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Cooler Master R1S Gaming Chair Review: Breathable But Stiff

Cooler Master makes its name literal with this breathable material gaming chair.

Cooler Master R1S
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

The Cooler Master R1S is a vision of comfortability — it’s the lack of adjustments that aren’t doing the chair justice. It’s a great chair for people who are 5’5” to about 6’2” — a taller or shorter user may not experience the chair in its fullness.

For

  • + Breathable PU leather
  • + Easy to assemble
  • + Easy to Clean

Against

  • - Only available in Camouflage Print or Pink
  • - Tilt feature is panic-inducing
  • - Armrests lack adjustability

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Cooler Master R1S is a vision of comfortability — it’s the lack of adjustments that aren’t doing the chair justice. It’s a great chair for people who are 5’5” to about 6’2” — a taller or shorter user may not experience the chair in its fullness.

Pros

  • + + Breathable PU leather
  • + + Easy to assemble
  • + + Easy to Clean

Cons

  • - - Only available in Camouflage Print or Pink
  • - - Tilt feature is panic-inducing
  • - - Armrests lack adjustability

If you’re into camouflage and breathable material, the Cooler Master R1S is the chair for you. It could do with some more features, though. The R1S is a chair that covers the bare necessities and has thoughtful design features, like the camouflage print (there’s also two pink, non-camo options). The height is adjustable, the arms are adjustable, and it reclines 180 degrees. You know, for those times you want to take a nap at your desk but you can’t go lie in your bed because you’ll wake up eight hours later wondering which year it is. The price is also right: $249 for the R1S makes it a great buy, but you get what you pay for when it comes to adjustability. 

Specifications

Total Height (with base) 49.2 - 52.4 inches (125-133cm)
Backrest Height82 inches (32.3cm)
Backrest Width (Shoulder Level) 57 inches (22.4cm)
Seating Area Width (Total) 20.9 inches (53cm)
Seating Area Depth22.4 inches (57cm)
Armrest Height11-14.2 inches (28-36cm)
Recommended Maximum Weight 330 pounds (150kg)
Weight52.9 pounds (24kg)
Warranty1 year
ExtraNeck pillow, lumbar pillow, mousepad 

Design

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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The one thing I can’t get over with gaming chairs is the material that covers them. The PU artificial leather that covers so many of even the best gaming chairs usually makes gaming sessions hot and sweaty, and not in the try-hard way. Upon my first glance at the Cooler Master Caliber R1S Camo (MSRP $249) and its promise of breathable PU leather, I rolled my eyes. These buns have sat in plenty of chairs that promise to be a comfortable, curve hugging, and breathable experience. But few deliver on those promises, which usually leaves me with toasty buns. Chairs like the AndaSeat Spider Man Edition Gaming Chair usually gave me a lot of room, but the leather wasn’t cooling. I was excited to test out the R1S in the sauna I like to call my stream room, and amazingly, I was surprised at the results. 

Before we hop into the chair’s comfort, let’s talk about style. The R1S camouflage comes in two colors, purple and black — this review features the purple camouflage. At first glance, the camouflage pattern seems to be just like any other except for the colors chosen. But when taking a closer look, you can see the Cooler Master logo is embedded into the pattern. This gives it a unique feel. The pattern adorns the entire chair, trickles down to the seats, and extends to the lumbar and neck pillows. It sits on the side of all these elements acting as a border. 

There’s also two versions of this chair with solid pink replacing the camo pattern, which is great given how divisive camo is. We didn’t look at either during this review.

The neck pillow isn’t noticeable. Not only because I don’t feel the need to lean all the way back in the chair but when I do lean back the pillow flattens under the weight of my head. I know what you’re thinking, does she have a big head — that’s not the point. The pillow is stuffed with fluff, unlike the lumbar support — it’s the lumbar support for me! This lumbar support is a vital piece of this chair. Using memory foam for lumbar support is a classic premium gaming chair move. Some chairs like the FlexiSpot GC01 use a cheaper green foam to stuff their pillow. The R1S went with memory foam, which I loved. 

Cold-molded foam for the seat with a thick padded backrest atop a steel frame is why the R1S promises a huggable sitting experience. But this chair also has moveable armrests and a height-adjustable gas lift for further adjustability, plus a matching mousepad. I can’t tell you the last time I bought something and got a matching mousepad, it’s kind of cool. Weight-wise, it’s about 60lbs which isn’t noticeable when gliding around the room. Metal is used for the base with 360 degrees multi-directional caster wheels making it easy to move. The chair moves extremely well on hardwood and very low shag carpet. 

There are three controls for adjusting this chair: a switch to adjust the height of the armrest, a lever that turns the tilt on and off as well as controls the gas lift, and a knob that controls the amount of tilt available.

Comfort and Adjustments

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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Cooler Master R1S

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

This is what you’ve been waiting for, how is my butt going to fit this seat? The height range for this seat is five to six feet with a weight range of 110 to 330 pounds. It seems the CoolerMaster R1S is meant to fit a wide range of people with different hip sizes. The seat width is 53 centimeters including the raised sides. I know the measurements are hinting at being able to fit up to maybe a 3 XL, but I don’t see how that would work. I think someone wearing a size XL would have discomfort in this chair because of the raised sides. My hips don’t lie when I say I’m just fitting into this char as a medium to large. I’m just shy of six feet and I fit perfectly in this chair, the backrest standing at 82 cm leaves the neck pillow right behind my neck and not on the back of my head nor in between my shoulders. The neck pillow clips through the backrest leaving little ways to adjust it if it didn’t fit my body. 

We all have weird sitting habits, mine is that I don’t really use the backrest but I’ll still complain about bad posture. To combat this, I like to lean the backrest forward to meet my needs instead of leaning back into the chair. The unfortunate thing about the R1S is that the backrest doesn’t tilt forward; however, it does recline 180 degrees. Just like any gaming chair, there is a tilt and recline feature. Not all tilt features are made equal— some are great and some are a bit weird. This chair fell into the “bit weird” category simply because while reclining back the chair started to feel wobbly while the tilt was active, which of course sent me into a panic. While I’ll be using the recline feature, I won’t do the full 180 degrees with the tilt on. This chair feels like it reclines more than 180 degrees while the tilt is on. Tightening the knob beneath the chair usually helps tighten up the tilt, but turn it too far to the right and the tilt is gone. Another reason the tilt on/off lever (which is also the height adjustment lever) felt weird is because of the placement. It’s beneath the right side of the chair toward the back, making it hard to reach.  

I usually like to remove the lumbar support when I recline in my gaming chairs, but I didn’t feel the need to do that with this chair. Without the lumbar support, this chair would be less impressive. The lumbar is consistently reinforcing great posture even when I’m not resting against the back of the seat. It fits perfectly on my back and has me sitting up straight even as I lean forward. 

Armrests are here to alleviate pain and provide comfort, and they adjust about 3 inches to accommodate different heights. While reclining, it would have been a great addition to have the armrest move back and forth to support my elbows and forearms. The armrests move in one direction, up and down; unlike the Titan Series 2020 where the armrests move up, down, side to side, in and out. They also feel a little wobbly after tightening the screws. I’m not sure if that’s to give leeway to the user’s arms or a design flaw. It didn’t bother me much, but it is noticeable. Just like all of the zippers being backwards on the lumbar support, neck pillow, and backrest. If I wanted to change the memory foam or fluff out, it would be a tedious process. 

The most comfortable feature of this chair is the breathable PU leather. I have sat in it for hours when it’s been over 90 degrees and below 50, during crazy Apex Legends matches, during long-winded work meetings, and not once did I get stuck in the chair, have to peel myself off, or put down something between the leather and my skin. It’s a great feeling having my legs still feel cool after sitting in this chair. This makes me want to spend more time in it because my body doesn’t need a break from overheating.

Assembly

Putting this chair together is easy if you’ve built chairs as much as I have, but for your first chair, the level of difficulty is moderate to entry-level. The instructions don’t come in the box, but they are available on the Cooler Master website along with a video. Screws and an Allen wrench do come in the back and the screws are separated by letters — which feels completely useless if you aren’t looking at the instructions. And I wasn’t looking at the instructions, therefore I guessed where the screws should go by testing them out in different areas before screwing them in. It’s not difficult to figure out where they go, but it’s an extra step that could have been avoided if Cooler Master made the directions more accessible. 

Bottom Line

The Cooler Master R1S has very impressive breathable leather, which is a huge wow factor. But as usual, the raised sides on this chair can be a bit annoying because you’re forced to fit in the chair or bust. Thankfully, I did fit in this chair, but it’s still not a favorite feature of mine. The lack of adjustability on the arms is another setback, because I don’t feel like I can utilize the full recline if I want to. I think this is a good chair for gamers if they aren’t looking for a lot of adjustability in their armrests. Ultimately, this chair needs a reboot to add in some new features.