AKRacing California gaming chair review: Great if you’re short, but not too short

The AKRacing California is just short of perfection

The AKRacing California gaming chair
(Image: © Stevie Bonifield)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The AKRacing California is a comfy gaming chair designed for short people that gets a few things right, but misses the mark in one core area.

Pros

  • +

    Wide, cushy seat

  • +

    Colorful PU leather

  • +

    3D adjustable armrests

Cons

  • -

    Minimum seat height is too high for those under 5’3”

  • -

    Armrest durability could be better

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If you’re a short gamer like me, you’re probably struggling to find a gaming chair that doesn’t leave your feet hanging six inches off the floor. Gaming chairs for short people are out there, but they can be a little hard to find. 

That’s why I was excited when I stumbled on the AKRacing California, a racer-style gaming chair that’s designed for short people. And it got a lot of things right. In fact, it was my main desk chair for two years. But there’s one big reason I finally decided to swap it out. 

Here’s a look at my long-term experience with the AKRacing California – and a few things short gamers should know before buying one or choosing an alternative from our list of the best gaming chairs.  

AKRacing California price and configuration

 The AKRacing California is priced at $469, although you can often find it on sale on Amazon for $400 or less. It’s available in four colors: Tahoe (blue), Laguna (white), Napa (purple), and Ojai (black). My unit is in the Tahoe colorway. 

AKRacing California design

The AKRacing California gaming chair in Tahoe blue

(Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

The AKRacing California has the same basic design as most other racer-style gaming chairs, but it’s scaled down slightly to fit short people better. The scaled-down sizing is pretty good overall, but the minimum seat height was still too high for me. It’s about 18 inches from the top of the seat pad to the floor with the gas lift at the lowest possible height. At 5’0”, my toes were able to touch the ground, but my feet could not sit flat on the floor. 

If you are around 5’3” or under, this chair is still going to be too large for you, which is a bummer considering it’s designed for short people. However, if you are over 5’3” but still on the shorter side, it could be a great fit. 

AKRacing California gaming chair with footrest

I still needed to use a footrest with the AKRacing California (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

There were a few things I liked about the AKRacing California’s design overall. For example, the seat back is a bit shorter than on most gaming chairs, so people like me don’t look like we’re sitting in a gigantic chair on video calls. The PU leather is also smooth, and the Tahoe colorway is a vibrant blue that’s a refreshing change from the typical matte black of most gaming chairs.

You also get all the basic adjustability features you would want on a gaming chair. It has 3D adjustable armrests, a reclining seat back, and a gas lift for height adjustment. The California includes matching neck and lumbar pillows, as well. I didn’t use the neck pillow much, but the lumbar pillow did noticeably improve the back support.

AKRacing California comfort

AKRacing California gaming chair with neck and lumbar pillows

(Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

If you like a cushy desk chair, you’ll like the AKRacing California. The seat cushion has some give to it, so you do sink into it a bit, but not too much. I found it pretty comfortable for all-day use when working from home. The seatback is also supportive, especially with the reclining feature and lumbar pillow. 

The only thing that did make this chair a bit uncomfortable for me was the seat height and depth. The seat cushion is deep enough that the edge of it pushed right up against the backs of my knees. The lumbar pillow did help with this, but not much. The seat depth combined with the high minimum seat height made sitting with my feet flat on the floor impossible. Even with shoes on, I still needed a footrest. 

Of course, the seat is wide enough that I could comfortably sit cross legged if I wanted to, but that’s not ideal for all-day ergonomics. So, if you are around 5’3” or shorter, you will need a footrest to sit comfortably in this chair, even with it at the lowest seat height.

AKRacing California assembly

The AKRacing California was pretty easy to assemble. It took me about 20 minutes using the included instructions. You simply attach the castors to the chair base, install the gas lift, then attach the seat cushion and seat back on top. 

That said, the box was pretty heavy. You’ll probably want to have someone help bring it inside, especially if you’re taking it up stairs. 

AKRacing California long-term experience

I used the AKRacing as my main chair for about two years, so I have first-hand experience with how it holds up in the long-term. For a $469 chair, it stayed in pretty good shape, but did develop a couple of durability flaws. 

The main one I noticed on my chair was the coating on one of the armrests cracking over time. The armrests are a type of hard foam with a textured outer coating that feels similar to rubber. After about a year and a half of use, the coating on one of my armrests cracked along the inner edge, leaving the foam inside exposed. It’s a minor flaw that didn’t impact my ability to use the damaged armrest, though. 

AKRacing California gaming chair with poor armrest durability

The coating on the left armrest cracked after about a year and a half of use (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

I also noticed a bit of chipping on the edges of the plastic seat base, but nothing major. Overall, the AKRacing California held up fairly well through two years of use 8 to 10 hours per day. The cushioning still feels as comfortable as the day I unpacked the chair and it hasn’t had any mechanical failures.

Bottom Line

The AKRacing California is a cushy gaming chair made with smooth PU leather that’s comfortable all day long. For $469, it’s a pretty good gaming chair and holds up well for the most part over long-term use. 

That said, I did ultimately end up swapping out this chair in my desk setup. I got tired of needing to use a footrest all the time due to the seat height on the AKRacing California. It’s not a bad chair, but it’s also not ideal ergonomically for many short people, despite being marketed for them. If you are 5’4” or taller, this chair could be a great fit, but if you are under 5’4”, you might be better suited with something like the Noblechairs Epic Compact.  

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