Deciding on a gaming chair vs an ergonomic chair is not easy. Ergonomic chairs tend to feature contoured, understated designs, high levels of adjustability and shallow recline ranges, while gaming chairs offer full-height bucket seats with loud aesthetics and deep recline functionality.
- One chair type is optimised for productivity.
- The other type is optimised for comfort.
But which one is best, and is there a perfect compromise? Read my gaming chair vs ergonomic chair comparison below to find out.
(Related: 9 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs: Ranked & Tested).
What Defines A Gaming Chair?
Shown above: an example of a typical gaming chair. Note the racing car style bucket, bright colours (how could you miss?) and a high back with a fixed headrest.
It’s easy to spot a gaming chair from a mile away. Inspired by racing car seat designs, they almost always look like something that an economics student removed from their Toyota Supra.
- Bucket Seat Design. Inspired by racing car seats, this design looks cool (to some), but offers zero ergonomic benefits.
- Winged Backrest. Another purely aesthetic feature, and is not ergonomically beneficial. You won’t be pulling multiple Gs through corners. Dude.
- High Backrest. Gaming chairs with low to medium-height backrests are rare. Most have tall backrests that allow you to lean back into them.
- Lumbar and Neck Support Cushions. Gaming chairs will always come with at least one, if not both. They are designed to provide extra support for your lower back and neck whilst gaming.
- Fixed Headrest. Most gaming chairs will have a fixed headrest that can’t be adjusted.
- Loud Colours. Gaming chairs are designed to be visually striking. You’ll see a lot of black and intense colours, such as reds, blues, and greens.
- High Level Of Recline. Gaming chairs have a higher level of recline than regular office chairs, with some going back to 180 degrees to create something that resembles a bed.
Most Popular Gaming Chairs In 2023:
Secretlab Titan Evo. The only gaming chair that doesn’t look like it belongs to a 15-year-old teenager, the Titan comes in three sizes and offers a surprising amount of ergonomic support.
Herman Miller Vantum. The company’s first attempt at creating a gaming chair, it promises to offer the best ergonomics in this category.
What Defines An Ergonomic Chair?
Shown above: this type of budget office chair is just short of being ergonomic but is often sold as such. The waterfall front edge and height-adjustable armrests are a plus. Minimal and non-adjustable lumbar support and a centre-tilt mechanism are a minus.
While the official definition of “ergonomic chair” is blurry (even OSHA, BIFMA and the Human Factors & Ergonomics Handbook disagree), I believe it needs to satisfy the following criteria (at minimum).
- Minimal Aesthetics. The pursuit of function over form. The chair is designed to blend into the environment, rather than draw attention to itself. That said, some high-end ergonomic chairs, like the Herman Miller Cosm, are an exception to this rule.
- Adjustable Seat Depth. This is one of the most important aspects of an ergonomic chair, and one that is often overlooked. A good ergonomic chair will have a seat pan that can be moved forwards or backwards to allow your thighs to be parallel to the ground, which reduces pressure on your knees.
- Mesh Or Fabric Construction. Most ergonomic chairs are built from taut mesh weave on the seat pan and backrest. Some, like the legendary Steelcase Leap, feature fabric construction – but they are increasingly rare.
- Adjustable Lumbar Support And Adjustable Armrests. These ergonomic features help prevent lower back issues by encouraging you to sit with a neutral spine, not slouching and keeping your shoulders relaxed (how to adjust your lumbar support).
Did You Know?
The perfect ergonomic posture encourages a 0-degree neck tilt. In other words, your eyes look directly ahead. In contrast, gaming chairs encourage a slightly tilted neck.
Most Popular Ergonomic Chairs In 2023:
Ergotune Supreme. The winner of my “Best Ergonomic Chair In Australia” award for 2022, the Ergotune Supreme offers outstanding ergonomic features for the price.
Herman Miller Cosm. The most beautiful ergonomic office chair on the market today, the Cosm offers a multitude of ergonomic adjustments and a stunning design.
Herman Miller Aeron. One of the most iconic ergonomic office chairs, the Aeron – now in its Remastered form – is as striking as it is durable.
Sihoo M57. An ergonomic office chair that provides adjustability without blowing the budget, the Sihoo is the quiet achiever in this group.
Steelcase Leap. People who own Leap ergonomic chairs are like people who own classic Jaguars. They’re a different bunch who nod to one another and appreciate subtleties that other people don’t.
Gaming Chair vs Ergonomic Chair: What’s The Difference?
Although gaming chairs and ergonomic chairs have some similarities, there are also some major differences.
|Gaming Chair||Office Chair|
|Aesthetic / Design||Flashy||Understated|
Let’s take a closer look at each of the factors.
1. Aesthetic / Design.
Gaming chairs tend to be more flashy and attention-grabbing (imagine a head-turning Ferrari), while ergonomic chairs are designed to blend in with the rest of the room.
2. Comfort Levels.
Gaming chairs are designed for comfort, with plush moulded foam and thick layers of silky PU leather (how to choose the best leather office chair).
The backrests recline to as low as 180°, so you can finally take that break between games. You can relax and enjoy a nap without having to move an inch.
3. Ergonomics / Adjustability.
Ergonomic chairs are typically more adjustable than gaming chairs. That said, gaming chairs aren’t far behind, with some examples offering solid ergonomic chops.
In fact, at the lower end of the gaming chair vs ergonomic chair spectrum, the former outperforms the latter in ergonomic capability. Even the cheapest gaming chairs include
- Lumbar support pillows
- Highly adjustable armrests, and
- Decent amount of backrest adjustment.
Gamers are not known for their large incomes (sorry, guys – you know it’s true), so manufacturers keep prices reasonably low, with most gaming chairs priced at less than $1,000.
A typical gaming chair costs between $500 – $800, while ergonomic chair prices can be as low as $300 and as high as $3,000.
(Related: 5 Most Expensive Office Chairs).
Gaming Chair vs Ergonomic Chair: Which Is Best?
The gaming chair vs ergonomic chair debate is endless. But I’m not here to fuel the debate – I’m here to give you the best option.
You may not be surprised, then, when I say that:
- Gaming chairs are best for gamers. Designed for lounging and relaxing for long hours, they’ll help you escape the realities of your life and promote full immersion into your game.
- Ergonomic chairs are best for WFH professionals. Instead of cossetting you to sleep, they’ll keep you upright, supported and focused, improving your productivity along the way.
Of late, it’s been interesting to see that the lines between the two types of chairs have begun to blur.