Steelcase Series 1 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The most important metric of our review process — and the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of an office chair — is comfort. This metric counts heaviest toward to overall score of the Series 1 and is based on the opinions of our panel of judges after trying out each of these chairs for extensive amounts of time. Unfortunately, opinions of the Series 1 were mixed, earning this chair a middle-of-the-road score.
Most of our judges felt that the seat of the Series 1 chair is adequately comfortable. All of the judges found this chair to have acceptable amounts of padding, but a few found the seat to be angled forward just a little too aggressively, feeling like the chair was going to dump them out. Opinions of the backrest were split, with no judge being overly fond of the backrest and several severely disliking it. This chair doesn't give you many reclining options, and compared to other models, the lumbar support is definitely on the weaker side.
The armrests on this chair also failed to receive rave reviews from our testers. They tend to shift around when you put pressure on them and don't offer a ton of padding. The majority of our judges spent significant amounts of time constantly readjusting them while sitting in the Series 1 in an often fruitless quest for a comfortable position. Overall, only about half of our judges would be content sitting in the Series 1 for eight hours or more, with the remaining calling it quits with this chair after four or five hours.
Next, we compared and scored how adjustable the Series 1 is compared to other chairs. We specifically looked if you can adjust the backrest, seat depth, armrests, and reclining settings. The Series 1 has most of these features, earning it an ever-so-slightly above-average score.
It also has an adjustable lumbar support brace, but you can only adjust the height, not the amount of support it offers or curvature, so you are out of luck if the stock setting doesn't match up with your spine. You can't adjust the reclining resistance and tilt limiter separately, they are both combined into the same knob, and you only have three combinations to choose from. On top of that, two of these settings had a barely noticeable difference, so your reclining choices are fairly limited with this chair.
The armrests do have a considerable amount of adjustability. They can be moved in and out, forward and back, up and down, and can swivel. However, they do have a reduced range of motion compared to some of the other chairs and are attached to the backrest, so the armrests do recline as you do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of personal preference, but the majority of our judges would rather have the armrests remain stationary as they recline. The Series 1 also has an adjustable seat pan depth and overall is fairly easy to adjust to reach an ergonomic position for most people at most desks as well as the best standing desk converters in the down position.
In this metric, we focused on how sturdily each chair is constructed, if we noticed and signs of wear and tear or other damage throughout our testing process, if other user reviews had common complaints, and the length of the included warranty term to determine scores. The Series 1 did exceptionally well, earning one of the better scores of the group and placing right at the top of the pack.
We found mostly positive remarks during our deep dive into customer experiences for this chair, with only a few complaining of structural issues. One said the lumbar support broke after only a few months, and another thought the gas cylinder (for raising or lowering the chair) started to leak after a while. These appear to be isolated incidents, and we find that the Series 1 is well constructed. It doesn't seem as solid as some of Steelcase's premium chairs, but we didn't identify any particularly worrisome spots. The lumbar support did give us some pause — especially after reading the review where it broke --, but it seems solid after months and months of testing.
Ease of Assembly
For our final round of tests for the Series 1, we looked at the amount of work it took to put together before you can start sitting in it. This chair delivers another top-notch score.
The Series 1 arrived completely assembled and didn't require any effort on our part to get it ready to go aside from unpacking it, which only took five to 10 minutes.
The Series 1 is a great value. It's not the cheapest or highest scoring in our fleet, but it's fairly comfortable and ergonomic to sit in and has plenty of adjustable features for your personal preferences. It's a good middle ground between not spending a ton of money on a chair and not having a cheap chair that is so uncomfortable that you can't stand to sit in it.
The Steelcase Series 1 has its fair share of flaws, and we wouldn't really recommend it as our first choice if you sit down for the entire day with it. We did notice that the armrests are a little on the wider side, so more petite users might find that problematic. While we are the first to admit that the Series 1 isn't the most comfortable chair we have tested to date, it is far from the worst. Most of our testers were more than happy to use it for five to six hours a day, and it only started to elicit complaints from users who were sitting in it for eight to ten hours a day, for four to five days a week.