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How to choose between office chairs and gaming chairs

Don't waste hours sitting in the wrong chair

Two office chairs and two gaming chairs against a green background. Credit: Herman Miller / Autonomous/ Homall / AKRacing / Reviewed

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If you spend hour after hour sitting at an office desk, you need a comfortable and supportive chair. A quality chair with an ergonomic design can help keep your body fresh and banish the stiffness and backaches that occur from hunching over a keyboard all day. But knowing which kind of chair is right for you can be a challenge.

Office chairs and gaming chairs are two of the most popular options for extended periods. When deciding between office chairs vs. gaming chairs, there are a few features to be on the lookout for to find out which chair is best for you.

Our favorite gaming chair: AKRacing Core EX for $349

Our favorite office chair: Herman Miller Aeron for $1,895

Buy for the look you want

A gaming chair sits next to a desk.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The comfortable and high-quality AKRacing Core EX received our best overall gaming chair rating.

When it comes to office chairs vs. gaming chairs, aesthetics is one of the biggest distinctions between the two. Office chairs look like, well, office chairs. They’re often relatively plain-colored with simple lines and few decorative elements, designed to fade into the background.

Gaming chairs tend to look like racecar seats. They are sleek with interesting angles and often embroidered designs on the backs and headrests, either the company logo or a graphic from movies or video games. Gaming chairs come in many color palettes and accents that help them pop and stand out in a room.

Different ways of handling support

A lineup of colorful office chairs.
Credit: Reviewed / Kyle Hamilton

Look for lumbar and neck support for an optimal office chair.

Back support is the most important feature of any desk chair, and office chairs and gaming chairs take this need seriously. Though, in general, they do so differently.

Office chairs typically have lumbar and neck support built into the chair. There are also padded bumps in the middle of the chair to help support your lower back and keep your posture in check, as well as a second padded bump at the top for neck support.

Some office chairs may have adjustable lumbar and neck support in terms of height or firmness, though frequently it’s a case of “you get what you get.”

Like office chairs, gaming chairs also provide lumbar and neck support. However, many, particularly those in more affordable price ranges, have removable pillows and cushions rather than structures built into the frame. Different companies and price points provide varying qualities of pillows. These pillows can be annoying because they move around, but they also offer positional flexibility. If your back needs more support on one side, slide the lumbar pillow up.

Pillows tend to be less supportive overall than the integrated design of a well-fitted office chair, whereas gaming chairs tend not to be as comfortable for full-time sitting for many people.

Look for special features

A lineup of colorful gaming chairs.
Credit: Vertagear

The Vertagear SL5000 comes with optional LED accent lights.

Adjustability is one key feature when deciding between a gaming chair and an office chair. Different chairs across both styles may be able to tilt, recline, change the height and angle of the armrests, and even have foot supports.

Gaming chairs, however, are more likely to have non-comfort-related features than office chairs. For instance, more gaming chair manufacturers will have options with speakers built into the headrest and colored LED accent lights. Whether those features are worth the additional cost is up to you.

Which one should you buy?

Two people sit at a desk playing video games while sitting in gaming chairs.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Find what style of gaming chair works best for you.

If you work from home sitting at your desk all day long, a high-quality office chair is going to be more supportive than a gaming chair. Why? Because gaming chairs (typically) provide enough comfort for a few hours at a time and tend to lack the ergonomic support of a well-designed office chair. An office chair should give you optimal support in all the right spots for extended sitting.

A gaming chair is as much about comfort as it is aesthetics and is best for sitting in just a few hours at a time, but you likely won't find it suitable for the entire workday.

Whichever chair is best for your setup, needs to provide the proper support for your seat. No two bodies are the same, so it can be hard to rely on reviews when you're shopping online. When possible, test out gaming chairs or desk chairs at your local furniture store. That will give you a front-row seat to what you can expect out of the chair.

If you're shopping online for gaming chairs or office chairs, make sure to read the seller's return policy. This ensures you can get your money back if you don't like how it feels.

Our favorite gaming chair: AKRacing Core EX for $349

Our favorite office chair: Herman Miller Aeron for $1,895

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.