The In-Depth Buyer's Guide 2019

Best Office Chair

Over 300+ Hours Testing & Reviewing 35 Office Chairs

Herman Miller Embody 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.

Winner: Herman Miller Embody Chair


9.8 out of 10

Best Office Chair Video Review


Test Results and Ratings

- October 2019

How We Decided


4 main factors come down to picking the top office chairs.

Ergonomics
Chair Comfort

Adjustability
Movement

​Breathability
Heat Management

$60-$1000
Value


 Herman Miller Embody Chair - Best for Back Pain

9.8
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Excellent lumbar support
  • Specially designed back auto adjusts
  • 12-year warranty
  • Mesh look isn't for everyone
  • Seat padding could be thicker
  • That is all

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. 


 Steelcase Gesture Chair - Best Ergonomic Chair

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

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.


 Steelcase Leap Chair - Best Home Office Chair

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

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.


 Ergohuman High Back Swivel Chair - Best Executive Chair

9.1
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Excellent support
  • Unparalleled breathability
  • Head support for neck relief
  • 100% mesh isn't for everyone
  • Seat edges can be bothersome
  • Lumbar support isn't as good as top choices

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.


 Herman Miller Classic Aeron Task Chair - Best Mesh Office Chair

8.8
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Excellent mesh design for cooling
  • Adjusts to your body
  • A variety of sizes for all body types
  • Seats frame can prevent bloodflow
  • Can be finicky to adjust

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.


 Komene Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair - Best for the Money

8.6
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Very affordable
  • Solid neck/head support
  • Easy and simple to assemble
  • Only available in black
  • Lumbar support could be better

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).


 Humanscale Freedom Office Desk Chair - Best Leather Office Chair

8.6
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Excellent back support
  • Good seat comfort
  • High end looks
  • Armrests not easily adjusted
  • Not all components are metal

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.


 Amazon Basics Mid-Back Mesh Chair - Best Budget Chair

8.2
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Affordable, affordable
  • Lightweight and great for the money
  • Easy and quick set up
  • Armrests don't entirely articulate
  • No lumbar support

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.


 Herman Miller Sayl Task Chair - Best Value Chair

8.1
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Special adjustable back
  • Design is functional ergonomics at its best
  • Chair arrives fully assembled
  • Back is low; no neck support
  • Non-adjustable back

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.


 Hbada Office Computer Desk Chair - Best Chair Under $200

8.0
out of 10
Pros
Cons
  • Costs less than $150
  • Mesh design for breathability
  • Built-in lumbar cushion
  • Ideal for those under 225lb
  • Techie design not for everyone

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.

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.


Read Next: https://www.gadgetreview.com/10-of-the-best-standing-desks

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.

answers

Thinking Mesh Is The Only or Best Choice

Buying a Chair Based on Looks

Any Chair is a Good Chair

It’s Not Just About The Chair

Skimping on Price


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.

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