Really? An entire article about buying something as trivial as an office chair? Well, when you consider that this chair is going to be the throne that determines the health of your shoulders and lower back, as well as protects you from other long-term bodily harm, it’s worth knowing what to buy.
Always Try the Chair Before Buying Online
Good chairs aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. In fact, how a chair feels will differ wildly based on your own height, weight, and shape. So don’t buy a chair purely because it ranks highest in a list. You need to go to a store and try it yourself.
This is doubly true for budget or cheap chairs. When it comes to cheap parts and materials, chances are, the chair that feels right the first time you sit in it is going to be the chair that feels right for a long time. There is simply no substitute for trying before buying. If you don’t try, you might regret the purchase later.
The bottom line is, use this list to prune your choices and come up with a list of three or four options. Then go try them out, and buy what your body likes best.
How to Buy the Perfect Computer Chair
So we know that each person needs different things from a chair, but it’s not like there is a huge range of options. Depending on your body type, work environments, budget, and other requirements, here are a few thumb rules to go by.
- Fabric vs. leather vs. mesh: A mesh back and seat is best if you work in a space which doesn’t have central air or air conditioning. Fabric or leather backs and seats are preferred for enclosed office spaces. And don’t buy fabric or leather upholstery in budget chairs, they don’t last long.
- The adjustment essentials: Look for a chair that lets you adjust three basic factors: the height of the seat, how far the back can tilt, and the height of the armrests.
- Discounted furniture resellers: If you’re on a budget, look for office furniture resellers or any other discount outlets. You might pick up a $1,000 dollar chair for $100 to $150, if you’re lucky.
Needless to say, this is a simplistic explanation. For a better understanding of these topics, here’s what you should look for in an office chair.
Differences Between Cheap and Expensive Chairs
It seems a little crazy to spend over $500 on a computer chair, right? Especially when you can get a good laptop for under $500 anyway. But much like a $1,000 laptop lasts longer and feels better than a $500 laptop, an expensive chair lasts longer and feels better than a budget chair.
Here are the few key differences between cheap and expensive chairs, so you know what’s best for you.
- Metal vs. plastic vs. cheap plastic: Chair prices differ most based on the materials used. And more than the fabric, it’s the joints that matter. Metal, good plastic, or cheap plastic (in that order) will determine how long the chair lasts, as well as how comfortable it is for an extended period.
- Everything is adjustable: Good budget chairs will let you adjust the aforementioned three parts. With expensive chairs, you can adjust almost anything, such as how much you can take the seat forward, how far apart the arms are, whether the arms can bend inwards or outwards, the lumbar support’s tension, and so on.
- Warranty: The biggest benefit of expensive chairs is the warranty. Brands like Herman Miller and Steelcase offer 12 years of warranty on their chairs, where they will replace anything and everything. If the smallest thing goes wrong, you can get it fixed for free. Over time, that actually turns into substantial savings when you compare it with how often you’ll need to buy a new chair otherwise.
So now you know what to look for in a computer chair, how to buy it, and the benefits of going with an expensive chair. There are only two things left to do. Figure out the purpose of your chair (office use, home use for multiple people, gaming chair, etc.) and what you are willing to pay for it. Then pick from the list below and go try it out.
The Best Computer Chair With Mesh
Herman Miller Aeron
No article about computer chairs is complete without the iconic Aeron. The Herman Miller Aeron is a medium-back chair, which means it ends below your neck and doesn’t have a headrest. But given how it gets everything else right, it’s the best medium-back you can buy.
For decades, the has been the gold standard of premium ergonomic office chairs. You can’t go wrong with this. Sure, Steelcase and Herman Miller itself make some wonderful chairs that rival the Aeron, but it’s the Aeron!
First, go to the store and pick the right size. This is among the few chairs we are comfortable recommending for those who share the chair. Make sure it fits the height and weight of those sharing it, or pick the best for yourself alone, based on the three sizes:
- Size A: Between 4’10” and 5’9″ in height and weighing 90-150 pounds
- Size B: between 5’2″ and 6’6″ in height and weighing 130-325 pounds
- Size C: between 5’3″ and 6’6″ in height and weighing 180-350 pounds
It’s easy to share because of how you can quickly adjust it. The lumbar support is especially worth noting, as you can change the pressure it applies at eight different points. Even with varied height and size, you’ll get the right support.
The Aeron uses a mesh back and a mesh seat, but it’s as comfortable as any leather-upholstered chair you have sat on. In fact, the Aeron’s natural curves make sure you are in the right position and not sitting up straight at your desk, since that’s bad for you.
The Best Computer Chair With Fabric and Headrest
Let’s take a moment to make the small distinction between “computer chair” and “office chair”. An office chair is about interacting with a desk. A computer chair is about interacting with a laptop or a PC. With your arms. Steelcase seems to have got that while making the Steelcase Gesture, which has fully twistable armrests.
When your arms form a “V” shape to type on the keyboard, the armrests oblige. When you’re using just a mouse with one hand, the armrest will stay ramrod-straight under your hand. It’s the most-talked-about feature of the Steelcase Gesture from anyone who has used it.
It is also incredibly adjustable. You can move the seat back and forward, and up and down; you can change how far inside or outside the arms are, as well as move them up and down; and you can change the back’s tilt angle as well as tension. It’s as customizable as it can be.
Steelcase also has one little feature that Herman Miller doesn’t offer on its Aeron: a headrest. Look, a headrest isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s nice that Steelcase gives you the option.
The Best Computer Chair Between $200 and $1,000
Steelcase and Herman Miller
Both Steelcase and Herman Miller offer “everything-covered” warranties on their chairs. This warranty has been tested by several users on the internet with mostly positive reviews. If you want to buy anything in the $200 to $1000 price range, go to a local Steelcase or Herman Miller store.
If you’re spending some serious money on a chair, you need to be sure that the company has your back if things go wrong. The number of years offered on warranty might differ based on the chair, but the lowest is an 8-year warranty (and most offer a 12-year warranty).
At either of these two companies, you are bound to find chairs that fits your needs and your budget. Buy what you like, and don’t look elsewhere.
The Best Computer Chair Under $200
Almost every site recommends the IKEA Markus as the best $200 office or computer chair. Almost. The Wirecutter says the HON Exposure is better, and I trust the author of that article.
The main reasons for choosing the HON Exposure over the Markus is its ability to adjust. As mentioned earlier, it offers the three essentials of adjustment: the arms, the height, and the tilt. But it also lets you change the seat depth, which is a small but nice feature for those who are shorter or taller than average.
But as always, you need to sit in the chair before making a decision. So find a HON shop near you and go try it out.
Also Consider: IKEA Markus
If you can’t find a HON shop but it’s easier to find an IKEA, go try the IKEA Markus. And if you like it, buy it. It’s one of the internet’s favorite computer chairs, so you can’t go wrong with it.
It isn’t as adjustable as the HON Exposure, but the IKEA Markus’s tall back and firm seat cushion has its own set of fans. While The Wirecutter found HON Exposure’s seat to be better, long-term users of the IKEA Markus swear by their Homer Simpson-esque indentation.
The Best Computer Chair Around $100
At a quick glance, there are about eight different manufacturers on Amazon who offer the exact same chair as the Modway Articulate. Of these, the Modway Articulate has the most number of positive review without Amazon’s fake reviews.
It meets the basic requirements of a good budget chair, with its mesh back and adjustability. You can adjust the seat height, the armrest height, the tilt of the back, as well as also how far the seat of the chair can tilt back. Differentiating between the back and the seat’s tilt is a nice little feature that starts showing up around this price point.
Other than that, the Modway Articulate does what it says it will do.
The Best Computer Chair Around $50
AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair
When I see an AmazonBasics product, my initial reaction is to mistrust it or avoid it. It would be a mistake to do that with the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair though. For a basic budget office or computer chair, you won’t get anything better at this price.
It actually doesn’t meet our “3 Adjustment Essentials” because it lacks adjustable arms, but no other chair offered that either. But hey, it has a nice mesh back, a decent seat (it’s a bit rigid, and you might need a new cushion after 6-9 months), and can hold up to 225 pounds.
The chair usually retails for around $65, and for a pre-assembled chair, that’s a steal. But you can often get it cheaper (at around $50-55) in Amazon Lightning Deals and other discounts.
At this price, you have to ignore any long-term warranty claims though. Sure, if things go wrong in the first week or two, Amazon will probably help you out. But six months to a year after the purchase, good luck with your clams.
The Best Computer Chair for Big or Tall People
Hercules Series 500
At the start of the article, I mentioned that chairs depend on your size and weight. If you’re big or tall, some of the aforementioned chairs aren’t designed to be comfortable for your frame for long hours. But Hercules makes chair designed for you.
At the company’s website, you can find several different models based on your needs. The most popular one on Amazon is the Hercules Series 500, which can handle 500 pounds of weight for 24/7 use (like for security personnel, emergency services, or if you really want to finish a video game in one sitting).
Unfortunately, the seat depth and width isn’t adjustable, but at 22×22 inches, it should suffice for most users. The most appreciated part about the chair has been its extra 4-inch thick foam padded seat, which makes it comfortable for long hours.
Apart from that, you get a high-back design, built-in lumbar support, and tilt-lock, so there’s little to complain about.
Unfortunately, Hercules has got a bit of a bad reputation on the internet recently because it seems like the company has been spamming Reddit and other forums with fake reviews. That aside, these are still decent chairs, based on other more genuine buyers.
If the Hercules Series 500 is too expensive, take a look at the AmazonBasics Big & Tall Executive Chair. It gets big discounts during Amazon Prime Day or other big sales days, and if you pair it with the right credit cards or offers, you can get it for close to $100.
Note: Don’t Buy “Gaming Chairs”
This is probably going to be a controversial statement, but don’t waste your money on so-called “gaming chairs” or anything such marketing jazz. For a long session of gaming, comfort matters more than frills like fake vibrational feedback.
Any of the above chairs will serve you better for extended hours of playing games on a PC. If you’re a console gamer, you can always lean back on your couch or armchair. Gaming-specific chairs aren’t worth it.
Pick a Good Computer Chair, But Stand Up Too!
At the end of this guide, you should be able to find a good chair that protects your body from potential harms. The main thing to remember is to try out the chair yourself before buying it, whether it’s a budget buy or a premium ergonomic chair.
That said, no chair is going to protect you from the health issues of sitting too long. Even if you buy the best chair, please make sure you take breaks from that sitting position to move around from time to time.
Remember, a break from a sitting position doesn’t have to be a break from work—especially if you use an adjustable standing desk. In case you’re in a productive mood, stand up and keep working. But make sure you stand up!