This definitive guide to the best office chairs of 2020 explores everything you need to know to find an office chair best suited to your needs, including ergonomics, price, aesthetics and features. (Last Updated: 10/27/2020).

The Short List

    Best Budget Office Chairs

      Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

        Long has the doom of sitting been forecasted. Published papers aplenty have argued that a stationary life is shorter and trouble-ridden, and the primary workarounds are many — standing desks, frequent breaks, stretching, taking walks and so on. But none address the simple fact that, sometimes, to get shit done, we simply need to plant ourselves in a chair and get after it.

        Luckily, a number of companies are working to beat each other at building the best office chairs, even though they all know it’s not possible. No one chair is the best for everyone, so take our guide with lots of salt. If you can, go to stores and showrooms in your area and sit down, lean back, lean forward, pull levers and ask questions about everything. Your back, muscles, various joints and brain will thank you.

        Best Overall Office Chair: Steelcase Series 1

        Steelcase

        Steelcase's entry-level office chair, the Series 1, combines looks, comfort and ergo-friendly features not usually found in a chair under $500 into one very strong value proposition.

        The chair is simple and compact, which is incredible considering how many built-in intuitive adjustment controls there are in the chair. The Series 1 employs a breathable mesh backing, dubbed 3D Micro Knit, which is flexible and supportive. Then comes the laundry list of adjustments: arm height, lumbar height, seat depth, tilt control and – obviously —seat height. The Series 1's main highlight is its 4D adjustable arms. Like most office chairs, users can adjust the arm height. Steelcase goes many steps further by making the arm cap – the soft, supportive arm rest — mobile, too. It can slide forward and backward, side-to-side and pivot about 40 degrees. At $415, you really should just get this chair.

        Wayfair: $415

        Best Budget Office Chair: Branch Task Chair

        Even if you're shopping on a thin budget, finding the best cheap office doesn't need to be an exercise in settling for less; rather, finding high-priced features hidden in low-priced products.

        Formerly a B2B office supply company, Branch makes furniture built to endure the rigors of a workplace while keeping prices low enough for customers to buy in bulk. Since making the move from B2B to a direct-to-consumer model, its kept that ethos. The Task Chair isn't its cheapest chair (that title belongs to the $219 Daily Chair), but its built-in adjustable lumbar support, wide mesh back, adjustable arms, responsive customer service and firm warranty make it the best value of the bunch. You'll be hard-pressed to find a chair that offers that much for under $300.

        Branch: $249

        Best Upgrade Office Chair: Steelcase Gesture Chair

        Courtesy

        If there were a Mount Rushmore of office chair design, Steelcase would be on it, and the Gesture chair would be its carving. Decked-out in all the obvious ergonomic features, it also boasts a synchronous tilt system that, when you recline, lifts the seat slightly to keep your feet on the ground, which keeps blood circulating freely. The materials are considered, too. Take the shell that holds the seat; where most of the chair that doesn't touch the sitter is made of a hard plastic, the seat shell has give, which allows it to move and bend to however you're sitting. On top of this, it's customizable — there are dozens of fabrics, colors and materials to choose from.

        Wayfair: $1,075 | Amazon: $997


        On a tight budget? We haven't tested all of them, but these desk and office chairs are on sale right now.

        Best Budget Office Chairs

        14-Best-Office-Chairs-of-2018-Gear-Patrol-herman-miller-gp

        As with most products of the budget variety, temper your expectations. There is no sub-$100, $200 or even $500 office chair that does all things for all people, or performs equally to premium chairs. Expect materials that don’t necessarily ensure a long life and may not look stellar. That said, these chairs are ergonomic. Our budget picks are simply the most affordable you can go without sacrificing your health and wellbeing at work.

        Best Office Chair Under $150: Flash Furniture High Back Mesh Chair


        This mesh-bodied, high-back chair from Flash Furniture is the best and most versatile chair we’ve found under $100. It has an adjustable headrest (ideal for those who like to lean back), holds more weight than most dirt cheap options, has a tilt tension adjustment knob, offers firm lumbar support and isn’t absolutely atrocious to look at. If it’s missing anything (other than quality materials that would drive the price up), it’s adjustable armrests, but that’s the lowest number of serious compromises you’ll find out of seating in this price category.

        Walmart: $130 | Amazon: $130

        Best Office Chair Under $200: Alera Elusion Chair


        It looks as simple as any other chair you’d run into at Staples, but it isn’t. Alera’s Elusion chair borrows features like a full mesh back for breathability, a waterfall-edge seat cushion to maintain regular levels of leg circulation and more comfort customization than chairs fives times its price.

        Its only limiting factors are aesthetics (it is rather boring to look at) and the use of cheap materials, which means it’s likely not a great long-term seating option.

        Walmart: $145 | Amazon: $170

        Best Office Chair Under $300: Branch Ergonomic Chair

        Branch is a new company that makes affordable home office gear. Its plainly named Ergonomic chair ticks the ergonomic boxes you’re looking for — adjustable height armrests, tilt, tilt tension, lumbar support, up-down functions, adjustable depth seat and an airy mesh back. Instead of the cheap plastics deployed by other ultra-cheap options, its base is made of a sturdier anodized aluminum. The brand offers white glove delivery in NYC, but self-assembly otherwise, which takes about 10 minutes.

        Branch: $279

        Best Office Chair Under $400: Autonomous ErgoChair 2

        Autonomous

        Autonomous isn't a new company, but it's found its niche in the affordable-but-clever office chair space. The ErgoChair 2 features the mass-adjustability that's needed in a chair you'll sit in eight hours a day – the armrests move, the seat pan moves, the seat cushion moves and, perhaps most helpfully, the lumbar support slides up and down the spine of the chair. All this, in tandem with a mesh back and a wicked sub-$400 price point, make Autonomous' chair one of the best value buys there is.

        Autonomous: $369

        Best Office Chair Under $500: Steelcase Series 1

        Steelcase

        There are chairs around the $500 mark that offer some of what the Series 1 offers, but none match it feature-for-feature without jumping into the $600 and $700 range. Our selection for the Best Overall Office Chair checks every box: strong warranty, huge well of personal adjustment options, solid build quality and a strong brand to back it all up.

        Wayfair: $415

        Ikea Markus Chair

        Most of Ikea’s desk chairs are built with aesthetics top of mind, rather than performance. Avoid those. The Markus chair is the Swedish company’s most body-minded offering. Its high mesh back is good for taller folks and those of us who run hot, and despite Ikea’s reputation for cheapness, it’s better built than most frugal options. Plus, because it’s from Ikea and not a nobody Amazon company run by bots, you’re more likely to get customer service if anything goes wrong.

        Buy Now: $229

        Sihoo Ergonomics Office Chair

        What you get from this chair, for less than $300: a breezy mesh back, adjustable headrest, lower back support, variable armrests and easily one of the best spring-lock tilt mechanism of any cheap chair. That’s everything you can ask for out of a budget chair.

        Buy Now: $279

        The Short List

          Best Budget Office Chairs

            Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

              Best Office Chair Brands

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              Humanscale

              An extreme and praise-worthy focus on sustainable, eco-friendly design and gorgeous aesthetics come together with research-backed ergonomics at Humanscale. A through-line can be seen in all Humanscale’s more recent products — simplicity. Simplicity urged forward by the late American industrial designer Niels Diffrient in his partnership with Humanscale, which yielded two of the most notable and respected chairs ever — the Freedom and Diffrient World.

              Learn More: Here

              Herman Miller

              Herman Miller is the company behind many of the most iconic pieces in the era of mid-century modern but its catalog has far more to offer than famous lounge chairs. When Herman Miller released the Aeron office chair, it instantly became the, or at least one of the, best makers of office seating the world over. The American brand’s most notable office chairs are likely the Aeron, Embody and the newly released Cosm, a fully passive ergonomic chair with a few unique-unto-itself features.

              Learn More: Here

              Steelcase

              Where Herman Miller and others work in a variety of furniture areas, Steelcase narrows its gaze to furniture with a performance and sustainability bend. The 105-year-old company is unrelenting in its focus on research-guided design, and it is most known for the Gesture, Leap and its auto-adjusting (and fairly new) SILQ.

              Learn More: Here

              Allsteel

              Allsteel is function and performance driven above all else. It bullied its way into office gear in the early 20th century making steel electrical boxes and lockers (it would take until the middle of the century to add its first chairs) Not all of its seating is beautiful looking (except for the Acuity, which is), but it is all based on the science of ergonomics.

              Learn More: Here

              Knoll

              Like Herman Miller, Knoll was (and has become again) mid-century royalty. Also like Herman Miller, it didn’t fall off the face of the earth. Knoll still peddles high-end, luxurious home furniture aplenty, but its office seating, the Generation line in particular, is a revelation. Ergonomic, good looking and sold at price points low and high, Knoll covers the spectrum of what you need now and in the future.

              Learn More: Here

              Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

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              Ergonomic design, to some extent, is present in all seating, but not all chairs can be called ergonomical. By way of built-in automatic adjustments or manually turning knobs and pulling levers, great ergonomical chairs are the ones that conform to the human body, and the best do that to specific human bodies, no matter their weight, height or posture. These are those chairs, in every specific taste and style we could think of.

              Best Office Chair for a Standing Desk: HAG Capisco Puls

              As illogical as it sounds, standing and raising desks do need seats of their own. Portland-based Fully specializes in supplying only the best ergonomic seating for the modern workspace (it’s most known for the Jarvis adjustable height desk), and the Capisco was the very first product it stocked.

              It allows for seating in any way that’s comfortable to you — stool seating, cross-legged, side sitting, sitting backwards and so on. Essentially, it encourages non-static working and provides the means to act on that comfortably.

              The Capisco Puls is the slimmer, newer and more affordable version ($300 cheaper) of the chair. Looking at the greater standing desk chair market, you could settle for less, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice.

              Fully: $525

              Best Office Chair for Gaming: Vertagear Triigger 275

              The proliferation of the racing-style chair as the defacto “gaming” chair is sad and dumb. The best gaming chair is not about immersing the sitter in the game or looking cool — it’s about support, customization and the ability to remain cool for hours.

              Vertagear’s Triigger series of chairs is just this, and the 275 model is the best balance of price and useful features. Though we’ve praised chairs that automatically adjust to all users in this guide, gaming requires a chair fine-tuned to the player. The Trigger 275 allows you to adjust armrest height, seat height, backrest height and lumbar support. And because it’s a mesh chair, you remain cooler for longer, and it doesn’t look juvenile (though you can get it with white, red and blue accents).

              The brand offers a premium option, too — the Vertagears 350 comes with an aluminum frame and calfskin leather accents for a couple hundred dollars more.

              Amazon: $600

              Best Office Chair for Home Use: Blu Dot Daily Task Chair

              Blu Dot’s mantra: bring good design to as many people as possible. As such, the Midwestern company’s designs ride the “I could afford that if I wanted to” line more than any modern furniture brand, and it’s all original, sturdy and hardwearing. The Daily Task Chair isn’t a loud or boastful piece to bring into your own home, but it’s interesting, a bit retro and comes with a few foundational ergonomic perks.

              2Modern: $599

              Best Mid-Century Modern Office Chair: Eames Aluminum Group Management Chair

              The Eames Management chair is from a time gone by, when office hierarchy was defined by corner offices, over-sized desks and, in this case, a luxe mid-back desk chair. What does that mean? It’s behind some others on this list in the ergonomics department, but it’s miles ahead in style. An aluminum frame, MCL leather and a distinctly mid-century look define the Eameses instantly recognizable seat. (Note: if you regularly spend working hours in your home office chair, we recommend leaning toward the more ergonomic-focused options in this guide.)

              Herman Miller: $1,335+

              Best Office Chair with a Headrest: XG-Wing Management Chair

              X-Chair

              No chair ticks every box. X-Chairs Wing Management chair comes as close as any. The all-mesh design is plush and allows your body to regulate temperature without getting sweaty with non-breathable materials. The two-part back is a delightful combination of a King Cobra hood and the USS Enterprise "Command Chair," which, other than looking very futuristic, is a pleasantly intense sight to behold once assembled. The chair's look, weight and features say it's time to work. The headrest is mesh, too, and it's adjustable for sitters with different heights. In short, it twists and turns in every way a body might during an eight-hour workday and it's made of ultra-light mesh and sturdy metal component parts.

              X-Chair: $975+

              Best Passive Ergonomic Office Chair: Herman Miller Cosm

              The success of Herman Miller’s office seating line is unquestioned (just look at our list), but this might be the largest departure from that line since it began. Where our “Best Value” choice was of the old school of passive ergonomics, Cosm is of the new.

              Apart from aesthetics and sizing options (the high-backed Cosm is stunning online and in person), the primary functional difference between the two is a single, completely unique innovation — the ability to use your weight to adjust tension to you without the need to slide your body forward or lift you up at all. This sliding and lifting lifts your legs ever so slightly up, resulting in added tension to the body.

              It’s a subtle difference, but one no other company had managed until Cosm. In fact, the only reason Herman Miller didn’t release an auto-adjusting chair prior was its inability to solve the riddle of the lifting legs.

              Lumens: $895+ | Herman Miller: $895+

              Best Leather Office Chair: Humanscale Freedom

              American industrial design legend Niels Diffrient authored many products of great importance, but this was his magnum opus. The Freedom chair marks the beginning of the shift away from manually-adjustable office seating (primarily because most people don’t actually know how to adjust the chairs properly) and to self-adjusting chairs.

              Specifically, the Freedom chair handles all recline tension and tilt functionality itself, while still allowing you to slide the seat backward or forward and the armrest up and down. Since its release, a hundred or more self-adjusting chairs have cropped up, but few have done so as elegantly as the Freedom chair.

              Its base model ships in a PU leather upholstery (as almost all “leather” office chairs do) with a die-cast aluminum frame, but you can special order real leather upon request.

              Humanscale: $1,899+ | Amazon: $1,995+

              Best Office Chair for Small Work Spaces: Humanscale Diffrient World Chair

              Humanscale

              Few manufacturers set out to make office chairs specifically for small spaces. This chair, also designed by Diffrient, has armrests that can be lifted or lowered to slide under a desk when not in use, a back high enough to allow for comfortable reclining and a width on the slimmer end.

              Instead of chairs requiring manual adjustment via knobs and levers like most task chairs before it, the Diffrient World adapts to the sitter automatically (it was one of the earlier task chairs to do this). It uses your body weight as a counterbalance to allow for seamless and steady reclining and the whole thing is a springy mesh that’s just tight enough to sink into, but not so much to the point of sagging and stretching. It’s also guaranteed to last for 10 years.

              Wayfair: $695

              Best Luxury Office Chair: Herman Miller Embody

              This is not luxury in the plush leather, animal skin, bedazzled sense; it’s luxury in just how effective it is at what it does. Herman Miller puts it this way: “so intelligent, it makes you think.” It prioritizes and glorifies movement above all else — movement lessens muscle tension and increases blood flow, thereby increasing the amount of time your brain operates at a high level, which in turn makes for better work.

              Thought up by the late and great Bill Stumpf (father of the Aeron chair) and designed by Jeff Weber with the guidance of a team of 20 physicians and doctors in physical therapy, ergonomics and biomechanics, it uses the human body as its blueprint — a spine with a flexible rib cage bends and turns are you do, and redistributes pressure to lessen tension.

              All told, it’s an expensive, luxury office chair, but not because of whims of fanciness and wealth, but because it is a throne built on the idea that a chair doesn’t have to be a health-negative.

              Amazon: $1,300+ | Design Within Reach: $1,595 | Herman Miller: $1,595

              Honorable Mention: Herman Miller Aeron

              The Aeron is the chair against which all other chairs are measured. Not even the worthy competition on this list challenge its status as the most influential office chair of the modern era.

              Released in 1994, Aeron is the chair that bookended a shift in task seating design, from a form-first to function-first industry. Its critical, commercial and cultural successes are many. It ushered out clean lines in favor of shapes contouring to the human body, and was the first hugely successful mesh chair. It is among the most customizable designs ever conceived. It’s earned a permanent place in the Museum of Modern Art. It’s even 94 percent recyclable, a feature years ahead of its time.

              Though the Aeron chair is no longer seating du jour, in style and function, its importance and power is unrivaled.

              Lumens: $995+ | Herman Miller: $820+