Cougar Argo Gaming Chair Review | IGN

Gaming chairs are evolving. For years, racing-style bucket seats have dominated the gaming space, but the pendulum has swung the opposite direction, making ergonomics a big part of what’s next for gaming chairs. Swapping bolsters for a mesh back doesn’t mean your chair needs to be boring. That’s where the Cougar Argo comes in. With its unique style and suite of comfort customizations, should this $499 gaming chair make its way onto your wishlist?

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Cougar Argo – Design and Features

The Cougar Argo is a strange hybrid, split down the middle between its gaming styling and ergonomic features. It stands apart from most gaming chairs because of that ergonomic design more in line with an office chair, but is clearly built with gamers in mind. The bright orange frame and bold logos make that much clear right away. This isn’t the kind of chair you would take into an office and expect to blend in (though the black version will come closer).

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At the same time, when someone refers to a gaming chair, the Argo isn’t what comes to mind. Gone is the thick memory foam and full PU leather upholstery. Gone are the bolsters and racing stripes. It trades those features for a mesh seat and back, a flexible (and big) lumbar support, and extra adjustments to help you game in comfort, even through an entire workday.

Cougar is striking a middle ground with the Argo and has absolutely nailed it. While other companies are embracing the “sleek and elegant” approach (see: Cooler Master Ergo L, Vertagear Triigger 350), Cougar is out to remind us that ergo doesn’t have to mean boring. From the small details, like the subtle orange accent stitching, to the striking and unique wheel-base, this chair just looks cool.

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If you sit at a PC for long hours like I do, you probably already know that even expensive racing chairs can leave your body fatigued at the end of the day. Many of them chalk up lumbar support to a small pillow thrown in the box and call it a day. Depending on your brand, the foam can be entirely hit or miss and almost always holds too much heat. Gaming in short bursts, these aren’t major issues, but after an entire workday, my body feels tired and strained.

The Argo goes in the opposite direction, swapping memory foam for mesh. After sitting in my Secret Lab Titan XL, the change felt strange at first and I felt the missing padding. This faded after a couple of days, and I really grew to appreciate how supportive the mesh is and how well contoured the chair is overall. The material is slightly elastic and flexed under my weight, but was taut enough to adapt to my body and support me without feeling too firm. The seat also has a waterfall edge to support circulation throughout your legs. I’ve never had an issue with my legs falling asleep at my desk, but I’m happy to see any design that can prevent blood clots later in life.

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The back comes in three parts: the mesh back, the dynamic lumbar support, and the headrest. The lumbar support is the most forward I’ve ever used, but moves on a spring to adapt to your sitting style. I liked that it flexed but the spring was too tight for my taste. Working at my desk, it really encouraged me to sit upright. Unless I completely sat back or reclined, my back rarely touched the mesh. The headrest made a great second point of contact. It moves on two hinges for height and angle, and between the two, I was able to find a comfortable position that was relaxed, but awkward at first.

This design is a good thing for back health, but it means the chair doesn’t support lazy sitting as easily as a gaming chair. There are times when I just want to slide down and prop my feet up, but the lumbar support often got in the way forcing me to change positions several times before I got comfortable. The Argo wants you to practice good posture and accomplishes that by making it the easiest way to sit while typing on a keyboard. It takes some getting used to, but I was surprised at how well it worked to fend off fatigue, even after eight hours at my desk.

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When it comes to adjustments, the Argo has most things you would expect from an ergo chair and some things you wouldn’t. You can adjust the height, lock the recline in three angles, adjust the rocking tension, and even adjust the seat depth so your back touches the lumbar at the most comfortable angle. It was a neat surprise to find that, all of these, except rocking tension, are handled with triggers on the side of the seat. Making quick adjustments is faster and easier than most gaming chairs since you can actually see the label on each trigger. I was also impressed with the armrests, which are just soft enough to be comfortable while remaining firm, and offer full 4D adjustment for height, angle, and depth.

Unlike the Vertagear Triigger 350 or NeueChair, however, you can’t adjust the height of the lumbar, which could be a make or break feature for some users. At 5”8’ its position worked well for me, but taller gamers might find that it sits too low.

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There’s also another drawback: the Argo sits low. The total height, not including headrest, maxes out at 43.1 inches. On paper, this is less than an inch shorter than the Vertagear Triigger 350 SE, but it left me feeling too low for the position of my monitor. My desk is a little tall, so this is likely to vary between setups, but the Triigger handled it fine while the Argo left me looking for a taller gas life.

Low height and lumbar adjustments aside, the Argo is still a very solid package that is well-built and superbly stylish.

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Cougar Argo – Unboxing and Assembly

Like most gaming chairs, the Argo arrived in a very large and heavy box. Mine was a bit beat up from shipping, but Cougar’s packaging was excellent with each piece individually wrapped so they came out pristine. At this price, I’m sensitive to marks in the finish and there wasn’t a single one I could find.

Getting it put together is straightforward. There are a couple of extra steps compared to some of the more expensive ergonomic chairs on the market, but it’s still much easier than your average racing chair. I consulted the manual once to double-check which screws to use, but it would be difficult to assemble incorrectly. Everything has an easily identifiable slot and because of the trigger adjustment system, the base comes pre-attached. Using an electric screwdriver, I was done within ten minutes making it the fastest and easiest chair I’ve ever built.

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Cougar Argo – Performance

Even more than a normal gaming chair, the Argo has a lot to live up to. It’s packed with ergonomic features and costs significantly more because of it, so the expectations for a comfortable experience are high. It didn’t disappoint.

I used the chair for the better part of a week. A short day at the computer is 3-4 hours, but most were upwards of six. It took some time to dial in the perfect “angle of attack” for my back with the seat depth, but once I did I was able to find a comfortable position I could stick with for hours at a time. Being forced to sit upright when I wanted to slouch was occasionally annoying, but it also helped me unlearn years of bad habits while also making me feel more poised and responsive behind the keyboard. This was especially true for shooters where lazy sitting often translates to worse play for me.

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I was slightly less satisfied when it came to gaming with an Xbox controller. The lumbar support sometimes felt like it was in the way when I would try to sit back and relax. I found myself playing with the seat depth, loosening the tension knob, or straight up reclining in one of its three locked positions. All of these are fairly minor, as I was always able to get comfortable, but it felt more limiting than a racing chair.

That said, I was a big fan of the head and armrests for controller play, which are both soft and comfy. The headrest was easy to adjust, and because it uses hinges, adjusting the height also changes depth for extra support when reclining. The armrests were also great with a surprising amount of give that warded off elbow pain.

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The sum total of all of those ergonomic features is how much better it left me feeling at the end of each day. Even after a marathon eight hour stretch of work and play, I was able to lay down in bed without the usual aches and fatigue that gaming chairs leave me with. Even though I wished the lumbar support had a little more give, there’s no mistaking that it works. In the tail end of my review time, I spent a couple days suffering from a pinched nerve in my back. The Argo’s lumbar support let me sit at my desk when I was otherwise locked to the couch. Even my thousand dollar Vertagear Triigger couldn’t do that.

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Cougar Argo – Purchasing Guide

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