Research by Ryan Fiorenzi
Updated January 6, 2019
What are Standing Desks?
Standing desks allow you to stand while working at your desk or computer. They are also known as stand-up desks, sit-to-stand desks, or workstations. Standing desks come in a variety of types, sizes, and price points. Standing instead of sitting for work has proven to help avoid back, neck, and joint pain and to improve productivity and energy levels. We created this guide to help you find the best standing desk for your needs, and to help you start the healthy habit of standing to work.
In order to select the best height-adjustable desk, we went through an in-depth process including research and hands-on testing. The standing desk market is constantly evolving, with new companies launching new products every day. In order to maintain our up-to-date information, we keep tabs on the changing market, and cultivate relationships with the top companies and manufacturers. In addition to the time invested in research and relationships, we have years of experience from which we draw to understand what makes a great desk, and the common problem areas.
- Ergonomics - The greatest benefit of using a standing desk is that your productivity, mood, and energy levels rise. That's because you are now moving from sitting to standing throughout your workday, and the desk is comfortable and easy to use. Many people start using adjustable standing desks because they want to reduce leg, neck, back, or wrist pain. To learn more about the proper way to sit and stand at your desk, check out our guide to proper sitting and standing ergonomics.
- Range of Adjustment - It's recommended that you switch from sitting to standing a few times per hour. If the desk is difficult to adjust, people tend to stay sitting.
- User Reviews - We choose to review desks that have received high ratings by customers like you.
- Quality - We pay attention to the materials used and the quality of the construction.
- Design - Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree that some standing desks are easier to behold than others.
- Customer Service - This is an important factor when ordering, or dealing with delivery, repairs, or returns.
- Assembly - Most standing desk converters, such as the Varidesk Pro Plus 36, require no assembly, as they come out of the box and are ready to be placed on your existing desk. But if you buy a full standing desk you will have to at least attach the legs to the tabletop, and often a cable management tray and other items.
- Stability - One of the most important criteria for a standing desk is how much wobbling occurs when the desk is at standing height.
- Speed of Height Adjustment - Measured in inches per second, the higher quality desks tend to switch from sitting to standing faster.
- Noise Level - The noise of the motor when adjusting is measured in decibels. If you work in a quiet office this may be an important factor.
- Shipping - Some desks can take up to 8 weeks to arrive after you order them! And some arrive in separate shipments, which can be inconvenient.
- Overall Feel - Outside of ergonomics, certain desks are more comfortable to use than others. For example, the tabletop may have rounded edges which most people prefer to hard edges.
- Surface Area - Some desks have more space on the desktop than others; remember to look at the dimensions to make sure that your desk will fit in the space that you have allotted.
- Lift Capacity - If you have a lot of items on your desk, this can be important. There is a wide range for standing desks, we've seen as low as 20 lbs and as high as 360 lbs.
- Warranty - Standing desk companies tend to have longer and better warranties when they sell high quality standing desks.
- Overall Value - This is our "score" for the desk, where we compare the quality of the desk with its price. If we rated purely on quality, our top 5 would be dominated by desks that start at over $1,000 and go as high as $5,000. Our #1 choice, the Jarvis, starts at under $400.
We started by reviewing one of the early leaders in the standing desk market, Varidesk. We bought everything they offered, and our team used their standing desk, converters of different sizes, cubicle converters, their mat, and more. We've tested the cheapest standing desks on the market (cardboard desks!), and the most expensive. One of our editors even built his own desk!
Almost immediately after we started reviewing standing desks and converters, we saw that people that want to be less sedentary have a lot of other options. So we began testing treadmill desks, bike desks, home treadmills, ergonomic keyboards, monitor arms, standing desk mats, and posture improvement products.
Buyers can easily get overwhelmed with so many choices. More and more companies are getting into the standing desk space. We strive to give our followers the best recommendations for their particular situation. For example, one reader may be over 6'5" and another may be on a tight budget. Another may need a desk with a great cord management system, and another does a lot of gaming. We want every person to find what they need for their unique situation.
We've developed specific criteria for each type of standing desk product or accessory. Most of our readers don't have the time to read hundreds of reviews, watch hours of video, talk to manufacturers, or have the experience to compare a desk to other top desks. We do all of this so you don't have to.
Another thing that we pride ourselves on is honest reviews. We've been in the industry for a few years now and we see a large number of biased reviews. The products may still be good, but companies will exaggerate their strengths and their competitor's weaknesses. We're not naming names or getting involved in the drama, but there have been a few lawsuits. When we like a product we will recommend it, and we'll tell you the drawbacks as there's no perfect standing desk out there.
We also frequently update our reviews. As we do more testing and get more information, our rankings will change.
Best Standing Desks
We understand that different people will have different budgets, preferences, and needs. With this in mind, we have selected the top standing desks in a number of categories. In addition to recommending a standing desk for different categories, we'll also suggest a runner-up. Here are the categories:
#1 – Jarvis Bamboo
“Overall Best Value Standing Desk”
The Fully Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk is one of the best value-for-money standing desks out there, and it remains our top standing desk recommendation.
At its relatively affordable price point, you get a beautifully designed desk with a unique bamboo tabletop. Additionally, there are features you can customize like the tabletop shape, cable management, and the color of the frame. The Jarvis also includes a great warranty, free shipping, and environmentally conscious construction methods.
#2 – Varidesk ProDesk Electric
“Best Value Standing Desk Runner UP”
A desk that we absolutely love is the Varidesk ProDesk Electric. With the 48" at $895, and the 60" at $995, the price is the only reason why this wasn't our top choice, as the Jarvis comes in a few hundred dollars cheaper.
This stable desk is easy to put together, holds up to 250 lbs, has 3 memory settings for height, ships for free in the lower 48 states, is GreenGuard Gold certified, and has a powerful and quiet motor.
One of our favorite features is the thick tabletop with beautiful finishes, including reclaimed wood, butcher block wood, dark wood, and the choice between black and white.
#3 – Fancierstudio Riser Desk 38″
The FancierStudio Riser Desk is hard to beat when it comes to value for money. Well below $200, it is one of the best value standing desk products we've reviewed, especially considering it's over-sized width of 38". It is a heavy duty converter with an original and unique design that will hold up for years. It's relatively large size allows you to use multiple monitors, a monitor paired with a laptop stand, or one large monitor like shown in the picture. The deep and full-width keyboard tray enables you to use any size keyboard and mouse setup with extra space for a phone or other items.
#4 – Flexispot M2B
“Best Standing Desk Converter Runner Up”
Those wishing to convert their favorite desk or workspace to a standing space should seriously consider the Flexispot M2B. We feel that Flexispot has the best design and features for the price. Unlike traditional standing desk options, there is almost no assembly required. This option gets you standing fast and simple. The truly vertical operation is also great.
When you lift most desks up, it comes up and forward, which takes up more space, whereas the Flexispot raises straight up. The desk also raises via one handle on the side as opposed to two, which makes it easier to operate.
#5 – Devaise Crank Desk
For many people, spending $500 or $1000 on a desk may not be realistic. The Devaise crank-operated standing desk is an excellent alternative at around the $250 mark. The Devaise is for the minimalist that doesn't need the electric operation or any extra frills in their standing desk. The main benefit of a standing desk is being more active and you're getting every bit of that benefit with the Devaise Standing Desk.
We would buy this desk because sometimes simple is better, and in this case also much less expensive. Simple products are also less likely to fail and break, and the lack of electronics gives us confidence that this desk will last. In terms of price it really is hard to beat. This is one of the lowest budget standing desks you can buy.
#6 – Stand Up Desk Store Crank
“Best Budget Standing Desk Runner Up”
We like this desk because there's a shelf to hold your monitor, and the tabletop is slightly lower for your keyboard. Ergonomically it's better for your back and neck to split your monitor and keyboard, getting your monitor at eye level and keyboard closer to your hips.
This model only comes with a black 60” tabletop and silver frame. If you want a tabletop without the monitor shelf, and different color options, the Stand Up Desk Store offers another similar desk with the choice of three frame colors: black, charcoal, and white. There are several tabletops to choose from: bamboo, black oak, gloss black, teak, gloss white, and natural walnut.
#7 – Jarvis Hardwood
The base model Jarvis from Fully is already an amazing desk, which is why it's ranked number one as the best value standing desk. However, if you're looking for something more visually interesting or high-end, the Jarvis Hardwood Desk is a great option. It has everything the Jarvis Bamboo has but with a truly beautiful Maple solid wood desktop. While this desk is expensive, it is much more affordable than many other solid wood top standing desks, which often cost $1500 or more. The maple top is available in 5 different stains and the top will likely last for decades before needing to be refinished or sanded.
#8 – ApexDesk Elite Series 60″
The ApexDesk Elite Series is a great standing desk that works well for gamers. It has great built-in features for gaming as well as many ApexDesk accessories available to help manage cables and monitors. This desk has the weight capacity and 60" width to handle any PC setup. While some other purpose-built gaming desks can perform better, nothing beats the ApexDesk price. The Elite Series is also available in many different colors so gamers can get the exact look they are going for.
Compare the Best Standing Desks
Use the table below to compare some of the most important stats when considering a standing desk. The range of height adjustment can be of particular interest if you are taller or shorter than average. Also, depending on your plans for the desk, consider the lift capacity as it varies dramatically from desk to desk.
- Min Height (inches) - This is the minimum height that the desk can be adjusted to as reported by the manufacturer. Desks denoted with a "*" are standing desk converters. For this measurement, we are assuming a 25" high existing desk is being used.
- Max Height (inches) - This is the maximum height that the desk can be adjusted to as reported by the manufacturer. Desks denoted with a "*" are standing desk converters. For this measurement, we are assuming a 25" high existing desk is being used.
- Lift Capacity (pounds) - This is the weight that the desk can hold while in motion raising or lowering. Most of these desks do report higher capacities when stationary. Desks denoted with a "*" are standing desk converters and do not require a heavy lift capacity to function properly.
- Price in USD - This is the current price of the desk as of the update date of this guide.
|Fully Jarvis Bamboo||26.5"||45.75"||350||$395|
Studio Riser Desk*
|Devaise Crank Desk||29"||45"||100||$236|
Desk Store Crank
Reasons to Start Standing
As people are learning about the dangers of extended periods of sitting, more people are looking for the best standing desk. Many users experience a wide range of benefits from moving more while they work, which usually involved switching from sitting to standing every 20 minutes (depending on their comfort level). The most common benefits are:
- Increased productivity
- Better mood
- Higher energy levels
- Reduced back and neck pain
- Weight loss
Besides these benefits, extensive research shows that users reduce their risk of some types of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and early mortality.
Dan Kois of New York Magazine did a really interesting experiment where he stood for 30 days straight. Eating dinner, going to a movie, working, everything but sleeping! Until he figured out that he should be stretching, he was getting cramps as he wasn't used to that much standing. At the end of the experiment he stated that he had lost a few pounds and had the most productive month of his life! You can read about his experience here.
Getting Started with Standing
Getting into a routine of standing while at work definitely takes time. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Change positions every 20 minutes. The goal isn't necessarily to stand all day- it's to keep moving. You can keep your chair nearby, set a timer if you need to, and every 20 minutes make a change. If you were sitting, stand. If you were standing, go get water... you can stretch, do squats, calf raises, just keep moving!
- Get a standing desk mat. They're not necessary, by many people find that they get less tired. Check out our top standing desks mats for more information.
- Wear the right shoes. If you're wearing really constrictive shoes (like high heels), standing for long periods is going to be uncomfortable and may be hurting you. Bring comfortable shoes to work, or just socks, and if you have fallen arches, wear orthotics.
You will probably find that certain activities are done better while standing, and others sitting. Many find that work that requires intense concentration is better-done sitting. Watching videos, talking on the phone, and other duties that require less focus can be done standing. And there's another way to work while not sitting-leaning. You use a leaning chair or stool and lean back against it, such as Varidesk's Varichair or the Swopper.
Converters vs. Full Standing Desks
If you're not sure whether to buy a full standing desk or a standing desk converter, here are the main benefits of each:
Standing Desk Converters:
- Cheaper: most standing desk converters are well under $500.
- No assembly required: most of the standing desk converters require zero assembly; the others take no more than 5 minutes. Many standing desk companies are now making assembly easier, such as the Varidesk ProDesk Electric or the MojoDesk.
- More tabletop space: standing desks usually give you double to triple the amount of tabletop space compared to a converter. If you want to clear up even more tabletop space, look into monitor arms.
- Electric controls and keypad: now there are a few electric converters, but they are rarer. We've found that when you have to manually adjust a converter, you tend to not switch positions as much, which means most people will just revert to sitting.
- More customizations available: there are a lot more options when it comes to tabletop color and material, size of the tabletop, frame color, wire management, and accessories. Normally with a converter, you'll have the option of black, occasionally white or some variation of white, and in rare cases gray.
- Design: this is subjective but many people find that standing desks are better looking, mainly because there are more color and table top options.
- Lift Capacity: most converters will lift no more than 50 lbs, whereas standing desks will often lift 3 times that or more. This isn't usually an issue for most people unless you have a lot of things on your desktop, such as books, a bag, multiple monitors, etc.
If you're working with a limited budget or have a desk that you like, a standing desk converter is a good option. But if you can afford a standing desk, especially an electric sit to stand desk, we feel that increased work productivity and the health benefits are worth the difference in price.
Determining Your Budget
There's a pretty wide range of prices for standing desks, as well as types. If you search on google, youtube, Amazon, or social media, you're going to get several different results when you search "standing desks." You may get slightly different results with the search "standing desk converters", "sit to stand desks", "height adjustable desks", or "adjustable standing desks," but there aren't universally standard terms for the different types of standing desks. Here are some of the different types you'll find and their purpose, listed from cheapest to most expensive.
Laptop Stands: Under $100
These could be used to hold your laptop if you're sitting on a couch or bed, though that involves looking down at your screen, which puts pressure on your neck and back.
These could be used to hold your laptop if you're sitting on a couch or bed, though that involves looking down at your screen, which puts pressure on your neck and back.
They can also be used to get your screen a little higher, so you're not looking down as much. The problem is that you're still looking down and that now you have to raise your arms up to type. To not create tension in your neck, back, and wrists, you need to separate your screen from your keyboard. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is to attach a keyboard to your laptop via USB. When you're sitting you can leave your laptop on the table and use the keyboard to type; when you stand you just lift the laptop on top on top of the laptop stand and use the keyboard in the same place as when you were sitting.
We're not fans of any laptop stand because of poor ergonomics, such as the Varidesk Soho that we used for a very short time and recommended to readers not to buy.
Standing Workstation/Mobile Carts: $100-$200
These desks don't adjust to a sitting position and are often used by medical professionals that type standing up, and often need to move their workstation around.
The Homcom 30" displayed is well under $100, has caster wheels with a locking mechanism so you don't move around. One nice feature is the separation of the monitor stand and the keyboard tray which will make it easier to get your monitor close to eye level and your keyboard closer to your hips.
Ergonomic experts don't recommend standing all day, so we don't usually recommend these mobile workstations. But if you feel that you'll be able to stay mobile while standing, and be ok with not have the option of sitting, these units are the cheapest way to start standing while you work.
Standing Desk Converters: $100-$400
These are units you place on top of your existing desk and have been made popular in large part due to Varidesk. They were the first company to advertise on television.
The nice thing about converters is that they usually require little to no assembly-you just take it out of the box and put them where you want it on your desk.
Varidesk now has a lot of competition and have improved on their design. Though most converters are manually operated, where you squeeze one or two levers on the sides of the top to raise it and lower it, there are now electric converters.
Standing desk converters are usually cheaper than full standing desks so they'll save you some money. The tabletops aren't as large, so you might find it hard to have enough space to take notes, but they're a great way to get you standing.
Crank Adjustable Standing Desks: $200-$400
These aren't as common as converters or electric standing desks. They're usually around the same price as converters but are very similar to electric standing desks.
The issue that our team found when they used crank desks is that they tended to stay sitting longer. It may sound lazy, but when you have to walk to the side of the desk (though some like the Devaise have it more conveniently in front) and crank the desk up and down many times to adjust the height, you tend to not change positions as much. And most people default to their old habit of sitting.
If you're in a very quiet office and you don't want the slight noise of raising and lowering your desk, a crank desk may work for you. You'll save money because you're not paying for a motor and keypad to control the height of your desk, but you may be sacrificing standing as much as you should. For that reason, we don't normally recommend crank adjustable standing desks.
Electric Standing Desks: $400 & Above
Of all of the different types of adjustable height desks, electric is the most expensive, though there is a wide range of prices. At the low end, you can find one for around $500, at the high end $2,500.
Electric height-adjustable desks have a control pad that raises and lowers the desk and usually has memory presets so you can save your favorite standing and sitting heights.
Of all the different types of desks, electric sit-to-stand desks (as well as crank desks) can hold the most amount of weight. This isn't an issue for most people, but if you have multiple monitors, books, your purse or bag, it an all add up quickly.
If you're serious about getting the benefits of standing and not being sedentary while you work, this is the best way to go. If you already have a desk, you can get a standing desk converter, but I found that when I tested converters, I tended to sit a little more than I did when testing an electric standing desk.
Standing Desk FAQ
- Are standing desks healthy?
The proper use of a standing desk can be a healthier alternative to sitting. Standing desks can help alleviate and avoid neck and lower back pain as well as burning additional calories which overall can reduce risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
- How many calories do you burn standing vs sitting?
Standing 4 hours a day can burn an additional 252 calories for an average male and 196 for an average female. Use our calculator to enter your age height and weight to estimate your calories burned standing vs sitting.
- Is there a way to convert my existing desk to a standing desk?
Yes, many choose to invest in a standing desk converter in order to use existing furniture. This is often a less expensive and an easy option since they normally cost less than a full standing desk and little to no assembly is required.
- What are my options if I'm on a budget?
There are many great adjustable standing desks in the $200 to $400 range that are budget conscious and still offer good quality, features, and design. For the DIY consumer, you can opt to save more by purchasing an adjustable standing desk frame and sourcing your own tabletop. This can keep you at or below the $300 mark. In addition to full desks, there are many inexpensive options that allow you to convert any desk to a standing desk, some are less than $100.
- Do standing desks help with back and neck pain?
Standing and the use of standing desks place up to 90% less stress on your lower back than sitting. Standing also makes it easier to maintain good posture which will help reduce or avoid neck and lower back pain as well.
- What is the right desk height for a standing desk?
Everyone’s ideal height will be different but it is easy to find the right height for you. Raise the desk until it is level with your elbows. Test the height by using your keyboard to ensure that your wrists are in line with your forearm and not excessively bent. Make fine tuning adjustments based on your comfort. Keep mind the top of your monitor should be nearly at eye level. If it isn’t you may want to invest in a monitor stand or arm to raise it, otherwise, you may develop neck pain. Check out our guide to proper standing and sitting.
Not in any particular order of quality or importance, here are some of the leaders in the standing desk and standing desk converters industry:
- Varidesk- based in Coppell Texas, Varidesk is the most well-known brand for standing desk converters, though they do offer manual and electric standing desks, as well as mats, monitor arms, and other accessories. We have found them to be innovative in designing desks that meet the needs of consumers, including selling their products for very reasonable prices and not skimping on quality.
- iMovR- We feel that of all of the standing desk companies, iMovR is the most innovative and forward-thinking and is a leader in ergonomic design. When you look at all of the most important features of a standing desk, converter, or treadmill desk, iMovR has often already done it. Some of the things we've seen from iMovR that we really like include:
- The SteadyType keyboard that you can adjust the angle for less strain on your wrists
- iMovR CloudStation to upload your fitness data to the cloud (coming soon)
- Standing desks large enough to slide a treadmill to the side so you can sit, stand, or walk while working
- Tons of customizations for their desks
- Fully- Formerly known as Ergo Depot, Fully manufactures our overall favorite standing desk, the Jarvis. Although Fully does sell some brands that they don't produce, one of the things that stand out about their company is they are a certified B corporation, which meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Their products give off little to no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which results in better indoor air quality. They also use sustainable products, such as making desktops out of bamboo or using recycled plastic in their chairs.
- Xdesk- We see Xdesk as the Rolls Royces of the standing desk industry. Their desks are jaw-droppingly beautiful, stable, and powerful, but aren't cheap. Handmade in Texas, some of their models have some great innovations, such as the "Loft", which is a platform that holds your monitor and speakers, the "Nest", which gives you lots of storage space under the tabletop, and the "Artesian Bar", which is a permanent footrest attached to the frame. We're hoping to see some of this innovation be produced by other standing desk companies at a lower price.
- Human Solution- The producer of the highly-rated UPLIFT, Human Solution offers one of the widest ranges of ergonomic products that you'll find anywhere, including standing desks, chairs, treadmill desks, mats, keyboard trays, mice, chair accessories, CPU holders, monitor arms, privacy panels and acoustics, desk edge protectors, corner sleeves, task lights, wire management and desk organization, footrests, laptop products, headsets, and even Mac compatible products!
- Flexispot- a relative newcomer to the space, they offer standing desks, converters, desk bikes, as well as standing desk accessories. We are so far impressed with their ability to offer high-quality products for a low price and offering great customer service.
Several years ago, when I was contemplating getting a standing desk, I was apprehensive to spend a few hundred dollars on something that I didn't know that I wanted. I was concerned that with my back issues and bad knees I would get really tired. So I spent no money and put a bunch of boxes on books on my desk to lift up my monitor and keyboard. It looked terrible and was inconvenient because every time I switched from sitting to standing I had to move my monitor and keyboard. I liked standing sometimes, so I decided to get a laptop stand.
After this, I bought a stand for my laptop. This worked about as good as my makeshift book and boxes but looked a little better (this is the unit I bought on Amazon from Executive Office Solutions).
This was pretty much a waste of money as I was already sold on standing while working. I only used it for a few weeks before I bought a Varidesk standing desk converter.
If you're unsure if you're going to like standing, you have several options. If you have a friend that has a standing desk, see if you can try it out for a day. You can do a makeshift standing desk for a week or two, or try out a laptop stand. If you're really handy, you could try creating your own standing desk. Or another short-term option is to try out the Spark by ErgoDriven.