Not sure if you should get a gaming chair or an office chair? In this guide, we highlight the differences between gaming chairs and office chairs and highlight the pros and cons of each.
Not only have both gaming and office chairs improved over the past few years, but the working and gaming world has changed drastically, too. These days, thanks to remote working, it’s common for gamers to spend their workday and evening game time sat in the same chair.
One’s desk and chair setup is now much more of a home base for many workers and PC gamers. Because of this, the gaming chair vs office chair debate is more relevant than ever.
Deciding whether to opt for a gaming chair or an office chair isn’t as simple as it used to be, either, because both types of chair have improved. No longer is there an enormous difference between, for example, the ergonomics of a midrange office chair and gaming chair.
In this guide, we’ve simplified what to look out for when comparing chairs. Whether you care about ergonomics, aesthetics, or some combination of the two, this guide will get you on the right track deciding between a gaming chair and office chair.
Overview: Office Chairs
Originally, we only had office chairs. Because PC gaming was a new and niche activity, desk chairs were primarily designed for workers. And because most work took place in offices, where there were many workers, companies would often bulk buy fairly cheap chairs to save money.
Because of this, the original office chairs weren’t very special. They often had a seat, a small unadjustable backrest… and that was about it. If you were lucky, you’d be able to tilt the back a little.
Two or three decades ago, however, some office chairs started to have improved ergonomics: adjustable height, fully adjustable backrest tilt, adjustable arms, and lumbar support.
Today, office chairs can come in both varieties. Cheaper office chairs won’t be very adjustable, but midrange and expensive office chairs usually have a full range of ergonomic adjustments.
This is the full extent of their feature set, though. Aesthetically, there’s nothing flashy about them, and they don’t have any extra features that some gamers might like. They’re designed to be sat upon in a working environment for a few hours at a time.
Overview: Gaming Chairs
With the onset and rise in the popularity of PC gaming, companies made chairs that would appeal to the PC gamer. Thankfully, because this came about after the realization that good ergonomics were important, most gaming chairs were designed to be ergonomic from the start.
During the early years of gaming chairs, however, while they often had ergonomic features like lumbar support and a fully adjustable backrest, lower-end and midrange gaming chairs often weren’t as ergonomic as the new ergonomic office chairs.
Instead, the first gaming chairs prioritized things that gamers found appealing on the surface level: bright colors, the ability to fully recline, and additional features like built-in speakers. So, to begin with, gaming chairs got a bad rap as inferior to office chairs.
The situation today is very different, though. Most decent gaming chairs today are just as ergonomic as good office chairs, offering fully adjustable components and proper lumbar and cervical spine (neck) support.
They do still cater for the gamer’s desire for flashy aesthetics and extra features, though. As such, office chairs are usually a little cheaper than gaming chairs of similar ergonomic quality—because they aren’t packing in extra gamer-specific features.
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Gaming Chairs vs Office Chairs
When deciding between a gaming chair or an office chair, there are a few things to consider: aesthetics, ergonomics/comfort, extra features, and cost. Gaming chairs might win in one of these dimensions, while office chairs might win in another.
Winner: Gaming chairs
Probably the easiest aspect of a chair to judge is its aesthetics—either you like how it looks or you don’t.
Gaming chairs tend to be more vibrant and colorful with more emphasis placed on how the chair looks, in the same way that gaming PCs often look flashier than office PCs.
Many gaming chairs are designed to look like race car seats. There are ergonomic reasons for this, but the reason is also partially aesthetic. Chair manufacturers figured that gamers probably prefer the large-backed, curvy designs of racing seats. They simply stand out more than office chairs.
Office chairs are usually understated in their design. Older or cheaper office chairs can look exceptionally plain—which might be a good thing if you’re going for a minimalist look. Newer office chairs can look a little more interesting, though not as flashy as gaming chairs. They can have mesh backs and subtle curvature for spine support, for example.
Ergonomics and Comfort
Budget Winner: Tie
Premium Winner: Office chairs
To consider the ergonomics of gaming chairs vs office chairs, it’s important that we understand what’s involved in good ergonomics and posture.
The first thing to note is that being comfortable doesn’t mean you have good posture. It might be comfortable to sit hunched over for a while, but in the long run, this bad posture can cause discomfort, aches, and pains.
Image from Posturite.
Good sitting posture involves having both feet firmly planted on the floor or a footrest, a slight curve in the lower back to support your spine’s natural curvature, arms at 90 degrees, and having your head straight, with no tilt forwards or backward.
Everyone’s body is different, so while one chair setup might encourage good posture for one person, it might not for another. As such, the best chair for ergonomics is one that is adjustable, so you can adjust it to keep your own body in the correct posture.
A chair with good ergonomics should have:
- Adjustable lumbar support
- Adjustable armrests (4D)
- A backrest with adjustable and locking tilt
- A seat that doesn’t angle downwards
- A seat short enough that the back of your knees doesn’t touch its edge
- An adjustable headrest, if there is a headrest
If a chair offers all these things, it will probably be good enough to support you for good posture, providing you take the time to set it up correctly.
Good office chairs as well as most gaming chairs offer all these things. While cheaper options of both chair types will only offer some of these ergonomic features, if you look to midrange office chairs or gaming chairs, you should be able to find options that offer them all.
At lower price points (say, sub-$200), gaming chairs are more likely to be ergonomic than office chairs, because race car style chairs usually come with lumbar support and a wide backrest by default.
At midrange price points (say, $200-$500), there should be great ergonomic options for both gaming and office chairs. For office chairs, for example, there’s the $370 Branch Ergonomic Chair, featuring all five ergonomic features listed above. For gaming chairs, there are options like the Corsair TC100 Relaxed at the lower end of this price range or a Noblechairs or Secretlab chair towards the $500 mark.
At the high end of the market, the best options are likely premium office chairs. Herman Miller chairs, for example, have for a long time offered the gold standard of ergonomics in desk chairs. But this is where things get really expensive. A Herman Miller Aeron, for example, will probably set you back between $1,400-$1,800.
A last thing to note is that gaming chairs—but not office chairs—will often support extreme reclines, allowing you to lay back in your chair. While lying back all the time isn’t good practice for posture, it’s comfortable to do so occasionally, and changing up your posture every now and then can be good for your body.
There isn’t a clear winner for ergonomics and comfort, then. Chairs should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Check whether the back, seat, and arms are fully adjustable and whether it has good lumbar support. A neck/head rest that fully supports your cervical spine is also a pleasant bonus. And, of course, probably the best way to decide whether a chair will suit your body is to actually try it out—either in store, or by ordering it and returning it if it isn’t a good fit.
Winner: Gaming chairs
Gaming chairs usually have more features than office chairs. Office chairs are designed for the office worker who needs a comfortable chair to sit in for a workday and nothing else. Gamers, however, often desire extra features.
Here are some of the extra features that gaming chairs might offer:
- Haptic feedback vibration
- In-built speakers
- Heating or cooling
- RGB lighting
- Deep/full recline
Gaming chairs are often designed to be a comfortable all-in-one gaming environment—something you can relax in at the end of a day to play games while looking stylish. Including features like the above can make the gaming experience more enjoyable.
The Razer Enki Pro Hypersense, for example, has haptic feedback that “simulates real-world force and tactile feedback that’s both powerful and precise”.
Most gaming chairs also recline further than most office chairs. This isn’t for ergonomics but for comfort. It’s intended for those who, during long gaming sessions, might want to lean back between online rounds, or just take a rest.
However, over the years, many premium gaming chairs have dialed back on their extra features and have instead focused purely on ergonomics and simplistic design. The Secretlab Titan EVO, for example, doesn’t have any flashy extra features but uses a race car “bucket seat” design with full ergonomic adjustments.
In other words, more and more premium gaming chairs are now similar in design ethos to ergonomic office chairs, focusing on good posture and comfort rather than extra features for gaming. Most do still have deep or full recline functionality, though.
Budget Winner: Gaming chair
Premium Winner: Tie
There are gaming and office chair options for most budgets, from cheaper than $100 up to about $700. However, unless you’re going for a cockpit-style chair hub, there aren’t many gaming chairs going for more than $1,000, but there are office chairs like those from Herman Miller or Steelcase.
At the budget (sub-$200) end of the market, there are good and bad options for both office and gaming chairs. Gaming chairs will certainly be more colorful than standard office chairs at this price range, but aren’t guaranteed to have great ergonomics. Neither are standard office chairs, however. Chairs at this price range should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
At the ultra-expensive end of the market, you’ll probably want an office chair. If you’re spending over $1,000, your only real quality options are high-end ergonomic office chairs like the Herman Miller Embody or Steelcase Leap.
We should note, however, that the HM Embody has also made a gaming variant in partnership with Logitech, the Herman Miller x Logitech G Embody Gaming Chair. The key change with the gaming variant seems to be the inclusion of cooling foam, plus its aesthetic design.
Between budget and ultra-high-end chairs—around $200-$600—there are midrange and premium office and gaming chairs. In this range, it’s a tie. There are great gaming chair options in this range, such as those from Noblechairs and Secretlab. But there are also great office chairs, such as the Union & Scale Workplace 2.0 Ayalon from Staples.
If you don’t mind buying second-hand, however, you might find Herman Miller or Steelcase chairs for less than $500 by looking on Craigslist, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, and so on. Just make sure you try them out first because many of these chairs come in different size ranges for different body types and heights.
Gaming vs Office Chairs: Use Cases
Whether you should opt for a gaming chair or an office chair depends on what you primarily use your PC for. Do you use it for gaming? Office work? Both? How you use your chair can affect what kinds of features you need.
For instance, there might be little point in getting an expensive ergonomic chair if you’ll only be sitting on it to play games for a couple of hours per week.
Winner: Gaming Chair
If you’re planning on using your chair only for gaming, a gaming chair might cater to more of your needs than an office chair. But this depends on your budget and planned game time.
Gaming chairs tend to have more features that gamers will find useful, such as cooling foam and the ability to fully recline. If you’re settling in for a one- or two-hour gaming session, you might prefer such comforts to pure ergonomics.
However, if you’ll be spending a long time gaming frequently, you should put more weight into ergonomic considerations. In the long run, your back will thank you. Future gaming sessions will be less fun if you’re plagued with back pain.
If you’ll be gaming for long stretches of time and you have a big budget, a premium ergonomic office chair might be a good option—perhaps the Logitech/HM Embody chair linked above. Or, if you have less than $600 to spend, something like a Secretlab TITAN Evo should offer a combination of great ergonomics and gamer aesthetics.
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Winner: Office Chair
If you’re planning on using your chair for office work, a premium office chair will be your best bet. If you’ll be sitting in it for 40 hours per week, it’s vital for your long-term back health that your chair be ergonomically designed.
Many gaming chairs are ergonomic, so you won’t go too far wrong by opting for a premium ergonomic gaming chair. But if you’ll be spending your work week in this chair, it will be worth it, in the long run, to opt for a chair from one of the premium office chair brands like Herman Miller or Steelcase. Some of these companies’ chairs have a well-deserved reputation for being the best ergonomic chairs on the market.
This is especially true if you have any kind of back pain. Apart from specific exercises, maintaining good posture is the best way to prevent and eliminate back pain, and a well-designed ergonomic chair can help with that.
Both Gaming and Work
Winner: Office Chair
If you’ll be working and gaming in your desk chair, the situation is the same as above (just for work) but more so. You’ll be spending so much time in your desk chair that ergonomics become the most important factor by far, because you’ll need long-term back health to keep your work and gaming comfortable.
The best options for this are premium office chair brands like Herman Miller. However, you won’t go too far wrong with a premium ergonomic gaming chair like a Secretlab chair, and these might have some extra comforts (such as cooling foam) for your gaming sessions.
Aesthetics might also be important if it’s for an office that you’re spending most of your time in. In which case, a premium gaming chair with good ergonomic adjustments might offer the best of both worlds. Just make sure it allows for good posture for your body type.
Remember Footrests, Desks, and Good Posture
Ergonomics is all about maintaining good posture to eliminate back pain and prevent long-term health issues. Chairs with good ergonomic adjustments help with this, but so do other things. And a good ergonomic chair is useless if you sit cross-legged and slouched regardless.
For good posture, remember, your spine should be in a neutral position. You should have your feet planted firmly on the ground, your back at an angle of a little over 90 degrees (about 110 degrees), your arms at a 90-degree angle, and your neck straight, with your eye line resting between the middle and the top of your monitor.
Footrests can compensate for tall desks. For example, if you’re struggling to maintain a 90-degree arm angle because your desk is too high for your body, you can raise your chair height and add a footrest to keep your feet planted.
Sitting-standing desks can also be useful. It’s good for your body to keep moving, and going between switching and standing throughout the day can help with this.
Finally, monitor height can be adjusted to keep it at eye level, to prevent your neck from bending.
Verdict: Is a Gaming Chair or Office Chair Best for You?
Whether a gaming chair or office chair is better for you depends on a few things—most importantly, your budget and the amount of time you’ll spend sitting in it.
If you have a big budget and will spend most of your working and gaming life sitting in the chair, a premium office chair like a Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Leap V2 will probably be best. These chairs are the gold standard for ergonomics and should keep you free of back pain and other health issues over the years.
If you’re looking to spend $400-600, you have a couple of good options. First, you can try to find a top-end ergonomic office chair second-hand. Otherwise, you can opt for a premium ergonomic gaming chair like the Secretlab TITAN Evo. These premium gaming chairs have the benefit of both great ergonomics and also some gaming-focused extra features like deep backrest recline.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll have to judge on a case-by-case basis.
If you’ll only be spending a limited amount of time per week in the chair, while gaming, you might be okay ignoring some ergonomic adjustment features and looking for a great-looking gaming chair with some extra features (assuming you don’t prefer the minimalistic design of an office chair, that is). But if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the chair, it’s best to still look for an ergonomic chair—one that at least has lumbar support, even if that’s only a strap-on cushion.
Also, don’t forget to tailor the rest of your setup towards good posture. Set up your desk, monitor, and possibly a footrest so that you can have your arms at a 90-degree angle, your feet can be firmly planted on the ground or footrest, and your neck can be straight when looking at your monitor.