At this point we've written a number of gaming chair reviews here on GameCrate, so it's good to start with some ground-level expectations of which everyone should be aware.
First, gaming chairs aren't cheap (or if they are, you should be suspicious of them). Our chair in question today, the Armor chair from the fine Germans over at COUGAR, currently sells for $229.99 on Newegg (it's also currently sold out, with more stock coming around the end of November). That's actually a bit more affordable than some of the other chairs we've tried, but it's also likely twice the price or more of whatever random cast-off office chair an average gamer scrounges for his or her battlestation.
But this cost goes hand-in-hand with the second important thing to note about gaming chairs: they are almost all significantly more comfortable than a typical cheap chair. In our offices, people who use gaming chairs never want to go back to regular office chairs. Gaming chairs may seem gimmicky, but at their core they are higher-end pieces of furniture that actually take things like lumbar support, recline adjustment, and long-term comfort into consideration. So, to a certain extent, you get what you pay for.
With all that established, let's take a closer look at the COUGAR Armor, which I've been using as my primary office and gaming chair for about a month.
Currently the Armor gaming chair is only available in the black and orange color scheme you can see above, which conveniently matches the colors of Cougar's gaming peripherals perfectly. If you're looking for a seat that matches your case and other gear and happen to hate orange then you'll likely want to look elsewhere for gaming chairs with more color options. But when combined with neutral black peripherals or a black and orange COUGAR headset (as pictured above), the effect can be striking.
The way the orange is incorporated into the overall design of the Armor is more subtle than the color accents on other gaming chairs, which I appreciated. The high winged back and optional head cushion are mostly black, which makes for a more professional look than some of the alternatives. It also draws the eye to COUGAR's logo, which I find to be one of the better symbols in the gaming peripheral market.
The COUGAR Armor gaming chair is primarily covered in PVC leather, which the company describes as "breathable" and "pleasant to the touch." After spending a few weeks in the chair my verdict is: it's fine, sure. It's basically the same material you find in all the other similarly priced gaming chairs, and does a good job of remaining comfortable after hours and hours and hours of sitting. It's not "breathable" in the sense that it'll keep you cool on a hot summer day, but it does a decent job of cutting down on uncomfortable (and gross) sweat issues.
The Armor seat elevates to an average height for a gaming chair (roughly 15 inches from the ground at the lowest setting) which means it tops out an inch or two short of my preferred height. If you're at least six feet tall and considering a gaming chair you'll likely have to take a look at the "big and tall" options for optimal comfort, since regular gaming chairs won't get high enough for you to put your feet flat on the floor (which makes a huge difference if you have any lower back pain). It's a shame the Armor doesn't have that little extra elevation, too, because COUGAR specifically boasts of its "high back design," and the back portion of the chair is well made for taller gamers.
While the Armor doesn't quite reach my preferred height, it has a wider and more generous seat than other models I've tried, which means it could fit a larger range of gamers than other options. So the Armor might work for you if you're more of an E. Honda, but gamers with Sagat body types will need something taller for a perfect experience.
With a name like "Armor" COUGAR is clearly positioning this chair to appeal to gamers looking for a sturdy throne made of high quality materials. The chair features a full steel frame, a "Heavy-duty Iron Shell Cylinder base" to keep it from tipping when you're reclining, and can support up to 330 lbs safely.
It's hard to test the longevity of a gaming chair over just a month of use, but I can say that, in places where it's possible to tell from the look and feel, the Armor feels about 25% more durable than what I've seen in other gaming chairs at a similar price point. Its seams are extremely solid and the plastic portions (especially the panels hiding the reclining gears for the chair) are notably less flimsy than the same parts in other chairs.
The Armor comes with two optional cushions, one for your head and one for your lower back. These cushions are the same PVC material as the rest of the chair (which is better than the fabric-covered options some models include). Most gaming chairs at this price range include these same two optional cushions, but COUGAR deserves some credit both for the classy mostly black look of these cushions and the higher quality straps, which do a better job of keeping the cushions in place than others that I've tried.
If you're the kind of person who wants a gaming chair you can fall asleep in or you're planning to experiment with some sort of ceiling-based monitor arrangement, you'll appreciate the fact that the Armor reclines a full 180 degrees, allowing you to lay flat and look up the fancy chandelier you had installed in your bedroom for exactly this purpose.
This extreme recline is a feature that isn't likely to get much use from typical consumers, but it's there if you want it. Just be warned: while in my testing I wasn't able to get the chair to tip over backwards even by fully reclining it and rocking with moderate force, it didn't stop me from feeling like I was going to fall. So be careful when showing off your new chair to your friends.
The final feature of note on the Armor is the ultra-adjustable arm rests, which can be configured in four different ways to get them just right for your body type and posture. This level of adjustability almost feels like overkill, but it's certainly more likely to be useful for you than the 180 degree recline option.
Check out the COUGAR Armor gaming chair on Newegg for more details and to be notified when more become available for purchase.