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Published Sep. 9, 2021

Studies show that alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day is the best way to work at a desk. An adjustable standing desk lets you do just that. By standing, you engage muscles you wouldn’t when sitting in a chair (or on your couch or bed). Even though it adds just a little bit of movement to your day, ergonomically it can work wonders. 

By adding standing to your daily routine, you’ll improve your circulation, strengthen your core and legs, stand up straighter, and use muscles that would go ignored otherwise. Just know that it’s equally important to sit, so your ideal day involves a rotation of sitting and standing. (Sitting for eight straight hours isn’t great, but neither is standing.) Also know that investing in a standing desk—especially one that’s not at a fixed height—will cost you. Here are our recommendations to get the most value out of the best standing desks.

How We Picked the Best Standing Desks

Methodology

Buying a standing desk is one of those things that sound simpler than it is. But you need to consider how much room you have, whether you’re planning to orient it against a straight wall or in a corner, whether you want something electric or manual, and loads of other things. As a longtime product reviewer, I considered product materials, cost, adaptability, and more when compiling these recommendations for the best standing desks. As a longtime writer and editor, I’ve also used multiple standing desks (both manual and electric), as well as desk converters. For me, the option that encourages me the most to alternate between sitting and standing is an electric full desk. With the desk converter, I used it a few times and then removed it from my desk, because it was too annoying to adjust any time I wanted to sit.

  • Electric vs. manual: Electric models are easier to operate than manual models, but they’re also more expensive. When it came to manual options, we made sure they were easy enough to operate with pure elbow grease (because what’s the point of an adjustable desk if it’s impossible to adjust?).
  • Full desk vs. converter: Some people need an entirely new desk; others just want to adapt their existing desk to add standing capability. We made sure to include options for both types of shoppers.
  • Value: Close to $1,000 probably sounds like a lot to spend on a desk—and it is—but if what you get in return is sleek design, easy and quiet electric adjustability, speed, stability, and a tool that will ultimately save you money in doctor’s and physical therapy appointments, it’s a worthy investment. On the other hand, spending that much money on (for example) a desk converter with manual operation would just be a rip-off. Weighing how much you can spend against what you get in return is key.

The Best Standing Desks: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Standing Desk Overall: Vari Electric Standing Desk 60″ x 30″ – Dual Motor Sit to Stand Desk

Quiet Operation

This adjustable electric model lets you store four memory settings so multiple users can get their ideal height with the touch of a button. Vari

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Why It Made The Cut: This smart model won the CNET 2021 award for Best Overall Standing Desk.  

Specs:

  • Dual motors
  • Pay-to-assemble option
  • Spacious one-piece solid desktop
Pros:Cons:
  • Multiple Colors
  • Assembly required
  • Laminate finish to protect against spills
  • Legs and desktop ship separately
  • Complementary add-on accessories available, like an active seat and power hub
  • Expensive
  • Easy to assemble with a simple one-touch operation, there are no surprises with the Vari Electric Standing Desk. It’s an attractive desk with an easy-to-program LCD screen that lets you alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day. 

    Vari was formerly VariDesk, and in addition to a name change, the company’s products have also gotten an upgrade: Like lots of old-school adjustable standing desks, this one used to feature an under-desk crossbar that could be uncomfortable on the legs when lowered; now it’s gone.  

    The desktop can support up to 200 pounds, leaving loads of room for your computer and other gear. (The desk itself weighs more than 100 pounds, so plan to leave it where you put it.) Its maximum height is 50.5 inches, so people who are extra tall might want to measure before buying. 
    Some potential buyers may also want to heed the product’s California Prop 65 warning, meaning the desk features components known to cause cancer and birth defects.

    Best Fixed-Height Style: Stand Steady Joy Standing Desk

    Pretty Minimalism

    This sleek stationary style is no fuss, with minimal assembly required. It has a fixed height, meaning it cannot be adjusted between sitting and standing. Stand Steady

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    Why It Made The Cut: Although this one doesn’t move—meaning you can’t toggle between standing and sitting, and the height may not be right for everyone—its faux-wood desktop and white-metal legs go with any minimalist aesthetic. 

    Specs:

    • Built-in shelving
    • Wobble-free design
    • Easy to assemble
    Pros:Cons:
  • 7 square feet of desktop surface
  • No height adjustability
  • Crossbars keep it from wobbling
  • Supports only up to 60 pounds
  • Weighs just 38 pounds, so easy to move around
  • Spacious storage cubbies
  • The minimalist boho-chic of the Stand Steady Joy Standing Desk fits with any aesthetic, and at less than 40 pounds, you can move it from room to room. Sturdy crossbars and metal legs mean minimal wobbling (which can be an issue with some standing desks). It’s also a great choice for anyone at all tech-phobic. It’s just a table, albeit a tall one (41.5 inches to be precise).

    Because it has a fixed height, any adjustments will have to be made on the desk itself: with a computer stand, for example,  to lower or raise your monitor to eye level. This is especially annoying if multiple people that are different heights plan to use it. It also makes it more difficult to alternate between standing and sitting—which you might want to do every hour or half-hour—unless you also invest in a tall stool.

    Three built-in cubbies help you keep your workspace neat and tidy, while their top side offers an extra surface to place things at a height that’s higher than the main desk’s 41.5 inches.

    Best Standing Desk Converter: FLEXISPOT Stand Up Desk Converter

    Adapts to Your Desk

    If you already have a desk you like and just want to add standing capability, opt for a converter, which fits onto your desktop to modify it.
    FLEXISPOT

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    Why It Made The Cut: For when you want the option to stand but already have the desk, this converter is the perfect solution. And it’s big enough for two monitors.

    Specs:

    • Single-handle manual control
    • Multiple levels
    • Keyboard tray
    Pros:Cons:
  • Just 36 pounds, so it’s transportable
  • Supports only 33 pounds
  • Smooth up-and-down operation
  • No predetermined heights
  • Easy to set up
  • Manual adjustment, no push-button tech
  • Unlike a fixed-height standing desk, the ergonomic FLEXISPOT Stand Up Desk Converter allows you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day—which is best for your bod. But unlike an electric option, it doesn’t carry the hefty price tag. (It features what the company calls “Integrated Air Technology, a Smart X structure and gas spring hovering system” for easy one-handed adjustment, though bringing the desk back down is easier than pushing it up.) Some users complain that the desk is too high even at its lowest position, and others who need two extra-large monitors to work say they can’t fit both side by side. (Some fit two monitors no problem, so be sure to measure your workspace before you buy.) 

    Fortunately, assembly entails only sliding in the keyboard tray in. The tray is large enough to fit not just your keyboard but a mouse as well, or an entire laptop if you want to keep it that low.

    Premium Pick: UPLIFT Desk – V2 Walnut GREENGUARD Laminate Desktop Standing Desk

    Bells and Whistles Galore

    Whisper-quiet design, wide height range, and a stability brace make this a hardy option that can take a licking. UPLIFT Desk

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    Why It Made The Cut: If there’s a feature you need, this one’s got it. It also comes with a bamboo Motion-X board to balance on while you stand if you want an extra challenge and core engagement.

    Specs:

    • 1-inch-thick laminate desktop
    • Multiple colors
    • 48 mounting points for accessories—even an under-desk hammock!
    Pros:Cons:
  • Multiple desk-width options, from 42 inches to 80 inches
  • Expensive
  • Memory keypad with four presets
  • Not for anyone who wants something simple
  • Can lift up to 355 pounds
  • Low emissions
  • Consider this the Rolls-Royce of standing desks. An incredibly wide range of heights (25.5 inches to 51.1 inches) makes this pick more inclusive than competitors; 50 decibels during motion means it’s a super-quiet option; and it moves 1.57 inches per second. It also lacks the knee-crushing crossbars of other models. Electric adjustable standing desks are notoriously wobbly, and this one features stability braces and three-stage legs for maximum stability. The 1-inch desktop is thicker than most competitors’ (which are typically .75 inches), and a wire-management tray keeps things neat and tidy. 

    If you want to put your desk on casters to easily move it around the house, the brand sells them separately, and they’re easily mountable. (Same goes for complementary power accessories.) At 100 pounds, it’s neither the lightest nor heaviest desk out there, so you can take or leave the wheels. Put the desk together yourself or opt for Amazon’s assembly option.

    Best Budget Pick: SHW Memory Preset Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk

    Electric But Not Exorbitant

    You can set four presets on the digital display, sending the motorized lift anywhere from 28 inches to 46 inches in height. SHW

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    Why It Made The Cut: Multiple width options (40-inch, 48-inch, 55-inch, plus a 55-inch corner style) mean there’s one of these—an affordable electric model—for practically everyone.  

    Specs:

    • Adjustable leg glides for stability on multiple surfaces
    • Desk grommets for wire organization plus an under-table basket
    • 68 pounds
    Pros:Cons:
  • Comes in five different colors
  • Top comes in two pieces that attach via a seam
  • Easy to assemble, with Amazon assembly option
  • Some reviewers report that the motor stops working after a while
  • Telescopic height adjustment
  • You get what you pay for. And because under $300 is actually pretty cheap for a motorized standing desk, the SHW Memory Preset Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk comes with some caveats. It’s a sleek-looking, simple option that comes in multiple sizes and colors, but some users report being disappointed with both the aesthetics and operation of this model. The desk is .75 inches thick, which is typical, but some people prefer a thicker 1 inch. And though the desktop appears to be one piece in pictures, it’s actually two pieces put together, which design perfectionists don’t necessarily love. 

    Again, for the price, an electric option with four presets is very affordable, so corners must be cut somewhere. But having said that, for the price, there have been many satisfied customers: This one may not be as pretty or fancy as others, but if your main goal is the ergonomic benefits of being able to stand and sit throughout the day without having to adjust your desk manually, this one will do just fine.

    Things to Consider Before Buying a Standing Desk

    The good news is that the things to consider when purchasing a standing desk are pretty cut-and-dried, meaning it’s easy to figure out which model is best for you. Budget is the first thing to consider, or at least tied for first, with the other most important question being whether you want something electric or manual. (The two go hand in hand: An electric model will be more expensive. But if you have any health issues that make moving a desk up and down difficult, it might be a cost worth paying.)

    Beyond that—and this is the easiest thing to decide—do you need an entirely new desk or just something to affix to the desk you already have? Also consider whether you want accessories like grommets and a basket to hide your wires, accessibility mounting points to add off-the-wall extras like a hammock, the option for casters to roll your desk from place to place, and multiple surfaces on which to rest your monitor, laptop, and keyboard, or if one flat desktop will suffice.

    Most crucially: Measure your workspace to make sure your new desk or converter will fit where you want it, that the desk can support the weight of all the gear you plan to load it with, and that the minimum and maximum heights work with your personal height and that of the chair you plan to use.

    FAQs

    What is the most stable standing desk?

    The most stable standing desks are the ones that feature the most stability-creating components. Dual-stage legs are stabler than single-stage; rectangular legs tend to be less wobbly than circular ones; crossbars add the most stability (but come with the caveat of being knee crushers when down in the sitting position); and long, steady feet keep the desk in place. If you can find the perfect mix of all these qualities, you’ll have a stable standing desk!

    Are cheap standing desks worth it?

    They can be! If all you’re looking for is the ability to stand while you work, even a desk converter can get the job done. You’re basically just paying for a riser, so cheap is OK. But if what you’re looking for is an electric-powered desk that you can switch from sitting to standing with the push of a button, you won’t be able to find a cheap one.

    How much should you spend on a standing desk?

    Depends on what you want. If you want to invest in a desk that you’ll have for years and that can upgrade your life and your health, price be damned, then you can spend close to a thousand dollars. If you just want a little height for your computer, don’t spend more than a couple of hundred bucks.

    Final Thoughts

    First, a standing desk is an excellent option for anyone who spends hours a day sitting at a desk and has the aches, pains, and poor posture to prove it. These five options will satisfy people shopping at multiple price points and with different needs: entire desks vs. desk converters, electric vs. manual, and pricey vs. affordable. Of the different kinds of standing desks on the market, these five represent a healthy cross-section of good choices.

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