Tom's Hardware Verdict
The Caliber R2 takes over a room with its bold purple accents. It offers solid back and seat support. But a flawed armrest design leaves them underused, and the neck pillow is nearly unusable.
Adjustable and thick lumbar pillow
Comfortable back support
Stiff and bulky neck pillow
Armrests are too far apart
Questionable shade of purple
Build quality concerns
Why you can trust Tom's Hardware
The Cooler Master Caliber R2 makes a name for itself with a gracious amount of lumbar support and questionable amount of purple. At $300 as of this writing, the gaming chair offers a solid frame that offers thick seating and a solid backrest. Unfortunately, the uncomfortable neck pillow and hard to access armrests rendered marred the sitting experience and its chance at making our Best Gaming Chairs list.
Cooler Master Caliber R2 Specs
|Total Height (with base)
|49.4-52.6 inches / 125.5-133.5cm
|Seat Pan Height (with base)
|18.9-22 inches / 48-56cm
|32.3 inches / 82cm
|Backrest Width (shoulder level)
|22.8 / 58cm
|Seating Area Width (total)
|22.8 inches / 58cm
|Seating Area Depth (total)
|21.3 inches / 54cm
|Armrest to Armrest Width
|28 inches / 71cm
|11.2-14.4 inches / 28.5-36.5cm
|330 pounds / 150kg
|47.4 pounds / 21.5kg
If I could describe the Cooler Master Caliber R2 in one word, it’d be purple. Purple is really only the accent color on the Caliber R2, with most of the artificial PU leather being black. But the accent wings, logo and stitching are such a powerful shade of purple that it almost overtakes the black. It’s the bold, Barney-esque shade of purple that leaves a mark, and you’ll either love it or wish for a more subtle or versatile shade. The Cooler Master Caliber R1 is available with purple, red, blue or white accents, but Cooler Master told me there are no plans yet to give the Caliber R2 the same multi-color treatment too.
But there are subtle details to spot in the Cooler Master Caliber R2’s design too. PU means the artificial leather uses polyurethane, a polymer that’s supposed to be stronger and tougher than rubber, while offering more flexibility than plastic and fighting off abrasion. The PU leather on the Caliber R2 shows varying textures, from its smooth black parts, to its slightly textured purple wings and aerated cutouts on the backrest and cold-molded foam seat. No part of the chair is that ultra-buttery soft you sometimes find with premium leather, but it stayed cool without getting slippery or slick, even after hours of use.
Cutout designs on the backrest and seat bring some subtle flair. The square seat pad also makes the chair look more unique.
However, build quality concerns came with the delivery of my Cooler Master Caliber R2. The plastic covering running underneath the lever on the right side fell off during transit, and it arrived scuffed. Trying to reinsert revealed that the insert was the exact same size as the hole meant to hold it. After I built the chair (more in the Assembly section), I was able to jam the piece back into place, but it’s fallen off twice since.
On top of that, there were a couple of small, loose threads on the back of the chair., as well as some worn material on the left armrest. These are minor issues but also unappreciated ones for a chair that costs $300.
In general, the Caliber R2 was comfortable to sit in, but I could tell that the backrest wasn’t stuffed to the max with its cut foam. Because it was less dense, I could almost feel the steel frame in the winged areas when I squeezed them. The backrest, meanwhile, had some areas that were thicker than other areas. TheSecretlab Omega 2020 I use regularly has more consistent thickness in its backrest. However, the backrest on the Caliber R2 was quick to return to shape after being smushed.
The armrests on the Caliber R2 are quite hard and hardly showed any give at all when I squeezed them with maximum strength. They can move up or down and lock in three different positions (left, center or right).
Both the included neck pillow and lumbar pillow are removable. The former looks like a car seat headrest and is unforgivably thick, resisting my head as I tried to lay into it. The bulky headrest’s strap isn’t adjustable, so it’d easily pop off the chair when I tried finding a way to make it a welcomed addition to the chair.
The lumbar pillow, on the other hand, is properly stuffed to provide an impressive amount of support. As someone who likes a lot of attention here, I found this fabulous, but the pillow also doesn’t give much. So if you prefer softer lumbar support, you should look elsewhere. Handily, you can place the lumbar pillow lower or higher on your spine, thanks to the strap mechanism. Divets in the holder on the backrest do a good job of keeping those straps in place.
The Cooler Master Caliber R2 sits on an aluminum base, and there are five 3.4-inch (60mm) casters to pop in. While the frame is steel, the base / legs are metal.
The back of the Caliber R2’s head holds a Cooler Master logo crafted of discrete black stitching. I appreciate Cooler Master not overdoing it with logos, but you still pay the price through the Cooler Master Purple dominating the chair.
Assembling the Cooler Master Caliber R2
Building the Caliber R2 took about an hour, and while it was handy to have a friend for the final step, I could’ve done it completely on my own. Cooler Master has an installation video on its website, but I was able to build my review chair with the included print-out instructions (also available here).
The first victory in any assembly project is having all the pieces. My package came with all the parts; however, the side plastic covering the mechanics where the seat and backrest meet fell off during shipment and was scuffed. This may be the shipper’s fault but shows that the piece may not be 100% secured and is scratchable. I was able to get it back on, but noticed that the inserts weren’t perfectly shaped for their holes. Since I finished building the chair completely, that piece has fallen off three times.
The chair comes as a backrest, seat, two armrests, five-star metal base, five wheels, a tilt mechanism, gas lift / covers, recliner mechanism covers, washers and screws. In addition to the included Allen wrench, you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver.
Besides the backrest being too heavy for me to want to move on my own, setup was pretty straightforward. The hardest part was getting the washers to screw in straight to secure the seat to the backrest. Also, the pictures for the third step seemed like hieroglyphics at first, as it was hard to understand which parts of the chair the pictures were depicting. Otherwise, I appreciated a pre-cut hole in the PU leather for inserting screws on either side of the backrest. I called in another person to help me align the base with the top since the top half is so heavy. Although, with some cursing, I could have completed the job on my own.
Comfort and Adjustments on the Cooler Master Caliber R2
Overall, the Caliber R2 is a solid and sturdy gaming chair with a thick and firm seat providing a lot of support. But I could use some more adjustable features.
For someone who likes some lower back love, the unyielding lumbar pillow is the star. No matter how the backrest was positioned in its 90-180 degree range, the lumbar pillow was beneficial since I could easily slide it up and down and keep it in place.
The leather stayed soft and cozy long term, and the firm and strong backrest, while not particularly plush, helped keep my posture straight during long hours at my desk. The seat is also very dense, and its cold-molded foam barely showed any give with my full weight applied.
I often, but not always, found myself ignoring the armrests because they’re further apart than my arms typically are when gaming or typing. The distance between the armrests on the chair I usually use, the Secretlab Omega 2020, is an adjustable 24.2-27.6 inches. The width between the two Caliber R2 armrests is 28 inches and not adjustable.
Because of the fixed width, I usually used the armrests in the one position that brought the back part of it inward the most. That’s almost a good thing though, considering how much strength it requires to change the armrests’ positioning. The hard armrests also have some wobble to them, no matter their position. The good news is that they feature ample height adjustment, running from 11.2-14.4 inches.
Sadly, I left my neck pillow completely tossed to the side. Its bulky shape didn’t allow any room for my head or neck to nestle in comfortably, and moving it too easily led to it coming off the chair.
The Caliber R2’s backrest goes all the way back 180 degrees for sleepy gamers. Laying down flat like that is a mildly scary affair because the seat can still tilt slightly. But once you get used to possible gentle rocking, it’s a cozy setup.
However, I wished the backrest could bend more in the opposite direction than it does. During intense gaming or work, I like to sit very upright, if not a little forward and rigid. But with Cooler Master’s gaming chair stopping at 90 degrees, I couldn’t have my upper-half as forward as I prefer in these tense situations.
The Cooler Master Caliber R2 offers 3.1-inch height adjustment via a class 4 gas lift that’s easily accessible by reaching around the back right side. That’s comparable to the Omega 2020’s 3.7-inch range.
Cooler Master claims the Caliber R2 is best for people who are 5’3” - 5’11” and weigh 110-220 pounds; however, it can support up to 330 pounds. I had an average-sized man who is taller and heavier than me play games in the chair for about an hour, and he also lamented the distance between the armrests and the intrusive neck pillow while praising its overall comfortable frame.
The Cooler Master Caliber R2 is so purple it’ll likely have a profound effect on your room’s style. There are more subtle gaming chair designs available, but once you get past the chair loud purple, you get a chair that provides long-term support in the seat and back.
The lumbar pillow is super thick and perfect for those seeking extra support there.The ability to slide it up the backrest makes it more versatile and handy. However, the removable neck pillow was too hard to use, and the armrests were usually too far apart to woo my elbows. If you’re seeking greater armrest flexibility, the Secretlab Omega 2020 wins and also has a more luscious neck pillow. However, at this writing it’s $60 more than the Caliber R2.
But for a solid frame with sufficient support, the Cooler Master Caliber R2 is a reliable, and notably colorful option for long hours at your desk.
Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.
Never, ever buy a chair that you haven't personally tried and found comfortable. Even if the reviews are positive, individual comfort varies widely.Reply
The purple is great, and green screen friendly.Reply
Too bad it's being used on a cheap fake-leather racecar chair.
But, if you're worried about looking cool in a stream over ergonomics (you shouldn't be)... Then maybe don't buy any cheap tacky racecar chair from any brand. Just do what everybody else does and use a comfortable office chair until you're big enough that sponsors start sending you cheap fake-leather racecar chairs for free.
"While the frame is steel, the base / legs are metal."Reply
I'm guessing that the legs are of some inferior metal, but that's kinda ambiguous from the article, currently.
It looks like terrible back support, just like every other chair that looks exactly like it. They last a few weeks/months and then you realize how terrible these racecar style chairs really are. Cheap materials that deflate quickly and no support whatsoever. I have yet to see any one of these failures of a chair worth purchasing. I wish the people who design these would actually use them for themselves.Reply