October 13, 2017 // 1:30 p.m.
UK price (as reviewed): £519.95 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $579.90 (exc. tax)There are seemingly hundreds of "gaming" chairs on the market at the moment, and let's face it, most of them are very similar to each other. There are a few that stand out from the crowd, such as the Vertagear Triigger 350, but these are certainly not cheap. Noblechairs has managed to gain a rather impressive reputation in the gaming chair market, but like the Triigger series, its chairs tend to come at a premium price. Its newest product is the Icon, which is available in multiple colours and materials. We have the top of the range Real Leather version to use in our review, so let's take a look to see if it can justify the price tag.
Inside the huge box, there are many parts, and all of them are bubble-wrapped or covered in plastic to ensure that nothing gets damaged or scratched in transit. This is something we're happy to see, as in the past there have been marks and damage to the chairs before we have even assembled them, especially the five-spoke base.
Most of these parts are very familiar indeed; we have seen this mechanism on chairs from companies such as DXRacer in the past. That said, there is very little to change here, and a lot of chairs like these are made in the same factories, just using different materials and designs, so this isn't uncommon and doesn't reflect badly on Noblechairs.
As soon as we took the first part of the actual chair out of the box, it was obvious that the real leather is far nicer than the usual pleather or PU leather. It just feels far nicer than the fake leather, but obviously, it doesn't come cheap. You may also have ethical qualms regarding real leather, but Noblechairs offers the PU leather version for almost £200 less.
The quality of the chair is outstanding. The stitching is excellent, and quite honestly it looks amazing even before it's built. The base is quite firm compared to some other chairs, but this hasn't had a negative effect on comfort. I have spent a long time using the Noblechairs Icon, and not once have I felt uncomfortable.
Looking at the underside of the seat, the armrests are already attached, but they can be adjusted to make them wider if you need to change them. I am a rather large guy, and I was able to leave them at the default position, so if you are worried about the width of the arms, there's plenty of room.
Inside the box is a nice little kit with some screws, bolts, and a tool. This is a little step up from just having them loose in a bag, so it's a nice touch. The first thing we did to assemble the chair was to use the four bolts to attach the tilting mechanism to the underside of the base.
Next we wanted to attach the back to the base. There are already bolts in the back of the chair; these need to be removed, so we can only assume these are left in so that the leather doesn't move and cover the holes during shipping, and again this approach is near-universal amongst chairs that assemble in a similar fashion.
The back of the chair simply bolts to the base. This works very well with the tool provided, even though Noblechairs does put a sticker over two of the holes that are needed. We don't mind this, as it really is important to take notice of the warning: Don't touch the handle whilst you are building the chair! The mechanism is spring-loaded and strong enough to pull the entire back into a vertical position, so if the back isn't attached properly and it unlocks, it will spring forward with a lot of force and do some serious damage if it hits you.
We did run into a rather big problem with the plastic covers, sadly. Basically, the screws were too large for the holes, and the holes were actually tapped (threaded) when they didn't need to be. This meant that the screws couldn't go all the way in, and this left the plastic cover loose. This isn't great, especially for a £520 chair, but I did contact Noblechairs customer support, and they sent me out a second set of screws which arrived the next day.
These screws were the same as the first set, but with a lot more force I was able to get them to fit, as I had already made the hole larger trying to force the first set of screws through. I contacted the folks at Noblechairs again, first through the customer support and then through our direct contacts, and they were very surprised at this issue and assured me that this problem will be fixed as soon as possible. They also wanted us to convey the message that if there are any more defective chairs, they will ensure they fix the issue and give customers the same support we received. Noblechairs is still unsure to why my sample was like this, and it has also checked some other samples without finding others that have the issue, so it might just be a one-off. We're very impressed with the speed at which the issue was resolved either way, so at least we know the customer service is up to scratch, too!
Once the issue with the plastic covers was solved, we dropped the gas lift through the base, then popped the chair on top. The gas lift has quite a lot of movement, and there is a difference of 10cm from the lowest position to the highest. The gas lift is rated for up to 180kg, as is the rest of the chair, so if you are a heavy user like myself, this is perfect.
The arm rests have some rather nice details such as the metal buttons. These allow the rests to be moved forwards and backwards to ensure they are in a good position for your desk.
The arm rests can also be moved up/down and left/right. This enables the user to be comfortable regardless of the height and width of the person and the length of the arms.
The Icon can't lean back until it is flat like some of the gaming chairs we have looked at in the past can, but it does still lean to 135°. This is more than enough for the average user, but if you feel the need to lie down completely, then this isn't the chair for you (or maybe just use a bed/sofa/floor/bathtub like a normal human - Ed.). The lever to recline the chair is easy to reach and works well.
The Icon comes complete with a really nice pillow that attaches to the top of the chair with a strap. There is also a lumbar support cushion, but this is rather annoying, as it doesn't attach at all, so you have to constantly readjust it if you wish to use it. In some ways, having a cushion is a cop-out for not having proper adjustable lumbar support built into the chair itself, although again it is very common.
This chair has been one of the most comfortable chairs I have used, and there is no denying that the materials and overall build quality are exceptional. The leather is a definitely a treat compared to the fake stuff that we usually see, but equally £520 is a lot of money. It isn't perfect either, as the lumbar support could be better, and the problem with the plastic cover screws marred the initial experience. The only reason that we haven't made it into a huge issue is the way Noblechairs dealt with the situation, and elsewhere build quality remained at a high level. Mistakes happen, and we have no reason to disbelieve Noblechairs when it says that customers will receive the same customer service as we received. Still, these niggles mean we can't dish out our Exceptional award, but it is nonetheless an impressive chair. As such, we are going to give it our Recommended award, as it is by far the best gaming chair I've ever used, and if I had the money to spend I would personally buy one for my home office. The only way I would expect to get a better chair would be to shell out some more on something like a Herman Miller or similar, but then you are approaching the £1,000 mark.