The full review is contained in the video, above, so I urge you to take a look at that. This companion piece offers my brief thoughts in written format.
In today's review, I have my hands on the AKRacing California-inspired gaming chair costing £339. It has three pastel colour variants to choose from, Napa (pastel purple), Laguna (clean white), and Tahoe (vibrant blue). Designed to have a smaller frame, it's a good fit for slim/petite body types with a maximum weight capacity of up to 150kg and height of 5’6″. It features a standard mechanism, a recline angle of up to 180°
and 3D-adjustable armrests. Built with a nylon-composite base featuring 60mm wheels, it also features premium PU leather, mould-shaping cold foam padding and neck/lumbar pillows.
Frame Material: Metal
Colour: 3 variants; Napa, Laguna, and Tahoe
Frame Coating: Anti corrosive black paint
Chair Cover Material: Premium PU leather on front and back
Foam Type: High Density Mould Shaping Foam
Foam Density: 55 kg/m³ (seat) 50 kg/m³ (back)
Base Type: Nylon Composite base
Adjustable Armrests: 3D
Mechanism Type: Standard Mechanism
Adjustable Tilt Angle: 3-18°
Tilt Lock: Yes
Tilt Angle Lock: No
Recline angle: 180°
Gas Lift Class: Class 4 gaslift
Adjustable Back Angle: Yes
Adjustable Lumbar Cushion: Yes
Adjustable Headrest: Yes
Dimensions: Seat: 21.25″ (W) x 17.7″ (D)
Backrest: 21″ (W) x 27.7″ (H)
Warranty Length: 5/10 years
Height: 150-170 cm
Weight: 45-70 kg
BMI: Not to exceed 25
Weight Capacity: 150 kg
Disassembled Gaming Chair; wheelbase, wheels, upper side covers, lower side cover, gas lift mechanism, hydraulic gas-lift, gas-lift cover, backrest, seat with pre-installed armrests, butterfly clip
Tools: Small Allen wrench (hex key), large Allen wrench (hex key), side cover screws
To go alongside this chair and to show off the David vs. Goliath of the gaming chair world, AKRacing also sent me a Masters Series Max. This is completely the opposite of the California gaming chair as it features a much wider frame, with a maxed-out weight capacity of up to 181kg and a maxed-out height of 6’7". The Max gaming chair has an advanced mechanism giving the ability to tilt-angle lock, has an extra heavy duty gas lift, and it uses '4D-adjustable' armrests. It has a high-tensile aluminium base with 63.5mm wheels and also features premium PU leather, mould-shaping cold foam padding and neck/lumbar pillows.
Between both of these AKRacing chairs, the California is definitely, by far, my favourite. I fit into the category of being a smaller person, at around 5ft 4" and weighing around 55kg. The frame has supportive curvature built into the chair which naturally follows the curve of the lower back for complete comfort while gaming. This helped me feel comfortable and snug. I used to always get larger frame chairs such as the AKRacing Pro X, as I have a strange fascination with crossing my legs when gaming on the chair. However, the chairs would never feel overly comfortable as they were clearly far too big for me and my size.
By using a much smaller chair I can see the benefits of having something that you fit into perfectly. I can't exactly cross my legs now as the seat space is a lot smaller, but maybe this will get me out of the bad habit of having my legs elevated and knees bent for long periods of time. The head rests, arm rests, shoulder pads and neck/lumbar pillows are all in the correct positions for my body, and the seat has the perfect positioning for the back of my knees. As before, I found that with a larger chair, I would struggle to have both my back and knees supported because the seat would be too large. Also, an added bonus of having a smaller chair... my feet can touch the floor in a natural position, so this is great!
There were a couple of things I noticed whilst assembling the chair that could be seen as little annoyances. I would find certain scuff marks and a crack already on parts before I'd even started to build it.
This could potentially be down to being shipped or packaged poorly. It is a shame especially as you want to know your product is looking its best when it arrives.
My main concern with the California is during building the left-side cover didn't fit properly, leaving an annoying gap between the cover and the chair itself. No matter what I tried, I couldn't seem to get it to fit properly.
Whereas the Max chair side cover seemed to fit perfectly, leaving no gap at all, and I couldn't see any cosmetic defects.
Aside from the differences in the size between the Max and the California, there are some other feature differences. The Max chair has an advanced mechanism, which gives the ability to tilt back and lock the chair in that tilted position (Rock It & Lock It function), a heavy-duty gas-lift and 4D armrests allowing you to adjust them by height (up/down), width (left/right) & vertical (forward/backward) position. You can also switch between the three different sideways positions (left, right & straight).
Whereas the California has the standard mechanism which just gives you the basic chair recline, meaning you miss out on being able the tilt the chair and lock it into position. It has a class 4 gas-lift and 3D armrests, which allow you to move the arm rests up/down, forward/backwards, but unable to move left/right. They both also have cosmetic and material differences in the base, wheels and arm rests.
Better fit for people with smaller heights and frames
Premium quality feel and look
Feels durable and very sturdy
Wheels move easily across floor
Plush, soft foam padding and neck/lumbar pillows.
Ability to adjust chair height and recline
3D adjustable armrests
Lighter than most chairs making it great for transporting room to room
The Not So Good:
Instructions aren't the clearest when assembling
One arm rest was fitted differently to the other; I had to unscrew one side and adjust it as it was squashing the seat and the distance between them was off.
One of the side covers doesn't fit correctly
Cosmetic scuffs and a crack on one of the side covers before assembly
Lacks 4D adjustable armrests
Lacks tilt-angle lock feature
As a last note, I do wish that the California had the Rock It and Lock It feature and the arm rest adjustability that the Max has, as being a smaller size, I want to have the perfect fitting, comfortable and pro gamer experience from my chairs.