Office Chair vs. Gaming Chair: Which is Best?

Writer, gamer, or a home-based freelancer, it doesn’t really matter what you do for a living. As long as your job involves a daily 8-hour hustle with a table and a chair, back pain can always find its way to your physical and mental well-being, consequently leading to decreased productivity levels. And we’ve got science to back up our claims.

Based on a study, prolonged sitting is strongly linked to increasing your risk of developing low back pain, which is one of the most costly disorders in the US and in other parts of the world. From premature arthritis to heart disorders, a combination of bad posture and excessive sitting can be detrimental to your long term health.

The remedy for this is a good, ergonomic chair designed to improve your posture by making comfort and adjustability the defining features of the product.

In this arena, two very prominent types of chairs are often compared: office chairs and gaming chairs.

An overview of office chairs and gaming chairs

Office chair

Office chair

It’s probably hard to believe that the use of the swivel office chair dates back hundreds of years, but it actually does.

In fact, many people claim that the very first office chair was built by Charles Darwin who just initially wanted to move between his specimens more swiftly.

However, it was former US President Thomas Jefferson who first commissioned a carpenter to design a moveable chair 50 years before Darwin’s customized bed-legged swivel chair. And today, office chairs have evolved from Jefferson’s and Darwin’s personalized chairs to more advanced versions with many more ergonomic adjustable features.

So what’s an office chair? An ergonomic office chair typically ticks these boxes:

  • offers lumbar support
  • designed with a gas-lift leg
  • has wheels

Gaming chair

Gaming chair

As opposed to the mainstream office chair, the gaming chair just entered the scene in 2006, when DXRacer launched its first version, which closely resembled a racing car seat.

Built to optimize comfort and prevent lumbar ache from prolonged gaming hours, gaming chairs are just like executive chairs, except that they are specially designed to promote an interactive gaming experience by using modern features, including built-in speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and vibrating functions.

Office Chair vs Gaming Chair: Feature Comparison

Both are built for the same, comfort-centered purpose, but an office chair and a gaming chair are different in terms of design and features, which greatly impact comfort, adjustability, and ergonomics.

Ergonomics

Office chair ergonomic features
A high-end office chair will have plenty of adjustable features that make it very ergonomic.

Ergonomics is a combination of principles that optimize productivity levels, and if we base it from this short explanation, office chairs SHOULD be the clear winner. But then again, gaming chairs won’t back down that easily! Let’s compare both on an ergonomic standpoint.

From seat shape to adjustability, the major players that affect ergonomics can draw a line between an efficient chair and a poorly-made one.

Gaming chairs, for one, are distinct for their raised front lip and their “bucket seat” design, which is, in layman’s terms, elevated seat sides that are popularly used for racing car seats. The primary purpose of this is more visual than anything, although the raised front lip is supposed to keep your legs more engaged (imagine actually having to drive a use the pedals).

But if you’re not bothered by visuals and ergonomics is your first priority, these can actually do more harm than good because 1) the raised front lip can add pressure to your thighs, and 2) the bucket seat design can restrict lateral movement.

Adjustability-wise, a gaming chair scores high in terms of ergonomics as their movable armrests allow more adjustability without adding stress or weight on your neck.

Many cheaper office chairs have fixed armrests, which when used for an extended time transfer the weight of your forearm to your neck and spine contributing to upper back pain. This can severely impact productivity levels in the long run.

But then again, just like gaming chairs that flaunt 1D to 3D armrest features, some office chair models also come with these armrests, but these are generally in a higher price bracket.

Adjustability

Gaming chair leads the race in terms of adjustability because of highly innovative features that keep gamers on a winning streak.

While top-line office chairs can offer the same level of adjustability, they usually come at a higher price range.

Both an office and a gaming chair have adjustability features that allow you to make tweaks so it fits your body, but between the two, most gaming chairs offer wider flexibility options at a lower price point.

At the higher price-point, the ergonomics of an office chair begins to overtake that of a cheaper gaming chair.

Armrest ergonomics
Armrest adjustability is an important factor for ergonomic chairs both for office and gaming.

One of the main highlights of most gaming chairs is their adjustable armrests, which are available in 1D, 2D, 3D, and 4D versions.

An adjustable armrest plays a large role in your comfort and ergonomics as you sit.

Let’s simplify the terms:

  • 1D: Height-adjustable
  • 2D: Height-adjustable; moves sideways (right and left)
  • 3D: Height-adjustable; moves backward, forward, and side-to-side
  • 4D: Height-adjustable; moves sideways (right and left); moves backward, forward, and side-to-side

Hence, the more multi-dimensional your armrest is, the more capable it is to get the ideal posture.

Moving on to the adjustment settings for the seat and backrest, an office chair is height-adjustable, both styles of desk have adjustable reclining options.

This enables you to fine-tune both height and angle via a seat angle tilt-lock.

The backrest of gaming chairs is more capable of assuming deeper reclining positions, with high-end models able to pull off a 180° recline.

Comfort

Office chairs were built for comfort, while gaming chairs were designed to boost interaction. But now that newer, user-centered gaming chairs are on release, it can be really hard to pick one that overshadows the other. But when it comes to high-end versions, ergonomic office chairs still win in terms of comfort.

There’s no such thing as an accurate comparison when comfort is on the line because we all have our own set of standards and biases relating to how “comfortable” a chair is.

As a rule of thumb, your budget directly affects what you get not just in terms of comfort, but ergonomics, too. On a limited budget, a gaming chair can win you over with standard features such as padded seats and lumbar pillows.

Although office chairs are more designed for comfort than a gaming chair, gaming chairs usually have fantastic reclining capability.

In terms of support and curvature, in contrast to low-end office chairs that only come with a very limited tilting option, budget gaming chairs can recline 135 degrees, an angle that, according to research conducted by the University of Alberta, puts the least pressure on our spinal discs. So if comfort and health is your main concern but you only have a limited budget, a gaming chair is a great option.

But as your budget increases, the comfort that a good office chair can give you also accelerates. High-end office chairs adapt to human dynamics, and are centered on improving lumbar support and overall health despite prolonged hours of sitting.

A leading office chair manufacturer, Herman Miller, even put their very own adjustable Cosm chair to test when they experimented on the effect a comfortable chair has on cognitive performance, and the results show better accuracy and improved decision-making skills as the user’s level of comfort increases.

The bottom line is, if you’re willing to spend more for a chair in exchange for optimum comfort, support, and productivity, an office chair built for the job is always the winning choice.

Price

As in all products, price is what you pay, but value is what you get. Between the two, a gaming chair is usually more expensive than the basic chairs you commonly see in the office.

In particular, you can find inexpensive office chairs below $200, but don’t expect high-end features and 10-year warranties that most high-end $500 to $1000 brands and models offer.

Gaming chairs, on the other hand, generally sit in a mid-range price bracket somewhere between a simple ergonomic office chair and the premium office chairs.

Like office chairs, gaming chairs are also available at a higher price range, with the most advanced ones packed with features that promote user comfort, support, stability, and engagement.

Design

Gaming chairs trade the conventional, all-black aesthetics of typical office chairs with playful and colorful design patterns. So design-wise, all is fair between the two. When it comes to design it’s always your preference that matters.

Simple and straightforward, office chairs let off an are far more classic and conventional in style.

The good news is as office spaces become more contemporary, newer office chair models are now stealing the spotlight with design options that can easily blend into any executive suite.

Gaming chairs, on the other hand, still reign supreme if you particularly like more racing-style. Unconventional, vibrant, and playful, these chairs can add a dash of creativity into any gaming room. Much like a racing car designed with padded backrests and a bucket seat, gaming chairs are all-in for a complete visual display.

Is a gaming chair good for work?

In terms of boosting productivity, nothing beats an ergonomic office chair built on comfort and support, but this doesn’t mean we’re closing our doors on a good old gaming chair.

A gaming chair has optimum adjustability features that are ideal for either a work or play set-up. By reclining it to 100 degrees, you can assume an ideal working position that lessens spinal disc pressure.

What’s more, a gaming chair does something most office chairs lack, it allows you to adjust your backrest to over 135° when you need to take breaks in between work.

Are gaming chairs good or bad for posture?

Gaming chairs are designed with detachable lumbar head pillows, which help provide back support and develop good posture. Also, as compared to traditional office chairs, gaming chairs often fare better in following the spine’s natural curvature.

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Katie Smith
Katie Smith

Katie is a researcher and writer at Painless Movement. Her talent lies in digging through the internet to find the best products for your well-being.

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