How to Choose the Right Game Controllers & Accessory
Take a Seat, Grab a Joystick
Whether you play PC games on a monitor or console games on a TV, you need a place to sit. You can use anything from a sofa, to a La-Z-Boy, to a dining room chair, but if you really want to sit in style while you play, you should get a dedicated gaming chair. They’re comfortable, sturdy, and designed with gamers in mind.
What Makes a Chair a Gaming Chair?
At first glance, gaming chairs don’t look all that different from desk chairs. They’re typically pretty large, with backrests that extend high enough to support your head, along with large armrests and a swiveling base with wheeled castors that let you roll and spin freely (with one exception: the stationary Respawn-900 Gaming Recliner). You’ve probably seen “executive” office chairs that look pretty similar. Gaming chairs have a few key differences, though.
First, the color and style options of gaming chairs are generally very different from office chairs. Most office chairs focus on dark colors and earth tones, and have more traditional seat designs. Gaming chairs usually come in a variety of colors, and even if the chair is mostly black, there will likely be plenrty of eye-catching accents to make it stand out. The seats of gaming chairs are also designed more closely after racing chairs used in simulators, so you’re going to see a lot more bucket seats than frumpy armchair designs.
Second, gaming chairs are much more adjustable. All of the models we’ve tested have the usual options like height and tilt, just like office chairs. But they go a step further with adjustable armrests you can pivot, slide, and move up and down. Sadly, we’ve yet to find any with cupholders.
Third, gaming chairs recline. While office chairs generally offer only limited adjustments on the angle between the seat and the back of the chair, gaming chairs let you lean back with the pull of a lever. Every gaming chair we’ve tested has a reclining function that lets you sit back comfortably and stare at your TV as easily as you can lean forward and watch your computer monitor.
All of these features add up to a sturdier, more comfortable chair you can easily use in a variety of situations. It also adds up to a hefty price tag: Gaming chairs typically range between $200 and $600, making them several times more expensive than a basic desk chair you can get at an office supply store. Of course, if you’re going to spend a lot of time in it, you probably want to invest in a good one. They’re like beds that way.
Sizing Up the Competition
The most important thing to consider when shopping for a gaming chair is size. Gamers vary wildly in body types, and most manufacturers make chairs specifically designed different sizes.
Standard gaming chairs usually support a maximum of 240 to 300 pounds, depending on the model. Larger, more heavy-duty chairs support maximum weights of 350, 400, and even 450 pounds. The difference in seat dimensions can vary by several inches in width and depth, which can lead to an uncomfortable chair if you buy one that’s too big or small.
Fortunately, most manufacturers offer detailed measurements for every aspect of their chairs. Seat depth and width, backrest height and width, armrest height range, and other measurements can all affect how a chair will feel to you. If you aren’t sure about a given model, go over the measurements and compare them with your current chair.
The materials of the chair are also important to consider—both what’s packed inside and what’s wrapped around it. Most of the gaming chairs we’ve seen use polyurethane leather (PU), a leather-like synthetic material, for the covering, and dense foam for the padding. It’s the most common configuration for a gaming chair, but it isn’t the only option. Some chairs have fabric shells, while others are available in genuine leather (for significantly more money).
The chairs on this list all use similar foam padding, but the amount and placement of the padding can vary. The seat will almost always be solid, as it should be to support your weight, but the chair back is a different story. The AKRacing and DXRacer chairs we’ve tested heavily pad the skeleton of the back of the chair, but otherwise use a thinner layer of padding and the tension of the PU leather to provide more give with less mass. Meanwhile, the SecretLab Titan completely packs its chair back with foam. This affects how dense and firm the chair can feel. We’re fans of the thick, full-back foam filling.
Try Before You Buy (If You Can)
It’s best to try furniture before you buy it, but that isn’t always the case for gaming chairs. You can sometimes find a limited selection at your nearby Best Buy, or better yet a regional computer chain like Fry’s Electronics or Micro Center. Aside from that, your best bet to try these chairs before you buy them is to go to video game conventions like PAX, where gaming chair companies often set up booths with chairs to sit in (and tend to have convention-exclusive discounts available). Otherwise, check all the details of the chair you want before you buy, because it’s a significant investment in a piece of furniture you’ll be spending a lot of time in.
For more, check out our favorite desktop and laptop PCs for gaming. While you’re at it, have a look at some accessories to help improve your game, including headsets, keyboards, and mice.
Where To Buy
SecretLab Titan (2020 Series)
Pros: Solid, premium-feeling build quality and materials.
Cons: No lumbar pillow.
Bottom Line: SecretLab’s updated 2020 Titan gaming chair still looks and feels excellent, with a few iterative upgrades and a longer warranty.
SecretLab Titan XL
Pros: Excellent comfort and build quality.
Cons: More expensive than regular Titan.
Might be too big for smaller users.
Bottom Line: The SecretLab Titan XL gaming chair offers top-notch build quality and comfort for users up to 390 pounds.
AKRacing Core Series EX Gaming Chair
Pros: Relatively inexpensive for a gaming chair.
Comfortable, sturdy build.
Breathable fabric upholstery.
Cons: Not as generously padded as it could be.
Fully flat recline feels precarious.
Bottom Line: AKRacing’s entry-level Core Series EX gaming chair is comfortable, adjustable, and upholstered in fabric rather than PU leather.
Pros: High-quality build.
Force feedback system is entertaining.
Cons: Transmitter design takes over audio output and requires using a headset to listen to your games.
Slight whine through transmitter to headset when audio is not playing.
Power supply cable can easily get tangled in chair’s castors.
Bottom Line: The GT Throne is a comfortable, sturdy gaming chair that uses built-in motors to let you physically feel the game you’re playing.
SecretLab Omega 2018 SoftWeave Gaming Chair
Pros: Dense, firm foam.
Soft, sturdy fabric upholstery.
Comfortable memory foam pillows.
Cons: Seat padding can feel almost too dense until you get used to it.
Bottom Line: The SecretLab Omega with SoftWeave fabric is a comfortable, sturdy gaming chair that offers a pleasant alternative to faux leather.
AKRacing Masters Series Max Gaming Chair
Pros: Large, with 400-pound weight capacity.
Generous reclining function.
Can feel too roomy for smaller users.
180-degree fold-flat reclining feels precarious.
Bottom Line: The AKRacing Masters Series Max is a suitably capacious desk chair for larger gamers.
DXRacer Racing Series OH/RV001 Gaming Chair
Pros: Comfortable design.
Cons: Foam padding feels a bit light.
Polyurethane less thick and supple than it could be.
Bottom Line: DXRacer’s Racing Series OH/RV001 Gaming Chair is comfortable and functional, if a bit light on padding.
More Inside PCMag.com
About the Author