Expensive gaming chairs cost more than $350. Most popular cheap gaming chairs cost less than $200. Both types have ergonomic qualities to support good posture and healthy sitting. So what’s the difference? Are cheap gaming chairs worth buying? Why pay more for an expensive one? This article explains the pros and cons of buying a cheap or expensive gaming chair. In many cases, paying less can yield better value and greater user satisfaction.
The first gaming chair for the masses came out in 2006. For the next decade or so, gaming chairs were derided as a fringe item for nerdy video game players.
These days, that is no longer the case. Today, gaming chairs are in the mainstream as a very popular ergonomic option. Compared to traditional office chairs, gaming chairs have useful adjustable features. Those features support a healthy posture while giving the seated body chances to move.
This article is for readers who have never owned a gaming chair before. Learn what to expect if you choose to buy a cheap or expensive model.
Superior features in expensive chairs
All gaming chairs share the same standard features. When you pay more, you generally get four key upgrades. Those are summarized below.
Higher quality upholstery
Most gaming chairs use a variation of PU leather. This is an artificial leather made by coating polyurethane onto a thin layer of fabric.
Expensive gaming chairs come with better quality upholstery. Premium blends deliver superior softness, breathability, and durability. In contrast, cheap gaming chairs cut costs by using a lower grade of faux leather.
Cheaper chair leathers work fine but aren’t as soft or breathable. The biggest downside is that cheaper leathers also wear down faster.
Pictured above is a high-end DXRacer Drifting Series and a well-worn DXRacer Formula Series. The Drifting Series is a pricey high end chair, while the Formula Series FD101 is DXRacer’s cheapest model.
With cheaper quality PU leather chairs, you can extend their life by using infrequently. If you use the chair a lot, expect peeling as with the FD101.
Better quality padding
Cold cure foam is the premier padding choice in the furniture industry. It’s made from a blend of polyurethane polymers and additives. This solution pours into a mold, where it foams up with air bubbles under a low-temperature process.
Compared to traditional foam padding, it has greater compression resistance. It also better retains its original shape over the long term.
Expensive gaming chairs use high-quality cold foam padding. This class of quality has superior compression resistance when you sit. When you stand, it pops back to its original shape. The point is that you can sit full-time in this quality of padding for years and it will always feel like brand new.
Cheap chairs cut costs by using stock cold foam blends. High-end gaming chair manufacturers like Secretlab put more effort into formulating superior blends. They factor in things like hardness, cell structure, cushioning qualities and absorbtion properties. It takes careful processing and exhaustive testing to produce luxury blends.
The result is a clear difference between cheap and expensive cold foam padding. Cheap padding works, but if you sit for a long time, can flatten out.
With expensive chairs, you get the best cold foam padding. This class of quality has superior compression resistance when you sit. When you stand, it pops back to its original shape. The point is that you can sit full-time in this quality of padding for years and it will always feel like brand new.
Advanced adjustable armrests
A 170 pound person’s arms weigh around 10 pounds each. When sitting, the spine and back muscles exert force to hold the arms up against gravity. Over time, this strains the back, forearms and wrists.
Cheap chairs usually offer 1-directional or 2D armrests. Expensive chairs generally have 3D or 4D armrests. You can get by fine without 4D armrests. With them, you get better support for your body, thus superior ergonomics.
Getting 4D armrests will ensure your arms get the support you need while sitting. 1D or 2D armrests might work for you, but not as well. Instead of the chair conforming to you, you will have to adapt to its limits. In the worst case, if your cheap armrests don’t work well, you can remove them.
Multifunction tilt mechanism
The easiest way to spot the difference between cheap and expensive gaming chairs is to look under the seat. Cheap chairs have a single lever. That lets you lock the seat or enable a rocking function.
Pricier chairs come with two levers under the seat. One controls the chair height. The other offers multiple functionalities. First, you can enable the rocking function or lock the chair. In addition, you can also tilt the seat and lock it at angles.
Learn more in our detailed explanation:
Why buy a cheap or expensive gaming chair
Paying more for an expensive gaming chair ensures a better quality sitting experience. But there are several cases where paying more for luxury features is overkill. Check the incentives to pay more or pay less.
Reasons to pay more
Expensive pro esports gaming chairs have cold foam padding, rich adjustable features, and superb durability. Even until full-time loads, these chairs will look and perform like new for years.
Expensive gaming chairs are a good investment for those who sit full-time at a desk for a living. For instance, most top pro gamers and streamers use gaming chairs to support their full-time endeavors. Expensive chairs are fully adjustable, giving the bodies many chances to move while sitting. On top of that, they come with resilient foam padding that provides firm, consistent posture support. Over full-time hours, these features help desk workers stay fresh and productive.
Users pay a higher up-front, but over time, it balances out. For example, the $399 Secretlab Titan comes with a 5-year warranty. For five years of full-time support, that works out to $79.80 per year.
In summary, the benefits of using an expensive gaming chair are health and productivity-related. This class of chair supports good posture while sitting, sparing the muscles from overwork. Good posture yields improved circulation, deeper breathing, and more energy to focus on your work.
Check out the health, wellness and productivity benefits expensive chairs offer:
Reasons to pay less
If you don’t need to sit full-time, it doesn’t make sense to pay more for an expensive gaming chair. Sitting only a few hours per day, you won’t notice a difference. Cheap gaming chairs work fine but will flatten out if used too often.
Buying an expensive gaming chair for part-time use is overkill. That’s like using a Ferarri as a tractor. The following groups will get better value for money out of cheap chairs:
Cheap gaming chairs for adolescents
Cheap chairs tend to be on the smaller side and will fit most pre-teens. These are a great way to help youth forge strong posture habits while they game on their computer.
Cheap chairs for students
Cheap chairs are perfect study chairs for the bedroom. Since they’ll only get used a few hours a day, they can last well past their warranty period in most cases.
Gaming chairs for frequent movers
If you move often, buying an expensive chair might be a waste. Digital nomads and other mobile workers are better suited to using cheap chairs. It’s a smaller investment that won’t hurt when they need to move on.
Cheap gaming chairs for adult hobbyists
Make a cheap chair the centerpiece of your home entertainment. Ditch the sofa. Come home after work to chill out in your comfy gaming chair and support good posture instead.
Best expensive gaming chairs
Expensive gaming chairs cost between $300 to $550. They provide superior padding, upholstery, and armrests. People pay more to ensure optimal comfort, no matter how long they sit.
With your chair handling support, your body gains more energy to focus on working. Consider expensive chairs an ultra-comfortable productivity hack.
See our top three picks below, or check our review of the best expensive gaming chairs.
Herman Miller Embody gaming chair
Current Price: $1495
The most expensive gaming chair on the market is the impressive Herman Miller Embody gaming chair. This chair featured collaborative support from Logitech and major esports teams like Complexity Gaming and TSM.
The highlight feature on the Embody is a Pixelated backrest. That provides optimal posture support by pressing against the user’s spine and conforming to their movements. Other features include 2D adjustable armrests and a robust synchro-tilt feature. When activated, that angles the seat up in proportion with the backrest as the user reclines.
To learn more, check out our detailed Hermam Miller Embody gaming chair review.
The classic Embody chair is also available on Amazon for Price not available. There are 13 different color options available.
Secretlab Titan 2020 Series
Current Price: $399 to $429
Although not the most costly, the Secretlab Titan 2020 Series is our top-rated expensive chair. It offers a meticulous build with the highest quality materials. This includes the most luxurious cold foam padding you can buy. Firm and supportive, it’s designed to stand up to five years of heavy use.
While other chairs use support pillows, the Titan uses internal lumbar support. Turn the dial on the side of the backrest until the lumbar fills the curve in your lower back. Then rest your body weight into the backrest and let the ergonomic support kick in. Expect precise support that locks into place. Set, forget, and relax.
To learn more about this chair, check out our detailed Secretlab Titan 2020 Series review.
AKRacing Master Series Pro
Current Price: $579
While the Titan looks sleek and sexy, the Master Series pro looks brash, bold, and chunky. This model has thicker padding than the Titan, larger dimensions, and a full suite of ergonomic features. It also comes with an impressive 5-year warranty on parts, plus a 10-year warranty on the frame.
The Master Series Pro has seventy percent more padding than other AKRacing Chairs. Its standout feature is the ultra-high-quality PU leather upholstery. It has subtle perforations on contact spots, which helps the chair keep cool and airy.
To learn more, check out our detailed Master Series Pro gaming chair review.
The Master Series Pro is also available on Amazon for $549.99.
Clutch Chairz Throttle Series
Current Price: Price not available
Clutch Chairz is an American company in California. The Throttle Series is the flagship product from Clutch Chairz. It was made famous after PewDiePie started using in in his Youtube videos.
The Throttle Series is a premium chair on the higher end of the pricing scale. The key features are all done to the best levels of quality. Dense foam padding, ergonomic support pillows, and 4D armrests are all top-end. As well, the Throttle Series upholstery is exquisite. It’s a premium faux leather blend with exceptional softness, breathability, and durability.
This model comes with a 3-year warranty. Count on it to stand up to heavy daily use beyond the warranty’s duration.
To learn more, check this Clutch Chairz Throttle Series review.
Best cheap gaming chairs
The best cheap gaming chairs give you basic features that hold up best under part-time use.
The key thing you lose out on with cheap chairs is the quality of padding. Cheaper chairs have thinner padding that will flatten out faster under extended usage.
See our top three picks below, or check our best cheap gaming chairs.
Current price: $158.99
The GTRacing Ace shatters the cheap chair mold by offering exceptional features and a 5-year warranty for under $200. Ace chairs come in a variety of mesh fabric and PU leather styles, priced between $189 to $199.
No other chairs offer such rich features for so little money:
- Functionality: 4D armrests; recline to to 165°; tilt-tension and rocking function.
- Warranty: 5-year warranty.
- Free shipping: included.
To learn more about these chairs, check our GTRacing Ace gaming chair review.
Homall Classic Gaming Chair
Current price: $129.99
Homall’s Executive Gaming Chair is Amazon’s top-selling gaming chair. This model is super-popular despite having very limited features.
Highlights include decent padding, sleek upholstery, and deep recline to 180°. On the downside, the armrests are not adjustable. Like with most chair chairs in this class, the Homall Classic only comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Functionality: fixed armrests; recline to 180°
- Warranty: one year on parts; 30 days return policy.
- Free shipping: included.
To learn more, check out our detailed Homall Classic gaming chair review.
GTRacing Pro Series
Current price: $109.59
The GTRacing Pro Series is a popular line of racing style gaming chairs. The most popular Pro Series model is the GT099-Red. Like all Pro Series chairs, it comes with 2D armrests, deep recline, and a 2-year warranty when you buy direct from GTRacing.
There is a range of other PU leather and mesh fabric Pro Series designs. Most PU leather models cost around $159.99, while mesh fabric models are $185.99. Because of the low price, decent features and extended warranty, these chairs suit a wide range of users. These chairs are ideal for students, casual gamers and others needing comfortable back support a few hours a day.
- Functionality: 2D armrests; recline to 170°; rocking function with tilt-tension.
- Warranty: 2-year warranty when you buy direct from GTRacing.
- Free shipping: included.
The GT099 Red is also available on Amazon for $109.59 with 1-year warranty. Buy from GTRacing for an extended 2-year warranty.
What is the difference between buying a cheap gaming chair or an expensive gaming chair? Both classes meet modern ergonomic standards. An ergonomic chair that supports healthy sitting needs three essentials. Those are an adjustable backrest, adjustable armrests, and adjustable lumbar support.
Both cheap and expensive gaming chairs provide those essentials. The gist of those features is that they support good posture and healthy movement while sitting.
The difference between cheap and expensive is the level of adjustability and durability. Cheap chairs are less adjustable, and won’t last as long. Expect the PU leather to start flaking after a year or two. After that, expect the padding to flatten out, providing less sitting comfort.
In contrast, expensive gaming chairs are more comfortable and durable. Choosing to pay less or more should depend on usage. Kids, teens, and part-time users can support healthy sitting for less than $200 with a cheap gaming chair.
Full-time users looking for a performance edge should pay more for a pro esports gaming chair.
The best expensive pro esports gaming chairs are more durable, comfortable, and adjustable. Over time, those models pay off by enhancing a user’s health, wellness, and productivity.