Best Office Chair of 2020
Best Overall Office Chair
Earning the top marks out of all the chairs we have tested to date and easily nabbing the title of Best Overall Office Chair for what we think is an unmatched performance is the Steelcase Leap. This chair was rated as the most comfortable chair by the majority of our judges, especially when it came to back support. All of our judges 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 make it easy to customize this chair to match your body. During our testing process, it held up very well 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 fully-adjustable option of the Steelcase Leap 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 are going to be sitting in it for most of every workday. While the Steelcase Leap will represent a significant investment for most people, but 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 Very Modern and Adjustable Chair
Herman Miller Sayl
The Herman Miller Sayl is our recommendation if you are looking for 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 if you don't care about them to keep the price down — and seems quite sturdy and well-built to us. It was exceptionally easy to assemble, as well.
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 looked at. However, it is definitely one of our favorite options at its price point and we would strongly recommend it, especially if you are a fan of its unique, stylish appearance.
Read Review: Herman Miller Sayl
Best Bang For The Buck
DXRacer Racing Series
We think this 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 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. The majority of our judges said 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 Racing Series, 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 visually 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 Racing Series, 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 Steelcase Series 1 to be very solidly constructed and it's backed by an exceptionally long warranty period from Steelcase. This chair also conveniently arrived completely assembled for us and was ready to go in less than 10 minutes.
The Steelcase 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 also 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 recommend the Steelcase Series 1 to someone who is routinely sitting 40+ hours a week. It is a decent option if you don't want to pay top dollar for one of the premium chairs and don't necessarily need to be sitting on it for more than 40 hours at work or home each week.
Read Review: Steelcase Series 1
Best Chair on a Tight Budget
Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh
If you are shopping for a new seat and don't want to spend a ton of cash, then we think 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. 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 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 — to maintain a higher level of objectivity. 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.
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. Our full results are 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
You may have 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 in the end, your back might end up paying the price instead of your wallet. Top-of-the-line models can retail for several hundred or even up to thousands of 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. We think you should consider the DXRacer Racing Series chair if the hefty price tag on Steelcase Leap is outrageous to you. It retails for significantly less and is almost just as comfortable. It's 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 Racing Series won't be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to appearance. The Steelcase Series 1, however, offers a more traditional look with a similar price tag. It didn't perform quite as well but is worth considering if you are shopping for a new chair on a limited budget. If you are shopping on a stern, tight budget, then the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh is the most 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 comfortability 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, 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 composed 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 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 individual when 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.
Following the Steelcase Leap, the Herman Miller Embody, the Steelcase Think, the DXRacer Racing Series, the Herman Miller Aeron, and the Humanscale Diffrient came next in our minds when it comes to comfort. Our judges were quite happy with these chairs overall. There were usually one or two judges that strongly disliked some aspects of them, none received unanimous approval.
All of our judges agreed that the Herman Miller Embody has quite 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 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, there were a few judges that 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 4-6 hours, with most being fine with 8-12+.
The Steelcase Leap and the Steelcase Think by Steelcase performed about the same by the majority of judges when it came to comfort. Some of our tallest evaluators, however, actively disliked the Steelcase Think. You might want to steer clear of this chair if you are on the taller side.
The reception on the Humanscale Diffrient was a bit mixed. 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 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 kind of forces you to sit in it correctly — no slouching, 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, the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh, the Steelcase Gesture, the Duramont Ergonomic Adjustable Office Chair, and the 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. 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 Ergonomic and the Alera Elusion Series 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 8 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 5-6 hours.
Finishing out the at the back of the group, the SPACE 5700E AirGrid and the Steelcase Series 1 both earned a relatively mediocre score. The SPACE 5700E received relatively lackluster marks in most areas and not a single judge wanted to sit in it for more than 5-6 hours. The Steelcase 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 no matter the length of time.
For our next round of testing, we compared the different levels of adjustment 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.
Both 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 Herman Miller Sayl only lets you adjust its position. However, out of the two, it is much easier to adjust the lumbar support on the Herman Miller 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 3 stop points to choose from, while the Steelcase 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.
The Herman Miller Embody and the Steelcase Gesture followed, both having exceptional adjustability in our minds with only a few flaws. The main flaw we found with the Herman Miller 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 with 4 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, the Herman Miller Aeron, and the 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 Herman Miller Sayl. The DXRacer Racing Series 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 Steelcase Think has 4 tilt limiter selections, but we didn't like the setpoints as much as the Steelcase Leap. It also lacks a headrest. The armrests are fully-moveable — unlike the DXRacer Racing Series, which can't adjust width — and 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 adjustment than the DXRacer Racing Series but aren't quite as adjustable as the Steelcase Think. The lumbar support on the Herman Miller 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, the Steelcase Series 1, 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.
The Humanscale Diffrient, however, 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 Articulate Ergonomic Mesh can make it a little funky, depending on your desk.
The armrests on the Steelcase Series 1 are completely adjustable, though they are quite limited in range of motion. The seat pan depth is also adjustable — a bit of a unique feature for a budget chair — but we were far from captivated with the lumbar support or the recline/tilt functions on this chair. The Steelcase 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 Elusion Series and the Duramont Ergonomic followed, both earning mediocre scores in our books when it came to 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 Elusion Series is quite high, still offering plenty of support. The Duramont Ergonomic and the Alera Elusion Series 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 Elusion Series'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 Ergonomic's armrest width can be changed, but only with the assistance of a screwdriver, severely limiting its usefulness. Additionally, neither of these chairs allow 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 a smaller person to adjust it to a comfortable or ergonomic position given the lack of adjustability.
For our next round of tests, we evaluated the design and construction of each chair 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, the Steelcase Think, the Steelcase Series 1, the Steelcase Gesture, the Herman Miller Embody, the Herman Miller Aeron, the DXRacer Racing Series, and the Humanscale Diffrient all earned top marks in our opinion when it came to being durable and well-built. We didn't find any common issues for these chairs. During our testing process, none of these four chairs sustained any major damage.
All of these chairs except the Humanscale Diffrient seem exceptionally well-built to us — the Humanscale Diffrient has a few levers that seem a bit on the flimsier side. 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 thought 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. The Alera Elusion Series and the Duramont Ergonomic came next and the Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh came last.
While neither of these broke in our tests, we did feel that these chairs might wear out significantly faster than the top models.
Ease of Assembly
Our final metric focused on the amount of effort required to go from unboxing each chair to sitting in it. Additionally, we also looked at both the actual assembly process and the quality of the included documentation to determine scores. Being that the process is something most people will have to go through once, we placed relatively little weight on this metric.
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. They each tied for the top spot. All of these chairs essentially came fully assembled or took us 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 us approximately 30 minutes each to completely assemble. This trio all came with clear and easy to follow instructions, though in our opinion found the SPACE 5700E to be just a bit easier to put together compared to the other two.
The Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh came next. It 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, both being about average in our minds 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.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise