Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Office Chair of 2021

We tested office chairs from Steelcase, Herman Miller, Humanscale, and others to find the best
One of our favorite office chairs to date, the Leap.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
By Hayley Thomas, Austin Palmer, and David Wise  ⋅  Oct 12, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
On a quest to find you the perfect ergonomic option for your workplace or home office, we researched and compared dozens of different models that are available on the market in 2021. We then purchased the 14 best office chairs and put our testing team to work. We've been at it for almost four years now, collectively sitting on each chair for thousands of hours, so we can rate them on their comfort, durability, and adjustability. We highlight the ins and outs of each model and crown the best of the best, the option that offers the most customization, and a plethora of best bargain options.

Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $929 List
$1,028 at Amazon
$329 List
$329.00 at Amazon
$1,595 List$1,570 List
$949.00 at Amazon
$699 List
$788.40 at Amazon
Overall Score
86
72
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74
Star Rating
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Pros Extremely comfortable, tons of adjustability, sturdy constructionGreat value, durable, comfortableDurable, comfortable, very adjustableSturdy, easy to assembleWell built, comfortable, adjustable seat
Cons PriceyLooks aren't universally appealingExceptionally expensive, harder to assembleExpensive, could be more adjustableNot as comfortable for smaller folks, subpar tilt resistance
Bottom Line The absolute best of the best, thanks to its incredible comfort, adjustability, and constructionPairs exceptional comfort and durability, at a price you just can't beatThis chair is one of the top performers but its exorbitantly expensive price tag is a bit of a turn offWe expected a significantly more impressive performance from this incredibly expensive chairWith its highly adjustable armrests and seat, this option offers comfort for taller folks
Rating Categories Steelcase Leap DXRacer Racing Series Herman Miller Embody Humanscale Diffrien... Steelcase Think
Comfort (50%) Sort Icon
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Adjustability (35%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Ease Of Assembly (5%)
10.0
7.0
5.0
10.0
10.0
Specs Steelcase Leap DXRacer Racing Series Herman Miller Embody Humanscale Diffrien... Steelcase Think
Seat pan adjustment Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Adjustable lumbar support Yes Yes; a movable pad Yes; you can adjust the amount, but not the location No Yes
Lumbar support Yes Yes; a removable movable pad Yes Yes; a slight protrusion Yes
Recline lever No Yes No No No
Tilt limiter Yes; 5 stop points Yes; only locks in the upright position Yes; 4 stop points No Yes; 4 stop points
Armrest width adjustment Option available Option available Yes Option available Option available
Swivel armrests Option available Yes No Option available Option available
Armrest depth adjustment Option available Yes No Option available Option available
Tension knob Yes Yes Yes No No


Best Overall Office Chair


Steelcase Leap


86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 8
  • Adjustability 9
  • Durability 9
  • Ease of Assembly 10
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Yes | Adjustable Seat Pan: Yes
Incredibly comfortable
Very adjustable
Simple to put together
Costs a great deal

The Steelcase Leap is a high scorer in our fleet, earning top marks and nabbing the best overall chair title for its unmatched performance. Our judges rate it as the most comfortable in our test suite, particularly when it comes to back support. All of our testers agreed they would be more than happy to sit in this chair for an entire workday, which consists of 8-10 hours. Its adjustable features are incredibly impressive, and Steelcase has created a chair that makes it easy to customize, depending on 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


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6
  • Adjustability 9
  • Durability 8
  • Ease of Assembly 10
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Option Available | Adjustable Seat Pan: Option Available
Stylish
Provides many adjustable options
Incredibly breathable
The design might not have universal appeal
Not the most comfortable chair we tested

The Herman Miller Sayl is our recommendation if you want to purchase a top-notch premium chair at an exceptional price. Not only is it sleek and stylish, but it boasts a modern design, and is also decently comfortable to sit on. It has a host of adjustable features — including some you can omit to keep the price down — and was well-built and sturdy during testing. It was also very 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 about 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


Steelcase Think


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7
  • Adjustability 7
  • Durability 9
  • Ease of Assembly 10
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Yes | Adjustable Seat Pan: Yes
Comfortable
Durable
Little to no assembly
Subpar tilt resistance

The Steelcase Think performs admirably across all four of our testing metrics. It is simple to set up and is comfortable and durable. It also offers some level of adjustability, though not as much as some of the top performers. 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, which makes it an excellent option for the talker folks. It also provides moveable lumbar support, which 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 likely find this chair is the most comfortable. However, if you do not have a deep curve, this chair may offend your posture. For some of our smaller testers, this big chair did not prove to be the best fit. If you're petite, we'd recommend considering 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


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 7
  • Adjustability 7
  • Durability 9
  • Ease of Assembly 7
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Yes | Adjustable Seat Pan: No
Very comfortable
Sturdy construction
Lots of adjustment abilities
Can look out of place in the office

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 regarding 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


59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort 6
  • Adjustability 6
  • Durability 5
  • Ease of Assembly 6
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Yes | Adjustable Seat Pan: No
Inexpensive
Decently comfortable
A respectable set of adjustments
Doesn't seem the most durable

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 for 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 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

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
86
$929
Editors' Choice Award
Our favorite chair that we have tested to date, this is by far the best you can get
75
$1,595
It's hard to justify spending an exceptionally large amount unless you find this chair to be comfortable
75
$785
Editors' Choice Award
This chair makes a style statement, but we wish it were a bit more comfortable
74
$699
Top Pick Award
A well built office chair, with an adjustable seat and armrests and a generally larger stature
74
$1,445
If you are looking for a top-notch mesh chair, this one is worth checking out though it comes at a premium price
72
$329
Best Buy Award
If you want a great budget chair or want to emulate a racecar driver, this is the chair for you
72
$1,194
This top-tier office chair comes equipped with an innovative armrest design but didn't receive the widespread accolades that some of our award winners did
70
$1,570
Given its premium price, this chair's relatively lackluster results are disappointing
60
$764
It costs a fraction of what the premium chairs do and provides a decent overall value
59
$175
Best Buy Award
While it's far from the best, it's up there with the best you can get at this price
57
$330
One of the least expensive options with a full back and headrest but isn't the most comfortable to sit in for a full day
56
$375
Failed to impress us with its mediocre performance in comfort, adjustability, durability and assembly
52
$581
This chair is decent given its lower price tag, but pales in comparison to the premium chairs
50
$250
There are far better options in the same price range that will provide a higher level of comfort and adjustability

Testing out some of the best office chairs you can buy.
Testing out some of the best office chairs you can buy.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 firm 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

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 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


Value


While researching different office chairs, you may have noticed 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 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.

Most people were quite happy to use the Think for a 40-hour workweek.
Most people were quite happy to use the Think for a 40-hour workweek.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


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 each chair's seat, backrest, and armrest. 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.

The Leap is one of the most comfortable chairs we have tested.
The Leap is one of the most comfortable chairs we have tested.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 majority of our testers are big fans of the Embody.
The majority of our testers are big fans of the Embody.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 DXRacer has one of the highest backrests out of the group.
The DXRacer has one of the highest backrests out of the group.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Steelcase Think performed admirably, but its cousin, the Leap, beat it by a smidge. Most 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 are not on the taller side.

We liked that the Think&#039;s backrest is quite high.
We liked that the Think's backrest is quite high.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Opinions on how long you could comfortably sit on the Humanscale...
Opinions on how long you could comfortably sit on the Humanscale differed drastically among our testers.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The Alera is fairly comfortable, but far from our favorite.
The Alera is fairly comfortable, but far from our favorite.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Most testers really liked the armrests on the Modway.
Most testers really liked the armrests on the Modway.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 is an average chair but can&#039;t compare to the premium models.
The Hon is an average chair but can't compare to the premium models.
Credit: Laura Casner

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.

The adjustment levers on the Modway are very clearly marked.
The adjustment levers on the Modway are very clearly marked.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Adjustability


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.

We liked that the height of the lumbar support &amp;#40;on the Leap&amp;#41;...
We liked that the height of the lumbar support (on the Leap) is adjustable.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 Sayl does have an impressive set of adjustable features.
The Sayl does have an impressive set of adjustable features.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

It&#039;s easy to reach all of the adjustments on the Embody.
It's easy to reach all of the adjustments on the Embody.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Even the version without adjustable lumbar support conforms to most...
Even the version without adjustable lumbar support conforms to most spines easily. Here we show the Gesture, by Steelcase.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 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 DXRacer can lock in a reclined position.
The DXRacer can lock in a reclined position.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 tilt limiters on the Think have a bit of room for improvement.
The tilt limiters on the Think have a bit of room for improvement.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 Aeron&#039;s armrests are highly adjustable but are a little on the...
The Aeron's armrests are highly adjustable but are a little on the thicker side so they can hit your desk.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The low reclining resistance made it easy to feel like you are going...
The low reclining resistance made it easy to feel like you are going to fall out of the Humanscale.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

There is a good range of reclining resistance available to you with...
There is a good range of reclining resistance available to you with the Modway.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

We did like that the Series 1 has fully adjustable armrests -- a...
We did like that the Series 1 has fully adjustable armrests -- a rarity for budget chairs.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 Duramont is fairly cheap but also didn&#039;t score very well.
The Duramont is fairly cheap but also didn't score very well.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Alera Elusion Series and Duramont Ergonomic's armrests are fairly limited in 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.

We appreciate that it&#039;s easy to reach the reclining resistance knob...
We appreciate that it's easy to reach the reclining resistance knob on the Hon Wave.
Credit: Laura Casner

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.

The backrest on the SPACE received a relatively favorable reaction.
The backrest on the SPACE received a relatively favorable reaction.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Durability


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.

We could see the mesh back on the Hon start wearing out and sagging...
We could see the mesh back on the Hon start wearing out and sagging over time.
Credit: Laura Casner

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. However, 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.

The Alera took a fair bit of time to put together.
The Alera took a fair bit of time to put together.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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 Sayl was a snap to assemble.
The Sayl was a snap to assemble.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The SPACE 5700E, Hon Wave Mesh High-Back, and the Duramont Ergonomic 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.

We appreciate that the Hon Wave is one of the quicker models to put...
We appreciate that the Hon Wave is one of the quicker models to put together.
Credit: Laura Casner

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. In our opinion, the Alera Elusion Series took about the same amount of time as the Herman Miller Embody to assemble and didn't have the best directions.

Conclusion


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