Sim racing cockpits can be expensive, and if you don’t have the room for a dedicated sim racing rig, it’s often hard to justify big purchases. However, if you are still looking to start sim racing or upgrade your current setup, an alternative to a full-on rig is a desk chair for sim racing.
The 5 best desk chairs for sim racing are:
Most of these desk chairs have aesthetics commonly found on chairs in sim racing cockpits, keeping that racing look while being more maneuverable and costing less too. Read on below for an in-depth look at each one and some information to consider before purchasing.
Can You Sim Race With An Office Chair?
You can sim race with an office chair. Most dedicated sim racing cockpits are very expensive and require an immense amount of space and some time to set up. Desk chairs on the other hand are usually far cheaper, easier to set up, fully adjustable, ergonomic, and easier to make space for.
While a single space for sim racing and regular gaming may require you to store your sim racing cockpit when not in use, a desk chair is multi-functional and is far easier to store if need be. One worry with desk chairs is that they will move around while sim racing. I can assure you that this is a non-issue, and we’ll cover how to prevent this down below.
While cheap office chairs may not have the desired adjustability you might want from a sim racing chair, gaming chairs and other high-quality but not necessarily more expensive chairs often have excellent adjustability,and some even have the ability to replicate the ergonomics of a bucket style racing seat.
Without the use of a chassis, you lose the ability to mount equipment around you how you normally would with a sim racing chassis. Also, if you plan on using bass shakers for added immersion, you will have to settle with a configuration of 1 or 2 attached to your seat rather than a chassis.
If you have a sturdy desk, mounting your wheel and shifter onto your desk should be fine but it won’t be as ergonomic as having them mounted to a purpose-built chassis. For those on a budget, a desk chair setup instead of a dedicated sim racing chassis can make a lot more sense.
This is especially true if you’re a beginner and you’re not sure whether you want to commit huge chunks of money for things that aren’t necessarily essential.
How To Pick A Desk Chair For Sim Racing
Adjustability is crucial when using a chair that’s not necessarily meant for sim racing. Pivot adjustment is one of the best features you can have in a desk chair if you plan on using it for sim racing. Depending on the pivot angle, you could theoretically make your standard desk chair into a bucket seat perfect for sim racing.
An adjustable backrest is necessary too, but luckily an adjustable backrest is standard in many desk chairs.
Good ergonomics are important, especially if you plan on having long racing sessions or do any form of endurance sim racing. Lumbar support is crucial for supporting your back and maintaining good posture and it shouldn’t be ignored as the consequences are painful and can put you out of commission for a good while.
Good back support that maintains good posture is vital no matter what age you are, and generally a chair with good lumbar support is naturally more comfortable to relax into anyway.
Removable Arm Rests
Arm rests are great for general use at a computer or relaxing while watching a film, but for sim racing, they can seriously hinder your performance. Arm rests notoriously get in the way when sim racing and you end up hitting your elbows on them while turning the wheel.
To avoid any awkward lock ups or banging your elbows, it’s best to just remove the arm rests immediately and save yourself the trouble. If you don’t want to completely remove the arm rests, making sure that you are able to completely lower them or fold them away so that they are no longer an issue will do as well.
While desk chairs that cost upwards of $1,000 will normally be made of better materials and offer more functionality, it’s better to just look for what you actually need from a desk chair rather than getting the chair with the biggest feature set.
Most chairs at this egregious price point don’t offer much, if anything at all, more than a chair half their price can deliver. There’s only so much value you can attribute to something that you sit on, and it’s important that you don’t forget that while browsing online at these extremely expensive chairs!
KEY POINTS• You definitely can sim race on a desk chair, although it’s not optimal
• While there are some expensive options out there with lots of functionality, practicality and comfort are more important
• Picking a chair with good lumbar support is key
The 5 Best Desk Chairs For Sim Racing
1. Razer Enki
Tilt Angle: 152° | Removable Armrests: Yes | Lumbar Support: Yes
The Razer Enki is a premium quality desk chair that offers an impressive amount of adjustability in one very ergonomic package. The chair itself is not very subtle with its loud gamer aesthetic. However, unlike many gaming chairs, the Razer Enki hasn’t been left without proper ergonomics and adjustability.
The outside of the chair is covered in a synthetic leather material with green stitching, while the backrest and where you’ll be sitting is covered in a padded fabric. The chair features built-in lumbar support to ensure proper posture and long-time comfort, and the seat itself is quite wide at 21” (53 cm).
Regarding adjustability, the chair features a reactive seat tilt that doesn’t require any physical adjustment of any knobs, combined with a generous 152-degree adjustable recline. The Razer Enki also comes with a memory foam head cushion that can be easily removed. The arm rests come pre-installed but can be removed by simply unscrewing the 3 bolts that secure each one.
The armrests are also adjustable in height and can be moved forwards, backwards, and tilted inwards or outwards. This chair is rather expensive, but the ergonomics, adjustability, and quality assurance behind the Razer name make it a fantastic choice.
- Good lumbar support
- Adjustable and removable armrests
- Generous degree of tilt
- Very expensive
- Armrests come preinstalled
2. CORSAIR T3 RUSH
Tilt Angle: 170° | Removable Armrests: Yes | Lumbar Support: Yes
The T3 RUSH chair by Corsair is covered entirely in a soft fabric, making it an excellent choice for those that might be doing any form of endurance racing or long sessions, where long-term comfort is key. This desk chair also comes with excellent ergonomics in the form of memory foam lumbar support and a padded head cushion.
The armrests are 4D armrests, meaning they can move up, down, forwards, backwards, front, back, left, right, and they can swivel. The armrests themselves are removable but you may not even need to due to the great adjustability. The entire seat can pivot anywhere up to 17 degrees, allowing you to make this desk chair feel like a bucket seat, perfect for sim racing.
The backrest can be adjusted between 90 and 170 degrees, almost being able to lay completely flat, obviously not useful when sim racing but maybe fantastic after a hard race! The back of the chair is very flat and could easily accommodate a bass shaker should you want to install one.
The T3 RUSH can be purchased in several different variations of grey, white, and charcoal. This chair is fairly cheap, making it an incredibly good value chair, packed with features.
- 4D removeable armrests
- Lumbar and head support
- Fairly cheap
- Variety of color options is limited
- Soft fabric may hinder long term durability
3. Secretlab TITAN Evo 2022
Tilt Angle: 165° | Removable Armrests: Yes | Lumbar Support: Yes
The TITAN Evo 2022 series gaming chair from Secretlab is one of the most premium looking desk chairs on the market. It can be purchased in a variety of different designs and sizes and the upholstery options include NAPA leather, fabric, and hybrid leatherette.
The fabric will offer the most breathable and cool sim racing experience, but the leather option, while being very expensive, is the most premium feeling and durable upholstery option available. The cosmetic design of the chair can be vastly customized with a variety of game related and Esports team-based designs, so there is definitely something here for everyone.
The chair features what they call L-ADAPT lumbar support, which is essentially lumbar support that is adjustable with a knob on the side of the chair. This method is extremely comfortable and the adjustability of it with its discreet nature means it doesn’t take away from the premium, minimalistic design focus of the chair.
The armrests are made from durable metal and are 4D, meaning they are fully adjustable in almost any direction including swivel, and they are removable. Head support isn’t forgotten here, with their magnetic memory foam head cushion, which is very easy to remove and, as there are no straps, it will last longer as there are fewer parts that could break over time.
The seat can recline up to 165 degrees and it can tilt so you can simulate an almost bucket style seat. Both adjustable features have a tilt lock and tilt angle lock. Overall, this is a very comfortable and functional desk chair for sim racing.
- Premium, customizable design
- Generous degree of tilt and recline
- 4D removable armrests
- Very expensive
- Lumbar support may be too subtle for some
4. Vertagear PL4500
Tilt Angle: 140° | Removable Armrests: Yes | Lumbar Support: Yes
The Vertagear PL4500 comes in a variety of colors but maintains a fairly minimalistic design with nothing too loud or obnoxious. The chair features HygennX technology which implements coffee infused fiber padding which is excellent for stopping odors and makes it an extremely breathable desk chair. It’s excellent for endurance races where you might be in the seat for long periods of time.
The outside of the chair is covered in PU leather, making it look a bit more premium in the process. The base and frame are made from solid metal construction, adding weight to the chair and making it far more stable for sim racing. The chair has tilt adjustability, allowing you to make the chair feel like a bucket seat, which is ideal for sim racing.
The backrest can tilt anywhere between 80 and 140 degrees – not completely flat but far enough back that you can relax comfortably. The armrests are removable and can be adjusted forwards, backwards, up, down, and they can swivel. For ergonomic lumbar and neck support we are offered standard memory foam cushions that are disappointing considering the chair’s high price point.
- Weighty solid metal frame
- Fully adjustable backrest and seat tilt functionality
- Breathable and odor preventative material
- Lumbar and neck support is disappointing given the price
5. Noblechairs EPIC
Tilt Angle: 135° | Removable Armrests: Yes | Lumbar Support: Yes
The EPIC chair by Noblechairs is one of the most premium looking desk chairs, especially if you decide to buy their leather option. Upholstery on offer here is synthetic leather, real leather, fabric, and high-tech faux leather. Fabric may be less durable, but better for sim racing due to its breathability and is far cheaper than the real leather or high-tech faux leather options.
The back of the chair is flat enough to fit a bass shaker if you wanted and the general aesthetic of the chair itself is very reminiscent of a chair you would find in a sim racing cockpit. The armrests featured on the EPIC chair are 4D and can be removed.
Lumbar and neck support comes in the form of two comfortable cushions but the lack of dedicated lumbar support within the chair itself is surprising for the price point. The backrest can tilt up to 135 degrees, which is fairly limited compared to other options on the market for lower prices.
The seat itself can also tilt up to 11 degrees, which may be just enough tilt to simulate a bucket seat experience, ideal for sim racing. The EPIC chair by Noblechairs is a great desk chair for sim racing and is very customizable, but it lacks in certain areas compared to even some of its far cheaper competition on the market, making it last on our list.
- 4D removable armrests
- Vast customization options
- Seat can tilt up to 11 degrees for a bucket seat style configuration
- Not a huge degree of tilt
- Lumbar and neck support is disappointing
How To Stop Your Desk Chair From Rolling When Sim Racing
Caster cups are a great, inexpensive way to prevent your desk chair from rolling around when sim racing and pushing against your pedals. These caster cups are often made from rubber and don’t require any other tools or modification directly to the chair itself.
Simply place the casters under each wheel and it will prevent them from moving forwards or backwards, making your chair fully static and stable while pushing on your pedals.
The Shoe Method
A rather peculiar but surprisingly effective method that people have found online is the use of shoes. By placing each wheel of the chair into a shoe, it prevents them from moving around.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend using shoes that you care about as they most certainly will get damaged over time!
The rubber soles do a great job at preventing the chair from sliding while you put your weight on it, but because the shoes don’t really add any weight to the chair, it’s fairly easy to adjust the chair while you’re not sat in it. This method is very similar to the caster cups solution and works in essentially the same way but with potentially no cost if you already have some shoes you can use.
Another option that is fairly simple to install and not terribly expensive is replacing each caster with casters that feature a lock switch. Get casters with rubber wheels that also feature lock switches as otherwise the usual hard plastic casters that come with most chairs will just slide around on the floor regardless of whether they are locked or not.
Rubber wheels, when locked, will offer a good amount of grip and will stop your chair from sliding backwards. The effectiveness of these lockable casters varies depending on how much weight you’re putting on top of the casters and the grip of the casters themselves. The benefit of these lockable casters is that it’s easy to return the chair back to a maneuverable state when you’re not sim racing.
If you’re looking for a desk chair for sim racing, the Razer Enki offers the best bang for your buck and has great adjustability and ergonomics, perfect for sim racing when combined with caster cups or locks. The CORSAIR T3 RUSH is a fantastic option if you prefer fabric materials for more breathability at the cost of durability and longevity.