I’ve often been somewhat underwhelmed by many gaming chairs. While build quality is generally impressive, actual comfort and support have been highly unreliable. As such, the arrival of the ThunderX3 Core Modern is a pleasant break from this trend.
Thanks to its wobbly lumbar back support system, this ThunderX3 chair offers meaningful spinal assistance while the rest of its design incorporates useful features, comfortable padding, and unobtrusive styling. Combined with a decent price, it’s enough to put this chair straight onto our best gaming chair guide.
Get gaming gear for less ☞ Our free money-saving tool finds discounts for you at over 40,000 online retailers. Try PCGamesN Deal Finder now.
|Modern (Black, dark blue, dark red, grey), Loft (black, grey), Racer (black, black and blue)
|Leatherette (faux leather/pleather) or
|4D (up/down, forward/back, rotate left/right) with cushion top
|Premium back and seat tilt
|Inbuilt non-adjustable but wobbly lumbar pad
|Elasticated memory foam headrest, foam footrest, assembly tools
For the most part, the ThunderX3 Core is a smart-looking option as far as gaming chairs go. The black faux leather Modern version photographed here looks particularly muted but the grey fabric Loft version my colleague is using also looks smart while offering a slightly more relaxed feel.
There are also dark red and blue variants of the Modern, a black version of the Loft, and a black and black/blue Racer versions. The Racer model has, as its name suggests, a slightly more aggressive, garish look and uses a combination of faux leather and fabric finishes.
Back to the Modern and the only adornments are the ThunderX3 logo embossed in the headrest, two further ThunderX3 name labels stitched into the back and front edge of the seat, and the use of some faux carbon fiber patterns on some of the faux leather panels. That may all sound a little cheesy but it’s all done very subtley – you hardly notice that it’s not all just plain black.
The ThunderX3 Core is packed with more features than we’ve come to expect from a chair of this price. For a start, it uses a powerful class 4-gas lift that’s rated to support up to 150kg. That’s relatively common for more mid to high-priced gaming chairs but some cheaper options only offer 120kg or lower ratings.
Less common at this price is the recline mechanism that provides an effortless tip-back function that drops the rear of the seat as the back tilts. It’s not quite on the level of quality of that in the Noblechair Hero but it’s much better than the ones in cheaper chairs. They require you to raise the front of the chair to get the same effect, which we find often means you can’t meaningfully just sit back but instead have to rest your feet on something to force you backwards.
Another premium feature is that the seat can slide forward and back, providing more leg support for those with longer legs. This helps reduce pressure points on the underside of your legs, improving long-term comfort.
I’m less keen on the controls for all these features. The gas lift and seat slide are relatively easy to activate with a flick of two switches on stalks on either side of the chair. But, the recline lock and recline friction adjust require turning the knobs on the stalk ends and it’s an awkward action to do so. Thankfully, once setup you shouldn’t need to use these much again.
The armrests offer ‘3D’ adjustment whereby the armrest arms offer height adjustment then the armrest pads on top can rotate (30° inward, perpendicular to the chair, and 30° outward) and slide forward and back. Cleverly, the angled front edge of the armrests means you can set the pads at an angle and tuck the chair in closer to your desk without the rests getting in the way.
The final features of note are the included headrest and footrest and the real star of the show, the lumbar support, the efficacy of which we’ll talk about next.
Starting with the head and footrests, these are just memory foam pads the former of which straps to the top of the chair and the latter of which you can just chuck on the floor to rest your feet on.
If you’ve never tried a footrest before, we highly recommend you do so. It can make a surprising difference to your comfort by ensuring your feet are resting comfortably and your legs are set at the right angle relative to the chair. As such, the one included here is a nice touch – it’s soft but supportive and its rubber underside nicely grips the floor so your feet don’t slide away.
Similarly, the headrest is better than any other similar elasticated gaming chair headrest we’ve tried. It’s properly contoured so that it doesn’t just dig into your neck/head, is really soft and squishy, and straps reasonably securely to the seat back.
So to the lumbar support. It’s a strange contraption: a convexly curved padded piece of plastic that sits on a single pivot point such that the whole lumbar support area moves around with your back. It just seems like it’s going to be a gimmick – a bit like the terrible adjustable support of the Raer Iskur – but it does actually work.
For a start, its contouring is done right such that its curves match that of your spine – an essential factor many gaming chairs get wrong – but then the way it moves also ensures the support isn’t lost as you adjust your position. It’s like a carer just gently supporting your lower back as you go about your desk-bound day.
The lumbar support would be for nothing if the rest of the chair wasn’t also comfortable, and thankfully it is. The seat cushioning is nice and soft yet supportive, and doesn’t make the mistake of raising up at the front, digging into the underside of your legs. It’s also nice and wide with no exaggerated racing chair wings digging into your sides and making you feel cramped – even my 6’2″ frame can sit cross-legged on this thing.
Finally, there’s the padding on the armrests which is actually soft! You’ll be amazed how many gaming chairs have rock-hard armrests that genuinely are so uncomfortable I’ve stopped using them within hours of testing a chair. These, though, are beautifully cushioned.
There are some downsides, though. The use of thick padding rather than supportive mesh like on many office chairs and the likes of the Razer Fujin Pro means your back and bum get quite hot in this chair. In fact, the softer seat padding and constantly-in-contact lumbar support means this chair is a touch worse than some others for getting a bit hot and sweaty – especially in this faux leather finish. But, it’s nothing a five-minute break doesn’t fix.
The other issue is again with the faux leather finish, which is that it creaks. When moving around the lumbar support and when the armrests come into contact with a desk, they can creak and squeak. As such, unless you’re really paranoid about having a wipe-clean chair, I’d be inclined to go for the Loft fabric version of this chair, rather than the faux leather finish – it’ll feel warmer to the initial touch in winter too.
The ThunderX3 Core Modern price is £339.95 or €399.99, making it a mid-priced gaming chair but with a premium feature set. As such, while not the absolute most affordable chair going, it offers good value.
ThunderX3 Core Modern review conclusion
The ThunderX3 Core is a very pleasant surprise. Outside of the very most expensive options, we’ve not seen anything close to this level of comfort from a gaming chair before. The seat and armrests are soft but supportive in all the right ways while the wobbly lumbar support really does work. Plus, you get plenty of adjustability to suit the chair to your needs – including all-important seat-depth adjustment. You even get a footrest included too!
This particular faux leather Modern version isn’t necessarily the one we’d choose though. It gets a little hot and sweaty with prolonged use. The Core Loft version, though, with its fabric finish, would be our choice.
For other options, check out our best gaming chair guide and specifically seek out the Noblechairs Hero, which has a similarly large, faux-leather design.
The ThunderX3 Core Modern is a revelation in gaming chair comfort thanks to its balance of meaningful support but soft and cosseting cushioning.
- Class-leading gaming chair comfort
- Fantastic feature set for the money
- Great build quality
- Excellent value
- Faux leather version can get a bit hot
- Faux leather finish creaks
This story originally appeared on PC Gamesn