When I first saw gaming chairs, I balked. They were the kind of bulky, gaudy, masculine "gamer" product that I'd spent my entire life embarrassed to be associated with. I don't say "n00b" or drink Mountain Dew: Code Red and I certainly wouldn't be sitting on the aesthetic equivalent.
Then the pandemic hit.
It's hard to explain, exactly, what about COVID-19 changed my perspective on these PVC thrones. Perhaps it's how little I care about my appearance anymore or the amount of time I now spend sitting and staring at a screen (I didn't know that could increase but life, uh, finds a way). Likely, it's that I became determined to reclaim geekdom, and all its attendant accessories, from the kind of incel that helped vote us into this situation in the first place.
Regardless, I can now admit the utility of the gaming chair. I want one. But these products are uniquely hard to shop for, especially from home, as they require long-term testing to determine which is ergonomically right for your particular broken body. Also, what should one even prioritize? Looks? Price? Bells and whistles? Recommendations from chiropractors? (I joke, chiropractors are not real doctors.)
This is what drove me to compare the Mavix M9 and the AndaSeat Iron Man, two chairs with wildly different priorities, design language, and price points. Just about the only thing these two units have in common is my butt. I spent a few days rolling around in both of them, and here's how things shaped up:
The AndaSeat Iron Man
First up is the AndaSeat Iron Man — a quintessential example of the gaming chair as it existed in my mind before I began searching for one myself. You know the type: the many buttons and dials and switches, the excess of leather, the bright colors and oversized "ergonomic" pillows, the H.R. Giger inspired cut outs in the back of the chair. Standard nerd fair. These units even come with Marvel superheroes stitched right on!
But, in a twist you likely saw coming, the nerds made some damn points. The AndaSeat chair is comfortable and sturdy, once you remove or readjust the included pillows (which, to the manufacturer's credit, are entirely optional). The faux leather feels premium — and not made of animal hide, if that's still important to you. The steel framework ensures you won't snap the seat in half if, like me, you tend to unconsciously do dangerous yoga while plopped in an office chair. It's just a perfectly great place for a tuchus.
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But is it worth it? That's a tougher call, especially when you realize that the Marvel-themed options start at $399.99 and can run you as much as $549.99. While extremely comfortable, the plastic armrests look fine but feel cheap to the touch (especially with that price tag) and they're almost too customizable, turning and twisting to fit my form when I don't actually want them to move. There's also the fact that all this thick steel, aluminum, leather, fabric, and plastic come in at over fifty pounds, making it no easy task to move the unit in any manner but the rolling provided by its wheels.
The chair's construction feels solid but is, on closer inspection, a mixed bag. While it only took me about 30 minutes to set up, most of that time was spent head-scratching and resetting the Allen wrench, which only provides you with mere inches of space to work within. At one point, you're even asked to snap highly breakable plastic into place with only a vague diagram as a guide. It's not a puzzle, though, so, if you've ever wrestled with IKEA furniture or a K'Nex set, you should be fine.
The AndaSeat Iron Man is robust, can be assembled (eventually) by any able-bodied adult, is extremely customizable, and its “SGS certificated Class 4 hydraulic piston and explosion-proof gas spring" makes it a smooth operator when you need to adjust some settings. Though I doubt you'll see me taking advantage of the 160-degree sleeping mode, it's nice to know I'm covered for any position my aging back may require. Is it worth $469.99? That depends on your financial situation but, based on my finances and sudden need for a nice gaming chair, yes. I think it's fair to say that this unit earns its keep.
But what if you've got cash to burn?
The Mavix M9
If you've got extra money in 2021, I'm sure there are many, many people who will take it off your hands. But, if you've got an uncomfortably fat wallet in 2021 and need a place to sit down, may I suggest a Mavix?
The Mavix M9 is an upgrade to the traditional gaming chair in every sense of the word — and for $999.99, it better fucking be. Made from Mavix's proprietary Cool Gel Memory Foam and M-Breeze Fabric, black satin steel, and two sets of wheels (including a set of hard plastic wheels you may more closely associate with roller blading), the M9 looks like it would be more at home in a BMW than parked for a round of Cyberpunk 2077's glitches. Even though the headrest says "MAVIX" in all capitals — and I know consciously that it's a gaming chair — my mind more quickly jumps to the Herman Miller office chairs I have watched the wealthy squabble over for years.
The armrests move forward, backward, up, down, inward, and outward to suit different body types. The fabric lumbar support is springy and comfortable. The chair's height can be adjusted in a handful of ways, ready to snuggle even the most unconventionally shaped forms.
The unit is also incredibly easy to assemble. I had mine out of the box, set up, and in use within 15 minutes. That's faster than I can set up a Nintendo Switch! It's also straightforward to break down, should you be moving or putting it in storage. Additionally, the chair is quite a bit lighter than your standard gaming fare, making moving it around an apartment or house a, ahem, breeze.
As for the huge cons of this unit, there really aren't any. The M9 is, in many ways, the gaming chair perfected. It's more comfortable, easy to use, sturdy, and (perhaps most importantly to me) stylish than anything else I've used anywhere near its price point.
However, let's come back to reality. I can't in good conscience tell any normal person to spend $999.99 on a gaming chair. If you're on the average American's budget, I can't even recommend you spend $555.55 or $777.77 on the "lower-end" M5 and M7 units, respectively. But, if for some reason you've just gotten a Visa gift card for a thousand dollars and spend a lot of time staring at a screen for work or play, Mavix makes an incredible chair that you and your back will have a long and happy life with.
If it fits, I sits
Fine, I give in. There's ample reason to own a gaming chair and, in 2021 at least, every American should be entitled to a good place to park their butt. If you've got some cash on hand right now and need to spread cheek, the AndaSeat Iron Man makes a fine, conventional choice for the vast majority of people. But if you're part of the pandemic bourgeoisie… oh my god please buy the Mavix M9 and live the dream for all our poor asses.
Mavix provided an M9 and AndaSeat provided an Iron Man Edition to Input for this review.