Thanks for coming by and checking out this gaming chair review. Sammy, the Clutch Chairz rep who reached out to me, hooked me up with their Shift Series Alpha Black chair. Read on to hear about my experience with the chair and whether or not it is worth its $380 price tag.
What’s in the Box
- Seat and backrest
- Heavy duty aluminum base
- 4D armrests
- Gas lift
- Lumbar support cushion
- Hardware and misc
All of this is neatly packed in the shipping box. The mailman who delivered the package didn’t seem overly pleased hauling it from his truck but once I got it into my house, it was fairly easy to unpack.
In the Trenches: A Week with the Clutch Shift Series Chair
The first thing I noticed while putting this chair together is that Clutch Chairz didn’t skimp out on any of the components. Everything is heavy. While that makes the assembly part of the chair experience a little more annoying, I’m confident this chair will last much, much longer than the average office chair. All told, it probably took me about 60-90 minutes to take everything out of the box, put it together, and break up the cardboard and recycle it. I was arranging things and taking photos here and there too so (plus warding off a curious dog that wanted to keep sneaking into pictures) so I think it would probably take most folks less time. I don’t really like putting stuff together, but after a scarring 8 hour Ikea bed frame assembly experience, this was nothing. The thick aluminum base, wide armrests, tubular steel frame, and ample padding speak to the premium quality of this chair. Altogether the chair weighs 55 pounds rated for 265 pound capacity (A little heavier than the 50 pound Levl Gaming Chair I recently reviewed). No wonder it is backed by a lifetime warranty.
I use a Steelcase leap chair at work and have been using this chair at home. I’m nearly as pleased with the Shift Series Alpha. The three features I’d like to highlight are the robust build, functional armrests, and reclining feature. I already talked about the build, as mentioned all the components feel built to last. Even the casters are a little wider than normal. The armrests are what Clutch has dubbed “4D”. My brain can’t comprehend 4 dimensional space, but I think this is simply their way of saying the armrests adjust in 4 directions. You can adjust them up and down, side to side, forward and rearward, and even rotate them +/- 10 degrees. I really like this feature as I’m constantly changing positions and typing at different angles. I like being able to have arm support throughout it all. If you like having your arms resting on the console and door in the car, it offers similar ergonomic support. The difference is you can precisely customize it.
I was dorking around with the reclining feature and was going to knock Clutch a few points on it because I couldn’t seem to get it to function appropriately. It felt like whenever I reclined my postural muscles were going into overdrive to keep me balanced and prevent me from falling over. In fact it was a user error, I hadn’t discovered the tilt lock lever function. Clutch Chairz CEO Neil Saunders, was really helpful in pointing out this neat functionality:
I just wanted to point out a couple of key features to help you maximize use of the chair. One of the features that sets Clutch apart from the competition is the fact that we have 2-lever mechanisms on all models. This enables you to lock the seat pan is a rear-tilted position which can create a “Zero Gravity” effect allowing you to rest your back periodically. I recommend trying this out to see how it feels. To accomplish this zero gravity position simply pull up on the lever under the seat on the left side. This is the unlocked position for the tilt function. Next, lean back in the chair so that the entire seat pan tilts rearward. While the seat is tilt push down on the lever to lock it. You should feel the difference right away, the chair is now doing most of the work for you as opposed to your postural muscles having to maintain your spine in an up right position. If you also recline the backrest separately (lever on the right) to about 100-110 degrees (90 degrees would be the normal sitting position) you should feel fully supported by the chair, i.e. – zero gravity position.
One gripe I have with this chair is that the lumbar support pillow seems pretty low quality. It doesn’t rebound well like some memory foam lumbar pillows, and doesn’t provide a great deal of support. If you’ve got lower back pain that may be something you’ll want to add on to the chair at some point. I can say with assurance the short term experience with the chair is solid. Long term, it is difficult to say. As with any chair, putting in 6 months to a year and see whether or not back pain rears its ugly head can be revealing.
Mike’s Take (2/7/18 Update)
After reviewing this chair, I gave this chair to my friend Mike. Here’s his thoughts on the chair:
This is my first time ever owning a quality chair. I have always used hand-me-downs or other cheap chairs. Having consistent back issues after an injury has always haunted me from driving my car to just walking normal. From the first time I saw the Clutch Series Alpha it looked very high quality even before sitting in it. I knew what I was after when searching for a chair. I needed lumbar support, a sturdy base, a adjustable arm rests, a chair for long hours of gaming and one that would not make me sore. I checked out some other well known brands of chairs and while some were great, their price tag was outrageous. Others with the quality being mediocre. Clutch’s Shift Series Chair has taken gaming to a new level. I cannot believe what I was missing out on.
First time I sat down, my back was already thanking me. Being a Counter-Strike player, it is crucial to not become fatigued during game play especially during tense clutch situations. The last thing a gamer needs is to have to focus on becoming comfortable. That focus needs to go toward your team and gameplay. From sitting improper for a long time, I had to relearn some hand positioning which greatly improved my aim and helped keep me relaxed. I noticed an increase in my skill as well as not having a sore back. I must say that I never imagined a chair having that big of an impact on my game performance which is impressive to me.
Being able to adjust the height and pitch of the seat also helps ease some leg tension. Prior to owning this chair, I had to compensate by propping up a leg. Those days are history. Days where I feel like lounging back to watch a movie are easily done by the adjustable back rest. I am able to lay back without having to worry about tipping over, thanks to the heavy duty base. The build quality itself is very good. The stitching is great and well done. I feel like I don’t have to worry about seams becoming frayed or tearing apart. The headrest and lumbar support that it shipped with are very comfortable and provide good support for my neck.
Overall this chair is incredible and I highly recommend it. It will take your gaming experience to a whole new level. Plus being all black, it fits in really well with my setup. Clean, sturdy and comfortable.
Gaming Chair Ratings
Here is a quick overview of how the chair scored.
Plenty of padding, awesome armrests, recline mode, and the ‘zero gravity’ feature, won the Clutch chair plenty of points in this category. I did knock a couple points for low density lumbar support pillow.
Clutch didn’t reinvent the wheel with this chair’s ergonomics, but it isn’t shabby. 4D armrests, height adjust, tilt resistance, infinite tilt lock, and the ability to recline rounds out the chair well. Plus you get the headrest and lumber pillows.
Build Quality (10/10)
I don’t give out many 10’s, but I wasn’t left with a choice here. Everything is heavy and reinforced in the places a chair should be. This is built like a tank.
When it comes to gaming chairs, the styling can be pretty hit or miss. I recognize this is a personal preference thing. Overall, I dig the all black look with the angular aesthetic and unique wheelbase.
I am fairly familiar with the gaming chair market and the $380 seems about right. At $380, it’s certainly no giveaway, but is comparable to similar offerings from DX Racer and the like. But another way to look at it is that most gaming chairs basic models start around $300, for $80 more you’re getting quite a bit more bang for your buck.
Zoom In: Specs
- Upholstery: PU leather
- Casters: PU coated (safe for wood floors)
- Weight: 55 pounds (25kg)
- Weight Capacity: 265 pounds (120kg)
- Reclines from 85 to 135 degrees
- Wheelbase: Aluminum
- Frame: Tubular steel
- Internal: Cold cured high density foam
- Lifetime warranty
- 2 lever tilt mechanism with tilt lock
Zoom Out: Summary
- Heavy, 55 pound gaming chair with aluminum base and steel frame built to last
- Sleek all black with sharp angular aesthetic
- Chemical smell (hopefully will fade) and lumbar cushion doesn’t offer much support
- 4D armrests a big win
- Reclining, zero gravity, and tilt lock are nice features
For more gaming chair options, check out our Best PC Gaming Chairs page.