Deciding between a gaming chair vs. ergonomic chair is like playing a choose your own adventure game. There’s no right way to go, as both chairs offer plenty of comfort and support for gamers and working professionals alike.
Even so, you may find that you prefer the look and feel of gaming chairs or desire the extra functionality found in today’s best ergonomic chairs. That’s why I’ve created this strategy guide — to help you understand the pros and cons of each choice.
When you’re ready to learn more about these essential gaming and workplace peripherals, join me as we break things down to basics.
Gaming Chair Basics
From a technical standpoint, a gaming chair is any chair designed for video gamers. The thing is, this definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Heck, even your childhood bean bag fits within such a broad description.
That’s why we’re approaching this guide from the perspective of computer gaming chairs. Computer gaming chairs match the definition above but require additional criteria, like swivel bases, extensive adaptability, and towering, executive backrests.
They generally emphasize comfort and relaxation, with cozy foam interiors and high levels of recline-ability (up to 180° flat) for laid-back gameplay at the desk. The most popular options also feature racing-inspired design elements, like a bucket seat design and aggressive angles, as well as flashy colors inspired by supercars.
These types of gaming chairs hit the mainstream back in the mid-2000s. That’s when DXRacer pivoted from producing luxury race car seats to office chairs with racing-style aesthetics. This spin on office chairs quickly gained traction among gamers, eSports competitors, and (alongside the release of Twitch in 2011) game streamers, earning itself the title of “gaming chair.”
While DXRacer remains a top manufacturer, it no longer holds a monopoly on gaming chairs. Nowadays, hundreds of manufacturers create excellent gaming chairs for every type of activity, gaming and otherwise.
Common Gaming Chair Features
Here’s a look at standard gaming chair features found in most of today’s models:
- Racing-inspired designs. Gaming chairs usually come with cocoon-like design elements such as bucket seats and flared backrests. These are modeled after Nascar-style interiors designed to keep you snug and secure during high-intensity races. Another common gaming chair trait is bold pops of color, inspired by the brightly-painted cars speeding around the track.
- Executive backrests w/ pillows. Unlike standard office chairs that lack full-body support, gaming chairs come with tall “executive” backrests bolstered by durable steel frames. These backrests reach up to your head and often come with a lumbar pillow and neck pillow for enhanced support.
- Comfy molded foam and PU leather craftsmanship. Molded foam and faux leather are the most common gaming chair materials. That’s because molded foam is exceptionally cozy and supportive, laying the ideal foundation for long hours of gaming at the computer. Meanwhile, PU leather is soft and durable, and provides a luxurious, shiny finish.
- Highly adaptable. Swivel, height, tilt, and recline mechanisms are just a sampling of the adjustable components found in today’s most popular gaming chairs. The best models also include anywhere from 1D to 4D (four-directional) adjustable armrests for complete upper-body posture support.
Most Popular Gaming Chairs
- Secretlab TITAN Evo ($449) – The TITAN Evo blends racing-style and traditional office aesthetics for a multipurpose gaming chair that comes with 4D armrests and adjustable lumbar support.
- DXRacer Gladiator Series | Amazon ($319) – Although DXRacer is no longer the market leader, the DXRacer Gladiator Series remains incredibly popular thanks to its traditional racing aesthetics and modular design elements.
- GTRACING GT099 | Amazon ($114.99) – The GTRACING GT099 is an excellent option for those on a tight budget, incorporating a tall, flashy backrest and respectable adjustability for around $100.
Ergonomic Chair Basics
An ergonomic chair is an office chair that adapts to support its user’s workflow and environment.
Since ergonomic chairs are a type of office chair, they all feature swivel bases and casters that roll around the workspace. However, ergonomic chairs go much further than the basic swivel, incorporating mechanisms that let you adapt every aspect of your sitting experience. Alongside standard adjustments like seat height, tilt, and recline, you’ll also find unique mechanisms that affect everything from seat depth to backrest height (to name just a few).
Ergonomic chairs come in simple mid-back variants as well as executive-style variants complete with headrests. No matter their size, they usually feature a blend of hard plastic and metal framing, and boast interior foam with fabric or pure mesh upholstery.
Another essential element that sets ergonomic chairs apart is the waterfall seat design. These unique cushions slope ever-so-slightly forward and boast a rounded front end to reduce stress on your tailbone and legs, promoting a healthier sitting experience.
Common Ergonomic Chair Features
Here’s a look at what you can expect from ergonomic office chairs:
- Minimal, distraction-free aesthetics. Most ergonomic chairs are designed for traditional office use, and they typically feature minimal aesthetics, with muted colors and occasional hints of metal accents. This ensures a business-appropriate design, and some even find that it contributes to workflow efficiency and productivity.
- Contoured mid-back or executive backrests. You’ll find ergonomic chairs with both mid-back and executive backrests. Either way, these incorporate contoured angles that align with your spine for proper support. Many ergonomic chairs also include built-in lumbar systems that you can adjust depending on the needs of your lower back.
- Foam and fabric or mesh craftsmanship. Most ergonomic chairs feature a foam and fabric or taut mesh weave — or even a combination of both. The materials are usually pressure-free and moderately firm, keeping you upright and focused without falling into a comfort coma. They also tend to come outfitted with exceptional warranties lasting several years of daily use.
- Exceptionally adaptable. Although lower-end ergonomic chairs only include basics like swivel, height, and tilt adjustability, the best ones go much further. These offer precision control over every aspect of the chair’s frame, including base, seat, backrest, and headrest.
Most Popular Ergonomic Chairs
- Herman Miller Aeron | Amazon ($1,695) – The Herman Miller Aeron is the most iconic ergonomic chair of all time, featuring a unique blend of adjustable components and a taut mesh that keeps your posture in check.
- Steelcase Leap | Amazon ($979) – Another iconic ergonomic chair (and one of my favorites), the Steelcase Leap provides a soft foam foundation with LiveBack® technology and a Natural Glide System™ to support every workflow.
- all33 BackStrong C1 ($799) – all33 is the new kid on the block, and its BackStrong C1 is among the most supportive chairs around, keeping your vertebrae properly aligned with doctor-approved Sit in Motion® mechanics.
How Do Gaming Chairs and Ergonomic Chairs Stack Up?
Even though gaming chairs and ergonomic chairs feature many of the same elements, there are some key differences. For one, gaming chairs are much flashier (picture a head-turning Ferrari), while ergonomic chairs blend in with the rest of the space. Gaming chairs are also more comfortable, with softer foam and greater degrees of recline. But they don’t provide the same ergonomic features as an ergonomic chair.
Let’s break things down further with a line-by-line look at essential features found in both chairs.
|Gaming Chair||Ergonomic Chair|
|Price||$100 to $750||$100+|
Gaming chairs and ergonomic chairs are on opposite sides of the aesthetic spectrum. The former likes to stand out with bold yellows, reds, and blues, while the latter comes in various shades of gray.
Even the little details play into this narrative. Gaming chairs look aggressive, with protruding wings and sharp angles that conjure images of the new Tesla Cybertruck. Meanwhile, ergonomic chairs tend to have softer, rounded features that feel more professional than oft-jarring gaming chairs.
Verdict: Gaming chairs are flashy and bold; ergonomic chairs are muted and minimal.
Gaming is a hobby that involves escaping the daily grind and sinking into fun and relaxation away from work. That’s why gaming chairs prioritize comfort, incorporating plush molded foam and thick layers of silky PU leather. They also come with reclining backrests that drop as low as 180° or horizontal to the floor. Kick back and relax 135° with your controller in hand, or lower yourself down all the way for a nap between games.
Ergonomic chairs are also comfortable, but that’s not their primary focus. Yes, you’ll find similarly dense foams and fabrics. But they tend to feel firmer than gaming chairs. Even their pressure-reducing waterfall seats prioritize tailbone and thigh support, even if they are exceedingly comfortable.
While many ergonomic chairs offer recline and tilt, it’s usually minimal, maxing out around 120° or so.
Verdict: When it comes to gaming chairs vs. ergonomic chairs, gaming chairs tend to include softer foam and thicker fabrics alongside higher degrees of recline.
Although ergonomic chairs are more ergonomic in the long run (big surprise), gaming chairs aren’t far behind.
Something you may find surprising is that gaming chairs offer better bang for your buck. For example, $100 gaming chairs often include armrest adaptability, as well as adjustable head and lumbar support pillows. You’ll be hard-pressed to find that on ergonomic chairs in the same price range.
That said, it’s a different story once you reach the higher-end of the gaming chair vs. ergonomic chair lineup. You can adjust today’s top-performing ergonomic chairs in nearly every way, as they include unique mechanisms affecting everything from seat depth to backrest height to built-in lumbar and headrest supports. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy posture and keep focused and alert during work, ergonomic chairs are the way to go.
Verdict: The best ergonomic chairs are more adaptable and versatile than gaming chairs in any price range.
Gaming chairs are usually more durable than lower-cost ergonomic chairs. That’s mainly due to the industry-standard steel framing found in nearly every marketable gaming chair. By contrast, entry-level ergonomic chairs feature simpler nylon frames without as much stability.
That all changes once you get to mid-range and higher gaming chairs and ergonomic chairs. This is where you’ll start to see options from powerhouse companies like Herman Miller and Steelcase, which outfit their products with the best materials and craftsmanship possible. These chairs come backed by exceptional warranties (up to and surpassing Herman Miller’s 12-year warranty), which wouldn’t be feasible without such excellent build quality. Contrast that with Secretlab’s 5-year warranty (considered among the best in its class), and it’s clear which chairs offer more durability in the long run.
Verdict: Lower-end gaming chairs are more durable than lower-end ergonomic chairs, but higher-end ergonomic chairs outlast any gaming chair.
Most gaming chairs range in price from $100 to $750. You’ll occasionally find a gaming chair slipping past these thresholds, but those are unusual outliers. Ergonomic chairs, on the other hand, start around $100 and can reach well into the thousands.
This price gap makes sense when you consider that gaming chairs are seen as optional accessories, and ergonomic chairs are seen as business essentials. This perception may be outdated (everyone deserves a comfy and supportive chair), but it does affect overall quality. The best ergonomic chairs are higher-quality than the best gaming chairs, simply because you’re paying more to access them.
Verdict: The best gaming chairs are more affordable than the best ergonomic chairs, but they don’t share the same level of quality.
Gaming Chair vs. Ergonomic Chair: Which Is Better?
No matter which path you choose, gaming chair vs. ergonomic chair, you’re in for a comfy, supportive experience that works well during work and play. That said, I find that these chairs work best in their respective camps. Gaming chairs are best for gamers, and ergonomic chairs are best for office dwellers and folks seeking top-notch postural support.
For example, gaming chairs blend well with the RGB accents found in many gaming rooms (though you can also find many gaming chairs with more mild color schemes), and they’re incredibly comfortable for long gaming sessions. The wings cradle your body with care, and the reclining backrests make it easy to lounge around and relax.
Meanwhile, ergonomic chairs are all about supporting your work and office journey. They sacrifice a bit of comfort to offer more adaptability and enhanced postural support. While they aren’t ideal for relaxed postures, they will keep you upright and focused, skyrocketing your productivity like the latest SpaceX Falcon launch (though I’m sorry to say, they probably won’t give you Elon’s unnatural willpower and work ethic).
An interesting thing to note is that the two types of chairs have recently begun blending into one another. The current best-selling gaming chair — Secretlab’s TITAN Evo — looks and feels more like an ergonomic chair than ever before. Meanwhile, Herman Miller has begun marketing its best-selling ergonomic chairs toward the gaming crowd. This is only possible because of all the similarities shared between the gaming chair vs. ergonomic chair.
In summary, you can’t go wrong by choosing a gaming chair or ergonomic chair for your work or play space. The more important factor is choosing the right model.
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