Manufacturer: Nitro Concepts
UK price (as reviewed): £229.99 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $379.99 (exc. tax)
PC gaming has gotten ever more marketable in recent years thanks to the rise of streaming platforms, the associated popular personalities, and esports events, all of which offer potentially very lucrative opportunities for product placement. This has no doubt been a big driving force behind the rise of gaming chairs as a distinct category from regular office chairs.
As our roundup from about 18 months ago showed, there is often very little to distinguish one gaming chair from the next, with some very clearly having come from exactly the same factory and given different branding. That's not always the case, though; the Vertagear Triigger chairs, while pricey, made up for poor spelling with a mature and well thought out design.
With all that in mind, let's take a look at the latest chair from Nitro Concepts, the S300. It's available in seven different colour options – blue, orange, red, white, all-black, yellow, and green – that should match most colour themes, although we're of course deducting points for there not being a bit-tech purple option.
Aesthetically, the S300 treads familiar ground. You might argue that a chair that deviated drastically from what a chair looks like wouldn't make a very good chair, but we only mean that if you like the look of this chair you probably also like the look of many others on the market.
The build process is mostly identical to most other models that look like this too. The wheel base is plastic with blue highlights – not metal, unfortunately – and into this the five 50mm casters are slotted. The Class 4 gas lift, which supports up to 135kg load, slots into the centre and is then covered with stacked plastic “cups” that form a cover. The height and tilt adjustment mechanism screws into the underside of the seat base, to which the armrests come pre-mounted, and this is then lowered onto the lift. The final and most fiddly step is aligning and securing the backrest to the recline mechanism that emerges from the seat. It's not overly challenging, requiring only eight bolts in total to be fastened, and the necessary Allen key is of course supplied.
Regarding build quality, the internal chair frame uses 2mm-thick steel, which Nitro Concepts describes as 'top-class for its price range', albeit without any data to back this up. We're also told that the cold-cured foam comes direct from the factory and is never recycled – some may see this as a bad thing. The outer layer, meanwhile, is described as moisture-resistant polyester fabric – there's no leather or pleather used here. Personally, I found that the chair looks and feels decent enough for the price. Sometimes faux leather can look more premium, but the material here is a bit more breathable. The foam inside, meanwhile, strikes a nice balance between comfort and support, and the stitching to my eye looked good.
Sitting in the S300, I found it to be comfortable overall. I have a pretty small frame, though, and larger users might have a different experience, but there were no obvious points of discomfort. Coming from a mesh-based chair, I did find the S300 to be a little on the warm side, but it certainly isn't as sweat-inducing as Nitro Concepts' own C80 Pure, for example.
Like all gaming chairs, the S300 is described as ergonomic, but you could argue that this is contradicted by the inclusion of lumbar and neck support cushions. Yes, these do give you more position options, but the difference between having the lumbar pillow and not having it, regardless of what height you move it to along the straps is pretty extreme. Lumbar support from the actual frame is not outstanding, but as ever the S300 isn't much different to most other chairs in this regard. The head cushion is definitely appreciated though, especially for more upright positions; when you want to sit back and relax a bit, the ability to remove it is a plus.
The polyurethane armrests can be moved through three directions. A button on the underside releases the height adjustment, which is the most important ergonomically. Then, you can pull the top flat part of the rests forward or backwards as needed and also swivel them so they face inwards or outwards instead of just straight ahead. Some armrests also offer sideways movements, but these should be adequate for most users, and they're comfortable enough to rest against.
An easy-to-reach handle under the chair on your right side controls height adjustment, and there's a good 13cm to play with. The tilt adjustment knob is typically hard to reach, but this isn't something you're likely to need to change much. Once you have the right setting, the height lever can be pulled further out to unlock tilting or slotted in to prevent it. Finally, a recline lever again on your right side can change the angle of the backrest to anything between 90° and 135°.
I find it rather difficult to rally up enthusiasm for most gaming chairs, and the S300 is no different. That's not to say it's a bad product, however. It is fairly straightforward to assemble, has no glaring quality issues, and has plenty of adjustment to help make it more comfortable for you including the important height adjustment of the chair itself and the armrests. It is certainly a dramatic upgrade over bog-standard office chairs and feels better built than cheaper gaming chairs we've looked at. The colour range is good, too.
I would like to see a bit more effort made in terms of lumbar support than just throwing a cushion into the mix, but most chairs are guilty of this including more expensive models. Nevertheless, in the sea of competition, the £230 price tag is fair given the features and overall quality, so if it's caught your eye I can't see a reason not to recommend it.
July 1 2020 | 17:34