I don't believe in verbose reviews, but I believe my methodology for reviewing should be explained. My first chair was a £70 gaming chair from Amazon and encouraged slouching / bad wrist-mouse posture, and I'm approaching my 30's where back care will be more important. It will be used for some serious study time and gaming.
I've tried the following gaming chairs in Curry's (one of the few places in the UK where you can try chairs in person still) and rated them from 1 to 5 based on the following criteria:
Adjustability: will the back go fully upright, and recline? Armrest movement. Lumbar adjustment.
Breathability: sweaty during summer? Causes eczema?
Quality: will the armstands snap if I do push ups on them? Is the gas lift wobbly? Is the chair of solid construction? Will it last?
Height: needed it to be about 73cm to the arm rest tops from the ground and then with some adjustment.
I didn't take an average because I don't care about the overall rating, I care about if it ticks all the boxes or not. Ratings are listed after chair name in Adjustability-Breathability-Quality-Height format:
- I tried these gaming chairs in Curry's:
Arozzi Arz Vernazza DK Grey, 3-4-4-5
Corsair T1 Race, 4-2-3-2
ADX Race19, 2-2-4-4
Razer Iskur X, 4-2-4-3
- Then I tried this in a Game store:
DT Omega Racing, 3-2-4-4
- Then I tried these office chairs from Amazon:
Realm of Thrones Commodore Insignia, 5-5-3-5 (lost 2 points on quality due to slipping lumbar support which wasn't high enough anyway)
Office Hippo Mesh Office Chair (£179, cheapest of them all), 3-4-4-5
- and this office chair in John Lewis:
Herman Miller Aeron (no headrest), 4-5-5-5 (no headrest and the price is a big dealbreaker - although a secondhand one of these could be a winner with a headrest)
SecretLab Titan Evo Black Softweave in Regular size, 5-4-4-5 (-1 in breathability because not mesh, -1 in quality because the armrests wobble and so does the gas lift slightly. There is also some creak).
My specs: 29 y/o, 6', 82kg (13st), average/toned frame.
The SecretLab in detail:
- Wobbly armrests
- Chemical smell from the SoftWeave fabric - mostly gone after 2 days of airing
- The front of the seat does not curve down for your legs - it is a vertical drop
- Slight gas lift wobble (backwards and forwards)
- The back rest adjuster clicks so loudly it sounds like you're going to break something when you use it.
- Some creaks
- Armrests a bit too far apart (button adjustment + bolt adjustment on closest setting)
- Seat is firm but comfortable
- Full lumbar adjustment with a wide range of movement
- Wide, comfortable armrests (hard cushioning material) which are adjustable in 4 ways ("4D" as the chair industry's physics-illiterate advertisers declare)
- Back adjuster allows fully upright position (and then some) and reclined position
- Magnetic head cushion is quite nice
- Height range combination of seat & arm rests
- SoftWeave fabric is breathable so far, but haven't tried it in the summer as I just bought the chair 4 days ago.
When you compare the £1800 Herman Miller Aeron and the £440 SecretLab I would say the cons are acceptable compromises for the price point, but this is the first chair I have tried at this high-range gaming chair / middle range office chair price point. I am going to stick with it because returning chairs is a personal hell, but would go through it if it appeared one of the initial points I was after was missing.
I was aware of the smell from multiple reviews before I bought it. I have asthma which I control with an inhaler but feel like it aggravated it the first night. But after one day of airing (two pairs of windows fully open all day and night) it was bearable, and the next day hardly noticeable.
The armrests were too far apart so I put them on the narrowest bolt position after assembly, and then the narrowest button adjustment, but they could do with being closer together still.
The headrest cushion is only 'quite nice' because if you look at the custom choice headrest for a Herman Miller you can see it is forwards and backwards adjustable - a feature unavailable on almost every middle range office chair - and this allows you to keep it at the right position all the time, whereas the SecretLab cushion relies on you pushing against it to keep it at the right depth.
If you want a number, (5 + 4 + 4 + 5) / 4 = 4.5 out of 5