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Best gaming chairs for 2020

None of these gaming chairs are going to make you look, you know, cool. But thick, slim, short or tall, we tried gaming chairs from DXRacer, Secretlab and more.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A dedicated gaming chair is the one piece of gaming gear you secretly want, but that your partner, spouse or parent might not necessarily not approve of. Still, if you're willing to buck fashion trends and are actually in the market for the best gaming chair, actually choosing one can be tricky. We're here to reduce the guesswork and show you the most compelling and comfortable ones we've tried. 

One challenge is that many console gaming chairs look the same, and they offer a dizzying array of features: faux leather versus mesh, padded armrests, adjustable backrest, lumbar support pillow, tilt mechanism, footrest, gaming recliner, bucket seat, rocker and more. And a chair is something you really need first-hand (well, maybe not hand...) experience with to judge.

The chairs tested here (and most of the ones we researched) share a lot of similarities: adjustable spider bases and 3D/4D armrests that move forward, backward, up and down, and rotate inward and out. Other similarities include caster wheels, lumbar support and padding for ergonomic gaming. All of them would be suitable as an office chair as well. Beyond that, in your search for the best gaming chair, having a good backrest and lumbar support are essential -- you should look for a chair that's sturdy, suits your size, and has the lumbar support you need. 

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The Maingear Forma is functional, flexible and sturdy, and a solid middle-of-the-road choice if you're looking for a good gaming chair with comfortable foam cushion pillow. You can lean back nearly 180 degrees in it and not tip over. It's also the chair most suited for, let's say, "big and tall" inactive gamer types. Its ergonomic design and padding support a weight capacity of up to 330 pounds. The chair includes a nice memory foam head pillow and lumbar pillow backrest. In terms of maximum comfort, it came in second place in this roundup after the high-end Secretlab chair. The Forma is covered in faux leather over a steel frame with an aluminum alloy base, so it would work well as an ergonomic office chair too. The casters are ultra-quiet and the seat height is adjustable from 14.2 to 18.1 inches. 

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At least DXRacer was up front in stating this chair is for people under 6 feet, with a weight capacity of 225 pounds or less. Not suitable for big and tall users. Still, I was able to get my 6-foot, 225-plus-pound frame in it reasonably well. This sturdy chair is covered in a polyurethane faux leather over a metal frame, with a tilt radius of 135 degrees and adjustable armrests. The chair itself weighs approximately 55 pounds and comes with both an adjustable foam headrest pillow and a lumbar support cushion backrest pillow. The Valkyrie comes in black with four different highlight color options: green, blue, red and yellow.

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DXRacer Drifting Series is made for people who weigh 220 pounds or less, so it's not the best gaming chair for anyone who's over 6 feet tall or who needs a bit of extra room in their seat. It has a height-adjustable lumbar support cushion and a headrest pillow and can be tilted back to 135 degrees, making comfortable reclining easy. Despite the weight limitations, we liked that it took up a little less room and, with its casters, could easily be used as an office chair.

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We asked our sample sitters which chair they thought was best overall, and they almost unanimously agreed it was the Secretlab Titan 2020 Series. The Titan has a large backrest with a wide lumbar pillow cushion, and it supports people who are up to 6 feet, 7 inches and weigh 290 pounds. This gaming recliner lets you lie almost fully back and the high-density foam head pillow is generously sized. The internal lumbar cushion is adjustable, as are the armrests. In fact, the armrests can swivel backward and forward, rotate in and out, up and down and slide wider and narrower.

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Secretlab is also planning special edition models, currently available for preorder. They range from the Batman to Game of Thrones themes (maybe not what you would want for an office chair, but who's judging?) and add $30 to the price.

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Originally published Fall 2019 and updated frequently.