Air hockey tables are one of the coolest things you can have around your home. Everyone enjoys a good round, after all, and not having to pay at the local arcade is just icing on the cake. For those who are true enthusiasts of the game not just any table is going to do it. Instead, you’ll be looking for the best air hockey table around.
Our favorite is the ESPN Air Hockey Game Table. It’s not a bank breaker, but it’s a high-quality, full sized table with enough storage space to keep everything in one spot. Your game may vary, however, so take a look at our five favorites and see which one is the right choice for your home. Then we’ll get into the how’s and why’s behind our decision.
For those who want a solid, long-lasting air hockey table you really don’t need to look any further. This is the best of the best without getting into arcade-style tables which are out of the price range of most consumers.
Top 5 Air Hockey Tables
|ESPN Air Hockey Game Table||5’-8’ Available||Freestanding||Check Price|
|Brunswick 7ft||8’||Freestanding||Check Price|
|Sport Squad HX40||40”||Tabletop||Check Price|
|Classic Sport Traditional||8’||Freestanding||Check Price|
|Harvil 4 Foot||48”||Freestanding||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Air Hockey Table
ESPN Air Hockey Game Table
While it’s not a competition approved table the sleek styling and excellent build quality of the ESPN Air Hockey Game Table makes it an excellent choice for the home. Even better, you’ll be able to buy it in a size which suits your own home rather than being stuck with one size.
The table is built to last. There’s no two ways about it and if you’re looking for something which will remain a semi-permanent addition to your home then you’ll be in luck.
Play on the surface remains extremely quick due to the high-gloss finish of the playing area. The accessories which come with it are also great, which is another one of the reasons why we ended up favoring it over the more classic designs we saw.
The easy-to-use touch screen controls for scoring just added to how awesome it was. The whole thing is modern while remaining without the frills which characterize many of the similarly priced models on the market.
The price varies from size to size of course, as does the design. But one thing can definitely be said: if you’re looking for an at-home air hockey table then you should take a closer look in this direction.
Pros and Cons
- High build-quality
- Super glossed play surface
- Excellent touch screen controls
- Available in three different sizes
- Rather heavy
- Assembly is a bit harder than other options
2. Best Competition Style Air Hockey Table
Brunswick 7ft Air Hockey Table Windchill
While not technically approved for competitive play, the Windchill makes a great at home alternative for a fraction of the cost of those which are. This is a powerful, solid air hockey table which is great for those who are training to hit the circuit.
The fan is extremely strong and combines with the glossed MDF play surface to create an excellent surface which promotes fast play. The rails are also over-built for the size of the table, meaning it’ll hold up to the slings and arrows of those who are serious about their air hockey.
The seven foot length makes it pretty much the ideal compromise between smaller tables designed for children and the full length ones which are used by adults in most cases. The competition-style pucks and mallets add to the professional feel of the entire table.
Other than that it’s a relatively simple affair. Don’t expect any electronic frills here, even the scoring is done by hand with inset abacus-style counters.
For those who want a competition quality table, without the competition price, the Brunswick Windchill is a more than respectable option. Pick it up for at-home training or any area where you’re sure the table is going to experience some trauma.
Pros and Cons
- High-quality play surface
- Seven foot length
- Excellent blower, no dead spots
- Easy to assemble
- Very bare bones for the price
- Super heavy, get a friend to help you assemble
3. Best Tabletop Air Hockey Table
Sport Squad HX40 40-Inch Electric Tabletop Air Hockey Table
For those with a smaller home, tabletop models make sense. They’re not the thing to train on for competitive play and they’re not as tough as their freestanding cousins but they’re no slouch when it comes time to playing.
This is a 40 inch table and of all the tabletop models it seemed to hold up the best. While it’s not enormous that’s not a bad thing for those who are playing at home in their spare time. We wouldn’t recommend it for commercial applications however.
It also comes in at a fraction of the cost of a freestanding table. The convenience added by the easy assembly and the fact that you only need a table to get a game going makes it a standout option.
Keep in mind that no tabletop model is really going to compare to a standard table. This is best suited for casual play at home, any kind of super vigorous action is going to cause the rails and surface to break down pretty quickly.
For a quick, at-home air hockey game this tabletop model is a standout however. It’s not up to the standards of the rest on our list, but we feel that the convenience makes up for the small size and lesser durability.
Pros and Cons
- Super easy assembly
- Motor is very quiet
- Convenient to use
- Easy to store
- Not as durable as a standard table
- A bit small for adult play
4. Best Four Player Air Hockey Table
Classic Sport Traditional Table Hockey
It’s rather big overall, measuring eight by four feet, but there’s no need to worry when it comes down to it since you can easily play with four people on this table. Add in the classic, retro-arcade styling and you’ll see why we added this one to our list of favorites.
The biggest advantage is the enlarged playing area. With a wide enough base to allow you and a friend to face off against two others it beats out most at home options. The wooden construction is also remarkably durable, although it will mark easier than metal railings.
It also has a great electronic scoreboard. This isn’t a competition table, but for those who want something solid and sturdy to keep guests entertained it’s a winner. It comes complete with music and crowd noise as well, creating a great arcade experience in your own home.
The levelers were a nice touch as well. They’re easy to adjust and allow you to make sure that the play surface is fair no matter what’s going on.
For those who want the ultimate in home entertainment, without worrying about home competition, this might just be the best table around. Enough room for four players and classic styling add up.
Pros and Cons
- Classic retro styling
- Great levelers
- Super sturdy
- Enough room for four players
- Play is a bit slow compared to high-end tables
- Tends to mark up easily on wooden parts
5. Best Budget Air Hockey Table
Harvil 4 Foot Air Hockey Game Table
While it’s not going to impress those who are looking to sharpen their competitive skills, this little table is great for kids and at home casual play. It’s also a fraction of the cost of every other freestanding table we took a look at.
There are some obvious trade-offs at this price point: it’s not super durable, it’s a bit small, and the low rails tend to lead to flying pucks.
If you can handle all of that, however, you’ll find that this is one of the best tables around for casual play. Children in particular will find it to be a great addition to the home.
It’s not going to compare to the majority of the tables on our list, but this is a solid option for those who want a freestanding table that’s not going to break the bank. Take a closer look and you’ll see why we added it for those on a tight budget.
Pros and Cons
- Super cheap
- Relatively solid for the price
- Electronic scoring
- Promotes fast play with a great fan
- Not super durable
- Scoring system has some flaws
How Does an Air Hockey Table Work?
For those who’ve only played once or twice the fact that there are different varieties of air hockey tables can be confusing.
Air hockey surfaces are designed to reduce friction and allow both the bumpers and the puck to move with as little friction as possible. Since the bumpers are in direct contact over a relatively large area it really wasn’t possible to get a relatively friction-free surface that would last for a considerable amount of time.
Instead, the surface of an air hockey table comes with a multitude of small holes which allow the puck to glide and help to reduce the surface friction which comes from the bumpers.
If you’re interested in competition play in the future then you should keep in mind that simple, eight foot tables are the only ones allowed in air hockey leagues.
While all of the novelty stuff that comes with some tables can be great for home play, they’re really not suitable for those who are getting serious.
Assembly is going to be required for any air hockey table. Simpler models only need the legs attached, but more complex ones will require you to get a little bit more handy when you’re setting things up.
While they’re not overly complex, air hockey tables can take a little bit more effort to figure out than many people are aware of.
Just make sure to avoid the “air hockey” tables which are simply a low friction service, the slower play isn’t nearly as fun and most people will quickly tire of the tables. They’re also not as resilient as a standard air hockey table.
What to Look for in an Air Hockey Table?
There are a few major things which you’ll need to keep an eye out for when you’re selecting a table.
The biggest concern for most people is going to be whether or not they’re looking to get into competitive play. If that’s the case then you’ll want to avoid novelty tables or those with an abundance of electronics in favor of a standard eight foot table with minimal features.
Size and Shape
The standard size for competition is an eight foot, rectangular table. If that’s your goal, then stick with that size and you’ll be much better off.
On the other hand, for smaller spaces a seven foot table can be a good way to go. Not all of us are interested in doing more than just messing around with our friends in the basement.
Novelty shapes can be a lot of fun, but there currently isn’t a league which uses them. Round tables, for instance, are available. There are also square ones which allow for up to four players to get in on the game at the same time.
Micro air hockey tables are also a lot of fun. These tables are quite a bit smaller than the usual fare, coming in at two to three feet across. They promote incredibly fast play and can be a big space saver for many people who just want a game to play in the living room.
Most people don’t think about just how much damage can be done to the rails on an air hockey table.
The answer, especially for vigorous play with adults, is a lot. Cheap rails are going to break sooner or later and that will pretty much turn your table into a giant pile of garbage.
Many of the cheaper models have thin aluminum rails. While this is great for the manufacturers, since they’re cheap and easy to attach, it’s not great for your table. Once things get going these rails are pretty easy to break, which is no fun at all for those involved.
The rails also affect the speed of play by allowing the puck to rebound better off of them. They should be solid and made of thicker metal or nylon for the best experience.
While it would seem like you could just buy a new puck if you didn’t like the one which comes with your table, but you may want to think twice before you do that.
The blower which comes with your table creates an air cushion for one particular size of puck. Smaller pucks don’t need as much cushion but if you switch to a larger regulation puck afterwards the you’ll end up with more friction than you’d normally like.
Choose carefully when you first get your table in order to make sure you don’t run into this issue later.
The overall construction of the table is probably the single most important factor in it’s longevity.
Like most things you’ll get what you pay for at the end of the day. A solid wooden table is going to be much better in the long run than one which is made of cheap particle board.
Cheaper ones can be nice if you’re not planning on playing very often or if you have a mostly laconic playstyle. They’ll break quickly under heavy usage however and really aren’t suitable if you ad your friends like to get aggressive while playing.
Competition vs. Non-Competition Tables
If you’re looking to get involved with a league then you’ll want to make sure that you have a competition table. Only a specific few are directly approved by the governing bodies. We made sure to figure out which was the best and bring it to you.
Non-competition tables are just fine for regular play. Allow yourself the leeway to pick which you’re going with, since non-competition tables have a much wider rage of electronics, shapes, ad other features available to them.
Tabletop vs. Freestanding
If you don’t have a ton of room in your home, then you may want to opt for a tabletop version. While these are often much smaller, they also tend to be on the cheaper side and you’ll quickly find that they’re just as much fun.
Freestanding tables will require more room and more setup. Many of the tabletop models we looked at were usable right out of the box, just plug in the air pumps and get going. The lack of assembly and ease of storage makes them ideal for some homes.
They also tend to be quite a bit flimsier, however, so vigorous play isn’t a great idea. Most of the tabletop models we looked at were between four and five feet in length, however, so they’re not as prone to boisterous moves which will damage the railing.
Electronics in Your Air Hockey Table
The electronics in your table can end up making a pretty big difference.
Electronic scoring should be tied to the power system as a whole. While the pumps are almost always powered by the plug some of the cheaper tables use batteries for the scoring system.
For competition tables it pretty much ends there.
On the other hand, for casual play you can get a wide variety of different features. One of our favorites are lights for scoring, as well as noise. It adds a festive air to the whole game without needing additional people around.
There are also arcade-style tables which play music while the puck is in play.
The other big electronic which is banned in tournament play is overhead lights, but they can be quite handy depending on where your air hockey table is going to end up being situated.
Matching Your Skill Level
For those who play infrequently and aren’t aiming to be the best around it may be a good idea to save some money by going with a cheaper table. Those at a beginner level of skill will get quite a bit of use out of one, not to mention saving a lot of money.
If you’re already at a pretty high level of skill then it’s probably best to pick up a table better suited for you. Air hockey pucks reach ridiculous speeds, up to 70mph, and mallets get moving pretty fast. Both of these bang up rails and a high-end player is going to break cheap ones in a hurry.
Beginners can save a lot of money by going with a cheaper table but if you and your friends are rough on things then you may want to spend a little bit more to get what you need.
Advanced players need the extra durability and leveling capability that comes with an arcade style table.
If you’re in the middle then it really depends on whether you’re trying to actively get better at the sport or just mess around. If it’s the latter then you’ll be fine with a table in the mid-range of things but if you’re planning on playing in leagues in the future and want to train at home then you’ll be best-served with an arcade-style table in competition size.
Making sure that you have the best air hockey table for your home is easy. You’ll quickly find that it becomes one of the focal points of the home so it makes a lot of sense to put some extra thought into the purchase itself.
For our money, the ESPN Air Hockey Game Table is probably the best way to go for the home player. It’s a solid, mid-ranged option which is great for casual play and we quickly found it to be durable, solid, and to have enough extra features to keep it interesting.
There’s something out there for everyone, though, so take a look over our favorites before you make a final decision. Whatever your play-style and gameroom size there’s definitely something out there which will allow you to add a great way to enjoy this fast paced game at home.