Gaming chairs are weird. They’re expensive and their racing style frames don’t really make sense for computer use, yet they’re a permanent backdrop for streamers, tech YouTubers and esports professionals. Part of this is no doubt down to sponsorships – after all, gaming chair companies are common backers of professional gaming tournaments – but there are also a surprising number of people that buy these chairs outright with no intention of becoming Twitch streamers or esports pros. Are they falling for the hype, or are there some legitimate reasons for choosing a gaming chair over an ordinary office alternative? In the latest edition of “Digital Foundry investigates esports tech”, we test out one such chair – the £400 Noblechairs Hero Black Edition.
Before we get into my thoughts on this particular chair after three months of use, let’s quickly outline the common criticisms of gaming chairs and the corresponding strengths of good office chairs, often held up as an example of what you should be considering instead. Firstly, we have the shape – gaming chairs are offered in several styles, but most include a “bucket” seat, oversized shoulder supports and holes for a safety harness to be fed through. These make a lot of sense for keeping a driver planted in a car as it’s being slammed around a track, but there doesn’t seem to be any obvious utility to gaming. Style and appearance is also a key criticism, with oversized logos and loud colours contributing to designs that can be seen as tacky. More crucially for long gaming sessions, some gaming designs don’t offer much adjustability either, with seat height, back tilt and arm height being the usual standard – there’s often no arm positioning, seat tilt or lumbar adjustment. All of these points would be more or less understandable if gaming chairs were just as cheap as office chairs with similar feature sets, but often gaming chairs are sold at a significant premium.
Hero Black Edition tech specs