Blacklyte Athena Chair Review
They say that purchasing a quality mattress is the best investment. I’d argue that investing in a good gaming chair is equally as important. Whether you’re spending hours at a desk working or grinding through long play sessions of Diablo IV, having a comfortable and ergonomic chair is essential. That’s why I was elated when I got to set up Blacklyte’s Athena chair and take it for a spin.
Blacklyte is a Toronto-based company, specializing in cutting-edge and affordable gaming chairs and desks. The brand first popped up in 2023 when it revealed its Athena chair and other products. At the time, the company touted its comfort, especially in prolonged durations. As someone who spends upwards of 8-10 hours at my desk a day, I couldn’t help but daydream of the ergonomic benefits the Athena chair could offer.
Anyone who has shopped around for a new gaming chair knows you typically get what you pay for. Usually, it’s worth investing a premium to get above-par lumbar support, ergonomics, etc., all wrapped in a sleek and well-designed package. Blacklyte, one way or another, has surprisingly found a way to undercut the competition with a $699 price tag while not compromising on its comfort and feature set.
Out of the box
Blacklyte’s Athena chair comes in a rather large box albeit with every tool and resource you’ll need for assembly. The chair and all of its components weigh around 52 lbs. Upon opening the box, I found myself staring down the barrel of an assortment of pieces all ripe to be placed together. The Athena ships with a seat base, backrest, roller wheels, lumbar support cushion, and head cushion.
My kneejerk reaction when having to assemble any piece of furniture is usually to brew myself a coffee, and mentally prepare myself for 45 minutes of frustration. So, I was actually taken aback when I pulled out the included large eight-step instructional sheet. Complimented with graphics for each step, I thought to myself, “This is too good to be true.” Lo and behold, the entire assembly process took no more than 15 minutes. It went by in a flash and I only took a single sip out of my coffee during that time.
Much of the assembly requires you to slot in pieces and use the included Allen wrench and screws to fix each piece in place. I experienced little to no issue following each step and ensuring all components were properly installed. The back seat is slotted onto the base and secured with screws. The roller wheels slot and lock into place in the base. Testing the ‘White’ model, the most difficult part was installing the hydraulic base and not getting a smudge from the oil on the fabric.
Comfort and first impressions
The Blacklyte Athena effectively replaced my Vertagear chair, which overstayed its use. As a more budget-friendly option, my previous gaming chair was worn down and lost some of its structure on the seat. The first thing I noticed when sitting in the Athena was how much wider the seat was. The angled edges are more comfortable not only for my legs but my hips are well. I can also shift my weight from side to side without my thighs being prodded by the sides of the seat. With the wider seat, it’s important to note that the chair itself isn’t that much wider. The width from each armrest isn’t unusual, measuring in at 74cm. It’s no wider than other gaming chairs on the market and it’s suitable for even smaller desks. Depending on your desk height, you’ll also find the Athena supports a wide height range. The product ranges from 127cm to 134cm in height. It can also support upwards of 330 lbs.
The included lumbar support cushion and head cushion are great additions for maintaining good posture during the game. I do wish the head cushion was magnetically attached to the backrest. Instead, it has a tight band attached and is thrown over the top. It’s secure and hasn’t slipped off. It’s more of an aesthetic preference that I have. Throughout the day, I’ve seen the improvements the Athena has offered as far as posture control. Having the support cushions on the back, I’m constantly reminded to use them and avoid slouching forward. No more sore shoulders and lower back after sitting like a gremlin on two-hour podcasts. Despite its benefits to posture, I’m still cognisant of taking breaks to stand and stretch every so often.
Over the two weeks I’ve been using the Athena chair daily, I’ve become fond of how firm yet comfortable the seat is. Blacklyte states it used “high-density cold-core foam technology” to make up its seat. This also extends to the back, the headrest and lumbar cushions. The Athena chair is made up of a premium fabric composition. A PU leather version of Athena is expected to launch later in 2024, the company says. I haven’t used the chair long enough to determine its longevity but based on comfort, I’m quite impressed. I do have a concern with the white fabric and how darker clothes may alter the colour.
Blacklyte offers several nice design perks. Though standard to many competitive chairs, it’s uncommon that you’ll find this many offered at such a price point. For instance, the Athena supports tilt functionality between 90 and 168 degrees. While I’m not one to personally lean back, this gaming chair does let users kick back and relax. This could prove to be very useful if you’re playing a game and want to sink into your chair and take some weight off your back.
One of my favourite features on the Athena chair is the rolling wheels. Typically, gaming chair wheels are still made up of plastic. This results in them being loud and heavy whenever you roll. They can even end up damaging your floor over time. Blacklyte instead uses a softer rubber material. They’re lightweight and shockingly quiet. I no longer have to worry about the slight movements of my chair while recording audio. Plus, the wheels shouldn’t have any means of damaging my hardwood flooring.
A few weeks into using the Blacklyte Athena I’m thoroughly impressed by the quality and comfort this Canadian brand managed to offer. I’ve used and sat in competitive products but can hardly muster up the courage to spend over $1,000 on a gaming chair. Blacklyte has distilled the comfort of a high-end gaming chair while not breaking the bank in the process. I truly believe it’d be a difficult process to find a chair that provides as much space and ergonomics for the price point of the Athena.
Adding to that, I can’t put a price on an intuitive assembly. I’m still rather surprised by how painless the build process was. If you’re like me and you have your blood boil any time you set up IKEA furniture, rest assured Blacklyte makes the setup as easy as can be. Once assembled, you’ll be gaming, podcasting, or in my case, writing in comfort and style.