We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re a white collar professional, you likely find yourself spending one third or more of your work day sitting in a chair. Assuming a sedentary pose for long stretches of time is neither comfortable nor conducive to productivity. As such, it’s critical that you find the right chair. A comfortable, ergonomically designed chair can enhance your wellbeing, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
At BestReviews, we scoured the market to find the top office chairs on offer today. We then ordered the products and tested them in our labs. Because we never accept free samples from manufacturers, you can rest assured that our reviews are completely unbiased. Our mission is to report the truth about what’s good (and what’s not) on the consumer market.
To that end, we compiled the above matrix of chair recommendations. If you’re ready to buy an office chair now, please see the top of this page for our favorite five. If you’d like to learn more about our testing process and office chairs in general, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Naturally, you want to spend your workday sitting on a chair that’s comfortable. You could buy a chair with an abundance of exciting attachments, but if it’s not comfortable, you probably wouldn’t like it, and your productivity could suffer.
Because comfort is a subjective test, we enlisted five testers of different shapes and sizes to sit on each chair for an entire work day. The testers recorded thorough notes, on how each chair conformed to his/her body throughout the day.
Lovers of the traditionally upholstered chair are generally not as concerned about breathability as they are the feeling of comfort and security they experience while sitting.
Two of the chairs we tested featured traditional upholstery: cloth or leather (or synthetic leather) over foam padding. Two others featured a stretched synthetic mesh material over a rigid frame. The fifth chair in our matrix split the difference with an upholstered seat and a mesh back.
Benefits of Traditional Upholstery
Some people prefer a traditionally upholstered chair because the additional cushioning feels more comfortable to them, especially over the course of a long workday. Others prefer the adhesive qualities of cloth or leather.
Matthew has led IT departments and tech teams in a variety of industries. Currently, he works in the sports gaming industry. He has written reviews and been involved with electronics procurement decisions for a number of players at the business and individual level for over a decade. In his spare time, you may find Matthew playing frisbee, golf, or reading a good novel.
Benefits of Mesh
Mesh chairs deliver two notable benefits: improved airflow and durability.
You won't overheat or sweat excessively because of heat retention issues in a mesh chair, and the material is thought to withstand constant use better than the traditional foam inserts found in upholstery.
If you're going for a high-tech theme in your workspace, mesh tends to be the favored choice. However, traditional padded chairs are just as comfortable as mesh, if not more so.
Some office chairs include a significant number of adjustable features: mobile armrests, seat slide, seat tilt, adjustable lumbar support, neck rests, and so on. Other office chairs assume a “bare bones” style with no adjustable features whatsoever.
At the BestReviews lab, we tested chairs with a variety of adjustment options (see chart: Chair Specs). But it’s not just about the number of features a chair has. Customers tend to prefer features that are easy to use, and we don’t blame them.
For example, Herman Miller’s Aeron Task Chair has a number of knobs that you may or may not love learning how to manipulate. While most of our testers thought they were easy to work, one tester grew quite frustrated with the knobs. Please see our “Products In Depth” section for a deeper exploration of each test chair’s features.
We spoke with Dr. Natasha Withers, a family medicine physician in Manhattan, who suggested we look for chairs with adjustable support features that help maintain the spine’s natural curve. At her suggestion, we paid special attention to each chair's lumbar (lower back) support.
Although assembly isn’t usually the top concern when it comes to choosing an office chair, it’s still something to consider. Some chairs arrive fully assembled and can be used immediately. Others require more than an hour to put together.
Our team members unpacked and assembled each chair using only the tools and manuals provided by the manufacturer. For detailed descriptions of how easy or hard each chair was to assemble, please see our “Products in Depth” sections below.
Serious injuries could occur without warning if a chair manufacturer’s stated height and weight limits are disregarded.
Office chairs range in price from under one hundred dollars to over one thousand dollars. But does a higher price equal higher quality?
All of the chairs we tested passed our tests for comfort and quality, but some are still better than others. Our Best of the Best product, the Herman Miller Aeron Task Chair, costs $969. We like this chair for its off-the-charts comfort and adjustability.
The winner of our Best Bang for Your Buck title, the Space Seating Professional AirGrid Chair, costs just $141. We like this chair for its affordable comfort, although it doesn’t offer the bells and whistles that some other products do.
In general, you should be able to find a decent office chair for less than $200. But if you want outstanding comfort, expect to pay up to $1,000.
As we tested the chairs for this review, we also looked for information about how "green" each product is. Environmental impact data for one of the chairs (the Leap) was provided by Steelcase, its manufacturer.
If sustainability is important to you, you should consider products that disclose the origin of their materials and where they will go after you're done with them.
Mesh chairs generally include little to no padding. If you like a well-padded chair, consider one with traditional upholstery.
Each of our testers agreed that the Aeron Task Chair by Herman Miller was comfortable to sit in for the entire work day. We heard no complaints about back pain with this model. Some taller consumers commented that even when adjusted to the highest seat and armrest settings, the chair was still not tall enough. However, our testers (who range from 5’5” to 6’1”) reported few problems with the chair's height.
The Aeron is available in three sizes. We tested the largest “C” model. Concerns from taller consumers focus primarily on this model.
With a mesh seat and backrest, the Aeron is a flashy chair. And while some of our testers didn't like the look of the mesh, it didn't detract from their comfort.
The fully adjustable armrests provided adequate support for our testers. However, we note that the arms can’t be moved completely out of the way; they’re always there. Another problem: although the product manual claims that the armrests lock in place, this only applies to their vertical positioning. The armrests pivot left and right without locking, and they’re easily knocked out of position — a potential annoyance for some people.
Most of our testers found the adjustment knobs and levers easy enough to understand and use.
However, one tester had an issue deciphering what some of the knobs actually did. He looked up the online instruction manual to determine how to use them.
Furthermore, all testers agreed that the seat back tension knob was a bit misleading. The user can supposedly choose his or her degree of incline while in a leaning position. However, we found this adjustment to be either nonexistent or too subtle to notice.
Our Aeron required assembly, and one step necessitated a call to the consumer helpline. In order to assemble the lower back lumbar support, there is a wire that must be fed through the mesh of the backrest. We were concerned about poking a hole in the fabric, but the helpline rep told us it was possible to push the wire through the mesh without damaging it.
Other owners have echoed a similar concern when assembling this chair.
The Aeron has maintained a stiff price tag since its introduction in 1994. It’s currently available in various incarnations from approximately $600 to over $1,000. The version we tested is priced at $969. It’s costly, but in spite of a few minor concerns, we consider it to be an excellent chair.
All five BestReviews testers liked the feel of the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair. It’s easy to use and comfortable to sit in for hours at a stretch. The only significant complaint our testers voiced was the chair’s back height. It sits low on the user’s back, and there’s no neck rest.
Some owners also complain that the backrest isn't large enough for meaningful support. Indeed, this is a “mid-back” chair, so if you’re taller than six feet, it may not fit your body. Notably, the owners who most appreciate this product are those who don’t have any preexisting back pain.
If you do suffer from back problems, you might prefer a chair with more support features and adjustability.
For the testers in the BestReviews lab, it certainly felt odd to move from the high-tech embrace of the high-back Aeron Chair to the small-back AmazonBasics chair. However, Amazon also sells high-back desk chairs, as well as mesh-back models.
Our testers loved the soft, synthetic leather upholstery and padding of the AmazonBasics chair.
In addition, the soft leatherette armrest pads and other small design features lend a feeling of upscale comfort to this chair.
This chair’s three adjustment options are basic, but they met the needs of all of our testers. Users control both seat height and the recline lock with the same lever. Notably, just one of our testers realized the lever has more than one purpose, and he realized this only after conducting online research.
There’s also a tilt tension knob below the seat cushion which is very hard to twist. None of our testers actually employed it. And, though comfortable, the armrests cannot be adjusted. This could pose a problem in the eyes of some, as could the fact that no lumbar adjustment option exists.
Unlike pricier chairs with numerous adjustments, the AmazonBasics chair is configured and padded well enough to be comfortable without much customization.
Of the five chairs we tested, this one was the easiest for us to put together. Owners tend to echo this sentiment. One buyer reported that his 12-year-old son quickly assembled the chair without any adult help.
Many owners say that this chair is an incredibly comfortable bargain. We tend to agree. At a cost of just $64, this is a chair you can sink right into and begin working immediately.
The plastic frame looks a bit cheap, but some testers actually felt it gave the chair increased durability. Although this chair doesn’t incorporate high-end materials or look as aesthetically pleasing as some pricier chairs, our testers enjoyed their experience with it. It’s incredibly basic, but its simplicity makes it easy to use.
If you’re looking for a reliable, no-frills chair, the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair could be the one for you.
Our testers found the Space Seating Professional AirGrid Chair comfortable when first settling into it. Most held that opinion throughout the day, and online reviewers echo that positive sentiment. However, one of our testers complained of lower back pain after sitting on the Space Seating Professional AirGrid for only one hour. We attribute his complaint to the chair’s lack of adjustable lumbar support.
Our chair fit all five of our testers, from a large-framed, 6’ man to a much smaller 5’5” woman. We note, however, that some owners under 5’9” find the chair to be too big for them.
The AirGrid sports a traditional padded seat and mesh backrest.
We appreciate this unique pairing of comfort and breathability; the firm support of the mesh combines well with the comfort of the padding.
The AirGrid’s well-padded armrests are comfortable, but they're only adjustable for height. Some owners complain about this.
One of our testers noted that his arms were forced into an uncomfortable position while typing. His conclusion: if the armrests could be moved from side to side, this chair would definitely be more comfortable.
In addition to vertical armrest adjustment, owners enjoy vertical adjustment of the seat via a lever. The seat back is fairly firm, and our testers liked it, but the recline tension is not adjustable.
If you choose, you can lock this chair so it remains mostly upright. When locked, it still allows a few degrees of recline.
Dr. Withers suggests that workers should position their computer screen at eye level, keep feet flat on the floor, and extend their arms forward while typing. Workers should frequently get up and move around, as sitting in a chair for long periods can be detrimental to health.
Assembling this chair required a total of 13 fasteners. The manual is clearly written, and it offered our testers helpful tips for a smooth assembly. All in all, our testers appreciated the straightforward setup of this chair.
The Space Seating Pro AirGrid sells for $141. It's a top-quality chair that is about as comfortable as the AmazonBasics. The mesh back gives it a high-tech look for the workplace, but the chair’s lack of lumbar support may trouble some people. Considering that the AmazonBasics product line also includes a mesh-backed chair, it might be the better option.
The Ergohuman is an intense chair. It looks futuristic (think alien exoskeleton) and offers a number of different adjustments.
Not all of our testers found it comfortable when they first sat down, but after tweaking the position of its numerous components, almost everybody ended up forming positive opinions.
Online reviewers express similar views. As one owner stated, “When you adjust everything correctly, it’s a very comfortable chair.”
You may have concerns about comfort when sitting in a mesh chair. The Ergohuman’s mesh provides some grip, though not to the same degree as a traditional cloth or leather chair.
The Ergohuman swivel chair falls into the modern “breathability over cushioning” school of thought.
Its sleek, modernist design is enhanced by a generous amount of black mesh on the seat, back, and neck support.
Cushioning is minimal at best. Some users may find the mesh to be too unforgiving when seated, but it is actually very comfortable when properly adjusted.
The Ergohuman offers plenteous features, including an adjustable lumbar support and a neck rest. It also includes the most adjustable armrests on our shortlist. You can move them from left to right, front and back, and up and down.
Although a nice feature, some testers felt the Ergohuman’s lumbar support wasn’t firm enough. Most of our testers didn’t use the neck rest while working, but when casually lounging in the chair, they found it quite comfortable.
The main challenge with having so many adjustable elements was finding the ideal seating position. Each time the chair was handed off to a new tester, that person had to spend a lot of time trying to get comfortable. This wasn’t the case with more basic contenders, some of which were comfortable without any adjustments at all.
Nevertheless, this is a cool-looking, functional chair. We do recommend that new owners remove the giant upholstery tag tacked onto the bottom, though.
Lumbar supports are designed to cradle the lower back. Not all chairs have them, but you should look for models that do if you suffer from back pain.
The Ergohuman was difficult to assemble. The trouble started with an excess of packing material; unboxing alone took approximately 10 minutes. The assembly instructions consist of one page of poorly drawn pictograms and no text. In addition, many of the parts were heavy.
The Ergohuman is expensive at $624. One of our testers found it to be his absolute favorite, but the other four were initially unimpressed by its flashy appearance and moving parts. Over time, however, this chair did tend to ingratiate itself with some testers.
The chair arrives with a lifetime warranty, and a lot of owners say they appreciate this gesture from the manufacturer. Fortunately, not many have had to take advantage of it.
Because of the weight of the parts and the precision required, we strongly suggest that buyers make Ergohuman assembly a two-person project.
The Leap Chair sports lots of levers and knobs, and it took our testers time to adjust it to their optimum comfort level. Even after adjustment, the testers found this chair to be less comfortable than others on our shortlist. For one thing, both our testers and online reviewers have complained about the minimal amount of padding on the armrests. The upholstery used on this particular model could also pose a problem for some people.
Nevertheless, there are many who appreciate the feel of this chair. One online reviewer said he loved the fabric seating, and he appreciated the fact that the upholstered plastic frame didn’t cut off the circulation to his legs.
Unlike mesh chairs that dissipate heat quickly, the Leap’s fabric cushion and backrest retain heat. Another potential drawback: this chair is upholstered with a fabric that is "scratchy," according to a skirt-wearing tester. Notably, Steelcase does offer Leap chairs with other finishes.
Steelcase allows buyers to choose from a menu of customizable options, including the material of the outer frame (plastic/stainless steel), the seat material (cloth/leather), and the chair's color.
This chair is so adjustable that it can get a little distracting. The user can adjust the back slope limit, seat height, armrest height, seat depth, and more. Each lever and knob on the Leap is labeled (a big plus), but our testers were still confused about the function of some adjustment controls. For example, turning the upper back force adjuster didn’t seem to make an appreciable difference in back comfort.
However, our testers did appreciate the Steelcase Leap’s four-position back slope adjuster, as it allowed them to set a comfortable reclining angle. And the seat depth adjuster changes where your body meets the lumbar support, which our testers found to be a useful option.
Unfortunately, the seat itself felt overly firm, and it did not conform well to our testers’ bodies. One tester described the feeling as “knowing you’re in an office chair,” which is not necessarily the feeling you want to have at work.
The Leap was the only chair we tested that arrived completely assembled, which made starting the testing process much easier. However, our product arrived without a manual. For this particular chair, that's an unfortunate omission.
The Leap costs a hefty $729. While many buyers have been satisfied with it, our lab testers did not favor it. Nevertheless, many buyers report that over time, the Leap was not only comfortable, it was also durable.
As an added "green" bonus, Steelcase tells us that the chair is made from 30% recycled material. When you no longer need it, it's 98% recyclable.
The Steelcase Leap is a pricey chair, but it could be worth the investment for people who require a multitude of adjustment options for maximum comfort.
All of the BestReviews testers loved sitting in the Herman Miller Aeron Task Chair. You can customize this product with several different finishes and options, and you can also get it in three different sizes.
Though pricey, this contender wins our Best of the Best award. Two others were in the running for this award: The Ergohuman Black Mesh Hi Swivel Chair and the Steelcase Leap. The Ergohuman took time to adjust to our testers' physiques, but it was comfortable once set up. And, while we confess our testers were not big fans of the Leap, online buyers report high satisfaction with it.
The reasonably priced Space Seating Professional AirGrid Chair offers little in the way of adjustment options or high-tech style. It's simply a comfortable, well-padded chair that our testers found easy to use for longs stretches of desk work.
It’s an extremely good value in terms of price and durability. Amazon also offers a high-back version, as well as one with a mesh back, and users agree that these comfortable models offer a terrific value. In our Best Bang for Your Buck category, however, it's tough to beat the Space Seating Professional AirGrid Chair.
If you're prone to neck or shoulder strain, choose an office chair with adjustable arm rests to help you maintain good posture. Adjustable lumbar support is also very important, as well as proper upper back support for the super tall among us.
Q. I’m 6’ 6” and weigh 350 lbs. Are there office chairs available for people of my size?
A. Yes. Office furniture manufacturers frequently offer special models designed specifically for petite and/or larger users. However, you might need to consult a catalog or online store to find them. The office chairs displayed in brick-and-mortar stores typically conform to the “average” consumer who stands between 5’1” and 6’1” and weighs no more than 250 lbs.
Q. My office floor is covered with plush carpeting from wall to wall. My chair sinks into that carpeting all the time, making it nearly impossible for me to move freely in my cubicle. What are my options?
A. Many office chairs feature omnidirectional caster wheels for improved mobility, but these wheels are designed primarily for bare floors or low-pile carpeting. Thick, padded carpeting or shag carpeting can bog down the wheels, impeding mobility.
If you work on thick carpeting, consider a glider chair with smooth metal feet for added mobility. You may not be able to push away from your desk and coast to the copy machine with a glider, but a glider won’t dig into your plush or padded carpeting, either.
Q. Do I really need all of those adjustment knobs and other controls on my office chair?
A. The answer to that question is, “It depends.”
The default height and recline settings on a new office chair may serve your needs adequately. But workers who spend countless hours in front of a computer screen often appreciate the freedom to adjust their seating. You might not think about how often you lean back in your office chair, for example. But if the chair’s recline angle were too steep for comfort, you’d definitely notice it.
Q. I’m an office manager, and I need to order an entire set of office chairs for our new branch. Should I order a dozen of the same model or discuss this with our employees first?
A. This is a challenging situation, since both approaches offer advantages and disadvantages. You might be able to get a discount on a bulk order of the same chair model, but then again, office chairs aren’t “one-size-fits-all” products. Some employees may have special needs that a standard office chair does not address, such as increased lumbar support or weight capacity.
You could order a complete set of highly rated office chairs at a bulk discount but then swap them out for alternatives upon request. We’re proud to endorse all five of the chairs on our shortlist, some of which provide amazing comfort for a budget price.