• Herman Miller Aeron

  • Autonomous ErgoChair 2

  • How We Tested

  • What Makes a Good Office Chair

  • Other Office Chairs We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Office Chairs of 2021

  1. Best Overall

    Herman Miller Aeron

    Pros

    • Flexible pads support lower spine

    • Sturdy armrests

    • Fully customizable

    Cons

    • Customization can increase price

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Autonomous ErgoChair 2

    Pros

    • Ergonomic support as you recline

    • Thick, comfortable padding

    • Affordable

    Cons

    • None that we could find

    Skip to the full review below
Herman Miller Aeron
Credit: Herman Miller
Best Overall
Herman Miller Aeron

Material: Mesh

Configuration: Adjustable height, seat angle, and tilt-tension; fully configurable arms; tilt limiter

Special Features: PostureFit SL lumbar support; can purchase separate adjustments

The Details: Built for long stretches of sitting and a healthy sheen of stress sweat, the breathable mesh lets your back stay cool. The suspension on the seat and backrest keep you comfortable and supported throughout the day.

On the back of the seat is Herman Miller’s PostureFit SL: The SL stands for the sacral/lumbar region of your back—also known as the lower to middle back region. Two flexible pads on the Aeron support this region, so whether you find yourself sitting properly, hunched in concentration, or taking a quick nap, they will adjust to your new posture.

The seat-angle adjustment alleviated a lot of leg tension, as well as made us feel more productive with the forward sitting position. We unlocked the tilt limiter for the back rest to further stretch our legs and relax our spines.

One of our favorite features is the fully adjustable armrests. The firmness makes them feel durable and supportive, without any fear they'll be knocked out of place with simple movements. We also like the design for adjusting them: On the back of the chair, there are levers that unlock vertical movement of the armrests.

This comfortable office chair can also be as customized and supportive as you want it to be. During the purchasing process, you can further configure the Aeron chair for such things as the size of the seat, armrest adjustments, and material, back support and tilt angle. However, keep in mind that when you personalize, you also increase the price.

Pros

  • Flexible pads support lower spine

  • Sturdy armrests

  • Fully customizable

Cons

  • Customization can increase price

Autonomous ErgoChair 2
Credit: Reviewed / Kyle Hamilton
Best Value
Autonomous ErgoChair 2

Materials: Fabric and mesh

Configuration: Adjustable headrest, lumbar support, tilt tension, height, seat depth and angle, and armrests; tilt limiter

Special Features: Upper back tilt lever

The Details: Usually, an office chair with this many features can break the bank. Fortunately, Autonomous has found the perfect medium, offering a high-end office chair with a price that’s hard to beat.

We found the thick, fabric-padded seat to be better cushioned and more comfortable than the other chairs in our roundup. The fabric cushion and mesh back work in harmony to support your back without smothering your body.

Regardless of body type, our testers nearly universally felt comfortable in this chair. This broad appeal stems from the unique reclining features: users can lean back without losing head, neck, or lower back support.

The ErgoChair 2 can also morph its shape to please just about anyone. For the vertically inclined, the seat depth can be extended so you can feel like you’re sitting in an adult’s chair. Anyone with back problems will appreciate the adjustable lumbar support, which uses the same comfortable fabric as the seat. Finally, for precise tasks and maximum attention to detail, the chair angle tilt mechanism lets you lean forward by adjusting the seat and backrest to tilt toward your workstation. This lets you get closer to the action without the risk of falling over.

High-end chair enthusiasts with a generous budget will get the Aeron, but the ErgoChair 2 is a close, affordable second.

Pros

  • Ergonomic support as you recline

  • Thick, comfortable padding

  • Affordable

Cons

  • None that we could find

Related content

How We Tested

The Tester

Hey there, my name is Kyle Hamilton, product test technician and chair enthusiast. As someone with chronic back issues, making sure I’m getting the best support while sitting makes a world of difference. Trust me when I say that once you’ve started to sit in a chair that has great lumbar support, you’ll never want to go back to sitting in a regular chair ever again.

The Tests

Chair Adjusting 2
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar, Jeremy Stamas

Over a span of three weeks, we had our Reviewed colleagues vigorously sit, adjust, and break in every chair we threw at them. We looked at everything the chairs had to offer, such as material, adjustability, durability, and overall comfort. We then took a look at our survey results and decided which chairs made us stiff as a board, or made us feel like we were sitting on a cloud.

What Makes a Good Office Chair

Ergonomic design is one of the most important details many people look for when purchasing a new desk chair. If you’re going to be sitting for at least 8 hours a day (which, based on a 40-hour a week work schedule can add up to 1,900 hours a year), you need to be comfortable and avoid sitting in a position that has you hunching or shrugging your shoulders, crunching your spine, or straining your neck to better see a computer screen.

A good ergonomic chair, when positioned properly to your body, is meant to improve your sitting posture and have the least amount of stress on your bones and muscles. It will support your upper back and lumbar, keep your arms at the right height to reach your desk and keyboard, and will allow you to position your feet on the floor.

A smart thing to consider when purchasing a new office chair is the material it's made from. The fabric should be breathable. Many of the chairs we rated included mesh, an elastic-based material or leather with enough cushioning to keep you comfortable. The chair also needs to move with you so you’re not bending your body to reach things. An easy to swivel seat, and a stable wheelbase that can help you glide across the floor are also good details to look for.

Can I Use a Gaming Chair or Task Chair?

Gaming and task chairs can certainly make a decent office chair, but like Goldilocks, neither are quite right for everyday work activities, which could include mixing your day up between typing on a computer, answering telephones, or reaching to handle paper files. Gaming chairs have a higher back and are meant to support your back while sitting in a single position for a long period of time, while task chairs are more basic than a typical office chair, and don’t always have the comfort bells-and-whistles you may want.


Other Office Chairs We Tested

X-Chair X3 ATR Mgmt Chair

Material: Fabric, mesh, or leather

Configuration: Adjustable arm rests, seat depth, seat height, back height, headrest, tilt tension, and multiple tilt positions

Special Feature: Dynamic Lumbar Support (DLS)

The Details: When it comes to supporting your lower back, it's tough to beat the superior comfort of the Dynamic Variable Lumbar Support (DVL) offered by the X-Chair. With its ability to always adjust to your sitting position and consistently push against your lower back, the X3 feels like a real luxury.

The version of the chair that we tested had a built-in massager and heater. The heater warmed up in almost no time, and will definitely help to alleviate your lower back pain. The massager and heater only operate for 15 minutes before they turn off, but you can easily restart the heat/massage cycle again if needed. As you might expect, the built-in heater and massager (which can be charged via USB or AC power) cost extra, but if you can afford it, it might be a game-changer when it comes to sitting comfortably at your desk for hours on end.

Even without the heater and massager, the chair's memory foam seat ensures that you won't feel sore or uncomfortable after spending some quality time in this chair. With the exception of the arm rest depth and the headrest, most parts of the chair are relatively to adjust. Whether you're sitting or reclining in this chair, your back will thank you, even if you don't spring for the extra heater and massager.

Pros

  • Great lower back support

  • Smooth reclining

  • Multiple add-ons available

Cons

  • Some parts of the chair are difficult to adjust

Steelcase Leap

Material: Genuine leather

Configuration: Fully configurable arms; adjustable seat depth and back tension; multi-tilt limiter

Special Features: Built-in and customizable lumbar support; adjustable lower back firmness

The Details: The Leap by Steelcase requires no stretch of the imagination to be considered a high-end office chair. With its leather padding, fully adjustable armrests, seat-depth adjustment, and the highly intuitive design of the built-in lumbar support, it embodies the word professional.

The version we tested came clad in soft, durable leather, demonstrating the high quality and excellent taste of Steelcase. The most noteworthy design choice of this chair is the stylish backrest.

Normally jutting out of the back, Steelcase hid the lumbar support internally, allowing the Leap to blend into even the most traditionally decorated office. Also built-in is a lower-back firmness control knob that allows you to have as much or as little back support as needed.

The biggest issue we had with this chair is the price. You can get a lot more chair for a lot less money.

Pros

  • Made with genuine leather

  • Adjustable lower back firmness

  • Lumbar support blends in

Cons

  • None that we could find

Herman Miller Sayl

Materials: Fabric and elastomer

Configuration: Fully configurable arms; adjustable chair depth, chair tilt, back tilt, and back tension

Special Feature: Unframed backrest

The Details: When chair manufactures want a breathable material, they tend to look towards mesh. However, Herman Miller challenges that notion with the Sayl chair.

The Golden-Gate-Bridge-inspired backrest is gorgeous to look at and is even better to sit in. With its incredible design and flexibility, it formed to our backs perfectly, no matter what kind of posture we had.

Pros

  • Artistic design

  • Elastomer backrest

Cons

  • None that we can find

Steelcase Gesture

Material: Fabric

Configuration: Adjustable chair depth; back tilt tension, and height; fully customizable arms

Special Feature: Uniquely flexible armrests

The Details: With its intuitive design, the Gesture makes adjusting a breeze by placing every knob and lever on the right side of the chair.

However, what sets this chair apart from its competitors are the armrests. Designed with a joint similar to that of a human shoulder, the Gesture’s arms can move any way yours can.

We also commend the multi-tilt lever, which gives four different settings of backrest-angle adjustment, as opposed to the usual recline-lock lever. The fabric padding is comfortable and provides good upright posture, but overall feels a bit stiffer than other fabric seats.

Pros

  • Intuitive armrests

  • All adjustment knobs on one side

  • Multi-tilt lever for backrest

Cons

  • Fabric seat is a bit stiff

Raynor Ergohuman ME7ERG

Material: Mesh

Configuration: Adjustable headrest, arms, seat depth, and back tilt tension; fully customizable back-tilt angles

Special Features: Adjustable backrest height and lumbar support

The Details: At first glance this chair underwhelmed us. Fortunately, we kept looking and found some cool features.

The protruding lumbar support initially appeared uncomfortable, but we discovered that it forms to your body and adjusts as you push your back against it. Additionally, the height of the backrest is adjustable, so you can lower or heighten it based on where you want more support.

We found the ME7ERG to be intuitive and supportive, as almost every adjustment is built into one mechanism.

Pros

  • Adjustable backrest height

  • Lumbar support

Cons

  • None that we could find

Steelcase Amia

Material: Fabric

Configuration: Adjustable height, depth, back tilt tension, and back tilt limiter; fully customizable arms

Special Feature: Built-in adjustable lumbar support

The Details: The Amia has a lot going for it. Reminiscent of the Steelcase Leap, it has sleek, built-in lumbar support. It also has fully adjustable arms, seat depth, and recline lock and tension. The chair’s back support exceeded expectations, but unfortunately, its stiff fabric cushions made this chair uncomfortable.

Pros

  • Great lumbar support

  • Plenty of adjustment mechanisms

Cons

  • Fabric cushions are uncomfortable

Knoll ReGeneration

Materials: Elastomer and fabric

Configuration: Adjustable height and seat depth; fully customizable arms

Special Feature: Elastomer backrest

The Details: The Knoll Regeneration simplifies the meaning of ergonomic. With its flexible elastomer backrest, there’s no need for all those levers and knobs. The back of the chair simply stretches or retracts based on where your spine applies pressure.

Although we like how minimalistic the chair is, the lack of locking mechanisms in the armrests are troubling. We like backrests to bend, but armrests should be stalwart.

Pros

  • Flexible backrest

Cons

  • Armrests don't lock

Humanscale Freedom Task

Material: Fabric

Configuration: Adjustable arms and seat depth

Special Features: Innovative backrest; optional headrest

The Details: When you sit in a Freedom Task, it automatically adjusts as you recline. That means there are no knobs or levers to fiddle with, freeing up more time for productivity.

The armrests also have an interesting design. Instead of normal height adjustment buttons, you instead lift up the arms, and while you’re still lifting them, move them up and down to adjust. The armrests also recline with you since they are attached to the backrest.

Pros

  • Automatic adjustments

  • Detachable headrest

Cons

  • None that we could find

Herman Miller Embody

Material: Fabric

Configuration: Adjustable arms, seat depth, tilt tension, seat height, and tilt limiter

Special Feature: BackFit adjustment

The Details: The Embody turned out to be the strangest looking chair in our roundup. Herman Miller wanted the Embody to contour to the natural curvature of your spine. The backrest took a cue from our own anatomy—complete with a spine and ribs.

Even with its unique backrest design, we found the chair lacking in other departments. The seat felt a bit stiff and flimsy as we increased the depth. The armrests wobbled, and we needed two hands to adjust the width precisely.

Pros

  • Backing forms to spine's natural curve

Cons

  • Seat feels stiff and flimsy

  • Armrests weren't stable

Shaquille O'Neal Amphion Bonded Leather High-Back Executive Chair

Material: Leather

Configuration: Adjustable seat height, seat tilt, and tilt tension

Special Feature: AIR lumbar support

The Details: Designed by Shaquille O’Neal himself, the Amphion chair is specifically made for those with larger frames.

The bonded leather seat surface is extremely comfortable and the memory foam seat provides both support and considerable comfort throughout your time in this chair. The AIR lumbar support system, which is built into the backrest, is both functional and breathable. You won't have to peel your sweaty back off of this chair!

However, despite being designed for those with bigger bodies, the backrest (which apparently doubles as a headrest) is pretty short; the taller folks out there will have to lean back a ways before their necks and heads rest comfortably on the top of the chair. Fortunately, there are many chairs in the Shaquille O’Neal line-up, so we recommend investigating all of your options before investing in one of these chairs.

If you're a big Shaq fan, you won't mind seeing his name on the chair's buttons and backrest, but those who prefer a more streamlined aesthetic might want to choose a style where Shaq's name isn't so apparent.

Despite these minor issues, we think the comfort and the breathable lumbar support will make the Amphion chair by Shaquille O’Neal a fan favorite.

Pros

  • Comfortable leather

  • Padded memory foam seat

  • Breathable lumbar support

Cons

  • Lacks adjustability

Uplift J3

Materials: Leather and mesh

Configuration: Adjustable seat depth, arms, back-tilt, recline tension, and height

Special Feature: Removable headrest

The Details: Your height will determine whether you like this chair. We found the headrest silky smooth to adjust, but you can’t change the height. So, unless it's a perfect fit, the headrest will either bump the top of your head or push into your back. Fortunately, it's removable!

The mesh backrest is comfortable and breathable while reclining. Regrettably, the downfall of this chair is the hard and stiff leather seat. It also tilts slightly upwards, leaving our legs hanging above the ground even at the lowest height setting.

Pros

  • Headrest is removable

  • Pleasant mesh backrest

Cons

  • Can't adjust headrest height

  • Stiff leather seat

  • Odd seat orientation

Uplift Pursuit

Materials: Fabric and mesh

Configuration: Adjustable arms, height, recline tension, and back-tilt lock

Special Feature: Intuitive armrest and headrest design

The Details: We felt productive when we sat in the Uplift Pursuit. We like the way the backrest and seat form to your body. Adjusting the headrest and armrests are intuitive and easy.

Our biggest gripe with this chair were the armrests. We liked the approach of adjusting them without any buttons, however, they are made with hard and inflexible plastic. This made some of our testers feel uncomfortable, especially for those who rest their elbows on armrests.

Pros

  • Seat feels like it forms to the body

  • Intuitive headrest design

Cons

  • Armrests are inflexible and uncomfortable

AmazonBasics High-Back Executive Chair

Material: Pleather

Configuration: Adjustable height and recline lock

Special Feature: Built-in lumbar support

The Details: The Amazon High-Back Executive is a great way to dip your toe into the chair market without spending a lot of money.

It's covered in soft pleather that feels luxurious without costing a fortune. Embedded in the backrest is a lumbar support that really helps for those long sitting sessions. Lastly, we found the controls easy to learn, as there are only two: height of the chair and unlocking the recline.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Feel luxurious

  • Lumbar support embedded in backing

Cons

  • Lacks several adjustment features

  • Made of plastic "leather"

Furmax Mesh Office Chair with Armrest

Material: Fabric and mesh

Configuration: Adjustable seat height, tilt, and tilt tension

Special Feature: Wing-back lumbar support

The Details: Who wouldn't be curious about one of the most popular office chairs on Amazon? Unfortunately, this is one of those times where you get what you pay for.

The hard plastic armrests are very stiff and uncomfortable, and there aren't many sitting position options. The winged-back backrest conforms to your back and provides some support, but it feels as though it might break or tear if you lean back too far. The fabric seat cushion is decently comfortable for short periods of time, but you won't want to linger for more than a few hours.

Overall, if you have a smaller body frame and/or a tight budget, the Furmax is a decent option. Otherwise, we'd recommend looking elsewhere for your next office chair.

Pros

  • Affordable

Cons

  • No adjustable features

  • Feels less durable

Meet the tester

Kyle Hamilton

Kyle Hamilton

Product Tester

Kyle Hamilton is a product tester at Reviewed, specializing in home appliances and technology.

See all of Kyle Hamilton's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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