Hands-on: Vertagear Racing Series P-Line gaming chair

Update 11/17/16: The line of chairs discussed in this article have been revised and updated. Check out the new versions here

Gaming chairs are more popular than ever, as increased exposure for the once-niche products via social media and game streamers has helped drive demand for a better way to sit. 

The P-Line of gaming chairs from Vertagear is a new model for the company, designed to cater to bigger and taller gamers. Gaming chairs in general have often been built with smaller-framed individuals in mind, and this can lead to disappointment and discomfort from shoppers who pick up a chair that just isn't a good fit for them. 

While Vertagear's previous S-Line had a stated max weight of 396 lbs, the P-Line ups the ante to 440 lbs. More important than the max weight, though, are the construction differences between the two models, which make the P-Line better suited for larger gamers in multiple ways. 

Bigger, wider, stronger

The most notable thing about the P-Line, compared to Vertagear's previous models, is its increased width. I'm 6'1", though not especially wide, and I have noticed slimmer chairs from Vertagear and other companies can be snug around the hips and lower back. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your comfort preference and exactly how snug it is for you. 

Gaming chairs in general are based on racing seats, and for a long time racing gamers were the primary market for the products. Racing seats are designed to grip your body to a certain extent to keep you comfortable and in place during twists, turns, and bumps. That's obviously not a function an office chair actually needs to perform, but the design feature has remained in many gaming chair models. 

It's pretty easy to imagine how a chair's snug grip could become uncomfortable if you're simply to large to fit within it. Suddenly the ridges of a chair that had been designed to keep you in place become painful obstacles, and a chair that may have cost several hundred dollars becomes worse, in many ways, than a regular office chair. 

Vertagear's P-Line addresses this framing issue, offering a significantly wider seat and back panel. You should definitely check out the full measurement specs on Vertagear's website to help make your decision if you're considering one of these gaming chairs, but here are some of the highlights: 

Vertagear S-Line

Vertagear P-Line

Seat Width:   19.5/14.5 in (outer ridge vs. inner)   21 in
Seat Depth:  21 in   23 in
Back Panel Width (Lumbar):   11 in   18.75 in
Min Height of Seat:  16 in   19.75 in
Max Height of Seat:  19.5 in   23.75 in

Having your feet flat on the floor is important ergonomically, and at 6'1" I've found I need the seat of my chair to be about 20 inches off the ground to achieve optimal comfort. The S-Line wouldn't quite be able to get me there, and I'd have to compromise a bit of comfort (which I'm used to, as most office chairs simply aren't built to go high enough). The P-Line, though, can actually go high enough for my feet to be completely off the ground. 

The seat width is the other measurement you'll want to pay attention to when picking a chair, and the S-Line's 14.5 inch bottom panel vs the 21 inches provided by the P-Line will be the primary difference between comfort and irritation for many users. I would probably be able to fit comfortably in the narrower width of the S-Line, but I also felt fine in the wider chair (it just wasn't quite as grippy around my hips and lower back). With chair height as the tie-breaker, the P-Line would be the chair for me. A seat that's a little wider than you need is fine, but going the other way (with a seat that's too narrow or too short) is inviting trouble. 

Levers and adjustability

The P-Line chair offers more adjustment options than you may be used to. In addition to the standard lever for raising and lowering the chair, the P-Line also features a crank you can use to adjust the resistance of the chair's rocking motion, which is a really nice feature. If you've ever used a chair that rocked a bit too easily or required a bit too much force, you'll understand why this adjustability is welcome. 

The P-Line also has the capability to recline up to 150 degrees, which puts you into an almost fully horizontal position. This feels a bit scary the first few times you do it, but the chair remained stable during our testing. Aside from rather elaborate gaming setups with monitors suspended from the ceiling, though, the utility of this full recline angle is probably limited to naps. 

Two optional cushions come with the P-Line, one behind the head that almost everyone will want to use an a lower back lumbar pillow that will be more of a matter of preference. I definitely appreciated the extra lumbar support while testing the P-Line chair, though I didn't like the fact that it doesn't come with a strap or anything to keep it in place (aside from the pressure of your body). 

Some assembly required

You'll need to put your Vertagear chair together yourself, a process which is relatively simple and doesn't require much in the way of tools. Vertagear has an instructional video on the process you can check out below, so you can judge for yourself if it seems like something you can handle: 

Vertagear's chairs are made of PVC leather (a type of artificial leather) on top of high density foam, a steel frame, and aluminum in the chair base. They come in a variety of colors

Bottom line

The question of whether to get an expensive gaming chair is a personal one, and your choice will need to factor in things like esthetics. The fact that there is a siginifcant difference in price between the smaller S-Line and the larger P-Line chairs ($299.99 vs $439.99 on Newegg)  means you'll want to be as sure as possible you're getting the right chair for you when you invest in one.

As I've said before, with all the money people spend improving different aspects of their gaming experience, from their PC hardware to monitors to the keyboards and mice they use, it makes sense to at least consider upgrading from an office chair you've been using for a decade or more. And if you're currently using a chair that's too small or too short for you, a jump up to the P-Line from Vertagear could make a big difference in terms of comfort.