GTRacing GT099 Gaming Chair Review

GTRacing GT099 Gaming Chair Review
Where you plant your backside is one of the most overlooked parts of PC gaming. Sure, we can all cheap out and pick up a $50 chair at the local Walmart, but doing so will likely leave you with buyer’s remorse, a bad looking chair, and a sore back. Think you have to shell out big bucks to pick up a great gaming chair? Not so fast. GTRacing has been making big waves on Amazon with its line of budget-friendly gaming chairs. Today, I’m looking at one of its best-sellers, the GT099, to see exactly how much gaming glory $151.99 can buy.

Design and Features

The GT099 follows the “gaming chair” template to a tee. Modeled after a race car’s bucket seat? Check. Trimmed in brightly colored PU leather? Check. Strappable neck and lumbar pillows? Entirely pointless but now iconic bolsters? Full recline for a quick catnap? Check, check, and check. At first blush, it’s remarkably similar to more expensive chairs from DXRacer and Maxnomic. For a throne that weighs in near $150 at checkout, it makes for a solid first impression. Like most gaming chairs, the GT099 is accommodating. Its Class 4 hydraulics and support system can hold users up to 330 pounds, though I suspect big and tall gamers might find it a tight fit with those steep bolsters. It has a lockable tilt, allowing you to rock or sit still, and reclines up to 170-degrees for when you need to catch some extra z’s on a lazy summer afternoon. The armrests can also move near completely out of the way, so you can find a comfortable fit whether you’re leaning into a keyboard or kicking back with a controller. The chair has its limitations, but if you’re opting for a gaming chair at all, you’re probably at least a little concerned with style. GTRacing has definitely been paying attention to what’s popular and has delivered a chair that looks very close to the more expensive competition. It’s upholstered in PU leather, the majority of which is black, but is trimmed with red accents that pop. The backrest also has appealing chevron stitching that really ties the aesthetic together. Unless you’re a gaming chair aficionado, without the logo, you would be hard-pressed to tell the GT099 from any other gaming chair, including those big brands it seeks to emulate. I wouldn’t expect a low-cost gaming chair to match the industry’s highest-end, but it’s a death of a thousand cuts that make this feel like a budget option. It looks good, but zoom in and the shortcomings and limitations begin to show. Take the upholstery, for example, and many places where it’s rippled right out of the box. To a degree, this is to be expected as different pieces of fabric are stitched together, but it’s more common here than on brand name chairs, and will likely become worse as the fabric stretches. The tilt mechanism can only be locked or unlocked, so there’s no custom angle for when you want to put your feet up. The spring tension is also too high to easily rock, even when it’s completely loosened. The armrests are two dimensional – height and angle – which is good, but are so easy to twist that I adjusted them by mistake every single time I sat in it. They’re also quite rattly. These small shortcomings and cut corners are present elsewhere too. The nylon base and casters each have red accent pieces attached that look alright from a distance look but up close seem almost toy-like. Flip it over and you’ll find that the adjustment mechanism is about as simple as they come, looking and feeling lower quality than any I’ve experienced from major brands like Vertagear and Secret Lab. The holes punched in the fabric for the fasteners weren’t the cleanest either. Functionally, most of these things matter little and, given the savings, probably aren’t dealbreakers. But if you’ve ever spent time with a more premium gaming chair, you’ll quickly notice the differences. There are a couple of areas where it is more impactful, and it begins with assembly. The GT099 has the distinction of requiring the most steps of any gaming chair I’ve assembled. I was somewhat startled to see that the angle adjuster (recline mechanism) was exposed in the box, complete with a coil of what I believe to be spring steel, open to touch. In every experience I’ve had building a chair, which includes virtually every major brand at this point, this device always comes attached to the seat and is strapped with a tag warning you not to touch the lever to prevent serious injury. There was nothing of the sort here, which is concerning to say the least. Thankfully, everything else was very straightforward. Assembly is similar to most other gaming chairs, and I was able to complete the process using the manual in about 25 minutes. GTRacing includes everything you’ll need in the box, including an Allen wrench and even a selection of spare fasteners. The second, larger issue is that the only part of this chair that is well-padded is the seat. It’s thick and soft right out of the box which made for a comfortable place for my rear end. The backrest is another story entirely. It is easily the thinnest I’ve ever used at roughly an inch and a half side to side under the headrest. The padding is so thin that you can even feel a support wire running across it, but what is there hides this from the front. Adding to that, it’s completely flat and offers absolutely no lumbar support without the pillow. The pillow works but is too soft to be more than a middling solution. I was also dismayed to find that there is virtually no padding within the bolsters themselves. I tried to cross my legs in the seat only to find my foot pressing against the metal bar of the frame. While there is minimal padding around the frame itself, the rest of the bolster seems to be empty space between two pieces of stretched PU. Pinching both sides, I could easily feel my fingers through it. The GT099 is the first chair I’ve used where the frame is so plainly felt and it really limited how I was able to sit.

Performance

I assembled the chair in my office and used it at my main gaming PC for about a week. In that time, I was able to sit comfortably using the included pillows but would always become sore within an hour. Perhaps it’s due to my unique physiology, but the included lumbar pillow just didn’t offer the support I needed to sit back and tuck into my desk without feeling back strain. As a result, I wound up sitting up straight more than I otherwise would which made me feel more fatigued at the end of long gaming sessions. When working at my PC for several hours, I like to change positions and sometimes cross a leg underneath me. Chairs with steep bolsters aren’t the best for that in general, but the lack of padding made that impossible here. Within minutes, whatever part of my body was pressing on the bolster would begin to hurt thanks to the poorly padded frame underneath. This is a chair that really caters to a single sitting position for gaming at a desk: upright, legs down.When playing games with a controller, I liked being able to lower the armrests and recline back with my feet up. The chair accommodated this playstyle, but again, left me feeling more back strain than my Secret Lab, Vertagear, or Maxnomic gaming chairs. Getting comfortable also took more effort because of the extra tension on the tilt spring. The chair felt like it was fighting me any time I tried to tilt back, which made getting comfortable more of a chore than other chairs. Despite all that, the GT099 still offered more adjustment and freedom than the $100 office chair I use at work. Simultaneously, that office chair offers much better lumbar support, so it’s a bit of a wash.

Purchasing Guide

The GTRacing GT099 is available on Amazon for $151.99 as of this writing.

Verdict

Ultimately, the GTRacing GT099 is a chair that looks good and offers most of the features you would expect from a gaming chair at a fraction of the cost of its brand name competition. That savings comes at the price of comfort and quality, however, so unless you can’t live without the gaming chair look, I would look elsewhere.

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