A gaming chair and an office chair aren’t that fundamentally different. In the right situation, an office chair can actually be the most sensible choice for gaming, and a gaming chair can offer the perfect range of features for work in a conventional or home office. That’s because a lot of the things that make a chair great for extended use in front of your favorite games are also great for extended hours of heavy work. But which is the right choice for you? HotRate is here to help you answer that question.
We’ve already covered our guides to both the best office chairs and the best gaming chairs at a variety of different price points. What we’re here to figure out today is what separates these two types of chairs from one another. We’ll break down the major distinctions between the two and break down the key advantages and disadvantages of each. Once you’re done reading our gaming chair vs. office chair guide, you should be able to start digging through our review guides with confidence.
What is an Office Chair?
Technically, an office chair is just a chair you use in the office. But it’s really more of a situation where you know it when you see it. They’re usually mid- or full-back and are often comprised of either real or synthetic leather. They also aren’t all that attractive, by and large. The goal here is to deliver an experience that’s comfortable even over the course of an entire workday, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for aesthetic design.
That said, “office chairs” are too broad a category to define in clear cut terms. The species of office chairs run the gamut from armless task chairs to the most luxurious executive chairs (which in many instances actually resemble the design of gaming chairs), and traditional office chairs are often accompanied by more experimental desk chair designs on the market. For the sake of our gaming chairs vs. office chairs guide, we’ll be putting our focus onto the middle of the road office chairs that fit what you’d expect to see in a cubicle or conference room.
What is a Gaming Chair?
If you were just to give gaming chairs a cursory glance, you might mistakenly believe that they’re all flash and no substance. There’s no doubt that the designs here are flamboyant. Bright colors, stripes, and flames are predominant in the gaming chair market, and the race car style form factor that’s en vogue definitely carries with it a macho swagger.
The truth is, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface on gaming chairs, but the quality can obviously vary depending on the quality of the manufacturer or the price of the gaming chair. In fact, gaming chairs often offer better specs and features when put up vs. office chairs. It’s not that uncommon to see a seasoned professional in a flamboyant gaming chair simply because it offers the best level of comfort and support.
For the scope of our article, we’ll focus most of our attention on gaming chairs that sport a race car style seat. They aren’t the only type of gaming chair on the market (with speaker mounted rockers probably being the second most popular), but they’re such a dominant force that the basic race car design has become practically synonymous with gaming chairs.
The words “gaming chair” usually evoke a very specific sense of style: and it’s one that’s rather ostentatious. A top of the line game chair may make use of high end design features like premium leather trim and adjustable RGB lighting, but even gaming chairs set at a more affordable price tend to be loud. Part of that is unavoidable. Racing car chair gaming designs are flashy by nature, but stripping them from gaming chairs would mean ruining the ergonomics (and pulling away from what the definition of a gaming chair even is) that make them popular in the first place.
You have a lot more variety when you start looking at office chairs, although they do tend to be more muted in design. Office chairs are generally more muted in design and optimized for more professional use, but there are definitely some cool looking models out there. Our review guides for office chairs generally focus on more conventional designs since we’re looking at finding a balance across all the specs and features, but there are definitely some fashion forward office chairs on the market too.
Just keep in mind that a chair that looks like a piece of art will probably come with a price fitting of a piece of art too. But given how distinct the aesthetics can get for office chairs, the “best” will come down a lot to your own sense of style.
Winner: Office Chairs
Gaming chairs have a very unique look, and if you like the style, a gaming chair is obviously going to be the top choice for you in terms of aesthetic. But we have to give the win to office chairs on account of variety alone. A traditional office model may be a bit boring and generic, but there are quite a few office chairs out there that really push some creative boundaries.
If you’re using a gaming chair for the first time, there’s a good chance it’s going to feel a little awkward at first. Fortunately, that awkwardness isn’t going to last. With their bucket seats and high backs, gaming chairs help you encourage new habits for posture, but acquiring those new habits can take a bit of time. That’s because gaming chairs are designed to learn about your body and create a more comfortable experience over time.
Gaming chairs accomplish this because of the inclusion of foam and cushioning that molds to your body. The quality can vary significantly depending on the price and quality of a gaming chair, but the fundamentals are the same regardless of which gaming chair you’re looking at. But that doesn’t mean that a gaming chair is going to sink to match your body like a lazy boy. With their bucket seat and high back, gaming chairs emphasize lumbar support and keep a more rigid posture that can take some getting used to.
As with aesthetics, there’s a significant amount of greater flexibility when looking at ergonomic office chairs – but the emphasis is on something a little more balanced than the deep seat and high back of a gaming chair. The mid-back height and shallower seat make it easier to get in and out of an ergonomic office chair, and ergonomic office chairs will feel more comfortable in the short term.
Winner: Gaming Chairs
This is a tough one. If you’re only going to be using your chair for short spurts at a time, a traditional office model might be the right choice for you. And while this might be useful for some customers – particularly those who are looking for a standing or convertible desk setup – we have to generally assume that most people are looking for a chair because they want to sit in it regularly.
If you want a chair that will offer the best ergonomics over its entire life span, a gaming chair is absolutely the way to go. The seat and back are designed for a more proper and rigid structure. That might not create the most comfortable seat short term, but it really will promote healthy posture in a way that traditional office chairs can’t.
Competitive gamers can demand meticulous environments to work in, and competitive gaming drives so many of the design sensibilities for gaming chairs. Fortunately, that’s a good thing in terms of how much you can adjust the chair. When compared price to price, gaming chairs will typically offer more options for adjustment than with an office desk chair.
But that average doesn’t tell us all that much about individual models. Have no doubt. There are office chairs that offer just as many adjustment features as gaming chairs, and there are plenty of them. What it does mean is that if adjustment features are a big deal for you, you’ll find better luck checking out gaming chairs first and foremost.
On the other hand, the fundamental design of gaming chairs actually makes them better suited for adjustment features. The ability to recline and rock are standard in mot gaming chairs, but they’re a lot rarer to find in office chairs.
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Winner: Gaming Chairs
In terms of adjustment features, the gaming chairs vs. office chairs argument is no content. Compared head to head, gaming chairs will typically come with more features. But the fact that most gaming chairs offer the option to recline and rock is a comfortable inclusion that pushes it over the edge for gaming chairs. That said, once you discount for that recline and rock function, you’re left with pretty comparable features in both gaming chairs and office chairs.
Gaming chairs promote good posture, and that’s not always comfortable. In fact, gaming chairs have something of a reputation for being less comfortable than their office oriented counterparts. It’s not entirely unearned. Cheaper gaming chairs can feel a little stiff and unyielding even when they’ve been broken in, but things tend to stabilize more at the mid-price range. At that point, the comfort levels of both office and gaming chairs tend to feel pretty similar.
One advantage that gaming chairs offer is the common inclusion of pillows for the neck and lumbar. These appear as often as not in gaming chair models, and they’re usually removable and sometimes adjustable. Just bear in mind that they’re built to reinforce the ergonomic sensibilities of a gaming chair. In other words, they tend to be firmer and intended to promote posture. They’re as interested in being ergonomic as they are in being comfortable.
Before you decide which type of chair you want, we highly recommend that you find an electronics or office furniture company and take a seat in as many chairs as possible. Gaming and office chairs are fundamentally different in design, and the distinction of comfort is one that’s more personal than qualitative. If you come to the table with an understanding of what feels comfortable to you, you’ll be far better prepared to shop for the perfect chair.
Winner: Office Chairs
Shopping for the perfect chair often means finding a balance between good ergonomics and good comfort. A deeper seat, high back, and firm cushions are great for reinforcing posture and keeping you alert during longer gaming sessions, but what keeps you productive and aware isn’t necessarily the same as what keeps you comfortable. Office chairs, on average, offer a more comfortable seat, and that comes down ultimately to the design principle of each chair style.
Whether you have a habit of late night gaming sessions or you need a seat that can handle the needs of a 9 to 5 (and sometimes beyond) schedule, durability is a big deal. But there’s not really a conclusive answer to whether office or gaming chairs are better in this regard. But there’s another metric you can use to determine the potential life span of your seat: the warranty.
Office chairs are usually cheaper, and that means that they usually offer shorter warranties. One year is situated the higher end of average office chair warranties, but professional gaming chairs will often offer three to five year warranties. A few even come with lifetime protections. A few high end executive office chairs can promise the same, but gaming chair manufacturers generally do a great job of backing up their promises with tangible protection.
Winner: Gaming Chairs
We could spend all day weighing the materials, customer reviews, and in depth analysis of each chair, but warranties provide what we think is the best window into a chair’s durability. After all, companies don’t want to have to regularly reimburse their customers for products they’ve already bought. If you know you’re comfortable with the feel of a chair and plan on having it for a long time, a gaming chair is probably the way to go.
Gaming chairs are a significantly more niche market than office chairs, and that, unfortunately, means that they tend to cost more – at least across most of the price range. Part of that comes down to the specialized market, but part of it comes down to simple design considerations. Gaming chairs typically need more of everything just in terms of raw supplies.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t find some well priced gaming chairs. There are quite a few models that clock in at under $150, and every desk chair isn’t going to offer you good value for your dollar. The biggest question to ask when thinking about the value of a chair is what matters to you. If you can assign importance to features, aesthetics, and functionality on an individual level, you can better perform some cost analysis.
Winner: Office Chairs
There are definitely some great gaming chairs at great prices out there, but compared side by side, office chairs win out. Their more utilitarian design sensibilities and feature sets mean that they can provide the fundamentals at a very cost effective level.
Alternate Gaming Chairs
When we talking about gaming chairs above, it’s with a bit of a provision. When comparing gaming chairs vs. office chairs, we’ve put our attention on the most common models. For gaming chairs, that means a seat that looks like a race car. And while that makes the most sense to most gamers (and particularly those who are interested in a more competitive bent), there are also a couple of common options that you’ll see if you find yourself browsing our gaming chair review guides.
- As the name would suggest, the big advantage of rockers is that they can rock back and forth. Rather than make use of wheels to navigate, they’re usually situated directly on the floor. That means that your feet will be planted securely on the floor. The fact that they’re situated on the ground means you probably don’t want to use this type of gaming chair for sitting yourself in front of a monitor, but they’re one of the best choices around for console gamers who tend to sit further away from the screen. The fact that they can be positioned anywhere also makes them an incredibly solid choice for local couch multiplayer.
- Floor chairs are sort of a catch-all for anything that’s identified as a gaming chair but doesn’t fall into the category of racing chair or rocker. The one thing that floor chairs all have is common is that they’re located on the floor. They’re generally less structured in design, and they can vary significantly more varied in terms of structure. Like rockers, the fact that these are positioned on the floor without wheels means that they’re ideal for console gaming but an incredibly poor choice for sitting in front of a PC gaming desk.
Alternate Office Chairs
An office chair is an office chair, and most users aren’t going to notice that much of a difference between one model and another in terms of the overall design. Any chair that’s identified as an office chair is going to come with rolling caster wheels (usually with 360 degrees of rotation) and a back that’s usually not as high as that on a gaming chair.
But beyond that, the definition of an office chair is somewhat vague. To make things easier, some manufacturers have begun to break down office chairs into smaller subcategories. If you want something that’s more specialized, understanding these different office chair designs can be important. If you’re just looking for a run of the mill office chair (and you know you aren’t interested in a gaming chair), you don’t need to concern yourself too much.
- Task chairs are smaller in size and normally don’t even come with armrests. These types of office chairs may be spartan in design, but they’re great for efficiency during shorter tasks. Most of these office chairs can feel comfortable for a short period of time, but you shouldn’t use them for more than four hours uninterrupted. You probably don’t want a task chair as your permanent gaming chair, but it’s great for a backup chair in a part of the office or home you might regularly use. It can also be a great partner for a standing desk converter.
- An executive office chair is the type of office chair you should get if you want the best and most luxurious experience available. An executive office chair is just like an office chair but better with practically every important metric. These chairs tend to be the opposite of task chairs: plush, enormous, and imposing in size. You can expect to pay a high price for these office chairs, but they also sport some of the most comfortable builds around.
- Ergonomic office chairs market themselves on how comfortable they are. Unlike executive office chairs, these specialized office chairs aren’t necessarily built to be a status symbol. Instead, they prioritize functionality in the form of some serious lumbar support and a full range of adjustment options that can rival the best gaming chairs. If you like what a gaming chair offers but don’t necessarily find a high seat comfortable, or if you’re turned off by the aesthetics of a gaming chair, an ergonomic office chair ranks among the best choices.
- There are a number of more exotic office chairs too. Some, like kneeling office chairs and balance ball office chairs, find a comfortable alternative to traditional office chairs a little lower to the ground. Active office chairs are newer and more experimental but make it easier to shift between being active and staying seated and create a more seamless way of navigating with your office space.
Before trying alternative gaming chairs and office chairs, we recommend you try them out. These types of office chairs can absolutely be the best option for specialized usage and for specific sensibilities, but you don’t want to go in blind. If you want to try a more specialized desk chair, we suggest you try it before you buy it. But also keep in mind that even traditional gaming chairs and office chairs can take a while to get used to. If it feels a little unusual at first, that won’t necessarily last forever.
You don’t have to be a gamer to use a gaming chair, and you don’t need to be a professional to use an office chair. In fact, the opposite type of chair can actually be the preferable choice in some situations. Generally, you can look at it like this. Gaming chairs provide ergonomically sound designs appropriate for very long sessions of work or productivity. Office chairs are suited for sitting about four hours or less and generally feel comfortable even if they don’t offer as much structural support.