Best Office Chair

After over 300 hours of testing, we can confidently say that the Herman Miller Embody Chair is our #1 pick as the best office chair. This desk chair promotes movement, which in turn increases blood flow, in large part thanks to its innovative back system that is analogous to that of a human’s spine. Plus, it’s fully adjustable and can fit most, if not all, body types, all while providing support and airflow to keep you cool throughout your workday.

Finding the best office chair isn’t as simple as just sitting in a chair. For the ultimate comfort experience, you have to consider things like lumbar support, blood flow and material. So we bought 35 of the top office chairs on the market today and spent over 300 hours testing them out to find the best one for you. As we tested, we paid close attention to ergonomics, adjustability and breathability. We even went as far as to measure how well they moved with our natural movements while sitting at the desk and if they worked well with standing desks.

Keep reading to learn more about the Embody Chair, as well as the other office chairs that made our top 10 picks.

Top 10 Best Office Chair 2019 Compared

 #1  Herman Miller Embody Chair – Best for Back Pain

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: High tech good looking body support. This easily ranks as one of the top ergonomic chairs reviewed thanks to it’s unique and well thought out design. It also looks damn cool and should complement even the most finicky of shoppers. Brought to you by the makers of the popular Sayl chair.

Pros
  • Excellent lumbar support
  • Specially designed back auto adjusts
  • 12-year warranty
Cons
  • Mesh look isn’t for everyone
  • Seat padding could be thicker
  • That is all

Pay close attention to the back of this chair, as that’s it’s key to magical seating. Okay, that might be an overstatement, but according to Herman Miller, The Embody’s back has something they call a “dynamic matrix of pixels” that is designed to stimulate your body’s blood and oxygen flow simply by reducing the pressure on your body when seated. Additionally, The Embody is built to automatically adjust to its user back, even when they move allowing lower back support to never dither. All said and done, The Embody is supposed to be so effective it reduces stress and blood pressure.

The Herman Miller Embody chair starts at $1,229.

 #2  Steelcase Gesture Chair – Best Ergonomic Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Increased productivity and comfort makes it pay for itself. At close $1,000 you might be questioning the efficacy of this chair. But fear not, it’s worth every penny, as shown in our Gesture chair review.

Pros
  • Top notch comfort
  • Arms adjust in all directions
  • 1000s of hours in the design
Cons
  • No flashy design
  • Non-adjustable lumbar support

After a study of 2,000 people in 11 countries, Steelcase has developed a chair that suits the needs of not just any person, but any device, including the staff at Gadget Review. Which is to say they’ve addressed more than just using a computer, or pad and paper at the desk. The Gesture chair is built to support those that use a tablet or smartphone, and based on my experience it does just that.

The armrests, unlike many other office chairs, can be easily manipulated to accommodate almost any seating style or position. Moreover, the back of the chair, called 3D Liveback, automatically adjusts to your spine and mimics the natural motion of the body. And it also features the furthest recline of any office chair, all without losing its footing.

If you’re thinking about getting this chair, make sure to check out the color choices, the stool version (in case you sit a high desk) and the two back types.

 #3  Steelcase Leap Chair – Best Home Office Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tried and true chair design provides support and comfort. Billed as Steelcase’s number one selling chair, you’d be a fool to not consider this office chair during your hunt for sitting bliss.

Pros
  • Proven design and reliable
  • Gesture Chair outshines at a price
  • Excellent adjustability
Cons
  • Design and look is simple
  • Gesture chair is the latest tech

Using something called livelumbar technology, which flexes with your body’s movements, the Leap is a cut above the average office chair. And while it may look simple there is a great deal of research and development that has gone into building this top-rated office chair.

Other features include a natural glide system that allows you to recline but remain upright and still naturally reach your work, all without hindering posture or pressure on the back. And if that isn’t enough to persuade you, you can take comfort in the fact that the Leap is almost 100% recyclable, and is made from up to 30% of recycled materials.

 #4  Ergohuman High Back Swivel Chair – Best Executive Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Breathable with support in all the right places. Need customization? Then you’ve come to the right place. Or in this case the right mesh fabric chair.

Pros
  • Excellent support
  • Unparalleled breathability
  • Head support for neck relief
Cons
  • 100% mesh isn’t for everyone
  • Seat edges can be bothersome
  • Lumbar support isn’t as good as top choices

The Ergohuman High Back Mesh Chair is specifically designed for those that will be seated for more than 5 hours a day. The design is very similar to the popular Balt Butterfly, the Alera Elusion or a GM Seating Chair. And it can be adjusted in a variety of places/manners, including the seat depth, seat tilts, back, adjustable lumbar area for proper posture, spin area, back angle title, base and more. We love the adjustment armrests. Really there is no adjustment you can’t make, allowing the Ergohuman mesh chair fit a variety of folks and with that temperaments. It has every adjustable feature you want.

 #5  Herman Miller Classic Aeron Task Chair – Best Executive Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: A proven winner that provides breathable mesh. The Herman Miller Aeron chair is the granddaddy of them all. But that isn’t to say it’s without some flaw. Nevertheless, it’s still a top contender as it offers exceptional support, creating that magical S and adjustability. On top of that, the Aeron is mostly meshing, providing that cool feeling while you sit and work.

Pros
  • Excellent mesh design for cooling
  • Adjusts to your body
  • A variety of sizes for all body types
Cons
  • Seats frame can prevent bloodflow
  • Can be finicky to adjust

And not for nothing, it’s pretty evident that the Aeron will last the test of time, as it’s been on the market since 1994. You’ll find many of these for sale on sites like Craigslist, and while they’ll be at a discount, they still hold their price, further attesting to their quality and desirability.

When you go shopping for an Aeron, pay attention to the fact there are different sizes to accommodate different people.

 #6  Komene Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair – Best for the Money

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: With excellent reviews and a cost of sub $300, this is still a big winner in my book. The mesh means it’s great for cooling and all the while is still supportive even for those with a larger frame (or weight).

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Solid neck/head support
  • Easy and simple to assemble
Cons
  • Only available in black
  • Lumbar support could be better

Plus, check out the fact there there is a head rest for additional support. It isn’t to say you’d be using the headrest while working, but it’s a great way to relax the next intermittently and ensure that you’re not always putting stress on yourself.

And while it may seem moot, the reclining back can be a life saver. Why? Simply by being able to “stretch” you can increase bloodflow and thus increase energy. To that end, this chair’s back can tilt back 135 degrees.

 #7  Humanscale Freedom Office Desk Chair – Best Leather Office Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Negates manual controls and looks top-tier premium. If you require both looks and functionality, look no further than the Freedom Task Chair designed by Niels Diffrient for Humanscale. That and an exceptionally high price tag.

Pros
  • Excellent back support
  • Good seat comfort
  • High end looks
Cons
  • Armrests not easily adjusted
  • Not all components are metal

But with that comes a task chair that is designed to automatically adjust to its users’ weight using a set of internal mechanisms that negate the need for manual controls. So in theory, you just sit and get comfy. Though, if you’re of the particular type you can set the chair and seat back’s height, or move the seat forward or back to adjust depth and seating style. There is also dedicated lumbar support which will help maintain that much sought after S curve that I mentioned at the beginning. This is one of the best comfy executive chairs.

 #8  Amazon Basics Mid-Back Mesh Chair – Best Budget Chair

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Fixed

WHY WE LIKE IT: The budget pick that has solid office chair reviews. Don’t balk at this chair because of its price, $69.99 as of the time of this writing. It’s super highly rated by Amazon customers, scoring 4.5 stars. Sure, there is no way it can compete in terms of quality, longevity and all-together support as the more expensive options mentioned here, but it’s at such a massively discounted price it’s worth a look.

Pros
  • Affordable, affordable
  • Lightweight and great for the money
  • Easy and quick set up
Cons
  • Armrests don’t entirely articulate
  • No lumbar support

Features include a pneumatic adjustable seat, a padded seat that is reportedly thick and plush and 5 casters. Okay, the 5 casters shouldn’t be a massive takeaway, but note the mesh back for added breathability and comfort. The mesh fabric is a great feature.

This midback office chair retails for $69.99 (currently on sale as of Nov 2015). It’s an affordable piece of office furniture even if it lacks some ergonomic adjustments.

 #9  Herman Miller Sayl Task Chair – Best Value Chair

Reclining: No | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: Don’t be fooled by this chairs looks. It maybe simple looking, but it offers both style and support for any of those looking to crank out long hours at the desk.

Pros
  • Special adjustable back
  • Design is functional ergonomics at its best
  • Chair arrives fully assembled
Cons
  • Back is low; no neck support
  • Non-adjustable back

The Sayl chair is not Herman Miller’s flagship chair, but that is reflected in the price. However, because it’s from the company that practically invented office chairs, all the tech, studies, research and know how went into this chair.

They’ve used something called 3D Intelligent Technology, which helps with back support and it will show after long hours of sitting. Long story short, it keeps your back in the correct position and will enable you to sit longer and work with less fatigue.

And if you’re of the eco friendly type, like me, then you’ll probably get excited that it’s made from 93% recycled material.

The only downside to this chair is that it doesn’t have an adjustable back. But there is an optional lumbar support, which I haven’t tried.

 #10  Hbada Office Computer Desk Chair – Best Chair Under $200

Reclining: Yes | Arm Rests: Adjustable

WHY WE LIKE IT: My last pick is perhaps the most affordable of the bunch. Plus it’s an Amazon Choice product, which means it will ship fast. Moreover, with almost 5-stars and more than 100 customer reviews you can’t go wrong.

Pros
  • Costs less than $150
  • Mesh design for breathability
  • Built-in lumbar cushion
Cons
  • Ideal for those under 225lb
  • Techie design not for everyone

Don’t be fooled: this chair has a mesh back, although looks are deceiving in this case. But that’s a good thing since it gives the chair panache a traditional mesh chair just doesn’t have.

I particularly like this chair because it can recline to 155 degrees and includes lumbar support. And remember: a reclining back, especially with this range, means more movement while you’re sitting and then with that comes more energy.

The manufacturer recommends this chair for folks under 6′ and those that weigh less than 225lb. But $150, I’d say anyone should test it out.

Which office chair is right for you?

Which is the right chair for most people will probably boil down to three factors: looks, price, and ergonomics. That said, our list of office chair reviews should be used as a buyers guide and should provide you with a wide enough range to suit just about anyone’s needs. Most people buy on Amazon, so always read the user reviews whether you buy an Amazon basics midback office chair, Amazon basics midback mesh or a Humanscale Liberty.

At the end of the day, we’re a big proponent of standing, and a good standing desk will get you there. But there is no disputing how damn cool the Herman Miller Embody looks and the tech that has gone into that chair. If your wallet doesn’t have that kind of padding, Ikea and Amazon are always a good back up, but odds are you’ll be replacing those chairs 3-4 times faster than some of our top picks.

If you have any questions or would like to nominate a chair to be in our next top 10 office chair review list, please leave a comment below. And don’t be shy – we encourage you to bookmark us and read more of our cool furniture reviews to find other items for your office or home.

Most Important Office Chair Key Features

1. Ergonomics
We know this goes without saying, but a good office chair will offer proper ergonomic designs to appropriately support your back and body for long periods of sitting.

While no chair can negate hip and lower back issues, the best ones can alleviate some of the pain one experiences from sitting for longer periods of time. We found the best solid office chairs offer the key features of lower and upper back support and reduce pressure on touch points, such as the butt and upper back areas.

Also, take note of your hip positioning when considering a good office chair. For example, the Steelcase Gesture chair’s seat can move forward or back, which in turn adjusts one’s posture. I tend to change this position as well, to ensure as it encourages me to sit correctly through variation. Ultimately, chairs with good ergonomic designs should create an S shape in the back, as opposed to that not so good C shape. Again, we like to think of a good office chair as one that is analogous to that of a top rated mattress.

2. Adjustability
While adjustability relates to an office chair’s ergonomics, it’s also a big enough factor to stand alone. Bottom line: you should be able to influence a chair’s lumbar support, and you want to also be able to manipulate it enough to suit your particular body type.

Moreover, height adjustability is a good factor to consider, as we’re not all built equally, and nor are our desks. Seat heights allow different people to use the chair. The arms should be adjustable as well as the angle of the back.

3. Breathability
Believe it or not, when you sit you sweat. Not heavy sweat, but our body naturally gives off moisture. And when you sit the fabric beneath your butt needs to have some breathability. Otherwise, it’ll become uncomfortable for you, and the chair will begin to garner an odor.

The rest can be said about the other points of contact on the chair, including the back, but the leg area is key. So look for a chair with mesh or a specially designed breathable fabric.

4. Value – Price Sweetspot
You can spend anywhere from $150 to over $1000 for the top office chair. And while you’ll be tempted to spend the least amount of money, keep in mind that this is something you’ll use for 1000s of hours, meaning you’ll get a return on your investment no matter. Conversely, spend too little and you might end up with something that doesn’t fit both your body and your style. So be willing to spend the money.

Resident Expert Consultant

I’ve been reviewing consumer tech for well over 10 years. I’ve also had the luxury of sitting in front of a computer for longer. So suffice to say I’ve tried a variety of chairs, amounting to 100s, if not 1000s of hours of testing. I’ve also used a number of standing desks. And while I’m a believer, I also believe that an investment in an office chair, which complements a standing desk, is well worth the money. Lastly, I’ve also interviewed some of the top office chair brands and their designers, allowing me to gain insight into their approach, research and testing. – Christen da Costa | Office Chair Expert

Most Important Key Features

Look for these features, and test them if you’re in a store. Everyone’s body is different so each chair will react differently to you.

  • Adjustable Back
    Sometimes known as “spring tilts”, an adjustable back is a must for any quality office chair. This allows you to adjust the chair’s back to any degree you see fit. When seated you should be able to lockout the chair’s back at any angle, or leave it “open” such that leaning allows for a free range of motion.
  • Adjustable Arms
    While not as important as an adjustable back, adjustable arms are still key to comfort and a proper sitting position. Additionally, each desk has a different height, so being able to fully adjust the armrests ensures that you can sit comfortably at your desk. To that end, the arms should accommodate a variety of seating positions and with those devices. Looking at a computer, then move the arms out of the way. Looking at a table or phone, then you should be able to raise the arms up to reduce strain on shoulders.
  • Adjustable Base
    Many of today’s office chairs offer something called a “five-point base.” Look down at the base of your chair and you should see five points of contact to the floor. This results in greater stability while moving and sitting. I’d also look for an office chair with casters, enabling easy movement.
  • Materials
    Leather will last the test of time, but breathable mesh is probably ideal as it allows the body to breathe during long periods of sitting. Popular chairs like the humanscale diffrient feature a mesh design. That said, you’ll want to make sure it’s quality material, as seen on Herman Miller chairs. Moreover, if the material is too stiff or wound too tightly, it won’t have enough give. Conversely, it needs to have enough support, but just enough to reduce strain.
  • Adjustable Seat and Area
    You’ll want to note the seat size and seat cushion. Some chairs have smaller “seats”, which can make them incompatible with the user, especially if you have a lot of mass and area to support.
    Also, take note of the seat’s areas of softness and support. The Gesture chair of Steelcase offers a large seat and is both supportive and soft in all areas, allowing for a variety of leg positions. ergonomic adjustments such as seat heights should also be adjustable. Memory foam is a good choice for the cushion as is a tilt lock.
  • Headrest
    While this is less important than the aforementioned, an appropriately placed headrest can reduce neck fatigue and provide more restful breaks. If you tend to suffer from stiff shoulders and next, look for a chair with a headrest, such as the Humanscale Freedom chair.
  • Price
    While far from a feature, the price is still something to remain cognizant of. Don’t be surprised by sticker shock. I know I’ve said it before, but a good office chair is an investment much like a bed. They aren’t all available at affordable prices. It should pay dividends to both your body and mental wellness. That isn’t to say you need to blow your savings. But don’t skimp so much that you’re tossing the chair out in 6 month’s times

Mistakes to Avoid

Keep an eye out for these and you’ll be sure to find an office chair that is just right for your back, neck and entire body.

Thinking Mesh Is The Only or Best Choice
While a mesh chair can be a great choice, it’s not the only game in town. Which is to say, don’t discount other designs/fabrics, as they too can be breathable. For instance, our top pick, the Herman Miller Embody Chair, while not distinctly mesh, it’s designed in a such a way that it keeps you cool and all the while is still supportive

Buying a Chair Based on Looks
Although it might be tempting to buy a chair based on its looks – after all who doesn’t want a stylish piece of furniture in their office – there are reasons to avoid this. Looks alone are only a fraction of the story when it comes to ergonomics. Moreover, there are a number of imitation chairs that are designed to look like our top picks but when it comes to actually efficacy they lack the necessary support, chair features and adjustments to make it a comfortable and supportive office chair. Moreover, case in point: the Steelcase Gesture chair has countless hours of research underpinning its development and build qualities. So in other words, make sure you do your research and ensure the chair your buying is the real deal and can provide hours a day of sitting comfort.

Any Chair is a Good Chair
Even though our list is heavily vetted, you’ll want to make sure your chair is not only comfortable but provides the necessary lumbar support. For some, lumbar support is less of a necessity while others will require it more. Put another way, your body type should dictate the type of chair you decide to purchase. For example, the Aeron Chair, while an excellent choice, is not ideal for heavy set people because its mesh design isn’t supportive enough. The alternative chair you ask? For this buyers guide, I’d recommend either our top pick or the Steelcase Gesture thanks to its large seat and wide back.

It’s Not Just About The Chair
A chair is a great start. In fact, it will dictate for how long you can sit. But you’ll also want to make sure you take a look at your desk and its relative ergonomics. Being able to sit at your desk relative to your chair is key to comfort. Arms too high? Your shoulders will hurt. Monitor too low and you’ll experience neck and eye strain. The ideal option, in our opinion, is a standing desk, since they’re height adjustable and also allow you to stand, promoting greater blood flow throughout the workday. An electric standing desk and a standing desk mat
are great with these chairs.

Skimping on Price
We get it: it’s just a chair. But it’s actually much more than that. In fact, a great office chair is an investment. And yes, while they can cost over $500 or even have a $1000 price tag, they actually will offer a return on your investment, especially if you sit for more than 5 hours a day. Why? You’ll see an increase in productivity. And not only that, you’ll leave the office, or your home office, feeling less fatigued and with fewer aches and pains because a great office chair should promote movement and with that blood flow.

How We Tested Our Office Chairs

Lots and lots and lots of sitting. Some interviews. More sitting. Finally, testing.

Hours and hours of sitting. In other words: long-term testing. Seriously. But it’s actually more than that. We received a number of chairs and used them every day for hours and hours at a time. More than 300 hours in fact. We paid close attention to the actual seat (and the seat cushion) of the chair, measuring the base and its relative comfort for long periods of sitting.

We also evaluated and tested each office chair’s ability to accommodate different body types, from light to heavy to short and tall. This is necessary since some chairs work well with only certain body types.

Our #1 pick, the Embody, works well with all body types thanks to Herman Miller’s material choice, design and promotes blood flow, which is also what we looked for. Lack of blood flow occurs when a chair doesn’t promote movement.

Movement you say? Indeed we did. For instance, the Steelcase Gesture seat back allows you to sit upright but also lean back, providing the perfect balance between support and posture and all the while promoting movement to increase blood flow.

Beyond that, we stress tested each chair to make sure that they didn’t squeak or pop over time. Some chairs, when new, won’t make a sound but after use will begin to creak, which can be distracting when you’re trying to concentrate.

All of our top picks didn’t exude any of these qualities after standing to sitting in an overly exuberant fashion or sitting back and forth in the chair.

Why You Should Buy a New Office Chair

Is it worth the investment to buy a new office chair?

You might have an office chair and because of that, you might be thinking that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But you see, it’s probably broken. Not explicitly broken. What we’re specifically getting at is its ergonomics are broken or incorrect.

Take for instance the Herman Miller Aeron Office Chair. It has long been the gold standard in office chairs. And don’t get us wrong, it’s still a great chair. But it’s not ideal for all body types and doesn’t afford the same level of support as our top 2 picks.

Beyond that, we’re no longer just interacting with a computer while we sit at our desk. Today it’s a smartphone, a tablet and perhaps other devices. Take for example Steelcase’s Gesture chair. It was designed around a multitude of devices, accommodating them by way of a fully adjustable set of arms and a seat back that is perhaps the best in the industry.

Beyond rationalizing things in terms of the advancements in office chair tech, ergonomics, and design, odds are that your chair could be worn out. It may sound too obvious, but like a mattress, which we touched on in our introduction, an office chair can wear out over time, offering less support.

Worse, certain functions may have broken. And instead of trying to fix it, which could be a bit like putting lipstick on a pig, sometimes it’s just a good idea to invest in a new one and reap all the benefits of today’s office chair advancements.

Also why not check out:

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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