bags and boxes.
Intelligent design touches abound, too. I particularly like the magnetically-attached side-hinge covers and swappable 4D (i.e. four directional) armrests. I also tried out a pair of the optional Technogel armrests, designed to cool down your arms during marathon sessions.
Once assembled you’re presented with a stylish chair whose leatherette is wrapped around a thin layer of cold-cured foam. Supportive side-bolsters are located on a generously wide backrest, which sits atop an equally expansive seat base.
Unusually, head support comes in the shape of a memory foam pillow that attaches to the backrest via hidden magnets, rather than straps. Lower down, the Evo dispenses with the common lumbar cushion option altogether, instead employing a clever 4-way adjustable support system.
This is undeniably a firm seat, not as hard as the Razer Enki Quartz but still a contrast with the deeply cushioned GT Omega Zephyr. Consequently, you sit ‘on’ the chair, rather than ‘in’ it, but after a few days of acclimatisation I found myself preferring Secretlab’s approach.
And despite the swathes of leatherette, I encountered no great issue with sweatiness over extended periods. As for those optional, cooling Technogel armrests, my advice is to invest in them - they’re a genuine boon.
The greatest compliment I can pay the Evo is that it gets out of the way and allows you to focus all your attention on gaming. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
£377.95, GT Omega
Best value PC gaming chair, 9/10
We like: Very comfortable over extended periods
We don’t like: Neck support could be better
GT Omega’s heavily motorsport-inspired Zephyr looks every inch the ‘trad’ hardcore gamer’s chair. Winged shoulder arches, sculpted seat bolsters and a strap-secured lumbar cushion, all wrapped in a deeply padded, cherry red fabric, makes a real statement of intent.
There’s only one size option available here but I think GT Omega has struck a good balance when it comes to the chair’s overall proportions. With a generously deep, 62cm-wide seat base, it successfully envelops and cossets most gamers, both tall and short.
Unlike most of the other models tested, the Zephyr makes do without a separate, detachable head cushion, opting instead for built-in support. This will prove adequate for most users but occasionally I, for one, still found myself wishing for a little more prominent padding in that area.
Elsewhere, the Zephyr makes a strong case for itself. The supplied memory foam lumbar support cushion gives good support for average height gamers while taller ones aren’t badly served if they elect to remove it and do without.
I also found the fabric ‘breathed’ well over long gaming sessions, successfully avoiding generating any noticeable sweatiness or overheating. It may not quite match the all-round excellence of the leading chairs but this is a singularly competent all-rounder that won’t disappoint.
Best ergonomic gaming chair, 10/10
We like: Ergonomically sound design
We don’t like: May not be ideal for taller gamers
A mid-priced offering, the Boulies Master is billed as being ‘perfect for home office and entertainment’. Which, I daresay, is why it eschews the glitz of the other designs for a more sober, understated aesthetic.
While there’s a good neck cushion supplied, secured by a simple elasticated strap, the Master doesn’t have any truck with the concept of separate lumbar cushions. Instead, support is built into the chair’s backrest, adjusted by a single knob located on the side.
It’s a far simpler system than that used in the Evo, but it still works very well. Reassuringly firm and supportive where it matters, this chair is the perfect salve for gamers who suffer from backache.
The combination of fabric with PU leather trims is also immensely comfortable over extended periods, while the 4D armrests afford just the right degree of comfort and adjustability. Kudos, too, for the near horizontal recline angle, easily the best of the chairs I tested.
Niggles? Well, the 80cm high seatback might prove a little short for the tallest gamers, and those broad in the beam will find the seat base narrow. But there’s little else to carp about.
If you’re looking for a dual-duty, office/gaming chair, the Boulies Master is an obvious front runner.
Best budget PC gaming chair, 8/10
We like: Very affordable
We don’t like: Unimpressive lumbar support cushion
This is the most affordable chair I tested so it’s no surprise to discover it’s the only one that lacks a ‘rocking’ facility, or that you get a plastic chair base, as opposed to the aluminium sort that’s de rigeur at higher price points. Tougher to ignore is the fact that the armrests are on the slim side, quite hard to the touch, and can’t be adjusted for width, or moved backwards and forwards.
Elsewhere though, most of the material compromises are well judged, though the narrow 40cm wide seat base might restrict the chair’s appeal to, ahem, slimmer gamers. More importantly, when used as supplied, this doesn’t prove an entirely comfortable chair. The primary culprit is the supplied but allegedly ‘optional to use’ lumbar support cushion.
Filled with a stiff, conventional (i.e. non-memory type) foam, it’s none too supportive. And there’s nothing ‘optional’ about it, since the chair’s essentially flat backrest lacks any other form of built-in lumbar support.
Nevertheless, there’s good news to report. Replacing the supplied cushion with a better one - I used the memory foam-filled example from the Zephyr - instantly elevates overall comfort levels. So, the chair’s biggest niggle can definitely be rectified.
But it’s something that X-Rocker should really sort ‘out of the box’. If it did so, the Agility eSports would be a far more compelling prospect.
Best looking gaming chair, 7/10
We like: Excellent build quality
We don’t like: Inflexible lumbar support
From the solid aluminium alloy chair base and perfectly positioned armrests, to the precise, artisan-grade stitching, it’s obvious this distinctive-looking chair is hewn from the right stuff.
Razor boasts the Enki Quartz has been designed for ‘all-day gaming comfort’ and ‘ensures optimal weight distribution’, claims which make the chair’s ergonomic quirks all the harder to fully accept.
For starters, while it comes with a comfy memory foam neck cushion, securing it using the attached lower strap - passed through the shoulder arch vents - results in it being positioned too low for taller gamers.
Potentially a more annoying issue, though, is the chair’s internal built-in lumbar ‘arch’, which is fixed and entirely none user-adjustable. Why? Because the majority of the support on offer here is positioned very low down on the seat back. Combined with some fairly thin padding, the end result is an excessive degree of firmness.
This may be good for posture in the long run, but I found this chair quite challenging to get used to. Even after a couple of weeks, I still can’t say that I, or my co-tester, unreservedly looked forward to the prospect of spending hours in it.
So, while beautifully crafted, it’s fair to say this chair’s definition of what constitutes comfort may well divide opinion.
‘Simple,’ says pro gamer Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen. ‘Aside from proper lumbar support, a well-designed gaming chair should help you maintain as good posture and hence reduce the risk of back pain and neck strain.’
‘PC gaming chairs are designed to perform better during extended gaming sessions, says Brock-Pedersen, ‘while ergonomic office chairs are usually designed for more general office use and hence shorter sessions.
‘Both options can work just fine, but it’s really important that the chair includes additional gamer-focussed features such as adjustable armrests and headrests. These aren’t always prioritised with standard office chairs.’ Gamers might also find an ergonomic mouse more comfortable for long sessions.
‘You should focus on maintaining a good upright posture with your feet flat on the ground and the backrest adjusted to provide good lumbar support, says Brock-Pedersen.
‘Furthermore, your armrests should be positioned at a comfortable height to prevent any shoulder strain, and it’s vital that your monitor is correctly placed; if the top of the screen isn’t slightly below eye level and directly in front of you, it can cause neck pain.’
‘I would recommend taking regular breaks when doing longer sessions at the PC, says Brock-Pedersen. ‘Take short breaks every one or two hours to stand up, walk around a bit and ideally do a few stretches as well.
‘When I’m a few hours into my own sessions I often notice I begin to slouch. That’s why I make sure I constantly remind myself of the need to maintain a good posture, to reduce the risk of developing back problems down the line.’
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