Shopping for a chair to go with your gaming desk is really difficult. According to an informal poll I recently ran on Twitter, finding the right chair to buy came just behind figuring out which PC components to buy for a DIY desktop build in terms of complexity.
Unlike components, there are no benchmarks for chairs. Comfort is entirely subjective, and even then it’s hard to find reliable reviews. Plus, most of them look like racecar chairs meant more for looks than ergonomics. So, you could spend a lot and pray that it works out or just get a cheaper chair and funnel the rest of that money toward a GPU upgrade, faster storage, or a bigger monitor. As a usual full-time sitter on an AmazonBasics office chair, I fit into the latter group.
Herman Miller, the company responsible for those amazing(ly expensive) office chairs, wants me and you to take our health more seriously while we game. To try to convince us, it teamed up with Logitech to make the Embody gaming chair. It’s a high-end model that inherits almost everything about Herman Miller’s gorgeous, preexisting Embody chair, including its focus on comfort and support over style, as well as a similarly exorbitant $1,495 price tag. This model makes just a few changes to the original version, most noticeable of which is the switch to an all-black color with some subtle blue details. It also has copper-infused foam in its back cushion that aims to keep you cooler while you game.
The Embody looks starkly different from other gaming chairs that are more likely to resemble the seats in a Fast and Furious car. It’s minimalist in its use of materials and it has a low-profile design. Yet, Herman Miller says it can make a big difference in your physiology while you game. Its striking design was shaped by the input of physicians and PhDs, and the company claims it can help reduce your heart rate while you sit. There are over 150 small supports around the chair, and these apparently let blood flow more easily to regions that usually get pressed on in most chairs, like your butt, lower back, and your legs. In my experience, a side benefit of this design is that I don’t feel fatigued when I get up to emerge from the chair.
The Embody has several clever features that help you make it your own. It’s comfortable to sit in right out of the box, but I customized a few things to make it form to my body. First off, there’s a twistable knob at the back right of the chair that adjusts the angle of the back support. Twisting counter-clockwise leans it back a bit and helps better support curved backs, whereas a clockwise twist straightens the back out and leans it ever so slightly forward, which might help some players who want to feel more limber in fast-paced games.
The underside of the Embody gaming chair is covered in supports that are said to improve blood flow while sitting. I can’t speak for the blood flow, but it sure is comfortable.
To the left rear side of the chair, there’s a four-step level that adjusts how much recline you have. What’s nice about this is that it’s not an all-or-nothing switch for reclining, so I never worried about flying backward off the chair. One notch down gives you some recline, two gives you a little more, and so on. If you want to adjust the tilt tension, making it less resistant to leaning back or more, there’s a knob beneath the right arm rest that directly controls that. On that same knob, there’s a joystick in the middle, and all that does is lower and raise the hydraulics on the chair when you push it in any direction.
For someone who has always used a bargain chair, there are a few game-changing features with the Embody. The armrests can be raised and lowered, as well as moved from side to side to change their angle by holding the blue release triggers. This makes it easy to seamlessly switch from using a laptop, where my arms are naturally closer together, to my desktop, which has more space between where my arms rest over the mouse and keyboard. Herman Miller cited that some gamers prefer chairs with no arm rests, and the ones on the Embody find compromise by being able to be lowered almost as low as the seat cushion.
These simple handles on the cushion’s front let you extend it out for better leg support. It’s the small details that make this chair so comfortable. Moving the joystick in any direction will lower the chair’s height while you’re sitting, or raise it if you’re standing.
I also love the extendable seat. By lifting up on the front corners of the seat, the edge can be extended to tuck underneath your knees or pulled up toward your thighs. One other small thing that I really appreciate is that the seat section remains stationary when I recline. With my feet planted firmly on the ground at all times, it’s nice to be able to push back on the chair without my whole body lifting from the ground. These sound like really small things to rave about, but it’s often the small details that both make all the difference and let manufacturers like Herman Miller charge what they do for office furniture.
Okay, but what about the gamer-specific features I talked about? Pretty much everything I’ve mentioned to this point is applicable to the original Embody chair. The changes are relatively minor, all said. In addition to the new chair color, its slick blue detailing, and the copper-infused material inside of the back cushion, all it did otherwise was slap a big “G” from Logitech’s gaming division near the neck and hang a tag off the back to show that, indeed, it’s for gamers.
It might sound silly, but I don’t think anything else needed to be done. When a well-known furniture manufacturer and one of the biggest gaming accessory companies throws a chair into the ring, the industry will take notice. Whether you’re buying the Embody gaming chair or not, this is a good thing for gamers in general shopping for chairs in the future. We’ll likely soon see other chair makers influenced by its design and its focus on comfort and staying healthy while you game. Hopefully, this will result in there being more choices for gamers other than the popular racecar-style chairs with stiff padding. And, hopefully they won’t cost as much as this one.
Will the Embody gaming chair make you a better gamer? I mean, the $1,495 price has to guarantee something, right? Truthfully, very few gaming products make an immediate impact, for me at least. What usually makes that difference for me with peripherals isn’t usually the extra buttons or a fast USB polling rate. It’s the comfort — and the Embody has that in spades. Comfort in itself won’t exactly make you a better player, but it kept the right kind of pressure on my body so I could relax and be fully invested in what’s on the screen. If your livelihood as a pro gamer, or even your enjoyment as an enthusiast, relies on focus and logging a lot of hours in-game, your investment here will pay off quicker than it will for most other people.
That’s not to say everyone else wouldn’t enjoy it. My standard chair affords me about an hour of comfort before I’m ready for a break, and I usually feel a little sore when I get up. Personally, sitting for hours is no fun regardless, but the Embody gaming chair is better than most others because it just gets out of the way when you use it. If you have an opportunity to try it, it will spoil you forever.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge