The Best Standing Desks You’ll Actually Want To Use In The Office

The Best Standing Desks You’ll Actually Want To Use In The Office

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Published 11:44 AM EDT, Fri July 16, 2021

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

CNN —  

Whether you’re a professional, a student or somewhere in between, the “new normal” has meant trading in a proper desk for a work-from-home space. It could be your kitchen tablet, a small hallway turned into an office or even tossing together something in the bedroom. But what about a standing desk or convertor desk? The trend that has taken the professional industry by storm is now readily available — with literally countless options — and could be the perfect solution for working from home.

That’s why we’ve been testing a handful of standing desks for weeks, no months, on end — from assembly to entire days spent on each, we’ve found four that rise to the top.

Best standing desk overall

With a solid and wide desktop, the Branch Adjustable Standing Desk is a near-perfect desk that can handle multiple monitors, dual laptops and a plethora of knickknacks. It’s also incredibly sturdy, with one of the best builds we’ve encountered and a smooth ascent or descent.

Best customizable standing desk

The Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk offers the widest breadth of customization options out of any standing desk we’ve encountered, from size to finish to keypads — in addition to being a high-quality desk that’s bound to look beautiful against any decor scheme.

Best budget standing desk

The SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk is a surprisingly functional, sturdy desk at an incredibly affordable price, comparatively. It was a breeze to assemble, comes with a cable management tray and features a digital keypad with memory presets. ​

Best standing desk converter

The Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter (starting at $99.99) is an excellent converter that’s available in several sizes to accommodate a range of workspaces. Both its desktop and keyboard tray provide ample space, and it adjusts with the push of a lever. ​

Jacob Krol/CNN

Branch’s standing desk might only come in two sizes and a handful of colors, but it doesn’t corner the product into oblivion. Instead, it keeps a high level of craftsmanship in a standing desk that ultimately rises above the best with seamless motion, a sturdy build and a design that doesn’t distract.

It starts with the desktop — in this case, a 48-inch wide by 30-inch depth particle board laminate. You can also opt for white or a dark walnut finish. Either route, though, you’re stuck with a set of legs in white. What’s especially lovely about the Branch option is that the depth is wider than the average desk. This makes it easy for multiple monitors, a laptop (maybe a tablet as well), a notebook with plenty of room to spare.

Furthermore, the desk isn’t entirely flat, with a slightly diagonally cut finish in the front, making it comfortable to rest your arms on or even lean into it without being stuck with a piece of wood jutting into your abdomen. During our testing, spills of water, coffee and never stained the finish, nor did the tabletop scratch. The side edges did peel a bit and showed some scuffs — but from pretty unnatural, heavy bangs.

The Branch also features a metal plate in the center rear of the desk that can either tilt backward or forward to reveal a brush system, through which you can snugly run cables to keep them tidy — and it even kept loose Lightning and USB-C cables from falling through.

While it’s not curved with an ergonomic cutout in the front like our previous overall pick — the ApexDesk Elite Series — we feel the Branch Standing Desk is a better overall package. Setup as a whole took about 20 minutes, and found a drill sped things up a bit. Branch does include all the necessary tools in the box and can be done with ease. The desk comes in two boxes — one with the legs and one that’s the desktop, and the directions were clear and thorough.

Heights range from 25 to 52 inches, and you can make adjustments by the centimeter at most heights. Whether adjusting up or down, the transition was one of the smoothest we tested no matter how heavy the items we had atop the desk. The Branch comes standard with a control switch that’s on the left-hand side that features an LED dot display showing the exact height, an up and a down switch and four presets. Those presets are easy to set and one touch to operate.

The Branch was also one of the sturdiest desks we tested, never rocking side to side or back and forth.

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk

The Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is a handsome desk that we found supremely sturdy, easy to use, relatively straightforward to assemble, and as ergonomic at all heights as any of the other electric standing desks in our pool. When it came to wobble factor, we found it a tad less sturdy than the ApexDesk, particularly at higher heights, but nothing that interfered with our ability to use it comfortably. Where it truly shines, however, is in its many options for customization.

We tested the smallest available desktop size, 42×30”, a perfect option for tighter office spaces or cramped city apartments with but a corner to spare. We found it more than comfortable for a monitor and laptop setup, though if you’re working with multiple monitors and other equipment, you’ll probably want to opt for a larger size. Good news: Uplift’s got four more to choose from. The 48×30” will cost you an extra $50, the more standard 60×30” desktop size an extra $110, 72×30” will run you an extra $210, and the massive 80×30” desktop brings you to a total starting price of $849.

Then, you’ve got a staggering 22 desktop finishes to choose from (including a whiteboard option, which could be fun for the kiddos). We tested the walnut laminate, and couldn’t be more pleased with its quality and appearance. Solid wood and bamboo options are also available, as well as a contoured shape in four finishes; that will run the price tag up a bit more than the contoured ApexDesk at the same size, which is why the latter ultimately took top honors. You also choose from four finishes for the desk’s legs, select the color of the grommets, plus you can add on a power grommet (i.e., one with two outlets) for an additional $39 or add two for $69.

As for the keypad, there are options here too (colors being one of them): The standard desk provides a no-frills keypad with just an up and down arrow. You can upgrade to the “advanced comfort keypad” — akin to what the ApexDesk comes standard with — or splurge for the advanced paddle keypad, at an extra $59.

To determine the extent of this desk’s functionality, we chose the advanced paddle keypad and were wholly impressed by its breadth of features. In addition to displaying heights within 0.1-inch increments, from 22.6” to 48.7”, the largest range of all desks we tested, the advanced paddle includes a standing reminder, which can be set to 30-, 60 and 120-minute intervals, plus a child lock feature, the ability to set minimum and maximum heights and, of course, memory presets. We found there is a bit of a learning curve with this keypad. We had some trouble lowering it from an elevated position, resetting it and setting up the memory presets. But after some tinkering and regular use, we did get the hang of it. TL;DR: You’ll definitely need to consult the instruction manual for how to use this keypad, and possibly reset it a few times.

Like our top pick, the Uplift arrived in four separate boxes, and assembly took nearly an hour due to all the parts required. Note that the instructions provided include those for two different models of the desk, so you’ll just want to make sure you follow the instructions for the particular model you’ve purchased. A Phillips screwdriver is necessary, and again, because of how heavy-duty its parts are, it’s definitely helpful to borrow a second set of hands and tackle assembly together. The desk comes standard with two grommets at the back corners as well as a cable management tray, though we found the tray to be a bit flimsy once installed.

The Uplift also comes with one of the best warranties of all the desks we tested, which is 10 years for the frame components, mechanical parts, motors and electrical components, and five years for the desktop.

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line standing desk designed exactly to your specifications that will last years to come, the Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is the desk for you.

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk

If you’re on a tight budget — or you’re just looking for a standing desk to use temporarily or infrequently — there is not a better option under $250 than the SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk.

First off, we were surprised by just how sturdy this affordable desk was once assembled, with minimal wobble from front to back and side to side at all heights. Assembly was easy-breezy, clocking it at roughly 25 minutes when all was said and done (note that you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver). The desk is lightweight enough to move around a room with one set of hands, and building it solo is more than feasible, even for the furniture-assembly-averse.

This desk comes standard with a digital keypad featuring four memory presets; while programming the memory presets was not as intuitive as it was with some of the other desks we tested, once you know how to do so, it’s a breeze. Adjustable from 28” to 46” high in round-number increments (though reflected on the LED screen as 69 to 114, which we can only explain as being a roughly accurate conversion from inches to centimeters), this desk moves smoothly up and down without a hitch. It also comes standard with one small, uncovered grommet at the left back corner as well as an under-desk mesh tray at the front.

We should note that the desktop is actually two planks of wood rather than one solid piece as the product photos may lead you to believe.

This desk efficiently supported our monitor, laptop, books, desk plants and more — including a spry cat frequently jumping on and off of it — without issue. It’s offered in just one size, 47.25×24”, a bonus for anyone working with limited space for their office setup. The desktop is available in black, oak, light cherry and walnut finishes, and while we found that the black desk easily showed smudges, you get, as they say, what you pay for.

While a few customer reviews mention the motor slowing down over time, we experienced no such issues; we’ll report back and update this piece should we notice any failure in that regard. The desk offers only a one-year warranty, but for an additional $30, an extended three-year warranty will cover any motor issues.

Sure, it looks and feels a bit cheaper than the $500+ models in our pool, and, well, that’s because it is. But if you’re looking for the best electric standing desk at an under-$250 price point that’s sturdy and easily goes up and down as promised, with presets for multiple users — and particularly if you’re a fan of the metric system — you can’t go wrong with this SHW desk.

Natasha Hatendi/CNN

Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter

If you’re in the market for a riser that will convert your standard desk into a standing one, we recommend the Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter for several reasons.

With a standard converter design, this riser is pretty much ready to be used right out of the box. Assembly only requires attaching the keyboard tray to the desktop, no tools needed. It takes a little maneuvering to align around the preinstalled screws, but within a few minutes we had it ready to roll. At just under 37 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be moved if need be, but we were also impressed by the solid construction, experiencing minimal, if any, wobble while in use. It also arrived with cable ties to help with cord management.

This converter is available in eight widths, from 27” to 47” (you can find the larger models here) to accommodate a variety of workspace sizes. Note, however, that it is only available in black. We tested the 35” model, which can comfortably fit two small monitors, or a monitor and a laptop, and measured the depth of the desktop to be 18.75” and the keyboard tray to be 12”. Like any standard riser, a simple lever attached to a hydraulic device is used to raise it up or down, with a maximum height, from top to bottom, of 18.5”.

The only place the Flexispot converter lost major points was in ease of adjustments; while it moved smoothly upward with a press of the lever, pushing it back down proved a bit more difficult, and some elbow grease was necessary. For that reason, it might not be the best choice if the intention is to share it between people of varying heights. That caveat aside, we were more than pleased with our experience using this product, which we found ergonomically designed and comfortable to use in every way.

The converter comes with a five-year warranty for the frame and desktop, and a three-year warranty for the gas spring system and other mechanisms, which seems more than fair for such an affordably priced item.

The testing process for these desks lasted nearly two months. We unboxed and assembled each desk, paying special attention to the amount of time each unboxing and building process took. We noted how long it took to put each one together, how clear the product’s instructions were and if any special tools were needed. Once each electric standing desk was fully built, we used it at both sitting and standing heights; desk converters, of course, were used only in standing positions. We used each product for at least three full workdays and carefully noted how each desk performed in terms of ease of adjustments and ergonomics. Overall, we evaluated them on what we considered the most important factors: function, build and length of warranty. After tallying up scores for each product, we also took value into consideration, factoring the starting price of each desk with regard to the features it delivered on, to determine our final winners.

We broke the testing into the following categories and subcategories:

Function

Comfort: We made note of whether the desk provided proper ergonomics at all heights, and, where applicable, in both sitting and standing positions. Number of different height adjustments: We noted the range of heights the desk was capable of reaching. Ease of adjustments: We considered how easy it was to adjust the height of the desk, noting how smoothly it was able to move up and down as well as how easy and intuitive the keypad, if there was one, was to operate. Sturdiness from front to back: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from front to back. Sturdiness from side to side: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from side to side. Organization: We noted if the desk came standard with any slots/grommets to organize wires, cable management trays, extra outlets. etc. Build

Build quality: We looked at the quality of the desk’s materials, assessing whether it felt cheap or flimsy, as well as whether the desktop was prone to scratches and/or smudges. Ease of assembly: We considered the time it took to unbox and fully assemble the desk, how clear the instructions were, if any special tools were necessary as well as if the included tools were efficient in the building process. Appearance: We assessed the aesthetics of the desk — how it looked in a room/home office, if it was available in different colors and if so, how many. Size: We noted how much equipment could fit on the desk, how much room it took up and whether it was available in more than one size and if so, how many. Warranty

We looked into the warranty for each product and noted the length of coverage and what parts were covered. Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk (starting at $519 for 30×24”; fully.com)

Fully

Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk

Let it be known that we adored this desk, for myriad reasons. A newer model produced by Fully’s Jarvis line, the EcoTop is the brand’s most eco-friendly design to date, crafted from locally sourced fiber in Oregon that’s a minimum 92% pre-consumer, recycled or recovered, meeting the Eco-Certified Composites (ECC) Sustainability Standard. Beyond this new desktop, it’s identical in build and function to the customer-favorite (and also earth-friendly) Jarvis Fully Bamboo Standing Desk — and it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. It scored top marks for its range of sitting and standing heights (25.5” to 51.1”, the second largest range of all desks we tested, displayed in increments of 0.1”) as well as its ease of adjustments, with the industry-standard four memory presets being intuitive to program. This desk felt high-quality — according to Fully, it can support upwards of 350 pounds — though a bit more wobbly from side to side at higher heights than our best overall pick. Similar to the Uplift’s warranty, Jarvis desks are covered by an impressive all-inclusive 10-year warranty on all frame components, including motors and electronics, and a five-year warranty on desktop surfaces, excluding normal wear and tear, and damage caused by improper assembly, disassembly or repair.

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