I have a long history of dissatisfaction with desk chairs. I break them very easily, and its never because I mistreated them. I use them as a day-to-day work prop this is apparently too much to ask because within six-to-nine months, they’re sagging and bent in ways that suggest my 95kg frame is much heavier than it appears. After so many chairs unable to stand up to the basic task of being a chair on a timeline longer than a year, I wanted something that was built to last. After leering at AK Racing’s range of gaming chairs for some time, I finally bit the bullet and got one. Do they stack up?
I don’t want to bury the lead too deep so the short version of this review is: Yes, and how.
Gaming chairs like the ones AK Racing make are bit divisive. They’re based on racing or “bucket” seats commonly found in high performance race cars. They allow the user to better manage their comfort and posture because they’re designed to be sat in for periods far longer than your average office chair can stand up to. They also look extremely cool or utterly hideous depending on your personal interior design aesthetic.
The chair I ultimately chose was from AK’s Overture range, a black leather monster with purple trim. The box, a huge rectangular thing, arrived within only a few days of my ordering it and set up was a breeze. AK Racing sends you the chair disassembled, as most furniture companies do, but rather than taking the Ikea or Officeworks route of “All the bits and pieces for assembly are in this bag, probably,” AK goes the extra step of screwing all the supplied bolts into the chair ahead of time to ensure everything is there when you go to assemble it. All you have to do is remove each screw, line up the corresponding part, put the screw back and tighten it up. Great stuff.
While its a good idea to have a second person on hand to help you put the Overture together, its possible to do it on your own as long as you have something sturdy to prop it up against. Thanks to aforementioned pre-screwed drill bits and the supplied Allen key, assembly shouldn’t take you longer than about 20-30 minutes.
But how’s it feel? How’s the functionality? I’m pleased to report that, after two months, the AK Racing Overture is the best office chair I’ve ever owned by a wide margin. Its leather material is soft and the chair is endlessly comfortable to sit in. The steel frame used in its construction mean that the chair takes my weight without complaint and could support weights far higher than mine with similar ease.
Supplied with the chair are a pair of cushions, one that is strapped to the seatback’s lower third for lumbar support and the other to be looped over or through the top of the chair for neck support. The lumbar support was one of the facets of the Overture I was most excited about — my lower back is notoriously temperamental and needs all the propping up it can get. The lumbar support is, in my opinion, about as close to perfect as it gets. The cushion can be height adjusted for differing degrees of support and its medium-firm build means it never feels like its being thrust hard into your back. The neck cushion took a little more getting used to but I found within a day or two I would miss it if it was removed.
The chair comes with a pair of adjustable arm rests so you can keep your arms raised while gaming or typing. Being able to lower the chair and the arms when I’m not sitting in it means the chair can be tucked right up against my desk to maintain an incredibly small profile.
The chairback is adjustable, able to be pulled completely upright to 90 degrees against the seat or laid down totally flat if you feel like a bit of a nap — I wouldn’t recommend trying to lie down on it though, its not really designed for that and I managed to tip my chair over backwards in the attempt. This flexibility is great news for those who suffer from poor posture while working or gaming. Pulling the chairback in to a more upright position keeps my spine straight and its doing wonders for my back.
After a month and change of using the chair daily, I can confidently say I’ve never owned one like it. Given that the Overture gets up around the $400 AUD mark, I was concerned that it might not live up to such a lofty price point. It does, and without breaking a sweat. Whether you’re gaming or a struggling freelance games journo trying to make ends meet, the AK Racing Overture is a must-try for anyone who spends many hours at their desk every day.
Score: 9.0 out of 10
Highlights: Great materials; Strong build quality; Easy set up
Lowlights: Other regular day-to-day chairs are made to seem worse by comparison
Manufacturer: AK Racing
Price: $399 AUD (incl. shipping)