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ThunderX3 Core review – a new level in gaming chair comfort

The ThunderX3 Core has an ingenious moving lumbar support that puts other gaming chairs to shame, and it's impressive in many other areas too.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 02

Our Verdict

The ThunderX3 Core Modern is a revelation in gaming chair comfort thanks to its balance of meaningful support but soft and cosseting cushioning.

Reasons to buy
  • Class-leading gaming chair comfort
  • Fantastic feature set for the money
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
  • Faux leather version can get a bit hot
  • Faux leather finish creaks

I’ve often been somewhat underwhelmed by the many gaming chairs I’ve reviewed. While build quality is generally impressive, actual comfort and support have been highly unreliable. As such, the arrival of the ThunderX3 Core Modern is a pleasant break from this trend.

Thanks to its wobbly lumbar back support system, this ThunderX3 chair offers meaningful spinal assistance while the rest of its design incorporates useful features, comfortable padding, and unobtrusive styling. Combined with a decent price, it’s enough to put this chair straight onto our best gaming chair guide.

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ThunderX3 Core Modern specs

Weight limit 150kg
Color options Modern (Black, dark blue, dark red, grey), Loft (black, grey), Racer (black, black and blue)
Finish options Leatherette (faux leather/pleather) or
Weave Fabric
Armrests 4D (up/down, forward/back, rotate left/right) with cushion top
Recline/tilt system Premium back and seat tilt
Lumbar support Inbuilt non-adjustable but wobbly lumbar pad
Extras Elasticated memory foam headrest, foam footrest, assembly tools

ThunderX3 Core Modern design

For the most part, the ThunderX3 Core is a smart-looking option as far as gaming chairs go. The black faux leather Modern version photographed here looks particularly muted but the grey fabric Loft version my colleague is using also looks smart while offering a slightly more relaxed feel.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 01

There are also dark red and blue variants of the Modern, a black version of the Loft, and a black and black/blue Racer versions. The Racer model has, as its name suggests, a slightly more aggressive, garish look and uses a combination of faux leather and fabric finishes.

ThunderX3 Core Loft review 04

Back to the Modern and the only adornments are the ThunderX3 logo embossed in the headrest, two further ThunderX3 name labels stitched into the back and front edge of the seat, and the use of some faux carbon fiber patterns on some of the faux leather panels. That may all sound a little cheesy but it’s all done very subtley – you hardly notice that it’s not all just plain black.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 08 seat logo

ThunderX3 Core Modern features

The ThunderX3 Core is packed with more features than we’ve come to expect from a chair of this price. For a start, it uses a powerful class 4-gas lift that’s rated to support up to 150kg. That’s relatively common for more mid to high-priced gaming chairs but some cheaper options only offer 120kg or lower ratings.

Less common at this price is the recline mechanism that provides an effortless tip-back function that drops the rear of the seat as the back tilts. Cheaper chairs often have a system that requires you to raise the front edge of the chair to get the chair to tilt back, essentially forcing you to rest your feet on something to get the chair to recline. The mechanism here isn’t quite as smooth and well-built as that on the Noblechairs Hero, for instance, but it’s still a system that’s at least easy to use.

Another premium feature is that the seat can slide forward and back, providing more leg support for those with longer legs while ensuring those with shorter legs can comfortably nestle their back against the lumbar support. The extra support helps reduce pressure points on the underside of your legs, improving long-term comfort.

I’m less keen on the controls for all these features. The gas lift and seat slide are relatively easy to activate with a flick of two switches on stalks on either side of the chair. But, the recline lock and recline friction adjustment require turning the knobs on the stalk ends and it’s an awkward action to do so. Thankfully, once setup to your liking you shouldn’t need to use these much again.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 04 side view

The armrests offer ‘4D’ adjustment whereby the armrest arms have height adjustment then the armrest pads on top can rotate (30° inward, perpendicular to the chair, and 30° outward) and slide forward and back. Cleverly, the angled front edge of the armrests means you can set the pads at an angle and tuck the chair in closer to your desk without the rests getting in the way. One slight misstep, though, is that the arms don’t drop all that low, so you can’t tuck them under your desk easily or, for instance, move them out the way if you’re using the chair for sitting and practicing guitar (yes, it’s a niche complaint but a complaint nonetheless).

ThunderX3 Core Loft review arm rests

The final features of note are the included headrest and footrest and the real star of the show, the lumbar support, the efficacy of which we’ll talk about next. There’s also a large pocket on the back that’s useful for storing the manual and tools for the chair at the very least as well as whatever cables or other desk bits you might find useful.

ThunderX3 Core Modern comfort

Starting with the head and footrests, these are just memory foam pads the former of which straps to the top of the chair and the latter of which you can just chuck on the floor to rest your feet on.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 11 foot rest

If you’ve never tried a footrest before, we highly recommend you do so. It can make a surprising difference to your comfort by ensuring your feet are resting comfortably and your legs are set at the right angle relative to the chair. As such, the one included here is a nice touch – it’s soft but supportive and its rubber underside nicely grips the floor so your feet don’t slide away.

Similarly, the headrest is better than any other similar elasticated gaming chair headrest we’ve tried. It’s properly contoured so that it  supports your head at the sides – ideal for a reclined snooze – and the middle is thin enough that it doesn’t just dig into your neck/head at an awkward angle like on so many gaming chairs I’ve tried. The padding is also really soft and squishy, and the whole thing straps reasonably securely to the seat back.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 10 head rest

So to the lumbar support. It’s a strange contraption: a convexly curved padded piece of plastic that sits on a single pivot point such that the whole lumbar support area moves around with your back. It just seems like it’s going to be a gimmick – a bit like the terrible adjustable support of the Razer Iskur – but it does actually work.

ThunderX3 Core Loft review 03

For a start, its contouring is done right such that its curves match that of your spine – an essential factor many gaming chairs get wrong – but then the way it moves also ensures the support isn’t lost as you adjust your position. It’s like a carer just gently supporting your lower back as you go about your desk-bound day.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 07 lumbar support 2

The lumbar support would be for nothing if the rest of the chair wasn’t also comfortable, and thankfully it is. The seat cushioning is soft yet supportive and doesn’t make the mistake of raising up at the front, digging into the underside of your legs. It’s also nice and wide with no exaggerated racing chair wings digging into your sides and making you feel cramped – even my 6’2″ frame can sit cross-legged on this thing.

Finally, there’s the padding on the armrests which is actually soft! You’ll be amazed how many gaming chairs have rock-hard armrests that are so uncomfortable I’ve stopped using them within minutes of testing a chair. These, though, are beautifully cushioned.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 05 arm rest

There are some downsides, though. The use of thick padding for the seat and back, rather than supportive mesh like on many office chairs and the likes of the Razer Fujin Pro, means your back and bum get quite hot in this chair. In fact, the softer seat padding and constantly-in-contact lumbar support means this chair is a touch worse than some others I’ve used for getting a bit hot and sweaty – especially in this faux leather finish. It’s nothing a five-minute break doesn’t fix but something to be aware of.

The other issue is again with the faux leather finish, which is that it creaks. When moving around, the lumbar support can creak and squeak, as can the armrests when they rub up against the edge or underside of a desk. As such, unless you’re really paranoid about having a wipe-clean chair, I’d suggest opting for the Loft fabric version of this chair, rather than the faux leather Modern finish – it’ll stop the squeaks, reduce the sweaty feeling in warm weather and be warmer to the initial touch in winter.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review 03

ThunderX3 Core Modern price

The ThunderX3 Core Modern price is £339.95 or €399.99, making it a mid-priced gaming chair but with a premium feature set. As such, while not the absolute most affordable chair going, it offers excellent value.

ThunderX3 Core Modern review conclusion

The ThunderX3 Core is a very pleasant surprise. Outside of the very most expensive options, we’ve not seen anything close to this level of comfort from a gaming chair before. The seat and armrests are soft but supportive in all the right ways while the wobbly lumbar support really does work. Plus, you get plenty of adjustability to suit the chair to your needs – including all-important seat-depth adjustment. You even get a footrest included too!

This particular faux leather Modern version isn’t necessarily the one we’d choose though. It gets a little hot and sweaty with prolonged use. The Core Loft version, though, with its fabric finish, would be our choice.

For other options, check out our best gaming chair guide and specifically seek out the Noblechairs Hero, which has a similarly large, faux-leather design.