The Blind Gaming Chair Test
“Gaming” chairs have always been a contentious topic among gamers, whether PC or console. Yes, we see a lot of streamers use these chairs, with the more famous ones using name-brand chairs like AKRacing, DXRacer, Secret Lab, Vertagear, and many others. But what really makes a chair for “gaming”? Is it the comfort? Is it the aesthetics? And are they any different from office chairs that promise comfort for long-haul work or gaming?
In hopes of answering these questions, we here at Bistek.PH rounded up some friends to try out gaming chairs of various price-points and quality.
For this test we gathered three gaming chairs and one high-end executive office chair. Here’s a brief description of each chair’s qualities and features.
Brazen Shadow PC – The Power (Mid-)Ranger
The first on the chopping block is the Brazen Shadow PC. Brazen is a well-known UK gaming chair brand and has been pretty aggressive in their marketing here in the Philippines. Their higher-end model, the Brazen Shadow Pro, can always be seen used in many e-sports events and shows/livestreams. But what we have here is the cheapest among the Brazen product line: a no-frills chair that has ample back support, the standard height hydraulic height adjuster, and premium faux leather with patches of mesh material for added breathe-ability. It can be tilted at the pull of a peg, but cannot be reclined. The Brazen Shadow PC costs PhP12,000 to PhP13,650. Quite expensive but relatively mid-range in the gaming chair market.
Panther Gaming Gear Chair – The Low-end but Feature-packed
At first glance, this chair from Panther Gaming Gear may look very familiar. That’s because it is pretty much what every low-end gaming chair looks like. Chairs like these are pretty much OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and are white-labeled by various brands. In fact, if you’re ordering these chair in bulk from Panther Gaming Gear, there is an option to put your custom branding on it, whether it be the name of your computer shop or your e-sports team. These are the cheapest of the bunch at PhP4,900. Cheap as this chair may be, it can be reclined and even has detachable neck- and back-support pillows. The latter can even be plugged into a USB power source to vibrate and give you a massage of sorts. Where you can really feel the cheapness in with the synthetic leather material, which may make you sweaty, especially in the summer months.
High-end Executive Chair – The “Control Specimen”
We’re throwing this into the mix to serve as a control specimen and eliminate category bias in the tests. If the testers find this just as comfortable as a gaming chair, we can conclude that the differences between “office-” and “gaming-” chairs are practically non-existent comfort-wise. This chair only has the standard height adjustability and a slight give/tilt if you lean back, but it’s still pricey at PhP5,600 to PhP6,500. What it lacks in features, though, it makes up for in maximum comfort. The material for the back- and head-rest is a nice and cool mesh fabric. The seat itself is also made of mesh and some amazingly comfortable foam. The armrests, while entirely made of plastic and are not adjustable, have concave arm “catches” that cradle your arms. This chair is especially made for those who sit and work at long-hours on their desks.
AKRacing ProX Carbon – The Dream
The AKRacing ProX Carbon is the quintessential gaming chair, at least visually. It’s got the high and reclinable backrest, detachable head and lumbar support pilows, height adjustable seat, adjustable arm-rests, and premium faux-leather material; pretty much what anyone could expect from a high-end gaming chair. At PhP24,500, this chair is definitely high-end; up there with the Vertagears, the DXRacers, and the SecretLabs of the world. But buyer beware. One thing that most people overlook about these high-end chairs are that some of the models are made only for people of height 5’9″ and up. This specific model is just that, so it may not be too comfortable for the average Filipino.
To keep the tests fair and untainted, we got people who know of gaming chairs but have yet to actually try one. We also chose them to be of differing heights.
Karen, a gamer, geek-lifestyle media personality, and event host, is the shortest at 5’1″ (and a half, she insists to never leave that out). She’s familiar with gaming chairs given her exposure in geek-lifestyle media. The thing that has kept her from getting one, apart from the price, is that she doesn’t find it necessary. She usually only plays while lying down, or probably on a couch in front of a TV.
Kim, who is currently between jobs due to a recent relocation to another city, is the tallest at 5’11”. He also has a big frame (he’s a former bodybuilder), which would make him a suitable contrast to Karen, especially for chair(s) that are meant for taller people. His own assessment of chairs that are built for those lesser height will also provide great variable insight. Kim is also currently the one that spends more time gaming than the rest of the other testers (he has a lot of time, folks).
Lastly, we have Nib, a freelance artist and designer, who stands at 5’9″. His height is smack dab in that mid-point, so he should be comfortable in chairs that are built for either tall or short people. He’s also not much of a gamer and is looking out more for chairs that can keep him comfortable as he hunches down on his design work. Though, he has looked up gaming chairs, his impression of them is that it’s more for looks than just actual comfort.
Each tester was blindfolded and guided to the testing room, where they sat-down on the chairs. They were free to express their comments as they tried each chair out, they were also allowed to ask questions about the chairs.
Once they were done with their respective turns to test, they were led back to the holding room. They were then asked to rank the chairs (from highest to lowest) in terms of Comfort, Steadiness, and Perceived price. They were also asked about which one of the chairs they would most likely buy for themselves.
The results were indeed surprising. While all consistently and correctly perceived the AKRacing ProX Carbon as the most expensive of the lot, it was the also ranked as the least comfortable across the board. We could already draw some sort of conclusion there, but there were more that the results revealed.
Despite her remarks about not minding the AKRacing pretty much enveloping her as she was seated, Karen still rated it as the least comfortable. She rated the Panther chair as the most comfortable and her overall choice due to the vibrating lumbar support feature. This also lead here to thinking that the Panther is second to the AKRacing chair, which is contrary to the fact that it is the cheapest; even priced lower than that of the Executive Office chair that she noted as the least expensive.
Another surprising result is with Kim, the tallest tester. The AKRacing chair was the one purposely built for people of his height and frame, but he still found it the least comfortable. He chose the Executive Office chair as the most comfortable and the one that he’d most likely buy. His reasoning is that he think the mesh will keep him cool, especially in summer. Another thing that we have to note is that Kim got the Perceived price ranking correct. His purchase decision may also be affected by his perceived price ranking because he did say that he wanted something more “economical”, so the price-to-comfort ratio would have been a deciding factor.
Lastly, Nib’s rankings were consistent with his goal of looking for a chair that he could work in for long hours, with his overall choice being the Executive Office chair. Sure, he still chose the Panther as most comfortable because he felt like he could sleep in it. But, again, he’s looking for something to work in so the Office chair, which he ranked as the steadiest, was the obvious choice.
The Brazen was consistently in second or third among the choices, making it indeed a true mid-ranger. The testers did also comment that they also found the Brazen comfortable especially for the material, but is just was not specifically what they were looking for.
Apart from the testers, us at Bistek.PH also tried out the chairs for ourselves. And we actually favored the Brazen in terms of comfort and stability. Which led us to the conclusion that it does boil down to preference, but it should be a preference confirmed by actual testing.
When deciding to buy a gaming chair, researching on the Internet is not enough. It is recommended that you try to find opporunities to test out the chair that you think you want, whether it be in conventions, or through a friend who has one. As it is a matter of comfort, theory and promises may not be enough.
Finally, with aesthetics taken away, gaming chairs are actually really not that different from Office chairs. If you’re a pro-gamer, pro-streamer, or a gaming video creator and you want to look good and feel comfortable as you play, yes, it makes sense to invest in a gaming chair, especially if it’s a source of income. But if it’s just for hobby-level gaming, indeed, a gaming chair is more a luxury than a necessity.
What factors would you consider in buying a gaming chair? Sound off on the comments below.