What are Standing Desk Converters?
Standing desk converters, also known as desktop risers or toppers, are adjustable units that you place on top of your existing desk. They give you the option of standing without getting rid of or moving your current desk. They usually feature a desktop surface with a separate keyboard tray. They are available in a variety of sizes, designs, and budgets. We're big fans of standing desk converters because they are usually the least expensive and easiest option to start standing and definitely something you should consider if you're looking to keep your existing desk.
Why Get a Converter?
There are many reasons, aside from the health benefits of standing, to consider a standing desk converter when shopping for a standing desk solution. Here are the main advantages of getting a converter:
- Price - If budget is your concern, a standing desk converter can be one of the most cost-effective ways to start standing at work. Not only is the unit itself commonly less expensive than a full standing desk, you won’t have the extra costs associated with the removing, disposing, or donating of your current desk. There are also extra cost savings when it comes to shipping. Due to their compact size they can be shipped with normal parcel carriers right to your door.
- Ease or Lack of Assembly - Assembling furniture is rarely enjoyable and if you're like most of us that don't want to spend time building your desk, a standing desk converter may be best for you. Most of them are ready to go right out of the box, with maybe one or two small tasks like clipping on the keyboard tray. Most converters do not require any tools with assembly.
- Keep Your Current Desk - Keeping your existing desk or furniture is one of the most popular reasons to get a standing desk converter. If you have a desk you love, or one with ample storage, it may not be realistic to get rid of it. A converter is a great compliment to any existing desk.
- Portability - Most of us don't often move office locations, but a standing desk converter does allow you to change locations occasionally. Working at your kitchen counter, or dining table can be easily accomplished.
Overall, there are many advantages with getting a standing desk converter as an alternative to a full standing desk unit. However, there are some disadvantages of standing desk converters:
- Desktop Space While Standing – Standing desk converters in their raised position can leave you disconnected from items on your desk you may frequently use. While converters do offer their own desktop that raises with you, the space can be limited. Many manufacturers now offer over-sized models with much larger desktop surface area than converters of the past. If you think this issue may impact your work, consider buying a 36 inch wide model or larger.
- Appearance – Some shoppers choose not to use a standing desk converter due to their looks. Converters are a very mechanical device that leans more towards practicality than aesthetics. Of course, this varies by unit. We’re seeing many more sleek designs come onto the market, offering colors other than the ubiquitous black, such as white, gray and some even offering wood desktop and keyboard tray surfaces.
- Limit of Value for Money – While standing desk converters can be a cost effective alternative to a full standing desk, there is a limit to when it makes sense. Full standing desks are getting less expensive, and for around $490 you can buy a quality electric standing desk. Some converters can come close to this range in price and might cause you to question whether a converter makes sense given the relative prices. We recommend spending less than $300 on a converter to get the range of benefits they offer without losing any value for money on your investment.
- Operation With Heavy Items If you’re used to having multiple heavy monitors or a desktop based setup, a manually operated standing desk converter may not be the best solution. Manual standing desk converters are either coil spring or gas-strut operated and the weight of the equipment on them has a direct impact on how the desk operates, and specifically how easy it raises and lowers. A new alternative to consider is electric standing desk converters. We recommend getting familiar with the weight limit of each product you’re considering, and how that relates to your own setup.
Selecting the best standing desk converters starts with establishing a process to ensure our methods and research are in-depth and complete.
We’ve found that a standing desk converter can be measured and compared accurately using these 6 criteria. These criteria evaluate the desk itself, the company, and how the community of existing owners feel about the desk.
- Ergonomics – Ergonomics is our most important criteria, as this is why many of us are using standing desks. If your monitor, mouse, or keyboard aren’t in the right position, you can end up with back, neck, or wrist pain. Although the objectives of all the standing desk converters out there are the same, there is a lot of variety in design, keyboard tray size and shape, usable space, and comfort.
- Adjustability – The range of adjustment offered is ranked second because we’ve found that if we can’t easily change the height of our converter from sitting to standing, we tend to sit way longer than we should. Transitioning from sitting to standing should be effortless and repeatable to find your desired height.
- User Reviews – Using user reviews is how we understand different ownership experiences of each standing desk converter. Our team of reviewers are of various ages and sizes, but we don’t have anyone, for example, that is under 100 lbs or less than 5’4″. Our survey of user reviews helps us understand the edge cases and represent situations we may not encounter in our review process. This also exposes quality issues that only someone using the desk for an extended period of time would observe.
- Quality – Quality refers to the materials used and the quality of construction. Products with low quality mechanics, electronics, and platforms score lower. Although first impressions are often good of a brand new product, torquing their frame helps expose weaknesses and susceptibility to racking forces.
- Design – Design is near the bottom of the list as this is mostly subjective, but some manufacturers have taken steps to improve appearance. Standing desk converters are generally a form-follows-function design, meaning that the function is the priority over the design. This leaves us with a very mechanical looking products that for the most part aren’t sleek or stylish. However some innovative designs look fantastic and don’t compromise function.
- Customer Service – Customer service will only matter to you if you have any issues with delivery, repairs, assembly, or returns. However, most standing desk converters can ship with normal parcel carriers like the UPS, Fedex or USPS and don’t require you to be home at a certain time like freight carriers. They come pre-assembled and you’re less likely to need to talk to customer service over full standing desk units.
Our Review Process
When we review a desk, each member of our team spends several days to several weeks using the desk. Sometimes we spend months to years if we really like it! This way, we find out what we like and don't like. We compare our observations from reviewers who are different heights, weights, and ages. In addition to our own review process, we spend many hours reading and watching video reviews from users. While we may love a desk, it's important to get a pulse on the ownership community since they are likely to bring up anything that we may have missed. We also try to maintain good relationships with manufacturers and frequently reach out if we have any questions about their products.
Why you can Trust us
We're standing desk nerds. Every day we're using and reviewing products, staying on top of the ever-evolving active workplace industry. When we review a product, we very quickly find the strengths and weaknesses as we've been through the evaluation process so many times. opposed to the average user who will figure out if a product is working for them often after weeks or months.
Members of our team have had back pain, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome; most of us have lost a little weight using standing desks and or leaning chairs. We've all noticed more productivity, better mood, and higher energy since we started standing. We are believers in the benefits of standing, but not all standing desks are the same.
Types of Standing Desk Converters
When shopping for a standing desk converter, we recommend getting familiar with the different types available. We'll go through each design, it's pros, cons, and our verdict, so you can choose the right type for you.
Types of Standing Desk Converters
- Adjustable X Design
- Adjustable Z Design
- Electrically Operated
- Floating Arm Design
- Post & Keyboard Tray
- Table Platform
- Laptop Stand
Standing desk converters offered by manufacturers are constantly changing. You can count on us to keep this list updated as you shop for a standing desk converter.
X Frame Design
Newer design that raises and lowers without swinging towards you, and offers unmatched stability and smooth operation. It is also infinitely adjustable within its range and doesn’t have preset heights.
Can be slightly more expensive on average, but the difference is negligible. There are only a few manufacturers making them.
The X shape design makes us question most other designs since it offers such an improvement in operation, stability, and most importantly, value for money.
Z Frame Design
Many options from a variety of manufacturers use this style. You’re also likely to find budget friendly models with this type.
This style mechanism causes the desktop to swing towards you as it raises. You’re going to have to take a step backward from your desk to stand. This can be tough for small spaces, like cubicles, or if you’re already close to a wall. Depending on the quality of the mechanics, these can rack and twist.
In the past, this design was the only option. Newer approaches are quickly making this design outdated.
Gives standing desk converters the ease of operation of a full standing desk. The electric assistance also makes these great for multiple monitors and heavy computing setups.
These can be just as expensive as an entry-level electric standing desk.
These are a great option if you have a higher budget and want the ease of operation of a full standing desk. This type may also make sense if you have an existing desk that you never plan to part with.
This is a very elegant approach to standing desks converters. They are very stable when lowered to your desktop surface.
Generally, there are major stability issues with this style due to the massive weight levered out over your desk. You’ll need an extremely strong desk to counter the stability issues. These converters are usually hard to find and very expensive. They also push you away from your desk even when seated.
This style of desk is not popular for a reason, and because of this are usually expensive and offer very limited typing stability when raised.
These are a great minimalist design that takes up very little space on your desk and is usually easy to adjust.
Stability can vary a lot from model to model. Desktop space when raised is limited to only your keyboard tray. There are multiple monitor models, but most are single.
The post and keyboard tray style is an excellent minimalist design that can keep your desktop looking clean and organized.
They’re typically very inexpensive, often 1/5 the cost of a mechanical standing desk converter. This is the least expensive way to turn your desk into a standing desk.
If you put your monitor and your keyboard on the same surface, you’re either reaching up to type, which strains your arms and upper back, or you’re looking down at your monitor, which strains your neck.
It is hard to recommend this standing desk solution unless you’re on a tight budget or you’re using it just to get your monitor up to eye level. We would also consider this a good option if you’re trying to figure out if standing at your desk is something you’ll enjoy before purchasing a more expensive option.
If you’re a laptop user on a budget, or just wanting to try out standing at your desk, this is an option. Many include cooling fans to keep your machine cooled during use.
Achieving good ergonomics can be difficult when your typing surface and monitor are so close to one another. Transitioning from sitting to standing can be annoying.
Best Standing Desk Converters
While we do recommend one desk overall, we acknowledge that everyone has different needs and budgets. The standing desk converters on our list vary in design, features, and price so you can choose which of our picks is right for you.
Fancierstudio Riser 38"
Best Value Standing Desk Converter
- Ergonomics - Features a large full-width keyboard tray with a slight arc in its shape, and offers infinite adjustment to find the perfect height and comfort.
- Design - Has a unique and cool industrial look set up by the flat steel base structure and minimalist hinge design.
- Operation - Z shape design does cause the desk to swing towards you as it raises but otherwise smooth and minimal racking.
- Stability - stability is great and aided by its relatively heavy weight and low center of gravity.
- Options - It is only available in black, although other sizes are available for smaller desks or areas.
- Value for Money - At under $200 this over-sized(38") and stable converter is seriously impressive.
Best Value Runner Up
- Ergonomics - Features a large full-width keyboard tray with a slight arc in its shape. It also has the most ergonomic features we look for in a converter.
- Design - The Vivo Riser is minimalist in design and hides the mechanics well. The frame is finished in a satin black.
- Operation - One of the best when it comes to operation as it rises vertically without moving towards you and can be adjusted infinitely within its height range.
- Stability - While there is some vertical give, side to side and forward to back stability is good considering the price.
- Options - available in an electric form and in an appealing wood top finish for the keyboard tray and desktop
- Value for money - Value for money is unbeatable with the Vivo and while other converters are close in features, none are close in price.
Flexispot M2W 35"
Most Stable, Best Stability
- Ergonomics- The oversized keyboard tray with beveled edges and 12 height adjustments within its range, make it easy to find an ideal ergonomic position.
- Design - This features a sleek design with a nice finish, and a wooden desktop is the same price.
- Operation It has a smooth operation that raises vertically in place without swinging towards you, forcing you to back up.
- Stability - This very smart design results in an equally stable typing surface whether lowered or raised
- Options - It is available in a wood finish or black desktop color.
- Value for money - Although a touch under $280, this standing desk converter is still a great value.
- Ergonomics- The Cooper includes many key ergonomic features like the beveled edge on the keyboard tray, which provides a comfortable surface for resting your wrists.
- Design - This is one of the best designs we've seen in a standing desk converter. Very few converters feature appealing desktop and keyboard tray surfaces.
- Operation - Due to the mechanical design this converter rises vertically without swinging forward, something we've learned to love in a standing desk converter.
- Stability - The X shape design of this converter makes it very stable and resistant to racking or other stability issues common in other designs.
- Options - We highly recommend the Bamboo top but the Cooper is also available in Black
- Value for money - The cooper is on the expensive side but offers good value due to the superior design and available bamboo top that makes this standing desk converter look great.
Flexispot M3B 47"
Best Executive Size
- Ergonomics- With the same oversized keyboard tray from our top-pick converter above, the M3B offers same the ergonomic comforts.
- Design - Good design, but currently only available in black
- Operation Related to the M2B, utilizing the same frame, the operation of the M3B is the same.
- Stability - We consider this "X-shape" design to yield maximum stability compared to other approaches.
- Value for money - Related to our favorite converter, the M2B, the M3B is a great choice If you're looking for an expansive, large converter. There aren't many options, but the M3B is certainly an a desk we would recommend and offers excellent value at less than $300.
Best Electric Converter
- Ergonomics - The Vivo electric converter includes key ergonomic features we look for such as beveled desktop and keyboard tray edges, the overall keyboard tray width, the high range of adjustment and the ability to dial in the perfect typing height.
- Design - This is a unique design that we haven't seen anywhere else where the desktop raises and moves slightly away from you, a better alternative than towards you.
- Operation - Electric operation makes it extremely easy to change from sitting to standing and ultimately result in you changing positions more and potentially standing more often.
- Stability - The design of the frame is self-squaring and does a lot reduce wobbling and increase the rigidity of the desk, especially when raised.
- Options - No options are available
- Value for money - Incredibly great value for money considering that many manual standing desk converters are around the same price and you get the benefit of electric operation and a solid warranty
Best to Give Standing a Try
- Ergonomics - There are limited ergonomic accommodations due to lack of adjustment, but considering there are three sizes available, you should be able to get close to comfort.
- Design - Features an impressive cardboard structure that looks like origami when assembled.
- Operation - It is not possible to raise or lower this converter but that's not the point.
- Stability - Has surprising overall stability, and stability while typing thanks to the rigid interlocking cardboard structure.
- Options - It is available in 3 different sizes to accommodate a range of user heights
- Value for money -The Spark is possibly the least expensive option for standing at your desk that is currently available. We think there is excellent value for money in the Spark but it's not a long term standing solution.
Varidesk ProPlus 36"
Best for Multiple Monitors
- Ergonomics -the Pro Plus features a large keyboard tray, beveled edges and an ergonomic tray shape, that all contribute to a comfortable standing desk solution.
- Design - This is a traditional standing desk design from the established Varidesk. The Z shape design looks great with a nicer fit and finish, and lower budget options.
- Operation - Raising and lowering the desk requires the use of handles on both sides and may require some force to raise, depending on how close you are to the 35 lbs weight limit.
- Stability - Stability is average to excellent, the weight of your computing setup can cause some minor racking to occur.
- Options - The Pro Plus shines with options as it is available in 4 different finishes, making it easy to find a converter that will complement your office space.
- Value for money - Varidesk products are still relatively expensive in general and due to the fact that our top recommendation is $100 less, it's hard to make an argument for value.
Flexispot M4B Corner 41"
Best for Corners & Cubicles
- Ergonomics Similar to the M2B the M4B has a large comfort-oriented keyboard tray with beveled edges and is great for both left and right-handed users.
- Design - Sleek design with a nice finish, even on the mechanical parts of the converter
- Operation - the X shape design makes adjusting your desk easy. It rises up perfectly straight and is great for small spaces.
- Stability - Stability is identical to the M2B, our top-rated desk from Flexispot.
- Options - Options are limited for the M4B. It is currently only available in black, but we suspect other colors will be available as the desk gets more popular.
- Value for money - There are very few standing desk converters that are designed for corners or cubicles. At less than $350 the M4B Corner 41" is a great value if you're looking to convert a corner workspace for standing duty.
Eureka Gamer 46"
Best for Gaming
- Ergonomics It offers great ergonomics with a uniquely shaped keyboard tray that enables a few options when it comes to resting your forearms, and plenty of room for a keyboard pad. It also has a 20" rise and can accommodate very tall users up to 6'6".
- Design - This is one of the coolest designs we've ever seen in a standing desk converter. It has a military looking matte finish, with a blue accent wrapping around the edge of the desktop and keyboard tray.
- Operation - The frame and mechanics of the converter are extremely sturdy. It does not rack or wobble but bear in mind the 35-pound load capacity can make it difficult to raise with large heavy monitors or other equipment.
- Options - Available in a variety of colors and desktop finishes, you're likely to find exactly the look you want.
- Value for money - Value for money is high due to the lack of gaming-oriented converters out there. This converter is just under $450, and despite the relatively high price, it's still good value.
Use the table below as reference while shopping for a desk. You'll find our recommended height ranges as well as the dimensions of the standing desk converters to make sure they fit your specific application.
- Height Range in Feet - This stat refers to our recommendation for user heights based on a normal 30" high desk or the manufacturer's recommendation.
- Desk Width in Inches - This stat refers to the width of the converter at its widest point as reported by the manufacturer.
- Desk Depth in Inches - This refers to the depth of the base of frame, excluding additional depth from the keyboard tray as reported by the manufacturer.
- Tray Width in Inches - This refers to the width of the keyboard tray itself as reported by the manufacturer.
- Price in USD - This is the current price of the desk as of the update date of this guide.
|Desk||Height Range||Width||Depth||Tray Width||Price
|Flexispot M2W 35"||5'1"-6'1"||35"||22.3"||34.4"||$279|
|Flexispot M3B 47"||5'1"-6'7"||46.9"||23.2"||34.4"||$299|
|Varidesk Pro Plus 36"||5'0"-6'0"||36"||24"||36"||$395|
|Flexispot Corner 41″||5'1"-6'1"||41.3"||22.3"||32.8"||$349|
|Eureka Gamer 46″||5'0"-6'6"||46"||23.6"||43"||$449|
Standing Desk Converter Installation Tips
Getting started with your new standing desk converter is fairly straightforward but consider the following tips as you're unpacking your new desk.
- Cable Slack - Unlike a normal, non-adjustable desk, you'll need to account for the vertical and or forward movement of your standing desk converter. Take some time to inspect your existing cables to ensure that you have enough slack to allow the desk to raise and lower without issue. We recommend at least 12 to 14 inches of slack in all cables running to the desktop surfaces. Keyboards may require even more slack since they are much further forward and the cable must be routed away from any moving parts.
- Keyboard and Mouse Cable Routing - Depending on the type of standing desk converter you buy this may be easier or harder to account for. Either way, you want to make sure any keyboard or mouse cables are routed away from any moving parts or areas where the cable could get caught and restrict the movement of the desk. This is an obvious tip, but it can be surprisingly easy to damage cables due to the spring force of the converter has to make raising and lowering easy.
- Your Existing Desk Depth - Carefully consider the depth of your desk and how it relates to the converter. Unlike a normal desk, with a converter, your keyboard area is a fixed location. This means that you should position the entire unit to optimize your typing location. We've found for a standard depth desk, its almost always good to have the rear edge of the converter close to flush with the rear edge of the desk.
- Your Existing Desk Height - when adding a standing desk converter to your existing desk consider the new height of your keyboard as it will likely be at minimum 3/4" higher than it was before, even with the converter in it's the lowest position. This will require you to raise your chair slightly and in some cases a lot. Your monitors will also be 4 to 5" higher than they previously were and may need to be lowered significantly.
- Monitor Height - If you're taking your existing monitors and moving them to your converter, you'll likely have to lower them to account for the height of the converter. We also recommend experimenting with various monitor heights, as well as your chair height to make sure that you maintain proper posture for both standing and sitting.
Are you new to Standing?
If you're new to standing, there are a few things we've learned over the years that we wish we would have known. These tips can get you started the right way, and make standing a sustainable part of your day at the office.
- Ease Into it - Rarely does anyone form habits to things they start or stop cold-turkey. In order to avoid getting burned-out, or feeling fatigue, don't force yourself to stand for long periods of time. Remember that movement and variability between sitting and standing is the key. Try sitting and standing in 20-minute intervals, working up to a maximum of an hour at a time. Also, see what duration works best for you.
- Stretch and Move - Stretching and minor movement can help you avoid any soreness or pain as a new stander. Something as simple as rocking back and forth, or changing the foot you have your weight on can dramatically extend the amount of time you can stand. If you do start to get sore, try stretching and focusing on your calves, hamstrings, and quads.
- Consider Leaning Chairs or Stools - Leaning chairs are designed to be used with a standing desk and give you another position option rather than standing and sitting. You can vary up your routine from sitting to standing, then to leaning. While it burns less energy than standing, it still helps you avoid the dangers of long periods of sitting, and the back pain that can be associated with it.
- Consider a Standing Mat - Standing does put more pressure on your ankle and knee joints than sitting, but choosing the right footwear or adding a standing mat can significantly help standing fatigue and improve comfort. Some standing mats even feature unique contours that give you more standing options beyond just two feet flat on the floor.
- Use Quality Footwear - If you're standing for a significant amount of time each day, it really helps to wear quality footwear. Supportive footwear will help cushion your joints throughout your body and pairs well with a standing mat. If you wear formal attire at work, consider keeping a pair of shoes at your office to change into. Insoles can also be very effective.
- Get an Ergonomic Chair - Standing all day just isn't realistic. In fact, we only recommend standing for 4 hours a day at your desk, and not even continuously. This means you will still spend a lot of time sitting, and since sitting causes more stress on your back than standing, it's very important to have an ergonomic and supportive chair. Look for good lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and adequate thigh support.
Full Standing Desks
Full standing desks replace your existing desk entirely and are usually electrically operated and commonly include a control unit with memory presets for your standing and sitting heights. A few years ago most full standing desks were $600+ but the market is getting more and more competitive and as standing desks are getting more popular prices have come down a lot blurring the line between standing desk converters and full standing desks. They offer a lot of benefits and advantages over a standing desk converter and may be worth the slightly extra investment depending on what you are looking for. You can learn more about full standing desks by reading our guide.