After switching to a job where I primarily sit all day, I quickly realized that I needed to scrap my real-low-budget office chair for something that wouldn't make my legs go numb or hurt my shoulder blades with its low back. Shopping for a quality office chair, I quickly realized that most products recommended to not turn your back into a C were upwards of $1,000, and that simply wasn't anywhere near my price range.
Luckily, I was turned onto IKEA's Markus high-back office chair. Coming in at about $180 depending on what type of finish you choose ― here I'm reviewing the "Vissle dark gray" ― this is certainly in the wheelhouse of what most people who sit all day might be willing to dish out. I've been sitting in this chair daily for about 16 months; here's what I think.
Bottom line: It doesn't have the same elaborate design or back-saving tech as the more expensive options, but you won't find much better for around $200.
- Quick and easy setup.
- Minimal wear after a year.
- Removable armrests.
- 10-year warranty.
- Not nearly as adjustable as many pricier options.
What you'll love about the IKEA Markus swivel chair
The IKEA Markus has a high-back design that's perfect for taller folk (I'm about 6'4" on a good day) who like to sometimes rest their head or lean back while seated at a desk. There's ample padding at the top, and the frame is wide and high enough to not dig into your shoulder blades. Likewise, there's plenty of padding beneath your rear and beneath your knees. I was having issues with bruising on the backs of my upper legs before the Markus, but that's been dealt with since. I have noticed a bit of compression in the front padding portion, but it's still holding up quite well, especially with someone who weighs about 220 pounds sitting on it all day.
|242 pounds (110 kg)
|Seat pan adjustment?
IKEA furniture, because of the generally affordable prices and DIY assembly, seems to have a reputation for not being sturdy, but I've had no issues with casters, pistons, hinges, or fabrics. The five casters are held in place by a strong star base, and I've not ever noticed them failing to roll properly, though I've not tested it on thick carpeting. Even the mesh back that lets air flow hasn't frayed. To protect your investment, IKEA offers a 10-year limited warranty.
There's a decent amount of play in the height adjustment, allowing most to easily find a position that works with desk height and leg length. The chair, by default, sits you up straight and in a position that your chiropractor could no doubt appreciate, and there's generous tilt adjustment that can be locked in place anywhere along the spectrum. It's a great chair to keep you focused in the morning, and it's also easy to lean back a bit in the afternoon.
The Markus is available in a "Glose black" finish that looks far less breathable and costs about $200. The "Vissle dark gray" I'm using seems to be a good mix of utilitarian and professionalism, and the breathable mesh backing doesn't seem to clash with the rest of the build. The chair holds up to the abuse I put it through on a daily basis and doesn't look out of place in my home, but I wouldn't mind using it in an office setting.
What you'll hate about the IKEA Markus swivel chair
The biggest issue you'll likely have with the Markus is that it's not nearly as adjustable as other office chairs out there. The seat cannot be adjusted for depth, so if your legs aren't long enough you might experience some pinching behind the knees. On the otherwise mesh backing, there's a padded section that offers lumbar support. For me it's just about perfect, but it's not adjustable either. If you're too tall or too short, it might not hit the right spot.
I tend to lean, fold legs, and sit just about every which way but straight on, and I've been working with armrests removed for about the last eight months. They bolt on with two fasteners and can be quickly attached, though once they're on they're not adjustable at all. Their rounded front brace might prevent you from getting as close to your desk as you'd like, or they might be too high for you to rest your elbows comfortably.
Finally, the Markus has a brake system that stops a few of the casters from rolling when there's no one in the seat. No, the chair doesn't attempt to escape when I stand up, but I can also easily wheel it around when not sitting in it. If you're on hardwood floors, keep an eye out for scratching. I picked up a plastic floor mat when I noticed some scuffs beneath the chair.
IKEA Markus bottom line
Adding all the levers and dials to make everything adjustable drives the price up, which is what the IKEA Markus is designed to avoid. It's affordable in relativity to other office chairs, and it's done wonders for my back and legs despite not having lumbar, seat, or armrest adjustment.
I was slightly worried that the padding or fabric wouldn't hold up to daily usage, but it's still going strong after about 16 months. If you need a chair that's better than a lot of the budget junk out there, definitely consider the Markus.
Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.