Choosing a Chair is Hell

Left: Secret Lab Titan Evo 2022 Right: DXRacer Formula F08

After 6 years, the time had finally come to replace our old DXRacer gaming chairs. The only problem was that the fake leather had started to crack. Other than that, the chair was as comfortable as it was on day one.

After months watching videos and reading forums, it became clear that there wouldn’t be an easy solution to the question “which gaming chair is the best for us”.

To some, the best gaming chair isn’t a gaming chair but an office chair like the Herman Miller Aeron or the Steelcase Leap v2. Both chairs cost more than 1000,00€

To others, the Secret Lab Titan Evo 2022 is the ultimate gaming chair and its only alternative is the DXRacer Formula. Both cost less than 600,00€.

One thing that is certain, Secret Lab’s marketing is amazing, they’re everywhere! Their trick is simple: post a review and a picture of your chair anywhere on social networks and we’ll give you a warranty extension. As a result, you’re literally hammered by the brand.

We don’t really have a budget limit when it comes to our battle stations but I guess that we’re still not used to go over the 1K price tag for a chair. Psychologically, it remains a barrier.

We both suffer of dust allergy and a fabric seat easily becomes itchy, while leather and fake leather chairs can easily be wiped with a Swiffer.

As a result, we ordered two chairs from Secret Lab, a small for Sisqi and a regular for me. Let me tell you that the quality is impeccable. The chair is easy to assemble and feels very solid with an attention to every detail.

The only problem is that no matter how we tune it, that chair is the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever had to sit on! It’s so solid, it feels like on a wood plank. Not only did it hurt our backs but our bottoms as well! We gave it 2 weeks to see if it would break in but nothing changed, that chair is a real piece of shit! (Aah, the power of profanity…)

So we ended up purchasing two DXRacer Formula. We know that chair, we’ve already used one and it lasted 6 years, for 300,00€. Ok, the quality isn’t the same, the chair feels less sturdy than the Secret Lab, but it feels good on our backs and on our butts!

Why didn’t we buy an Herman Miller instead? You have to know that Herman Miller delivers the chair and picks it back up if you change your mind during the first 30 days. The chair is delivered constructed and with a 12 years warranty. But I guess that we didn’t want to do any more tests this year. We had just spent nearly a month with 4 gaming chairs in our apartment, changing every single day and talking about it for hours. At some point, we made a decision and we’ll stick to it until next year. All we want for now is to empty up our heads of those questions and sit to comfortably for the new expansion of World of Warcraft.

So, are we in Gaming chair heaven? No. Is the DXRacer more comfortable than the Secret Lab? Oh hell yes! I can’t actually believe that the Titan receives so many good reviews while it’s the most atrocious chair I’ve ever tried in my entire life. Will we order an Herman Miller? There is no doubt about that, but it’ll have to wait 2023.

Almost Corsair Free

Another Corsair part has been replaced from our PCs. We both had a Corsair RM850x, Inge’s PSU started to become very noisy at launch and mine regularly vibrated after longer use. We decided to go for a Be Quiet! Dark Power 12 850w. Not only was the setup much easier because the cables are shielded in a single sleeve, but the noise levels are incredibly lower. Now, they’re not really in the same category, the Be Quiet PSU is Titanium certified while the Corsair one is only Gold, with a price difference of 100€.

One myth I’d like to debunk is that, in our times, all manufacturers are equal and that you should only purchase the parts that are within your price range. I’ve always remained loyal to a few brands like Asus, Noctua or Gskill, except for this build. I thought that I could experiment a bit, by using more Corsair and EVGA parts, which I’ve almost entirely replaced during the last year.

So, if I have to give an advice to anyone building a PC these days: stay away form Corsair, their marketing makes it look like a premium product, but it’s nothing more than low grade hardware wrapped in shiny plastic with led lights. As for EVGA, they may have stellar reviews but on 4 GPUs I’ve used in 6 years, 3 have died within the first year, while I still have to see an ASUS fail.

Moving Away From Water Cooling

When we first built our PCs, 2 years ago, AIOs were all the rage (as was RGB). Unfortunately, as time passes, water coolers degrade, their performances lower and the pumps become noisy. After checking my usual hardware forums (meaning: PCMR), it appears that more people are moving away from water cooling.

I decided to go for a Noctua NH-D15S. Since we had to change the PCU cooler, I also decided to change all the case fans because, let’s face it, Corsair’s PSUs may be the bests, their fans are horrible. One of mine was vibrating at a high speed and one of Sisqi’s RGB fans was flickering for no reason. We also got tired of having so many lights inside of our cases, it easily tires our eyes and induces headaches on longer gaming sessions. So, we went back to our all time favourite brand: Noctua.

It took me 4-5 hours to strip our two cases of all the bloat from our previous builds and install the new cooling equipment. It was the first time that I had to remove thermal paste from a CPU, it was super easy with alcohol wipes.

The result is excellent, the temperature levels are down as well as the noise of the fans, even at higher RPM. This concludes my once in a life time attempt at trying other brands for my PC hardware.

Little tip: when you use Google to search for technical specifications, always set the date of the results to “last year”. I wanted to know if I could use PWM fans with my motherboard and the answers I found were that only DC fans could be used for the chassis. It appears that these answers were outdated and that the latest ASUS motherboards automatically detect the fans and can perfectly handle PWM.

TLDR: Our PCs no longer look like Christmas trees trapped inside of an aquarium. Corsair cooling was bad, Noctua remains the best.

Corsair RGB

When I built my PC, I wanted a water cooler, so the airflow inside the tower wouldn’t be obstructed by a huge PCU heatsink.

For my peace of mind, if there’s a water cooler inside of my tower, I need to see it so I’m sure that it isn’t leaking. So, I purchased a windowed tower.

Since a few component were RGB by default, I purchased a few more, so I could create a nice colour scheme.

Among these parts were two Corsair 12” RGB fans which I was planning to use as back and top exhausts. I was very surprised to see that they were not lighting up. That’s because I had to connect them to a RGB Hub and a RGB Node Pro, which were not provided.

I wish that I had knew that before purchasing the fans separately, because these devices aren’t provided in single fan packs, you have to purchase a two fans pack or purchase, for the exact same price, the devices separately.

So, you have only two options:

  • 2 x RGB fans + RGB Hub + RGB Node Pro (+/- 140,00 eur.);
  • A pack of two RGB fans which includes everything (+/- 80 eur.).

I wish that I had knew all this before purchasing my fans and, above all, I wish that the hub and the node were merged into a single device. Actually, I found out that there is such a device, the Node Core. Unfortunately, it isn’t sold separately and I couldn’t find any pack that includes it in Europe.

I gave up and I purchased an extra 2 fans pack (I now have a few spare RGB fans, yay) and I installed the Hub and the Node Pro. It was very easy thanks to the great cable management in the back of the NZXT tower. The control of the colours is entirely done through Corsair iCue and I enjoy the result. I am now living in pure RGB bliss.

My Setup

I want to keep track of the changes that I make to my setup. On the picture above, you can see the PCs that Inge and I have built in April.

Displays

The displays have already been replaced by Asus PG279Q (27”-1440px-Gsync) because the refresh rate of the LG 4k screens was too low for gaming. Even if the refresh rate of the Asus display is amazing, one of the 2 screens had dead pixels in the middle and they both have a bit of backlight bleed. We could get the screen with dead pixels replaced, but the BLB remains on both screens. I don’t wanna sound like an elitist but with such a high price tag, the overall build of the Asus screen was underwhelming and I think that I’ll go back to BenQ when the 4K with high refresh rates will become cheaper.

PC parts

  • NZXT 500 white;
  • Asus Maximus XI hero;
  • Intel Core I9-9900k;
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO Series 16 Go (2x 8 Go) DDR4 3200 Mhz;
  • ASUS GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER ROG-STRIX-RTX2070S-O8G-GAMING;
  • Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1 To;
  • Samsung SSD 860 EVO 500 Go;
  • Corsair Hydro Series H115i PRO;
  • Corsair RM850x White MODULAR 80 PLUS GOLD 850 WATT EU VERSION.

It’s the second time that I trust the reviews about EVGA, and it’s the second time that I’m disappointed. A few years ago, we had to wait an update of the software to be able to enjoy the full fan speed on our GTX 1080, this time it’s Inge’s GPU that got fried after only a few months of light use. We’ve replaced hers with an ASUS RTX STRIX 2070 O8C and mine is on the way. We will keep my old GPU on the side as spare part.

Controllers

  • Corsair Gaming K70 RGB MK.2 (Cherry MX Red);
  • Corsair Gaming Scimitar Pro RGB (Black).

Sound

  • Steelseries Arctis Pro + Gamedac;
  • Logitech Z120 speakers.

New rigs

After a far too long break from PC gaming, we finally decided to build two new rigs…

For the build, we didn’t go overkill on the GPU, the price difference between an RTX 2070 and a 2080 ti was 1000,00€ per computer. Since 4k PC monitors with decent refresh rates aren’t within our reach yet, we targeted a gaming resolution of 1440p.

We went for an i9 9900k, since most of the bottlenecking in WoW comes from the CPU. It is also the first time that we used an AIO watercooler (Corsair h115i pro). It is incredibly more quiet and, so far, it seems to cool down the CPU very effectively.

We departed from the black Fractal case for something fancier: the NZXT H500. It is an amazing PC case with great cable management. The size and minimalist looks make it the perfect choice for our gaming space. Our desks are both 150cm wide and we didn’t want to be encased between two black blocks. Also, for years, I trusted the reviews about Fractal cases, but I never found the define models as silent as advertised, nor was the cable management that great. Actually, the H500 is even more silent and it doesn’t even use any damping material. I must admit that the use of PWM fans and a watercooler are probably responsible for the lower noise levels.

We took a few pictures during the process:

You can find the complete part list of the build on PCpartpicker.

Congratulations to Sisqi for having participated to the assembly, she did an awesome job!