The 6 Best Office Chairs, According to Our Testing
We put 22 of the best office chairs on the market through rigorous testing, evaluating them based on factors like setup, comfortability, lumbar support, adjustability, design, durability, and overall value. Things like comfort and lumbar support are highly subjective, which is why our Lab tests were done by people of differing heights, abilities, and body types. That being said, we can't choose a single best office chair for everyone, but we can report on objective features and determine which we think would work best for most people, as well as give some suggestions for alternatives that might be a better fit for some.
Additionally, we consulted Nancy Robnett Durban, PT, DPT, M.S., American Physical Therapy Association spokesperson and lead physical therapist for Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center on the importance of using a quality office chair: "[Office chairs] help to keep your body in the correct anatomical position so you can focus on your work at hand," says Durban.
Our top pick, the Office Star ProGrid High Back Managers Chair, features numerous adjustments for different body types at an accessible price point, making it a great all around pick.
Below, our recommendations for the best office chairs, as well as expert tips on how to best shop for and use office chairs.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Office Chair: Office Star ProGrid High Back Managers Chair
- Best Budget Office Chair: Amazon Basics Low-Back Office Desk Chair
- Best Ergonomic Office Chair: Duramont Ergonomic Adjustable Office Chair
- Best Gaming Chair: RESPAWN 110 Racing Style Gaming Chair
- Best Office Chair for Style: Laura Davidson SOHO Soft Pad Management Chair
- Best Office Chair for Airflow: The Container Store Flat Bungee Office Chair With Arms
We chose the Office Star ProGrid High Back Managers Chair as our best overall pick because it features numerous adjustments—including for seat depth, seat height, seat tilt, armrest height, and armrest width—meaning it can mold to fit just about any body type for maximum comfort and support. On top of all this, the price point is accessible for most budgets.
Our Testing Process
We tested 22 office chairs in our Lab over the course of several days. For each office chair, we first followed the manufacturer's instructions for assembly, using a stopwatch to record how long the process takes. Once the chairs were assembled, testers evaluated how comfortable they are by kneeling on the cushion to feel for any structure underneath. They then sat at the desk as if working, taking note of how supportive the armrests and chair backs were.
We also tested the different adjustments each chair had, including those for lumbar support, seat height, seat depth, seat tilt, armrest height, and armrest width, and considered how intuitive it was to make those adjustments.
To test the chair's durability over different surfaces, each tester sat in a chair and either propelled themselves or was pushed by another tester from the Lab's floor surface onto a low-pile rug, moving both forward and backward. During this test, we looked at how the casters performed, including if they kept the chair stable, if they snagged on any surfaces, and if they felt overall weak or flimsy.
During testing, we considered the design and durability of each chair, including the material, extra features, casters, and overall look. Specifically, we took into account whether the chair looked cheap or like it would elevate an office space. Finally, testers received the MSRP after completing the above tests and were asked to come up with an overall value score for each office chair, considering its performance relative to its price.
How to Shop for Office Chairs Like a Pro
Material and Cushions
Many office chairs are made with mesh, with varying degrees of breathability, so you don't overheat or end up with a sweat stain on your back after long hours of working. Other chairs, like The Container Store Flat Bungee Office Chair With Arms, feature spaced-out polyester bands or "bungees" that allow for increased airflow without compromising on support. Leather or faux leather chairs provide a luxurious look that can elevate a space, although they don't provide the ventilation of mesh or bungee chairs.
When it comes to padding, first impressions aren't everything: Soft cushions might feel comfortable the first time you sit on them, but they won't always provide the support needed to work over many hours without slouching or sinking. In general, avoid a seat that is either too soft or too hard. Some chairs even feature washable seat cushions or extra seat padding, too.
Armrest or no armrests? Armrests can help to relieve the strain on your neck and shoulders, reduce the load on your lower back, and promote good posture when in a seated position. However, a chair with fixed, non-adjustable armrests that are not set correctly for your body can be worse than one with no armrests at all. Plus, office chairs without armrests can more easily slide under a desk and give you more flexibility to sit in different positions, which is particularly useful if you prefer to sit with your legs crossed. If you do prefer to sit cross legged and still want the support of armrests, look for a chair with smaller armrests that won't hit your knees. If your chair does have armrests, make sure they adjust to allow you to sit close to your desk.
Having the ability to recline throughout the day can be appealing to those who sit in an office chair for long hours. Reclining can also improve circulation and help relieve tension built up from sitting in the same position for long hours. Some office chairs feature several different reclining positions to choose from, while others allow you to lock into the exact degree you prefer. For office work, a 100 or 110-degree tilt is ideal to relieve tension while still keeping you upright enough to work.
"Lumbar" refers to the lower part of your back that naturally curves inward. A chair with lumbar support helps to promote good posture and prevent slouching by filling in the gap between your lower spine and the seat, supporting its natural curvature. Without lumbar support, your body's natural tendency is to slouch or lean forward over time. For the best support, choose a chair with lumbar support that can be adjusted for both height and depth, so it properly aligns with your lower back.
Shoulder and Neck Support
Some office chairs feature headrests or high backs that cradle your neck and allow you to adjust the height or angle to fit your body. These are ideal for longer sitting periods, as they'll help you to sit up straight and refrain from slouching over the keyboard. The best gaming chairs typically provide an external neck pillow for additional support.
One of the factors that can really set an office chair apart from the competition is how much it can be adjusted to fit your body type and needs. A high-quality chair should allow you to adjust the seat height using a pneumatic adjustment lever so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. You should also be able to adjust the seat depth, lumbar support, tilt, arm height, and arm width. Any adjustment controls should be easy to reach from a seated position.
An everyday office chair is going to endure countless hours of use, which can inevitably lead to ripped or stained upholstery, squeaky casters, wobbly parts, sagging cushions, etc. A chair that is built to last should feel very sturdy and strong—chances are, if it feels like it will break under pressure to begin with, it eventually will.
You should also look for a chair with a stain-resistant upholstery such as mesh, leather, or polyester. Chairs with pneumatic adjustment levers use a gas cylinder that's spring-filled with air to help raise or lower the seat—check whether the chair you choose has replacement gas cylinders available in case it begins to lose pressure.
The median price of all the office chairs we tested was $270. However, top-of-the-line office chairs can go for upwards of $1,000, and they justify their price tag with more inclusive warranties that will cover worn parts for years to come. However, the chairs that performed best in our testing range from about $200 to $400, making them an excellent value for the performance. With lower priced office chairs (under $150), you tend to get what you pay for, although, paying less for a chair might make sense if you only work in one sporadically.
More Office Chairs to Consider
Alera Elusion Mesh Mid-Back Chair: Although not without its flaws, this office chair has a similar design to the Office Star ProGrid High Back Managers Chair, but at a much lower price. Budget aside, we'd still choose the Office Star chair because its adjustment levers and knobs were more functional. But for a budget-friendly office chair for daily use, there's not much more you can ask for.
Poppin Max Task Chair: If you want an office chair that feels more like living room furniture, this is a great choice. Testers were impressed with the soft yet sturdy cushion on this chair. However, some testers felt the curved backrest was a little too curved for sitting for long hours.
Corrigan Studio Northfield Task Chair: For a more design-forward task chair, this pleated, faux leather option would work with many different styles of decor, and remains functional for the occasional work-from-home day. It lacks lumbar support and adjustability, but for occasional use we think you could get away with using a pillow to support your lower back.
Questions You Might Ask
What makes an office chair "ergonomic?"
Many manufacturers throw around the term "ergonomic," but there's no official standard that determines whether or not a chair is actually ergonomic. In general, an ergonomic office chair is one that's been designed to best complement your body by offering adjustable support. "Ergonomics is about the best fit for you to lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce injury," says Durban. "For a chair to be ergonomic you want to keep in mind things like height and position to keyboard, lumbar support, and adjustment options to help keep your feet on the floor."
How should you sit in an office chair and for how long?
In order to truly feel the benefits of an ergonomic chair, you need to know how to properly sit in one. First, ensure that your keyboard is close to you and the monitor is at eye level to reduce neck and shoulder tension, Keep your arms at a 90 degree angle in a comfortable resting position. According to Durban, you should sit with your hips and pelvis slightly above your knees, keeping your feet on the ground with equal weight between them: "Sharing the weight-bearing between your pelvis and feet can take the pressure off your back and make it easier to stay upright (less slouched) for longer."
But even with a proper work setup and seating position, Durban says it's still important to get up and move throughout the work day:
"Our bodies aren't meant to be stationary for very long. Small frequent breaks can go a long way to alleviate problems before they begin. Tools such as standing desks and ergonomic chairs can help put your spine in a more natural position. It is essential to stand and move often throughout the day and stretch at your desk if possible. Your best posture is a fresh posture. Be mindful to move!"
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To come up with this list, we tested 22 office chairs over several days. Melanie spent hours evaluating testing insights from our Lab tests, considering factors like setup, comfortability, lumbar support, adjustability, design, durability, and overall value. She also consulted Nancy Durban, PT, DPT, MS, American Physical Therapy Association spokesperson and lead physical therapist for Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center for tips on what to look for in an office chair.