The Best Office Chairs of 2020
Best Overall Office Chair
Earning the top score out of all the chairs we have tested to date, the Steelcase Leap easily nabbed the title of Best Overall Office Chair and an Editors' Choice Award for its unmatched performance. The Leap was rated as the most comfortable chair by the majority of our judges, especially when it came to back support, and all of our judges agreed they would be more than happy to sit in this chair for an entire workday. It has an impressive set of adjustable features to perfectly match your body and held up very well to our testing process, with no noticeable damage after months of use. It is also one of the easiest chairs to assemble.
All this performance, however, comes at a price. The fully-adjustable option of the Leap is a pricey purchase and additional features can drive the price up more. You can cut costs a little bit by forgoing the swivel and depth adjustments on the armrests or even going armless, but we wouldn't recommend doing that if you are going to be sitting in the Leap for most of every workday. Unfortunately, the Leap will represent a significant investment for most people but we think it is the best chair you can get. With its solid construction, your investment should last you for many years to come.
Read Review: Steelcase Leap
Best Bang For The Buck
DXRacer Racing Series
This is an all-around great office chair that retails for a fraction of the price of some the higher-end chairs in this review. It gives you the bonus of feeling like a Formula One driver whenever you are working at your computer. This high-backed chair offers plenty of support and is surprisingly comfortable, with the majority of our judges saying they could easily sit in it for 8-10 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, however, 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.
Read Review: DXRacer Racing Series
Great Adjustability and Value
Steelcase Series 1
If you are shopping for a new chair in the same price range as the DXRacer, but want one that will blend into a typical office better, then consider the Steelcase Series 1. This chair did fairly well in our tests, with average results when it came to comfort and slightly above average results in terms of adjustability. We found the Series 1 to be very solidly constructed and it's backed by an exceptionally long warranty period from Steelcase. This chair also arrived completely assembled for us and was ready to go in less than 10 minutes.
The Series 1, however, did not receive universal recognition from our judges when it came to comfort. Multiple judges described this chair as quite unpleasant if they had to sit for a full day in it. Many wished the lumbar support had a little more adjustment or allowed you to change the amount of support it gave, rather than just its position. For this reason, we wouldn't necessarily recommend the Series 1 to someone who is routinely sitting 40+ hours a week. It is a decent option if you sit less than that at work or home and don't want to pay top dollar for one of the premium chairs.
Read Review: Steelcase Series 1
Best Chair on a Tight Budget
Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh
If you are shopping for a new seat without spending a ton of cash, then the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh is the chair for you. This chair can't match the top products when it comes to comfort or adjustability, but it did quite well, considering it costs substantially less than the Steelcase Leap. Most of our judges rate this chair very favorably, with most of them 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 like you can with others. This is quite unfortunate, as the default position of the armrests feels a bit on the wide side. Although these are some somewhat significant flaws, it's hard to find a better office chair for less money, earning the Modway a Best Buy Award.
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 TechGearLab. Furthermore, he is an avid PC gamer who spends even more time sitting in office chairs in his free time. In addition to Austin's input, we also had a panel of professionals, who all spend more than eight hours a day sitting at their desks, try out each chair for lengthy periods, updating the review as their opinions changed based on real-world testing over the past few years. This group is no stranger 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.
In addition to our extensive sitting experience, we also bought all of the chairs in the review — none were given to us for free or at substantial discounts by manufacturers or vendors — so you can have faith that our review is completely unbiased and the scores aren't motivated or influenced by a financial incentive. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours casually testing these chairs, as well as exhaustively comparing their different specifications and range of motion side-by-side to determine scores.
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 four weighted metrics — Comfort, Adjustability, Durability, and Ease of Assembly. Our full results discussed below. We had a panel of judges of varying body types and heights try out each chair for an extended period, 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
In case you hadn't already noticed while researching different office chairs, there is an enormous spread in the prices of these products. Budget chairs retail for a hundred bucks or less, but your back might end up paying the price, instead of your wallet. Top-of-the-line models can retail for several hundred or even thousands of dollars, but 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 this chair is undeniably pricey, it is a worthy investment to avoid any sitting-related health issues and it's durable enough that it should last for many years. If this hefty price tag is outrageous to you, then you might want to consider the DXRacer Racing Series, which retails for significantly less. This chair is almost as comfortable as the Leap and is great for most people if they are going to be sitting for long periods.
We realize that the race car seat-like design of the DXRacer doesn't have a universal appeal when it comes to appearance. The Steelcase Series 1, however, is a similarly priced option that offers a more traditional look. It scored a bit lower but is worth considering if you are shopping for a new chair on a limited budget. If you are shopping on the tightest of budgets, then the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh is the most budget-friendly chair that we would recommend. It's decently comfortable 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.
For our initial round of testing, we rated and scored how comfortable each office chair felt. This is our most significant testing metric, accounting for 50% of the score for each chair. In particular, we had our panel of judges rate the comfort of the seat, backrest, and armrest of each chair, as well as their overall impressions and how happy they would be to sit in each chair for a full workday. Our panel of judges was comprised of both men and women with a wide range of heights who tried out each chair side-by-side for a few months.
Earning the highest score out of the entire group, the Steelcase Leap is our judges' favorite when it comes to comfort. The bulk of our judges all scored 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 individual considering the Leap.
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 Leap for a full workday or longer.
Following the Leap, the Herman Miller Embody, the Steelcase Think, the DXRacer Racing Series, the Herman Miller Aeron, and the Humanscale Diffrient all merited a 7 out of 10 when it comes to comfort. Overall our judges were quite happy with these chairs, but there were usually one or two judges that strongly disliked some aspects of them, and none received unanimous approval.
Our judges all agree that the Herman Miller Embody has quite comfortable armrests, but a single 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 full day.
The DXRacer didn't have a single judge that scored it far below average when it came to its seat, backrest, or armrests. However, there were a few judges that scored it average in these categories, which cumulatively brought its score down. Everyone said they would be happy to sit in this chair for at least 4-6 hours, with most being fine with 8-12+.
The Leap and the Think by Steelcase scored about the same by the majority of judges when it came to comfort. Some of our tallest evaluators, however, actively disliked the Think so you might want to steer clear of this chair if you are on the taller side.
The Humanscale Diffrient had a bit of a mixed reception. A pair of judges detested the chair and were only able to sit in it for an hour or two, while the rest of the panel rated it quite highly — though lower than the top chairs overall.
The Aeron earned overall strongly positive comments from the bulk of our testers, with only two judges rating it as below average, mainly due to its backrest. This chair kind of forces you to sit in it correctly — no slouching, crossing your legs, etc. Some judges were fine with, 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.
Next, the Herman Miller Sayl, the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh, the Steelcase Gesture, the Duramont Ergonomic Adjustable Office Chair, and the Alera Elusion Series all followed, with each earning a 6 out of 10. For the most part, the scoring on these chairs was a bit more consistent and less polarizing. None of the judges particularly disliked any of these chairs. They primarily received average to above-average scores across the board.
We liked the seat on the Alera and the Duramont slightly more than the Sayl, Gesture, or the Modway, but found that all of these chairs are about the same when it came to the comfort of the backrest and back support. Our judges scored the armrest of the Sayl the highest, followed by the Gesture and the Modway. The Duramont and the Alera had fairly run-of-the-mill armrests, earning middling scores when it came to comfort.
Our testers did agree that they could sit in the Modway or the Gesture for upwards of 8 hours, but a few judges reported that they only really wanted to sit in the Alera, the Duramont, or the Sayl for 5-6 hours.
Finishing out the back of the group, the SPACE 5700E AirGrid and the Series 1 both earned a 5 out of 10. The SPACE received relatively lackluster marks in most areas and not a single judge wanted to sit in it for more than 5-6 hours. The Series 1 had very split results, with multiple testers being more than happy to sit in this chair for several workdays while other judges hated it for any length of time.
For our next round of testing, we compared the different level of adjustment each office chair had 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. In total, these assessments account for 35% of the total score.
Earning a 9 out of 10 for their excellent set of adjustable features, both the Steelcase Leap and the Herman Miller Sayl tied for the top spot out of all the chairs. The Leap has a bit more adjustability than the Sayl when it comes to your back, allowing you to adjust both the position and how firm the lumbar support is, while the Sayl only lets you adjust its position. However, it is much easier to adjust the lumbar support on the Sayl than the Leap.
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 Sayl gives you 3 stop points to choose from, while the Leap gives you 5. 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.
Following these top performers, the Herman Miller Embody and the Steelcase Gesture merited an 8 out of 10 for their exceptional adjustability. The main flaw we found with the Embody is the inability to adjust the height of the lumbar support. 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 and 4 stop points that you can set as tilt limiters for when you recline.
The armrests on the Embody lack forward/back or swivel capabilities, only the possibility of moving 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 Gesture, on the other hand, has some of the most adjustable armrests that we have seen so far. The armrests have a wider range of motion than most and are fully adjustable, with a unique swinging mechanism.
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 Gesture also has a relatively high backrest and four different tilt limiters you can engage when you recline.
The Steelcase Think, the Herman Miller Aeron, and the DXRacer Racing Series all followed, each earning a 7 out of 10. These chairs both have adjustable lumbar support, but we found the DXRacer to be more comfortable and provide more back support than the Leap — on par with the Herman Miller Embody or Sayl. The DXRacer also has a reclining lever, allowing you to lock it in a reclined position — similar to a La-Z-Boy reclining 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 Think has 4 tilt limiter selections, but we didn't like the setpoints as much as the Leap. It also lacks a headrest. The armrests are fully-moveable — unlike the DXRacer, which can't adjust width — and the Leap can adjust the seat pan in or out, while the DXRacer cannot.
The 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 adjustment than the DXRacer 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 fans. It also doesn't have a seat depth adjustment, but overall it's fairly easy to get into an ergonomic position.
The Humanscale Diffrient, the Steelcase Series 1, and the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh rank next in articulating features, each earning a 6 out of 10. The Humanscale got off to a rough start in this metric beacuse 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 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.
The Humanscale Diffrient, however, has far more armrest and seat adjustability than the Modway. 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 Series 1 are completely adjustable, though they don't have the largest range of motion. The seat pan depth is also adjustable — a bit of a unique feature for a budget chair — but we weren't enamored with the lumbar support or the recline/tilt functions on this chair. The Series 1 has a brace that you can move up and down to change the height of the lumbar support but many of our judges wished you could alter the amount of curvature as well. This chair also has an integrated reclining resistance and tilt limiting functions that restrict the amount of control you have overall to three preset settings. Despite that, most people could get this chair adjusted into a good position for their desk without too much fuss.
The Alera and the Duramont followed, both earning a 5 out of 10 for their mediocre adjustability, followed by the SPACE 5700E, which earned a 4 out of 10. The Duramont has a headrest, while the Alera lacks one. However, the back on the Alera is quite high, so it still offers plenty of support. The Duramont and the Alera both limited lumbar adjustments available and a so-so set of reclining limits.
The Alera and Duramont'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 so we didn't find it to be all that helpful. The Duramont's armrest width can only be changed with the use of a screwdriver severely limiting its usefulness. Additionally, neither of these chairs allow you to alter the seat depth.
The SPACE 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, all while lacking the adjustability for a smaller person to adjust it to a comfortable or ergonomic position.
For our next round of tests, we evaluated the design and construction of each chair and scored their durability. We combed through hundreds and hundreds of customer reviews for these products, looking for any well-documented issues or common failure points, as well as comparing the included warranty and our overall impression of the construction during the testing period to determine scores. Additionally, we also took any damage sustained throughout our tests into account when finalizing the score. In total, these tests account for 10% of the final score for each chair.
A large group of chairs tied for the top spot, with the Steelcase Leap, the Think, the Series 1, the Gesture, the Herman Miller Embody, the Aeron, the DXRacer, and the Humanscale Diffrient all earning a 9 out of 10. We didn't find any common issues for these chairs in any of the user reviews we examined, aside from some arriving damaged from shipping. None of these four chairs sustained any major damage from our testing process.
All of these chairs except the Humanscale seem exceptionally well-built — the Diffrient has a few levers that seem a bit on the flimsier side. However, it does have the longest warranty of any chair we tested, 15 years for the bulk of the parts, and a 5-year warranty for fabric/cushions/arm pads. The Embody, Leap, Gesture, Aeron, Series 1, and Think all have a 12-year warranty, while the DXRacer has a 2-year warranty for parts but a lifetime warranty on the frame.
Following this top group, the Herman Miller Sayl received an 8 out of 10. This chair received a few negative reviews about the armrest padding and we did notice this padding beginning to wear after only a few months of testing. We also thought the height adjustment lever seemed to be a little flimsy, but it has a 12-year limited warranty.
The SPACE Seating 5700E came next, receiving a 7 out of 10. We found a handful of reviews that complained the mesh began to stretch out or the cushion tore within a year. 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. It includes a 3-year warranty on upholstery foam and fabric and lifetime on the rest.
The Alera and the Duramont came next, both earning a 6 out of 10 and the Modway came last, receiving the lowest score with a 5 out of 10. We found that there are a decent number of user reviews complaining that the Alera or the Duramont suffered some issues and a fairly significant number noting that the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh had broken. Neither of these broke in our tests, but we did feel that these chairs might wear out significantly faster than the top models. The Alera has a 5-year limited warranty, while the Modway only has a 1-year warranty that only covers manufacturer defects. The Duramont only has a 90-day warranty and we found it impossible to contact the manufacturer about this, so we aren't necessarily sure how useful this warranty would be in practice.
Ease of Assembly
Our final metric focused on the amount of effort required to go from unboxing each chair to sitting in it, looking at both the actual assembly process and the quality of the included documentation to determine scores. Since most people are only going to have to go through this process once, we placed relatively little weight on this metric, so it accounts for only 5% of the score.
We found the Steelcase Leap, the Steelcase Think, the Herman Miller Sayl, the Steelcase Series 1, the Steelcase Gesture, the Herman Miller Aeron, and the Humanscale Diffrient all to be supremely easy to set up, each tying for the top spot and earning a 10 out of 10. All of these chairs essentially came fully assembled or took less than 5 minutes of work to get them ready to go.
The SPACE 5700E, the Duramont Ergonomic, and the Alera Elusion Series all followed, taking approximately 30 minutes each to complete assembly. This trio all came with clear and easy to follow instructions, though we did think the SPACE 5700E is just a bit easier to put together than the other two.
The Modway came next, meriting a 6 out of 10. It is about the same amount of work to assemble as the other chairs, but the directions were far more difficult to understand. The Herman Miller Embody and the Alera both earned a 5 out of 10. The Embody took a little over 45 minutes to assemble and we solidly struggled to thread the screws into their threaded inserts as the threads appeared to be damaged or suffer manufacturing defects. The Alera took about the same amount of time as the Embody to assemble and also didn't have the best directions.
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.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise