While the AKRacing California is built and designed in much the same way as usual gaming chairs, it’s specifically designed for smaller users, up to a height of 5ft, 6 inches. A quick spy of its color options – white, pink and light blue – also suggest the target audience is more the stereotypical idea of a ‘girl gamer’ than children or other smaller users, but ultimately color preference is personal and the core experience will suit anyone on the petite side.
Putting that petiteness into numbers, while most of the gaming chairs I’ve recently reviewed have backrests that are 88-90cm tall, the AKRacing California is just 77cm tall. The usable length of the seat is also just 45cm rather than the 48-50cm of the larger models, such as the AKRacing Master Series Premium. The latter measurement, in particular, may not sound like much of a change, but in practice, it can make all the difference for those with shorter legs.
At Custom PC, we’ve been reviewing the latest PC hardware since 2003, and we’ve been testing chairs for over a decade. For more information on our gaming chair test process, see our How we test page.
After all, the difference in total height between people is accumulated through the whole body, so a 3cm difference in just the length of your femur is quite substantial. Our 5ft, 2-inch tester confirmed that the overall proportion was much better than the other chairs, allowing for a more comfortable leg position, and the headrest cushion naturally sat at a more comfortable height.
Indeed, thanks to the general lack of adjustment in the seat heights and lengths in these bucket-seat designs, this chair highlights the importance of paying attention to the recommended height range when choosing a chair. Most manufacturers offer two or three sizes, with the largest often billed as being for wider users as well as taller ones, but it’s the height that will be the key difference for many users.
In terms of core features, the California is a mid-range chair of this type, as its price suggests, and it uses polyurethane (PU) leather for easy wipe-clean maintenance. Choosing a bright white chair such as our review sample is surely asking for trouble, regardless of how easy it is to clean, but the PU material is certainly better than a bright white fabric in this respect.
Elsewhere, the AKRacing California offers the same sort of feature set as the other cheaper chairs I’ve recently reviewed. Specifically, the recline mechanism is a basic one that can lock in a fully upright position or swing freely, but you can’t lock it in a reclined position. The balance of the recline isn’t great either, with it proving near impossible to just tilt back into a recline without putting your feet on an object to counteract your weight.
Either that or you need to lower the backrest to push back your center of gravity. This is an area where the Herman Miller office chair shows why it costs so much, offering a very easy recline system, although the Ergo-Task chair doesn’t recline at all.
You also get more basic castors that don’t roll as well as more expensive options, simpler armrests that offer ‘only’ height adjustment of the support arm and forward, back, and rotation movement of the rest pad. Like all the chairs I’ve recently tested, gas-lift seat height adjustment and sprung backrest angle adjustment are included as well.
Meanwhile, lumbar and head support are provided by cushions that hang onto the chair via elastic straps. It’s a slightly clunky system that has us concerned for the longevity of the elastic, but the cushions are comfortable and the lumbar support is easy to adjust.
AKRacing California pros and cons
- Ideal size for smaller users
- Smart, mostly white finish
- Decent feature set for the price
- Limited recline system
- Odd selection of colors
AKRacing California price
Price: $419 (£349).
AKRacing California review conclusion
The AKRacing California is potentially ideal for smaller gamers. Its proportions are a better fit than ‘one size fits all’ chair designs and it’s a solid, well-built unit. The potentially divisive color options and a basic tilt mechanism are factors to consider though.
If you’re not quite short enough for the AKRacing California to be the right chair for your, check out our noblechairs Hero review. You can also read our full guide to creating a comfortable ergonomic setup in your office or gaming room, which includes help finding the most comfortable gaming chair.
An ideal design for smaller gamers, although there’s room for improvement, and the color options are potentially divisive.