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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Thermaltake Argent E700 Review

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Gaming chairs are a dime a dozen, but the Thermaltake Argent E700 breaks the mold. Designed in collaboration with Studio F.A. Porsche, the chair uses real leather upholstery, a gorgeous full-bodied shell, and multiple polished aluminum components to create a premium look and feel that’s designed to last for years. That luxury design comes with a hefty price tag of $1,299 – which doesn’t break the mold for a high-end gaming chair but feels exorbitant when it misses on some of the basics.

Thermaltake E700 – Photos

Thermaltake Argent E700 – Design and Features

The Argent E700 doesn’t look like any other gaming chair we’ve reviewed. It has the appearance of a captain’s seat in a space destroyer, and would go perfectly with an Alienware gaming PC, truth be told. It features a high-backed plastic shell polished to a reflective gloss and is available in an array of bright colors (plus white and black, which look the best). The seat is wide and u-shaped with armrests that insert into the body of the chair instead of bolting onto its underside like most others.

It’s clearly a gaming chair, but not ostentatiously. In Glacier White or Storm Black, you could take it into an office and pass it off as modern chic. But next to a gaming PC, no one is going to question that the E700 is made for gamers, and is awfully fancy at that.

Designed by Studio F.A. Porsche, it’s a chair derived from outside the gaming world and instead from the realm of luxury goods. This Porsche probably isn’t the one you’re thinking of. Studio F.A. Porsche is a subsidiary of the sports car brand but remains an independent design firm, spending its time developing futuristic architecture, home goods, and superyachts. It does occasionally dabble in the tech world. You may have seen its name on the Acer Book RS laptop or the Huawei Mate 40 RS smartphone. For the most part, however, you’ll find its designs in other sectors far removed from gaming.

The Argent E700 carries through all of the brand’s luxurious future-minded flourish. Every element ties together perfectly. In my undergraduate work, a professor asked us to define art. He presented us with paintings, music, architecture, sculptures, as well as iPhones, laptops, and yes, furniture. The Argent E700 is an excellent example of where art and product design meet and create something that is both functional and inspired.

Points of polished metal guide you on a visual tour of the chair on first impression. The heavy aluminum wheelbase matches the silver of the gas piston perfectly, drawing your eyes up to the smooth glossy contours of the seat base. Those curves carry gracefully across the back and around the other side. It’s vaguely car-like, the way one panel transcends into the next. A pair of silver handles are inlaid into either side of the seat like car door handles and replace the usual levers for height and recline. They certainly look nicer, but also highlight the relatively limited means of adjustment the chair offers.

The armrests also have silver accents. The design is interesting, the way they insert directly into the body of the chair. By inserting into the chair instead of bolting onto its seat, it makes the base feel more like one whole unit instead of a collection of assembled parts.

Finally, a thick logo plate is set into the backrest at shoulder height and draws your eyes to the real leather upholstery. There's no fake PU or "vegan" leather stand-in here; this is the real deal. At around one millimeter of thickness, the leather feels robust yet soft to the touch. Red stitching creates a nice accent against the black fabric. The back and seat are perforated for added breathability, and it worked well to stave off sweat in my hot upstairs office.

There are no pillows to mask the look Porsche has so carefully designed. There is an attached headrest for added comfort, however. It's soft, plush, and just thick enough to be comfortable without forcing your neck forward. It can be adjusted up and down two inches to match different heights. It doesn’t move once it’s in place, which can’t be said for other parts of the chair.

To talk about a gaming chair in this way may seem high-falutin, but the E700 warrants it. It seems so intentionally designed, so considered, that it stands apart from any other gaming chair I’ve used. You can see the artistic considerations throughout its design.

But artistic inspiration will only take you so far. A chair also has to be a good fit for your body and well designed around comfort even beyond looks. The E700 is large: those curves add girth that will take up space behind your desk. But it’s not a big and tall gaming chair. The recommended height range is between 5’6” and 6’2” with a weight limit of 331 pounds or less. I suspect the shape of the seat will make it uncomfortable to sit in before you hit that limit, but you won’t be at any risk of cracking the aluminum base if you’re on the heavier side.

Thermaltake spared no expense with the foam.


The padding on the chair is thick. Thermaltake spared no expense with the foam. The seat is lined with over four inches of high density molded foam. There’s a bit less on the back and headrest, but there’s enough where you’ll never feel the frame hidden inside. It’s a bit on the stiff side but not bad, so it was comfortable to sit in right away without the need for a break-in period.

The armrests aren’t nearly as padded. In fact, they could use more padding. These are the standard hard foam armrests we’ve seen on gaming chairs for years without the benefit of locks for angle, width, or depth. They’re very adjustable but far too easy to push around by accident and are likely to leave your elbows sore.

The handles on either side of the chair look great and work well. It’s much easier to just reach down to the side of the base than grope around under the chair when you want to make an adjustment. The height adjustment works exactly as you would think, but recline is a little different.

For starters, the recline handle doesn’t actually make the back recline at all. In fact, the back of the chair is always unlocked and freely moves as you lean back. There’s a fine-tuned spring mechanism that allows it to follow you when you want to sit up or kick back and never feels like it’s fighting you. It’s very natural and allows you to have a rocking motion without the seat base ever actually moving. So instead of controlling recline, the second handle actually works to lock the backrest into one of four preset positions.

This isn’t strange for a premium office chair, but is definitely more limited than a typical gaming chair. If you pull the handle between its set angles, it will lock into position when you hit one of its defined stopping points. The recline isn’t that steep either. I’ve never been one to lay down and nap in my gaming chair, but it’s just not possible here. It also irks me that the handle stays extended when the back is locked, ruining the smooth contour on that side. Sure, it’s not a big deal, but it goes completely counter to the smooth curves of the rest of the design.

There’s also a sparsity of adjustment options for a chair of this caliber. For $1,300, I expect more than 4.7-inches of height adjustment and an angle lock. There’s no true rocking, which I already mentioned, but there’s also no angle adjustment to the seat or ability to adjust the tension on the spring to lock in the resistance you want. You can’t adjust the depth of the seat. The backrest is fixed height, and there’s no way to adjust the position or curvature of the lumbar support.

The design of the seat also doesn’t play nice with different sitting styles. The hard U shape of the cushion means crossing your legs is out. I even found tucking one leg underneath me uncomfortable, and I’m not a big guy at 5’8” and 160 pounds. You’re locked into a normal sitting position for better or worse.

I don’t mean to imply it’s all bad. It is comfortable when you’re sitting normally. And if you’re within its recommended specs like I am, I didn’t really find a need to adjust the seat depth or spring tension in the backrest anyway. Even the handle, which grated on me at first, faded into the background. You’re rarely looking at it and the backrest works well enough that I didn’t find the need to lock it all that often at all.

But the point is you should be have more options than what’s being offered here. If you’re looking for adjustments befitting such a hefty price tag, you should look at cheaper options like the a Mavix M7, M9, or the LFGaming Nighthawk. For a bit more, you can even get the LFGaming Stealth which has generous options, better ergonomics, and total memory foam padding for one of the most comfortable sits money can buy.

The other important thing to note is that Thermaltake only warranties the chair for two years. Compare that to Mavix’s 12-year warranty, LFGaming’s 10 years, or even Vertagear or Secretlab’s five year warranties. If the handles fail or something breaks after those two years, you’re out of luck. At this price, Thermaltake is competing with industry icons like Herman-Miller and Steelcase, each offering more than a decade of support. A two-year warranty on such a high-cost chair is borderline unacceptable.

Thermaltake Argent E700 – Assembly

The good part about the chair coming with such an all-in-one base is that assembly is simple and straightforward. Thermaltake provides detailed instructions but it’s genuinely easy enough that it would be difficult to do wrong. Despite this, it is quite heavy and having an extra set of hands makes the process even easier.

By myself, building the chair took about fifteen minutes. Everything you need is included in the (gigantic) box, including a long-handled allen wrench for tightening the bolts. After inserting the casters into the wheelbase, you simply drop the piston into its slot. Flipping the seat upside down, there’s a clear slot for the metal bracket on the bottom of the backrest. This slots into place and attaches with the only three bolts you’ll need for the entire installation. Finally, you position the piston into the hole in the seat, flip it over, and you’re done.

Compared to the average racing seat, assembly is much simpler. The steps are similar, but you don’t need to struggle with fussy side brackets or spend time attaching armrests. Flipping is the most challenging part, but if you’re strong enough to lift the chair’s considerable weight, even that can be done solo.

Thermaltake Argent E700 – Performance

Even though the Argent E700 has the look and feel of a premium gaming chair, actually gaming with it is less of a luxury experience. It’s comfortable in short bursts, but for multi-hour gaming and work sessions, it left my back and elbows sore.

The biggest problem is the lack of lumbar support. The backrest is contoured, but even as a smaller guy, I found the lumbar contour to be too low and too flat. More than once, I grabbed the memory foam pillow from my old Secretlab Stealth gaming chair just to support my back. If this were a video game, we would call it a game-breaking bug.

The free-moving recline is surprisingly good – as long as you don’t lean back for too long.


The free-moving recline is surprisingly good – as long as you don’t lean back for too long. I started off really enjoying it. The movement is natural and feels pitch perfect with its tension and responsiveness to my movements. But after about twenty minutes of playing Rocket League with a controller on my PS5, I noticed the edges of the aluminum inlay digging into my back. Like back support, reclining for too long failed the comfort test.

The armrests were adjustable enough to match anything I was doing. They have enough height to match my desk and support my arms with mouse and keyboard and could be angled to support my elbows when gaming with a controller. The material is too stiff to lean on for very long lest you walk away with sore elbows, however. They’re also far too easy to shift by accident. Without locks for more than height, they slide and twist with only minor pushes (like when you’re getting up from the chair). It’s a minor but persistent annoyance.

The seat is very comfortable when sitting normally, but if you like to cross your legs, look elsewhere. The tray-like design doesn’t leave enough room for even a tucked foot without contorting yourself into unnatural angles. You can say that it promotes an upright posture, which is true, but when the seat doesn’t also have proper back support or a waterfall edge to promote circulation, it doesn’t seem like ergonomics was top of mind here.

What we’re left with is a gorgeous and exorbitantly expensive chair that’s great for normal sitting in relatively short bursts but not very good at much else. It’s not a good fit for long gaming or work sessions due to the lack of lumbar. It’s not a good fit for reclining for more than a match or two without the logo poking your back (at least at my height). The armrests need to be handled with care and not used too heavily.

Put another way, this is a $1,300 gaming chair you’ll need to buy a separate lumbar pillow and armrest pads for to really make it usable for long gaming sessions. And maybe that’s even worth it if you love the design because there is a lot to love here. The build quality and materials are excellent, and it’s certainly eye-catching. Even with its faults, I have to admit to really liking the chair. When you are sitting normally, it’s honestly very nice, and with that lumbar pillow, the remaining faults are all much more livable. Still, none of that should be necessary on a chair quite this expensive.

Verdict

The Thermaltake Argent E700 is a great example of a gaming chair that puts looks before functionality. It’s not terrible, but at $1,299 you shouldn’t have to spend extra money on accessories to make it comfortable for more than an hour or two. It’s a shame because I genuinely think there is a lot to love here. But, when many of the best gaming chairs come in at less than a third of its price, this is a hard pass for all but the most style-minded gamers.

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