When people think of gamers, they generally see them as an extravagant bunch when it comes to hardware and PC peripherals. And they wouldn’t be wrong. From gaming mice and mouse pads to the hardware that goes into immaculate tower PCs, looks, functionality and comfort are all top priorities when it comes to picking out the parts with which to dominate the online game server.
But when it comes to chairs, you’d think gamers would have to settle for a regular one like the one that you use in the office, right? Not necessarily. Recent years have seen companies like DXRacer and Maxnomic take the spotlight in providing stylish, high-quality and comfortable chairs to gamers, with high-profile sponsorships of large-scale gaming events and teams. Their chairs are found at events like the Intel Extreme Masters, the various DreamHack tournaments, and behind world-renowned gaming organizations like Fnatic.
These chairs target the aforementioned trifecta that gamers seek: looks, function and comfort. Modelled after racing seats, the chairs offer luxurious padding, adjustability and bold designs to cater to the demands and tastes of gamers. Sounds great, right? Pretty much, except that they also come with a mighty stiff price tag. The DXRacer Formula series – already the most affordable in DXRacer’s product line-up – retails for S$629 locally. It’s difficult to justify paying that much for a chair, even if it comes with two-inches of foam for you to luxuriate in and a control pad built into its armrest, which it doesn’t.
Cue the Secretlab Throne, the brainchild of local start-up Secretlab that hopes to bring a more cost-effective alternative to the gaming chair market. It should come as no surprise that the Throne also draws heavy inspiration from racing seats with its bucket seat design, high and curved back, and aggressive racing stripes. Our review model came in spectre white and the Throne is also available in hot pink, aqua blue and Aftershock red. Yes, you read that right - they've a collaboration with Aftershock.
To start matters off, we’ll begin by highlighting that the Secretlab Throne costs just S$349, which is only slightly more than half the price of the DXRacer Formula series chairs. The price itself is already a hugely attractive selling point, but how does it compare against a more established option on the market? Fortunately, this reviewer already owns a DXRacer Formula series chair, so we’ll be able to take a closer look at just how the Throne stacks up against its pricier rival.
At 21kg, the Secretlab Throne is no featherweight and weighs quite a bit more than your average office chair thanks to its solid steel frame and fairly large size (65 x 65 x 120cm). Height adjustment is handled by a 100mm pneumatic gas spring and controlled by a lever located on the right side of the chair and towards the back. The chair is rated as capable of supporting up to a 100kg in weight.
The chair is supported by a heavy-duty 5-spoke nylon base with the tips powder-coated white in accordance with the chair’s color scheme. These tips sport a type of matte finish that makes it more comfortable to rest your feet on, and it’s nice to see that Secretlab has paid close attention to detail here. However, one point that could be improved on would be the use of a base with spokes that are straight instead of curved as on the Throne. Your feet rest more naturally on straight spokes and will be less likely to slip off.
The spokes on the DXRacer feature plastic snap-on covers for you to rest your feet on.
Would an aluminium base feel slightly more solid? Sure. But it’d also cost more and wouldn’t do a whole lot more to improve your overall comfort. Secretlab has judiciously decided that a nylon base is a great way to cut cost while still offering good quality and function, and we agree wholeheartedly here.
The Throne relies on the same tried-and-tested design DNA that its rivals have long had recourse to. It is packed with high-density cold foam – the standard in many racing-esque gaming seats today – and covered with PU leather.
Compared to the DXRacer, the seat of the Throne is much firmer and offers a lot more resistance. The give on the DXRacer’s seat is much more pronounced and you can feel the foam sink in when you sit on it. We prefer the DXRacer here because of its more plush feel, but it ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference.
It’s worth noting that DXRacer offers three degrees of sponge density – soft, modest and hard – across its various product line-ups. While the foam on the Formula series is classified as ‘soft’, Secretlab has likely opted for a more dense and consequently harder foam consistency, which explains its firmer seat. This applies to the full-height backrest as well so the Throne arguably offers slightly more rigid support for your posture.
In addition, the Throne features comfortable armrests that are covered with 2.5cm of padded leather. It’s a pleasure to rest your arms on these things and your elbows will thank you for it. These armrests are height-adjustable – a pretty standard feature where you hold down a button and push or pull the armrest to your desired height.
However, they can also be rotated left and right, a nice addition that is usually found only on chairs further up the price ladder. Case in point: even the DXRacer Formula series doesn’t have this feature.
Users who prefer to sit closer to their table will definitely appreciate this feature as they will be able to rotate the armrests outward if the armrests aren’t able to clear their table drawer even at their lowest position. They can be rotated by about 30° from their default resting position, so if you prefer to kick back and relax while watching your favorite movie on screen, you should be able to find a comfortable position.
However, these armrests are not perfect and they could use some improvement in terms of build quality when it comes to the rotating mechanism. The armrests rotate too easily and don’t provide enough resistance. They also don’t offer the full 30° of rotation and users instead only have three fixed positions - default, left and right - to choose from. While it's certainly not a deal breaker, we'd have liked to see a tighter and more versatile mechanism that allows finer control over the angle of rotation.
In addition, we'd like to highlight that these armrests are actually removable. Unlike the DXRacer, the armrests do not come pre-attached to the chair's frame and have to be screwed on manually. This means that you can opt not to install them if you so wish, and we know of plenty of people who would rather use a chair without its armrests. This also provides a solution to our main gripe with the DXRacer, where we constantly had to sit farther back from the table than was comfortable because of the fixed armrests.
The Throne also offers a fairly plush head and lumbar pillow to provide support for your posture. This is covered with the same PU material that is found on the chair itself. On the other hand, the support pillows that come the DXRacer are smaller and use a fabric material instead. Fabric might feel a bit more comfortable when used for cushions, but the PU material is much more practical and easier to clean as it doesn’t absorb sweat and can simply be wiped down when needed.
The lumbar cushion spans the entire width of the chair and provides a generous amount of support. It's covered with the same PU leather as the rest of the chair and can be adjusted up and down for the best fit. And as expected of a lumbar support cushion, it is firmer than the head pillow and should do a decent job of supporting your back.
The head pillow also comes with a handy zip that we could open to see exactly Secretlab has packed it with. The company says that it uses a soft-stretch cotton stuffing, and we have to say it makes for quite a plush pillow. However, users who prefer slightly firmer support from their headrest may find the Throne's offering slightly wanting.
In comparison, the DXRacer’s cushions are smaller, firmer and are generally more comfortable. This could in part be attributed to its smaller size and denser interior stuffing, although this time the pillow didn’t have a zip for us to take a peek inside.
However, we generally preferred to use the Throne without the head pillow, whereas the DXRacer was more comfortable with the pillow on. On the Throne, we felt that the larger pillow forced our head forward in an excessive tilt, although this could be overcome by lifting the lever to push the backrest a little farther back.
We're guessing that this isn’t going to be a problem for larger-framed people who will probably take better to the bigger pillow, but if you’re smaller-sized, this is just something to take note of.
In addition, the Throne’s backrest features a range of adjustability of 85° to 155°. This is controlled by a lever on the right side of the chair. If you’re one to look at numbers, you’ll notice that the DXRacer is capable of going as low as 170°, but we ultimately found this to be a non-issue. In practice, you probably aren’t even going to utilize the full 155° of recline, unless your monitor is located somewhere near the ceiling (it’s not, is it?) or you’re exceptionally fond of taking naps in your chair.
And here's the DXRacer at its lowest recline for comparison:-
We were happy to find that the reclining mechanism operated smoothly, with no jarring creaks or jerks. This is yet another example of how Secretlab has tried to deliver a more cost-effective product - by trimming the fat from features that don’t contribute much to the overall experience of the chair.
Finally, the Throne also sports a full-chair tilt mechanism that allows you to rock back on the balls of your feet and have the chair rock with you. The tilt action is activated by pulling the height-adjustment lever out, and pushing it back in locks the tilt mechanism.
It’s pretty nifty, and the whole mechanism feels solid enough so you don’t feel like you’re going to tip over with the chair. There’s also more resistance when compared to a similar mechanism on the DXRacer, so the Throne is likely more suited to users who are larger and more heavily built.In fact, this is borne out by the dimensions of the Throne, which sports a slightly broader backrest and wider seat than the DXRacer.
We’d say that the Throne acquits itself quite respectably overall for its price. Secretlab has taken a magnifying glass to the key features of the chair and made smart decisions as to which are necessary and which are simply superfluous and under-utilized luxuries.
While there are definitely areas that the Secretlab Throne could improve on, that doesn’t detract from the fact that it still offers great value and functionality for its price. The DXRacer Formula series chair may best it at times, but it would be unfair, not to mention downright unrealistic, to expect the Throne to match it feature for feature given their differences in price.
Secretlab is currently only shipping the Throne in Singapore, but may expand to Southeast Asia in the future. At S$349, the Throne is without doubt an attractive option for local and regional customers looking for a stylish and comfortable chair to pair with their gaming rig or simply use in the office. To further sweeten the deal, Secretlab is tacking on an assembly service for just an additional S$15.
So who is the Throne really for? Probably anyone who wants to invest in a more comfortable and functional chair that looks different from your run-of-the-mill office variety, but isn’t willing to break the bank to do it. You'll even get to pick from four different vibrant colors that most office chairs aren't available in - spectre white, hot pink, aqua blue and Aftershock red. We’re betting that the Throne is a step up from whatever the majority of folks are using now, with decent foam padding, a range of adjustability options, and an eye-catching design.