Ergonomic Office Chairs vs. Gaming Chairs: What’s the Difference?
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Ergonomic Office Chairs vs. Gaming Chairs: What’s the Difference?

AutonomousAutonomous | Oct 27, 2020
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When it comes to shopping for a chair, you’ll encounter two major categories in the mid-range and high-end markets. On the one hand, you have ergonomically-designed office chairs. On the other, you have gaming chairs. What are they, and what’s the difference between gaming chair and office chair?

The Basics of Ergonomic Chairs

The Basics of Ergonomic Chairs

Ergonomic chairs are chairs that are best designed to support your body as well as possible. They’re created with your spine health and comfort in mind, as well as added care characteristics for other parts of your body. Ergonomic chairs help prevent musculoskeletal injury also.

Ergonomic office chairs run a wide range of designs and feature sets. Low-end office chairs, for example, are often little more than a slightly padded chair with wheels. They lack most of the features that make a chair ergonomic. Mid-range and high-end office chairs, meanwhile, pack in ergonomic features. 

Ergonomic features in an office chair or gaming chair include lumbar support, adjustable angles, adjustable headrests (or the presence of a headrest at all), and the ability to position armrests freely. Adjustable height, a sliding seat pan, and a tilt lock are also often available.

The material used to make the back and seats of an ergonomic gaming chair can vary as well. Some high-end chairs are made of a breathable mesh, while others are lush, padded leather. Both can be acceptable in an ergonomic gaming chair, so it comes down to the person’s preferences buying the chair.

Top 5 Ergonomic Chairs for Your Office

1. ErgoChair Recline

ErgoChair Recline ergonomic chair vs gaming chair

The ability to relax and put your head back for a minute is highly underrated. A minute of rest goes a long way when you’re working for hours. Ergochair Recline is an ergonomic chair made with the intention to make the most of a few minutes of laid back time during work, so your productivity can be better than ever. This reclining ergonomic chair features adjustable armrests and headrest along with lumbar support and recline all tied together nicely by a comfy, supportive foam padded seat and a one-year warranty.

2. ErgoChair Pro

ErgoChair Pro

The Ergochair pro is an ergonomic chair unlike any other. Equipped with a flexible lumbar support for any seated position, a smooth recline with five lockable positions and 100% earth-friendly materials, this chair definitely sets the bar high.

3. ErgoChair Pro+

ErgoChair Pro+

The ultimate upgrade in ergonomic office chairs is perhaps the Ergochair pro+. Possibly the best ergonomic chair, it has an adaptive spinal support, a weight capacity of 300 lbs. and a frameless construction for unhindered movement. All of this and a 5-year warranty makes this one hard to miss.  

4. AvoChair

AvoChair

Manufactured entirely from recycled materials, the Avochair is both compact and good-looking. This ecofriendly ergonomic chair for office has an adjustable height, backrest, armrests and tension, along with an elastomeric mesh back and seat. Not bad at all for an office chair upgrade!

5. ErgoChair Core

ErgoChair Core

If you’re looking for a phenomenal computer ergonomic chair the Ergochair Core is going to blow you away. It has an adjustable height, seat pan, lumbar support, back recline and arm rests. It’s also equipped with a lumbar support pad and comes with a one-year warranty making it hard to resist.

The Basics of Gaming Chairs

Gaming chairs tend to be focused on a mid-range market. High-end gaming chairs don’t have a lot to differentiate themselves from mid-range chairs beyond branding and aesthetics. However, they’re too fancy and stylized to suit a low-end task chair market, so there aren’t many low-end gaming chairs. 

Gaming chairs have some level of ergonomics built into them, but not as much as ergonomic office chairs. Office chairs are meant for use for hours at a time, where gaming chairs are more meant for a couple of hours of gaming at most.

There are also several different primary designs for gaming chairs.

  • Rockers. Rocker chairs sit on the ground rather than being raised on wheels. They are not adjustable in height and are harder to position, and are more meant for casual gaming than dedicated use.
  • Racing. Racing chairs are similar in design to ergonomic office chairs, with a higher back, more adjustability, and additional features to make them more comfortable for extended use. When most people think of a gaming chair, this is the kind of chair they picture.
  • Battlestations. A "battlestation" is a combination of chair and desk, often integrating monitor arms and mounts for accessories like headsets. They range from excessive to insane in design.

Digging into the differences between each type of chair will, by necessity, be a variable experience. Gaming chairs have a wide range of features, but ergonomic office chairs have even more. Years of study and experimentation has gone into perfecting the ergonomic office chair, and the results in the high-end chair market are unbelievable. 

For the purposes of this post, we’ll primarily be comparing racing-style gaming chair vs. office chairs. Low-end task chairs don’t compare, nor do extreme gaming chairs.

Lumbar Support

Lumbar Support

Proper lumbar support was one of the first major innovations in the ergonomic design of chairs. Sitting increases pressure on the lumbosacral discs in the lower back. This leads to worse posture, and poor posture leads to back pain. The advent of lumbar support for the lower back made office chairs much more bearable to sit in for hours every day.

Lumbar support is pretty similar across both gaming and office chairs. On the low end, gaming chairs either do not offer lumbar support or have a fixed lumbar pillow in place. High-end gaming chairs have an adjustable lumbar pillow. Similarly, low-end office chairs either have no lumbar support or fixed lumbar support behind the mesh back of the chair. High-end ergonomic office chairs have adjustable lumbar support, which can move up and down as well as in and out.

Headrests

Head rests

Headrests are another ergonomic development that allows for periods of rest throughout the day. When taking calls, reading, or otherwise performing tasks that do not need much head movement, a headrest is ideal to allow neck muscles to relax. This helps to reduce tension in the neck and shoulders and helps with maintaining posture.

Headrests are often optional for chairs. Low-end task chairs do not have them at all. Ergonomic chairs may have headrests, and those headrests may be fixed or adjustable. Some can be moved up and down; others can be tilted in and out. Gaming chairs, meanwhile, tend to fall flat in terms of headrests. Most of the time, they have a headrest that cannot be adjusted. This is due, in part, to branding; the headrest is the most visible part of a chair, which means it is the part most likely to be visible on a webcam or during a YouTube video. More on that later.

Ergonomic office chairs win out over gaming chairs in terms of headrests. The only advantage gaming chairs may have is that some of them have adjustable neck pillows, but this is not a standard feature.

Seat Design

Seat tilt

Ergonomic office chairs tend to have flat seats with a "waterfall" design that curls down and away beneath the thighs. This allows for more comfortable "feet on the floor" positioning when sitting, which is an essential part of good posture. The curled-down design also helps prevent legs from falling asleep or going numb in extended sitting sessions.

Gaming chairs are often designed the opposite. Gaming chairs are typically designed with a racing-style "bucket" seat, similar to what you find in high-end sports cars. It’s partially a prestige design and partially aimed for comfort during short gaming sessions. Ironically, the raised front in a car is designed to let the driver reach the pedals more easily. With no pedals to worry about, gamers end up not sitting with feet flat on the ground, hurting their overall posture in a gaming chair.

Another aspect of seat design is whether or not the seat pan is adjustable. Being able to move the seat pan in and out helps with posture adjustments. Typically, this only needs to be done once when fitting the chair, but the initial adjustment is the most important. Gaming chairs rarely offer an adjustable seat pan, which is challenging to work into a bucket seat design. Conversely, an ergonomic chair is more likely to have an adjustable seat pan, though not all models offer the option.

Wings

Wings are not what you might think of as a standard chair design element, but they’re very common in bucket seats and are very common in gaming chairs. Wings are raised edges to either side, which helps sitting position by enforcing a vertical rather than slouched posture. Gaming chairs typically have wings on either side of the back and either side of the seat pan. Ergonomic office chairs rarely have wings at all.

Adjustable Height

One of the more basic elements of modern chair design is adjustable height. From the cheapest office task chairs to the most high-end ergonomic designs, virtually all chairs have adjustable heights. In fact, adjusting the height of a chair is one of the simplest changes you can make to better fit your chair at your workstation.

Adjusting the height of a chair is simple. Make sure the top edge of the seat pan is level with your knees so that when you sit, your feet are flat on the floor. If your chair is too high, you’ll be tempted to slouch, or you’ll sit with a leg curled under you, both of which hurt your posture. If your chair is too low, you’re likely reaching too high to work at your desk.

The primary difference between low-end and high-end chairs is the quality of the gas cylinder used for regulating chair height. These cylinders can fail over time, and a chair will gradually lose height and need to be readjusted. This is the same between both gaming chair vs. office chairs.

Reclining

Adjustable back tilt reclining

The ability for a chair to recline is another feature more common in high-end chairs than mid-range chairs. In an office environment, you rarely need to recline, and reclining while working can lead to pain in the shoulders and wrists. Reclining may be useful for talking on the phone or taking a break from working, but it’s not an in-demand feature for many chairs.

Gaming chairs, meanwhile, always have a recline feature. Some are designed to recline all the way to 180 degrees, while others only reach 135 or so. 

When sitting, studies have shown that a reclined posture around 135 degrees is the best in terms of pressure on the spine. The trouble is, modern offices are not designed for this kind of posture. Unfortunately, reaching up to a desk still requires putting stress on arms, wrists, shoulders, and neck. Unless the rest of the office workstation is designed around this reclined position, it’s not good ergonomics.

Gaming chairs are more often used in a reclined position, as gamers can use controllers and don’t need to interact as much with their desks. 

Of course, using a standing desk and not using a chair is better than a reclined chair. It puts the least strain on the spine, with the least compression and the best posture.

Armrests

Adjustable Armrests

Armrests can be adjusted in several different dimensions: up and down, forward and back, twisting in and out, and even swinging out for ease of egress. Low-end chairs tend to have fixed armrests, while mid-range and high-end chairs tend to have more points of adjustment.

In general, gaming chairs tend to have more adjustments available for a given price point than comparable office chairs.

Armrest positioning may or may not be a selling point depending on the user’s environment and usage patterns. Office workers may find that armrests get in the way of a keyboard drawer, or hamper the chair’s ability to slide under a desk. Conversely, they may find properly adjusted armrests support and alleviate stress on their wrists while typing and using a mouse.

Aesthetics and Branding

The difference in aesthetics between a gaming vs. office chair is immense. Gaming chairs are often designed for their looks above their function. They have bright colors, thick pads, a bucket seat design, and logos emblazoned on their headrests. They are designed to catch the attention of anyone watching a gamer during a Livestream, competition, or YouTube video. They put form over function.

Office chairs, meanwhile, are not designed for attention. More often, they are designed to have a modern, sleek look to suit modern office spaces. Sometimes, they may have a company logo, but generally, they are a simple design of black, silver, gray, and leather.

Pricing and Sponsorship

Gaming Chair Basics

Gaming chairs tend to be over-priced for the range of features they offer. In part, this is due to branding. Chairs offer a certain prestige element to a gamer’s setup; a chair that matches their computer hardware or their personal brand may be more attractive than a basic office chair. They may also be using the chair to help advertise for affiliate relationships they have with the chair owners.

This also commonly comes up when gaming chair brands send free chairs to gamers in exchange for that advertising. After all, if a high-profile streamer or YouTuber uses that chair, it must be high quality, right?

Office chairs offer a broader range of designs and features for any given price point. Low-end office chairs might not have quite as many ergonomic adjustments as low-end gaming chairs, but they quickly outstrip the competition as the price point goes higher.

Why Do I Need an Ergonomic Gaming Chair?

Why Do I Need an Ergonomic Gaming Chair?

Let’s move away from the workstation and venture into the play area for now. Gaming is all the rage, and of course, you need a gaming chair. In case you’re wondering why you need a specific one for gaming, we can tell you it’s majorly because you owe it to your body. You’re spending hours on end looking at screens in pretty much the same spot. Gaming chairs are designed so you can keep doing that without the risk of injury.

Top 5 Ergonomic Gaming Chairs

1. Gaming chair SL4000 by Vertagear

Gaming chair SL4000 by Vertagear ergonomic gaming chair

Effortless assembly, steel frame, and adjustable to the next level are some of the traits that make the SL4000 gaming chair by Vertagear stand out. The PUC fabric enveloping it is a mixture of leather and PVC to give you the most durable cover. 

2. Leather gaming chair by Karnox

Leather gaming chair by Karnox

A leather ergonomic gaming chair with swivel, adjustable recline, and a high-back make the leather gaming chair by Karnox a treat to have. 

3. Slate gray gaming chair by Karnox

Slate gray gaming chair by Karnox

We can talk about lumbar support combined with an executive look and all we can think of is the slate gray ga,ming chair by Karnox. Highly durable and suitable for all purposes, but built with gamers in mind. 

4. Gaming chair special edition by Vertagear

Gaming chair special edition by Vertagear

Adjustable height, backrest, 3D armrests, and seat tilt with locking mechanism, plus you’ll really know why it’s special when you’re sitting in it! 

5. Suede gaming chair by Karnox

Suede gaming chair by Karnox

The most comfortable foam wrapped in PU+Suede to give the classiest look, and backed with a state-of-the-art lumbar support. The Suede gaming chair has its own A-game. 

Gaming Chair vs. Office Chair: Which One is Suitable for You?

Assembly

Gamers are notoriously non-mobile and gaming chairs are generally made with quicker assembling abilities as compared to office chairs. Most office chairs will take a longer time and maybe even an extra pair of hands to assemble but an ergonomic gaming chair will be ready to use in no time. If you’re looking for something that comes together quickly instead of making you go the extra mile, a gaming chair will be more suitable.

Usage

A major difference between a gaming chair and office chair is the usage. The two are obviously intended for different purposes, and they’re definitely built that way. Despite the similarity of harboring people for long hours, they’re quite short on characteristics. Be hyper-considerate of why you are getting the chair in the first place and exactly what purpose it’ll serve you.

Padding

Gaming Chair vs. Office Chair: Which One is Suitable for You?

If you’re someone who prefers a lot of padding and a thicker seat, then a gaming chair will probably be the best choice for you. There’s a lot less padding on an ergonomic chair vs. gaming chair. Generally speaking, an ergonomic office chair has to look more formal and therefore usually features a mesh back and seat and a clean look. A gaming chair on the other hand is plush and covered in leather for a cooler look. Ergonomic gaming chairs also have more padding to support your body while you make the gaming chair your home.

Size

When you’re comparing a gaming chair vs. office chair, you’ll see a stark difference in size, with most of them. Gaming chairs are mostly gigantic and getting bigger by the make. Whereas in office chairs you’ll find an extensive variety of sizes.

Extra equipment

An ergonomic gaming chair is a unit on its own, and fully equipped as one too. Most good quality gaming chairs have a cup holder, headphone holder, and other such perks installed in them. The main thing that makes it all come together is the gaming chair furniture. From the perfect desk, monitor mount and screen, to the whole nine with something like the Rookie gaming PC, you have a myriad of options to choose from.

Overall Analysis

Gaming chairs may be better for some situations where ergonomics and long hours of use are not a top concern. Since they tend to have fewer points of adjustment, it’s easier to feel like they are correctly adjusted for your body. An ergonomic office chair takes a little more time and attention to adjust properly but will reward you with a much more comfortable and safer experience over time. 

A quality office chair is an excellent investment. It’s not flashy, it’s not branded, and it’s not going to cradle you the way a racing bucket chair will, but it will be more comfortable for long-term use. A low-end gaming chair may beat out a low-end office or task chair, but ergonomics will win the day.

Conclusion

The decision between an office chair or gaming chair isn’t an easy one. There are so many good options for both, and for an individual interested in both, it’s also hard to weigh in on what’s more important. If you have money to blow it’ll be great to buy both. However, if that’s not the case then the battle between gaming chair vs. office chair may be decided on which on you spend more time on.

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WRITTEN BYAutonomous

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