How to Choose the Best Gaming Chair
10 May 2022
A good gaming chair is the foundation of any gaming setup. Sure, a beastly PC with out of this world specs is wonderful to have, but you still need somewhere to sit while you're playing it. No matter how powerful your rig, it can be worthless if the chair you've got infront of it doesn't stack up. If you can't sit comfortably and game for long sessions, 4k 120Hz doesn't mean as much as it could. Plus, this is your back we're looking out for here, that thing is for life.
But buying a gaming chair also isn't an easy task. The market is flooded with different choices, and some are definitely better than others. There's also tons of factors like fabric, support, sizes, and plenty of unique styles. That's why we're here to help you pick the perfect gaming chair for you and your killer setup.
What type of material should I look for in a gaming chair?
Gaming chairs come in all sorts of coatings, and the first thing to note is that often these will affect the price.
Real Leather Gaming Chairs
Real leather, for example, will often set you back the most but will give a premium office feel and long lasting surface, though don't forget to look after it. It's also typically only available in the most premium of chairs, coming with a price to match. Though it is hard to argue with a Porsche designed Thermaltake ARGENT E700 Leather Gaming Chair if you've got the cash.
PU Leather Gaming Chairs
PU Leather is the current most common synthetic alternative, and tends to come a bit cheaper while mimicking the feel, but won't have that same longevity. You can get it on this super budget HHGears SM115 chair and on seats like the higher end ASUS ROG Chariot RGB Gaming Chair, so it's not necessarily an indicator of overall quality. There are other faux leathers on the market, but PU is by far the most common.
Cloth and mesh Gaming Chairs
Lastly, there are cloth and mesh options that tend to be the cheapest but also less durable. Mesh is often associated with more expensive ergonomic chairs such as the Onex GT-DV-10E Dvary Ergonomic chair, but as a finish, it can be found on cheaper models like the Brateck Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair with Headrest. How easy any of these softer fabrics are to clean can vary a lot, but they give the added warmth and comfort of a softer fabric over those colder leathery options.Cloth and mesh materials can often be found used in a combination too - e.g. a cloth chair base with a mesh back.
What adjustments are available on a Gaming Chair?
Checking how your chair can adjust before buying is a great idea, because not all gaming thrones are created equal. Most will offer a standard amount of backrest recline and tilt to the seat, but there are plenty of other options – though they usually come with a higher price. What you are going to want out of a gaming chair will largely depend on you, but here are some adjustments to consider.
Lumbar support is of course a big one and different chairs will deal with this in different ways. Some of the cheaper options might offer a pillow as a solution, which can be removed depending on personal taste. As you get more expensive, specific lumbar support is often built into the chair giving further granular customisation which can be invaluable for people with sore backs.
But other aspects of adjustment can factor in too. Height and general sizing adjustments can be a big one for some of the larger gamers out there, to the point where there are chairs specifically built to help with those options. Head rests and back pillows can also really help to up the comfort of a chair too, as can things like armrests. Additionally, a good gaming desk can make all the difference in your posture and comfort. It's a good idea to really pay attention to how you sit, and think about what aspects are important to you, and affordable to your wallet.
Do I need armrests?
As gaming chairs continue to evolve, the conversation around armrests is also changing. Many gamers sit at desks, and don't necessarily even use the armrests on their chairs that much. Others like to sit back and use them for comfort, and most are somewhere in between.
Unfortunately, gaming chairs have often been a bit let down by armrests, especially the cheaper ones. It's likely why so many have resorted to ignoring them and using desks to do the job instead, but the good news is they're getting much better.
Chairs now often come with adjustable armrests, but this can still vary wildly. Some will only move back and forth, others up and down, and some will move at almost every axis possible. Often how customisable a chair's armrest will be is referred to in the dimensions they move.
This cheaper popular Cooler Master Calibre R1S chair has 2D armrests, so you know they'll move in two directions, whereas something like the Razer Iskur Ergonomic Gaming Chair or Anda Seat Kaiser 2 Napa Series offer much more premium rests that boast 4D directional movement. Cheaper chairs often have a harder plastic finish, which isn't as comfortable as softer, more expensive options.
When it comes to armrests, there is a lot of personal preference at play, especially as to whether or not you'll even use them. However, they do factor into the price of a good chair and feel much better on higher quality units. If having good arm support matters to you, it's worth paying a bit extra for a chair with a few more options.
Do I need a headrest for my gaming chair?
Plenty of gaming chairs come with detachable headrest pillows. It's a cheap and easy way to give gamers the option of whether or not they want that bit of support at the back of the head. Again, as we all game differently this can really depend, so it can be hard to tell if it's something you need.
Headrests are great, but they should be one of the last things you consider when buying a chair. Other than making sure the chair is the right height for you, whether or not it comes with a pillow shouldn't be a make or break decision. Choose your chair based on the expensive, physical build, not the tiny pillow that comes on it.
Headrests, and lumbar support pillows can often be bought separately as well. Noblechairs, for example, offer headrest and lumbar support pillows separately, and also a memory foam pillow set. A headrest is always something you can buy later, so if you're not too sure it's not something too worth stressing about and is easy to change.
Do I need a chair mat?
Chair mats definitely feature more in the nice to have section of the gaming chair needs for many, but this isn't always the case. Some floors are very sensitive, and having a mat for your chair can save you for a very expensive bill. It's much cheaper to buy a chair mat than fix your flooring, so it can be a surprise investment that saves you big time in the long run.
For carpeted floors, chair mats can not only help prevent damage but make it easier to roll around. Needing one in this environment is a bit too strongly worded, but they can definitely help and some like this Cooler Master FM510 Gaming Floor mat happen to look really cool while doing so.
But what about other options?
Not all gamers are married to sitting at their desks anymore. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options for people who like to game in all sorts of configurations.
While there are many great regular gaming desks around, standing desks are surging in popularity as people discover the physical and mental health benefits of motion. They're also nowhere near as expensive as they once were, with budget friendly options like the Brateck S04-22D Single-Motor Height Adjustable Desk on offer. Though of course, there's still also the turbo charged gamer aesthetic options like a Thermaltake Level 20 RGB BattleStation Electric Height Adjustable Gaming Desk if that's more your fancy.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there are lower down, lazier options. There's a bunch of great rockers out there for adults and kids alike, that give a more couchlike feel keeping you closer to the ground. Things like the X Rocker GR Nintendo Video All Star Yoshi Floor Rocker Gaming Chair can be a great simple and cheap solution for kids, while the X Rocker Sentinel 4.1 Speaker Floor Rocker Gaming Chair delivers a premium close to the ground experience.
And then, there are specific enthusiasts. Sim racing and flying setups with cockpits and controls can require an extra touch. Many need a chair that's in a specific configuration with frames to help support the rest of the rig, so you would need to look into the right kind of chair for this solution. Again, this is much easier than before with plenty of options. There's something simple like the Playseat Challenge ActiFit Racing Chair, or again, get the more premium experience with the stunning Playseat Evolution Racing Chair.
With such a wide range of options available, there's a great chair out there to suit gamers of all stripes and niches. It doesn't matter whether you're after something simple and budget friendly, or a rig specific super setup, there's always something on offer and the tips in this guide should help you pick the right chair for you.