Gaming chairs are one of the hottest commodities on the market. If you watch gaming personalities anywhere, you’re guaranteed to have seen them and may just be considering picking one up for yourself. Today, we’re looking at the Secret Lab Titan XL. The TITAN was already big and bold, and the XL ratchets it up with a larger size and all the enhancements of the 2020 series. At $479, should you pick one up for yourself? Let’s find out.
Current Price: $479 (Secret Lab Direct)
Secret Lab - The Gaming Chair Company You Need to Know About
If you’re in the market for a gaming chair, Secret Lab is a company you need to know about. Compared to the competition, the company is relatively new and was only founded in 2015. In five short years, they’ve climbed the real-life leaderboard of the chair world and are vying for the top spot in an ever-more-crowded market.
There are good reasons for that. Apart from some very smart and slick marketing, they’ve made their chairs stand out in just about every way that counts. Their first flagship chair, the Omega, was not only eye-catching but downright striking with its gold omega symbol and red accents. I recall the first time I saw it way back in 2016 reading Kotaku and thinking how cool it looked. It was a year later before I was able to try one for myself and I found out that there was a lot more to the chair than a cool aesthetic.
Fast forward to today. It’s been two years since I’ve had the chance to try another Secret Lab chair for myself. The company has made a number of improvements in that time and we’re officially looking at the “2020 Series” of Secret Lab gaming chairs. Let’s take a closer look at the TITAN XL and see if things have changed for the better.
TITAN XL: Large and In Charge
The TITAN XL is a big boy. I mean it. When the Fedex driver delivered it to me, he knocked on the door first to make sure I was home before trying to lug it off the truck. “That’s one big chair,” he remarked when we were done. Weighing in at nearly 80 pounds, I’d agree. This thing is a beast.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise because the XL isn’t replacing the normal TITAN. The XL is 25-percent larger and far more durable. The size increase is immediately noticeable, but its weight comes from the upgraded mechanics and extra steel and cold cure foam. Where the original TITAN is recommended for users 5’7” - 6’7” and no more than 290 pounds, the XL bumps that to 5’11” - 6’10” and 390 pounds. The XL serves Secret Labs “upper range” and people like myself who just like a spacious chair.
In practice, the XL is a little wider, a little taller, and a lot more reliable and stable even for big and tall gamers. One of the hallmarks of the Secret Lab Omega I tested in 2018 was that you could recline all the way into a full lay. I’m happy to see that very tall or large gamers can finally take advantage of this feature with the same confidence smaller gamers have been enjoying for years.
Construction and 2020 Series Upgrades
Secret Lab embraces iteration. The last chair I reviewed was part of the “2018 Series” and the Titan XL joins the line-up during the “2020 Series.” Each new line of chairs includes the latest features, innovations, and manufacturing improvements Secret Lab has developed since the last release.
Let’s start with the upholstery. Secret Lab uses their proprietary PRIME 2.0 PU Leather, which they claim is four times more durable than traditional PU leather. They’ve backed that claim up with lab testing and proper certification through A*STAR. Not only is it soft to the touch, but A*STAR’s report certifies it for ten times the industry standard - not four - rating it for 200,000 abrasion cycles. Suffice it to say, you’re not likely to hit that in the lifetime of the chair. This stuff is tough.
The quality of the stitching is also very good. The TITAN XL is one of the few chairs I’ve used that doesn’t have loose threads somewhere. This is very common, especially on their logo embroidery but not here. It’s consistently high quality across the board. Secret Lab’s designs are eye-catching, so it’s good to see they’ve knocked stitch-work out of the park.
Heading under the surface, the TITAN XL uses custom cold cure foam. While it’s true that many chairs look similar because they’re made in the same factory, Secret Lab uses a custom, patented process where a proprietary foam mix is put into aluminum molds and formed in large pieces. This allows the company to ensure the structural integrity of their chairs over time and to strategically place pockets of air for comfort and support.
I have to give kudos to Secret Lab for how well padded the TITAN XL is. The seat alone is probably double the thickness of my Noble Chairs HERO or EPIC. In early use, that doesn’t make a huge difference, but I know from experience that extra padding like this really helps extend the support and durability of a gaming chair, so it’s great to see.
The armrests are also excellent. They follow the “4D” design, which means you can adjust height, width, depth, and angle. This is common at this price point, but I was impressed at how much metal they used even in the trim pieces. The internal mechanisms have also been converted to metal for added durability, which addresses a common point of failure in gaming chairs. The level of adjustability and softness of the foam allows the armrests to accommodate whatever posture you may be sitting in, from sitting bolt upright with a mouse and keyboard to reclining with a controller, and won’t leave your elbow sore after a long gaming session.
Underneath the seat, we have the tilt mechanism, piston, and five-star base. These are, across the board, great and visibly heavy duty. The tilt mechanism is solid and heavy. A big knob allows you to adjust the tension of your tilt (more or less rock while gaming), and a lever allows you to lock your preferred angle. This is especially useful if you put your feet up while gaming. The piston is Class-4 and rated for many repetitions of heavy loads. It’s also tall enough that my feet don’t touch the ground when it’s all the way up, so it’s perfect for high desks. Finally, we come to the five-star base which is cast from aluminum and reinforced with ribs and gussets so you’ll never have to worry about it breaking like plastic bases.
Unboxing and Assembly
As I mentioned above, the TITAN XL comes in a heavy box, but it’s actual dimensions aren’t that far outside the norm for gaming chairs. Over the last two years, Secret Lab have stepped up their packaging game. I’ve tried most major brands and this is, without question, the best unboxing experience you’re going to find for a gaming chair. Like all things Secret Lab, presentation is everything. The box is imprinted with their logo and flair, the assembly instructions come on a big glossy card, and the owner’s guide and documentation comes in a sealed envelope like you’ve just bought a sports car. And in a way you have Secret Lab chairs truly are the sports cars of the gaming chair world.
The company has streamlined the assembly process from the 2018 experience. One of my criticisms of the Omega 2018 was that putting it together was difficult without an extra set of hands. That wasn’t the case here. I never felt like I needed help, even with trickier steps like attaching the back to the seat. Attaching the back to the seat is usually the hardest part of assembling a gaming chair but not here. The screws threaded easily with less hunting to get them in place. I’m not sure, but I suspect the thread is literally closer to the hole in the side of the backrest. Or maybe I’m just an old pro.
From there, the hard part is done. Attaching the tilt base is simple since the screws have already been installed. The casters pop into place easily and because the attachment is completely standard, replacing these with soft rubber versions for hardwoods is completely easy. After that, you simply tilt the seat down, slide the piston into the base before inserting it into the tilt mechanism, and move onto to a few minutes of trim work, sliding plastic handles onto the levers.
All in all, it’s a simple, straightforward process with absolutely zero guesswork. Secret Lab makes it easy even for a complete beginner and you don’t need any tools whatsoever to get the job done because they provide everything you need right in the box.
Impressions and Conclusions
After having the chair for the last week, I’m officially moving over to the TITAN XL full-time for my gaming PC. Before this, I was using the Noble Chairs HERO in real leather. It’s a great chair and I’ve loved it over the last year, but the TITAN XL just offers more support, thicker padding, and more height. Plus, it looks damnably cool with the red and black with gold accents, as well as the touches of carbon fiber on the seat and bolsters. I’m just a sucker for Secret Lab’s sense of style.
Out of the box, the cold cure foam is more firm than some might like but I know from experience that this gives over time. The foam is made to last and not become squishy like cheaper chairs that eventually let you feel the frame underneath. In the year and a half I used the Omega (which is now with a dear friend who was in need), it softened to the point of adding extra comfort as the material decompressed and breathed but then plateaued, maintaining its stability very well over time. The foam here felt identical to me, despite being upgraded, so I’m confident it will do the same.
When it comes to comfort, the TITAN XL is a winner. The PU Leather 2.0 is soft and more breathable than the original without needing unsightly perforations like those found on competing chairs. The lack of perfs also helps maintain the integrity of the fabric, so you won’t have to worry about premature cracks, tears, or other damage from the hundreds of pinholes poked in your chair.
I also really appreciated the extra space the XL version provided. I’m not a big guy at 5’10” and 160 pounds. Yet, I still prefer XL chairs. Why? Because there are times when I want to sit in positions normal gaming chairs just don’t support. If I want to cross my legs, I can do that here without big bolsters digging into my ankles. The same goes for the backrest, which is wide enough to not make me feel hugged into the chair. At the end of the day, the bucket seat styling of these chairs may look cool, but none of us are actually driving a race car and don’t need to be held in one position.
One of the most common criticisms our readers share in the comments is that gaming chairs are terrible for your back health. Indeed, some are. At the same time, I’m in the unique position of having ergonomic mesh chairs, super expensive memory foam chairs with adjustments out the wazoo, and multiple styles of gaming chair at my disposal. While the highly adjustable ergonomic mesh chair is definitely the winner for posture, the actual impact in how I feel day to day is the same.
Since upgrading from cheap Walmart chairs several years ago, I haven’t had the same back pain, so I can’t say the TITAN XL solved anything for me. What I can say is that it certainly didn’t make anything worse and I feel supported in all of the areas I need to be. Between gaming and working, hacking away at a keyboard or kicking back with a controller, I’m able to adjust the TITAN XL to be comfortable and supportive.
The only thing I wish is that they’d thrown in a memory foam lumbar pillow. Even though the TITAN series doesn’t need one thanks to its built-in lumbar support system, I find that I enjoy using pillows along with the adjustment system. From talking to others, I know I’m weird in that way, but I plan on buying a pillow to go along with the chair anyway.
So is the TITAN XL worth its $479 asking price? I think it is. Even though the original TITAN is still available for a full $80 less, the XL is able to hold one hundred pounds more and is an all-around bigger chair. If you’re the kind of gamer who needs that extra support, this provides it in as swanky a fashion as a gaming chair can provide it. If you’re not in that category, you can get all of the key features of the XL in the normal TITAN and invest that savings in a new game.
In the last two years, I’ve used a lot of chairs. It’s to the point where I have to test them and re-home them because I don’t have space for all of the ones I’ve tried. That puts me in a unique position to say with certainty that Secret Lab is simply one of the best in the business today. While many brands seem content to have different skins on what seems to be the same chair, Secret Lab takes it up a notch. Their chairs look good, are impeccably built, have great warranties, and, just as important, they make you feel like you’ve just bought the Rolls-Royce of gaming chairs. That counts for something because, frankly, when you’re spending $300+ on a chair, you want it to feel like something special.
Like the Omega I reviewed in 2018, the TITAN XL is outstanding. FIguratively and literally, it is a mountain among gaming chairs.
The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.