Why it matters: Let’s face it, your $1,500 PC, $700 monitor, and hundreds of dollars’ worth of peripherals aren’t there to be used occasionally. You want to stay seated in front of your rig for hours on end, barely noticing as day turns to night and back to day again. If that’s your idea of a good weekend—it’s certainly mine—then you want a comfy gaming chair that helps prevent seized-up joints, aching back, stiff neck, and a numb ass.
These days, gaming chairs are about as prevalent among PC owners as a nice set of headphones or speakers, and for good reason. Not only do most of them look good, but they’re also designed to be used for extended periods of time—try playing eight hours of World of Warcraft (circa 2007) sitting on a wooden chair and you’ll appreciate these products even more.
Thanks to their widespread use, plenty of companies offer a broad range of gaming chairs right now, and one of the most popular of these is AKRacing. In this review, I’m looking at their Arctica chair.
The Arctica gaming chair is part of AKRacing’s Masters series, which means that as a high-end model, you can expect to spend between $499 and $549 on it—though it’s available on Amazon for $469. For those in the UK, the Arctica sells for £449 while all other colors in the Masters Series go for £429. Check them out at Box.co.uk and Scan. It’s one of the more expensive chairs from the company, but that price is reflected in the quality. Moreover, it comes with a 5-year warranty, whereas most other chair manufacturers only offer a single year or two years of cover.
For about five years now, I’ve used a DXRacer chair that cost around $380 when purchased. I’ve always found its soft material comfortable, but both the headrest and lumbar support cushion are now split, and the way it hangs onto stains makes you think someone died in it at some point.
The Arctica was picked based on my height and weight. While my old DXRacer is comfy, it was definitely designed for someone taller as the seat is so deep it lifts my feet off the ground, causing my legs to dangle like a child’s on a swing. And dropping the height meant I was too far below my desk to type comfortably.
Once it arrived, I dragged the Arctica’s heavy box up the stairs and began construction. Anyone who’s put a gaming chair together in the past will know this isn’t like building something from Ikea. There are only a few parts needing assembly, though you do get a couple of Allen wrenches. There’s even a pair of nice white gloves in the box to help prevent dirty smudges getting on that pristine white faux leather.
The construction process was pretty easy and took about 20 minutes. Be warned, however, that the main chair unit is quite heavy, and you may need help to lift it into the wheel section. But despite how quickly I completed the job, it was here that I discovered the chair’s worst element: the instruction manual.
As it’s a universal document that applies to all of AKRacing’s chairs, some information didn’t apply to my model. The main issue was the lumbar support pillow. The manual said to loop the straps through the holes in the head section, but there aren’t any in the Arctica. Instead, I just hooked them behind the head cushion, though crossing the straps into an ‘X’ shape behind the chair also worked. Still, some explanation or a manual specific to the Arctica would have been welcome (Update: AKRacing says its latest production of chairs will come an updated pictogram manual, supplemented by a detailed web manual and an assembly video, all of which should improve the assembly process for users).
Once the chair was up, its best feature became obvious: this thing looks stunning. The curves and white/black color scheme ooze class and style—it makes my entire room look smarter and brighter. But looks don’t matter if it’s uncomfortable. Thankfully, that’s another area where it (mostly) excels.
The first time you sit on the Arctica, you may feel that it’s a little firm. This is especially noticeable if you’re moving from a softer chair. But after using it daily for about a week, I found that the foam didn’t feel as hard and was much more comfortable to sit on. Like Homer Simpson's ass groove in his sofa, it’s as if the chair slowly adjusts to the person sitting on it.
The construction of the Arctica feels premium. Its weighty metal frame lets you know that this is a high-end chair costing hundreds of dollars. The stitching is top quality, and while real leather is reserved for the more expensive AKRacing chairs, the faux material used here looks and feels like the real thing and seems just as hard wearing. It’s also stain resistant, which is a bonus for those who like to eat and drink at their desks.
Like most other premium gaming chairs, this one can be tilted (to 12 degrees) and can lock in a tilted position. It reclines to 180 degrees and comes with a class 4 gaslift that can support up to 330 pounds. While the five-pronged base is sturdy and looks nice with its matching white and black colors, there are no locks on the wheels to keep them in place, which can be handy on floors where the chair slides around a bit too easily.
I loved the way that the armrests’ movement isn't limited to the usual vertical axis. They can also move horizontally in all directions and turn inwards or outwards, allowing a range of positions for every arm length and type. Whether you resemble Slenderman or a T-Rex, you’ll likely find a comfortable setting.
The bucket-style seat wraps around the body without feeling restrictive, and the headrest pillow is just the right level of firmness. The only area I have a slight issue with is the lumbar cushion. To me, it feels just a little too thick, but I am getting used to it.
Ultimately, I love this chair. I can easily spend between 10 to 14 hours a day at my desk, so being comfortable is essential. The initial worry that the material was too hard passed after a week of use, and though I have reservations about the lumbar support pillow, this is likely more personal preference than anything else—and you don't have to use it. The Arctica is not inexpensive, but I feel like I'm getting my money's worth on a well-built piece of furniture that looks good and can be sat in all day.