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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 Review

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Gaming chairs are more popular than ever, but that doesn’t stop them from getting a bad rap. When it comes to all-day comfort, most aren’t up to the challenge and will leave you with a sore back and poor night’s sleep. Secretlab is out to change things with its brand new Titan Evo line of gaming chairs. Starting at $429, they don’t come cheap, but they evolve the Secretlab formula in a way that truly feels next-gen. If you spend all day at a desk and want to sit in style without paying the price later, this is a release you won’t want to miss.

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 – Design and Features

The Titan Evo is a brand new release for Secretlab, consolidating the Omega and Titan lines into one – available in Small, Regular, or XL sizes. The overarching look is familiar if you’ve seen a racing chair before, and that’s by design. Even though the Evo line changes many aspects of the design and adds meaningful ergonomic features, one thing that’s not lost is style. These are chairs made to carry through everything gamers love about gaming chairs and to improve everything they don’t.

Whether you’re a fan of fabric or leather, the Evo line offers improved versions of each. This generation's leather option is now known as NEO Hybrid Leatherette and promises to be softer and “12x more durable than regular PU leather” thanks to a resin top layer and fiber-reinforced base. The Softweave Plus version achieves similar ends by incorporating improved yarn and weaving techniques. The result, Secretlab says, is fabric that triples the durability of last generation and is more breathable for improved comfort.

I was sent the NEO Hybrid Leatherette version and, true to its word, the new material was immediately softer to the touch. With four small children, you might imagine that keeping a material like this clean is challenging but I’ve had no trouble wiping it down with a simple wet rag when one of my youngest climbs aboard pressing his face and grubby hands into the seat. For the Softweave Plus version, Secretlab will be releasing special cleaning cloths to help clear the stains that appear over months of use.

The change in materials also brings with it more opportunities for customization. The Neo version will be available in five different colors encompassing grey, black, and blue. Softweave Plus has much more variety with pink, green, blue, and white versions in addition to grey and black. I was sent the classic Stealth version which is black with red and gold stitching. As has been the case with every Secretlab chair I’ve tested, the stitching and embroidery are impeccable with nary a stray thread to be found.

The biggest change this generation is the vastly improved ergonomics. In a meeting before this review, Secretlab informed me that they had developed an ergonomic advisory board composed of academics, mechanical engineers, and industry experts to collaborate on the design of this line of chairs. The result is a chair that combines the support of ergonomic chairs with the style and features gamers have come to expect. A reworked seat base, innovative lumbar support system, softer armrests, and less dense foam seating all combine to make the first racing chair that’s truly designed for all-day sitting.

The original Titan featured an adjustable lumbar support, but the Evo dials that to 11 with its L-Adapt lumbar support system. Like a number of gaming chairs, the Titan featured a single knob that could be adjusted to fill in the curve of your spine. The problem is that no two people are alike and a one-size-fits-all solution, well, doesn’t fit all. The Evo answers that need by allowing you to move that lumbar up and down to ensure it matches your back. It doesn’t stop there, however. The lumbar support itself is made of interconnected hinges, allowing it to flex with your back and remain just as supportive even when you change positions or recline.

The other elements are smaller but no less important to the chair’s overall comfort. The seat has been reworked to incorporate a waterfall edge to promote improved blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots. The seat is also wide enough and flat enough to accommodate different sitting positions, including completely crossing your legs. The seat, like the rest of the chair, uses Secretlab’s proprietary cold cure foam, but it’s now slightly softer making it more comfortable right out of the box. Like past models, the chair is generously padded to hide the steel frame no matter what angle you may be sitting at.

The armrests have also been improved from last generation. As we saw with the Magnus gaming desk, Secretlab has been experimenting with magnets and it’s applied here with magnetic CloudSwap armrest pads. By default, each Evo ships with PU foam pads but different materials, including an upcoming Technogel variant, will be available after release. The stock pads are softer than I expected and actually feel like cushions instead of slightly-less-hard plastic, so you may not even find it necessary to upgrade. Otherwise, these are the same 4D armrests as last generation (moving up/down, in/out, and angle adjustable), albeit improved with a new finish and a greater use of metal to keep the internals working well. That increased use of metal comes at the expense of a bit more rattle when making adjustments, however.

If you look close enough, there are improvements throughout this new chair. The wheelbase, all aluminum, has better reinforcement than last generation. The recline level is angled slightly further out for easier grasping and can now be child-safety locked with an included screw. The adjustment paddles even have a different shape to make them easier to grasp.

Here’s another neat one: the neck pillow is now magnetized. Rather than use a strap, Secretlab has built magnets into the pillow and backrest to hold the pillow in place. You still have a range of movement, so making adjustments is possible. The magnets are fairly strong, so it won’t fall as long as it’s positioned correctly, but it’s plush enough that you’ll never feel them. The magnetic design does have a downside if you’re like me and sometimes use the neck pillow under your head, so I wish they had still included a strap.

It’s really the culmination of these upgrades that really make the chair feel fresh and new (as well as a couple of small changes to assembly which I’ll get to soon), but the Titan Evo has everything else you would expect from a Secretlab chair. That means the ability to recline to a near lay, being able to adjust the tension of your rocking motion, and locking the chair into different angles if you like to put your feet up while gaming.

Taken as a whole, the Titan Evo is an impressive package. The attention to detail across features big and small really makes it stand out from the competition. It’s the ergonomic improvements that win the day, however. I’ve used racing chairs from Vertagear, DXRacer, Maxnomic, and many other brands over the years, and the Evo is the best among them.

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 – Assembly

The build process is straightforward and fairly easy, especially if you’ve built a gaming chair before. The Titan Evo arrives in a big box and is well-packaged with lots of styrofoam to keep the chair safe in transit. Secretlab includes a big glossy assembly guide and it’s worth reading as there are a couple of changes to make the building process easy.

With everything unboxed, it looks fairly compact. Secretlab includes everything you’ll need to assemble the chair inside the accessories box, including a handy screwdriver tool with a swappable tip for the two kinds of fasteners required for the build, as well as a long hex key for when you need extra leverage. The screwdriver was a timesaver, allowing me to quickly change bits when needed.

The entire build process took about 20 minutes, stopping to take pictures in between each step, and was easier than most other gaming chairs. The armrests came pre-attached, which saved a few minutes, but the biggest improvement came with attaching the backrest. On most gaming chairs, this involves getting on the floor and holding the whole backrest at the perfect angle to attach each fastener. Frankly, it’s a giant pain. The Evo solves that in a way that’s so simple it makes you wonder why no one has done it yet: a metal bracket. You simply slide the backrest into place and tighten the screws. Oddly, this is only on one side, so there’s still some adjustment to be done, but it’s a far cry from most gaming chairs.

When that’s done, there’s no screwing in the plastic cover either. Instead, you guessed it: magnets. Two magnets hold the cover in place. Taking them off again is easier, so when I had to take the back off to move the chair upstairs to my office, transport and re-assembly took less time too.

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 – Performance

The Secretlab Titan Evo has a lot to live up to. When we reviewed the Titan 2020 and the Titan XL, our team found them to be great, whether you’re gaming or cranking out an essay for school. The Evo one-ups both of those models with promises of improved comfort and a refined design. Personally, before this review, I’ve spent the last year swapping between the Titan XL and the Vertagear Triigger 350 SE, one of the best gaming chairs of 2022. It’s a clear upgrade from the original Titan and an excellent middle ground between a mesh ergonomic chair and a stylish racing seat.

I spend most of the day at my computer during the summer months, cracking away at reviews or playing games to keep my mind fresh. The reworked cold cure foam is an improvement on the original, immediately feeling more comfortable while still offering a firmer experience to keep me alert and upright. It took months for the seat on my original Titan XL to break in to the softness the Evo offers out of the box, so if you’ve found past Secretlabs too firm, this should be a good middle-ground between comfort and poise.

The armrests are a major improvement too. The softness of the stock PU pads warded off elbow soreness, even after hours of writing where they were consistently pressing into the armrests. I don’t know why it took the gaming chair industry this long to deliver soft elbow cushions, but I’m glad we’re finally getting there. The adjustability of the armrests also made changing positions easy. Typing at the keyboard, I would keep them pointing straight ahead, but reclining with a controller in my hands felt better with them angled and lower in height. The metal internals this time have a reassuring snappiness to them while still being easy to shift.

The L-Adapt lumbar system is excellent. Being able to adjust the height of the lumbar is a huge part of finding the proper support for your body. Going back to my original Titan XL really highlights how much better the L-Adapt system is. I’ve spent multiple eight-hour days sitting in the Evo, days that would have left me stretching and rubbing my lower back by the end. That doesn’t happen anymore, but it took a little getting used to get to this point.

If you’re a sloucher like me, prepare for an adjustment period of a day or two as your back gets used to sitting in a proper position again. After one day of use, I was back to normal, but the backrest is still the one area I found myself wishing for softer foam to feel a little cushier outside of games that don’t demand such taut attention. The trade-off of training your body is well worth the benefits of a gaming chair you can actually work in throughout the day. No one likes the painful price most gaming chairs demand and the Titan Evo is a get of jail free card to work and play in the same chair.

Update, 7/26/22: Secretlab just launched its new Plushcell memory foam armrest tops and sent them over for testing. While we found the original armrests to be softer than the average gaming chair, these new cushions are downright pillowy. They don't come cheaply at $79, but are an easy, fast upgrade to the overall comfort of the chair thanks to the magnetic Cloudswap attachment system.


The Secretlab Titan EVO is the first gaming chair in years that really feels like an evolution of the formula while still keeping the stylish racing-seat look. It may be expensive, but the benefits in all-day comfort are well worth the added cost.

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