This review was originally published on May 27, 2022, and was updated in February. 20, 2023.
As a market, gaming chairs have become something of a slow-motion explosion. A genre of furniture that used to consist of a handful of recognizable brands has expanded to add new entrants that were well-known from the office furniture world and a slew of new startups, all vying for the right to hold up your butt while gaming.
Today we’re looking at an entry from Mavix, the M9. This chair, which sits at the top of the company’s current lineup, skips the racing seat aesthetic in favor of a minimalist, ergonomic take on the category. Mavix’s attempt to differentiate itself from the masses also extends to some optional customizations that are rare in this space, including a heating/cooling/massage add-on and some of the most unique arms I’ve ever come across.
Let’s take a deep dive into Mavix’s take on a high-end gaming chair by examining how the M9 performs while gaming, working, and relaxing. We’ll also cover the performance of the individual components of our review unit, and whether or not those optional add-ons are worth their upcharge.
Mavix’s entire line looks similar from a distance. All feature a nearly identical seat and backrest shape and include the company’s “Dynamic Variable Lumbar” support, which allows the bottom portion of the backrest to flex separately from the top for better comfort and ergonomics.
The differentiation between the budget-conscious M4, which begins at $444, and the M9 we’re reviewing here, which starts at $999 (see what they did there?) is in the details. More accurately, it’s in the adjustments. Although the entire line is designed to mold itself to the user’s body, the M9 goes further by including a plethora of user adjustments. These include standard fare (seat height and recline tension) and rarer tweaks(back height adjustment and seat depth).
The seat, back, and headrest are designed to be equally well-suited to use at a desk, for relaxation while console gaming, or just watching a video. Mavix even claims the M9’s 127-degrees recline makes the chair a great spot to catch a quick nap, something I made sure to test myself.
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Optional add-ons like the Elemax heating/cooling/massage and FS 360 armrests combine with the default configuration and adjustments to provide a design that’s one of the most customizable (both at the time of purchase and once you’ve got it set up) that I’ve ever used. This expansive set of variables can be both a blessing and, occasionally, a hindrance, as we’ll discuss further on in our review.
The M9 uses a mesh-like material Mavix calls Advanced Tensile Recovery (A.T.R.) Fabric on the lumbar and its M-Breeze fabric everywhere else. The ATR fabric allows air to pass through, aiding the Elemax system’s heating and cooling. The M-Breeze material offers less airflow, but still breathes better than the standard leatherette materials it resembles. Aside from the self-supporting ATR mesh on the lumbar, all other seat components use Mavix’s Cool Gel M-Foam padding, which is designed to provide support and prevent excessive heat build-up.
The frame of the unit is a combination of metal (central gas lift cylinder, back support, and seat base) and extremely rigid plastic. The M9’s standard “4-D” arms use a similar combination of metal and plastic, with a firm but pliable material topping their armrests. The FS 360 armrests, which we’ll discuss below, do the same.
More: The best office chairs: Treat yourself Lastly, the M9’s locking, in-line skate casters work well on everything from hard floors to dense carpeting, removing any need for the upgraded replacement casters I recommend for many other chairs.
Shipping and setup
The M9 is shipped with some assembly required. The box it came in arrived looking like it had been in a particularly vigorous soccer match between several giants (entirely the shipping company’s fault, not Mavix’s). Thankfully, none of the contents were damaged, a testament to the strength of the cartons Mavix uses. However, I wish there had been more internal padding used in shipping. The inner box containing the M9’s casters broke open completely before arrival, leaving them rattling around on their journey. Again, this caused no damage, but it easily could have.
Also: This is the perfect mini electric screwdriver The assembly process revolves around a blister-pack card that encloses the hardware, spare bolts, and a surprisingly nice, T-style wrench hex. The little square document in the pack, which I initially mistook for assembly instructions, was a single piece of cardboard directing me to Mavix’s assembly video.
The video was helpful, but I would have preferred a more traditional physical or online manual, too. Thankfully, most of the assembly process was simple enough to skip the instructions entirely. However, there were a few sticking points.
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The first issue was with the standard armrests, which I tried first. The armrest screw slots allow some horizontal movement. I’m not sure if this is a purposeful adjustment. But, if it is, it’s not referenced in the provided video. This led to my first installation attempt ending with one armrest sitting closer to me than the other. It was easy enough to fix, but still an oversight in the instructions.
Speaking of oversights, the second speedbump came from a small hex wrench and a pair of set screws included with the headrest. Again, there was no reference to these in the video or documentation. I attempted to suss out the hardware’s purpose but eventually gave up. All told, the clear markings on the hardware card still helped me complete the assembly in about a half-hour. I could have finished faster with help, but I flew solo to simulate a worst-case scenario.
Installing the extras
While the above section covers the standard setup process, I’ll quickly outline the two optional extras Mavix sent along: the Elemax system and its FS 360 arms
First, the FS 360 arms are installed via the same process as the standard armrests. At this point, I was aware of the aforementioned mounting slots, allowing me to align them right the first time. The process of swapping out the original arms for the FS 360 arms took about 5-7 minutes and required no instructions.
The installation of the Elemax system was a bit more confusing.
The add-on is a semi-soft pad that lives within the “Dynamic Variable Lumbar” support. Adding it takes patience, particularly when tucking into the surrounding plastic structure without producing buckles. Once it’s in, you install a plastic cover that conceals most of it, aside from the control cluster of three buttons and a charging port.
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The confusion started when I noticed that the Elemax system included two elastic straps that covered the built-in fans providing the unit’s heating and cooling airflow. These straps weren’t present in the instructional videos or literature. I was left to take my best guess on their purpose. The straps seemed likely to interfere with the airflow of the fans. But, I soldiered on with the installation as close to the instructions as possible. Since the airflow ultimately seemed normal, I moved on, adding one more mystery to the list.
As mentioned above, the M9 is extremely adjustable. So adjustable, in fact, that the company created a 5:44-long video just going over all of the adjustments. These tweaks include seat height, recline tension, backrest angle, seat depth, armrest height, armrest depth, armrest angle, armrest spacing, backrest height, headrest height, and headrest angle. That’s just the standard configuration. If you add the FS 360 arms to the mix, you can bump those 11 adjustments to 14 or 15, depending on how you define the FS 360 armrest’s pivots. More: The best gaming laptops: Top rigs for on-the-go gaming The many adjustments let me precisely dial in every aspect of the chair’s dimensions to my preferences, though the sheer number of options made the job slightly daunting. Raising the difficulty was the identical nature of the left and right control clusters under the chair. There are markings to differentiate them, but they’re almost impossible to read while seated. Between mixing up the left and right controls, and having to rise at least partway from the chair to adjust some aspects, the adjustment process may have taken me longer than the assembly. Luckily, once I got past that initial learning curve, and got used to what the mirrored left and right control clusters did, I appreciated the broad range of tweaks.
I can’t wrap up the Adjustability section without talking about one of the most adjustable accessories I’ve ever seen on a chair: the FS 360 armrests. The standard 4D armrests feature the same four adjustments (mentioned above) found on most high-end gaming chairs. Meanwhile, the FS 360 arms replace them with something unlike any other armrests I’ve used.
The only mundane adjustment is height, which included an impressive number of precise detents, letting me perfectly match the height of my desk. Otherwise, the arms seem more like helicopter blades than typical gaming chair parts.
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The FS 360 arms pivot where they mount to their vertical support. This provides both width and angle adjustment. You can also lock them at a straight or 45-degree angle, or manually place them anywhere across a full 360 degrees. The result is an armrest that can hit any practical position imaginable, or shift out of your way entirely.
This is enhanced further by the arm pads themselves. These nicely textured pads slide forward and back and also rotate. They can be flipped around completely, or angled to the ideal position for typing/mousing, or any other activity. Simply put, these are the most flexible arms I’ve ever used. True, a $165 upcharge for the optional FS 360 arms is substantial. But, I think the FS 360 arms are the most important feature across Mavix’s entire product catalog, and I’d definitely recommend springing for them if you decide the M9 is right for you.
More: The 6 best budget gaming mouse I will add one caveat: If you have mobility issues, or just tend to lean heavily on your chair’s arms to rise from it, I wouldn’t recommend using the FS 360 arms unless you lock them in the straight or 45-degree position. Any significant pressure on the arms causes them to pivot, as intended. This could result in a fall for individuals that need help getting out of their chairs. This won’t impact the majority of customers, but it’s worth mentioning to protect anyone it might.
Comfort and performance
The Mavix M9 leans towards the ergonomic side of the spectrum. This means the chair’s designed to be more supportive than cushy. Its seat pan, backrest, and headrest were created to help you maintain a proper posture. That doesn’t mean it’s uncomfortable; it just doesn’t feel like sinking into a cloud. This is a good thing for a chair that you’re likely to be spending eight or more hours in per day. The ergonomics of the M9 keeps you from slouching into the unhealthy positions those soft, cloud-like chairs can encourage.
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When you finally find your ideal adjustments, the M9 feels quite luxurious to sit in. The M-Breeze material is truly one of the highlights of the chair. Despite being synthetic, it feels like fine, buttery leather and even repels minor splashes well.
Meanwhile, the cooling memory foam padding remains consistently cool and provides excellent support within the seat pan’s rigid, ergonomic shape. Both combine to prevent numb spots from sitting for extended periods. The front of the seat is also nicely rolled-off, preventing uncomfortable pressure on the thighs.
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The backrest feels good as well, but not quite as great as the seat. No combination of adjustments ever made me feel like my back was being as perfectly supported as my rump. Still, it wasn’t uncomfortable, and I finished every workday using the M9 with no back pain.
My least favorite part of the support system was the headrest. It is very adjustable, but the adjustment process is frightening. The amount of force it took to budge the headrest made me worry I was going to damage it. Thankfully, when it finally moved where I wanted it, it did a great job of supporting my head during active work and relaxation. It is indeed possible to nap in this chair.
I’ve already extolled the virtues of the FS 360 arms above, so I’ll just say the standard 4D arms are just as good as the armrests found on most high-end gaming chairs today, but they still pale in comparison to the adjustability of the upgraded option.
Now, let’s talk about Mavix’s trademark Elemax system. In short, it’s a nice extra, but not a must-buy. The fans provide a nice, albeit modest, cooling or heating sensation on sweaty or cool days, and the massage function felt pleasant.
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But the active posture and focused state I tend to be in when gaming or working meant I forgot all about the Elemax much of the time. If you frequently relax in your gaming chair, you may appreciate this add-on more than I did.
As I mentioned in the opening, there are numerous companies vying for the gaming chair space these days. Standouts like Secret Lab have made a name for themselves with high-end racing seats. Meanwhile, others try to differentiate themselves by adding unusual, often intense, visual features like RGB lighting or themed colorways.
On the other end of the spectrum, companies like Herman Miller and Mavix, both of which took designs originally intended for the office chair market, made a few tweaks to them, and targeted gamers instead.
The M9 won’t revolutionize your workday or gaming sessions, but it will provide a comfortable, ergonomic, well-built seating solution that looks just “gamer-y” enough. If the $999 price point is affordable to you, I’d absolutely recommend paying the extra $165 for the FS360 arms. With them, I think the Mavix M9 makes an excellent case for being one of the best gaming chairs in the upper mid-range of today’s best entries.
Alternatives to consider
If you prefer the racing seat style of gaming chairs, the Secret Lab TITAN Evo 2022 is the current king of that category. ZDNET gave it a 4/5 rating in our full review.
The current king of gaming chairs, at least in this author’s opinion. It provides the most ergonomic support of any chair I’ve used, but it comes at a steep cost and doesn’t feature anywhere near the flexibility in its arms that the M9 does.
A chair from a company better known for its mice and keyboards, the Iskur is excellent for those lumbar support addicts out there that feel left out by many of the other racing seats available.