What’s the difference between an ergonomic office chair and a gaming chair? Both come with adjustable features that support good posture over long periods. One keeps you locked in a clean formal posture. The other is more flexible. Which type of seating would better suit your desk work experience? Find the answer in this gaming chair vs ergonomic task chair comparison.
Ergonomic seating went mainstream when 2020 lockdowns sent millions to work from home. Many learned the hard way what happens when you sit full-time on the couch. Lower back pain complaints skyrocketed. Consequently, ergonomic chair sales did as well.
Last year, Herman Miller, Secretlab, and others shattered sales records as demand for ergonomic seating soared. In the ensuing frenzy, an important question emerged.
What’s the difference between a gaming chair and an ergonomic task chair? Here’s the gist:
|Question||Task Chair||Gaming Chair|
|What do gaming and ergonomic task chairs have in common?||Support neutral postures over long periods.||Same objective.|
|How do they differ?||Limited recline forces upright sitting.||Deep recline functionality.|
|What advantage does each type offer?||Crisp, clean, almost foolproof posture support.||More versatile support for all-day sitting.|
|What’s the downside?||Forced to sit upright at all times.||Improper usage can harm the spine.|
An ergonomic task chair keeps you in a position to do desk-based tasks. With limited recline functionality, it ensures that users maintain professional postures at all times. In an office with a formal dress code, this style of seating integrates well.
In comparison, a racing-style gaming chair comes with deep recline functionality. That provides more versatility. Beyond upright desk work, you can use a gaming chair to watch movies, read a book, or even take a nap. That makes it a great choice for those who work-from-home.
Ergonomic Objective: Neutral Sitting
Sitting without support forces back muscles to work harder. As the muscles tire, the lower back curve flattens while the hips tilt forward. That curls the spine from a healthy “s” shape into a slouched “c” shape.
The consensus solution to this problem is to adopt a neutral sitting style. This configuration places the least amount of stress on the lower back, shoulders, and neck while sitting. That relieves muscles, improves blood flow, and increases oxygen levels. Then, users feel energetic, focused, and primed for high productivity.
“Ergonomic” means “adjustable”. All ergonomic chairs qualify as such with three adjustable features that support neutral positions. Those are adjustable lumbar support (the most important), adjustable armrests, and a recline-locking backrest.
As a result, healthy sitting looks the same in all types of ergonomic chairs. Hee is a summary of the key ergonomic components.
Essential ingredient: lumbar support
The lumbar area is the thickest part of the spine; it carries the greatest amount of body weight. When standing, a healthy lumbar curve is between 20-45 degrees. Unsupported sitting reduces that by half. Slouching flattens the curve even further.
Adding support to the lumbar area gives the spine the support it needs to stay straight. Try it out at home to see for yourself. Use a wooden basic chair with a rolled-up towel or yoga mat for lumbar support. Doing so will make sitting up straight a lot easier!
Every ergonomic chair on the market employs a similar strategy. An adjustable lumbar lets you tailor support to better fit your lower back. With feet planted and a supported lumbar, sitting up straight becomes almost effortless.
Gaming chairs typically come with foam-filled lumbar support pillows. You can adjust the height to fill your lower back curve. Depth control is automatic: as you lean back, the foam compresses under your body weight.
Among task chairs, lumbar support varies. Some models only offer depth-adjustability. Others let you control both the depth and the height. Learn more about lumbar support techniques below:
Supporting ingredient: movement while sitting
A neutral posture is the best default sitting position, but it shouldn’t be your only one. That’s because sitting in fixed positions for long periods (even with perfect posture) locks muscles and hinders blood flow.
As a result, most ergonomists suggest combining neutral positions with frequent position changes. Doing so engages back, leg, and abdominal muscles while sitting. That keeps users feeling alert and refreshed, even when sitting for long hours.
This is why both gaming and task chairs come standard with a reclining backrest. The big difference is in the depth of recline. A typical task chair will usually recline from 90-115 degrees or less. Gaming chair reclines go deeper, usually from 90-165 degrees.
A smaller recline range enforces upright sitting at all times. In comparison, a deeper recline allows for more casual activities. In an office setting, the former style makes more sense.
While working from home, the latter provides all-day support through work and leisure activities. Learn more about the benefits of seated movement below:
All Ergo Chairs Do The Same Thing
The bottom line is that all ergonomic chairs do the same thing. That is to support users into neutral postures for long periods of sitting. That presents an easy way to improve posture, simply by sitting down:
Strengthen your core and optimize your posture while sitting at a computer.
While your attention is diverted with computing, sitting this way yields health, wellness, and productivity benefits.
Once your body attunes, good posture becomes a habit that enhances every part of your life. Expect to stand taller and feel more confident, with plenty of excess energy to spend on enjoying life.
Neutral Sitting Support is Cheap; Luxury is Expensive
If you equate high prices with better back support, you may be disappointed. Going higher up the pricing scale gets you more comfort, better aesthetics, and some luxury extras. Those are nice to have, but not essential.
Whether you use a $100 gaming chair or a $1500 task chair, the end goal is the same. Good posture as an ingrained computing habit is the ultimate prize.
So what’s the point of paying more for a high-end chair? Below, we analyze gaming chair vs task chair features to answer that question.
Gaming chairs vs ergo task chairs
A good ergonomic chair for computer users should be comfortable, adjustable, and good for your back. Comparing ergonomic chair guidelines from several leading sources reveals a common set of seating standards:
- Lumbar and back support: the most important element. This on its own is enough to support good posture while sitting.
- Reclining backrest: back and forward recline ranges indicate how much seated movement the chair can provide.
- Adjustable armrests: adjustability helps to sync armrests with your desk. That configuration absorbs the weight of the arms, sparing the spine from carrying the load.
Beyond the essential features, it’s also important to choose the right size of chair for your body. Choosing a model too large or small will negate the health benefits of the three key features.
Below, we compare gaming chair vs ergonomic task chair features by using the above standards.
Healthy posture support
When a person sits, the hips curl forward and the lumbar curve narrows. That leads to slouching and health problems. To counteract this, apply pressure to the lower back area. That reflexively straightens the spine, making it easier to sit up straight.
Ergonomic chairs use this same principle to support healthy sitting — with more comfort and luxury. Many task chairs are mid-back. Some add a neck rest that adds support for the upper body. In comparison, gaming chairs are high-back. Attached to the backrest are neck and shoulder support pillows.
In both types of chairs, the lumbar support is essential, while the neck support is optional. For example, Herman Miller chairs all come without neck support. The company claims its back support technologies are so robust that upper-body support is unnecessary.
Spinal coverage differs
The mid-back design of task chairs provides support from the sacrum to the thoracic part of the spine. In contrast, gaming chairs provide support from the sacrum to the cervical part of the spine.
If you try out a high-end task chair, you’ll instantly discover why you don’t need neck support. Top models offer such solid mid-spine support that the head stays in balance atop the neck. For instance, one of the Herman Miller Aeron’s key features is PostureFit back support.
PostureFit supports the lumbar and sacral-pelvic areas. Two pads fixed to the unit flex independent of each other. The top pad supports the lumbar. The lower pad stabilizes the sacrum. Together, the pads help the spine to stay in a healthy S-shaped position.
Gaming chairs lack the precision of Herman Miller’s PostureFit. To compensate, they offer a wider range of spinal coverage. The tall backrest supports the entire spine, while the neck and lumbar pillows support the spine’s natural curves.
Whichever type of lumbar support you use, proper usage is more important than the support type. Broadly, you should adjust the height of your unit to roughly 7 inches higher than the seat.
Then, adjust the depth to apply mild (but not too strong) pressure. Learn the specifics in this Lumbar Support Biomechanics tutorial.
Seated movement functionality
Beyond posture support, ergonomic chairs provide opportunities to move while sitting. On paper, paying more gets you more complex seated movement features. In practice, the very best movement-for-health feature is free: take breaks.
Esports therapist Dr. Joshua Lee says that the lack of breaks is the most common gamer mistake. “Even if it’s for 5-10 minutes every few hours, it’s a big help.”
Personal example: I work at a computer 6 days a week, for around 12 hours each day. In that time, I usually do around 4-6 hours of productive work. Around that are plenty of breaks of varying length. Any time I sit down to knuckle down and work, I do so with a fresh mind and body. When either gets tired, I stand up and take a break.
During breaks, I have plenty of options. I can do stretches on my balcony, drink coffee, ride my bike, eat, tidy up, power-nap, etc. When working in this style, chair movement features aren’t essential.
Even so, when paying a premium, it’s nice having the best that a product has to offer.
Gaming chair movement features
Pro esports gaming chairs offer a solid array of seated movement features. Here are the highlights:
In my experience, the adjustable backrest recline is the most useful. When doing intense work, angle the backrest forward.
When doing more casual work, deepen the recline. Changing the recline angles maintains posture alignment while engaging different muscle groups.
Another easy way to move in a gaming chair takes advantage of the full-back support. Set the angle to a recline of around 105 degrees. Every so often, sit up straight without using the backrest.
That puts your back muscles to work holding up your torso. When muscles tire, lean your body weight into the backrest. That will relieve your back muscles by letting the chair do the work instead.
Seat angle tilt-lock
The most impressive (on paper) but the least useful feature is the
A multifunction tilt-lock is the most impressive (but least useful) gaming chair movement feature. This device lets you tilt and lock the seat at angles. This is a ‘relaxation’ feature that pulls your body away from the mouse and keyboard.
For working, tilt-lock doesn’t add anything. However, For relaxing (daydreaming, watching videos, napping), it’s an awesome luxury to have.
The bottom line is that no pro esports gaming chair movement features are essential. To stay fresh, the best option is to take walking breaks every 20 minutes. Despite this functional reality, it’s nicer overall to have full features compared to saving a few bucks.
Task chair movement features
High-end ergonomic task chairs offer the same movement features as pro esports gaming chairs. Beyond those, the best task chairs also offer a very cool feature called synchronous tilt (synchro-tilt). This feature is the biggest reason why high-end ergo chairs cost so much.
The gist is that the human body thrives when in motion. Sitting in fixed positions reduces the natural pumping action of the muscles. Synchro-tilt angles the seat in sync with the backrest when leaning back. That helps users to change positions while maintaining a healthy posture.
Herman Miller’s Aeron chair has one of the largest synchro-tilt ranges in the industry. It combines a seat pan angle of -1° to 16° with a backrest range of 93° to 104°.
Most of the other top-rated task chairs have a smaller synchro-tilt range. For example, the $900+ Steelcase Gesture has a seat pan angle of 1° plus backrest recline from 98° to 125°.
In broad terms, buying a task chair for less than $1000 will get you synchro-tilt with a 1° seat pan angle. It’s nice to have, but the tiny range is almost unnoticeable. To get the “wow” factor, you need to spend more than $1000.
Ergonomics = adjustable features. For computer users, ergonomic furniture provides comfort while supporting healthy movement. The point is to reduce musculoskeletal problems, back pain, and other health problems.
Among ergonomic features, some are essential to support a healthy spine. Features beyond the essentials generally add more luxury.
This article boils ergonomic seating guidelines from various sources down to three essential ergonomic features:
- Adjustable lumbar: provides the main support to keep the spine straight.
- Adjustable armrests: helps to spare the spine from absorbing the weight of the arms.
- Tilt-locking backrest: provides customized back support plus opportunities to move while sitting.
Considering the core essentials, here is how gaming chair ergonomics compare with task chairs:
|Gaming chair||Task chair|
|Backrest recline||Deep (90-165 degrees)||Limited (90-115 degrees)|
|Armrests||4D adjustable (premium chairs)||Same as gaming chairs|
|Seat angles||Manually tilt the backrest and seat||Auto sync-tilt triggers when you lean back|
|Lumbar support||Most offer depth-adjustability||Some offer depth and height adjustability|
The most significant difference between the feature sets is the reclining functionality. Gaming chairs support deeper reclines, while task chairs force strict positions expected from office workers.
High-end ergonomic task chairs come with ultra-adaptive backrests. For example, the Aeron’s seat and backrest used 8Z Pellicle Mesh. This mesh has eight different tension zones that adapt as the user moves. As a result, users enjoy consistent support in the chair, no matter what position they sit in.
The Herman Miller Embody takes this concept to a higher level with an ultra-flexible “Pixelated” backrest. Its human-like spine has “ribs” attached to a central pillar. Over the top is a flexible plastic layer that moves the entire backrest as a single unit. As the user moves, the system flexes with different tension levels to provide consistent back support.
In comparison, high-end gaming chairs have rigid steel frames covered in cold-cured foam padding. Cold-cured foam is the highest-quality padding type in the seating industry. It’s used in theater seats, luxury cars, and pro esports gaming chairs. Although not as flashy as Herman Miller technologies, cold foam padding is also adaptable.
When you sit in a gaming chair seat, the padding compresses in spots to accommodate your body. When you stand up, the padding pops back into its original shape. The same principle applies to cold-foam padded gaming chair backrests. As you lean into the backrest, the foam cushions your body while adapting to its shape.
Chair style appreciation is subjective. Personally, I find the Herman Miller Embody is one of the most attractive chairs on the market. However, its high price ($1595) dissuaded me from buying one.
As another example, the Herman Miller Aeron is the top-rated task chair on this website. Even so, its classic styling looks antiquated next to a flashy Secretlab Cyberpunk chair.
On the flip side, the Cyberpunk chair’s design is too gaudy for use in a corporate setting. In short, if you’re looking for high-end aesthetics, solid options exist on both sides.
In an office, task chairs integrate better. In a gaming room or home office, a vibrant gaming chair can add colorful pop to liven up your workspace.
ChairsFX has done extensive reviews covering the best gaming and ergonomic task chairs. The options on both sides break down into cheap, affordable, and high-end brackets.
|Price Class||Gaming Chairs||Task Chairs|
|Cheap chairs||Less than $200||Less than $250|
Across all pricing genres, task chairs generally cost more than gaming chair equivalents. However, both chair types meet modern ergonomic office chair guidelines.
Beyond the base guidelines, gaming chairs add more versatility with deep recline functionality. That means you could easily spend a whole day in a gaming chair doing various activities. You can work, relax, watch videos, or even take a nap.
From this perspective, spending $1500 on a task chair that can do less than a $400 gaming chair is impractical.
Back Pain Relief
Gaming chairs and task chairs both support healthy neutral positions. While you adjust to a neutral sitting style, your muscles adapt. Over time, that makes it easier to maintain a clean, healthy posture when sitting or standing.
There’s one big difference. Task chairs force you to sit upright at all times. In contrast, gaming chairs give you a choice. You can sit up straight or curl into a slouch.
Ensconced in a gaming chair’s thick, comfortable padding, you might not even notice if your posture degrades. You’ll only become aware of it when you wake up one day with stabbing lower back and neck pain!
Learn more: Why Does My Gaming Chair Hurt My Back?
Head-to-head chair comparisons
Gaming and task chairs are both designed to support neutral sitting positions. Task chairs keep users locked in clean upright postures; gaming chairs aren’t as strict. To further flush out the differences, here are some head-to-head chair comparisons.
The first compares the best gaming and task chairs on the market. The other two make comparisons lower on the pricing scale.
Secretlab Titan vs Herman Miller Aeron
There are only two high-end chair models on the market so good that they come in small, medium, and XL sizes. The Secretlab Titan 2022 Series ($449) ranks as the world’s best gaming chair by a large margin.
Among task chairs, the Herman Miller Aeron ($1395) has reigned as the gold standard for decades. Despite the price disparity, both have advantages.
The Titan’s lumbar support offers better adjustability than the Aeron. Its armrests are also more adjustable, while its recline goes much deeper.
On the flip side, the Aeron’s full mesh upholstery is the best in the business. Its robust sync-tilt functionality is also unparalleled. On top of that, Aeron chairs come backed with a rock-solid 12-year warranty.
Factoring in the warranty period makes the Aeron’s high price easier to digest. Then, it’s not much more expensive than a Titan chair:
|Secretlab Titan||Herman Miller Aeron|
|Price||$449 (medium)||$1595 (all 3 sizes)|
|Warranty||5 years||12 years|
|Price per year||$89.80||$132.91|
Comparing features head-to-head, the Titan beats the Aeron in three categories; the Aeron comes ahead in one. Three other category comparisons end in a draw:
|Sizing||draw||S, M, and XL sizes|
|Lumbar support||Titan||Depth and height-adjustable|
|Recline||Titan||85° to 165°|
|Seat Tilt||Aeron||-1° to 16°|
|Upholstery||draw||Premium mesh, fabric, and leatherette are all good|
Price-wise, the Aeron is more expensive, but not by much. Ergonomic features are comparable, with the Titan having a slight edge.
DXRacer Racing Series vs Sidiz T80
Here’s a battle of mid-range chairs. DXRacer released the world’s first gaming chair back in 2006. Today, its Racing Series uses the same racing-style blueprint as the original model. Opposing it is the Sidiz T80, a high-tech task chair developed in South Korea.
Side-by-side, the aesthetic differences are striking. The DXRacer has a simple padded frame and a gaudy look suitable for a college kid’s bedroom. In comparison, the T80 has a modern, professional look that connotes power.
Both models do a similar job at supporting neutral positions. The Racing Series differs with a deeper recline and better armrest adjustability. However, the T80 pulls ahead with better lumbar support and seat tilting functionality.
|DXRacer Racing Series||Sidiz T80|
|Lumbar support||Height-adjustable pillow||Height-adjustable unit|
|Recline||90-135 degrees||90-114 degrees|
|Seat depth adjustment||none||19.7-22.6″ sliding range|
|Upholstery||Foam padding, PU leather cover||Padded fabric seat, mesh backrest|
|Warranty||2 years||3 years|
|Price||$399 from DXRacer||$552.50 on Amazon|
On a technical level, both models are similar, although the T80’s seat packs in more functionality. You can adjust the depth of the seat and also tilt-lock it at a downward angle. With its sync-tilt activated, the seat tilts up by one degree as you lean back in the chair.
On the other side, I used a DXRacer Pro Series full-time for several months. It did a good job providing consistent comfort for long sitting periods.
GTRacing Ace M1 vs Flexispot Soutien
You don’t need to pay a lot of money to enjoy good ergonomic support. Two shining examples of this come from GTRacing and Flexispot.
The GTRacing Ace M1 is a full-featured gaming chair with a rock-bottom price. Like the best pro esports chairs, it comes stacked with 4D arms, a multifunction tilt-lock, and a 5-year warranty.
On the opposing side, the Flexispot Soutien chair is a marvel. It has a clean, modern look, complete ergonomic features, and a great low price. Here’s how they compare:
|GTRacing Ace M1||Flexispot Soutien|
|Lumbar support||Height-adjustable pillow||Height-adjustable unit; self-adapting depth adjustment|
|Recline||90-170 degrees||90-135 degrees|
|Seat depth adjustment||none||16.1-29.1″ sliding range|
|Upholstery||Foam padding, PU leather cover||Padded fabric seat, mesh backrest|
|Warranty||1 year, extendable to 5||1 year|
|Price||$199.99 on Amazon||$299 from Flexispot|
Both models come with similar ergonomic features. The Ace M1 excels with a deeper recline range. It’s cheaper and comes with the option to extend to a 5-year warranty.
On the other side, the Soutien chair beats the M1 with seat depth adjustability. It also delivers better breathability with a mesh backrest and padded seat. However, it’s more expensive than the M1 and only comes with a 1-year warranty.
Value for money
The best ergonomic task chairs offer more precise back support — but cost more money. PC gaming chairs offer good back support with less precision but much lower prices.
This section looks at the value for money that each type of chair offers.
Verbose ergonomics cost more
The Herman Miller Aeron debuted in 1994 as a massive upgrade over the traditional office chairs. Development took several years and cost over $35 million. Onboard were ergonomic scientists from Cornell, Michigan State, and other top schools.
The Steelcase Leap came out in 1999. It took four years of development that also cost $35 million. The process involved 11 academic studies, 23 patents, and two design teams.
No other viable ergonomic options existed before these pioneers. That helped to justify the high prices and keep ergonomics reserved for the wealthy. However, that monopoly eroded as a flood of copycats emerged.
So what’s the difference between a $1595 Aeron chair and cheaper clone versions? All support neutral sitting positions with adjustable lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and a reclining backrest.
|Recline||93-104 degrees||85-130 degrees||90-140 degrees|
|Synchro-tilt||seat angle -1° to 16°; backrest 93° to 104°||none||none|
|Warranty||12 years||3 years||1 year|
|Price||$1595 from Herman Miller||$549 from Secretlab||$176.41 on Amazon|
Compared to cheaper competitors, the Aeron gives you fancy seat tilting functionality and a longer warranty. Both are luxuries not necessary for neutral sitting support. That means you can pay a lot less and still get the back support you need.
Straightforward ergonomics cost less
The research conducted by Herman Miller and Steelcase became a blueprint for other brands to copy. After a wave of Aeron clones flooded the market, the gaming chair made its first appearance in 2006, courtesy of DXRacer.
In 2006, DXRacer took full advantage of the R&D funded by Herman Miller and Steelcase. Their purpose was to get rid of a warehouse full of unsold luxury car seats. The scheme worked so well that gaming chairs evolved into a thriving global industry.
With their original gaming chair blueprint, DXRacer took the Herman Miller ergonomic formula and radically simplified it.
Instead of fancy tilting luxuries, this design focused on ergonomic fundamentals:
- Back support: height-adjustable lumbar pillow
- Arm support: adjustable armrests
- Movement support: reclining backrest and rocking function
This radical simplification brought ergonomic seating to the masses. It showed that you don’t need to pay lots of money to enjoy posture support while sitting.
As a result, gaming chair popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. They’re attractive, good for your back, and affordable. That explains why students, teens, and budget users all go crazy over racing-style gaming chairs.
Are gaming chairs better than task chairs? It depends on who you ask. A teen girl looking to spice up her bedroom while playing video games will likely agree that gaming chairs are best.
On the other hand, many of the world’s most famous streamers use Herman Miller Embody chairs. Most started their streaming careers using racing-style gaming chairs. For example, TimTheTatman used to stream in a DXRacer.
Recently, he made waves by switching to a Herman Miller Embody gaming chair. He raved: “Getting a chair like the Embody will change your gaming experience.”
Tim’s case makes a fitting end to our gaming chair vs task chair debate. In his early days, while strapped for cash, his DXRacer helped him stay focused as he built his career.
Now that he’s reached the big-time, splashing out on a high-end luxury model makes perfect sense. Ultimately, no matter which type of chair you choose, proper usage is more important than the chair itself.
Any chair with adjustable arms, an adjustable lumbar, and a reclining backrest will do the job. The key is to use the components properly to ensure healthy neutral sitting positions. Learn more in this video tutorial: