Best Office Chair of 2021
|Price||$929 List||$1,595 List||$785 List||$699 List||$1,445 List|
$679.11 at Amazon
|Pros||Extremely comfortable, tons of adjustability, sturdy construction||Durable, comfortable, very adjustable||Incredibly easy to assemble, very adjustable||Well built, comfortable, adjustable seat||Comfortable, durable, easy to assemble|
|Cons||Pricey||Exceptionally expensive, harder to assemble||Could be a lot more comfortable, design isn't universal||Not as comfortable for smaller folks, subpar tilt resistance||Exceptionally expensive, no seat depth adjustment|
|Bottom Line||The absolute best of the best, thanks to its incredible comfort, adjustability, and construction||This chair is one of the top performers but its exorbitantly expensive price tag is a bit of a turn off||This chair distinguished itself on its looks rather than its ratings, but still offers a high level of performance||With its highly adjustable armrests and seat, this option offers comfort for taller folks||This office chair is one of the nicer mesh-backed chairs we have tested so far but comes at a premium price|
|Rating Categories||Steelcase Leap||Herman Miller Embody||Herman Miller Sayl||Steelcase Think||Herman Miller Aeron|
|Ease Of Assembly (5%)|
|Specs||Steelcase Leap||Herman Miller Embody||Herman Miller Sayl||Steelcase Think||Herman Miller Aeron|
|Seat pan adjustment||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Adjustable lumbar support||Yes||Yes; you can adjust the amount, but not the location||Option available||Yes||Yes|
|Lumbar support||Yes||Yes||Option available||Yes||Yes|
|Tilt limiter||Yes; 5 stop points||Yes; 4 stop points||Yes; 3 stop points||Yes; 4 stop points||Yes; 3 stop points|
|Armrest width adjustment||Option available||Yes||Option available as a third-party upgrade||Option available||Option available|
|Swivel armrests||Option available||No||Option available as a third-party upgrade||Option available||Option available|
|Armrest depth adjustment||Option available||No||Option available as a third-party upgrade||Option available||Option available|
Best Overall Office Chair
The Steelcase Leap earns top marks out of all the chairs we have tested to date and easily nabs the best overall office chair title for its unmatched performance. It's rated as the most comfortable chair by most of our judges, especially when it came to back support. All of our testers agreed they would be more than happy to sit in this chair for an entire workday. We found its adjustable features to be very impressive, and they make it easy to customize this chair to match your body. It held up very well during our testing process, with no noticeable damage after months of use. We also found it to be one of the easiest chairs to assemble.
All this performance, however, comes at a price. The Steelcase Leap fully adjustable option is a pricey purchase, and additional features can drive the price up more. You can cut costs a little by passing on the swivel and depth adjustments on the armrests (or even going armless), but we wouldn't recommend doing that if you will be sitting in it for most of every workday. While the Leap will represent a significant investment for most people, we think it is the best chair you can get. With its solid construction, we suspect your investment will last you for many years to come.
Read review: Steelcase Leap
A Modern, Adjustable Chair
Herman Miller Sayl
The Herman Miller Sayl is our recommendation if you're seeking a premium chair but don't quite have the budget for the top-tier models. This sleek and stylish chair features an extremely modern design and isn't too bad to sit in either. It has lots of adjustable features — including some you can omit to keep the price down — and seems quite sturdy and well-built to us. It's also straightforward to assemble.
However, a chair that leans so strongly into an ultra-modern aesthetic — while bound to turn some heads — isn't necessarily going to appeal to everyone. The same could be said when it comes to comfort, with this chair receiving much more mixed results from our judges than some of the other chairs we tested. However, it is definitely one of our favorite options at its price point, and we strongly recommend it if you are a fan of its unique, stylish appearance.
Read review: Herman Miller Sayl
Excellent for Taller Folks
The Steelcase Think performs admirably across all four of our testing metrics. It is easy to set up and is durable and comfortable. It also offers some level of adjustability. It may not be the most versatile in its comfort, but it offers a high level of adjustability in its armrests and seat, which offer a decent amount of customization to the fit. It is larger in stature, so it fits taller people best, and the moveable lumbar support keeps the user's posture in check.
While we love solid lumbar support, the aggressive support proved polarizing during our testing period. If you have a deep curve in your back, you'll find this chair is the most comfortable. However, if you are not, it may offend your posture. We also found that this big chair feels uncomfortable to smaller people, so petite people may want to check out other options in our test suite. Our last and biggest gripe is the tilt resistance on the backseat. Sadly, we had a challenging time finding the sweet spot between sitting upright and leaning back. Overall, if you are looking to invest in an adjustable chair that will keep you sitting up straight and would rather just spend an arm than an arm and a leg, look no further than the Steelcase Think.
Read review: Steelcase Think
Best Bang for the Buck
DXRacer Racing Series
The DXRacer is an all-around great office chair that retails for a fraction of the price of some of the higher-end chairs in this review. It gives you the feeling of being a Formula One driver whenever you are working at your computer. This high-backed chair offers plenty of support and is surprisingly comfortable; the majority of our judges said they could easily sit in it for eight to ten hours. The backrest and armrest are both very adjustable, with the overall construction of the chair feeling quite durable and well-built. It also isn't too much of a pain to assemble.
The DXRacer stands out from every other chair we tested when it comes to looks — and not necessarily in a good way. This chair is available in a wide variety of colors, some quite exuberant and others more subdued, but it tends to stand out no matter what color scheme you pick. It's a great chair, and we highly recommend it for budget-conscious shoppers, but it is likely to stand out quite a bit in any office visually.
Read review: DXRacer Racing Series
Best for Value Oriented Shoppers
Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh
If you are shopping for a new seat and don't want to spend a ton of cash, then the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh could be the chair for you. While it can't match the top products when it comes to comfort or adjustability, it does quite well, especially considering it costs substantially less than our higher-performing options. This chair was rated very favorably, with most of our testers finding it more than suitable to sit in for a full workday.
The seat, however, isn't very adjustable, and the range of motion of the adjustable armrests is less than some of the other models. The armrests can't drop as low, pivot, or adjust their depth as you can with others. The default position of the armrests also feels a bit on the wide side. This is all quite unfortunate, as these flaws are somewhat significant, although it's hard to find a better office chair for less money.
Read review: Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh
Why You Should Trust Us?
First off, we sit. A whole lot. The lead tester for this review, Austin Palmer, spends copious amounts of time sitting for his work at GearLab. Furthermore, he is an avid PC gamer who spends even more time sitting in office chairs in his free time Hayley Thomaswrites and sells art for a living, both of which are often curated from, you guessed it, an office chair. Living an active lifestyle outside of work, from climbing to yoga to biking, her posture is a big priority.
In addition to Austin and Hayley's input, we also had a panel of professionals who spend more than eight hours a day sitting at their desks. Our testers spent ample time in each chair, supplying us with live updates on comfort. The group we chose consisted of folks who are no strangers to sitting, which gives them some very strong opinions about what constitutes a good office chair — and, more often than not, a passionate fury towards any chair they felt didn't pass muster. We also bring extensive sitting experience; we purchased every chair in the review — none were given to us for free or at substantial discounts by manufacturers or vendors — to maintain a higher level of objectivity. We have spent hundreds of hours casually testing these chairs, as well as exhaustively comparing their different specifications and range of motion side-by-side.
Related: How We Tested Office Chairs
Analysis and Test Results
We've spent years testing some of these products side-by-side, dividing our testing process up into metrics: comfort, adjustability, durability, and ease of assembly, and we discuss our full results. We consulted a panel of judges with varying body types and heights and had them try out each chair for an extended period. We then had them fill out a survey about each chair to get their thoughts on comfort and adjustability. We used our impressions from building each chair for the assembly metric. ; when it came to assessing durability, we researched existing customer reviews and examined how well the chairs actually held up to our testing process.
Related: Buying Advice for Office Chairs
While researching different office chairs, you may have noticed that there is an enormous spread in the prices of these products. Budget chairs can retail for a hundred bucks or less, but your back may end up paying the price. Top-of-the-line models can retail for several hundred or even over a thousand dollars, but they usually offer much more support and adjustability to improve your sitting experience. Our favorite overall chair is the Steelcase Leap, which costs near the upper end of the spectrum, depending on which options you select. While we can't deny that this chair is pricey, the investment is well worth it to avoid any sitting-related health issues, and it's durable enough that it should last for many years. The Steelcase Think is another good value for the price. While it is not the least expensive by far, it is about half the price of the most expensive options in our test suite, making it a pretty spankin' deal.
If the hefty price tag of our top performers scares you, consider the DXRacer Racing Series chair. It retails for significantly less and is almost just as comfortable. It's great for most people who are going to be sitting for long periods. We do realize that the racecar-like seat design of the DXRacer Racing Series won't be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to appearance, but it's still an exceptional value. If you are shopping on a super strict budget, then the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh is the most basic, budget-friendly chair that we would recommend. Its comfort level is decent and offers a solid set of adjustments, but it doesn't feel quite as well built as the top products. That means you could end up spending more than you expect in the long run if you need to replace it sooner than one of the higher-end models.
In our initial round of testing, we rated the comfort of each office chair. This is our most significant testing metric. In particular, we had our panel of judges rate the comfort of the seat, backrest, and armrest of each chair. We also rated overall impressions and how happy we would be to sit in each chair for a full workday. Our panel of judges was composed of men and women with a wide range of heights who tried out each chair side-by-side for a few months.
Earning one of the highest marks out of the entire group, the Steelcase Leap is our judges' favorite when it comes to comfort. The bulk of our judges all rated this chair exceptionally well — the most comfortable to date — with only a single person scoring other chairs higher. This lone dissenting voice is also our tallest judge (6'3"), so you may want to consider this if you're a taller (or shorter) individual deciding if the Steelcase Leap is a good fit for you.
Our judges unanimously agreed that this is one of the most comfortable when it comes to the backrest, and our tallest judge was again the only person to question the comfort of the seat and armrest. However, they all stated that they would be more than happy to use the Steelcase Leap for a full workday or longer. There are five runner-ups in the comfort department: the Herman Miller Embody, Steelcase Think, DXRacer Racing Series, Herman Miller Aeron, and the Humanscale Diffrient. Our judges were quite happy with these chairs overall. While there were usually one or two judges who strongly disliked some aspects, none received unanimous approval.
All of our judges agreed that the Herman Miller Embody has comfortable armrests, though one particular judge found the seat and backrest to be rather uncomfortable. Consequently, that judge could only sit in the chair for a few hours at the most. The rest of our panel rated this chair very highly when it came to seat and back comfort and were more than happy to use it for a very full day.
The DXRacer Racing Series didn't have a single judge that rated it far below average when it came to its seat, backrest, or armrests. However, a few judges rated it average in these categories, which cumulatively brought its performance down. Everyone said they would be happy to sit in this chair for at least four to six hours, with most being fine with eight to twelve and then some.
The Steelcase Think performed admirably, but its cousin, the Leap, beat it by a smidge. A majority of judges enjoyed the Think when it came to comfort, but it did not prove comfortable for all body types. Some of our shortest evaluators actively disliked it. You might want to steer clear of this chair if you not on the taller side.
The reception on the Humanscale Diffrient was a bit mixed. A pair of judges detested the chair and could only sit in it for an hour or two, while the rest of the panel rated it quite highly — though still lower than the top chairs overall.
The Herman Miller Aeron received positive comments from the bulk of our testers, with only two judges who rated it as below average, primarily due to its backrest. This chair encourages the user to sit in it correctly — no slouching, slumping, crossing your legs, etc. Some judges were fine with this, while others thoroughly disliked the lack of freedom. The armrests, however, received positive marks across the board, and all of our judges could sit in this chair for a full workday without too much of an issue.
The Herman Miller Sayl, Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh, Steelcase Gesture, Duramont Ergonomic Adjustable Office Chair, and Alera Elusion Series all followed in our comfort rankings. For the most part, the performance of these chairs was a bit more consistent and less polarizing. None of the judges particularly disliked any of these chairs, and they primarily received average to above-average evaluations across the board.
We liked the seat on the Alera Elusion Series and the Duramont Ergonomic slightly more than the Herman Miller Sayl, Steelcase Gesture, or the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh, but found that the backrest and support on all of these chairs are overall quite similar. Our judges scored the armrest of the Herman Miller Sayl the highest, followed by the Steelcase Gesture and the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh. The Duramont and the Alera had fairly mediocre armrests, earning middling scores when it came to comfort.
Our testers did agree that they could sit in the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh or the Steelcase Gesture for upwards of eight hours, but a few judges reported that they only really wanted to sit in the Alera Elusion Series, the Duramont Ergonomic, or the Herman Miller Sayl for five to six hours.
Finishing out at the back of the group, the SPACE 5700E AirGrid and the Hon Wave Mesh High-Back all received relatively lackluster marks for comfort. The SPACE 5700E received so-so scores in most areas, and not a single judge wanted to sit in it for more than five to six hours.
The Hon Wave chair is a decent moderately budget option, but we didn't find it comfortable enough to recommend to anyone sitting for 40 plus hours a week. It's on the taller side and doesn't offer much in the way of back support. We also weren't fans of the angle of the backrest or the seat cushion, though we did like its mesh back.
For our next round of testing, we compared the different adjustment levels of each office chair and how easy they were to use. We looked at the various adjustments for each chair's seat, armrests, and backrest, such as lumbar support, reclining lever, tilt limiters, and the inclusion of a headrest. We also scored each chair on the ease of use and capabilities of the reclining tension knob and if you could adjust the chair to support you in a proper ergonomic position.
The Steelcase Leap and the Herman Miller Sayl tied for the top spot out of all the chairs. When it comes to your back, the Steelcase Leap has a bit more adjustability than the Herman Miller Sayl, allowing you to adjust both the position and how firm the lumbar support is, while the Sayl only lets you adjust its position. However, out of the two, it is much easier to adjust the lumbar support on the Sayl.
Neither of these chairs has a headrest or the ability to lock in a reclined position, but you can set how far back you recline using the tilt limiters. The Herman Miller Sayl gives you three stop points to choose from, while the Steelcase Leap gives you five. These both have fully adjustable armrests that allow you to move them up and down, in and out, forward and back, or swivel. Additionally, these chairs allow you to move the seat pan forward and back. It's also easy to adjust the tension knob to set the proper amount of reclining resistance. We found it fairly easy to adjust both of these chairs to achieve a proper ergonomic position.
The Herman Miller Embody and the Steelcase Gesture followed, both having exceptional adjustability with only a few flaws. The main flaw we found with the Embody is the inability to adjust the lumbar support height. You can engage or disengage it and adjust its curvature, but a handful of our testers felt that it would have been better at a different height. It does have a headrest with four stopping points that you can set as tilt limiters for when you recline.
The armrests on the Herman Miller Embody lack forward/back or swivel capabilities. The only possibility is to move them up and down or in and out. It does have a fully adjustable seat, but it takes a bit more work to get into a proper ergonomic stance, depending on your desk. The Steelcase Gesture, on the other hand, has some of the most adjustable armrests that we have seen so far. A unique swinging mechanism allows for fully adjustable armrests that have a wider range of motion than most.
We like that the seat pan depth is adjustable on this chair, and you have the option to get adjustable lumbar support. We tested a model that lacked this, relying on the integrated support for our lower back, and we thought it was more than adequate. However, you do have the option of upgrading to the model with adjustable back support if you think it would be beneficial to your lumbar. The Steelcase Gesture also has a relatively high backrest and four different tilt limiters you can engage when you recline.
The Steelcase Think, Herman Miller Aeron, and DXRacer Racing Series all followed. These chairs both have adjustable lumbar support, but we found the DXRacer Racing Series to be more comfortable and provide more back support than the Steelcase Leap — on par with the Herman Miller Embody or Sayl. The DXRacer Racing Series also has a reclining lever, allowing you to lock it in a reclined position — similar to a living room recliner chair. It has a tilt limiter to lock the seat upright when not using this feature, and the seat extends high enough to act as a headrest.
The Steelcase Think has four tilt limiter selections, but we didn't like the setpoints as much as the Steelcase Leap. It also lacks a headrest. Unlike the DXRacer Racing Series, the armrests are fully moveable, which can't adjust the width. The Steelcase Leap can adjust the seat pan in or out, while the DXRacer Racing Series cannot.
The Herman Miller Aeron's armrests can swivel, move up and down, and backward and forwards but can't adjust in width. They offer a larger range of adjustments than the DXRacer Racing Series but aren't quite as adjustable as the Think. The lumbar support on the Aeron is adjustable in terms of support, but you can't change its position. This isn't a huge issue since the lumbar support is quite tall, but a few judges weren't fond of this. It also doesn't have a seat depth adjustment, but overall it's fairly easy to get into an ergonomic position.
The Humanscale Diffrient and the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh rank next in articulating features, both earning an above-average score. The Humanscale got off to a rough start in this metric and lost points from our judges because it lacks any sort of adjustable back support or tilt limiters to stop you from reclining all the way back.
You can move the backrest up or down on the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh to match the lumbar support to your spine, but it doesn't have reclining tilt limiters in the traditional sense. You can use the reclining lever to set the angle of the backrest relative to the seat and lock it in place, as well as lock or unlock the reclining pivot in the base, which gives you free rein to recline the chair with the seat and backrest locked together.
However, the Humanscale Diffrient has far more armrest and seat adjustability than the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh. Both can be easily used to set up a proper ergonomic sitting position, though the armrests on the Modway can make it a little funky, depending on your desk.
The armrests on the Steelcase Think are completely adjustable. The seat pan depth is also adjustable — a bit of a unique feature for a budget-friendly chair — but we were far from captivated with the lumbar support or the recline/tilt functions on this chair. The Steelcase Think has a brace that you can move up and down to change the lumbar support's height, but many of our judges wished you could also alter the general aggressiveness of the support. This chair has an integrated reclining resistance and tilt limiting functions that restrict the amount of control you have overall to four preset settings. Despite that, most people could get this chair adjusted into a good position for their desk without too much fuss.
The Alera Elusion Series and the Duramont Ergonomic followed, both earning mediocre scores in our books regarding adjustability. Next followed the SPACE 5700E, which earned an even lower score. The Duramont Ergonomic has a headrest, while the Alera Elusion Series lacks one. However, the back on the Alera is quite high, still offering plenty of support. The Duramont and the Alera both offered limited lumbar adjustments and a so-so set of reclining limits.
The Alera Elusion Series and Duramont Ergonomic's armrests are fairly limited in terms of movement, as you only have a height adjustment available. The Alera's armrests can move in and out, but the entire range of motion is only about an inch, which we didn't find to be all that helpful. The Duramont's armrest width can be changed, but only with the assistance of a screwdriver, severely limiting its usefulness. Additionally, neither of these chairs allows you to alter the seat depth.
The SPACE 5700E only has the slightest amount of adjustable lumbar support and only has rudimentary armrest adjustability. Its seat is fixed in place, and the fit overall seems geared towards a larger person, making it difficult for smaller folks to adjust it to a comfortable or ergonomic position given the lack of adjustability.
The Hon Wave Mesh High-Back brings up the rear of the group when it comes to adjustability. You can adjust the height of the chair and the armrests, as well as the resistance to reclining. You can also lock or unlock the reclining backrest, but that's about it. You can't move the armrests forward or backward or change their width, and the minimal lumbar support is also fixed.
We evaluated each chair's design and construction for our next round of tests and scored their durability. We used our overall impression of the construction during the testing period to determine scores. Additionally, when finalizing the score, we also took into account any damage sustained throughout our tests.
A large group of chairs tied for the top spot. The Steelcase Leap, Steelcase Think, Steelcase Gesture, Herman Miller Embody, tHerman Miller Aeron, DXRacer Racing Series, Hon Wave Mesh High-Back, and the Humanscale Diffrient all earned our top marks when it came to being durable and well-built. We didn't find any common issues with these chairs. During our testing process, none of these chairs sustained any major issues.
All of these chairs except the Humanscale Diffrient seem exceptionally well-built to us — the Diffrient has a few levers that seem a bit on the flimsier side. The mesh back on the Hon Wave chair also gave us some slight concern, as we could see it wearing out quicker than other models or being accidentally torn, but we didn't have any issues with it during our testing process.
Following this top group, the Herman Miller Sayl received a slightly lower score. After only a few months of testing, the armrest padding began to wear. We also found that the height adjustment lever seemed to be a little flimsy. The SPACE Seating 5700E came next. We also were a little concerned about the fabric quality and the overall construction of this chair, definitely suspecting it to be less durable than the top models, though we did not experience any issues. The Alera Elusion Series and the Duramont Ergonomic came next, followed by the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh. While none of these broke in our tests, we did feel that these chairs had the potential to wear out significantly faster than the top models.
Ease of Assembly
Our final metric focused on the effort required to go from unboxing each chair to sitting in it. We also looked at both the actual assembly process and the quality of the included documentation to determine scores. Since this process is something most people will only have to go through once, we placed relatively little weight on this metric.
We found the Steelcase Leap, Steelcase Think, Herman Miller Sayl, Steelcase Gesture, Herman Miller Aeron, and Humanscale Diffrient were all supremely easy to set up. They each tied for the top spot. These chairs essentially came fully assembled or took us less than five minutes of work to get them ready to go.
The SPACE 5700E, Hon Wave Mesh High-Back, and the Duramont Ergonomic all took approximately 30 minutes to assemble completely. This trio all came with clear and easy-to-follow instructions, though we found the SPACE 5700E and the Hon Wave to be just a bit easier to put together than the Duramont.
The Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh is about the same amount of work to assemble as the other chairs, but the directions were far more difficult for us to understand. The Herman Miller Embody and the Alera Elusion Series followed, and both were about average to assemble. The Herman Miller Embody took a little over 45 minutes to assemble. We had a solid struggle to get the screws into their threaded inserts, as the threads appeared to be damaged or suffer manufacturing defects. The Alera Elusion Series took about the same amount of time as the Herman Miller Embody to assemble and also didn't have the best directions, in our opinion.
An ergonomic chair doesn't seem like much, but it can make all the difference between having a productive work environment or a day plagued with stiffness and backaches. We hope this review has been a helpful side-by-side comparison of the top office chairs currently available and has given you the tools you need to find the perfect chair that matches your sitting needs and budget.
— Hayley Thomas, Austin Palmer, and David Wise