Research by Matt Rowan, B.S.
Updated April 10, 2022
What is an Electric Standing Desk Converter?
An electric standing desk converter is an electrically operated device that allows you to convert your existing desk to incorporate standing functionality. The major difference between a manually operated standing desk converter is the luxury of electric operation to easily raise and lower your desktop. Some manual converters can be difficult to raise or lower and require a lot of strength if you have heavy items on your desk. Electric standing desk converters are great for people who want to keep their existing desk but want the smooth and easy operation of a full standing desk replacement.
Just like for any review we write, we started with establishing some of the key factors that make or break an electric standing desk converter. While similar to their manually operated counterparts, electric converters are relatively new and differ in mechanics, ergonomics, and design.
- Range of adjustment - Range of adjustment is especially important in electric standing desk converter design. Some designs are better than others in their ability to rise to the most ergonomic height for standing.
- Quality and Stability - With any expensive purchase, you want to know it’s well-made and that the desk will offer ample stability for hours of use every day. Stability, when raised, is a common flaw with certain designs. Many will move towards you as they rise, causing the unit to want to tip over. Even if the unit is still relatively stable, this imbalance can lead to a shaking or wobbling work surface, which can be frustrating to type on.
- Design - Most electric standing desk converters aren’t pretty. Most come in generic black colors with a generic black desktop. While looking good is clearly a secondary consideration in a practical product like this, we’ll share our opinion on the design. However, if pure stylish is what you’re going for in your standing desk, you may want to consider a full electric standing desk where you have more access to interesting desk designs and table top finishes.
- Keyboard Tray - This is especially big for standing desk converters. Nearly every product has a separate keyboard surface, however, the size, adjustability, and tilt vary considerably for each.
- Warranty and Customer Service - While you’re not likely to have issues with a manual standing desk converter, electric standing desk converters have added electronics and complexity. Many products are also offered by very new companies and may not have great customer service or warranty programs established yet. Many desks are also made in China and sometimes shipped directly from China to your house and may be difficult or expensive to return.
- Operation and Features - Just like in any electric standing desk, you’re looking for a smooth, confident operation without any binding or risk of having your monitors shake or worse, fall off. Some electric converter mechanisms are extremely smooth, especially the x-style design.
- Lift Capacity - Lift capacity should be a serious consideration for any electric standing desk converter. You’ll find that even the average computer setup can come pretty close to the lifting capacity of some converters.
- Overall Value - Like most of our reviews, we strive to highlight products that offer the most value. Value is a great measure of a product, and unless you have an extensive budget, we often recommend buying based on value.
We understand that budgets, needs, style, and your own personal preference will vary, so we’ll recommend three different electric standing desk converters in the following categories:
In order to select electric standing desk converters for consideration in our review, we reached out to manufacturers, surveyed new desks available on popular online retailers, and considered user feedback and reviews to determine the group of desks to be considered for our best of selection.
Best Value Electric Standing Desk Converter
Apex Desk ZT Series
The ZT Series from Apex Desk is a very compelling offering both in value for money and mechanical design. At only $270 (regardless of color), this desk is priced in line with many manually operated standing desk converters and benefits from a very stable design that lifts the desk vertically and doesn’t come towards you like other designs.
Why We Would Buy This Desk
The mechanical operation of the desk is very well thought out. Many other designs cause the desktop to swing out toward you as it rises, but the smart x frame design allows it to rise vertically. This makes it easy to access the rest of your desk and also maximizes stability since the center of gravity hasn’t moved towards you. There are a few other electric standing desk converters with this x-style design, but we choose to highlight the ZT series because of its great aesthetics and table and keyboard finish options. Many converters are not pretty, but this desk comes with three surface finishes, our favorite being walnut. These extra choices also come at no extra cost over the generic black design, which seems to be very uncommon among standing desks.
The Apex Desk delivers a few nice features for its price range, our favorite being the USB charging port located by the controls. Another nice feature is the sliding keyboard. When the desk keyboard is not in use, you can easily slide it away to make room for writing, drawing, or reading. The Apex Desk is one of the few desks that offer this.
Best Design Electric Standing Desk Converter
VariDesk Pro Plus Electric
VariDesk (now named Vari) essentially invented the standing desk converter, and the electric version of their popular VariDesk Pro Plus shows they can make high-end electric converters as well. This desk, while not inexpensive, has many innovations that make it unique, functional, and an electric standing desk you should consider if your budget allows.
Why We Would Buy This Converter
Unlike previous VariDesk Converters, the Pro Plus Electric rises vertically and has a very well thought out mechanical design and frame. Rising straight upwards is key for desk stability. It reduces the likelihood of tipping over, increases stability while in motion, and results in a more stable surface for typing. In addition, the desk raises and lowers smoothly without binding, and the load on the desk doesn’t seem to have an impact on the operation.
The Pro Plus Electric comes with a ton of great features that really make up for the high price. This is an electric converter that was designed to have heavy-duty monitor arms installed on it. Like the surface area on most converters, even the largest sizes are still small. Having the ability to use monitor arms is super important since you’re not really taking up any usable space on the desktop. Another excellent feature is the included mounted power strip that makes connecting your monitors, laptop charger phone charger super easy and keeps it accessible.
The keyboard area is one of our favorite parts of the Electric Pro Plus. Not only are the controls located close to the keyboard area, but it also features a wall connecting the back of the keyboard tray to the underside of the desk. This area allows you to use the space behind your keyboard without the risk of it falling off. This is a very innovative and practical idea that we wish we had in other electric standing desk converters.
Best Multiple Monitor Electric Standing Desk Converter
Stand Steady Techtonic
If you’re a gamer, software engineer, or anyone who uses two or more monitors, the Stand Steady Techtonic is an electric standing desk converter you should consider. It uses a totally new approach to electric standing desk converters that is designed to mount your monitors on an integrated monitor stand. While the Techtonic isn’t cheap, it is likely to match the budget and needs of someone who already has three monitors and spends extensive time at their desk.
Ergonomics is an important element to consider with any electric standing desk converter.
Why We Would Buy This Desk
The Techtonic is a great ergonomic solution because it allows you to independently set the height of your keyboard surface and monitors right out of the box. This is a key to achieving proper workplace ergonomics. The motor mounts also do a fantastic job of positioning your monitors. You can tilt, raise or lower, and angle them toward the center of the desk. Lastly, the Techtonic even allows for very tall people to stand and maintain good posture and comfort.
The usable surface of the desk is broken up into upper level and lower level keyboard tray areas. With the integrated monitor stand, the upper area is completely free for storing your laptop, pens, notepads etc. The lower area, while primarily designed for a keyboard and mouse, is seriously oversized both in-depth and width. The overall usable surface area on this desk is pretty hard to beat.
The Techtonic also has some really smart features like integrated cable management, which is key when you’re dealing with six individual cords from three monitors. It also features leveling casters, which can help account for any uneven furniture surfaces or sloping floors.