There are several options and features we tested when picking the best standing desk in 2020 for our top 10 comparison. The staff at Gadget Review have all made the switch because we love the standing desk benefits, as it can help you burn calories, improve your posture, prevent heart disease and help your focus during tasks where your mind might start to wander. These desks are much more than just a laptop stand. A height adjustable standing desk will improve your health. Aside from the health benefits you will feel mentally and physically better too.
After purchasing the top 20 standing desks and testing them out as a part of our daily work routine, it was easy to pick the Varidesk Pro Plus 36 as our winner. With plenty of surface area for two monitors, easy operation and an overall sturdy build, this desk converter is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to stick to a budget while still getting a premium standing desk experience. Keep reading to learn more about this Varidesk ProDesk and our other top picks.
- 1 Top 5 Best Standing Desks Compared
- 1.1 #1 Varidesk Pro Plus 36 – Top Pick/Best Desk Converter
- 1.2 #2 ApexDesk Elite Series 60 – Honorable Mention/Best Motorized
- 1.3 #3 Seville Classics AIRLIFT – Best Budget/Best Dual Monitor
- 1.4 #4 Stand Up Desk Store Crank Adjustable Desk – Best Value/Best Crank Adjustable
- 1.5 #5 Stand Steady X-Elite PRO – Best Single Monitor
- 2 How We Choose the Best Standing Desk To Fit Any Budget
Top 5 Best Standing Desks Compared
#1 Varidesk Pro Plus 36 – Top Pick/Best Desk ConverterWHY WE LIKE IT: If you’ve already got a solid desk that you love, the Varidesk Pro Plus 36 is a cheaper and easier way to add standing capability without much fuss for adjustment. Why? Because it goes on top of your desk, so you don’t have to move anything.
The VariDesk Pro Desk Plus 36 is what’s known as a desk converter, which features a curious design that is made to latch onto the corner of a desk and move between a sitting and standing position at will. The idea is that if you want to spend some of the workday sitting, and some of it standing, you can switch between the two states in an instant. The adjustment points of the Varidesk monitor stand are particularly handy, allowing for a variety of set ups and multiple monitors, if required. You can also adjust the flexible keyboard stand to whatever height and angle you want, providing a lot of welcome customization to your working stance you won’t find in many other models.
That said, like many variable standing desk converters, according to some users the Varidesk suffers from the problem of complete sturdiness when extended to max height while installed on an already shaky-surface. If you go this route be sure that the desk underneath is rock-solid, otherwise you could experience a significant amount of sway during extended typing or gaming sessions on the Varidesk. It is a solid replacement for your existing desk and for those looking for gaming desks, you may want to try this one.
#2 ApexDesk Elite Series 60 – Honorable Mention/Best MotorizedWHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re looking for a motorized standing desk, look no further than the ApexDesk Elite 60. This adjustable standing desk features plenty of surface area and an easy-to-use control panels with plenty of height customization options.
The ApexDesk Elite Series 60 is a minimalistic option, and the top standing desk if you want something motorized that doesn’t come with too many extra frills. To start, you can adjust this electric standing desk to any height you want up to 48 inches. This allows for infinite adjustments to get you exactly where you’re most comfortable, while either sitting or standing. You can also set up to six different height settings using the handy LED control panel included with the desk.
We were especially pleased with the overall minimalistic design of this standalone motorized standing desk. It looks clean with its MDF desktop and feels sturdy with its solid steel frame. The ApexDesk does get a little wobbly at the highest height setting, but this is pretty common across the board with standing desks. If you need the highest setting, just be careful while working. With tons of surface area, you’ll be able to fit dual monitors and still have plenty of room here, which is something other options like desk converters tend to struggle with. If you want something big, minimalistic and electric, then you should definitely consider the ApexDesk Elite Series 60.
#3 Seville Classics AIRLIFT – Best Budget/Best Dual MonitorWHY WE LIKE IT: The Seville Classics AIRLIFT is an excellent standing desk converter that offers plenty of surface space without taking up too large a footprint on your existing desk. It’s perfect for anyone on a budget looking to use two monitors at the same time.
The Seville Classics AIRLIFT is another one of our top standing desk converter options that gives you more flexibility if you already have a desk that you own and love using. Perhaps the best part of this converter is its incredibly small footprint. Unlike some other desk converters, the Seville isn’t awkwardly shaped or overly large so as to take up the bulk of free space on your desktop. We were also impressed at how much you could fit on the Seville AIRLIFT. There’s plenty of room for two monitors and it even includes a helpful, built-in tablet and phone stand so you can enjoy media there while using your monitors for work.
And while this isn’t a motorized standing desk, you can still lift the desk up and down up to 19.1 inches using the gas-spring mechanism. Unfortunately, the Seville is a little heavier than other converters, especially when fully loaded with dual monitors, which might make it harder for some users to extend fully. This wasn’t a huge problem in our opinion. Assembly is easy, as well, but the included assembly instructions aren’t super clear. We were able to get through it well enough, though, and since the physical act of putting the desk together was easy, we weren’t too worried about the instructions.
#4 Stand Up Desk Store Crank Adjustable Desk – Best Value/Best Crank AdjustableWHY WE LIKE IT: The Stand Up Desk Store crank adjustable standing desk is unique in the fact that you manually adjust the height using a turn crank instead of a motor or a gas spring mechanism. This gives you plenty of flexibility and tons of sturdiness, making it our best value desk on the list.
The Stand Up Desk Store crank adjustable stand up desk takes a hybrid approach to lifting capacities. Instead of using a motor or hydraulic system to lift the desk, you can adjust the height up or down using the built-in hand crank. This does the heavy lifting for you but still requires some manual operation. Some might consider this a downside, but we were actually impressed overall with how easy it was to operate the crank. There’s not much effort involved and the desk slides up and down smoothly.
The overall design of this adjustable standing desk is something to be applauded, as well. Featuring a unique two-tier platform, you’ll have plenty of surface area for your monitors, laptop, keyboard and mouse, along with any other thigns you need to store on your desk. This Stand Up Desk Store desk is very sturdy, as well, which makes it heavier than most other options. This is important to keep in mind during assembly and transport. You do get casters with the desk, but you may find that they make things a little more instable, so we recommend using the desk without the wheels if you want the ultimate stability.
#5 Stand Steady X-Elite PRO – Best Single MonitorWHY WE LIKE IT: The Cobra ESR800 is the cheapest option on our list, but that doesn’t mean it sacrifices too much on performance or quality. You get the best 360-degree protection on our list and a good variety of signal detection.
If it’s simplicity you’re looking for in your stand up desk, you can’t go wrong with the Stand Steady X-Elite. Featuring one of the simplest designs on our list, this desk features a minimal footprint and is extra lightweight. It’s so simple, you won’t even need to assemble it out of the box. Of course, this simplicity in design leads to some sacrifices. Namely, you won’t really get any extras like keyboard trays or anything similar. However, this wasn’t such a big deal during our testing, since the Stand Steady X-Elite’s total surface area more than makes up for it.
You might not have enough room for a full dual-monitor set up with this standing desk, but we found that it offers plenty of room for a larger single monitor. Ultimately, we think the X-Elite is perfect for all-in-one desktop computers like iMacs. Raising and lowering the height is as simple as squeezing the handle on the side of the desk and moving it to the appropriate height. This isn’t as sophisticated as motorized desks or gas spring options, but it works in a pinch and for such a low price, we can’t complain. All in all, if you don’t want to complicate your life with an adjustable desk that needs extra assembly or a tutorial, the Stand Steady X-Elite is a perfect choice.
How We Choose the Best Standing Desk To Fit Any Budget
When choosing and testing the top standing desks for this list, we considered a variety of models, features, and prices to fit anyone’s budget, though the Varidesk meets a lot of this criteria.
First and foremost, it’s important to know there are several different styles of standing desk that can either “stand” on their own (pardon the pun), or can act as an attachment to your preexisting desk to impart additional functionality on top.
Standalone standing desks (last one) are desks that can transition between standing or sitting positions, using either a motor or a pneumatic handle to shift from one mode to the next.
Whether or not a desk was motorized was an important consideration, because the last thing you want to be doing while you’re at work is awkwardly trying to jack a desk into position while all your co-workers look on in pity. Motorized desks also tend to be more stable when compared to hand cranked versions, though this can vary from company to company and desk to desk.
Next, there’s testing the build quality of the desk itself. This includes various factors such as what materials both the top of the desk and the frame are made of (bamboo and aluminum generally do the job without driving up costs, though some manufacturers are starting to experiment with high-end materials like reclaimed wood and oak), as well as the sturdiness and overall stability of the desk at various heights (our #1 pick, the Jarvis, had excellent marks when it came to this).
One of the most annoying things about poorly made standing desks is a desk that won’t stop wobbling at full height, and while there’s no specific metric to measure the “wobbliness” scale of a product, all the desks we tested and picked on this list have been rated by users and reviewers as being extremely stable in any configuration.
Wobbliness is a problem that plagues almost all budget desks, which is why we recommend that if you’re working to save a little cash that you run with an add-on stander that turns a regular desk into a standing desk, rather than dropping the full amount on a (if you’ll forgive the pun) “standalone” option.
Finally, there’s the overall durability of the ultimate standing desks, and how that relates to price. As we mentioned in the previous section, cheaper materials like bamboo (compared to other woods and surfaces) can also take quite a beating if treated with the proper after-coatings, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg while lasting years at a time.
Given that most standing desks (and even standing desk add-ons) are designed to last at least five years (optimally around 10), you’ll want to make sure your desk can withstand the abuses and rigors of desk work without denting or warping in the first few months of ownership or less.
On the scale of durability the ratings would likely fall into the following order (scaled by most durable to least): aluminum, reclaimed wood, oak, bamboo, high-pressure laminate, particle board.
Why You Should Buy a New Standing Desk
While the actual health benefits of a standing desk are still hotly contested by scientists and doctors alike, there’s no arguing that standing while you work is a good way to get the blood flowing. As someone who has suffered from lower back pain since a tailbone injury at age 14, I know when something is helping or when it hurts because I’ll feel it sooner and more harshly than most.
Personally, I find that whenever I have a task that I need to focus on for long periods of time, standing through half or more of it will keep me more attentive, and give my restless legs a chance to stretch out. It also helps to alleviate some of the strain that my incessant slouching habit puts on my back, shoulders and hips – a pleasure that few desk workers get unless they’re getting up to go to the bathroom or grab a snack.
But how to stand at a standing desk is also key, as you should keep your keyboard and mouse at a 90° angle while standing (as doctor’s recommend) so you can improve your standing desk posture while also burning far more calories than you would by comparison to sitting down.
Depending on your build, it’s said that the average office worker can burn around 50 extra calories an hour while working from a standing position, which can really start to add up if you’re standing for more than three hours a day, five days a week.
That said, despite all the obvious benefits it’s generally considered a good idea to switch between standing and sitting postures about every three hours or so, which is what we did during our testing. This gives your body time to recover between both states, and doesn’t put an unnecessary amount of strain on your joints while you work (compared to just sitting or standing alone).
We also recommend moving around every now and again while you stand. This can include anything from stretches to dancing to your favorite music; whatever works best for you but also keeps the blood moving and prevents you from standing static for long stretches of time at once.
In short, if you’re someone who’s wondering how often you should stand up from your desk and wants to improve their posture, burn some calories, and improve their overall focus on specific tasks – then a new standing desk might be in the cards for you.
Standing Desk Key Factors to Consider
Motorized vs. Pneumatic vs. Hand-Crank Comparison
- Personal preferences aside, ultimately which style of powered or non-powered standing desk that’s right for you will come down to how often you switch between sitting and standing per day.
- Pneumatic and motorized desks make it simple to make the transition, but can also be quite a bit more costly than hand-crank versions.
- That said, hand-crank desks can also run into issues with stability and durability if you aren’t extra careful with them every time you switch, which can be a pain if you find yourself doing it often.
- This may not sound like a huge deal, but when using standing desks the wire management can become a bigger issue than you think.
- Options like the desk on this list, the Jarvis, offer two different grommet styles: standard holes that feed down to your computer, or powered/USB grommets which actually act as an extension cord to be sure you don’t get tangled up.
- Be sure to measure the length of all your monitor cables, keyboard cables, and mouse cable before buying a standing desk to be sure they’ll all reach your desktop or laptop when the desk is fully extended to standing height. You should also has ample desk space for all of your work items like your iPad Pro stand, ergonomic mouse, ergonomic keyboard and monitor or dual monitor setup.
- This probably goes without saying, but you’ll want a durable standing desk. One that is made of high end materials like bamboo or walnut wood will tend to last the longest, as well as aluminum and reclaimed wood.
- That in mind, you’ll want a standing desk that is sturdy on its feet and won’t easily sway when knocked into or when leaned on. All of our picks are sturdy and built to last the test of time. Plus most of them have excellent warranties to boot, just in case anything goes wrong.
- This may be a sticking point for some users of electronic-lift standing desks, although personally I’d say it’s not that big of a deal as long as you’ve got a programmable controller.
- With my programmable Jarvis I tend to simply press the height that I want and then walk away to do something else while it adjusts, though we can understand if you only have an up/down button that this can get a bit tedious.
- Optimally you’ll want a desk that at least raises around 1.5″ per second, though the commonly used Jiecang motor unit cuts under this slightly, only hitting around 1.25″ per second.
- Stability is of course a very important feature to have on a standing desk, but there’s a little more to this than meets the eye.
- This is a big area of contention for many standing desk manufacturers, and it can really make or break the experience of using your desk for long periods of time.
- Taller users are most susceptible to this problem (generally anyone 6’0 and above), because they will often need to adjust a desk to its maximum height in order to properly align their posture with the way it’s supposed to be in the standing position.
- The problem here is that at max height, many cheaper standing desks will wobble so much that you might as well not use them at all. Wobbling can make it difficult to read text clearly (as it’s always wobbling when you type or use the mouse), and can also put you at risk for spilling any drinks kept on the desk while it’s fully extended.
- To mitigate this we recommend always bracing your standing desk against an opposing wall whenever possible.
Cheap Replacement Parts
- Probably one of the biggest benefits to this new array of standing desks that have hit the market in the past several years is that on the whole, many of their parts are modular and can fit with other manufacturer’s parts just fine.
- This means if you wanted to say, buy a motor base from Jarvis but then save a bit and go with a desk top from Autonomous, with a few extra custom screw holes you wouldn’t have any problem fitting the two together.
- Being able to customize your purchase experience and really fine tune how much you spend in this fashion isn’t just good for when you first buy the desk either – it’s also great for replacement parts.
- Because almost all the desks here are sold with the motor and desk top separate (if you want), that means if you wear down the desk top over several years you won’t need to drop a whole bunch of cash on a full replacement.
- Simply buy the new top you want for a fraction of the total price and bam, you’ve got what essentially amounts to a brand new unit aside from a little wear and tear on the motor base!
Ease of Setup
- Ease of setup can be a big issue if you’ve recently purchased a standing desk in a shared office space and want to get it up and running with the least amount of effort (and power tool noise) possible.
- Many standing desks feature multi-step setup processes which could be cumbersome for the average user, and unfortunately there isn’t any manufacturer producing desks today that offers a pre-built shipping option.
- In general you should expect to have a few tools on hand when setting up your new standing desk or standing desk add-on, including a Phillips-head screwdriver and possibly even some kind of hammer. This is because there is usually some assembly required.
A level is a nice touch, but usually isn’t required for quality electric desks that already level themselves out by default through the motors themselves.
Ease of Use
- Now, I prefer the electric motors, simply because it makes switching between sittings and standing. But if you’re die hard about getting the most caloric burn possible during your workday, you’ll opt for a manual standing desk, only because it forces you to be more active by cranking a handle to go back and forth.
- In effect, this will cause you to stand longer, though it could also make you sit longer because you’re reluctant to get up and crank.
- Of course that’s not all there is to ease of use either. Another factor that falls into this category includes whether or not the electric version of a desk comes with a programmable controller.
- Programmable controllers make operation of your desk all-around easier thanks to the ability to preset your preferred heights and lock them to one of the buttons on the controller itself.
- This means one-touch sit-to-stand operation, something that’s a far cry from trying to hand crank your way into the perfect position every single time.
Mistakes to Avoid
- Going Too Cheap
If you go cheap, you’ll likely be okay in the short term, but find yourself in need of an upgrade not too long after. Largely because cheaper standing desks don’t have the level of sturdiness you need when you’re working at full height. There is one cheaper option on this list, but keep in mind most of the savings are there because it’s designed to go on top of a desk, which is another cost that will have to be factored into the final price. That said if you already have a desk that’s sturdy enough as it is, this might be the most optimal choice for you.
- Forgetting to Match Your Height
In theory, a 48″ max height for the standing desks should be ample for most people, and will be enough for users who measure up to heights of 6′ 5″. Optimally no matter what height you are, you’ll want the desk height to be at a level that doesn’t cause you shoulder or arm strain over long work days. This is the 90° angle we talked about earlier, and if your arms are closing in on Frankenstein lurking height, you’re doing it wrong. You need to have a height adjustable stand. Remember, you should be able to sit or stand.
- Not Easily Adjustable
It may not seem like a big deal now, but if you have to crank hard to get to a standing height, you’ll probably just end up avoiding it altogether. Or if the electronic motor is slow and loud you’ll avoid upsetting your office mates, provided you’re not working from home. All of the height adjustable standing desk above offer fairly quiet and smooth operation, whether crank, hydraulic, or motor-driven. You want something that raises and lowers easily.
What Else You Should Think About
There are many brands and models to choose from like Varidesk exec, Ergotron workfit, Versadesk power, Ergo desktop kangaroo, the Ergo desktop kangaroo pro, Ergo desktop Kangaroo pro junior, the imovr ziplift, the Uplift standing desk, Stand steady xelite, Xelite pro, Flexispot m2b, the Varidesk Pro and more. Ergonomic office furniture like this became popular thanks to people like Ryan Bald.
There are clearly many standing desk benefits, but make sure you follow this standing desk guide on how to use it properly. And while our list of best standing desks is helpful, you might want to also read our standing desk reviews, which should as another point of comparison as well learn about some of the features to look for in a standing desk. They make great gaming desks as well.
Lastly, you’ll want to also take a look at our list of standing desk mat comparison to be sure you get the most comfortable surfaces to stand on as possible. These mats can reduce overall fatigue and keep you standing well beyond the normal limit that your co-workers might hit, and will also prevent you from wearing down your knees or straining your back as you might if you were standing on hardwood or carpet alone.
Ergonomic chairs are a good compliment to standing desks, but you can also buy specialized standing desk chairs as well with an adjustable height stand. Standing desk chairs have a lot of cool features and ergonomic chairs will keep you pain free. You’ll also want to start using an ergonomic mouse as well. And gaming chairs are comfortable.
Alternatively, you can opt for a treadmill desk or focus on desk conversion in other ways, like the cooper standing desk converter, which would be one of our standing desk converter picks, but really an adjustable standing desk is best. If you have to use a converter, an electric converter works well. An electric standing desk converter again, makes things easy. Some users like to use accessories like a monitor mount or monitor arms.
Keep in mind that they all have different weight capacities. You could buy an autonomous smartdesk or one that requires more work. Electric standing desks are best in any case. Nothing beats adjustable height desks. Electric adjustable height is just easier to use.
Always do your research whether you buy on Amazon or at a stand up desk store. A buying guide like this one will answer most of your questions. A bonus of shopping at a stand up desk store is that you can try everything in person.
Also why not check out:
- Autonomous Smart Desk 2 Review
- Best Sit Stand Desk
- Best Standing Desk Chairs 2019
- Best Standing Desk Mat
- DIY Standing Desk: Low-Cost Counterweights
- Duke Adjustable Standing Desk Review
- Eureka Standing Desk Converter Review
- Fully Cooper Standing Desk Converter Review
- GAZEDESK Workstation Transforms Any Desk Into A Standing Desk
- Imprint CumulusPRO Standing Desk Mat Review
- Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk Review
- LifeDesk SmartLegs Turns Any Desk Into A Standing Desk
- LiftPro Standing Desk Adds Inset Phone Docks, Mouspad
- New Study Shows Benefits of Standing Desks vs. Sitting Chairs
- New Study Shows More Standing Benefits for Men Than Women
- Oploft is the Nordic, Mac-Friendly Standing Desk Solution You May Be Waiting For
- Our Best Standing Desk Converter Picks for 2019
- Readydesk Standing Desk: The Quick and Cheap Standing Desk
- SmartDesk 2 Home Office Edition Standing Desk – Smart Choice
- StandDesk Pro Standing Desk Review: A Great Standing Desk But…
- Standing Desks: Health Benefits Not Yet Proven
- Study: Standing At Your Desk Is Good For Your Brain
- The Stand Up Workstation Makes You Healthier And Happier
- UpDesk UpWrite Standing Desk Review
- VariDesk Pro Plus 36 Desk Converter Review
- Varidesk Pro Plus 36 Review Roundup
- VersaDesk Powered Standing Desk Converter: Electric Goodness in a Small Package
- Wanna Run 10 Marathons This Year? Try a StandDesk
- Well Desk Standing Office Desks Keep You Healthy And Boost Productivity
- XenStand Ergonomic Office Desk Review
- YoUP is an Inflatable Standing Desk That’s More Useful Than It Sounds
- Zest Desk Review: A Portable Standing Desk for Hot Desking