If you spend any time at home at a computer, gaming console or anything where you're sitting for a long period of time, you need a high-quality office chair. Getting the right support while you're sitting will help with your posture as well as any muscle soreness that can come about from a bad chair. During the pandemic, many of us at CNET had to turn a part of our home into a working office, which gave us the chance to test a lot of office chairs.
CNET's Megan Wollerton and James Bricknell have been testing all kinds of office chairs for the last few years now, from sub-$50 to over $300, to find the best chairs in every price range and for all the different tasks you might do with your office chair.
So whether you need a home office chair with adjustable seat height and tilt options, want to have a cool-looking gaming chair, or if you just want good lumbar support, we've put together a list of some of the best office chairs.
Note: Product pricing tends to vary on third-party sites, so the prices quoted here for these ergonomic office chairs, as of writing this, may change slightly over time. We'll do our utmost to regularly update this list of the best office chair options to reflect the most accurate prices for you.
Best office chairs
I liked this Amazon Basics chair right away. This swivel chair was easy to assemble, the leather design looks nice, and the adjustable seat and back are both cushioned and comfortable.
This Amazon Basics chair isn't exactly cheap -- though it has a great discount right now -- but it's a great option that's relatively affordable without sacrificing much, with one exception: lumbar support. If lumbar support is an ergonomic office chair feature must-have, consider one of my other favorites. Overall, this is a comfortable and reasonably priced ergonomic chair that's easy to put together and easy on the eyes.
- Finish: Black leather
- Adjustable height/tilt
- Weight capacity: 275 pounds
It really is amazing the difference between a cheap chair and a more expensive one. I have spent years using a $100 chair and having back pain for most of that time. The Verve chair by Branch costs much more money, but everything about it oozes quality. The heavy metal fittings, the quality of the fabric and even the movement of the wheels show you this is a product that has had care and attention put into it.
My back pain is almost gone too. Sitting correctly on a good chair makes all the difference.
While this modern-looking office chair didn't work for my lanky 275-pound self, it was perfect for my wife. The lumbar support is excellent and can be adjusted to better fit her back arch and the armrest can be raised and lowered as needed.
The Hbada has very little in the way of sideways wobble -- something that cheaper chairs can offer struggle with -- though, while the wheels feel sturdy enough they do clog fairly easily with carpet lint and dog hair.
- Finish: White plastic, gray material
- Adjustable armrests
- Weight capacity: 250 pounds
It isn't the most sleek-looking chair around, but what the Serta Arlington lacks in style it more than makes up for in comfort and customizability. Serta is best known as a mattress maker, and that tracks with the supremely comfortable Arlington chair. This ergonomic chair is by far the most cushioned model I tried out, with layers of soft cushioning on the headrest, backrest, seat and armrests.
It also provides decent support, thanks to an adjustable lumbar lever under the seat.
- Finish: Black leather
- Weight limit: 275 pounds
I'm 6 feet, 1 inches and 275 pounds, so I'm a pretty big guy. Finding a comfortable chair has been an issue for me for years, and I have had several have their wheels break while I've been using them. This gaming chair has a weight limit of 350 pounds and features adjustable armrests that go up and down and rotate to find the perfect resting point for your forearms. A tall back and wide base make it so a big framed person like myself can sit comfortably. While it may not be strictly an office chair, I have used it for over a year now as my primary seat and it still works well.
- Finish: Black leather with gray highlights
- Weight limit: 350 pounds
- Adjustable armrests in multiple directions
OK, I know. This office chair is very expensive, but it also has a lot going for it: tons of ergonomic design and feature options at checkout, lots of adjustable elements and lumbar support. Three of the optional add-ons really set this one apart for me -- clear locking "X-wheels," Elemax and a memory foam seat.
I can only describe X-wheels as the most high-end roller skate or rollerblade wheels. The chair literally glides when you move it around and the locking mechanisms make it easy to keep in one place, too. Elemax is at a whole other level for an ergonomic office chair. This option provides massage, heat and cool functions that blend in pretty seamlessly with the chair. If you have to sit all day for work and experience pain (or just want to pamper yourself a bit), this function really makes a difference.
The X3 chair also has a weight capacity of 300 pounds (with the standard seat width option) and 340 pounds (with the extended seat width option), the best range of the 14 chairs I tested.
The one issue is its price, which is why it didn't win for best chair overall -- the price just isn't reasonable for most people, us included. I will be sad to see this one go.
- Finish: Multiple color options, mesh and memory foam
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds (standard seat width); 340 pounds (extended seat width)
An awesome chair alone isn't enough
Ergonomics is the "science of work," said Gary Allread, the program director for the ergonomics division at Ohio State University's Spine Research Institute. That definition doesn't just apply to our jobs, though; ergonomic principles can be used for pretty much any activity (that means an ergonomic office chair isn't going to immediately fix your lower back pain). Allread and his team offer consultation services for a variety of workplaces, including manufacturing plants. They even occasionally provide input on product design to help companies better understand how to create products "to make sure they can interact with people as well as possible," Allread says.
A less-than-ideal work setup might cause pain in your back, arms, hands or wrists. You might also find yourself fidgeting, making more mistakes or taking more breaks, all because you're uncomfortable, Allread warned. Long-term, you might end up with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Allread made two main suggestions we all can try to improve how we work:
- Sit with your back against your chair. ("You want the chair to do the work and not your back," he said.)
- Support your feet. Either plant your feet on the floor or, if they don't reach, use a box or other footrest to support your feet.
If your chair lacks lumbar support, Allread said, you can roll up a towel, secure it with tape or rubber bands and place it at your lower back as a lumbar cushion to "keep the back in its natural curve." Allread also noted that companies are beginning to introduce different chair sizes, supporting a wider range of body sizes, which is an important consideration if you're shopping for a new ergonomic office chair and looking for the best seat height and seat depth.
"One mistake people make is they say, 'Well if I get a great chair, then I'm not going to be sore anymore,' and that's not really looking at the big picture of what it takes to keep people comfortable and productive at their jobs," Allread explained. There are a lot of factors, and a new chair is just one of many things that can make your work environment more comfortable.
So, let's keep that all in mind as we weigh our options for the best office chair.
How we tested office chairs
How did we pick our favorites? First, we assembled each chair and noted any issues with the process, including how long it should take versus how long it actually took. Then, we spent one workday, or about eight hours, sitting in each chair, noting the level of comfort, adjustability (such as adjustable height, adjustable backrest or adjustable arm features) and any issues we had.
We also tested what James likes to call the Wibble Wobbles. Because office chairs are often supported by just one rod they can wobble left and right. That movement causes stress on the chair and can shorten its life.
While Megan is of average height and weight, and James is heavier and taller than average, your experience may differ from ours. That's why we asked our professional for questions you should ask when choosing your own chair.
- Was the chair designed so you can rest comfortably against the back of the chair?
- Do your feet touch the floor with your back against the back of the chair?
- Did you find yourself fidgeting or standing up a lot?
- Did you experience any pain or discomfort while using a particular chair?
We let these questions guide us as we looked through all the different chairs and they helped eliminate a lot that answered in the negative. Some of those chairs felt OK to use, but in the long run, they didn't offer the advantages of the ones we ultimately chose.
Office chair FAQs
How do you clean an office chair?
How you clean your office chair will vary somewhat depending on the materials. The chair's user manual should detail cleaning and general maintenance tips. If you tossed out the paper version of the manual, check online. Many retailers provide digital versions or even downloadable PDFs of their product manuals.
That said, most chairs should be fine with a damp cloth and mild soap or detergent. Test out a small area first and stay away from strong chemical cleaners.
How do I make an office chair more comfortable?
Many office chairs are adjustable. You can change the chair height and move the arms, and some office chairs even have adjustable lumbar support. So before tossing out your current chair, make sure you're sitting in an optimal posture for your comfort by trying out different ergonomic positions.
I cover ergonomics above. Allread, the expert I spoke with, had two main suggestions:
- You want your back to touch the back of the chair.
- You want your feet to touch the floor (or you should use a box or footrest to prop up your feet).
Allread also suggested rolling up a towel to use for lower back support if your chair doesn't have lumbar support.
How do I fix a squeaky office chair?
If you're dealing with a squeaky office chair, you first need to identify the source. Double-check that all of the screws are tight and that the chair is clean and oiled. You might also need to replace a spring. Certain retailers sell replacement parts, if a loose/old spring ends up being the culprit.