“Can gaming chairs be used as office chairs?” – and 5 other vital questions about office chairs

Herman Miller x Logitech G Embody Gaming Chair
(Image credit: Herman Miller/Logitech)

If you’ve got a gaming chair, is it okay to use that as your seat for long days at work on an ongoing basis? Doubtless a fair few folks who are working from home due to coronavirus have pondered this, and we’ve answered that – and a number of other commonly asked important questions – in this article.

Those other queries include: Are the best office chairs really worth the money? And: Should I buy an office chair second-hand to save cash? Read on for all our answers in full…

1. Can gaming chairs be used as office chairs?

Is it okay to use a gaming chair as an office chair for your daily working routine on an ongoing basis? The short answer to this is ‘probably not’, but the slightly longer and more complex answer is that it depends on your situation and the exact gaming chair in question.

As a general rule of thumb, gaming chairs aren’t designed with sound ergonomics first and foremost in mind. They may be designed to be comfortable – or perhaps to look comfortable, more to the point, perhaps overdoing the padding, for example.

We’ve also seen models with a pronounced lumbar support which looks like it might support your back – or at least that the chair designers thought about this aspect of the seat – but it’s actually over-the-top, which is likely to be worse for your back than just a straight backrest.

Gaming chairs are also often designed to be affordable, and to look good – usually like racing car seats – neither of which elements lend themselves well in terms of the search for a good quality chair that you can sit in all day while you work. Gaming chairs are less likely to come with any ergonomic adjustments either, aside from raising (or lowering) the height of the seat.

Are there exceptions to the rule? This is where the longer answer comes in, because there are pricier and higher-end gaming chairs which do take their ergonomic design seriously. For example, the Edge GX1 is highlighted as an excellent ergonomic option in our best gaming chair roundup, or you might want to check out the Herman Miller Embody Gaming Chair, an adaptation of a high-quality ergonomic office chair.

Models like these can make fine choices, although note that they are the exceptions, generally speaking. Even a mid-range gaming chair might be okay for, say, bouts of part-time working, but the truth – at least in our experience – is that your average gaming chair isn’t a good choice for the 9-to-5 grind.

Herman Miller Aeron

(Image credit: Herman Miller)

2. Are expensive office chairs really worth the money?

Again, this is a question which can be answered in general terms – yes, we’d say they are from an overall perspective – but there are caveats, and not every pricey office chair is a good value proposition, as you can imagine.

It is worth paying for a quality office chair, though, and one which is well-reviewed and critically acclaimed. These chairs will offer advanced ergonomics that your back will thank you for in the long run, and may even help you avoid health problems with your posture and spine that could keep you off work. Not only that, but in contrast to cheaper chairs, they often offer lengthy warranty periods of 10-years to 15-years, which is a statement of confidence in how long the chair should last.

And if you work out the monthly outlay based on ownership of the chair for a decade or longer, it really isn’t that expensive relatively speaking – particularly not when compared to buying a cheap chair, and then having to replace it when something goes wrong after perhaps only a year or two. And then having to replace it again… well, you get the picture.

That said, there are expensive chairs out there that aren’t worth the money, which is why you need to check reviews carefully as mentioned, and possibly even try out the chair yourself. (If possible – some of the manufacturers or online retailers out there even allow you to trial a chair for a month, say, via a money-back guarantee policy, and you can return it if you’re not happy).

Further remember that shopping around online can get you some pretty good deals on office chairs, and the more expensive models can be had for a lot less than the recommended price at times (also remember to go for cheaper options, too, like fabric instead of leather for the seat material).

Office desks and chairs

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Should I buy an office chair second-hand to save cash?

Theoretically, one good way to save money on an office chair is to buy second-hand. In fact, some of those expensive chairs we’ve just been talking about can be a lot cheaper if you go this route.

Naturally, there are risks though, one of which is that the chair in question may have been used for many years, and the seat padding – or mechanical parts – may not be everything they once were.

Like buying anything second-hand, really, this is a bit of a lottery – but in some ways, there’s nothing wrong with having a punt. Even if you don’t get on with the chair, you may not have spent all that much, and you could recoup some of that outlay simply by reselling (although with a product as big as an office chair, bear in mind that this could involve a fair amount of hassle).

One thing we would advise if going second-hand is to buy from an established retailer that sells used chairs – and provides a warranty – as opposed to a private seller on the likes of auction sites or elsewhere. Tread carefully, for sure.

A final (although not particularly pleasant) point to bear in mind is that the economic aftershocks of coronavirus and lockdowns will inevitably lead to some company closures, so the sad fact is it’s likely that the second-hand market for office chairs will likely become a busier – and therefore cheaper – place in the not-too-distant future.

4. Could an ‘ergonomic’ office chair be doing me more harm than good?

If you buy a poorly built office chair, possibly made by a more unscrupulous company which is trying to sell products under the guise of being ‘ergonomic’, when that’s actually not the case – you could possibly fall foul of this particularly peril.

You’ll obviously know if a chair isn’t doing you any favors if any part of your body – most likely your back, or maybe your bum or thighs, in the case of chairs – is achy at the end of the day (or indeed after an hour or two).

The best bet in avoiding this kind of danger is to stick to office chairs from established, reputable and trusted vendors, although even then, not every chair will necessarily suit everyone.

The good point, again, about purchasing from a reliable vendor is that they often have sterling return policies in case of issues. And if you have any consistent aches or pains, take that as a sign that you really should change your office chair sooner rather than later.

PC user sat at desk

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / LStockStudio)

5. How can I be sure a particular chair will fit me okay?

This is a tricky one, as the best solution is to go to a bricks-and-mortar shop and try out a particular model – if you have such retail outlets near you (and they stock the product in question).

That possibility aside, the best you can do is carefully look at the dimensions and spec of the chair, and ensure that the seat width and rated load bearing weight in particular aren’t going to be a problem. Also remember that some chairs come in different sizes – for example, Herman Miller make chairs in small, medium or large sizes, so depending on your height or weight, you need to make sure you pick the right model.

There are always going to be elements of uncertainty around this question, but what can also help is to head online and do some thorough research, perhaps getting feedback from owners of the chair on the likes of Reddit. You may even find someone who has a similar build and height to yourself who can impart vital info on how comfy and suitable they find the chair in question.

6. What are the best manufacturers and models of office chairs?

This is probably one of the most often asked vital questions when it comes to office chairs. The best chair makers tend to be those who have been around for a long time, and have built a reputation for reliability. In fact, the easiest way to answer this question is to check out that roundup and our top recommendations therein – it’s a great starting point for any hunt for the right office chair.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).