Corsair announced its new series of T1 gaming chairs earlier this week with big images, big platitudes, and loud colors.
Resemblances to sports and production rally car seats are purely intentional, as the chair even has holes in the backrest for the shoulder straps of your five-point harness to match its T1 Race name. Unlike the seats that came with your car, however, this one arrived in a box (weighing in at 57 pounds) and required assembly.
Components are primarily factory assembled, requiring users to only bolt the back to the seat and the seat to the base. Everything else snaps together.
You’ve probably heard several of Corsair’s competitors brag about having a metal base, but Corsair saved a bit of weight here by including one of the heaviest plastic bases we’ve seen, rather than an even-heavier metal casting. By design alone, this base isn’t going to be a problem.
Get It Together
The box of hardware includes only an Allen wrench, two spare screws, two sets of side covers (one spare set), a Class 4 gas lift, a telescoping dust skirt for the lift, and a set of roller castors. One key element of the castors is that they use urethane roller blade wheels, which roll more easily on hard floors. The pivots also have ball bearings to eliminate the “stuck castor” phenomenon often found on cheaper chairs when you make a J-turn exit (from your keyboard, of course).
The instruction manual is reasonably easy to follow, but most users probably won’t need it. That’s a shame, because you might miss the facts that 1) the red cap on the lift needs to be removed, and 2) the castors are supposed to be installable using nothing more than firm pressure from your hand. That second point is laughable, as pressing and wiggling the castors while bracing the top of the base against my leg, so hard that I bruised my thigh, got them only halfway in. The manual didn’t suggest that I should try pulling them out and greasing the pin, so I instead flipped the base onto the floor (wheels down) and stomped on each corner until my foot went numb. That did the trick.
The side covers install over the side screws using snap connectors that engage in alternative holes. One of the holes on each side is at the pivot point. We highly recommend using a flashlight to assist the alignment of the snap pins with snap holes, unless you’d prefer to figure out why Corsair included a second set of side covers. Pillows are attached with straps and can be moved vertically, although the neck pillow will need to be relocated to the head rest for most people over 5’4" (or 162cm).
The side includes a backrest inclination adjustment lever, a seat height lever, and an armrest height button. Sliding the height adjustment inward locks the base, which has an adjustable-resistance tilt spring.
Two more buttons inside the armrests allow the pads to slide in and out, forward and back. The in-and-out function is in addition to the slots on the brackets that secure the arms to the base of the chair so that it’s able to adjust quickly to people of similar size.
So, How Does It Feel?
The premium PU leather seat upholstery feels like the textured Polyurethane covering of mid-priced headphones, with a stiffness analogous to goat skin gloves. Ricardo Montalbán would be proud. The vinyl-topped leather backing is a little more slick and stiff, similar to cowhide used in mid-priced automotive upholstery. For optimal comfort, we suggest wearing a shirt and pants. (You were already going to be wearing those, right? Right?)
In fact, once the base warmed up to my legs, I reclined halfway to relax. Note that you’ll need to lock the base before doing this, unless you want to go for a ride. Unfortunately, the back didn’t fully engage: Instead, as soon as I applied my upper body weight, the back mechanism made the long crunching noise of the latch jumping over its teeth, and the jolt of reaching the bottom caused the chair to flip anyway. Being spring loaded and having given up completely on engagement, the recline mechanism then allowed the bottom to return to the back’s upright position, knees straight up. Considering my lack of head trauma, I guess that the headrest doubles as a safety feature?
Of course, the castor base flipped up, causing its edges to dig into my floor in two places, This is how one of the two scars in the floor looked after 24 hours of flexing back towards its original position. It’s a cheap repair if you can do it yourself, but getting a floor specialist to your location usually comes with a significant minimum fee.
We're going to guess that a minor manufacturing defect caused the non-engagement of the recline mechanism. It may work itself out or get worse, depending on how the chair gets used. And while other users may never have my experience, I’m going to suggest that everyone buying the first batch of these things wiggle the back hard to make sure it’s firmly engaged before leaning back. The latch of this sample repeatedly jumped its teeth before I started doing that.
Unable to relax in the chair after that, I let others take it for a ride, with the caution not to recline the back past about a 60° angle. The consensus is that this is a very comfortable chair, once you make all the adjustments.
Is it worth $350? Or even the $280 that some discount vendors are suggesting? The only truly cheap thing we could find on it were the castor wheel bearings; they're bottom-range roller blade bearings with all the grittiness that implies. And even low-end roller blade wheels are a tremendous improvement over what most mid-grade office chairs use. The Corsair T1 Race gaming chair might even be the best chair for a chair race. Wouldn’t you want that in your office?