Whether you’re refreshing your home office or looking to upgrade your gaming setup, the chair you place in the centre is going to make or break your space. Choosing a gaming chair vs an office chair is a big decision, but one you shouldn’t take lightly. Working from home or hunkering down for those long gaming sessions means you’ll be spending a lot of time perched on the seat of your choice, and picking the right one not only feels so much better but can also avoid longer term back and neck problems.
It can be difficult, then, to work out whether even the best gaming chair on the market is enough to ensure you’re sitting correctly. After all, office chairs should be designed for long periods spent at a desk. However, there are a few differences between the two that need to be considered before you start looking for the perfect place to rest your rear.
Gaming chair vs office chair: what’s the difference?
It’s often easy to spot the differences between a gaming chair and an office chair. For one, the bright colors and often larger frames of gaming chairs mean they stick out immediately whereas office chairs can blend into the background far easier. However, if you’re wondering what exactly makes a gaming chair different to a regular office chair, there are a few key points to note.
A gaming chair is usually designed in the racer style, with a tall winged back, bucket seat and raised seat edges. You’ll often usually find lumbar and head support cushions included, with armrests that can be adjusted in a minimum of three directions. You’ll also find that gaming chairs can recline significantly further than office chairs, and offer rocking and tilt locks as well.
An office chair tones things down considerably. You’ll find a flat cushion with a wingless back, often with fixed lumbar support built in. Armrests will generally only move up and down, and reclines will be limited with more restrictive tilt locks.
It’s important to note that we’re comparing traditional PC chairs here, rather than the floor based rockers that make up the best gaming chairs for PS5 and Xbox (opens in new tab).
- High winged back
- Bucket seat
- Raised seat edges
- Adjustable lumbar support
- 3D armrests
- Up to 180° recline
- Colorful design
- Shorter back
- Flat seat
- Wingless design
- Fixed, built-in lumbar support
- 1D armrests
- Up to approx 110° recline
- Subtle design
Gaming chairs are built to withstand longer use, which means they often employ materials that more users find comfortable. You’re more likely to find memory foam seat cushions in the starting price category, with padding all the way up the back and on the armrests as well. Office chairs often rely on a thinner material to keep their costs down, unless you get particularly pricey, which means you’ll need to take more frequent breaks over the course of your session.
Plus, gaming chairs are usually built bigger than office chairs – take the width of something like the AndaSeat Fnatic Edition (opens in new tab), for example. While that might not be a draw if you’re working with a smaller space or want your desk to blend into the background when not in use, these chairs do suit a wider range of body sizes and shapes with even smaller people being able to sit comfortably in the larger models. It should be noted, though, that picking out the chair with the right dimensions for you is always recommended for the best ergonomics.
However, while cheaper office chairs may be less comfortable in their padding and size, their materials are often a lot cooler. A mesh design is far more common at the entry level starting price here, which offers a more temperature regulated experience and promotes better airflow. Faux leather gaming chairs are the alternative in the starting price bracket (though more breathable materials are dropping in price these days and available on more premium models like the SecretLab Titan Evo 2022 (opens in new tab)). Cheaper leather like this can warm up quick, and isn’t as durable as some of the more premium materials often found further up the price scale in an office chair.
The memory foam cushions and wider design of most gaming chairs means you get better value for money in an entry level model than you would an office chair. These seats are designed for longer use, so thick padding across the full chair is common even in the most budget models. However, the mesh design of some cheaper office chairs could offer better temperature regulation.
The ergonomics of your frame is one of the most important factors in the gaming chair vs office chair debate. Ergonomics specifically relates to how much you can adjust your setup so that you can find the perfect angles and heights for your frame or activity.
Gaming chairs are built with this personalization at the forefront of their design. Lumbar and headrest support pillows are often detachable and height adjustable, providing tailored relief for lower back pain during prolonged sitting periods. The Andaseat T-Pro Series 2 (opens in new tab) does a particularly good job of this. Very few office chairs include an additional lumbar support pillow at the budget end of the price scale. Considering that a 2013 study (opens in new tab) found that a lower lumbar cushion promotes better posture and comfort, it’s well worth investing here.
To find similar lumbar support on an office chair you’ll need to spend far more than you would on a gaming chair. That said, the quality of the materials and support will then be improved considerably as well.
Sitting at a slight recline can help maintain a healthy posture, which means an office chair’s limited recline functionality will still come in handy even on a cheaper model. However, gaming chairs offer far more freedom of movement here, often with locks all the way up to 180°. While not recommended for desk work, having more recline options generally means you’ll be able to find the perfect position for you easier.
One of the main ergonomic draws of the gaming chair, though, is the armrest. While the winged racing back and raised seat edges are generally just for aesthetics, the movements of the armrests really can improve your experience. Even cheap gaming chairs offer armrests that can move up, down, backwards and forwards, with more mid-range options allowing you to alter the swivel and rotation of the rest itself.
Office chairs, generally, only offer up and down adjustments, which means you’re locked in with the width of your chair. If you’re too small or large for the armrests, you won’t have any support when typing. Office chairs with this level of customization are often far more expensive than their gaming chair counterparts.
Office chairs do have one trick up their sleeves though. Flat or waterfall designed seats do promote a healthier seating position than the sometimes raised lip of a gaming chair. Originally designed to imitate the lip of a racing car seat, gaming chairs can often lower the back of the pad and raise the front for a ‘bucket-like’ feel. This means that it’s difficult to sit with your knees at the recommended 90° angle.
By contrast, the waterfall seats (a lowered lip at the front of the cushion) often seen in office chairs support the thigh muscles all the way down the chair and offer a comfortable position for keeping your legs in alignment. While fewer gaming chairs are being produced in the raised lip style, it’s something to watch out for.
A gaming chair is built to be fully customizable, with even budget models offering excellent adjustment controls. From armrests to recline, you can personalize pretty much any part of your experience with these chairs, whereas office chairs are far more limited, particularly in their lumbar support. Some gaming chairs are still being produced with a raised lip at the edge of the seat, though, which isn’t as ergonomic as a flat cushion found on office chairs.
One of the biggest questions in the gaming chair vs office chair debate is whether or not the aesthetic of the former really fits with the needs of most of today’s chair buyers. With more of us searching for a comfortable working from home seat, tastes are expanding and even some gamers can’t bring themselves to install a massive, colorful hunk of a chair in their living rooms.
The aesthetics of a standard gaming chair won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re after a chair for streaming then the tall headrest and branded cushions are par for the course. You’ll even find some great prices on pink gaming chairs (opens in new tab) right now. However, a home office might require something a little more professional, in which case an office chair suits a far wider range of tastes.
Office chairs are usually very subtle, with simple black, gray, or white color designs and a minimal structure that prioritizes function over form. That means they sit well in a much wider range of environments, and can even fit into an RGB clad gaming setup as well.
While many do love the racer back style of the quintessential gaming chair, the office chair caters to a much wider range of tastes and use cases. The flexibility of a more subtle design means you’ll be able to park your office chair in any room and still have it blend neatly with your surroundings, whereas gaming chairs can take up a considerable amount of space.
There’s an important distinction between price and value to be made when comparing gaming chairs vs office chairs. It’s true, office chairs are much cheaper than even entry level gaming seats. Generally, gaming chairs start at around $100, whereas you’ll easily find an office chair for $40 – $50.
While office chairs are cheaper, though, you are getting better value for money in the entry level gaming range. Memory foam cushions, adjustable support, a larger build, and a sturdier frame are all to be expected at between $100-$150. That means you’re getting far more for your cash if you can spend just a little more.
That said, once things move past $250, the arena is a little more flat. More premium office chairs can provide a higher quality experience, but you’ll need to spend more to get it.
When it comes to price, the winner between office chairs and gaming chairs isn’t quite as clear cut. If you’re looking to spend as little as possible then you’ll find much lower prices on standard office varieties, however there’s much better value available in the mid-range if you can spend $100 – $150.
At $150-$250 things are a little more even and you may even find better value in the office chair section at the top end of the price scale.
Should you buy a gaming chair or an office chair?
You’ll need to consider where you’ll be placing your chair, how long you plan to spend in it, how much you want to spend, and whether you’re after a particular aesthetic when choosing between a gaming chair and an office chair.
Gaming chairs do provide better ergonomic support for longer sessions, with higher backs, more adjustment options, and lumbar cushions for the bottom of the price range. However, if budget isn’t an option, more premium office chairs can provide a better overall experience for a much higher price tag.
Cheaper office chairs, or those priced the same as a gaming chair, often won’t provide the same level of long term comfort.
However, if you’re looking to place your chair in a more professional setting or a smaller space, then the aesthetic and size of a gaming model might not suit. Office chairs have a much more neutral design language that will blend into your space a lot easier than the bright colors and bold angles of their gaming cousins.
If you’re buying for a gaming setup than you’ll find better value for money with a gaming chair. However, if you’re buying for a home office and don’t like the aesthetic of a gaming model, spending extra on a more premium office chair is well worth it, or opt for a gaming chair with a more muted color scheme like the Noblechairs Hero (opens in new tab).
You’ll find all the lowest prices on some of our favorite gaming and office chairs just below if you’re looking for some excellent discounts while you build your setup.
If you’re refreshing your whole space, why not check out the best gaming desks on the market right now. Or, for a full Twitch setup, check out the best Razer streaming gear available and find the best capture card for you.