This week, two major office furniture corporations released full-back gaming chairs. HNI (the 4th largest) runs Respawn as its gaming chair division. The Respawn Flexx Faze Clan Edition celebrates an elite esports partnership. Herman Miller also jumps into the mix with a drastic ergonomic detour. Its Vantum Gaming Chair breaks Herman Miller’s own principles to support what modern gamers demand: support for good postures and relaxed ones!
The Herman Miller Vantum and Respawn Flexx are both full-back gaming chairs with adjustable headrests. For Herman Miller, both aspects are a radical departure.
Since its Aeron chair launched in 1994, the company has built its ergonomic legacy on two principles. First, mid-back chairs with limited recline ranges provide the best back support.
Second, “leaning your head back on a headrest while in an upright position would be improper posture.” Science supports this. A rearward neck tilt rounds the upper back and flattens the lumbar curve(1).
Despite this, the Vantum chair embraces the full-back + headrest concept. Why such a drastic about-face? The Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics documents institutional workplace design standards. Its (2021) 5th edition suggests a drastic shift in priorities.
Today’s desk workers combine desktop and mobile computing over longer sedentary periods. Beyond good back support, they need ergonomic neck support + sedentary computing solutions (more movement).
This reflects Herman Miller’s justification for the Vantum chair(2). “Gamers require versatility. A strong active posture is critical for gameplay, but having an equally supported, reclined position for moments of relaxation is key.”
Vantum Gaming Chair Vs Respawn Flexx
The new Flexx Faze Clan Gaming Chair costs $529.00 on Amazon. Standard-style Flexx chairs (with black, red, blue, or brown trim) cost $369.26 on Amazon. On Respawnproducts.com, the Faze Edition costs $529; others cost $399.
Meanwhile, the Vantum Gaming Chair costs $995 with a 12-year warranty (a much better long-term value). At a glance, the Vantum also stands out with the refined, elegant aesthetics that Herman Miller is famous for.
Ergonomic Gaming Chair Definition
According to BIFMA, OSHA, the Handbook of Human Factors & Ergonomics, Dr. Alan Hedge, and several peer reviews, a chair qualifies as ‘ergonomic’ by having three adjustable features.
Adjustable lumbar support keeps the spine aligned while sitting. Adjustable arms provide extra bracing to hold the spine upright. A reclining backrest enables healthy seated movement.
Combined, these help users maintain neutral sitting postures. These align the spine as if in a healthy standing position. As a result, users can sit for long periods without muscle strain.
New Factors: the prevalence of mobile computing has made good neck posture a consideration when assessing a chair’s merits. Beyond this, modern gamers don’t need to sit straight all the time — support for relaxed postures is crucial.
Both chairs meet the ergonomic basics with adjustable lumbar support, adjustable arms, and a reclining backrest. Each also has seat sliding functionality; Herman Miller hasn’t disclosed the Vantum’s depth-adjustment range.
|Sync-tilt||Seat tilts up at a 2:1 ratio during recline||None|
|Seat slider||Yes (1.6″ range)||Yes (range not specified)|
|Warranty||2 years||12 years|
|Price||$369.26 on Amazon||$995 from Herman Miller|
Neither chair comes with a recommended size rating. Based on the listed dimensions, each appears designed for average sizes roughly between 5’8″ to 6’2″
|Seat||20.1″ (W) x 18.9 – 20.5″ (D)||20″ (W) x 17″ (D)|
|Backrest||20.7″ (W) x 21.7″ (H)||Not specified|
|Seat height range||19.3-22.2″||18-22″|
|Official size rating||No size rating; 300-pound weight capacity||No size rating; 350-pound weight capacity|
|ChairsFX size rating||5’7″ to 6’2″||5’8″ to 6’1″|
Human spines are not all the same size. Adult men average a 30″ spinal length; the average for women is 24″. Regarding lumbar support, this comprehensive peer review states that lumbar support should hit 4 cm deep into the lower back curve.
The average man should adjust his lumbar around 7.5″ above the seat; the average woman should adjust the height to around 5.5″ above the seat. Per the peer review, “If lumbar support causes discomfort, it means it is set too high, too low, or too deep.”
Based on these facts, the Flexx Chair does what’s needed. In contrast, the Vantum chair’s dual-pad system blends flashy looks with limited functionality!
Respawn Flexx Lumbar
The Flexx has an integrated lumbar support system with a set depth and adjustable height. Usage is foolproof. Reach behind the backrest, grasp the adjustment levers, and adjust up or down as needed.
Our ranking of the best lumbar support systems lists integrated ones with height x depth adjustability first. These let you adjust your lumbar support to perfection. However, many beginners find these settings too complex.
As a result, we rank height-adjustable integrated lumbar systems as the second-best option. Although not as precise, they’re much easier to use!
Vantum Chair Lumbar
The Vantum chair ports over the super-fancy Posturefit lumbar support from the Herman Miller Aeron. At a glance, this spectacular-looking device implies next-level back support. In practice, it lacks height adjustability.
Posturefit is the world’s only lumbar system with two pads. The top one supports the lumbar curve; the bottom one adds pressure to the sacral spine. But without height-adjustability, it’s likely that they won’t hit both points exactly as you want them to.
For these reasons, ChairsFX highly recommends that Aeron buyers choose the sliding lumbar support option instead. Although not as flashy as the Posturefit, its height-adjustability guarantees a fit that’s tailored to your size.
On the Vantum chair, the Posturefit controller knob has a single setting. Turn it forward to push the pads deeper into your spine. Turn rearward and the pads will snap back by a few millimeters.
Each chair deploys a different recline strategy. Summary:
Flexx Chair Recline
The Flexx Series has a basic recline of 90-115°. This 25° range isn’t deep enough for napping — but deep enough to allow plenty of movement. It also comes with built-in synchronous tilt functionality.
As you lean back, the seat tilts upward. Respawn hasn’t specified the angle, although most systems tilt at a 2:1 ratio. Given the Flexx chair’s 25° recline range, the tilt range is most likely 12.5°
Vantum Chair Recline
The Vantum chair comes with a tilt limiter + tilt tension, but Herman Miller hasn’t released further details. Visually, it resembles the Embody Gaming Chair’s functionality. Its tilt-limiter has a recline range of 94-120°.
You can’t lock the backrest at angles; instead, you can limit the tilt range to 3 different depths. The big difference between the Embody and Vantum is the presence of a headrest. At a glance, the neck support provided by the Vantum looks gruesome in comparison.
However, as with all full-back gaming chairs, good back support requires tucking your hips deep into the seat. Then, strict and relaxed postures in a Vantum chair look great.
Usually, hips sliding forward will round the upper spine. To address that, the Vantum also has a (non-adjustable) upper back support pad.
This resembles the thoracic support concept of the $1700 Embody chair. Support for the upper back curve should (in theory) prevent slouching in the upper back area.
Like most on the market, both the Flexx and Vantum headrests let you adjust the height and angles only. This seems mediocre — it’s the same functionality as cheap $200 chair headrests!
However, the lack of depth adjustability exists for a reason. Herman Miller has long insisted that “leaning your head back on a headrest while in an upright position would be improper posture.”
To that end, Herman Miller notes in its press release(2): the headrest does not touch the neck while sitting upright. Only when the user reclines will the headrest come into play.
Herman Miller deserves credit here. At a glance, the Vantum appears to throw its old concepts off a cliff. In reality, a carefully-designed headrest depth plus a thoracic support pad helps the Vantum to retain Herman Miller’s core principles.
Gaming Chairs: So Hot Right Now!
Herman Miller spearheads MillerKnoll, the largest conglomerate of B2B design houses the world has ever seen. Respawn is a subdivision of HNI, the 4th-largest office furniture corporation. Combined, these two behemoths generated $5.7 billion in revenue last year!
In contrast, top full-back gaming chair companies earn around $300 million in revenue per year. For major office chair corporations, this is chump change. So why the embrace of full-back gaming chairs?
According to Herman Miller’s Vantum press release(2), modern gamers prefer varied support for both upright and relaxed computing postures.
As cubicle-era boomers give way to fresh blood, all signs point to full-back gaming chairs becoming the go-to seating option for the WFH crowd.
Full-Back > Mid-Back Ergonomic Chairs
What’s the difference between a mid-back ergonomic office chair and a full-back gaming chair? Herman Miller’s Vantum press release gives us a fresh definition from the very top of the ergonomic hierarchy.
First, both support healthy neutral postures for long periods of computing. But today’s computer users don’t sit stiffly all day like the office cubicle jockeys of yesteryear.
“A strong active posture is critical for gameplay, but having an equally supported, reclined position for moments of relaxation is key.” This concept isn’t new.
ChairsFX clarified this in our Gaming Vs Ergonomic Office Chairs explainer article. Mid-back office chairs come with limited recline ranges that force users to sit upright at all times.
In contrast, full-back gaming chairs provide deep recline functionality that supports both strict and relaxed postures. Both styles have merits and drawbacks. Learn more:
Cognitive Ergonomic Comfort
Since the 2020 lockdowns, technostress burnout has been running wild in corporate America. In 2021, a ‘Great Resignation’ saw 47 million Americans quit their jobs. In 2022, among those who remained, over 50% have mentally checked out as ‘quiet quitters’.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports(3) that ‘work from home is sticking’. “The grand migration back to offices after Labor Day that many CEOs and civic leaders envisioned hasn’t materialized.”
These factors are shedding more light on the benefits of cognitive ergonomics. Ergonomists define comfort as environmental factors which improve physical or psychological wellness(4). Psychological wellness comes from serving unique human needs.
Herman Miller once did a study(5) on this to justify its exquisite chair aesthetics. It found that people who personalize and prettify their workspaces enjoy a greater sense of well-being and comfort.
To that end, worker comfort directly affects important predictors of operational efficiency. These include productivity, job satisfaction, retention, well-being, and worker health.
With this in mind, it becomes evident why the Vantum costs twice the price of a Flexx chair. Although both do a similar ergonomic job, the Vantum is sleeker and sexier. Is a more refined style worth paying a premium for? That depends on your aesthetic preferences.
Benchmark Gaming Chair: Secretlab Titan
The Vantum chair project “started with the challenge of deconstructing what the essence of a gaming chair truly is.”(2) In the gaming chair industry, the Secretlab Titan ranks well ahead of generic gaming chairs by a massive margin.
That makes the Secretlab Titan 2022 Series the (current) gaming chair benchmark. Here’s a quick look at how the industry-leading Titan compares to the corporate newcomers:
The three fundamental ergonomic features are adjustable lumbar support & arms + a reclining backrest. The Titan beats the others among all three.
First, its integrated lumbar is height and depth-adjustable. Second, its deeper recline range provides more versatility than limited ones. Third, its 4D arms are more adjustable than either the Flexx or Vantam. Core component comparison:
|Lumbar support||Height x depth-adjustable||Height-adjustable||Depth-adjustable|
|Recline||85-165°||90-115°||Not specified (likely 94-120°)|
|Warranty||5 years||2 years||12 years|
|Price||$549 to $674 from Secretlab||$369.26 on Amazon||$995 from Herman Miller|
The Titan blows away all competing gaming chairs with a growing collection of over 45+ styles. Chairs come upholstered in Softweave fabric and leatherette variations that cover the entire color spectrum.
In the mix are official chairs for esports teams, TV shows, video games, and esports tournaments. For instance, a few days after the Vantum chair release, Secretlab dropped a pair of official Naruto gaming chairs.
Many of these designs appeal to existing Titan owners as collector’s items. As a result, many Titan owners become loyal fans who own multiple Titan chairs.
Bottom line: Herman Miller’s comfort study(5) found that people who personalize and prettify their workspaces enjoy enhanced well-being and comfort. On that front, the Titan beats the Flexx and Vantum by a large margin!
The Titan’s memory foam magnetic headrest beats the competition by a large margin. Here’s a quick comparison of headrest types:
Hard Office-Style Headrests
In upright positions, good back posture should naturally balance the head above the shoulders. The problem is that in this mobile computing era, forward neck postures are endemic.
Even if you’re ‘supposed’ to balance your head above the shoulders, there’s no way to gauge that when using hard, office-style headrests.
But if you get used to sitting with a forward-tilted neck, your muscle memories will adapt. Then, a forward-tilted neck will start to feel more comfortable than a straight one!
Fundamental Gaming Chair Headrest Problem
A few months ago, while researching text neck syndrome, I decided to test my own seated neck posture. To do so accurately, I removed my headrest and posed for two shots.
In the first shot, I exert my back muscles to sit as straight as possible. In the second, I tried to relax to reveal my ‘normal’ position. This method was suggested to me by Georgia-based esports therapist Dr. William Duncan.
To diagnose postures, he advised taking side shots in relaxed positions. Those sent to an esports doctor can get you fast help online.
So I did as he advised and sent the pix to Dr. Jordan Tsai. He runs Respawn Therapy in LA, working with many of the world’s top esports teams.
Titan Memory Foam Headrest Posture Therapy
Dr. Tsai also serves on Secretlab’s Ergonomic Advisory Board. He told me that the Secretlab Titan 2022 was specifically designed to support good neck postures. To achieve that, he suggested I set the backrest recline to 100° and focus on sitting straight. It worked!
Unlike hard headrests, memory foam versions don’t push the neck forward. Instead, they compress under the user’s body weight. According to Secretlab literate, its 2022 Series headrest has an aggressive downward curve.
With a 100° recline + good sitting posture, it guides the neck into a clean 0° tilt. Notably, that provides a tactile guide to check your neck. After I adjusted to this style, Dr. Duncan and another famous esports doctor both verified my neck posture as spot-on.
Three months later, I still sit this way — around 30% of the time. Usually, I prefer relaxed postures with my neck slightly bent. Once that starts making me feel stiff, I do a postural reset: reverting to sharp 100° recline + good sitting posture.
Bottom line: competing headrests are only useful for deep reclined positions. In contrast, the Titan’s headrest also gives you the tools to perform DIY neck posture therapy.
Wild Card: Fitness Beats Chair Functions
Most pro esports players display terrible posture while gaming — regardless of which chair they use. Even so, many leading esports doctors don’t mess around with gamers’ competitive postures. Instead, they tout stretching, exercises, and healthy lifestyles to balance things out.
For example, Esports therapist/ Secretlab Ergonomic Board Advisor Dr. Jordan Tsai says you don’t even need a gaming chair! His suggested priorities: “Rest/nutrition/exercises > breaks > good posture > good chair. Developing healthy habits is the most important thing to work on.”
This perspective takes into account the mentally taxing nature of pro gaming. Players rely on elite speed, precision, aim, and hand-eye coordination. The most taxing FPS games can force players to take 400 actions per minute.
With all of that going on, it’s impossible to expect them to sit like robots! In the modern formula, any ergonomic chair that supports ok-ish postures can do the job.
The real work happens away from the computer. Then, so-so gaming posture + rest, exercise, and nutrition = high-performance computing. Learn more:
Conclusion: Best Gaming Chair?
In late 2021, ChairsFX reported new ergonomic priorities set at the institutional design level. Beyond back support, modern computer users need neck support and more movement. In late 2022, Herman Miller brought these concepts to life with the Vantum Gaming Chair.
This influential megacorporation built its entire legacy on mid-back chairs that force you to sit straight. Bending the knee to the gaming chair concept has massive ramifications.
It’s an endorsement from the top that super-strict sitting all day long is a relic. In its place, pretty good posture, deep reclines, neck support, and psychological comforts take precedence.
Beyond the chair, a sit-to-stand desk can provide mobile support and boost movement. Beyond furniture, movement breaks, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle will do wonders.
The Best Gaming Chair For YOUR Needs
Many people hate gaming chairs — but love chairs made by megacorporations. Now, Herman Miller has declared gaming chairs better than office chairs for modern gamers. Besides good posture, modern gamers need to kick back and chillax!
So which is better: Vantum or Flexx? Both do a similar job at promoting good upright postures. Each also lets you kick back and chillax with a supported neck. As well, each has a corporate aesthetic that differentiates them from racer chairs.
|Sync-tilt||Seat tilts up by 1° during recline||None|
|Seat slider||Yes (1.6″ range)||Yes (range not specified)|
|Warranty||2 years||12 years|
|Price||$369.26 on Amazon||$995 from Herman Miller|
Which style do you prefer? Which fits within your budget? Those answers will determine whether the Vantum or Flexx is better for your particular needs.
- Matthew P Reed, et al. ‘Posture and belt fit in reclined passenger seats’, Traffic Injury Prevention 20(sup1):S38-S42, June 2019. DOI: 10.1080/15389588.2019.1630733, (accessed 10 April 2022).
- Herman Miller Press Release. ‘Herman Miller and Logitech G Introduce Vantum, a Modern Gaming Chair’, October 6, 2022. Vantum Gaming Chair Press Release, (accessed Oct. 7, 2022)
- Matthew Boyle. ‘Working From Home Is Sticking in US as Office Occupancy Stalls’, October 4, 2022. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-04/working-from-home-is-sticking-as-return-to-office-stalls, (accessed Oct. 7, 2022)
- Martina Lorenzino, et al. ‘The Importance of Psychophysiological Factors in Comfort Studies’. Journal of Ergonomics, S1:001, February 15, 2021. DOI: 10.35248/2165-7556.21.s1.001 (accessed 2 August 2022).
- Herman Miller. ‘Home Sweet Office: Comfort in the Workplace’. 2008 Herman Miller, Inc. Comfort in the Workplace (PDF) (accessed 2 August 2022).