Searching for a new office chair? We bought the 13 top chairs and spent years testing them to help you find the perfect new chair in 2020. We spent hundreds of hours trying out all these different products side-by-side, having a panel of judges rate how comfortable each one is. We also looked at how much adjustability each chair offers, their durability, and how much work it took to assemble each one.
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 Chair and an Editors' Choice Award for its unmatched performance. The Leap was commonly ranked as the most comfortable chair by the majority of our judges, especially when it came to back support, and all of our judges agreed that 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 also is one of the easiest chairs to assemble.However, all this performance comes at a price. The fully-adjustable option of the Leap is a pricey purchase and other 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 the majority of every workday. Unfortunately, the Leap can represent a significant investment for most people but we do think this is the best chair you can get and it should last you for many years to come.
Read Review: Steelcase Leap
Best Value Chair
DXRacer Racing Series
Looking for a great office chair but can't afford the luxury price tag of the Steelcase Leap? If that is the case, then you should consider the Racing Series Chair by DXRacer. This is an all-around great office chair that retails for a fraction of the price of the Leap and 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 that chair 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.
However, the DXRacer stands out from every other chair we tested when it comes to looks — not necessarily in a good way. This chair is available in a wide variety of colors, some quite exuberant and others more subdued, but this chair 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 can stand out quite a bit in the office.
Read Review: DXRacer Racing Series
Another Great Value
Steelcase Series 1
If you are shopping for a new chair in the same price range as the DXRacer but want a chair that blends into the typical office a bit more, 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 when it came to adjustability. We found the Series 1 to be very solidly constructed and is 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.
However, the Series 1 did not receive universal recognition from our judges when it came to comfort. Multiple judges found this chair to be quite unpleasant if they had to sit for a full day in it and many wished that the lumbar support had a little more adjustment and allowed you to change the amount of support it gave, not just its position. For this reason, we wouldn't necessarily recommend the Series 1 to someone who is routinely sitting 40+ hours a week but it is a good 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 almost 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.
However, the seat isn't all that adjustable and the range of motion of the adjustable armrests isn't quite as large as some of the other models. They won't drop as low as some of the other models and can't pivot or adjust their depth. This is quite unfortunate, as the default position of the armrests feels a bit on the wide side. While these are some somewhat significant flaws, it's hard to find a better office chair that costs less, 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. Our lead tester for this review, Austin Palmer , usually copious amounts of time sitting for his work at TechGearLab. Furthermore, he is also an avid PC gamer, so spends even more time sitting in office chairs in his free time. In addition to Austin, we also had a panel of 8 other testers try out these products for an extended period, updating the review as their opinions changed based on real-world testing over the past few years. The majority of our office all have worked in a professional setting for several years — sitting in chairs for 8-10 hours a day, 4-5 days a week — which has given them some very strong opinions about what constitutes a good office chair.
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 our 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 spent several months testing these products side-by-side, dividing our testing process up into four weighted metrics — Comfort, Adjustability, Durability, and Ease of Assembly — with 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 of building each chair for the assembly metric and looked at both how the chairs held up to our testing process and at existing user reviews when it came to assessing durability.
Related: Buying Advice for Office Chairs
As you most likely realize as soon as you start comparing different 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 upwards of hundreds 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, costs on the upper end of the spectrum, depending on which options you select. While this chair is undeniably pricey, it is a worthy investment in helping to prevent any sitting-related health issues and is 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 you are going to be sitting in it for long periods.
Unfortunately, the race car driving seat design of the DXRacer isn't the most universally liked, so if you are shopping in a similar price range, then you should check out the Steelcase Series 1. It received a bit of a mixed response from our judges but it's a great value option if you want a chair with a more traditional look. 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 doesn't feel quite as well built as the top products, meaning you might end up spending more than you expect in the long run if you need to replace it sooner than you would have with one of the higher-end models.
For our initial round of testing, we rated and scored how comfortable each office chair is. 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 tried out each chair side-by-side for a few months and was comprised of both men and women, with a wide range of heights.
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 better. This lone voice of dissent is also our tallest judge (6'3") so you may want to consider this if you are looking at the Leap and are a taller individual.
Our judges unanimously agreed that this is one of the most comfortable when it comes to the backrest, but our tallest judge was again the lone voice of dissent for both seat and armrest comfort. However, they all stated that they would be more than happy to use the Leap for a full workday or even 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 these chairs, with none receiving unanimous approval.
Our judges all agreed the Herman Miller Embody had quite comfortable armrests, but a single judge found the seat and backrest to be quite 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 well below average when it came to its seat, backrest, or armrests, but it did have a few judges score it average in these categories, cumulatively bringing its score down. Everyone was also happy to sit in this chair for at least 4-6 hours, with most being fine with 8-12+.
The Steelcase Think scored very similarly to the Steelcase Leap, but this time our tallest tester found the Think to be extremely uncomfortable, rather than just mildly uncomfortable. However, everyone else did score it quite highly.
The Humanscale Diffrient had a bit of a mixed reception with a pair of judges detesting his chair and were only able to sit in it for an hour or two, while the rest of the panel rated it quite well — 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 below average — mainly due to its backrest. This chair somewhat forces you to sit in it correctly — no slouching, crossing your legs, etc. — which some judges were fine with, while others thoroughly disliked the lack of freedom. However, the armrests 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, each chair earning a 6 out of 10. For the most part, the scoring of these chairs was a bit more consistent. None of the judges particularly disliked any of these chairs, mainly just giving them 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 all agree that they could sit in the Modway or the Gesture for upwards of 8 hours, but a few judges did find 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 across the board 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 multiple workdays and other judges hating it.
For our next round of testing, we compared the different level of adjustments each office chair has and how easy they are to use. We looked at the various adjustments for each chair's backrest, such as lumbar support, reclining lever, tilt limiters, and a headrest and the seat and armrests. 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 have headrests or the ability to lock in the 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, allowing you to move them up and down, in and out, forward and back, and swivel them. 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 resistance to reclining and 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 much better at a different height. It does have a headrest and has 4 stop points that you can set as tilt limiters for when you recline.
The armrests on the Embody also only move up and down and in and out, lacking forward/back or swivel capabilities. It does have a fully-adjustable seat but does take 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 liked that the seat pan depth is adjustable on this chair and you have the option to get adjustable lumbar support. We tested out the model that lacked this, relying on the integrated support for our lower back, which we thought 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 also has a tilt limiter to lock the seat upright when not using this feature and the seat goes up 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. It does have armrests that are fully-moveable — unlike the DXRacer, which can't adjust width — and can adjust the seat pan in or out, again, something the DXRacer lacks.
The Aeron's armrests can move up and down, swivel, and backward and forwards but can't adjust in width. They offer a wider 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 is 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, lacking any sort of adjustable back support or any tilt limiters to stop you 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 of motion 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, but 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 of 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, restricting the amount of control you have overall to three preset settings. Despite that, most people could get this chair adjusted into position at 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 armrests on both these chairs can only really adjust in height. The Alera's armrests can be moved in and out but you only have about an inch of movement available. You can do a similar thing with the Duramont but it requires a screwdriver, so definitely isn't a quick or easy process. Neither has a seat depth adjustment as well.
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 user 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 over our 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 found aside from some arriving damaged from shipping and 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 does have 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 suspect of 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.
Following this top group, the SPACE 5700E earned an 8 out of 10 while the Duramont and the DXRacer earned a 7 out of 10. These three all took less than half an hour to put together and have solid documentation, though it is just a little easier to assemble the SPACE than the Duramont or the DXRacer.
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 less easy 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.
Hopefully, you have a good idea which chair is the perfect pick for you, whether you want the best seat of the bunch or are shopping on a tight budget.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise