Boulies Master’s $274 chair looks more “functional” than “fun,” but don’t be fooled by its lack of gamer aesthetics. This is a chair that can play and work in equal comfort. We don’t need extreme angles or bright colors to showcase our gaming prowess or spreadsheet skills.
At first glance, the Boulies Master is more of a shop-at-home job, in this (post?) covid era where many of us need an office in our homes. The Boulies Master design language is a hybrid of office and gaming chair (office heavy), offering a scalloped seat and multiple adjustments to fine-tune posture and comfort. My question is: Can this under $300 chair provide comfort and support for the gamer and worker? To find out, the company sent me a review unit, and I assembled it in my new home office, a place where I write, game, and make for 12 hours a day.
|Upholstery||Water repellent fabric or Ultraflex PU|
|Total height (with base)||4 ft 4 in (131 cm)|
|Height from floor to seat||17.7 – 20 inches (45 – 51cm)|
|Armrest adjustments||13cm (5.1 inches)|
|Recline||90 degrees (fully flat)|
|backrest length||31.5 inches (80cm)|
|Back width (at shoulder level)||22.4 inches (57cm)|
|Seating Area Width (Touch Point)||15.7 inches (40cm)|
|Seating area width (total)||20 inches (51 cm)|
|Seating Area Depth||19.3 inches (49cm)|
|Armrest width||9.8 cm (3.8 in)|
|Armrest height (from floor)||63 – 76cm|
|recommended maximum weight||135kg|
|Warranty||limited to two years|
|MSRP / Price at time of review||$274 / £290|
|Release date||Available now|
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Overall, assembly took just 50 minutes with the help of the simple assembly guide. There were illustrated steps and detailed instructions for each step. So why did it take so long to build? Well, it was more user error than design. First, my new office is a storage room. It has a beautiful south-facing window and I have plenty of space, but it wasn’t designed for chair-mounted gymnastics.
Second, I lost a dark colored spacer in my dark colored carpet, under a dark desk. Everything I needed came in a fairly large box, a box that had adequate protection (which is a good thing since it came with a hole punched into one side). Fortunately, the parts arrived safely, with only a crushed box containing the main tilt mechanism showing any signs of mishandling. The upholstered seat and back were plastic wrapped and had no marks or scuffs.
Getting back to mounting, the choice of M8 machine screws is a good compromise between heavy-duty fastenings and the use of tools. M8 size machine screws are used throughout the build and have just enough meat to make them feel strong. It also means I didn’t have to hunt around for a bunch of hex keys. That said, the included tools are adequate, but being a tool snob I chose to pull out a set of Wera hex keys and screwdrivers. At the end of the assembly process, I had some spare parts left over, intentionally. These parts, an M8 machine screw and two spacers, will come in handy in case a repair is needed in the future. Or they will if I don’t leave them behind something dark from time to time.
design and construction
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I chose the ash gray water-repellent fabric option for two reasons. One, it matches my office decor, and two, I prefer fabric over polyurethane faux leather because it feels warmer and more comfortable. Overall, the steel frame construction is excellent. This feels like a solid piece of furniture, unlike some chairs I’ve bought before. The armrests are solid, with a bit of play but no annoying squeaks or rattles. The fabric that covers the seat and back is well stitched and provides support. The fabric claims to be water repellent, and so far I have not managed to spill any liquid on the chair. However, the claimed hydrophobic effect will diminish over time. Its duration depends on how often it is used.
The seat is a bit firmer than I would have liked, but in the week I’ve been testing it hasn’t bothered me too much. The five-star aluminum floor base is strong and robust. It has not scratched any of my other furniture, nor has it been scratched. The five polyurethane wheels roll well on IKEA rugs and floor protectors. However, they do look a bit cheap compared to the rest of the chair. All materials used are easy to clean with a damp cloth. No chemicals required. The dark accents on the back and seat will be magnets for dust, so a light cleaning now and then should keep them looking good. Pet owners take note, though: The cloth will grab every stray fur.
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The chair can support a person between 165 and 190 cm (5 feet 5 inches to 6 feet 2 inches) tall and up to 135 kg (298 pounds). I’m 5ft 10in (177cm) and 251lbs (114kg) so I’m near the upper end of the spec. I can say that I have never felt uncomfortable in the chair. Some chairs can feel a little flimsy, as if the enormous weight of a human being is balanced on the head of a pin. This is not the case with the Boulies Master. The chair weighs around 24kg (just under 53lbs) with the steel frame and aluminum base making up most of the mass. This makes it a solid chair.
It is possible to adjust the chair to suit my needs through a large number of handles and knobs. Sitting in the chair, I can reach to the right and find a handle to raise and lower the seat. Take your weight off the chair and lift the handle to raise the seat. Sit down and the seat goes down. On the right side of the backrest there is a lumbar support knob. Dial this in and push the support into my lower back. This is helpful as I have sciatica from an ill-advised sofa move in 2006.
Also on the right side is a handle to unlock the backrest, allowing me to lean back and relax. Moving to my left, another handle is used to lock/unlock the tilt mechanism. I can use this to smoothly alter the angle of the seat, giving me the option to move my center of gravity for greater comfort. The armrests can be raised and lowered by pressing a paddle under the padded rest. The same armrests can also be rotated in and out for better support. Another button on the inside of each armrest will bring the armrests closer to about two inches, offering the wide space I need for my body, but still narrow enough to rest my elbows on. During the build process, you can set the maximum width of the armrests by sliding M8 machine screws along a rail.
Comfort and Adjustments
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So is Boulies Master comfortable? In a word, yes. Sure the seat is a bit firm, but my back hasn’t hurt. The many possible adjustments mean I can align myself with my monitor and keep my head straight, supported by the included neck pillow. It doesn’t hurt as much as when I was sitting in my old chair all day. I usually sit upright at my screen, with my armrests level with the top of the desk and a slight tilt back to shift my center of gravity. The chair adapted well to my mass. The only adjustment the chair doesn’t provide is a footrest which I prefer to avoid leaning into the screen.
The armrests are firm, with a bit of give, but they’re not there to cradle your elbows. They are more of a solid platform to keep you working comfortably. I chose to extend the armrests to maximum width because I like a bit of space between my body and others (unlike on my last transatlantic flight). While there wouldn’t be room for me to sit cross-legged or tuck one leg under me (not that I’d be able to pull off such gymnastics), a smaller person would have the space. My wife also tried the chair out and found that she had to lower the height, reduce lumbar support, and bring her arms in slightly for best comfort. She was also happy with the color as it complemented the office decor.
For $274 (£290 is the UK price), this is a great chair. Arguably the most important aspect of an office/gaming chair is, do you want to sit in it? And after putting it together and testing it, I went back to Boulies Master, and never really felt uncomfortable, even after several hours of sitting. Sure, I had a few hours of tinkering the first day, but other than that the chair supported my body and I never felt like I was balancing on the head of a pin.
Neck support is welcome, but wearing a hoodie forced me to sit forward unnaturally. So I stop wearing hoodies or take off my neck support. The backrest is also comfortable. The seat is not difficult to modify to suit my needs and I can slide around my office with ease. When you consider that my previous chair was £200 from Amazon, spending an extra £90 makes a world of difference. The Boulies Master is a reliable workhorse. He does the work and provides support and comfort. It doesn’t scream “GAMER”, but I would happily play my Steam library sitting in this chair. In fact, I think I will.