Gaming chairs are everywhere nowadays. Pull up a video from your favorite content creator, and It’s only a matter of time until a sleek, racing-inspired seat flashes across the screen. With so many prominent people using them for long hours at their computers, they must be an excellent option for all your computing activities — right?
Turns out, the truth isn’t so black and white.
That’s why we’ve created this guide answering the gaming chair vs. office chair debate once and for all. Whether you need a chair for gaming, gaming and office work, or just plain ‘ol office drudgery, the team at SitWorkPlay has the information you need. By the end of this article, you should understand the differences between the two chairs and know which is right for your professional work and/or gaming setup.
Gaming Chair vs. Office Chair: What’s the Difference?
Here’s a birds-eye view of the most prominent differences between popular gaming chairs vs. office chairs.
|Gaming Chairs||Office Chairs|
|Adaptability||Moderate – High||Low – High|
|Headrest||Fixed, often with a pillow accessory||Detachable (if any)|
|Height||40 inches & up||30 inches & up|
|Lumbar Support||Detachable, often just a simple pillow||Fixed|
|Most Popular Upholstery||Leather||Fabric or mesh|
|Recline||Up to 90°||Up to 45°|
|Seat Type||Bucket||Flat or waterfall|
|Size||Large||Small – Medium|
Gaming Chair Overview
What is a gaming chair, exactly?
A gaming chair is a seat designed for individuals who play video games. While the term encompasses all types of gaming-oriented seating, including furniture like bean bags and floor rockers, it most commonly refers to computer and desk chairs. More specifically, racing-inspired computer chairs — you know, the ones with the giant backrests and flashy colors — that rose to prominence during the early 2000s.
For the purpose of this office chair vs. gaming chair comparison guide, I’ll be using the term’s colloquial definition. When I refer to gaming chairs, I’m referring to racing-style computer chairs designed for PC gaming sessions.
Common Gaming Chair Features
The most popular gaming chairs share a universal set of features and design elements:
- Adaptable components. Gaming chairs usually feature versatile frames that adjust on the fly, often at the quick push of a button or pull of a lever.
- Comfortable materials. Most gaming chairs prioritize comfort, featuring high degrees of backrest recline and softer, thicker cushions.
- Executive backrests w/ wings. While there are a few mid-back gaming chairs out there, the vast majority feature tall, executive backrests with flared, wing-like edges.
- Racing-inspired designs. Modern gaming chairs incorporate a consistent racing car aesthetic. Typical design elements include faux leather, bucket seats with flared edges, pops of color, and aggressive, towering backrests.
Office Chair Overview
A traditional office chair is a swiveling, rolling seat used in the modern work environment.
Although these seats have been around for centuries, they rose to prominence during the industrial revolution. As the workforce moved into the office and clerical roles became more pertinent, office chairs became a critical component of businesses small and large.
Aside from wheels and 360° swivel, the only other distinguishing feature is a height-adjustable mechanism that moves the seat up and down. That said, most office chairs (even lower-end ones) offer much more functionality, including tilt and some degree of recline.
Common Office Chair Features
Aside from the criteria mentioned above, there are a few more key elements commonly found in popular office chairs:
- Ergonomic functionality. While many models go above and beyond the line of duty, every office chair offers the necessary adaptability for upright work at your desk, whether that be typing, paperwork, or collaboration.
- Proper postural support. The best office chairs support focused and productive working conditions. They help you maintain good posture via built-in lumbar and lower back support systems. They also tend to feature contoured seat cushions and backrests.
- Minimal aesthetics. Unlike gaming chairs, office chairs feature smaller frames and muted colors that don’t distract from the job at hand.
- Customizable frames. Although they tend to be smaller than gaming chairs, office chairs come in all shapes and sizes. And, depending on the model, you can find the same office chair with hundreds of different configurations, offering a personalized level of support that you won’t find elsewhere.
Are Gaming Chairs and Office Chairs Interchangeable?
To some degree. You can use either one for work or gaming without sacrificing too much in the way of proper support during your preferred task. That’s because they both perform a similar function: providing a reliable base for PC activities.
That said, you should be aware of the more nuanced differences between the two types of chairs. Let’s take a closer look at how you can (and can’t) use the chairs in place of one another.
Can You Use a Gaming Chair for Work?
Are gaming chairs suitable for home office work? Yes, they are.
Since entry-level gaming chairs provide lots of adjustability out of the box, they fit pretty well in most workspaces. What’s more, gaming chairs usually adapt to any position on the fly. Think about it. You can’t spend several minutes tinkering with your chair’s adjustment mechanisms in the middle of a competitive game. You need something that moves into place right when you need it.
Such speed isn’t as crucial in an office environment. Although the best office chairs offer easy adjustments, there’s usually a more involved setup process to fine-tune all the core components. Then, you make individual and small micro-adjustments throughout the day.
But even office workers can take advantage of the way gaming chairs adapt so quickly. An intuitive gaming chair may lead to fewer disruptions while working. It can even boost productivity further than office chairs with more complex mechanics.
Are Gaming Chairs Better Than Office Chairs?
Despite my high praise for gaming chairs in an office environment, I’d say that office chairs are still better for office work.
A big win for office chairs, especially task chairs, is their smaller frames and muted aesthetics. They fit the office space much better than a bulky gaming chair. While this may seem like small potatoes, a slimmer frame makes a big difference when working in a tiny WFH space or alongside colleagues.
Another thing to keep in mind is that office chairs incorporate firmer padding and postural support. The reasoning is that upright, focused work is much better for productivity than comfy recline. Too much comfort, and you’ll end up snoozing (or kicking back and scrolling through Facebook) instead of working!
Can You Use an Office Chair for Gaming?
Again, the answer is yes.
You can use an office chair for gaming, but you shouldn’t expect as much comfort as you would with a dedicated gaming chair. Office chairs provide slim, minimal, and ergonomic frames best suited for long hours of focused work.
If it’s a higher-end model, is an office chair better for gaming?
Even if it’s a high-quality option, the answer is generally no. While there are some caveats — Herman Miller’s Aeron and Gesture chairs are a great example — gaming chairs will still provide a better gaming experience.
The one time I may recommend an ergonomic office chair over an ergonomic gaming chair is for pro players. If you need to stay alert and in the zone for a few hours during a competitive matchup, you may find that a regular office chair better suits your needs. But even then, the boost would be marginal.
Gaming Chairs vs. Office Chairs: How Do They Measure Up?
This section compares gaming chairs vs. office chairs in four categories: comfort, ergonomics, design, and price. We’ll go over all the essential details and summarize where each one wins and where each one falls flat.
Ergonomics refers to the way a chair supports its user and adapts to its environment. This is a critical consideration among office chairs, where users must remain alert and focused for up to eight hours at a time (the average workday as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). To support these long periods, all mid-level office chairs and above offer a plethora of adjustment settings, including mechanisms affecting seat depth and backrest height — options that you won’t find on any gaming chair.
That’s not to say gaming chairs offer few adjustments. On the contrary, gaming chairs come loaded with adaptability, even at the lower end of the price range. When comparing a $100 gaming chair and a $100 office chair, the gaming chair commands a mighty lead — often featuring over two times the adaptability, especially in the armrest and recline departments.
But office chairs tend to catch up quickly. For instance, high-end office and gaming chairs usually feature height, recline, tilt, and multi-directional armrest adaptability. That’s a lot of functionality, and it’s more than enough for most users. But the best office chairs go beyond even that, introducing motion mechanisms, enhanced lumbar support, and fine-tune adjustments for other critical components.
Verdict: Gaming chairs win at the lower end of the quality spectrum, but office chairs are superior overall.
When it comes to gaming chair vs office chair comfort, gaming chairs usually come out on top. Whereas office chairs are designed for upright work, gaming chairs are designed for play and relaxation. They tend to boast thicker, plusher bucket seat designs that rise on either side, cradling your body like a baby in a blanket. You’ll also find maximum comfort-oriented features like backrest recline angles that lay flat at 180° and even kick-out footrests! These are great for gaming and casual web surfing, but they’re not exactly ideal for long hours of focused productivity.
Now, don’t get me wrong — office chairs don’t lack comfort; they simply don’t prioritize it as much. Still, the best office chairs will keep your body feeling great throughout the workday. Standard office-oriented comfort features include waterfall seat edges that reduce pressure on your tailbone and lower body, and motion mechanics that keep your blood pumping for optimal circulation throughout the day.
Verdict: A quality office chair is no slouch when it comes to comfort. However, gaming chairs are (quite literally) built for it.
At first glance, a chair’s design may seem unimportant. But it can actually affect the look and feel of an entire room. As studies like this one show, the design of an office space has profound effects on how well you perform. That’s a big deal whether you’re working or playing.
When it comes to working, a less complex office environment may lead to greater productivity. That’s one of the reasons you’ll often find office chairs with minimal design schemes. They tend to be much smaller and simpler than their oversized gaming chair counterparts, with one or two muted colors instead of several.
On the flip side, you probably want your gaming room to be fun and exciting. The racing-style design helps to get your gears turning, their aggressive aesthetics the perfect wingman in today’s fast-paced competitive titles.
Verdict: An office chair’s minimal design is best for work productivity and performance, while racing-style gaming chairs inspire fast-paced action.
One thing that separates gaming and office chairs is their respective starting prices. Entry-level gaming chairs start around $100, which can be spendy for folks on a tight budget. From there, every $100 you add to that initial entry fee adds to the overall quality and comfort. Prices max out around $500 to $600, which is the higher-end of the gaming chair roster.
Office chairs, on the other hand, begin under $50 and go well into the thousands. The base models don’t provide much in the way of support, but they do provide a leg to stand on (rather, a seat to sit on) for the price of a few Venti Starbucks Frappuccinos. Mid-range office chairs begin around $300, and higher-end options start around $600 — the same place gaming chairs cap out. That means you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck choosing a gaming chair vs. office chair.
Verdict: A gaming chair costs more than an office chair at first. But, high-end gaming chairs cap around $600 while high-end office chairs reach the thousands.
Which Is Best for Your Setup: Gaming vs. Office Chairs?
When you factor in all the criteria, choosing a gaming vs. office chair is very much a personal choice. That said, I find that the two perform the best in their respective categories. Gaming chairs are better for gaming, and office chairs are better for office work.
Still, that’s hardly an answer when you have a multipurpose space where you game and work. If that’s the case, you can go either way. If you’re a casual player, I’d choose a mid-range and higher office chair over a gaming chair for overall support during the workday. If you’re more of a hardcore gamer, a high-end gaming chair like the Secretlab TITAN Evo (one of the only models with built-in lumbar support, as well as plenty of adaptability) oughta do you just fine during work and play.
Truth be told, the quality of your chair matters more than whether it’s a gaming chair vs. office chair. Using a poorly-built office chair feels terrible enough while working. But it’s probably going to affect your gaming experience in a profoundly negative way. The same is true of gaming chairs for office work.
At the end of the day, the best chair for you depends on your specific needs.
Find the Perfect Gaming Chair vs. Office Chair
There’s a lot to consider when choosing an office chair vs. gaming chair. To make it easy, here are some essential criteria to keep in mind:
- Intended use (work vs. gaming)
- Component material & quality
- Ergonomic features
- Comfort-enhancing specs
- Chair design elements
- Total price
In addition to your intended use, you need to consider the overall specs. Whether it’s a gaming chair or office chair, most models excel in one or two areas. At the same time, they only provide an adequate experience in others. Consider what’s most important to you and your specific needs. For example, ergonomic design and overall comfort will probably be the main selling points if you suffer from back pain. You also need to consider the price of the chair and what you can reasonably afford.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Brands like all33, Herman Miller, and Steelcase provide an excellent starting point for your WFH space. And, they come complete with excellent warranties. Meanwhile, gaming chair brands like Secretlab and DXRacer present a great launching point for your gaming escapades. Fortunately, there are some quality budget options on both the office chair vs. gaming chair side of the aisle. You can also search Amazon for a wide range of affordable options.
If you need more help, SitWorkPlay has you covered. Check out our list of best gaming chairs and best office chairs to find all the top options in today’s market. In the meantime, good luck with all your game and work adventures.
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